Bridge building

Val wrote about the flooding effect of the unseasonable rain in June. This episode was a forceful reminder of my long-standing wish that there was a bridge over the stream capable of allowing a tractor and mower to pass.

To reach the Willow Field, where Pedro and Ana are living, or to get to the path under the hazel trees that provides an essential part of our ‘parkland walk’, it is necessary to cross the stream. On foot, this is no problem (especially since Val improvised some plank bridges). However, with the tractor, unless the weather has been dry for some time, there is a real danger of bogging down in a great depth of sogginess. Although the tractor does always get through, the muddy, rutty mess left behind is pretty horrendous.

The alternative route, avoiding a stream crossing, involves travelling several hundred metres along the little chemins which run alongside our land and some neighbouring fields. A bridge would provide an all-weather, direct alternative.

The trouble is that the valley in which the stream flows is too wide to make a simple little bridge possible. The land alongside the stream itself gets very soggy, and in June the whole area became flooded.

This meant that considerable earth moving was needed, to provide a raised bank joining the downhill track (behind and to the right of Rufus in this picture) to the other side of the stream.

This is a job for Takeuchi!

A lot of thought later — where is the earth to come from? how will the stream continue to flow through the bank of earth? where is the best place to put all the moved earth? — and a bit of judicious shopping at a builders’ merchant, and I was ready.

My excavator skills continue to develop, and this job gave me practice with using the largest bucket. Rather to my surprise, my optimistic plans worked well, and the whole project was completed in a few hours. I needed to improvise some weights for the front of the tractor, to stop it tipping up backwards when carrying a full load of earth to the site, but otherwise my growing set of civil engineering gear functioned perfectly!

The stream has been tamed. Now all that is needed is some autumn sowing of grass to landscape the site. I’m actually looking forward to a period of rain to test it out!

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