My new Studio – week 5

The final clearing phase was completed this weekend – from part shed to no shed.

I saw the mother pigeon feeding her two young on top of the outhouse this evening, so both are fit and healthy. I’ve seen the mother a few times since the youngsters disappeared but I’m very pleased to have their safety confirmed – especially as I found the remains of a pigeon in the field this afternoon while I was harrowing it.

Today I finally began to remove the roof timbers and evicted the swallows – tyrant that I am! 🙂 There are plenty of nearby trees and access to the inside of the barn for roosts, and roosting was all they were recently using their old nest site for. With the roof and end panels removed, that just left the rotten uprights to haul out.

I discovered how powerful the new tractor’s hydraulics are as I lifted out the only upright that wasn’t rotten at the base – with a push to loosen it, it came out the ground complete with its concrete block. And that was it – the last post out and the job completed!

So the site is now cleared, fenced off so old Dolly the 34-year-old Shetland Pony can safely graze, and the site is ready for the builder to begin laying footings and the low wall that will contain the concrete base. The wall is designed to lift the studio above the occasional light flooding, and to dissuade Ronnie Rat and his mates from chewing their way in. All I need now is the builder….

My new Studio!

As so many people keep asking how my new studio is progressing, I’m going to keep a diary of events here. I’ve been working in the house for the past 30 professional years and I outgrew the space a couple of years ago. It’s time to move out! And Jenny would love to have the master bedroom back… and the dining room… and landing… and all the other places used for storage! 😮

More important to me is that I’ll finally have the studio space to begin making instructional DVDs – a project that I’ve been enthusiastic about for the last two or three years.

The 34′ x 20′ studio complex will consist of an office and DVD editing suite, a storage and shipping room, and a 20′ x 20′ film and art studio.

I’m currently dismantling our old hay barn to make way for the new studio – I even changed my 64 year-old MF35 tractor for a “young” 40 year old MF135 to help with the job. The old Fergie 35 lost its hydraulics a couple of years ago and, despite many attempts at replacing different parts and renewing seals, I only ever regained half the oil pressure.

Progress is slow – not just because of the tractor but because the hay store has temporary residents…

…a nursing Pigeon and a family of Swallows! And I’m having to dismantle the building carefully, because we mean to re-erect it on the other side of the barn, where it will serve as a field shelter for the horses and the MF135.


This weekend I managed to remove the cladding of the vertical wall and cleared part of the site around the building. The new studio will be about one and a half times the width of this old building and ten feet longer – extending somewhere near the tractor’s bucket.


Half of the roof has been removed – up to the point where I would expose the Swallows to the elements – and I’ve begun to clear the old hay and straw from inside. The hay stood on pallets that were raised up on breeze blocks to dissuade the rats from making it a home from home, helped by the gap giving my cats room to hunt underneath.


This week I’ve finished clearing everything out of the barn. The two Pigeon squabs are feathering up and the three Swallow chicks are demanding food with wide open yellow mouths, so they should all be flying soon. Unfortunately, my builder seems to have the same idea. He still hasn’t drawn up the contract and three weeks have passed. On Sunday we phoned to ask for progress and were assured it would be ready in a couple of days. Maybe…


Still no contract! We’re still hoping to have the studio erected before the end of August when we fly to the United States to run the Oregon, Californian and Colorado workshops. On my return I’ll have the electrics, heating, flooring, and doors and skirtings to fit, and then begin the task of fitting out all three rooms.

This afternoon we decided to provide ourself with a “Plan B” by returning to the original company, although their quote was considerably higher – by a few thousand. We managed to reduce the price a bit but that still leaves us with a building requiring a concrete base that we have to provide, having no insulation or interior panelling, and a felt-covered roof instead of box-profile steel. Not what we’d wish for but at least we’d have a building, even though the extra work in fitting it out will almost double the price quoted by our missing builder.

On our return home we were going through the figures, over a welcome cup of coffee, when there was a knock on the door. It was the builder! Contract? “I’ll draw one up,” he said “I never used to bother with them until recently.” Apparently he was preoccupied with other jobs, but now has the materials in stock and is ready to begin. He gave us a start date and will commence building it this week in his workshop (it’s a wooden sectional building). And he’ll have it erected before we leave to run the US workshops in September.

So we’re back with him and I’m pleased. He’s a local builder who branched out into building pig farrowing sheds – which is what I’m getting, with modifications! Before you scratch your head in wonderment, the pig sheds are fully insulated, superbly lined, finished to a high standard and climate controlled.

This means I’ll now have a building that is almost fully finished, including the two internal walls, and set on a base that will be poured next Monday week.

I’ve finished clearing out the old hay store and will remove the rest of the roof as soon as the Swallows no longer need their nest. In fact this evening I removed the rest of the roof panels, and loosely replaced the one above the nest. And I dismantled some of the roof timbers. This building has to be gone my next Monday!

Two days ago one Pigeon squab disappeared and today the other has gone too. There are no signs of feathers anywhere near, so I’m happy that they’ve flown from the nest and not been caught by the fox or one of my cats. Yesterday the Swallow chicks moved from their nest onto the beam to practice flying – and immediately after I took the photo below they did just that! A short circuit and back to the beam. They’re all back alongside the nest this evening and being fed by both parents, so I’m confident I can remove the nest and the hay store next week.

I finally feel as though progress has been made – even to the point of ordering some equipment I’ll need for making the instructional DVDs.

I’ve just taken delivery of a Seagate 1.5 TB external hard drive. If you need something similar, I don’t think you can beat either the brand or price – head straight over to the BT Shop and grab one for just £74.98 including VAT and delivery!