Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Rose Cottage Lean To

It's been a while since it was first mentioned, but now that Rose Cottages lean to has been constructed I thought I'd share the process in photographs from the original to the end for all to see.

Benchmark contractors were the guys that we contracted into build the lean to, and I'm personally really pleased with the build. It even has a radiator in it to keep your boots warm in winter!

After the previous lean to was in disrepair (not even attached to the floor anymore and the door wouldn't shut!) it was decided that a new, bigger lean to needed to be built.

It took less than an hour to take down the old lean to, but thankfully a lot longer to build the new one!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Tractor Training

Niki, Carol, John and I spent three days this week doing a LANTRA Tractor Driving Course. It was very interesting and useful learning all the best and easiest ways to drive our tractors. For our assessment we had to hitch up a reverse a trailer, attach the grab to the front and move a large tree stump, and attach the mower and mow some stuff. I am pleased to say that we all passed, and (if I say so myself) passed well.

Niki hitching up the trailer for her assessment.

While we were play with tractors, Lois took Andy and our work experience placement out to the wider nature reserve to put new interpretation signs out. We all trying to update all the signs around the fen to give visitors up to date and relevant info about the wildlife and the landscape.

Putting my new tractor skills to good use, I have spent the past two days mowing the paths along the Lodes Way. I had a few interested parties watching me, including a Little Grebe on Burwell Fen, lots of Roe Deer next to Guinea Hall and the Koniks on Guinea Hall too. 

The Ponies watching the tractor, including little Swift.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Mowing and Burning

Jack and I have had Buzz the ride on mower out in compartment 22, the field behind the Visitor's Centre. We have been mowing about half of the compartment where there were small tree saplings have been popping up. There was a clear line where the peat soil changed to clay, as the peat soil was too wet to sustain the trees. This made a good clear line for us to pinpoint where to stop our mowing.
You can just about make out the line where I had been mowing.
John and I went on a tour of the wider nature reserve on Tuesday, planning out what needs mowing over the summer and what needs mowing ready for spring to really begin. I now have a lot of time in a tractor looming ahead of me.

For the rest of the week, we have been continuing to tidy the fire site. We've managed to get some nice big, but controlled fires going burning the old brash we've had stacked there for a while. We also pollarded some willows along the edge of the fire site and added them to the fire. Unfortunately we never managed to remember to take a packet of marshmallows with us, but we always enjoy having a good fire.

We managed to get a good amount of heat coming from the middle of the fire.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Spring is here, so lets get ready for Summer!

When I started writing this week's blog I didn't feel like I had a lot to tell you, but now I've written a list of what we've been up to this week I realise we have actually been really busy. With the nice weather settling in we are starting to gear up for the summer, trying to get things ready and organised for when everything starts growing.

The Ranger and Education teams have been looking at the Education Area, writing a wish list of everything we want there, and what needs fixing. We are now going to work out what is affordable and manageable before cracking on with the work before the summer school groups start visiting.

Next to the ed area, we have started to tidy and organise our fire site. We've had a new very large shelter built there to protect some of the old equipment and spare fence supplies, so Ruby has made a plan for where everything is going. We are now freeing all of the piles of stuff from the overgrowth and moving it to where Ruby points to. It sounds like a really dull task but we have kept a lot of old equipment and signs, and generally anything that has ever been used on the Fen so its like a going back through the history of the Fen!

A fancy panroramic photo of our fire site before we have organised it.
We've been getting on with making the new duckboards that will go around the site next winter. It may seem like we're making them very early but we want to be able to drive them out on site in the summer when the ground is dry. We have enough materials to make 75 and we have now made 16, with Mike making more as I type. Mike has made a fantastic jig so that you just place the pieces of wood in the slots and screw them together. It makes the job so much quicker and easier.
Andy, Anita and me making duckboards

Other little jobs we've been up to are, finishing the cutting of Butterfly Trail, checking out some of the windblown trees in Gutterbridge and more fencing work on Tubney Fen.

This afternoon Lois and I are heading out to the freshly mown Harrison's Drove car park to install some new benches. So we will have a nice new base for people to be able to explore the wider Nature Reserve.