Saw the first bluebell today!
Jobs completed this month and looking forward…
A tale of two paths
At last we have had a few days of frosty weather, which has enabled us to lay two paths round the ploughed field without getting too muddy in the process! One path is new for this year, kindly being allowed by Peter Appleton who owns the field round which it leads, so one can now access the White Walk from the Upper Pond in addition to the existing route from the Lower Pond. The other path is the well-established one leading to the River Walk, but this year it is defined with a layer of road chippings, making it easier to traverse whatever the weather.
The pictures show the machinery we had to hire in to reducesome of the work done by hand, which was long hard and arduous, but now finally finished. Nearer to the start date of the Bluebell Walk, we will hire in a vibrating roller so that it gives a relatively smooth surface for those pushing baby buggies. We do have notices at the beginning of
these two Walks, forbidding mobility scooters along them as there are several hazards which we found can be dangerous for even the most intrepid scooter user, and importantly each scooter only has a limited charge in its battery, suitable for the Blue Walk but no others.
In the areas we coppiced early last year, young trees have been planted in the larger bare spaces, so that when the coppiced stools start to grow we will have good tree cover. This is ideal for the white wood anemones and bluebells, as they make good use of the light before the leaves are fully out from the surrounding trees, darkening the forest floor. The young trees planted (photo) are all hornbeam, which is the predominant species of coppice in Beatons Wood. Hornbeam were originally planted in all the local woods, as it is ideal for the production of charcoal and not too far away from the iron smelting industry based around the Horam, Heathfield and Ashburnham areas. We planted hazel in the gaps on the old bank along the edge of Beatons Wood as had been done in the past, the existing ones having been coppiced at waist height to minimize damage from browsing deer.
Recently I have noticed all the new growth, from where the old hornbeam had been cut at ground level, has been severely reduced by deer who have been looking for additional food sources in the cold weather. I only hope that we have warm weather to herald an early spring, so these young shoots can quickly grow into useful trees, thus the long term damage from the deer will be minimal. In 2010 we did surround two small areas with weldmesh fencing, which vividly shows the abundance of growth when rabbits and deer are excluded. My long term plan is to have a perimeter fence to exclude deer as well as badgers, because they not only eat hedgehogs but we have seen so many examples of where they have been digging up bumble bee nests to get at the honey. It might remain only a ‘pipe dream’, as it would be an extremely expensive project to fence around this private 23 acre wood. Also we’d have to work out what happens during the Bluebell Walk period as visitors enter the wood and leave at various points to traverse the farm walks!
Updating the Bluebell Barn
Work has now started on enlarging the Bluebell Barn kitchen, with the extra space being taken from the book room run by Action for Medical Research. With a little re-organization this should not reduce the number of books they put on display. We are also applying for planning permission for the Bluebell Barn to be used throughout the year, and if successful it would then have a full makeover with the support of a Leader Grant available in the Wealden and Rother areas. We aim to have it fully insulated with central heating and weather boarding on the sides, so it will look less like a farm building, but an attractive building to hire for such activities as business seminars, demonstrations, social gatherings, parties and any type of meal. The only stipulation would be that there would be no amplified music, as we live next door!
New website and online shop
Next month we will be producing our publicity leaflet, which will coincide with the launch of a new website with the facility to offer online selling of the various Bluebell Walk products that are being designed right now. These will be on sale for the first time during the Bluebell Walk period of 8 April to 14 May. Then the e-commerce site should go live early in July. If we get planning permission for extended use of the barn, the new website will also have the facility to handle the bookings. All this is described more fully in the publicity leaflet, which we are aiming to start distributing around mid February.
My aim is to try and have it posted on the website on Friday 24 February.
This message was added on Friday 27th January 2017
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