Archive for October, 2010



Tidying after a fella

6th A bit of an Indian summer coincided with the start of the really heavy work associated with winter. Jim, Joanne, Diana, Jayne and I were with Chris, some of us all day, others just half a day. Chris and a team of volunteers began removing rhododendron from in front of the Mere Hide last week. Further progress along the shore involved Chris drawing up a more complex plan. He was going to need the tractor at the top of the bank, which meant clearing a space amongst the trees. He identified the weaker specimens for felling, which would enable more light to feed in and promote the growth of the stronger specimens. He parked tractor and chipper on the terrace and, as he felled, the volunteers dragged the brash up for chipping and left logs in piles. As the space opened up he moved the chipper down so we didn’t have to drag the branches quite so far. By the end of the day we realised that although we thought we had worked hard throughout the summer, especially on ragwort pulling, it wasn’t as strenuous as what we had done today.   

7th Frances and I stayed in the yard to receive logs that Chris was going to deliver in the tractor bucket. First we had to clear some space in the home-made barn. We could carry a few of the logs on our own, but most needed one of us on each end and then we just managed. In all we must have handled about 120 logs. Some will go in the next charcoal burn, once they have dried out a bit and been sawn to an appropriate length. Elna and Chris joined us in the yard to clear space in front of the newly arrived container, which will hold the cycles for the Wheels For All project. Frances and I went back to the Mere Hide with Chris. He had attached the 50 ton winch to the tractor to haul more rhododendron up the bank and into the space created yesterday. Frances and I stepped rather gingerly down the slope to begin attaching the hawser to the largest braches. We pulled out lengths of barbed wire partly buried in the soil, which threatened to trip us up. It was Chris, however, who slipped, but there is no photographic evidence of his elegant fall. After a brief demonstration I took over as winch-woman, or winch-wench, while Frances and Chris repeatedly attached the hawser. We succeeded in pulling up about ten loads of rhody, some complete with roots. There is now a huge pile awaiting a bonfire next week. 

13th Chris sent six of us to start a bonfire with the rhododendron that Frances and I had heaved up the bank with him last week. There had been a heavy dew, so it was quite a challenge to get a fire going with just one match, but I have a reputation to uphold. By lunchtime the pile had all been put onto the fire and we were able to get it going again after our break, whilst Chris cut more rhododendron. There hadn’t appeared to be much of the stuff when seen from the path, but a huge space was opening up, giving views of autumn reflections on the mere.

14th The ashes from yesterday’s bonfire were still glowing, so we coaxed it back to life and burned off what we had left lying nearby in the late afternoon. The team worked to slash and burn rhododendron. After lunch we lit another bonfire (one match only) in the space cleared at the top of the bank. It was quite a confined area on a slope covered with loose leaf mould, but at least it reduced the need for so much hauling uphill. By the end of the day we had cleared as far as the boat-house. It will be interesting to see what vegetation develops next year with so much more light available.

Autumn 2010 Newsletter

FoAM’s latest newsletter is now issued.  Click Newsletter Autumn 2010 to read it.

One of our much-praised wildflower meadows.

Salt Museum: Past, Present and Future – Tuesday 2nd November

A reminder to join us at the Weaver Hall Museum (formerly the Salt Museum), London Road, Northwich, for a talk given by Matt Wheeler (curator).  There will also be an opportunity to look round the Museum. 

7.00 for 7.30 pm on Tuesday, 2nd November
Free for FoAM Members, £2 for non-members
Booking essential; contact Frances Findlay 01606 44727