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...