Saturday, July 01, 2006


To mend an old tractor, first drink the beer! Our first grass cutting adventure with the 1963 tractor left us with ringing ears, due to a couple of holes in the exhaust manifold. Rather than solve the problem, I wore ear defenders for my next drive. After just a few minutes though, one hole had widened to the size of a ping-pong ball and I could see flames shooting out … time for a repair. An advantage of an old tractor is that it’s easy to work on; a disadvantage is that I can’t just go to my nearest tractor dealer and buy a new part off the shelf. There will, no doubt, be scrap yards or people selling second-hand parts and engineers who can copy or repair bits for me but, in the meantime, I had a tractor to mend.


Luckily, I’d been hoarding some exhaust repair putty for years, and I had some wire, so all I needed now was an aluminium can. We drink wine, beer and cider, all of which come in glass bottles, so Gabrielle went off to a neighbour to try and find one. She arrived back with a can and a big smile. Our neighbour only had one, which she was happy to give us; the only “problem” was that it was full. Which was how, at 10am one Saturday morning, we came to be sharing a can of beer whilst pondering our repair strategy!


As you can see in the photo above, it’s not pretty but it works: our beer can has reached the parts other beer cans cannot reach. Had it been a different brand, I could have claimed that my exhaust repair is probably the best exhaust repair in the world!


An update on our woods soon, as we have an French expert forestier coming on 10th July to offer us advice and I’m busy re-reading Ben Law’s The Woodland Way and my course notes from his introduction to permaculture and assessing a woodland course that I did a couple of years ago. An update soon also on the geese as we’ve ordered some (allegedly fox-proof) electric netting and the goose house is well under construction.

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