Saturday, 9 February 2008

Trees – Day 2

Although my back is still a bit achy from it’s pummelling on Friday it is generally much better today so the tree planting is top priority again. As I walked up to the planting area I noticed that there were still small patches of frost wherever the sun had failed to reach. It was now about 10.30 and the air temperature was steadily rising, the air was still, the sky blue and I stopped by the pond, as it looked so tranquil.

The line across the middle is a fallen tree, I was thinking of removing it but it does provide some shelter for the creatures in the pond. As last year, the pond looks totally devoid of life but over the course of last year I realised it was home to assorted frogs and newts, I found water snails and small bivalves there were a multitude of various coloured and sized dragonflies and damselflies, there were a pair of moorhens that bred a single chick, ducks flew in a couple of times a day and even with the ducks I did spot a shoal of about 6 small fish. There is also my resident coypu family. My coypu have been given an extension on their stay. I did think I was going to have to get them trapped by the local hunt as I was going to farm around the pond. Coypu tunnel into the banks and they tunnel a long way back from the edge too. They pose a danger because if you take a tractor near the edge of the pond, the tunnels can collapse and you and your tractor end up in the pond – very dangerous. However since I have decided to plant the wood at the top of the field, the rest of the field will now be used to plant crops for me, such as sunflower and barley for the chickens. I can give the pond a wide berth and leave it as a wildlife area.

One thing I need to do during the summer is some work at this end of the pond. Either the tree falling or the coypu have breached the end wall, reducing the capacity of the pond. The extra escaped water has created a large marsh area which I would like to keep so I spent a bit of time working how to deal with the two contradictory problems – closing the breach will dry up the marsh but not closing it lets the pond level drop to the point where it is very low in the summer. I think I have a possible solution though. By creating a ditch running from just to the right of the tree and running straight back I can collect the water run off and some that seeps down from the hills around and that should supply the marsh area while at the same time remove the stagnant puddles that form across the field behind. The marsh area is full of mint and wonderful to walk through. Between the tree and the little post you can just see to the right and behind the tree I’ve just planted my willow cutting.

I’d picked a piece off a willow tree at my friends Sandy & Pete’s and have kept it in water for the last 4 months. It had produced some roots but was looking decidedly dead but when I took it out of the bottle it was in I spotted a green shoot sprouting; so into the ground it has gone. I’ve been deciding whether to pollard it or coppice it. In the end I think I will ‘stump’ it (my own description), so somewhere between the two.

I got another 20 trees in this morning and then came back for lunch and to give the chickens their daily treat. After the combine harvester had been through my sunflower field this summer I went gleaning and picked up lots of fallen seed heads. I don’t know how many hours it’s taken to strip the seed off but I have a large box of sunflower seeds (and very sore fingers too). I’ve not winnowed the seed so that’s what the orangey bits are.

During the afternoon I got another 10 trees in before I decided to call it a day as my back, while not hurting as before was beginning to ache a bit. So only 8 more of the bare rooted tree to go and then it’s onto the pots. The weather is set to stay fine for the next few days at least. The temperature hit 25°C in the sun today – so Martin, the hat is back! It’s really hard to believe that it is only the beginning of February.

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