Hedge cutting causes little wildlife disruption

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THE sound of John’s slow progress with the hedge cutter along our fields surrounding the village has filled the last few days.

The job is much easier this year. Last year we left the Entry Level Scheme which limited us to cutting hedges every three years.

As a result when the hedges were cut it virtually ruined the hedgecutter and left hedges in a dreadful state.

They had to be flailed and smashed to cut back the mature wood and for months looked dreadful. All broken branches and it necessitated very careful cleaning up on the road to save any damage to bicycle tyres.

This year with only a year’s growth the job has been faster, neater, less damaging to the hedges and retains a good habitat for birds and wildlife.

Last year’s cut opened up the hedges so that a lot of protection was lost in their interior.

This year has caused virtually no disruption to wildlife habitats. We would have stayed in the scheme but could not get enough points without including our hedges.

However, John is continuing with all the other aspects of environmental management as we did before, only now not getting paid for it.

Unusually I am harvesting apples before the plums are ready to pick.

Not all the apples, but a tree that provides good eaters is ready and I have a daily cull of the bigger cooking apples.

My magic peeler, picked up from a charity shop for a pound, is set up on a table by the back door.

Every time John and I sit down for a short break, I can peel a few more apples, pop them in the microwave, and hey presto, another bag of apple pie filling for the freezer.

The gadget works on a screw principle. You secure the apple oto four prongs, wind a small handle and ratchet the apple through cutting blades that whip off the peel and remove the core.

Magic. Best of all children love to use it and can be usefully employed with a bucket of apples and the peeler.

Earlier this morning we introduced Millie our Jack Russell to a spot of sheepdog training. She has taken to it like a natural. Nell, our border collie is just too old and doddery.

I am sure she has doggy dementia, but is quite happy lolling around the farm yard and wandering in and out of the farmhouse to see what titbits are on offer. Not so doddery therefore methinks.

John wanted to check on all the ewes and lambs for any signs of flyblow and needed to get them into the corral. They are not keen on this aspect of sheep management, perhaps sensing it is a precursor to market or something nasty with a worm drench.

This morning went like a dream. A scatty, yappy, nippy little Jack Russell clearly scared them to bits.

“Lets get into that corral as quickly as possible” was their collective thought. Job done.