Thursday, 15 November 2012

Ashes to ashes? Worrying times.

Thursday 15th November 2012
I missed posting yesterday, for not only is the house in a totally disorganised, dusty mess at the moment, but Sue got the dreaded Ofsted call on Tuesday. Please don't get me started on this subject, or anything to do with the way successive governments have bullied teachers and mismanaged the education of our nation's children. Suffice to say it's been all-consuming, disgracefully stressful and I'm not even allowed to tell anybody if it went well or not for two weeks.
Anyway, now it's over.  As is my rant.

Last night, in the murk, I got a wonderful sight of a flyby barn owl which eventually settled in the branches of the oldest Ash tree. It's been spending more time in the proximity of the farm buildings of late and I've even found a few pellets in the stables. If I ever get time I may investigate these further and post my gory findings.
More surprising though was a very unseasonal bat, a pipistrelle I think. I guess it was lured out of hibernation by the balmy temperatures we've had for a couple of days, 12 degrees late in the afternoon yesterday.
The Little Owl too has been calling more persistently of late and I actually saw it briefly in the gloom as it broke the skyline and alighted on top of the telegraph pole by Don's gateway.

At this time of year though, there's a price to pay for this warm weather and this morning was a real pea-souper. All I could see of the garden for the whole day were the four Ash trees standing majestically. They give the garden structure and are a valuable home and food source to all sorts of wildlife. As with all trees, the older they get the more valuable they become in so many ways.

So you'll understand my affection for them and my worry about the effects of the dreaded Chalara fraxinia, or Ash Die-Back as it's quickly become known.
It would be so awful to lose them, and there's no way I could replace these wonderful specimens, even with a different species, in my lifetime. I've just got my fingers crossed. I've heard it said that mature trees could resist for years, so I can get going with my underplanting now so that we at least have some height in the garden if the Ashes eventually have to come down. As for the saplings at the end of the land, well I'll be surprised if they are still there in a couple of years.
Ash is by far the best wood for me to grow and coppice for fuel. I'd never rely on just one species, or plant up a monoculture, but I still need to have a bit of a rethink.

I just hope that, in ten years time, my ash wood is by some miracle coming from the trees at the end of the land and not the dead old trees near the farmhouse.

Wednesday 14th November 2012
Not the best start to a very stressful day.

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