The more I read and learn about upland conservation, the more value I am beginning to put on the humble hedge. Fields which only have drystone dykes to mark them out do become pretty barren places in the winter, and it finally dawned on me while waiting for a fox in the snow last week that if I wanted to get some shelter on the hill, I would have to sit in the car. The poor birds don’t like very exposed conditions, and I can hardly blame them. It’s a bit much to expect blackcock and partridges to cling like lichen to the bare stone; they are both hardy birds, but they do appreciate a windbreak and the odd berry now and again.
I posted about this year’s hedging project (about two hundred yards of new hedge in total) towards the end of September, and this post is just to commemorate the fact that it is now complete. One end of the hedge runs into very wet ground, and if I had hit the fenceposts with the hammer I could have sent them all the way in with a single knock. I’ll probably let this area come back with willows and alders (the latter I will have to plant) and then concentrate on hawthorn and blackthorn for the main bulk of the hedge. I am quite keen on dog rose for a bit of variety, and I can’t think of anything nicer than the odd elder here and there along the row.
There is so much more to do elsewhere on the farm that it may be a few weeks before I can get this new hedge planted, but now that it’s stock proof, it should be on its way towards being useful over the next few years. I do hate fencing more than anything else, so now that my hands are ripped and tattered by barbed wire, I can finally relax in the knowledge that most of the rest of this year’s work will involve felling softwoods and planting hardwoods.