March

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5th Six of us worked alongside Chris on Dairy House Meadows. The plan was to remove trees and shrubs that were shading one of the ponds. Most of them were hawthorn, so the best option for disposal was a bonfire. Smaller branches were removed with bow saws and loppers whilst we got a fire going. Chris used the chain saw to cut the larger pieces. A few logs were reserved to create a refuge for small mammals and amphibians. Everything else went on the bonfire. I was in my element. Diana thought that Pyracantha might be an appropriate name for me. The tractor was invaluable in moving the vicious thorny branches using the grab and the winch.IMG_0373

6th We were back on Dairy House Meadows. After Chris had removed the branches, which hadn’t burned, using the grab, we found that there was enough heat left in the ashes of yesterday’s bonfire to get another fire going. Volunteers worked with loppers and bow saws. Chris used the chain saw and then the winch to haul the large hawthorns over the uneven ground and closer to the bonfire.

26th Recovering from a heavy cold and coughing, I didn’t feel like doing anything very strenuous. I spent the morning putting a new notice on the chalkboard and laminating posters etc.. imageMark and I then did a tour of the notice boards throughout Northwich Woodlands, checking for faded or outdated posters and replacing them with fresh ones. Our journey took us to Anderton, where Mark reinstated the repaired board that I’d removed last month. He wrestled with it, as I had done, but at least it wasn’t wet or windy. We drove on to Furey Wood, New Warrington Road, Witton Mill Car Park and back onto Marbury Lane. We stopped off to take a look at reed burning near Butterfinch Bridge. It looked like very hard work with water almost to the tops of wellies at times.

image27th Jim and I took a cardboard box and newspaper around to the orchard to burn the remains of the last couple of weeks of pruning. We set everything up with confidence as there were plenty of dead twigs lying around that would do for kindling. It looked promising several times, but the flames would keep dying. We persisted until we were down to the last sheet of newspaper. I suddenly realised that the dead nettle stems at my side might help the situation. Finally, after an hour and a half, we had a fire and we could start adding a few prunings. We weren’t sure that it would stay alight if we left it unattended over lunch, so we took it in turns to go back to the cabin for a cuppa. We were doing quite well when the skies blackened and we were pelted with hailstones. We soldiered on and managed a blazing bonfire and all with only one match.

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