I'm indebted once more to Keith Fowler for this blog post who strolled up to the stage and keyboard as I regrettably miss another day out with the Wrekin Forest Volunteers
So... over to Keith (all pics by Keith unless otherwise stated)
Coppicing and Working Horses in the Ercall LNR
After a spring and summer of wandering, looking, (mis)identifying, recording and just generally enjoying the many wildlife sites we are blessed with in Telford it was back to practical conservation in the Wrekin Forest, i.e. cutting down trees.
For once I came under my own steam and parked in the Forest Glen car park where I made early acquaintance with Geoff/Jeff the wonder-horse who was to work the woods with us whilst he was enjoying some pre-work grooming. I then noticed the Trust mini-van miss the car park and carry on towards Little Wenlock. Fortunately Alistair cycled by and told me we were meeting at the end of the path to the coppice. So off I trotted after the van.
We assembled in the area coppiced last year. On the other side of the path children from one of our local schools were enjoying themselves learning about woodland skills on a course run, so I believe, by the Wildlife Trust.
First things first – the fire ritual. Kindling was found, paper rolled and Peter lit the first fire of the season. And it lit first time … improvement.
Peter then told us what our task was to be: to coppice a second area (cant – I think he called it) neighbouring the one from last year. We walked around the border then, being the first session of the season and with a few new faces, Peter gave instructions for the tools. He also put us on strict limits for the size of tree we could remove – no larger than the circle created by thumb and finger. Our hearts sank – but they were raised when Peter said that we would cut down the larger ones at a later session.
Tea makers and fire tenders were postedAnd the rest of us set about removing the undergrowth from the coppice area. Meanwhile Geoff/Jeff removed a few logs then basked in his glory as small group after small group of the schoolchildren came up to admire and stroke him.
And before long it was elevenses, more work, then lunch
But no cake … except for those burnt by King Alfred
Some of our group had the opportunity to load and drive Geoff/Jeff who proved to be very patient with us especially when his logs snagged, bringing him to a sudden halt, or when we garbled our commands. Others converted the wood that had been felled into hedging materials.
The day soon passed. It was a gentle reintroduction into our winter routine, made all the more pleasurable by the clement weather and the Geoff/Jeff’s presence – long may he continue to work.
Editor's comment: Olly looks on as man takes photo of horse devouring a volunteer!
Sorry... just couldn't resist it!
Photo supplied by Graham Statham
Thanks once more Keith for the article. I'm back this Friday all being well!
Oh... before I go... the 'Where Is It Competition' - the prize for which is a 2-week all expenses paid holiday in Hawaii or one my gifts from my box of giveaways ( I choose) - is proving to be a real stinker with 2 or 3 suggestions already made but no-one's yet near the mark, so I'm giving yet another clue:-
It's not far from Llodirlsh
Other clues to date you may recall are:-
The location is very close to one of SWT's Nature Reserves.
And here's the pic once more
Come on! I've all but told you! Suggestions in Comments below