Here’s to the next 20 years!

Sunrise: 08.09 Sunset: 03.54

Today was a beautiful day: bright blue cloudless sky, below freezing temperatures, and very little wind.

I had planned to pollard a few trees in my garden, but the call of the marsh proved too great. I took Spike for his morning walk through Hoo Wood and back, slung on my rucksack and cameras, and headed over to the marsh.

Walking through Hoo Brook pasture, it looked like Colin had cleared the brash left from the tree felling with a bulldozer, pushing it all into piles. The ground was cleaner than when I walked through earlier in the week. This pasture is going to look nice in spring, and even better when the cattle have had time to work their magic. Large stacks of logs now await collection in the lagoon field.

A mechanical digger parked just inside the corridor gate provided good cover for me to check if any animals were wandering about along there. Although the temperature was a couple of degrees below, steam was rising from the dark brown soil bared by the digger’s tracks.

The contract felling is now more or less complete, except for a few odds and ends. I now have twenty years to watch it all grow again, and a lot of short rotation coppicing and pollarding to look forward to.

I plodded along the northern corridor, past the swamp, past the water rail’s pond and through the gate to North Pond. The expanse of water at the south end of the swamp, now visible after the tree clearance, could not help but draw my attention – the new potential is exciting. Mooched around the living otter holt,  still no sign of an otter taking up residence, past the butterfly tower, to be faced by two large piles of brash left over from summer work parties.

It was my intention to burn this brash on a winter workday, but with today’s excellent weather, bright sun and low wind, my brain shouted “burn now!” I cut a willow pitch fork, lit a fire, and got stuck in. It took all day to clear these rotting piles of soaking wet brash.

I received a text from Mark Darby asking if it was me making smoke signals down on the marsh. I didn’t see a soul until Alwyn, the grazier, turned up this afternoon to check on her cattle, who were busy keeping me company and eating the rough grass. By late afternoon, the fire had reduced the brash to a small patch of white ash.

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4 Comments on “Here’s to the next 20 years!

    • In twenty years I will be well into my eighties, Tom. If I am still coppicing and pollarding then, I will be well pleased.

    • Thanks, Raeywyn. Wilden Marsh is an very interesting and vibrant place, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The marsh and the area surrounding it is of much historical interest.

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