Friday 27th April & Friday 4th May 2018
Our Friday group of volunteers made a return visit to Eaton Common on 27th of April to continue work on replacing the cattle corral. On a somewhat wet day they picked up where they previously left off digging holes for the remaining 11 posts. That’s a lot of work given that the posts are around 8 feet long and need a 3 foot deep hole. The posts, and therefore the holes, need to be perfectly aligned so that the rails fit and are also the correct distance apart for the gates.
The bark was peeled off the chestnut posts with spades to stop these rotting. Although the chestnut has a natural resistance the outer bark would rot and could affect the posts. The posts are 8 foot and heavy and there is a lot of them to process. The site was measured up and the location of the end posts marked. The sizing is determined by the length of the rails which span two posts width and need to meet at the centre of a post. So, a bit of precision needed to dig the holes in the right place and ensure the posts are centred in exactly the right place! But the team have done this before so a bit of a challenge, but experience wins out in the end!
The holes were dug, posts placed in them and the soil firmly tamped down around them ensuring that they are level and correctly spaced. The top rails were fitted to hold these in place and barbed wire fitted temporarily along the dyke edge. Still a lot to do but the basic structure was now in place.
The group made a final visit on a very hot and sunny day on 4th May. As well as a few more posts to install there were the side rails to fit and three metal gates to hang. Plenty of jobs to do and the team got down to it sharing out the tasks. Digging holes on a hot day is just as bad as doing it on a wet day and the tools are heavy and it gets harder the deeper you go. But stamina and perseverance are what our volunteers have, and they just get on with the job.
Once the hanging posts are fixed the location of the gate hooks are marked and holes drilled. The hooks are fitted, and the gates hung to check alignment. Any fine adjustments needed are made with the delicate touch of a sledge hammer. In the right hands it is not a problem! There are three gates to hang which takes a while and then latches are fitted on the closing posts.
The remaining side rails were fitted within the corral. New rails joining the corral to Eaton Common entrance field gate were also fitted. A nice neat job demonstrating the skill and experience of our volunteers. All is in place now ready for cattle to arrive for their summer grazing. The corral enables the cattle to be controlled when arriving and leaving the site and also contains the herd for any required inspections during their summer vacation.