We made another visit to the Horsford Watering Pit on Green Lane to continue our work thinning the willow around the pool. On the last day of February Matt D joined us to cut down a lot of the large willow trees and cut up the old picnic table and bench then departed back to the office leaving Paula and us volunteers to clear up. There were some large willow trees and Matt has the experience to deal with these.
So, we were left with a pile of trunks and branches which had to be disentangled before burning. Paula cut through the piles of wood to reduce the size and make it easier to handle. The team set about dragging the wood to the fire and we gradually worked our way through the stacks. The unseasonably dry weather meant there was plenty of dry brash around to get our fire started on the ash pile left from our previous visit.
It was hot and sunny, again, and with the area cleared of the willow it had become a bit of a sun trap! Too hot for a fire really but it is the best way to dispose of willow in a remote location. Leaving it as habitat piles doesn’t work well since it just takes root in damp areas and soon grows to cover the area once again. There must have been a lot to clear since it was after 3pm when we left the site. As on our previous visit we used our water pump to completely extinguish the fire before we left.
There were lots of birds around and a common frog was spotted heading towards the fire but was guided away towards the pond while Robert captured a few photos of it for our blog. Cakes today were provided by Paula (chocolate marble cake) and Keith (jam and lemon curd tarts).
On the first day of March we visited the Dog Lane woodland plantation on the other side of Horsford. Here was the site of another pit which had been filled and planted with trees. It is a small fenced-off area of mixed woodland at the end of the lane, managed by the Parish, and on the edge of a much larger Drayton Drewray woodland. Matt H was in charge and we had a number of tasks to undertake around the area.
Many of the fence posts had rotted and needed replacing: a task that Keith and Bob and Bob tackled. The old posts were unpinned from the barbed wire and new posts knocked into place and stapled to the wire. Around 15 posts were replaced so that kept the lads busy for a while. The bramble along the fence line and around the kissing gate was cut to help the team get access to the posts. The bramble was old and too thick for the mulching blade on the brush cutter to do much more than just separate it from its roots, so it was raked-up and piled on site.
The other task was to work our way around the woodland and cut back any lower or dead branches. A crown lift benefits the trees encouraging them to put more growth into the upper branches. It also opens up the site and improves the appearance. The brash was left in habitat piles amongst the trees. We had completed everything by 1pm so had an early finish. It looks a whole lot better after our tidy-up. It is a popular spot with walkers and cyclists passing by on their way into the larger wood.
Our volunteers are a resourceful and talented bunch who can turn their hand to any task. They are mostly patient and stoic in the face of adversity and will just get on with the job. A recent example of this acceptance of a situation was demonstrated at Horsford where, on both days, our temperament was tested. On Thursday Matt D had forgotten to bring the coffee – left it in his kitchen after removing the cups from the dishwasher (good to hear that these are washed!). And on Friday Matt H had forgotten the milk! These things have happened before and I now carry spare teaspoons, just in case, since it is difficult to manage without these (as we have sometimes had to do). There may have been a few raised eyebrows and some mutterings, but we’ll get over it.