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Gates, pies and rhodies

by Rod Kebble

The conservation volunteers met on 8th December for the last working party of 2012. One group set about clearing some rhodies that had been cut down about a year ago but not removed from the site. Consequently, the plants had started to take root again and had to be given a stern talking-to.

Meanwhile, four of the men removed a two-part gate from the farm road and took it to its new location by the pond in front of the dairy, where it will fill the gap in the new hedge and complete the enclosure of the pond and its surrounding land. The work of installing the gates was not completed on the day as it was decided all hands were needed to attack the remaining rhodies from two sides.

Countryside Restoration Trust volunteers Brian Lavers and Jim Cane prepare to reassemble the two gates at their new site.

CRT volunteers Brian Lavers (left) and Jim Cane prepare to reassemble the two gates at their new site, though this work was not completed on the day.

But first there was a break for tea or coffee and mince pies. As usual, farmer Mike Clear and herdsman Tony Timmis materialised pretty much as soon as the Kelly kettle had boiled and the rhodie-bashers produced a long-tailed tit’s nest they had found in the course of clearing their site.

A long-tailed tit's nest found during rhodie-bashing at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm. It was unclear if it had come from a rhodie or had been built in another tree.

A long-tailed tit’s nest found when clearing rhododendron, though it was unclear whether it had been built in a rhodie or in another tree.

After the break, the rhodies cut down last year, together with some not previously addressed, were cleared away completely and a useful quantity of timber recovered for future use as charcoal.

Herdsman Tony Timmis and farmer Mike Clear stop for a tea break and mince pies on the last volunteer day before Christmas at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.

Herdsman Tony Timmis (standing) and farmer Mike Clear — sporting his new beard — take a break for tea and mince pies at the last volunteers’ working party before Christmas.