Friday, 26 April 2013

Getting ready for the cattle and grass cutting begins

Large parts of the vision project, or as it is know by some, the wider nature reserve, are grazed by licensees using cattle........

This is one of those sentences that requires some explanation I think. What is this wider nature reserve? With Wicken Fen being a site so special scientific interest (SSSI), a special area of conservation (SAC) and a Ramsar site for the protection of wetlands, and being a nature reserve for over one hundred years it is clearly core to the Wicken Vision. But the land acquired as part of the Vision Project is also a nature reserve, so it was decided that it would be a sensible approach to keep a distinction between the two but make sure we talk about a nature reserve rather than the Vision Project.... The Vision Project being the long term project to create a nature reserve... not sure I cleared that up but it makes sense.

Licensees are pretty much the same as tenants, which many people will be familiar with in a farming context, but there is a legal difference I am told so we have licensees not tenants.  

So back to the point...... over the winter we take in all of the smaller access gates to allow people to pass freely and to try to save the gates from being stolen. We had a load go missing a few years back. As the cattle graze from May to October they go back this weekend, a fun job as each gate is slightly different and I have lost my notes of which one goes where, 12 to choose from I think.

Other than gates fences are clearly pretty important in keeping the cattle where we want them, I haven’t ever worked out exactly how many miles of fence we have but it must be at least the 10 mile mark, and it all needs looking after. We contract out the large repairs which can entail several weeks work at time and work with staff and volunteers from Wicken Fen as well as work groups from further afield to keep get the smaller jobs done. Recently we pulled out a section of fence on Tubney Fen with a group of friends who met doing working holidays with the trust and now team up to lend a hand where they can. One stretch went through here with took some work just to cut a path in.

There were a few fen blows last week, where the dry soil is blown away. We don’t get them often so I thought I would snap them. I forgot to close our bathroom window, loads of dust and earth in there to clean up when I got back home.

With the sun shining and the warm weather the grass is growing, so I was glad to have the help of Jack, our cycle hire and boat Ranger. He is helping me out for a day a week keeping access clear and things looking good. We are still working to get the cattle coral finished at Hurdle Hall, half of these wonky posts are pointing the correct way.
As usual you can follow me and contact me on Twitter @Vision_Warden if you like.

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