Monday, 15 February 2016

The return of the sheep.

It was a busy week in the Orchard at Turnditch. Sheep have been allowed into the adjacent field to graze. Unfortunately they do seem attracted to the lush green grass in the orchard. They had found a way through the old broken fences of the plot at the thin end of the orchard. We'd prepared for this with an additional temporary wire stock fence across the untamed part of the orchard. However the sheep found a way via the Ecclesbourne railway track to access the woodland embankment. While it is the farmer's responsibility under common law to enclose his sheep to prevent them damaging other property, we had to take action to protect the embankment.

Fortunately we had a spare set of electric fence equipment, tape and posts, so we were able to create an additional barrier  of electrified tape at the railway end of the orchard and up the embankment. So far it has been wholly successful at repelling the woolly invaders. Meanwhile we have been removing the year's overgrown vegetation from the old electric fence using a powered brush cutter. The old fence will be re-energised tomorrow once the warning notices are replaced.

Some sheep remain on the verges of the railway. We've phoned both the farmer and the railway management to warn them of this situation.

Speaking of invaders on the orchard we discovered that people have been cutting back some branches on the far end of the orchard embankment. We presume it is volunteers from the Ecclesbourne Railway making an unauthorised path through our land. Let's hope they don't try to climb the new electric fence now guarding that area.  It is energised to 8000 volts which is very painful but safe to touch. We have posted a warning notice close to where they appear to access the embankment from the road.

There is a long standing informal agreement we allow the neighbouring farmer access through to his field by the track next to the riverbank. He'd lost the key we'd given him for the road gate padlock, but we gave him another last week so he could get to his sheep. Yesterday we found he'd been through with a heavy tractor which was not too unreasonable, but unfortunately the weight of the machine has damaged the soft riverbank when he manoeuvred too close to the edge. We'll need to drive some wooden piles into the bank to reinforce it and prevent further damage. In the longer term we will grow some willow spilings in that part of the bank to provide strengthening.

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