Another pleasant day amongst the

Bracken, bramble and gorse. Today we carried on with clearance work along the wheelchair access path on Lynchmere Commons. The lovely day brought a good turnout of volunteers and as you can see a couple of our Duke of Edinburgh volunteers had a rest enjoying the sun after they cleared all that area – well not quite but it certainly looks like that.

As always our thanks go to all the people that give up their sunday morning to help with improving our commons.

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Orchard blues

Once again it was time to tidy the community orchard and have a bit of a get together. We were hoping to have a bit of an apple tasting as well as the apple trees had finally reached the stage when we could let them fruit freely and this year they had a good amount of apples on them. Note the use of the past tense!

Alas there were maybe a dozen apples in total on over 30 trees!

Now it seems to me a sad sign of the times when a whole crop of apples can disappear from one week to the next as seems to be the case here. It seems even more sad to have to think about what we will have to do in order to avoid a repeat of this ‘disappearing act’ next year.

Despite this disappointment our volunteers – and special mention should go to our DofE volunteers – wielded scythes and rakes, pulled bracken and nettles and attacked the bramble creeping out of the hedge, leaving the orchard looking better than ever.

Our thanks to you all and maybe next year you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour – excuse the pun.

Make hay while the sun shines….

the saying goes. And how right it is – a little while ago we cut the first half of grass in Roundabouts field and after a few nice days some of our regulars learned how to use our ‘new’ baler and most of the initial bales ended up collected by our grazier Gareth.

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Following that success we cut the second half and have been waiting to bale and collect it ever since. Sadly the weather had other ideas and the jury is still out if the hay can be salvaged.

The joys of weather dependent work!

nature reserve or safari park?

At the weekend we started to get reports that an emu had been spotted on the commons. The bird seemed not too shy and was marching along the fence near the log pile before disappearing into the undergrowth.

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By Tuesday the likely owner had been tracked down and arrived with a party of helpers to try and recapture the escapee who was quite happy to be approached with a bucket of feed but….

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these two strong young men had their hands full trying to restrain and secure the bird so he could safely be put into a trailer. Let’s just say I would not like to be at the receiving end of his kicks! Let’s hope he has settled in back home and gets over his wanderlust.

 

Below a picture that proves that our new cows have read their job description and are grazing on birch as well as grass.

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If you go down to the woods……….

You may see –

in the distance –

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something black and white amongst the trees …..

Our latest helpers – some Belted Galloway Cattle to help with grazing and browsing to keep the Commons open and under control.

Our grazier brought them down from the fields on Sunday and they were very keen to explore their new home for the summer

SONY DSCThere are 12 on Lynchmere Common, cows with calves, young heifers and one rather large but very benign and relaxed steer.

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Galloways are widely used for conservation grazing and are a very calm breed of cattle but we ask that they are treated with respect – especially if you walk your dog on the Commons.

On the Little Common there will be 3 Sussex and 2 Galloways.

And just a quick look at our newly planted hedge:

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Looking a whole lot nicer with a lovely lot of bluebells filling the gap between the ‘artistically’ curving hedge lines. Most saplings are in leaf so all seems well.

Thanks Woodland Trust!

and our band of helpers that spend a couple of hours in glorious sunshine planting a double hedge on top (mostly) of our boundary bank at Roundabouts Field. The woodland Trust had kindly given us another 420 hazel, blackthorn, crabapple, dog rose and elder saplings complete with bamboo canes and spiral tree guards to join the ones we planted earlier this winter.

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Our hedge is now complete and looks quite good – from the right vantage point. On the other hand it looks as if we enjoyed a bit more than just coffee and cake while planting it in a somewhat drunken looking line. But our excuse is the fact that nature abhors straight lines, the bank is uneven, rabbits make holes in it etc etc. Once the trees are established and the tree guards gone nobody will notice.

Just as we were leaving the bank got inspected by one of the local residents:

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a gorgeous little common lizard – he sat there for ages basking and let us come quite close while he flattened himself to absorb as much sun as possible.

 

More hedge to plant

In addition to the 105 saplings we planted in awful weather in November, we received have another 420 thanks to The Woodland Trust. Please come and give us a hand on Saturday 7 March to get them into the ground along the field edge at Roundabouts near Lynchmere Green.
We are aiming to have a complete double hedge along this boundary bank which will in due course be laid. the saplings are as before hazel, blackthorn, elder, crab apple and dog rose.
We need to clear a bit of existing bracken and bramble, plant the whips and put tree guards round them. Let’s hope we have enough willing helpers at the usual time from 10.00 to 12.30.