Thursday 26 December 2013

The hungry horde

We called by the orchard site on Boxing Day to find about 15 sheep from the adjoining field. We gently herded them back, but had no equipment with us to fix the fence problem. They'd found new gaps. further along the field from our last repair. The sheep are clearly very hungry having destroyed many wild tree saplings and ring barked some other hedge trees too. The branches and logs we'd left from the last trimming work have been completely stripped. Most of the ewes have babies on-board, so we can't be aggressive with them. The soil is getting quite damaged from their hooves, but the sheep have removed a lot of the brush we were intending cut anyway saving us some work.
The field "mown" by the sheep.

We'll pay another visit this week to patch the holes in the fencing. I'm quite pleased we haven't planted the orchard trees or we'd be looking at having to replace some expensive fruit tree. We're suffering from the neglect of the land by previous owners.

We discovered a small stone lined entrance of a tunnel/culvert (about one metre in diameter) running under the road bridge embankment. We think it is the route of a small stream which shows on some of the older maps but the stream bed across our land has been mostly filled in at some point in the past 150 years. From the style of stone work I'd guess it was built at the same time as the railway bridge. In the autumn this tunnel entrance was hidden from view by a large rose bush and blackthorn. We can see an old iron grate a couple of metres into the tunnel presumably installed to stop animals straying up.

Stream bed in orchard at Turnditch Orchard
Residue of stream bed running across orchard site

Edit 29/12/13: We had a chat with the farmer about the sheep. The four legged demolition machines are just being stubborn. There is plenty of food and mineral supplements for them at the other end of their field. They just love ash tree bark! We also called to let them know are hedging contractor is going to start work today on renovating/relaying the hedge between our fields. They were pleased to learn that we are not ripping out the old hedge and replacing it with fencing.

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