Thursday, 17 May 2012

Videos of the woodland, before and after clearing

For ease of comparison , here are the 'before and after' walkthroughs of the woodland. They both quite long (12 and 22 minutes) so best have a coffee in hand.

The first was filmed in summer 2011 with my cousin Henry Fletcher.

Before clearance video

The second filmed at the end of April 2012, after around a thousand hours of combined work.

After clearance video

As you will see there's a little extra work to do but I'm going to leave the rest until we see how the woodland adapts to its rather severe clearance. Its also been too wet to take the tractor in to remove a few of the larger trees and firewood piles safely. They will be gone in the next few months.

Lots of the old river bank fencing was removed along with the rhododendron so its still a bit dangerous for small children if anyone is visiting, though its not an issue for sober adults. I'm going to try and get this replaced before the end of the year but dont let that put you off visiting in the dry !


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

All Work and no Blogging !

There has been a bit of a break from the blogging for quite a while, for several reasons.

1)  I've got in the habit of doing updates on the  Grove Farm Facebook page however some people dont use Facebook (yes, really!) so my apologies to them for lack of info.

2) The longer the break in blogging went on the harder it gets to start and get back up to date !

3) The main reason being, most of what we've been doing was really repetitive so one post at the end should cover most of it !

 So here it is...

For most of the year to date we have been chopping down rhododendrons in the woods ("Fancy Grove Woods").  We started in early January and finished at end of March. Then we did the majority of the thinning of the trees and some river clearance.

The job was quite straightforward, all the rhodo's needed cut or pulled up and then drilled to contain a small quantity of glyphosate (RoundUp) herbicide. Sounds easy enough but there were THOUSANDS of stems to do !  Lots of the work for the last month was done on abseil which slowed us right down !

I've added a selection of shots which gives an impression of the job, most of which I placed on the Facebook page as we went along . There are two videos, a before and after walkthrough which I'll post as  the next blog.

In total we spent approaching one thousand hours on the work so far. We have cleared about two hectares (five acres)  most of it was covered and all was hard and slow going !  It  will be an ongoing job to kill off any regrowth, burn some cuttings after nesting has finished, do a bit more thinning , replace fencing and finish clearing tyres  out of the river. But for now its basically done for this year at least. 

Hurrah ! Well done us ! Many thanks to everyone who helped out - I'd still be there if it wasn't for you !

I'll let the photos tell the story...

The approach to walled field from woods before recent clearing. The gate and railings were originally hidden completely.

This view from other side of river has the woodland track at top and shows the steepness of the bank.
Its at least forty feet high as well !

The big rhododendron at bottom of field nearest castle. The view to river behind is completely obscured.

Some of the individual stems were well over eighty years old. This one was probably originally planted here deliberately

Peter helping . We must have burned many, many tonnes of rhododendron !

The view when the rhododendron was removed. What a difference !

This shot gives a good idea of the difficulty of working on a rope above the river

Birdbox manufacture by my Dad, he's made nearly thirty and two owl boxes so far

Another angle on that big rhodo, this time from the river below. These trees were encased , with the rhodo branches hanging down to river in places, some around thirty feet long at least.

The river has dozens of old car tyres in it, which is only occasionally useful ! Sam was very happy with the new saw

This was my favourite day and photo of clearing work.  Dramatic !

Those entrance railings uncovered at long last !

When the sun was out it really was a great place to work. I'm sat right on the edge of a vertical plunge into river !

Chop 'em , Drill 'em , Spray 'em , KILL 'EM !!  (and repeat)

Birdboxes all up. A bit late for nesting season though one or two got used immediately.
  And then we escaped from the woods and have started repairing the walls in a few places and tidying up (yes, still tidying up after 18 months !)

Sam and I replacing cope stones in the yard.
Putting the entrance pillar capping stone back on

Making the entrance way respectable.... well sort of !

Removing the concrete slab outside the living room window. Not the best view it must be said. This area will have climbing plants and some raised lawn.

Sam working on the chain gang !

I have been lent a mini digger (Thank you Raymond !) Nothing is safe now !

Peter getting a crash course on 1960's tractor handling    (#1. hold your breath !)

Peter having fun learning the digger controls. All kids playgrounds should have a digger !

Fully qualified, we get to work on the dumped rubble in walled field.

Some JCB repair work. It just came off in my hand - thats because I work so fast !

Sam has taken on rebuilding the "doorways" that have been hacked through in three places.

Another "doorway",presumably the same height as a trailer, explains where some of the rubble came from !

Sam, conveniently an ex-brickie !

A perfect location for work ! (Check the collapsed wall in distance...might leave that for a year or two)

And that finishes a speedy update of whats been going on. The video links in next blog will give a better idea of the woods if you've not already seen it on Facebook.


Abraham Maslow said " To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail. 

Well I've just been lent a digger and everything now looks like it needs a drainage trench !

I'll keep you posted ....sooner rather than later !