Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ragwort and orchids

Today was a very hot day.  It would have been a lovely day to sit in a deckchair with a nice cool glass of wine.  So where was I?  In the middle of a field pulling ragwort ..  all day ... Fab.  David's idea of an exciting day out.  The work experience students were both thrilled with it as well. 

We rent a large tract of beautiful valley that is run in conjunction with Natural England and so we are really restricted as to what we can do down there.  We graze it and make hay from it but one particular field has succumbed to the dreaded ragwort - the land has really been neglected for many years and has not had any maintenance at all.  As you may know, ragwort is seriously poisonous to most animals, especially when dried in hay, and so we had to clear it out before David gets down there and starts baling.  Only one way to do it - walk the field and pull it all out by the roots.

It is a back-breaking task but it really is a stunning location and it was wonderful to just enjoy the countryside.  The field is packed full of wild flowers - the goats are going to absolutely love the hay - so many tasty things in there! 

The reason that Natural England are so interested in the location is the large number of pyramidal orchids that grow there.  Having only ever seen them in pictures before, I was absolutely thrilled to see plenty of them today - all in flower and looking gorgeous.  These photos really don't do them justice at all:

But the best find of the day was a hen pheasant sitting on a clutch of 10 eggs.  I almost stepped on her in my eagerness to get to a particularly juicy bit of ragwort and I jumped out of my skin as she squawked and sped off into the long grass.  I covered the nest back over and hoped that she would come back to it later.  And she did .. the gamekeeper and I walked back later on in the day to check that all was well and we were happy to spot her safely snuggled over her eggs. 

A very successful day though .. you really feel that you have achieved something when you see a clear field and two trucks full of pulled ragwort!  Also got 4 horse-fly bites to show for my efforts as well ...

1 comment:

  1. Oh that dreaded Ragwort - spent lots of time with screwdriver in hand digging that stuff out of the horses' field. I didn't realise it was equally poisonous to goats.

    Hopefully the ground was damp enough to enable you to pull it easily.

    I've never seen pyramidal orchids so thanks for sharing