2nd February 2012: Today is the first Thursday of the month and a Wilden Marsh workday. I find it surprising just how quickly the months are ticking by! I don’t want to blink and suddenly find that I’ve missed the photographic delights of spring and summer. The pressure of modern living can soon eat into one’s free time. I will need to make a real effort to stay focused this year. The weather was, as usual, mixed. It was sunny, but cold, to start with. At midday, it looked like it might snow, it didn’t snow; it wasn’t windy, and it didn’t rain: perfect weather for an active workday, in fact.
Our task for the day was coppicing trees in the north pasture. If left unmanaged, the pasture would soon revert to woodland and grazing would be impractical. Red dots on branches marked the trees to be removed. Ten long-handled pruning secateurs and ten bow saws quickly found their way into eager hands. We rushed off to claim the easiest trees to work on; well … some of us did. Unfortunately, there were precious few of these. Most of the trees had a dozen or more branches as thick as a man’s calf sprouting from short trunks that were as thick as a man’s thigh. Even though it was a cold day, those of us equipped with a bow saw were soon unbuttoning jackets and loosening scarves. There is nothing like vigorous bow sawing to activate one’s personal central heating system. Coppicing is a very healthy activity that gives a whole-body work out; satisfying quantities of endorphins are released into the blood system … can’t beat it for that “feel good” feeling.
I must admit that I went for one of the smaller easy trees to start with. I feel it is so important to warm up slowly on these jobs – ha! It wasn’t long before I’d removed all the branches and had moved on to a larger tree with thicker branches. I saw one of the lads opposite me on his knees, hard at it bow sawing a thick branch. I felt a twinge of guilt about having selected a small tree to start with, but my second tree was far larger so my guilt didn’t linger for long.
Andy was the team leader and the ‘red dot man’. He used a can of red spray paint to mark the trees to be worked on. I noticed him photographing ‘things.’ I think Andy is a man with a plan; maybe he intends hijacking the volunteer’s blog again, or maybe he’s planning something for the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s new website. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires.
Anna was on brash fire duty, together with a few other pyromaniacs, and I could hear Layton telling one of his incredible stories. Layton is a good storyteller, and he’s very keen on experimenting with recipes. I believe his tomato, his fruit pastel, and his baked bean vodka creations are quite exceptional.
It would not be possible to carry out the necessary ground maintenance and land improvement work on the reserves without the valuable and very enthusiastic help of the TRUST’s volunteers. We were fortunate today: three new volunteers joined the group. “Dave the Saw” was not with us; we missed him and his chain saw.