Tuesday 10 December 2013

Sheep expelled

We are now ready to plant the fruit trees, but they need protecting from sheep incursion. Today we effected a repair to the hedge where the sheep had created a trail via a hole in the hedge from the adjacent field. This morning there were none of the woolly beasts to be found in the orchard site, they're probably grazing elsewhere. Yesterday there were several sheep in our field.  We don't mind their presence particularly, but we need to keep them out when the fruit trees are planted,

The hedge is in a poor state, both overgrown and also a lot of dead wood after years of neglect. Blackthorn really is nasty stuff to battle through when fixing stock fence in place! What appeared to be a small gap took four metres of wire stock fencing and some fence posts but the gap is now fixed. This will be a temporary repair until the hedge is relaid during the winter.

We'll be creating stock fence wire enclosures for each tree that we plant. These enclosures will provide protection for the fruit tree saplings if any sheep manage to find another route into the field. Next to consider is protecting the trees from rabbits! Maybe some plastic sleeving is required. We've delivered a heap of fence posts to the site ready for the tree enclosures.

We'd noticed a 5 metre elm tree which had been snapped by last week's winds. It was in an awkward position overhanging the River Ecclesbourne. To simply cut it down would have caused it to fall into the river. In the end we attached a long rope and, from a position of safety, winched the broken top half of the tree down and away from the river. The dead tree top is now pile of logs on our wood heap and I now have greater confidence in my rusty skills of creating eye splices in ropes.

A large ash branch had fallen in the winds and was projecting over the roadside pavement. It was hung up in other branches and too heavy to pull down safely. We chain-sawed it into sections in situ and removed the individual pieces. For ash wood, it was surprisingly heavy. 

After the work we called in to the local butcher Anthony Andrews to buy some meat for our Christmas Open day. It is really pleasing to find such a good butcher's shop in the locality. We've not been disappointed so far.

We've appointed a fencing contractor to install a roadside stock fence. Over the next couple of years we'll rejuvenate the old hedge with the intention of having it relaid and subsequent removal of the wire stock fence.

ps: The following day. Despite the efforts to protect the trees from sheep/rabbits we ignored the far greater risk. Wolf damage!  We've temporarily stored the trees in our back garden. This morning we discovered our German Shepherd 6 month old puppy had chewed off the top of one of the apple saplings. Grrr!

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