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February 2011 - Posts - Mud Hound

Mud Hound

The life of a Land Drainage Contractor

February 2011 - Posts


The museum has expanded! Hugh Hanmer (formally of ADAS, now putting his feet up in retirement or perhaps not bearing in mind the next sentence) decided to clear out his garage which involved finding some where to store his collection of clay drainage tiles. Yes, you guessed it, they are now part of our collection.


I can’t believe how many different designs of drainage clay there were. Hugh had some types of tile which we had never seen before and bearing in mind we spent a considerable amount of our time cutting thorough or digging up clay drains it is surprising. When I have the chance I will take some photos of the new additions.


Another little fact Hugh had at his finger tips which was new to me was the dates when drain or drainage was stamped on to the tiles. Apparently the tax on roof tiles ran from 1829 to 1849 so all drainage tiles were stamped during that period. Of course it does not mean that any drain dug up with the word drain or drainage stamped on it was laid during that period only that it was manufactured then, although there is a very good chance that it installed at that time! Dating the old clay titles is very difficult but we can have no doubt that some of them are very old items.


On a different subject, my knee has recovered well and the stitches were taken out yesterday, only problem was a backlog of outdoor jobs at the start of this rain filled week. No avoiding it unfortunately, I got soaked.




When scrolling down the blog I realised I had not posted any pictures for a while...




A bright winters morning, perfect for photgraphing any plant thats in the yard



Our front loading shovel hard at it...




Been slowed down a bit I’m afraid! Yesterday I sliced my knee open playing football. It’s not too bad, just a couple of stitches and if you play the game you can’t complain but as it is on the knee, walking is difficult. Office duties only for me at the moment.


PS. I have some pictures, but I don’t think the blog is ready for blood and gore...




Been out and about of late, dealing with enquires and preparing estimates, which is of course good news. Yesterday I was on the Warwickshire/Leicestershire border trying to design a drainage scheme for one half of an underperforming field, about twenty acres in total.


On the whole the field had a steady fall, but by eye one corner seemed to rise and I was unsure exactly where the outlet should be sited. Although relatively minor, I always feel it is important to propose a scheme you are hundred percent sure of, little changes when the machines are on site normally makes no difference to the price or performance, it does not look professional. If in doubt survey the land.


The laser levels make the job simple. All I have to do is set up the laser on a tripod and then walk over the field stopping every so often to record the height of the beam. To record the height a receiver on a staff is inched upwards until it hits the beam and starts to bleep. I reckon a post on levels and the equipment used will have to go on to my blog ideas pile!


Yesterday I decided a grid for the low half of the field was require. Walking with my back to the wind, the temperature was warm and the day seemed pleasant, and then turned around. The field was open and exposed, I knew what was coming but even so the force of the wind caused me to lower my shoulder as if I was playing rugby. Funny thing the wind, I had not walked that far but on getting back to the office I was absolutely knackered!




After finishing typing out the last blog entry I started to wonder if drainage could be described as a bell weather section of the agricultural industry. Apparently, according to the oracle that is Wikipedia, Bell Weather is derived from an agriculture term! It refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight. I’m not sure I want to be linked to a castrated ram, but I do get the impression that land drainage can help gauge confidence in the industry.  



Whilst I would argue that drainage makes sense at any time, (to almost quote Mandy Rice Davis’ comments during the Profumo Affair “well he would really wouldn’t he”) most people are keener to put their hand in their pocket when times are good. Investing in a capital project is far more tempting if the repayment period is short and if good times ahead seem likely. In addition many people seem forget about drainage, it can easily be done. The efforts of drainage are hidden under three foot of soil, and before long the increased yields just become the norm. It’s not like a big, new, shiny tractor that grabs attention, drainage is something which is thought about, planned and carefully calculated. In part an investment in drainage reflects a farmer’s confidence is future.



If that is true, the good news for everyone is that we have definitely noticed an increase in the number of enquires we have had this year is comparison to the same time last year. If I’m wrong and drainage has no relationship to the rest of the agricultural industry, at least you can write a comment at the bottom of this page tearing my argument to pieces! I have no doubt about the reason why, but its arable farmers who are calling us up at the moment. Wet fields previously set-aside are being pushed into service and poor performing fields are no longer being tolerated. What does this mean, well a busy summer for us I hope, but always perhaps a little optimism for the whole of the farming world.     


According to a most of the newspapers and publications - January is the worst time of the year. A combination of short days, cold weather, post Christmas blues, and a brown landscape, condemns poor old January, although let’s face it take Christmas out of December and it’s just as bad. I find it hard to argue against such logic, but there is optimism as well. The days are short but getting longer, there are snowdrops and buds trying to develop.


The long summer days seem far away but the enquires are starting to come through the door and filling up the summer program. The winter jobs, most of which have been completed, will soon be completely cast aside for another year, as more and more estimates squeeze the amount of time we have for them. We’re not there yet, but very soon we will be running out of time again and hopefully I will have some more blog material!!!