Hello everyone, thanks for coming to check out my February blog!
Just because February is the shortest month of the year, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the quietest. In fact, I feel quite a lot has happened this month, so much so it’s tricky to recall it all… One of my favourite jobs to do during the winter season is hedgelaying. I love the simplicity of a hedge and how it has so many benefits to both people and wildlife; it’s a boundary and an excellent habitat, win win. Lucky for me, February was chock-full with plenty of opportunities to practise this ancient craft. I laid some hazel hedge on my home turf on the Mendips. The traditional way to lay a hedge in the Mendips is the North Somerset style. This is a high hedge that is staked at intervals in a weaved style along the length of the hedge. I was also able to pop down to spend a day with Dan, the South Somerset Wildpaths counterpart and his mentor Mark. Down on the South Somerset Reserves they lay their hedges in the ‘Devon and Dorset’ style, this is a much lower and wider hedge, usually laid on a bank of earth.
The line of hazel stools (and some volunteers) which was once the previous hedge before it is re-laid.
The new hedge laid in the North Somerset style.
The brash in front of the fence line is the un-wanted material from the stools. Only a surprisingly small percentage of hazel from each stool ends up laid into the new hedge.
There was another chance to finish off some AQA worksheets, this time it was Lookering, or live stock checking. I was able to head out with Kate, our contract grazier over of Chancellors Farm. She is very knowledgeable and has plenty to teach me about animal husbandry! It was great to spend the morning helping her feed the cattle, check the stock are all fit and happy and catch some escaped lambs...
Kate's red hat and our Red Devon or Ruby Red cattle enjoying their breakfast.
To top the month of I ventured into Dorset to do my final certificated training course. This time it was for a 4X4 Off-road Driving Certificate, and yes, it was as much fun as it sounds! It is probably exactly as you’re imagining, driving around some woods in one of our Land Rover Defender 90’s, up and down some very muddy and steep hills. This was a great experience and I learnt a lot of useful tips and techniques to help you not get stuck whilst out and about.
Spring is definitely in the air. The daffodils have started to come up and if you look closely you can see the tips of the bluebells pushing out of the ground. The rather un-February-like warm weather we had this month has triggered some butterflies to come out. I’ve mostly been seeing some brimstones around, hopefully the changeable weather doesn’t hinder them too much. As well as the emergent spring wildlife there are some other wildlife treats to be seen. Frogs and toads, if not already, will soon be laying their spawn. Hoping around looking for their favourite pond, watch out around your feet whilst walking!
I spotted this common
toad on a footpath
whilst out and
about this month.
Note that I am wearing
my gloves to handle
him. The natural oils on
our skin can sometimes
damage their skin so
please cover your hand if you need to move them somewhere safer.
The end of February marks the end of the winter work program. As we get into March we will start on the spring/summer program so I look forward to seeing what that will bring.
Thanks for reading this month, hope you’ve and enjoyed it and I will be back in March.
All the best, Steve.