Saturday, 14 August 2010

More Comings and Goings

I have just realised that it is nearly 2 months since I have posted anything on my blog. My excuse is that I've been busy, although, on looking back, I can't think what has been sooo time consuming:-) So to summarise what has been going on:

The ponies on the SSSI have now been moved to another site to allow the land to recover before the winter. Rufus (the baby) took 3 hours to load into the trailer so I am pleased to say I wasn't involved. Their new site, which is another area of chalk downland, is a fair distance away but I have been told they are very happy as there is better grazing there. Hopefully they will be back in the winter.

I am pleased to say that the Bee Orchids (referred to in my previous post) survived the pony's hooves along with plenty of Pyramid and Common Spotted Orchids. These all finished finished flowering a few weeks ago and it is now covered with a carpet of wild Marjoram, giving a wonderful scent as we walk through it and lots of butterflies.

Since the ponies have gone I have put down 25 reptile refuges on their old site to see what reptiles there are following the scrub clearance and grazing. So far there have been a lot of slow worms and a few and common lizards. It will be interesting to see which will breed this year.

We still have the sheep to stock check and we have also become a lot more involved with all the sheep that are owned by the Old Surrey Downs. We are now proficient human sheep dogs and (if the sheep are willing) can flip them on to their backs and give them a wonderful pedicure. If they are not willing they flip us on to our backs :-))))

In the garden, the Lavender seedlings are now strong little plants and most have been planted to form lavender hedges alongside the paths (can't wait for next year when they all come into flower...the bees will love them). Otherwise there is the usual selection of weeds, perennial sweet peas, roses and a glut of runner beans and courgettes.

We have recently returned from a lovely holiday in the lakes and mountains of Italy to find that we have some new neighbours. I am not sure they are really welcome though, as it is a family of rats. They are incredibly cute as they gobble up the fall out from the bird feeder but as they are quite close to the house and ponds and knowing how fast they reproduce I don't think we can let them stay. I am not quite sure, at the moment, how we will get rid of them, because, as I am sure you will understand from the photo of baby rat, there is no way I could kill them.


Lesley said...

Oh Helen.... what a fantastic photo of the baby rat! All the work you're doing on your land sounds great. I was interested when you mentioned the wild marjoram as I set some away from seed and have about three pots of seedlings. With all the gorgeous flowers you're growing, your place must be a haven for the bees. Poor little Rufus not wanting to go into the trailer! :)

Helen said...

Hi Lesley...I wish it was all 'my' land but apart from the garden it is all areas of SSSI that is being managed by the Old Surrey Downs Project and the sheep, ponies and goats are all their conservation grazing animals. My hubby and I are just volunteers. It is a great set up and I love helping out particularly with the animals. I think I will also try growing some marjoram in the garden as it is a lovely plant...I like anything that smells nice and attracts the insects and it would follow on nicely from the lavender.

Lesley said...

Helen, it sounds an ideal situation. What a fantastic job to have.

As well as the wild marjoram seedlings, I have some Pot Marjoram growing in the garden and it's in flower just now. The bees love it.