Archive for September, 2012

September

6th Six volunteers went with Dave to remove hay that he had cut earlier in the week. The first stop was on the lane close to Brine Pump Cottages. The term hay might be a bit misleading as it consisted largely of brambles, nettles and hogweed. We raked it up and loaded it onto the trailer. It may well need another cut, but already a lot of bare earth has been revealed. This will be ideal for the sowing of more wild flower seeds. We did more haymaking on Dairy House Meadows, although the hay was mostly rushes.
After lunch we went in search of autumn fruits, but we were in for disappointment. Blackberry picking seems to have been popular so we were a bit late, but there may yet be more to come. There were no damsons, plums or pears in the orchard, but there were some apples reachable with ladders. We got a photo call to assemble on the field on Marbury Lane that had been sown with wild bird seed. Whilst Nick from Northwich Guardian snapped away, we tried to identify the plants providing food for insects and birds. The sunflowers were the most obvious and attractive.

13th Dave organised five of us to work with him at Dairy House Meadows. We started by clearing up the rest of the hay that we’d left last week. It wasn’t quite as pleasant as it had rained in the intervening days and the cattle seemed to have regarded the cut rushes as a toilet. We trudged back across the field whilst Dave shed the trailer load of hay. We know not where. He met us again between the gates on Marbury Lane.


Willows and alders were encroaching on the track and might impede the access of a cattle truck. The sound of a chain saw has been missing for a few months. Now we know it’s autumn. As soon as Dave had felled the first of the trees we began making a dead hedge. He ran out of fuel just before lunch so one tree was spared the chop.

There were just three volunteers left to go to Anderton with Dave. A new set of steps was required at the fishing pond next to the main car park. We’d made an impressive dead hedge a year or two ago. It didn’t take Dave long to saw through that and the hawthorn that had grown up around it. We hauled the brash away onto the fishermen’s car park. One of the hawthorn roots was very stubborn, but most of it came out while I watched the use of spade, mattock and saw. Then it was time to construct the steps and I became the gofer. We hastily camouflaged the work thus far with brash and returned to base.

19th Chris wanted four of us on the Play Area while he started working on the laurel with his chain saw. We dragged the branches onto the bank between the Play Area and the Caravan Field and began strengthening the boundary with a dead hedge. We had to be very careful where we put our feet as the bank was riddled with rabbit burrows. The rabbits must have trembled as we stomped about on their roofs. We chipped some of the branches and unintentionally blocked part of their entrances with the chippings. They must have found their surroundings very confusing when they emerged later. Even to us the Play Area seemed to have widened by about three metres.

August

1st I joined the volunteers at lunchtime. Jim and Robin had spent the morning trying to get a bonfire going in very wet conditions. Together we got rid of the remaining pile of ragwort, until it began to rain even more heavily and Amanda arrived with another trailer load.

8th The weather has definitely improved. At Marbury Jim and I took loppers to do some cutting back. We started at the Mere Hide and worked our way along the Mere Path to the Slipway, where another group of volunteers was working with Chris to secure the ornamental posts. We checked the path up to the Woodland Hide and then we split up. Jim concentrated on the Bridle Path, whilst I focussed on the route back to the yard. Our main targets were arching brambles, which threatened to attack unwary passers-by and also prevented anyone from mowing the grass verges. I was frustrated at not having litter-picking equipment with me, but it’s difficult to do both.
I made up for it on our second sortie of the day, leaving Jim and Elna to continue cutting back through Big Wood, while I collected rubbish from the Mere Path. We left the Wood on our return to the yard to take a look at the Scrape, which has benefited from the copious amounts of rain feeding it this summer. Butterflies were feasting on the Creeping Thistles and Dragonflies hovered over the water.

15th The last attempt at a charcoal burn had been a rushed affair and it needed stating again. Everyone mucked in to empty it and then left Adam, Jim and I to set it up again. Adam was nominated to be the one to go inside, he being the youngest and, therefore, the most agile. We put the lid back on before lunch, thankful that the threatening clouds hadn’t dropped their contents before we’d finished.
Amanda and Dave took ten volunteers to remove fencing from Ashton’s Flash. It involved removing six staples from each post and then coiling up the wire. Most of the staples came out fairly easily, but, after more than ten years in place, some of those at the bottom had almost disappeared into the vegetation. Many of the posts had rotted at the base and simply broke off, but a few needed the heavyweight treatment from Dave. We were relieved to reach the barbed wire section that signalled the end of our task. We piled everything into the trailer and set off back to the yard just as the heavens opened.

16th The threat of heavy showers again didn’t come to anything, but it was very windy, which helped to get a bonfire of ragwort and fence posts going. Elna, Jim and I tended the fire in all day.

29th I walked across the fields to join the group working on fence repairs. It meant removing staples and barbed wire from the old fence posts before they could be removed and replaced. As a result of wartime activities the track must have been at least twice its present width. Making holes for the posts proved nigh on impossible without the tractor powered post driver, but only extreme physical effort completed the connection of the fence to the newly installed kissing gate. With the fencing around that field secure, Chris wanted to transfer the cattle back from the other side of the track so that we could survey the field boundary. The cattle were reasonably compliant and responded to Chris calling. They were soon chasing around in the alternative field. Seven of us split up to inspect posts and wire for any weaknesses. The heavy rain over the ‘summer’ had turned the section that Ian and I had chosen into a quagmire. Ian hung on to the firmer fence posts to skirt around the worst of the bog and still finished up wet to mid-calf level. After a break for lunch we carried out the repairs and replaced about a dozen posts.Just as volunteer Dave complained that the weather forecast hadn’t been accurate, we heard the first clap of thunder. It rumbled around for the next two hours, which was disconcerting when we were working under the trees beside the Mere. We had moved down there to continue installing a revetment to prevent the soil on the bank slipping on to the path and on into the Mere. We felt the first of the rain as we unloaded tools back in the yard.