Spring 2011

I have just started spraying the thistles for this year. There are not too many, but the small patches would turn into huge ones if given the chance. That is the situation in Oat Field. I have not progressed further yet because the mower is sick; the engine is making a horrible racket. I think I caught a piece of aspen sucker in the blades – but hopefully someone will take a look soon. I daren’t continue work until I know that the engine is not about to blow up!

I cannot answer for the other fields yet but there are some surprises this year. Among the usual aspen suckers (a pain) there are more cherry suckers, sea buckthorn suckers, brambles and “volunteers” either by seed blown from next door or, I suppose, from my own plants already: ash, oak, hawthorn, purging buckthorn and, the one I hate most, blackthorn. In places I have to go off track to avoid either the wanted volunteers or the branches that aim for my head as I pass by. Blackthorn is horrible. It creeps in from the hedges every year despite being well chopped by the annual hedge cutting, then suckers yards away and we have to control it by mowing. In desperation I suppose I could spray it with a strong herbicide, but would kill everything else around it too.

There are no flowers yet, except the bluebells that we put in a few years ago. But why are most of them sitting among thistles? Still, they will look a picture in later years when they have thickened up. As for wildlife, there is continual birdsong, a wonderful spring sound, but only when I take off my ear protectors to refill the spray tank! The bad news is the arrival of the next generation of Viburnum beetle. Already they are chomping their way through the Guelder rose new leaves. I hate it but can do nothing about it. I disturbed a muntjac deer, just the one, but hopefully not a breeding one. The damage that the various deer species cause is not drastic, but I really don’t want permanent residents.

The ponds are doing quite well despite the lack of rain day after day, week after week. One has tadpoles. One has blanket weed. I planted lots of wildflowers in the early spring in the hope of rain about to arrive, which it did not. It is impractical to water them, so they have to take their chances. Hoping for a good deluge of rain soon.