Digging for Easter Eggs…

…I wish! A call from the fencing contractor means we might have a paddock fence sometime next week, so the rush was on to level the 2 foot step from the paddock to the main field. Gary and Liz next door needed to level it as it crossed a vegetable plot in their land, and we needed to level it as it would prove rather inconvenient to jump 2 feet every time we wanted to enter the field!

The other problem with this border is that it’s the lowest level in that corner of the field and in heavy rain we end  up with a decent pond – not something you want on your entrance or veggie patch. Our solution was to collectively remove the headland strip from the main field, which was about 5′ across and 1′ deep, and drop the soil into the ditch in the water logged paddock to raise it. Before we did any moving of soil we needed to lift the turf so we could reuse it, and peel back the existing fence (sheep netting and barbed wire) on the border so we could shovel the soil across.

On removing the turf we thought it would be a good time to see just how deep the surface water level is around by us. We know we’re in a 100 year flood plain, but the farmers like the land as whilst it does get wet in heavy downpours, there’s enough flint in the soil to help it drain quickly. The soil is also sandy loam, so good for growing most things 🙂 We dug down and no sooner had we dug a spade’s depth in the lower levelled paddock did we hit water. This means our houses are only about 3 feet above surface water level – admittedly after it’s been constantly raining. We felt quite cheery about this as one of the plans is to build a well for us all to use. We have them dotted around us in fields and front gardens, but the pump outside ours was removed a while ago, so we thought we’d put a new one in to the rear of the cottages. To be honest, for irrigation purposes, we could probably get away with digging a pond! The water level is so high as we are in the Trent Wash and, as someone pointed out to us, only 25% of the water travelling down the valley is visible in the river – the rest moves through the ground! So what we were actually looking at was the River Trent running under our feet! Sure enough, when we dug a channel out we could see, as it filled slowly, that the current was ever-so-slightly running in the same direction as the river over a mile away! We dug this channel out to about 3 feet below our final level and filled it 12″ high with flint pebbles we’d rescued from our vegetable patches. We then backfilled it with almost 2′ of top soil from the headland and replaced the turf. We hope this will help that part of the paddock to drain quicker, but we know with the extra foot of soil we’ve added that the water level is at least 2′ below now, so great for roots but won’t sit high enough to water-log our root veg.

All of this took 2 solid days of digging and moving the soil, but it sure was worth it! Gary and Liz now have a flat vegetable patch and we have a smooth-ish transition from the paddock to Acre Field.

On other fronts, the tomatoes inside are almost ready to pot into individual pots, the cucumbers are showing their faces, as are the marigolds and nasturtiums, and I believe some lettuce outside are peeking out! Things are happening 🙂 We also have around 25 house sparrows, up from 5 the first year we moved in. We put this down to no more cats that the previous owner had, extra sparrow boxes we’ve put up, and regular seed being put out by Suz. Excellent!

Our two new chickens are now laying as well, so we’re getting around 18 eggs a week at the moment which is plenty!

Last but not least, a coupe of shots of the rear of the cottages as another reminder of what they used to look like 🙂

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