The Woodcraft Folk came for their annual weekend to camp and learn about the countryside. They also had a lesson in tent peg making as they lose about one to two dozen pegs a year. Managed to get them to make twelve so now they will be self-sufficient with regard to wooden tent pegs
Rubbish day weather-wise on Tuesday so spent the morning clearing out the shed and making some wooden items, one of which used the cast off ‘log to leg’ legs. Nobody wanted them at the Bodger’s Ball so I picked them up just in case they’d come in handy … they did 🙂 Some waste ash and a bit of effort and look what you can make.
This will be a bowl making horse as it’ll make carving the inner bowl much easier and safer.
The weather improved somewhat so it was back to painting the barns at Cobbs Wood Farm. A good rub down made it easier to apply the tar but not before some of the water damaged boards were replaced- that’s the trouble if you don’t maintain buildings in a watertight state. In this case the gutters had fallen apart and the rainwater from the roof dripped down the wood rather than the downpipe.
We’re getting there with this job – a northerly range of barns so only the westerly range to do plus the corrugated metal barns. Think there may have been some mickey taking- Jim woz (not) ere :-)!
Had another mowing session on Tuesday evening- quite a few different people turned up and that included Mr Poldark himself, aka Matt, (watch this space- Mr Poldark is getting
better). We mowed quite a bit of grass and that meant we had to move it the next day; instead of drying it (which takes time) it was taken down to the farm and mixed in with last year’s hay thus stretching the limited hay available and giving the farm animals something tastier. They do this in Romania with their milk cows and, if you think about it, it does save a lot of time drying the grass to make hay.
Finished off the tarring to the northerly barn but, before moving on to the other one, we went and picked the primrose seed in Victoria Avenue. It’s not at all easy to harvest mechanically as the seedheads hide under the basal leaves. Cowslip seeds are much easier to collect and this is reflected in the price. Wild primrose seed can cost as much as £ 2.5 a gramme compared to cowslip at £1.50 or £260 a kilo so god knows how much a kilo of primrose is as Emorsgate doesn’t have enough to quote a price.
I think we picked about a kilo or so of green seedheads in an hour- guess that would be about half a kilo of dry seeds. We then threw the seeds into a new area of Victoria Avenue and being green they should grow this year (without a cold spell).
While down in the avenue I took the opportunity to see what flowers were out. Plenty of meadow buttercups and red clover of course but there was also ox-eye daisy, plantain, yellow rattle, birdsfoot trefoil and speedwell. I did find a broomrape very close to some red clover so I guess it was Orobanche minor.
Broomrapes have no chlorophyll so they are totally dependent on other plants for nutrients. Broomrape seeds remain dormant in the soil, often for many years, until stimulated to germinate by certain compounds produced by living plant roots. Broomrape seedlings put out a root-like growth which attaches to the roots of nearby hosts. Once attached to a host the broomrape robs its host of water and nutrients. Some species are only able to parasitise a single plant species, such as ivy broomrape Orobanche hederae, which is restricted to parasitising ivy; these species are often named after the plant they parasitise. Others can infect several genera, such as the lesser broomrape O. minor, which lives on clover and other related Fabaceae.
Time to get ready for the Cambridge County Show. The weather was somewhat fickle and the forecast for Sunday wasn’t looking too hopeful either. This show is on the Wimpole Estate but is run by the young farmers. The estate is allowed a small area to promote our work so the Wympole Green Woodworkers were going to be there as was the portable blacksmith forge.
Had to fetch some decent fresh ash wood for turning and some alder we had cut (to have a competition related to alder). I wonder if anyone will make gunpowder as alder charcoal was used for this; there again perhaps some clogs… somehow I doubt it. We’ll find out next month what people have made.
We also went to our new woodyard to find some elm for making spoon carving blocks and took a little look en route at the willow bed Shane and Jayne planted. Wow! It is doing exceptionally well- I think there are around five hundred sets- so next year we might have around 2000-4000 binders and rods. A long time ago I cleared up this area as it was full of rubbish; it cost a fortune as I had to get Huntingdon Plant in- they had a 360 digger and most of the contaminated soil was removed. Once that was clear I then sowed some wild flower seeds on the bare soil.
Loads of flowers are growing here and I learnt a lot from this first sowing and subsequent ones – namely that some wild flowers like wet soils while chalkland ones like dryer soils. As much of the land has been drained we have lost most of the wet meadows and it’s actually very hard to get them back without re-introducing a higher water table.
The last bit of sowing we were doing at the Folly was aimed at a more general flower meadow (nothing rare, just what would grow in this area). Further up and around the field on the more chalky slopes we sowed some chalk grassland mix a month ago and that appears to be doing quite well.
The winter barley on the adjacent farms has just headed up and with a blowy evening on Friday it was wonderful to watch it ripple with the wind- a sea of barley.
Well, I got a surprise on Saturday morning… Mr Fox was hunting rabbits in the parterre. No wonder he was spending quite a bit of time bouncing in and out as it forced the rabbits to bolt out and in two of the beds there are small rabbit warrens. With the fox catching rabbits was he friend or foe of the gardener?