Now, the muck was in a very large pile at the nearby field & phase 2 was to "clean it"
This took ages, as the digger (known as a 360 as it can spin round on itself) takes a scoop of stuff & swivels round to the side & tips it out slowly whilst at least 2 "pickers" pick out any foreign objects - the afore mentioned string etc - which is put to one side.
So having dug it all once, the much is then sifted through until it is pronounced "clean" - this took a further 3 days effort !!! The muck was then spread out & will be ploughed into the ground and will make what ever grows there do extremely well indeed - at least in my opinion - as the rotted manure was fabulous stuff - if you like that sort of thing !!
We had planned to get help in April from supporters to assist with the string picking, but the rather short notice on the timing of this meant that that was difficult - however a big thank you to Jules from Steeple who tipped out in the rain, cold & general miserableness of February to help!
The cost of this project will be huge ! - Given the volume of muck and the inaccessibility of it meant that only farm vehicles & heavy earth moving machinery could be used to do the job and of course these are expensive to hire + drivers.
Traditional "muck away" services that take manure to landfill would not have been able to even reach the manure as it was too far from any solid road - even if they had, the costs would have been en excess if £20,000 possibly much higher !
We haven't had the bill yet, but are expecting it to be in the region of £6,000 - which is still a small fortune - don't get me wrong - but when you add up the number of vehicles & drivers over the days worked, plus the people doing the cleaning up & spreading it is not bad when set against the traditional costs of muckaway and bearing in mind the massive volume - as anyone who has seen the muck heaps will contest !
If you would like to help with the cost of this project, you can use the button below to make a PayPal donation on line which has been specially set up for this.
Having so many large animals means that every day Fiona is shoveling considerable volumes of manure onto an ever growing muck heap !
Every few weeks, the pile we have becomes too large and uses up space we would ideally like for Winter turnout and so we have the muck moved across the road to where we have been constructing a 1/20th scale model of the Hindu Kush !
The pile over the road has been added to now for some 3 years & it was estimated at over 1000 tonnes - that's a lot of muck.
Funnily enough we don't have a lot of photo's of the actual pile ! - however in this snap below you can see the edge of the ice capped peak at the southern aspect of the monstrosity! (Oxygen is needed at this height...)
This snap was taken during the infancy of the main pile when committed supporters Charlotte & her Mum Claire came over to have a go at digging string out of the heap a few years back !
The string in the muck (baler string) was a real problem & meant that the muck could not be spread on local fields without first being "cleaned" - this simply means that everything that was not "manure" needs to be removed - so bits of string, bits of wood, plastic, hardcore, rocks, etc - needed to be got removed before anyone would entertain spreading it, as all that stuff gets stuck in & can damage the spreader !
After the main pile became too large & was starting to affect the orbit of the Earth due to its massive gravitational pull, a second pile was started as shown below !
This pile is bigger than it looks as it stretches back all the way to the back of the field. By the time we started the project, this field was entirely full of muck right up to the bottom edge of the picture
So - we asked our Hay & Straw Merchant whether they would be able to take the pile away - they said yes, but it would need to be cleaned of string & that was going to take a while. They estimated that it would take 5 days to do the job & involve a variety of large earth moving pieces of equipment!
However they would not be able to start until April.
We started saving...
Then in February, they called us to say that an opportunity had arisen to spread it on a field about half a mile away so they wanted to start the job.
Here is the 12 tonne digger working its way through the main pile - this was near the end of the job, the second pile had already been taken away & that field was now looking like this!
You can see where the pile had been from the colour of the ground
They had two very large tractors & trailers on the go & it took about three days working from dawn to dusk, to get the piles removed.
Here is the digger again, this time from the front.
We had noticed some erratic driving in the field and decided to see what was going on.
Zooming in on the driver below answered the query
As suspected, somehow Percy had been contracted to drive the late shift & had been putting the muck back where it was before he was stopped.
Fortunately, Fiona was able to get him out of the cab and off home before anyone important noticed
Here is the field where the main pile was - what a difference !!
If you prefer to send a cheque - please make it payable to "Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary" & the address is Asheldham, Essex, CM0 7DZ !
Thank you !!!
UPDATE - some have mailed to ask why we needed to spend any money at all on this & wasn't it a waste of money when we have the animals to feed !
The answer to that is that it is now illegal to have large muck heaps - the fine for not dealing with a build up of muck can extend to £200,000 or even more if the slurry leaks into a water course, such as the brook next to the fields.
This aspect of animal care is just as important as feeding an caring & we only have such a huge pile to deal with thanks to the sheer number of large animals that Fiona has saved from slaughter.
Please spare all you can to help us with this bill, as I am sure you can imagine it is crippling !
I would like people to understand the pressure Fiona is under with this sort of thing - when Fiona returned from winning the Great North Run last year, she was on a high & when the gate went, she thought it was the local paper! - WRONG it was the environment agency. A local person had reported us as they were 'concerned' about the muck heap & so the environment agency were obliged to come out & have a look.
The man was very nice & said that he was comfortable with the current management of the muck heaps and was impressed with Fiona's operation, however he suggested that it would be appropriate to move the pile after the Winter - he was happy to let us manage it in our own time rather than demmand we meet his timesale - the one slight issue was that he was leaving the service the following week ! - He said he would explain the position to his replacement, however that meant that the replacement person would not have seen the pile first hand & so any further reported "concerns" would mean another visit from them which is stressful for Fiona
This aspect of animal care is absolutely as critical as feeding and providing vetinary attention as I hope you can appreciate.
On another subject, Fiona has just had a desperate call from Suzanne as she has dogs due to be put down in a day unless she can find the money for their kennel fees. She has saved so many souls & works 7 days a week to fund her rescue work, however she has no money left to save them - if you want to help the dogs at the kennels she puts them at to live a little longer until homes can be found, please get in touch