Sunday, 17 February 2013

tidying away the debris

I was all set to move the remaining branches, twigs and debris from the back garden, so that I could admire the full effect of the snowdrops before they go over.  The beds are actually quite tidy, so it seems a waste to have great piles of prunings in front of them.  However, the view out of the bathroom window when I got up revealed that there was a frost, so it was not possible to get anywhere near the heaps or drive the tractor over the lawn until it thawed.

I spent some time picking dead leaves and weeds out of the gravel in the turning circle, while I waited for the lawn to warm up.  There is definitely something meditative about fiddling around with gravel, and of course with all that Zen raking it would never get the chance to grow weeds.  Black and White Alsatian Killer Cat was dozing under one of the clumps of grass, but by mutual consent we ignored each other.

Once the grass was fit to walk on and I went to inspect the piles I discovered that one of them was not willow as I'd assumed, but pieces of hawthorn and field maple out of the hedge.  I originally helped put them there, so I must have known, but I'd forgotten.  The Systems Administrator had done such a massive amount of shredding that it seemed incredible that there was yet more to do.  Unfortunately the pile of brush to be shredded blocked my access to one of the piles of willow that I wanted to move.  The crocuses have just started flowering in the middle of the bottom lawn, not that they were open today, so I wanted to carry everything around the edge, which is kept mown all year round as a path, and not across the centre where the bulbs are.

Shredding woody prunings to make your own wood chip mulch takes ages.  Branch by branch I stripped off the twigs that were small enough to go through the shredder, shoved them through the shredder, stripped some of the tiny and really weedy remaining twigs off the main stem, and piled the trunks in a heap ready to be seasoned and chopped for firewood.  I enlisted the SA's help to move the existing trailer load of prunings destined for the bonfire, refilled it with willow twigs, and then twice with firewood, and then bonfire material again.  Willow does not chip, but winds itself around the interior of the shredding machine and jams it.  I need the SA to pull the trailer, not because I can't steer the lawn tractor (though in truth I am not very good with anything in tow), but because I can't start it.  It is nearly twenty years old now, has had a hard life, and has reached that idiosyncratic stage where only an understanding hand can make it go, since firing it up involves a strange home-made choke, copious quantities of Easy Start, and a portable jump-starter.

The SA obliged, but strained a tendon in the process shifting the wood, before abandoning logging operations to do battle with BT.  Something is wrong with our landline, so that the telephone doesn't ring when we get an incoming call.  The SA's oldest brother, who is an electrical engineer, has a theory involving The Fifth Line, which is something I never heard of but is apparently the part of a BT telephone line that makes your phone actually ring.  The rest of the line is all right, hence we can make outgoing calls, but a telephone that doesn't tell you when somebody is trying to ring you up is of limited utility.  I don't regard it as an absolute emergency, since most people I know use e-mail or text anyway, but it needs sorting.  BT will not give you a number on which to ring them to report the fault until you've done a line test.  The page of their website where you are supposed to do the line test is coming up blank.  The SA, half frozen and with a sore arm, is pretty annoyed.

I didn't manage to move all the prunings.  I hoped I would have, but I suppose I should have started earlier, if only it hadn't been frosty.

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