The beginning of February meant we had to set up for the hedge laying competition and this involved clearing all the scrub from either side of the proposed hedge and picking up the farm rubbish. Once the site was ready all we had to do then was to find some stakes and binders , but where to get them from? Well, as it happened, another hedge had quite a bit of elm scrub in the ditch, it was perfect for the stakes and we even found some binders but most had to be bought in.
Having hosted the Wimpole Hedge Laying Competition on the first Saturday in February we had to clear up… what a mess! loads of brash to chip. Luckily for us we had the Cambridge National Trust Volunteers to help. It was a rather cold, wet and dreary day
so there was nothing for it but to start a fire and much appreciated it was. While some were chipping others were burning; meanwhile I carried on laying the hedge with some of the CNTV placing the stakes and binding the hedge… all were busy with useful work and working as a team. Below is a small gallery.
Many thanks to the CNTV for all their hard work on a cold, wet Sunday.
Normally I don’t lay a complete hedge like this as we carry on the next year with another competition but this time we needed to lay all 400m of it- half Midland style and the other half was laid in the South of England style.
Finally the whole hedge was laid and we had a big pile of wood which was left for one of the house tenants on the estate- better to warm someone’s house than spend a lot of time and fuel chipping it up!!!!!
We did have a pleasant surprise at Rectory Farm while working on the hedge- there were around 7 or 8 short eared owls hunting over the clover leys.
There were also quite a few kestrels, a pair of sparrow hawks, a few buzzards, a barn owl and two kites. Just goes to show you that what appears to be an untidy field is actually teeming with wildlife as there were over ten hares, partridge, pheasant and hordes of small birds… oh, plus the rabbits and rats which the Jagdterriers were helping to reduce in number.
Having completed the hedge at Rectory Farm it was time to clear up Cobbs Wood Farm- there was a huge heap of lop and top from the gardens to chip up but some proved a tad more problematic so we mulched it with the mower… brilliant, all sorted!
Part of the clear up included recycling lots of iron from around the estate. It is always surprising to see the amount of metal that is left lying around, must have recycled over a hundred tons over the last twenty years. Now we usually fill two skips each year amounting to approximately five tons annually, where does it keep coming from?!!!!!!!!
Another job that nobody else really wants to do is to pick up all the rubbish thrown away alongside the roads surrounding the estate. It seems to be getting worse and this year we filled the back of the Ford Ranger in just a 1000m section of road. Worst of all was the number of dirty nappies thrown out as people leave the estate, worse than dog poo bags left in trees!!!!!!! Anyway, a good job done by all the countryside team, thank you very much.
Perhaps a nice gallery of the landscape at Wimpole is in order.
Another job for February was to clear the vegetation around the Chinese Bridge. This area was only cleared five years ago but everything grows so quickly and there was an awful lot of rubbish to bag, including the all too ubiquitous dog poo bags- why oh why do people think there are poo fairies to clear up after them?!!!!
Once the spillway had been cleared the water started to form a continuous wall of water however there is some repair work required on the Chinese Bridge as it’s now 35 years old and some of the wooden joints have started to rot. Always maintenance work to do.
Had an interesting evening during this month- the BBC Horizon programme makers came to Wimpole to film up at the Folly around a fire. It is going to be a programme about psychosis, should very very interesting and apparently it will be shown in April or May.
It wasn’t the warmest day but nearly twenty people came to February’s Sunday meet to make all sorts of wooden items (although I didn’t actually get to see what was made as very unfortunately I was invited to Thriplow for a pub lunch which I reluctantly had to go to… seriously, are you doubting me?!!!!!!!)
So, as if we didn’t have enough work, Mother Nature decided to give the woodlands a shake up. Storm Doris paid us a visit and wreaked havoc felling quite a few trees.
Mostly it was the ash trees that came down but there was one really big field maple that fell to the ground. We will have to plank that up as large (28 inch diameter) field maple is a rarity.
One thing about a storm is it does sort out those trees with cavities you can’t see. One ash had a massive cavity that some honey bees had used for their hive, they’ll have to find a new home now!!! It is an important point though that many of these cavities contain some very rare invertebrate insects so, although we will collect a lot of the timber, those with cavities and other micro habitats we will leave so that the wildlife can survive.
Another boon when trees fall down is the ability to inspect the twigs and branches for lichens and mosses; of late we are seeing more species of Ramalina. Not seen R. farina yet but we may soon…