So, I'm a quarter of my way through my traineeship already and it's certainly getting tougher, but ultimately more rewarding and enjoyable.
September started with us brush cutting at Harridge east, and making the paths as safe and accessible as possible. As with a lot of our sites now we have to check for signs of ash die back and see how badly it’s affecting the trees. I’ve also spent a good few days on the Yoxter reserve doing various fencing repairs and fitting new posts and rails. I’m definitely getting a lot better and quicker at my fencing work, and I’m sure there will be a lot more to do during the Winter. I had my last day of Ragwort pulling around Cheddar for the season, and just in time, as it had started to seed. Fingers crossed we won’t come across any more till next Summer. This week marked my first day of any chainsaw work with the Trust, which I was very eager to do. We were clearing a stretch of wall at Chancellor’s farm which needed to be repaid so we were taking out some Hawthorn and processing them ready for burning.
I have completed my PA1 safe use of pesticides course. This was my first time learning about how to best use chemicals, and I found it really interesting and useful - I won't often be needing to use pesticides, but it is good knowledge to have, and useful when applying for jobs in the future. We have also done our first bit of dry stone walling, and repaired a section of wall that had come down after a car accident and needed to be made cattle proof again. I’ve only done a few days of walling before, so spending a whole day at it was really good for me, and I feel I’m slowly getting the hang of it. We also did more fencing around Yoxter, making repairs and fixing some of the troop styles which regularly need maintenance. I have had my usual office day which gives me time to keep up to date with my e-learning courses, as well as writing my diary. I have also spent a day at Edford Meadows where we needed to install a new straining post and put up some wire across the bridge to make it safe for the cattle to pass. It was a very memorable day as we got a surprise visit from a Kingfisher which came up very close, and then darted as soon as he noticed us. Brilliant end to the week.
Adding to my knowledge, I now know how to use a knapsack sprayer - I took a course and passed with flying colours. It was interesting to learn that it’s not about spraying as whereever and however much as you like, and to get to know the techniques used to combat its overuse and protect the environment. I have also had a staff meeting this month at Avalon Marshes, and I was able to meet more new faces and learn more about the different things people do within the organisation. We were also treated to a tour around the Roman Villa and Saxon Hall that are being built on site using traditional techniques. This project will be used for educational groups in the future and to highlight what life was like many years ago around Westhay and the surrounding area. James, Reserves Assistant and myself spent a day at Lynchcombe clearing a large area of brambles and hawthorn. We were able to recover an old stock gate which we can reuse, and to keep warm we also lit our first fire of the season. As it gets colder these fires will become a lot more welcome. Also, myself and Liz, the Reserves Manager for East Mendip, fitted a new post to hang a kissing gate from at Hollow Marsh. Unfortunately we were not able to hit the old post, but after two hours of digging out the old one we got the new one in and fitted the gate to perfection, so all that digging was worth it.
The end of the month ended with me being ill so unfortunately I wasn’t able to do as much as I would have liked. However, I did spend a day at Edford Woods, cutting the ride and clearing it all up. This annual task is done to not only keep the track clear, but to also create an opening for creatures on the woodland edge to use. We also ensure to scallop the edges so a wind tunnel isn't created. The final task of the month was to put my cross-cutting skills to the test at Cheddar Woods, by processing and stacking up a large amount of felled trees and burning the remaining brash. The site was on a fairly steep slope which meant a lot of dragging brash up hill and being extremely careful not to trip and roll myself down. This was a hard and hot day's work, but I really enjoy using a chainsaw and it's really good practice for me gaining my confidence before I take anymore chainsaw courses.
Until next month....