Posted by: kathandroger | September 19, 2015

Roof repairs and bounteous brassicas.

One of the joys and one of the problems of an old property is that things keep falling down. It is a joy because I love doing little bodge up jobs on the buildings,(at least that is what I have been able to convince myself), and a problem because I usually don’t know how to do them. Usually the answer can be found on Utube, but when part of the barn roof started to slip there was no useful information. IMG_3208The tiles themselves on this roof are very fragile and the whole thing really needs to be done, but that is just too much at the moment. Luckily the main timbers, although all shapes, are in good order, and only the lathes are a bit dodgy. After much contemplation-I have slowly learned that the impetuous actions of my youth often ended in disaster-it was apparent that as the roofs have no lining, much of the work could be done from inside. So duly ascending into the hay loft with an assortment of tools,up the rickety ladder, work commenced. Now no matter how many tools are taken up, the most important and useful one is always left in the workshop; sod’s law seems to work equally well in France. The outline of the roofs here all have a slight outward tilt in the lower part, I have no idea why other than they look pretty, and this is effected by an extension of the purlins with an extra chunk of wood. Some of these had slipped downwards and the laths and tiles had followed. Starting from the top it was easy to pull the bits back. No, that is a complete lie, it was a real bugger to do and I hit my thumb with a hammer and said naughty words. Why is it that hitting your thumb with a hammer is one of the most annoying things in the world? I guess it is because there is nobody else to blame, and it hurts. Anyway, the inside was done and then the long ladder had to be put up against the outside wall to do the overhanging bit. With advancing age, these upladder contortions are ever more difficult, and wielding a lump hammer to bash bits back into position was  a feat of gymnastic grace-I think not. The situation was not helped by tiles sliding off a regular intervals and not being able to catch them with one hand full of hammer and the other holding on for grim death. The storm clouds were gathering, the hole in the roof enlarging, and the labourer cussing and aching. Not even a wife about with a cup of tea and encouraging words. Still, persistence paid off in the end and I only hope the wind doesn’t blow too hard in the wrong direction for the next few years!  IMG_3211

We always buy our brassica plants from the chap in Descartes market. It is easy to grow them from seed, but the quality in our hands is not good. This year we thought the little plants were dying due to a flea infestation, so I sprayed with some detergent and they seemed to recover. And how! IMG_3212We have never had such big brassicas at this stage, even though the ground has already had a crop of beans and garlic. I know about the nitrogen fixing of beans, but I reckon it is more due to the dosing of blood bone and fish meal we brought back from the UK. I must tell the cycling club about this magic potion. They won’t believe me of course, and will insist it is all due to the phase of the moon when they were planted. Really we don’t care as long as we have some lovely sprouts and caulis in the winter!


  1. The little kick in the lower roof is called a cow tail and it is designed to make the water shoot off and land at some distance from the building. These roofs come from the days when gutters were not used. The building needs the water from the roof to keep the ground around the walls at the correct moisture level, as there probably isn’t any foundations. Drying out is more of a risk than too much water sometimes.

    Even I’ve got good brassicas this year (except for caulis), so I think it’s down to weather not fertilizer. Curiously, I didn’t get the flea beetle that everyone else had. I’ve never had a successful brassica crop in the potager before. BTW, they are good nitrogen fixers too.

    • Thanks, Susan, usual font of knowledge. On reflection the same applies to the thatching we know so well in Dorset.

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