Thinking Cap On

I thought that once Mr. Fairweather had gotten a job and we had a salary coming in, that I would be able to buy loads of stuff I have been putting on hold. Fencing for the pigs – top of the list. I forgot about credit cards needing to be paid off and the relentless regularity of bills and loans that need to be paid. It is going to be a frugal couple of months until I get on top of things – like the credit card bill, car tax, car insurance, college fees for Mr. Fairweather’s night course. This list keeps growing the more I look at it so I think I am going to stop looking at it. Surely that’s the grown up response?

Anyway, I have had to readjust my priorities. The pigs are on hold. The new ducks are still in the pipeline but they are going to have to make do with the old pen and stay penned in to keep safe from the fox. The hen count is still at one and a half. And then there’s the veg beds….

I had great plans for five lovely raised beds made out of railway sleepers. Then after the septic tank saga, that got reduced to two. Now after having to fork out for car tax and heating oil, the beds are going to be made out of 16′ lengths of 6×2″ timbers instead of 8′ long sleepers. Sleepers have gone up in price and are now €30 a pop! The timbers are €13 each. And if I made beds out of sleepers that would be eight sleepers to make two beds 12′ long by 4′ wide. That’s €240! For two beds. I definitely don’t have that. Not to mention the manure and compost I’d need to fill them. I could make two beds 16′ long by 4′ wide for €65. That’s a massive difference. I think I can scrape that together.

newly planted beds at the start of summer (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
newly planted beds at the start of summer
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

I could (in theory) even make them myself. Those timbers will be much more manageable than the railway sleepers that my first two beds were made from. Mr. Fairweather is ridiculously busy between crazy shifts at work and college work. The list of winter jobs didn’t really get tackled. I am going to have to wrap the Little Paddler up and get to work myself on a few jobs me thinks. The hardware store would deliver the timbers to me free of charge. I am going to need pegs for the corners and maybe another one or two along each length. Lets call that sixteen 2″ square pegs for the two beds. Mr. Fairweather is bound to have something I can saw up to make them. I suppose I should check with him first though before I start cutting. Even if I had to buy one length of 2×2″ and cut them up myself, they couldn’t be much. Then all I need is a measuring tape, square angle, saw, hammer and nails, some good weather and a patient toddler. What are my chances?

you shall not pass (photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)
you shall not pass
(photo credit: fairweatherpaddler)

But my biggest problem is how to fill the beds. We have a lot of top soil that was scraped off of the site when we started building the house. And I have a small pile of well rotted horse manure I have been saving. Although I had been wanting to put that in to the polytunnel beds which have grown tomatoes for the last three years in a row. Not the best plant management really. I could dig out the polytunnel beds and fill them with top soil from my mountain. At least then, the soil would be fresher for my summer plantings. That though involves getting around a huge pile of timber in the tunnel doorway. Probably a job for Mr. Fairweather to be honest. I am going to need to find some more manure or compost from somewhere. In the meantime we will make do with top soil and just be vigilant about weeds.

So – some vague semblance of a plan and a bit of work ahead of me. All I need now is a dry day……….


15 thoughts on “Thinking Cap On

  1. I wish I had some helpful hints, but I really don’t! We do use fencing boards instead of railway sleepers for our beds and they work well. It’s the soil that is always hard to get enough of! Where we live the ground is sandy, and any time you try to build a bed, it just ends up being a sunken bed instead of a raised one. The compost pile just can’t produce fast enough to keep up with the sinking!

    I hope you come up with a good solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I could ship you some railroad ties as they are not nearly that much—and even though it is all sounding a bit overwhelming, I think you have a good hand on it all. What about bartering something say from another farmer who may have some fencing for the pigs—anything you have, honey, fresh sausage….cause you sound like you’re on the right track—as in necessity is the mother of all invention—you need something, so you need to get creative in order to get it—-I’m liking this…now if we can just keep the fox out of the hen house!!!!


  3. You seem to have a pretty good handle on things! At least you can tackle one job at a time, by the time you get the first few jobs done you might well be able to get the pigs sorted. All in good time and stuff 🙂 I wish you all the luck in the world, can’t wait to see how it all turns out.


  4. I feel your pain! Our raised beds are sleeper jobbies. The next ones probably won’t even be raised! I love how smallholding is supposed to be thrifty but damn it’s expensive to get started unless you’re one of those relentlessly capable people (def not me!).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds very familiar! Have you thought about doing no-dig beds like Charles Dowding? His beds don’t have sides and no sides means fewer places for slugs to hide! Alternatively, growing in straw bales is a pretty cheap alternative.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We used pressure treated deck boards to make our raised beds. They were the most inexpensive option for a long lasting solution. I also found a lovely lady with horses locally that was very happy for us to take away her well-rotted piles of horse manure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great idea for the timber. How did you find the horse manure for perennial weeds. I’ve found the dock population increases. Probably something to do with dock seeds in the hay the horses eat. But I am planning to try no-dig this year and hope it will help deal with all that.


      1. We got quite a few nettles in the manure but i love weeding so didn’t mind too much. I’m a firm believer in planting as densely as possible as it helps to keep the weeds away. As far as i’m aware some veg don’t do well in overly rich soils, can’t remember which exactly but carrots come to mind.

        Best of luck

        Liked by 1 person

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