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February, 2009:

She said “There’s something in the wood shed”

Having just about finished all the wood we chopped in previous years, it was time to purchase some more wood to keep us warm for the rest of this winter and for next winter too. Things are not just that simple though. We had to tidy up the right hand barn before re-stocking it full of wood. (more…)

Hedges, Hedges, Hedges.

In late 2004, after we’d signed up for this place but a little before we actually owned it, I decided that a little training in the agricultural arts was appropriate. In the November of that year I invested a little time and spent a day with the National Trust at Styal Country Park in Cheshire for a days tutelage in Hedge Laying. That day lingers long in the memory as I also got an important lesson in tool maintenance/sharpening and how to work with olde-worlde bill hooks and the like.

You’re not going to master this in a day -that undoubtedly takes a lifetime – but you can pick the rudimentary skills up with no bother. The proof of the pudding is in trying it out for real… and on your own hedge!

Fast forward to January 2006 and I decided the time was right to have a go at our own hedge. Time flies when you’re having fun and all that and three years on now it’s time to revisit.

All I can say is Wow! The sections that I’d laid had all, universally survived the cutting of the pleachers. Not a lot of new growth from the bases below where I’d laid the trees but consistently large, vigourous new vertical growth along the length of the laid down branch that was ripe for further laying.

So, I set-to, clearing out masses of unwanted growh and laying down the new growth into the densest, most unpenetrable countryside hedge.

The main section of blackthorn at the end of the garden is now totally stock-proof. We could happily remove the wire fencing from the adjacent field and the livestock (currently six non-pregnant breeding sheep) would never make it through to my Asparagus bed (1 ,2) !

The hedge had sprouted a number of runners in some places… with some roots speading a good 3M into the lawn – I’ve dug these up and removed them cleanly. I was able to rescue about a dozen small shrubs that might transplant so they’ve been moved too and we’ll see if they take.

Next update? February 2012.

Ouch, Ouch and Thrice Ouch

Ouch #1. Spent our second day outdoors hedge clearing and generally taking care of a winter garden tidyup. Had a satisfying bonfire yesterday that got rid of one big pile of accumulated garden scraps.

Although the brambles provide a host of food for the birds in the late summer and plenty of fragrant crop for us too they had to come out so we can get to the heart of the hedge.

Bramble pile

One of many piles of brambles removed from hedgerow.

We’ve got 50 new hedge plants to go in on this stretch to thicken it out a little so we need clear ground to get them into.  They’re a little unforgiving and we’re flayed raw by the scratchy bits despite the best protection on offer.


Thorny little buggers.

Ouch #2. Not over-used. Not abused… but yet another tool bites the dust today as a rather sickening ‘ping’ saw the anvil blade of a new set of loppers fly off into the bush when it should have been cutting brambles. This is doubly upsetting as these were a gift and this was little more than their first serious outing. I’ll email Spear And Jackson with the evidence and see what their metal is made of (forgive the pun!). They allegedly have a ten year warranty for these things.. let’s see if they honour it.

Spear & Jackon Loppers

Ouch #3. Stubbed my toe at breakfast this morning – not of itself something that’s normally particularly blogworthy. It hurt a lot through the day and only when I had a look this evening at close of play did I discover the full extent of the purpleness. It’s not pretty.

Still, minor bumps and bruises aside it’s great to work outdoors solidly for a couple of days and then come in to a roaring fire and a relaxing glass of wine…. which reminds me… we’ve had rather a good run of fortune in the wine buying stakes in the last few weeks and just enough to warrant a blog in the next few days…

The Great Storm Of 2009

Well, after reading the BBC news on the internet about Paris airports shutting from 8.00pm due to high winds of up 175 kph – I decided to check out our local weather report on meteo france.


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