At our latest committee meeting on 4th July (no minutes posted yet because, to be belt-and-braces about it, they need to be ratified at the next one before they can go public), we talked about next steps towards achieving the FHW’s three main areas of focus – the wildflower meadow/s, the pond and the orchard.
Talking about priorities, we agreed that there were natural stages for each of the three, but the most pressing was to identify a site for the ephemeral pond and dig it – in the window after the cattle are moved off and before the next tranche of planting – in F4 and F5, in December. We’d heard that when Roger Hutton’s father had farmed the site 40 odd years ago, he’d had to drain the land because it was so wet (ideal for us), so Hil arranged to meet him there one evening last week.
By the time I got there – later than everyone else – the first thing I noticed was that we now have some new paths mown in the grass. Mark has an ancient, but effective sit-on machine and had given it a test run. His paths are much narrower and more natural-looking, with curves instead of the relentless straight lines of the bigger machines.
The drain explorers were already on their way back – the water site had been dealt with. It turns out that we’ll need to dig the pond in F4, instead of F5, which isn’t a problem – and may even be more aesthetically pleasing – because Jon had drawn the original one where it was, simply because he’d found a plant species that grows in damp soil …but if the field has been drained historically and we can remove those drains, it puts a different slant on things. The other piece of news is that there may even be a spring somewhere near the top, which would be a definite bonus. Apparently the idea is to dig a trench across the hill to find where the clay is lurking and therefore the best location. The cows were interested in everything that was going on…
Apart from the pond, the most urgent thing we’re faced with is the thistle problem. We knew they were there , but perhaps not in such quantity and we don’t want them to choke out everything else. It’s urgent because they’re already coming into flower and in no time at all – encouraged by this amazing spell of hot weather – will be seeding everywhere. We don’t expect to eradicate them in one session – or even one season – obviously, but something needs to be done – and fast. While we were discussing, it Nick let slip that he can use a scythe – he said it’s therapeutic. Mark immediately offered to bring his strimmer along too (not an implement that’s remotely therapeutic in my opinion) and maybe it was something to do with having the meeting sitting in the pub garden in the sun, but we agreed to combine the two things – not least to see which thistle chopping method would be quicker and more effective.
Nick had been scything for a while by this time, so Mark started at a disadvantage and what with one thing and another we didn’t get around to any comparisons. The main thing is that it was a productive couple of hours. Needless to say Rose took a much more comprehensive record of events than these few pictures from my phone and they’ll be posted in the gallery soon …won’t they, Rose?!
By the way, the trees in Haddon Wood are coming on nicely. Of course they’re very small – only a few are poking their heads above the tubes – and not all have survived, but there’s definite progress.