We are lucky enough to see Roe Deer where we walk at the weekends and although they become harder to see when the crops get up, there is always a sign that they are about.
We see slots in the mud, beds of flattened grass where they have slept at night, nibbles on crops but also damage to tree bark where they have been having a feast.
It is inevitable and one of their many wild habits although it is not very popular with anyone growing saplings.
I like seeing the secret signs that the deer are about and know that as long as the damage is not extensive the saplings will survive.
A deer damaged sapling will never grow to be the perfect specimen but this is nature and this is what happens – good, bad and indifferent.
We have a very informal deal with the farm that we get to explore and walk around at weekends.
a) generally keep an eye on things when we are walking the furry one
b) look out for poachers and tresspassers
c) lay hedges when the need arises
d) clear the spinneys
the farm allows us to roam around enjoying the sites and appreciating the peace, quiet and the wildlife.
I know who gets the best part of the deal and it isn’t the farm!
This weekend, we were asked to clear the small spinney in the yard which is where the farmer’s wife goes pigeon shooting and was finding it very difficult with all the dead wood, low bows and fallen trees.
Against the forecast for it the weather on Saturday was pretty good and perfect for hard physical work; it wasn’t too warm and it wasn’t too sunny but it wasn’t raining either.
When you try to walk through the spinney at the moment, it is like venturing into a booby trapped undergrowth where you could be rendered legless at any time by a well concealed fallen branch set at the perfect height to trip you up. Imagine how much worse it is when there is only moonlight and you are trying to retrieve your quarry after a successful shot?
We invested in a chain saw, chipper and a number of axe type implements a few years ago when we got the house and first volunteered to start doing jobs on the farm. It makes a tough job a lot easier and since we have an open fire at the house, it also makes the cost of fuel less eye watering as we are also allowed to keep the products of our labours.
We only managed to clear a bit of fallen and dead wood, but there are now 4 bags of wood chips to go onto the farmhouse garden, a number of twig piles for the local hedgehog and insect population and a few extra bits on our log pile. It took us about 6 hours to clear about 22 paces of the entire 320 pace length of the spinney. It isn’t going to be an overnight job. it is also very physical work that neither jc or I do in our normal working day and we were in complete bits at the end of it.
I’d like to say that is was a satisfying feeling, being exhausted ………. but it isn’t, it just hurt!!!
The sad thing about that is that IF we were able to leave our every day lives, we would be doing this kind of work every day and would be as fit as fiddles AND it is exactly this kind of thing that used to keep us both fit.
So we have spent a greater part of easter so far hobbling around like 90 year olds but it is a good job done; not finished yet, but started well!