Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cleaning out the guttering of leaves and bird nests

If anyone has a sure-fire way of keeping the gutters free of debris then please do leave a comment as I'd love to save myself a job every time I visit our Brittany farmhouse.

In France we've been lucky enough to buy quite a large property with the 3 bedroom section of the house that we rent out, a second three bedroom section that I'm very slowly renovating, a stable and hay-loft section, plus there's a large external barn that used to be the original farmhouse but now stores our bikes and outdoor children's toys.

And with all this property comes an awful lot of guttering of which a fair chunk is underneath a massive 150+ year old oak tree.

Soon after buying the house I bought several rolls of black gutter-guard which is basically a rigid plastic mesh that you unroll down the gutters and then clip it in place with the supplied plastic clips to prevent leaves and other debris falling into the gutters.

I think its fair to say it doesn't really work. On the sections of guttering that are not underneath the oak tree we get a few leaves and twigs landing on the top of the gutter-guard and everything's fine, but for the sections that are underneath the lee of the tree we get so many leaves, twigs and leaf mulch that it not only sets into a solid mat, but it also inexplicably ends up underneath the gutter guard and in the guttering.

So just about every single time I go over to France I end up getting out the ladders and spend half a day climbing up the ladders, removing the rubbish off the top and then removing the black slimy wet mess out from underneath the gutter guard. Of course having the gutter guard in place gives me an additional challenge as I have to unclip it before I can remove the smelly leaf mess, then clip it back into place ready for my next visit to France and the whole cleaning out process to start again.

It's not that I really mind clearing out the gutters but I did hope that the plastic mesh would prevent me having to do this job.

Last August when I was over in France - cleaning out the guttering again - I noticed that one enterprising bird had found that the corner junction of two sets of guttering was the perfect place to build a nest in. The baby birds had long since flown away so the nest it was just one more thing for me to clear out of the gutters whilst up the ladder.

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