Where's the honey? My highly trained scent hound and I are on a mission to locate the source of the strong honey smell in The Stable. Something timber-related or honeycomb? I really want it to be the latter, and to find it without angering bees. So far, no success, however I'm going to forgive my olfactory weakness given my trusty sidekick is more interested in licking metal shelving. Underachieving Scooby Doo.
The Stable is the oldest building on the farm and dates to the 17th Century. Originally, it was thatched, the bowed roof seen today is the structure adapting from lightweight thatch to heavyweight tiles. Fortunately the timber framers mantra "triangles are strong" holds true here!
We're searching for the golden nectar because The Stable is playing host to this year's timber frame repair course on the 22nd - 24th May. As with previous courses, we've got a lot of work to do to prepare the site. Whilst the building was once used for rearing calves, there haven't been too many changes since my grandparents bought the farm. To the point, the picture below shows the contents of the loft:..the original corn sacks holding feed (now chaff) for the heavy horses that left the stable in 1951 when my grandparents introduced tractors. I like this photo, but just occasionally, in a fleeting moment of weakness, I think I'd like it more if it were on someone else's farm! There's even hay left in the mangers which is pretty remarkable. Almost a shame to disturb it...
However, it is a beautiful building and has one massive positive; unlike the Mill House there is considerably less concrete shuttering to remove!
So over the next few months, the building will be emptied, every feature photographed, the structure to be worked on explored, and we'll replace the branch Acro prop with several "borrowed" from Richard Green, the course leader. We'll even restore electricity after the last cable crossing the yard had an argument with a loader. The tractor won.
This is the first time for decades we will see an empty stable, so despite the "Where are we going to put everything?" questions (cue minor hyperventilation), it is very exciting. We'll keep you updated here on the blog and local readers can inspect our progress on 9th June, the glorious day that is Open Farm Sunday!
If you are interested in taking part in this or other traditional building repair courses, head to the Essex Heritage website. Dates for the next courses hosted here at Lower Dairy Farm are: Lime Plaster Repair: 26th April; Timber Frame Repair Course : 22nd - 24th May.