Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Broadrake Wood

Tree planting day and 9 field officers from the Woodland Trust turned up at about 10.30am on a beautiful frosty winter's day. Fortunately the ground was not too frozen so planting could go ahead. (Volunteers can stand down now.)
With so many people who knew what they were doing, plus us, things moved on a pace and by about 3.30pm (with a break for lunch of course) there were 600 trees in the back field.
There is a mix of trees and shrubby stuff planted in a fairly random pattern with open areas in between so in time it should mature into a really attractive wood.

For more pictures of the day click this link.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Trees are here....

Well our trees have arrived!
This is the pallet from Thorpe Trees.


Most of what you see here is stakes and protectors. The trees themselves are in two small carrier bags on the top. Since the last post there's been a bit of an issue with Ash which was going to be 60% of the mix. Now due to DEFRA movement restrictions it's zero and we have a mix of Rowan, Downy Birch, Willow, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Bird Cherry and Lime.

The guys from the Woodland Trust are planning to come and help us plant on Wednesday 12th December but the worry now is that it is forecast to be the coldest day of the week and the ground will probably be set like concrete. So if Wednesday is out it will be down to us.

Volunteers welcome.

For the moment we've put the fencing on hold since the one quote we got was about £5,000. As we are now expert fencers anyway we thought we'd do it ourselves a bit later in the year. So we have made the field stockproof in the meantime by rebuilding the wall that was knocked down earlier to let the cows in. It's not the prettiest drystone walling ever but should be fine provided you don't breath on it.


Friday, 26 October 2012

Root Vegetables and their Applications in Plumbing

Yesterday seemed like a good time to get more acquainted with our water supply on account of how since the previous evening it appeared we didn't have one. We are not on mains of course, but instead take water from a stream high up on Whernside which feeds a couple of header tanks.

So I climbed up to the lower tank to find it empty, then on to the smaller tank further up which was also empty. The feed for this is from a pipe in the stream slightly higher again so I went up to inspect that and clear the inlet.

It all looked positive at this point with the higher tank now filling rapidly.

While the lower tank was empty I took the opportunity to climb in and shovel out the silt that had built up over time, but water was still not getting through from the higher tank, barely a trickle from the inlet.

I managed to find William, the neighbouring farmer, who knows about these things since he helped install a lot of the supplies for the local farms many years ago and had helped out the previous occupants on one or two occasions. He suspected an airlock in the pipe between the two tanks as there is a bit of a rise between them after a small dip, so since the pipe had drained completely we would need to get the water over this to restore the flow.
One suggestion was to block up the inlet to the lower tank for a bit to let the pressure from the trickle build up, then release it to see if that would clear the airlock.

Which is where the vegetables come in....

We needed something to plug the pipe so took up a potato and a carrot which looked about the right size. The potato proved more effective and after two or three goes letting pressure build up for five minutes or so we finally got a good flow into the lower tank.

All appears to be well now. We have water again and both tanks are full to the brim.

There is a picture of the potato below clearly showing the indentations where it has been pushed into the end of the pipe.

(Unfortunately no picture is available of the carrot, which has now been consumed in an Irish stew.)


Monday, 17 September 2012

Woodland Project goes to tender

The woodland project is moving on a pace now. Following a further site visit and discussions with the National Park Trees & Woodlands Officer we have now brought the number down to around 600 trees and he has produced some draft specifications we can use to invite tenders from contractors for fencing works and supply / planting of trees. So the project has now become "Proposed New Native Woodland Management Scheme - Broadrake Farm, Chapel-le-Dale". The proposed mix of species comprises Ash, Downy Birch, Hazel, Rowan, Bird Cherry and Goat Willow plus a shrub layer of Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Holly.

Although one of the draft specifications includes planting we have had a useful offer from the Woodland Trust who are having their Christmas Party for Northern based site managers nearby. They were looking for a practical activity to do during the day and asked would we mind awfully if they came and planted some trees for us. (So not your average office party then...)
Sounds like a good offer to us so we are encouraging it with offers of food, beer etc.

