August 2005

As I write this it is raining!!! The trees need it desperately because the ground has opened up into huge great cracks. And yet the new plantings in Big Field are totally amazing.

I am very grateful to Karin for sparing some of her precious time to walk around with me counting which of the new trees have survived so far. And have they survived! There are oaks already out of the top of their tubes, some ash looking tall and elegant, and a couple of other species are already nearly as tall as me. It is, obviously, taking a while to cover 8,000 trees, but of those already counted there is such a small number of deaths that it is insignificant.

This is such a contrast to Rye Field, planted in December 2003, which is much heavier and wetter clay. There was a significant loss last summer (7%), despite it being quite wet. The remaining trees are alive and well, but are somewhat set back in their rate of growth in comparison to the other two fields. Those in Oat Field, planted December 2002, are doing fantastically well.

Unfortunately the rain came too late for the tadpoles in the scrapes. We managed to save some, but the others will have died as the water dried up. Let’s hope that in other years the breeding adults will aim for the ponds instead. Maybe some tadpoles matured and hopped away before the drought………

There has been a magnificent show of wildflowers this year, most having eventually germinated from the seed sown two years ago. The thistles are still going strong, but I am now spraying them and the docks to good effect, although some seed is unfortunately blowing around still. It is horrible to do this, but, as I have said before, I have tried other methods and have no other choices left.

And paperwork is rather overwhelming at the moment. There are the new farming schemes and all the work that goes into applying and complying with those. I hope to be able to apply to the new Stewardship scheme to run alongside the old one, but at the moment Defra have lost my paperwork!!!