Land management and conservation, June 2016

Wheatland Farm is a conservation project in action. This month: mowing, ponds, nettles, driveway part 1, Evie ave haircut, treeguards.

What? Mowing more patches
Where? In the southern part of the lodge field.
Why? We’re cutting patches that are very ‘grass heavy’ in the hope of lessening the grass domination before seeding with plants like yellow rattle in the autumn. Eventually we want more flowers and less grass.

What? Continuing to remove water weed and bull rushes
Where? From the wildlife pond
Why? If you don’t manage ponds they eventually silt up. This year we’ve got a bloom of blanket weed we want to keep on top of. And we want a few open patches for swimming and boating. We leave the weed on the edge for a while in the possibly-vain hope that any beasties escape, but the important part is we only do a bit at a time. And we pull it by hand. Lots of newts get released back into the pond.

What? Pulling thistles and nettles
Where? Everywhere really, but especially in the field below Balebarn
Why? We spot sprayed earlier in the year but now there’s too much other plant life around in most of our ‘problem areas’. So it’s back to the back-breaking approach.

What? ‘Hair cut’ for the drive
Where? One side at a time, and in patches
Why? The long grass eventually falls over, so we cut it with a scythe, taking care to avoid the later-flowering plants like birds foot trefoil.

What? ‘Hair cut’ for the willow arches
Where? These are along the walk from the lodge field to the field below Balebarn Lodge. They edge the trees we planted as part of ‘Tree O’clock’ back in 2008.
Why? Just to keep them looking intentional, to direct energy into the arches, and so as to not overshadow the young trees behind. Mind you, these are getting pretty big now. Soon they’ll be taller than the willows.

What? Maintain the ‘Evie Avenue’
Where? Links the (very) old manure heap behind Balebarn with the treehouse.
Why? The old manure heap is a tricky area. Not only is it thick with nettles it’s also thick with plastic, baler twine etc (not dumped by us!). Initially we were going to make a ‘garden’, but the soil is just too difficult. So instead we’re growing trees, which will eventually shade out the nettles. But overhead wires go across here, so we can’t have tall trees. Under the wires we’ve planted willows that we hope to weave into an avenue. At the moment they mark a scything route to lodge field. Why Evie? Because she helped us plant them while staying at Balebarn Lodge.

What? Put tree guards on young trees
Where? By Beech Lodge
Why? Coz the squirrels have been having a right go at the bark…