The end of a fence

Tuesday. Had a couple of important jobs today: first, pack a bike for four days away; second, finish building a fence.

From Barrow-in-Furness to Glasson Dock, Sustrans are opening a new long-distance route this weekend and I’m helping them lead the bunch of newbies who are its first official riders. I have to take extra tools and first aid on the ride because I’m mechanic and nurse as well as outrider to the group. I also need to pack camping kit because, out of four nights, two are under canvas. The sag waggon will transfer the heavy stuff but I still have to carry it all to and from the trains tomorrow. Monica will be there on Sunday to bring me home. It’s only 20–30 miles each day so there’s little chance of any major drama. Apart from Saturday, the weather is set fair, too.

Before I left off work today, I had to make sure that the bottom meadow was sheep-proof by affixing the sheep netting to the replacement fence, to complete its construction. It was a fine summer day so, apart from having to stop to talk to canal folk, this pleasant task went quickly.

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Many people, visitors as well as passers-by, have noticed that the meadows, upper (mown annually) and lower (not mown), are putting on a splendid show of wild flowers. Blue bells, buttercups, red grass, forget-me-nots, pig nuts and many others. None of the yellow rattle have grown, again, so this might be the end of trying to help the change the ecology.

It seems an odd season because the hawthorn is only just flowering. It usually comes out with the bluebells, here, and they’re almost over.

The trees on the hillside opposite are finally starting to move in the breeze like a proper woodland. The late sunshine slanting along the valley from the north-east highlights them. Our trees seem to be doing well, too. Monica rescued her biomass willow again after the black plastic mulch unzipped itself from the ground. This time, she’s replacing the annoying stuff with our standard, hessian-and-newspaper mulch packs.

Puzzling over this problem, I think I’ve invented a way to mulch large areas of the forest garden without the risk of the covering blowing away. I’m going to try making large mats like bamboo blinds from withies and split poles. These could be made in place and could either hold down light-proof fabric or be lined with it. If made in place, the fabric could be attached with the same stitch as the withies. I guess I could just buy long canes if I don’t have enough withies this year. We’ll see how the willow grows. The mature ones along the canal certainly have a lot of coppiced growth that I could harvest this winter.

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