There was nothing for it. I’d have to do a caesarean. I’d never done one before but it was surely a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Off I went to fetch the Milwaukee grinder to cut a hole big enough to get my whole arm in.

You see, every few years we get a skip for the scrap metal that’s built up around the yard.

A diesel bowser, which I made when I was an energetic young man, was destined for the skip but first it had to be emptied of its diesel, which resembled tar.

There was nearly four barrels of this stuff in it and on the last barrel – wouldn’t you know – the suction pipe of the hand pump dropped into the curse-o-jaysus tank.

Jason tried to retrieve it with a litter picker but no good. I had to roll up my sleeves and do an angle grinder caesarean.

Next out of the shed for relics was the rusting Cross fertiliser auger from 1995 (Sorry, Simon!).

We ceased to use bulk fertiliser about 10 years ago and now it’s that expensive we’re buying it in crisp packets. I’d say cocaine is cheaper per kilo but I wouldn’t know.

We’d had a Gordon front-mounted furrow press for years. Last year it seized up solid while working and I nearly drove across the wretched thing. It wasn’t worth repairing after I’d pay Bruno, so into the skip it went.

Modern day blacksmith

But I don’t go to Bruno’s just for their engineering skills; it’s for the craic as well and that’s important.

In times gone by, on wet days, the blacksmith’s forge was known for the chat and nowadays Bruno’s is similar. Only don’t call him a blacksmith …

Anyhow, back to the scrapheap challenge. The Fraser grain roller mill from 1970 AD was next for the chop.

My childhood memories actually pre-date this roller. I remember an ancient belt-driven Bentall grinder in the grinder house under the grain loft.

A Fordson Major would be carefully lined up outside to drive the wide flapping belt with its side-mounted pulley. A couple of inches either way and the belt would fly off, to much cursing.

However, it was the 1970s arrival of the grain preservative, propionic acid, that I disliked. The barley was augered up to the loft with the acid applicator attached. The treated grain had then to be shovelled nice and level across the loft floor.

Between the scratchy dust, sweat and acid in the windowless loft, it was a horrible job, particularly for asthmatic me with about as much puff as a mating bullfrog.


But you shouldn’t be too sentimental when you’re on a scrap clean out and I’m not great on this front.

Still, out went parts from a 1967 Alvan Blanch C115 drier I bought in the 1980s in Monaghan.

Originally installed to dry grass seed – there was a thriving herbage seed growing sector up there then but it was pathetically slow for us.

So, into the skip with its heavy duty cast iron reduction gearbox manufactured by WH Bird of Bristol, probably for reincarnation in a Chinese steel mill into something horribly light and cheap and inferior like a million Korean electric car bonnet locks.

Oh, the indignity of it. Something that was engineered to last forever recycled into something to last just long enough for the five-year warranty.

Let’s hope in today’s very turbulent world that the scrap ploughshares aren’t made into Chinese or Russian weapons of war.