Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – work day


Conservation work with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Yesterday I spent a brilliant time with a group of volunteers at Appleton Mill Farm on one of the conservation work days with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.  The Farm is managed in partnership with the Trust and the day’s work involved clearing a steep, wooded, muddy bank of all the scrub and branches left after a previous tree felling operation.  The wooded area, of mostly Larch, was thinned to allow better (straighter and healthier) tree growth, with an ultimate goal of replacing all the trees with native hardwoods.  The felled trees were to be used for fencing and where wood is required on the Trust’s reserves.  The area cleared would be used for grazing for the Farm’s herd of Beef Shorthorn cows, and the banking of trees would offer them shelter.

Beef Shorthorn cows

When we arrived at the Farm we were introduced to the Beef Shorthorn cows, and learned a little about the herd, breed and husbandry.

Beef Shorthorn cows and calves

I lingered rather too long (what a lovely place the cow shed was, warm, sweet smelling and full of slow munching) talking to the very new calves and had to run to catch the group, who had already started up the hillside.

The conservation work party

Before long there was a huge pile collected and a bonfire lit.  Initially more smoke than fire, but it soon got going.

Lighting the bonfire

Conservation work party gets the bonfire going

As we got further up the hillside, it became steeper and a bit treacherous (and further away from the bonfire!) for dragging and carrying.   The Wildlife Trust’s ‘wood man’ came up with a solution – and arrived with his Unimog, from which was extended a length of wire which we hauled to the top of the hill.  Our collected material was laid over the wire, then the end wrapped across the top and secured back on itself.  The vehicle’s winch wound the wire in and it created a noose around our branches.  Gradually the huge bundle moved down the hill, loud with cracking and branch-breaking sound, like an enormous, live, prickly creature.  One of the volunteers found a vole, and caught it (we must have disturbed it with all our noise and tramping over its territory) to show us – it squeezed out of his gloved grip and sat on his arm looking rather startled.  We repeated the wire trick until everything was cleared.

A winch wire made a noose round our collected branches

Conservation work with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

branches being winches to the fire

A really enjoyable day – arms ache a bit, but I have a rosy glow from the effort – if you’ve been thinking about volunteering with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust I can really recommend it – details are here (or contact a Wildlife Trust where you are) – perhaps our help is needed now more than ever, either in joining, donating or volunteering.







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