Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Fishpond Wood: 28-03-2017

Snippedy doo dah, snippedy aye
My oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of rhodies coming our way
Snippedy doo dah, snippedy aye

This little song just about sums up the NCVs' job in Fishpond Wood this week. On our first visit there this year - guess what? We were asked to prune off the new rhododendron growth that is determinedly making its way up towards the sky from the remaining stumps left from earlier culls. (Why doesn't that surprise us?) So that's what we did.  After all - we don't want the rhodies to take a hold again do we? Perhaps by next year they will start to take the hint and give up. 

We should always live in hope.

Eyes down, look in, and get busy snipping.

Little piles of snipping started to appear all over the place.

There were 22 of us out today so we were a few pairs of loppers short. 
No worries - bow saws could be used for the thicker stems.

 It was a day of befores....

...and afters.


... after.

A definite 'after' shot!

The lake looked very tranquil. 
These little rhodie sprouts will have to be left until after the nesting season.
Currently the moorhens will probably be using the clumps for cover.

 At coffee time we sang happy birthday to Anita (third from left).
Not looking bad for 21.
(Thanks for the cake Anita!)

Nick was looking deep in thought at lunchtime.
Then Dave turned up with his birthday cake - that perked Nick up!
Happy Birthday Dave - a mere 22.

There was so much brash that we had to start burning.
Student James tended the fire well and this heap eventually disappeared. 
There are still a number of other piles to be dealt with.

Ros E.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hackfall Woods:21-03-2017

Today was the 21st March - the first day of the sign of Aries, the ram. Now I'm not sure if any of the NCVs were born under the influence of Aries, but as this sign apparently signifies someone who is "without fear, ready to take on any challenge with enthusiasm, optimism, independence, strength and initiative", I'm guessing they all were.

This week 14 of us were at Hackfall Woods for our monthly task day and faced a number of challenges with great aplomb - in spite of occasional wintry showers. The photos below tell all....
The first job was to get rid of the brash piles alongside the
 entrance path, lovingly constructed on our previous visit, 
to prevent escaping spring lambs getting entangled. 
(They were obviously lambs that had been born pre-Aries and therefore under Pisces - apparently one of the traits of which is the 'desire to escape reality'. 
Perhaps they guessed their fate?)

Over the fence went all the brash, ready for burning. Hopefully 
the strong wind won't blow it all back again before this happens!

 Off we then went down into the woods where we 
split into different teams tackling various jobs.

Someone (not us) has been busy with a chain saw and 
taken off the tops of some trees which were obscuring 
this superb view of the river valley. 
What a treat to see it in such lovely sunshine.

The 'Stream Shifters' went to Alum Springs to try to stop 
water coming down onto the path.

 Julia, Sally and Ros E. dug a dam to divert the deluge. 

The bench brushers got busy cleaning 
and oiling the bench below the ruin.

Nice job - too good not to try out....

... so they did.
Hopefully before they put the oil on!

The drainage channel navvies got to 
work with picks and shovels.

A neat bit of carpentry shored up the edges 
to create a long lasting culvert.

Up at Mowbray Castle there awaited two rusty pintles 
(gate hinges to those uninitiated into the world of door furniture).

Now - if you ever have a pintle that needs painting then call in Angela. 
She's a dab hand with a brush and a pot of Hammerite.*
(Other brands of pintle paint are available.)

Angela's team mate, Tom, used his great strength 
to cut down this mighty elder tree that was 
threatening to undermine the very foundations of the castle.

 Well done Tom - not sure how you 
manged that job all on your own.

Throughout the woods there were spring 
flowers starting to bloom. 
Although this one (Toothwort or Lathraea squamaria) isn't as pretty as the 
primulas and wood anemones, it is unusual.

Talking of pretty flowers - here's a thorn between 
four roses we found at lunchtime.

After lunch there was one final job which involved moving 
some more brash to create a barrier. Visitors are not meant to 
walk all the way around Fountains pond -
 the footpath has become a real quagmire.

A couple of NCVs managed to catch a Yorkshire 
water snake (the rare 'Eeh-by-gummulus reptilius' ).

Talking of barriers - there was one that we had to negotiate
 on the way back to the car park. Some of us leapt over with ease. 
Others... well let's just say they found it more of a challenge.
Ros E.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Longside Farm, Ramsgill: 14-03-2017

PI constant.svg

Did you know that, according to Wikipedia (and who am I to question that august publication?!), 14th March is PI day. Apparently this is "an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3/14 in the month/day date format) since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π."

So, what has this to do with the NCVs? Well, I had hoped that someone in the group, who is up to speed on such knowledge and a good baker to boot, would arrive on site shouting “Happy PI day!” whilst carrying a plentiful supply of pork or apple pies to supplement our lunch boxes. Whilst this was not the case, we were well supplied in the goodies department with another tin of Audrey's flapjacek AND a box of homemade biscuits from Anita.
(Thanks ladies!)
Here's the precious biscuit box. 
Anita and Ros K. decided to sit on thrones this week
 instead of acting as bookends.

Perhaps not such a good idea as the cap on 
one of the stool's foot got lost in the mud.

The photos below show the last part of the job for 2017. We have done very well but there is plenty left to continue with next year. For now we must leave the hedge to the nesting birds and the blossoming hawthorn.

Ros E.

Once again the tools had to be sharpened the day before.
Can you spot 'Oscar', the honorary NCV, keeping a beady eye on things?

Right folks - you know the routine.
Plastic spirals to be removed, outward growing branches to be pruned out first.

 That's right - now down on your knees to get the stems cut ready for pleaching.

Graham had brought some cardboard sheets to lay down on. 

Alistair and himself that is - not the hedge.
I wonder how long the integrity of the cardboard will hold up?

Only until coffee time!

Pleach and lay. Pleach and lay.
Everybody likes to pleach and lay.
(If the video doesn't work then click HERE.)

This was a particularly awkward pleach but Ros K. 
was up to the task and simply sat inside
 the hedge to get the angle right.

Stem too thick for a bill hook?
Then just call in James and his chainsaw 
and you'll soon have a perfect hinge.

Yes - that section can be railed off.
Thank you Jan.

One nail. Four men.
Over staffing?

There she blows - hang on to the hedge chaps!!
A stiff wind blew away the clouds and almost 
took with it the newly cut stems.

The last three women standing.

A good day's work. 
In fact - a good 5 days' work this season. 100 m of hedge laid overall.
Perhaps we'll manage to finish the rest next year?