by Gareth Jones
Having qualified in Agriculture many years ago, I managed a farm for some time before pursuing a career in sales in The Dairy Sector. I have loved every minute of it but there is no doubt that I have also missed the “hands on”practical side of farming.
Fortunately, we have a large garden and I have thrown my energy in to that with a large emphasis on growing vegetables. Our kitchen garden is a reasonable size but it was never going to allow us to be anywhere near self sufficient in vegetables even during the peak summer months. So, when an acre of land came up in our village it seemed like the ideal opportunity to put my farming skills in to practice and to incorporate the project in to our website.
When we bought the field it was a complete wilderness. So much so that I had to cut my way in to it with my newly purchased chain saw! The previous owners had planted willows some twenty years ago for coppicing which they harvested but then seemed to loose interest. As a result the willow had got too large and eventually fallen to the ground in many places before re-sprouting. An unbelievable jungle of willow and 6′ high brambles.
Clearing got underway in September and while we were able to log the large branches, there was the issue of disposing of the smaller material. Chipping seemed the best way forward here as burning large quantities of trash is not great for the environment.
We have made great progress in a month and so as long as the weather is kind to us we hope to have it completely cleared by the end of the year. We will then have to dig out all of the ditches to get the field drained properly and get a machine in to take out all of the tree stumps……….so lots to do before we can even think of poly tunnels and bee hives but it is a great Seasonarian Project!
We were making great progress this month until rain stopped play! The whole of the field is cleared now but we have a mountain of material to shred as soon as the weather allows. At least I can see where all of the ditches are which now need clearing out in the spring so that we can get the field drained properly. It will then be a matter of digging up all of the roots of the old willow trees which will be a pretty big task in itself.
There are some big trees in the hedgerow, much of which are Ash. these trees have been hit hard by Dieback, a lethal fungus that will go on to kill up to 90% of all Ash trees in the UK. So all we can do is mark them up and cut them down for fire wood and then hopefully lay a hedge with what we have left.