Routine continued this morning with the exception that the marmalade I brought over with me appeared on the table and seemed to get the Sturm seal of approval too which was nice. Tim took charge of the testing this morning as I got on with producing a graph of the hourly-averaged electricity usage around the farm using the data from our testing. With luck it should be able to tell Thorsten and Georg whether they’ll be able to install batteries with solar to cover their pump and other auxiliary usage. As well as the normal morning testing Tim and I also peeled the cover on the silage back another 6 feet and managed to avoid falling over the edge while rolling the covering back and replacing the sandbags. With half an hour to kill before lunch we also cleaned up the silage a bit, shovelling a good pile into the path of the loader for tomorrow.

A view inside the giant final storage tank - it's huge!

A view inside the giant final storage tank – it’s huge!

Lunch was soup to start with breaded mushrooms, potatoes, peas, carrots and sweetcorn which was great. Dessert was the other wine cake that was made – this one is cherry, nuts and red wine and is also superb. Honestly, I’ve put rum, stout, ale, baileys and a whole host of other spirits into cakes into the past but never thought of adding wine to the fruit. Just delicious.

Me looking very chipper while brandishing a spanner - I'm obviously enjoying myself!

Me looking very chipper while brandishing a spanner – I’m obviously enjoying myself!

After lunch Thorsten asked us whether we could remove the oxidiser on the exhaust of the oil/gas motor so he could clean it. This involved removing the cladding and unbolting a sizeable panel before we could get access to the exhaust (fortunately the engine was off at the time!). Coordinating the spanners while on a platform with ear defenders was a bit of challenge but we managed it okay, removed the filter with no problems and replaced the panel and cladding as asked. While Tim got stuck into the titrations for the afternoon I wrote the visual basic code for the pig-logging spreadsheet Thorsten asked for last night and got generally frustrated by the errors, but we got there I think, eventually.

Finishing up around 17:45 we headed back to the room and caught up with family, emails and diary. Still unsure whether we’re off running tonight yet. I would happily go alone but it’s already dusk, I’d definitely get lost and Thorsten has the head torch, so I’m pretty much dependent on whether he fancies it or not. On the one hand I really feel like I need it, having eaten quite a lot of fried food the last few days, but on the other I don’t know whether I’d be up to running another 13km at sub 5-minute pace having not really done much (except 6km on Sunday) for over a week. I suppose we’ll see!

…Well we did go for a run and managed about 11.5km in just under an hour, which considering we were talking most of the way and I hadn’t even broken 10km before coming out here I was pretty happy with. Leaving just before dusk I was glad Tim was riding with us as the gyro on the bike gave us a much better amount of light than the headtorches though I still managed to very nearly fall into a ditch. That’s what I get for trying to multitask (talking and running).

Back in the evening we sat around the dinner table for a few hours discussing a wide range of topics from politics and energy to what you call the end of a loaf of bread (the answer is ‘nobby’ in case you’re wondering/ think it’s something else – like crust for example – and need correcting). Feeling completely shattered from the run I managed to check a few emails, write a few replies, post a blog and then collapse into bed. Last day tomorrow and don’t want to be tired for tractor training (EGGS-SIGH-TED).


Another varied day today. As we got on with the normal testing Thorsten came to see if we wanted to have a look at the engines while they were being serviced. A 12-cyinder 300kW engine…do we?! We jumped at the chance and while watching how the valves are adjusted we even then got roped in to maintaining the spark plugs.

Lunch for the veggies was the remainder of the baked rice from the previous day with fresh salad and fries and was again very tastily topped off with a nut cake (the arrival of which I found a useful time for the German for ‘excellent’, which I can say but not spell, surprising most of the people around the table). After lunch, as maintenance on the engine continued and an environmental engineer continued taking NOx and formaldehyde readings while the engine engineer (that sounds odd but I hope you get my meaning) tuned the engine to improve its performance we were looking for something to do before testing again. Thorsten asked if we’d mind cleaning the compactor which was still full of clay-soil from last year – they had been waiting for the winter to freeze the mud and make it easier to knock off. We didn’t mind at all, in fact having eaten a spoonful too many for lunch I was glad of the exercise and we set about using hoes and mattocks to clean the rollers of the six inches of compacted mud they’d accrued before testing began.

With little to get on with once testing was done I set about writing a bit of visual basic code to strip the readings from the abysmal data output by the gas analyser (it writes to an excel file but lumps the data and units into one cell with no consistent format) – to get anything in a plottable fashion you’d have to rewrite out all of the data which kinda defeats the point of having it recorded anywhere!

We finished a bit earlier than expected and spent a bit of time taking photos of the site for our final reports that go back to the REA before Thorsten asked whether one of us wanted to load some silage into one of the hoppers. Tim jumped in the loader cab and I hung in through the window as we got a crash course in driving and manoeuvring the loader before we were set loose on the silage. Tim successfully dumped over a tonne of silage into the hopper before we headed off for dinner.

That evening I eventually got round to taking my laptop to the internet and sent off some emails and posted the first blog. Feeling a bit better that I’d actually achieved something I then set about getting on with a bit of work too and only when I couldn’t think how to rephrase one of my corrections did I finally give up and go to bed, only to have it go round in my mind for the next hour or so. Oh well, hopefully by the morning it will become clear…

Sunset over the roller we cleaned during the afternoon and I didn't even play with the colours!

Sunset over the roller we cleaned during the afternoon and I didn’t even play with the colours!