In the meantime the cows have made a bit of an impression on the grass and churned up the field in places. Now it appears they are trying to get into the garden and it may not be long before they succeed.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Woods, Grass & Nettles

We have had the flora survey now in the back field and all looks good. We have a species rich upland meadow but nothing so rare that it stops tree planting. So the next challenge was what to do with all the grass that seems to be growing.
Due to the uneven terrain, shakeholes and limestone outcrops William, the local farmer, doesn't seem keen to to cut it for haylage. He has done an excellent job on the field in front in a brief and all too rare dry spell. That's now starting to grow new grass so I expect he'll be putting his sheep back on shortly.
In the meantime we have managed to persuade him to let some cows onto the back field so whilst we were away on holiday William and his brother Frank have knocked a bit of wall down to allow his animals in from the neighbouring field. The cows seem to like it and are getting to grips with the grass nicely. They are better with the rougher stuff and longer growth than the sheep who prefer their grass a bit shorter, but some sheep have come in to check the field out anyway.
The National Park woodlands guy wants to come round for another site visit now so he'll here on Thursday. I think we need to talk about reducing the proposed number of trees since 900 sounds like an awful lot. Also we're not very sure how to manage the grass in the field once the trees have been planted. Grazing won't be an option since stock will damage them. We won't be planting the whole field anyway since the idea is to leave open areas amongst the trees so we could perhaps fence off the planted part to allow grazing in the rest. We've been checking out electric fences on the web as well though it seems you need different specifications for sheep and cattle. Apparently sheep with a full fleece are quite well insulated....
Then we thought we ought to do something about the nettles out the front as they seem to be our most successful crop. The strimmer kept jamming as the tough stems wrapped themselves round it and the shears were slow and hard work. Then I had a go with the old scythe left in the potting shed. In spite of JP's disparaging remarks about it not being set right, needing sharpening etc it seems far more effective than anything else. I've not got rid of all the nettles yet but I'm working on it...

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Native Woodland Project

Rache has been looking into options for new planting of native woodland in the field behind Broadrake, provided we can stop the sheep from getting in there and eating it all. We seem to be getting a pretty positive reaction from the Yorkshire Dales Park Authority.

We have had a site visit by The Woodland Trust with the Yorkshire Dales Trees and Woodlands officer followed by a "walkover" archaeological survey.This identified two ancient leats (man made water courses) now dry and a man made bank feature of possibly medieval or immediately post-medieval origin and recommended no planting on those areas but otherwise OK.
So now we are just waiting on a ground flora survey which needs to take place in July. Apparently there are "two base-rich flushes marked on the Phase 1 maps within this field" (whatever that means) and the planting area is also adjacent to one of the Black Grouse core areas. So no trees this summer, though to be honest timescales were a bit tight for that anyway.

Provided there are no really rare flowers it looks like we are on for planting about 900 trees in November (offers of help welcome....)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hill Inn Session (continued...)

Well on the 5th April I think there were more melodions than musicians and this time we managed to clear the bar. However it doesn't seem to have deterred Sabine, so we are going for it again.

First Thursday in the month so that will be 3rd May from 8.30pm (ish).

Friday, 23 March 2012

Hill Inn Musicians Session

There seemed to be a bit of demand amongst a few local musicians for a "music only" session to complement the singers and musicians nights at pubs in nearby Bentham and Burton in Lonsdale. So we approached Sabine, landlady at the Old Hill Inn, our local at the end of Philpin Lane. She didn't seem totally opposed to the idea so the inaugural session was held on Thursday 1st of March with the idea of making it a regular event on the first Thursday of the month.

It was well received by the musicians (I think we managed about eight) and by the audience (both of them) so Sabine has agreed to let us have another go. It's scheduled for the first Thursday in April, the 5th, which is the day before Good Friday.

Watch this space to see how it goes.