It takes the working world a while to get going again after its Christmas break. Having felt like we were making progress on the build just before Christmas, January proved to be a very slow month of chasing up people who had said they would do something to see if they had done what they said they would.
Our first delay was waiting for straw to be moved from inside our barn which we thought needed to happen before any assessment of the existing structure could take place. As it was slow going, Rose tried to organise a site meeting and a digger to look at the foundations of the steel framework holding up the roof around the straw and did manage to find out a few basics. The aim, having agreed on an interior layout was to check how stable the existing barn structure was and what would need repairing. A cherry picker ensured that she was able to assess the existing roof and that it would need repairing extensively – in other words a new roof. The digger revealed that the concrete bases to our steel stanchions were a bit hit and miss. Some of them were in place and working fine but others had eroded away and as a result water had accumulated at the base of the steel, weakening the structure. More repairs would be necessary.
Rose also held talks with our neighbours with whom we share a party wall and who are also installing a wood chip boiler that we are going to be able to use for our hot water and heating requirements. Negotiations over the wall and any ramifications from our building were carried out amicably and they were able to show Rose a picture of how Manor Farm had looked in the early 1900s when it had been a working dairy farm (above – the photo shows what is now their house and garden and our dairy will run to the south of that). Building a cheesemaking dairy on the site of a dairy farm feels very appropriate somehow.
When the straw was finally removed and the site boundaries marked with metal gates, further information could be gleaned. The concrete floor was revealed showing sections with a herringbone pattern which we believe is the floor of the milking parlour of the original dairy at Manor Farm. Drains have been discovered. Although the existing drain onion that they would have fed into isn’t usable any more, it is still handy to know there are channels there for us to start from. A long deceased and dessicated stoat has also been discovered – not a feature we intend to preserve.
A local structural engineer undertook to take on our structural drawings so that the builder who will be carrying out our external cladding and roof repairs could get going. He seemed to move rather slowly getting a quote out for the work. Unfortunately after a further fortnight of chasing and reminding, he admitted to being swamped with other work and had to give up. Alan Tucket to the rescue (the builder) as he has a structural team who have taken that over. As a result, work should start very soon.
In short, a funny period of meetings and activity for Rose and not so much for me. A lot of chasing, hassling, reminding and getting bits and pieces ready so that the build can start. Progress is being made. We are getting closer to the day that building begins but as yet the earth hasn’t moved (quite literally). It’s a bit like that stage before you go on holiday where you’re doing the packing and trying to remember everything you might need; a little nerve wracking and tense as you hope you’ve planned everything as well as possible and still too early to have set off and be able to say to yourself
‘Sod it, if I haven’t thought of it by now, I’ll just have to deal with it when it happens.’