It has been a trying and testing few weeks, and not all of
it has gone my way even after some of the almost epic battles I have fought.

The workshop roof was replaced, but the insurance company was very late
issuing the cheque, which meant I had an awkward situation with an irate roofing
contractor, large companies are extremely late in paying me and this is
seriously affecting the day to day operations of my business: I’ve had to buy in
materials for these jobs and I have had to pay for them and yet the larger
companies that I have worked for either ignore or lie to me when the invoices
that I issued become due, and these late payments mean funds are not available
for some of the projects I am working on. One particular new product launch has
been postponed because the money isn’t there for me to build the initial stock,
and I have also got a self assessment tax payment to make which would be more
than covered by just one of outstanding invoices.

Insurance companies
seem to be blighting my life at the moment. I’ve never had to make a claim over
the previous years of my life, and yet this year I have made claims all of which
have been disputed by the insurance companies: The storm damaged workshop roof,
a faulty computer hard drive (that is why my internet presence has been limited
over the last few weeks), and a stolen (hired with the additional insurance)
scaffold tower taken overnight from a supposedly secure site I was working on.
The warranty claim battle over a faulty 6 week old Lumix camera that Lois bought
for my birthday from the electrical retailer Comet nearly drove me insane and
was only resolved by sending registered letters of complaint to the Managing
director and several of the other board members of the Comet group.

of these issues have been ongoing as I try to expand the business, which has
made my job all the more difficult: things have to be worked around, projects
postponed, even shelved or cancelled. I can announce that from the 1st of
October Copper, Brass and Tinsmithing services will be offered and I even have a
couple of commissions for beaten copper sculptures. Lois had been looking around
for a new hobby, and one day she picked up some copper, snips and a hammer and
within just a few minutes got the hang of making copper leaves. So this is
something that we will be doing and enjoying together. Very little equipment
needed to be purchased; most of the required tools being covered by my own very
comprehensive toolkit. The Brass and Copper working will be run as a separate
entity to Cargo Cycles although there will be some overlap.

Oz has
calmed down a lot over the last month, and is by and large losing his fear
aggression which has caused me so much trouble over the time he has been with
us. In the last week I have been able to run him with the 9 O’clock pack on
Pilling Park without him resorting to fighting the other dogs, and it is getting
close to him becoming the play pack leader…..  if there is a ball involved he is
right there in the thick of it and even the already established pack leader is
succumbing to Oz and surrendering the ball. However the Flyball training is not
progressing. Oz just can’t seem to grasp that the objective is to run as fast as
possible to retrieve a stationary ball from the launcher and bring it back. He
does the hurdles bit so easily, but a stationary ball just sitting there does
not encourage the urgency that a thrown or kicked ball does.

The 9
sq/mtr project has sort of slowed down to an almost standstill, and our
consumption of available crops has fallen to around 25% of the vegetables that
we eat. This is mainly due to poor weather, blighted plants and plant munching
pests, the worst of them being the extraordinary amount slugs ….. We just cannot
seem to stay ahead of them at the moment. It has been an extremely difficult
growing season this year, especially with almost 3 months of continuous rainfall
combined with our very  limited knowledge and experience of square foot garden
and companion growing, those along with the mistakes that we have made are the
major reasons for us not being able to produce an unbroken continuous harvest:
but we have learnt some of the tricks, and are still learning about the methods
and techniques that we need to employ, which although a little disheartening has
on the whole  meant we have enjoyed some if not most of the first growing season
of this project.
We have made mistakes, but we have gained from them, and
our little notebook is bulging with ideas to be implemented over the coming
months. In fact I think that some of the changes we will make to our management
of this project will be so drastic that it will almost be a restart of the
project; if not the whole, then at least the majority.
Armed with new
knowledge and previously gained experience the challenge of moving forward and
bettering our results and efforts of this year is now being planned for.

Foraging in the local area has been extremely disappointing this year.
Blackberries virtually failed, there are very few sloes, Hawes or Crab apples
about, and I have not seen any fruit on the feral Apple, Pear, Plum or Damson
trees. There is some promise showing with the Rosehips, Walnuts, Almonds,
Hazelnuts and Sweet Chestnuts.

At the beginning of the foraging season I
did get on Ebay and buy a Nether Wallop Berry Harvester. What few Sloes and
Blackberries I obtained, this gadget has proven to be very quick and efficient
to use. Even with a berry harvester 3 hours only delivered 3 KG of berries, with
most of this time spent thrashing my way in to the centre tangle of briars to
get what few berries that were there.


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