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80-metre sprint in hedge race

by Rod Kebble

Seven CRT volunteers turned out on Thursday 23rd February to take part in one of the Pierrepont conservation group’s irregular mid-week working parties. This time the aim was to finish planting the hedge on the Silage Field side of the farm road, between the cattle grids and the post-and-rail fence put up by the volunteers in 2009.

Bob the Bull surveys the new hedge at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.

Bob the Bull casts a proprietorial eye over the new hedge. The plants behind him are Fat Hen, which is grown in the corner of the field to provide food for birds — though Mike Clear reports that the number of goldfinches seen there this winter was lower than in the previous year.

According to farmer Mike Clear, the distance remaining was 81 metres. Put another way, that’s 405 holes to dig and fill. The first person to arrive made a start at 0815, about an hour before the others showed up. The whole job was completed by 1445, including breaks for tea and cake and an hour for lunch — so not a bad day’s work, espcecially when 57 percent of the labour force were senior citizens.

The reason for the mid-week working was that we wanted to get the hedging plants into the ground while they were still dormant. The day began overcast and drizzly but blossomed into a bright spring day, complete with warm sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. While this no doubt helped the work along, it also reminded us that we needed to get a move on before our plants woke up.

The labour force thought it had finished the planting for this year, but then Mike informed us there is still 40 metres of hedge to be planted elsewhere. Just a morning’s work, then…

The hedge stops short of a drainage gulley to allow for cleaning. The gap between the hedge and the fence will be filled with new fencing erect by Countryside Restoration Trust volunteers.

The new hedge stops short of a drain, in order to permit machine cleaning of the gulley. The gap between the hedge and the existing fencing will be filled with more post-and-rail fencing which the volunteers will erect later this year.

Update 28th February: In case you are thinking the photos above do not tally with the description of a bright Spring day, your reporter must confess to having left his camera behind on the day the hedging was planted. The photos above were taken the next day — an altogether duller affair. The picture below, however, was taken by Conway Churchill on the day itself. The hedge starts at the clock tower in the background, goes left down the slope and emerges round the corner.

Hedge planting at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.