I visited the Turnditch Orchard yesterday to find lambs grazing on our grass and fruit trees. I don't mind them eating grass, but their munching the lower branches of the fruit trees causes a lot of long lasting damage. At least five trees and a section of new hedge have suffered damage by the lambs. The lambs come from the adjoining field. They are now big enough to graze away from their mums, but small enough to be able to get through any gaps. Last year we had no invasions having fixed all the fences.
|Sheep damaged apple tree.
This year the lambs gained access through the field gate. It is a metal gate designed for cattle, but not small livestock. It has equal sized gaps across the gate and lambs easily wriggle through the gaps. A sheep gate has narrower gaps toward the base. Our own gate at the roadside is a sheep gate, otherwise those lambs might have been found wandering on the Ashbourne Road (A517). Our neighbour farmer had recognised this some years ago and had wired an old plank at the base of the gate to stop lambs wriggling through the gaps. The people using the public footpath like having a large gap at the foot of the gate to allow their dogs to pass through the gate. At some point, the plank wired to the gate has "disappeared", thus allowing the lambs to gain access to the orchard. We had provided a "dog gate" which allowed access for dogs when the plank had been in place, but it requires 10 seconds of extra effort.
|Dog gate installed between the lamb field and the orchard.
|Dog gate, today, showing no sign of use
So now I've had to wire a section of stock fence to the gate to stop all animals from wriggling through the gate. The dog gate remains available, though I know the farmer isn't too keen on having dogs in a field where there are lambs. Strictly speaking, we do not have to provide access for dogs on a public footpath, just humans have a right of way on foot, but so long as no damage arises it is not a problem for us. The stiles remain for the walkers.
|Gate, wired with stock fence