Tuesday 17 December 2013

Sheep 1 Orchard Site 0

We visited the site today and found three sheep on the land. Our fence repair is intact so they must have found another route on to the land. They soon retreated when we started a chain saw to do some work. We don't want to panic them because at this time of the year they are probably pregnant. 

We discovered the sheep had gnawed the bark from some off the branches we'd felled a couple of weeks ago. I'd imagine that unprotected fruit trees would suffer the same fate.

We spend a couple of hours cutting down small trees and working to tidy the embankment. It was mostly ash and hawthorn, but now there is a large pile of branches which need trimming and brushwood to burn or turn into wood chippings. It was hard work, with loads of thorns grabbing at us, but the result was satisfying. We removed four trees which were leaning over the fence and threatening long term problems. We cut their bases low in the normal coppicing style. It's far better to remove them now rather than waiting until the fruit trees are established.
Sheep Damage
In the picture you can see some of the damage caused to an Ash tree and an Elderberry shrub. The sheep have completely debarked a long section on each tree. Those trees will need to be dut down and coppiced to see if they'll recover.

Edit: 22/12/13 We met with Adrian, the guy who's going to lay the hedges. He told us sheep love to eat the bark from ash tree branches. Sure enough it was those branches in the log pile which the sheep had chewed.

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