Another Quote

“We have come to see ourselves as lords and masters of the Earth,
entitled to plunder her at will. The sickness evident in the soil,
in the water, in the air and in all forms of life are symptoms
that reflect the violence present in our hearts. We have forgotten
that we ourselves are dust of the Earth; that we breathe her air
and receive life from her waters.”

Pope Francis, 2015

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More Quotations

“The cowman who clears his range of wolves has not learned
to think like a mountain.
Hence we have dustbowls and rivers washing the future into the sea.”

Horace, Epistles I, 20 BC

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field
till no space is left and you live alone in the land.”

Issiah 5:8

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
These quotations are also from the chapter headings to “Wilding” by Isabella Tree (see previous post)

Quotations

“Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter, and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”

Atharva Veda, Sanskrit scripture, c. 1200 BC

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United Sates, Letter to all State Governors
on a Uniform Soil Conservation Law, 1937

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

These quotes are taken from “Wilding, the return of nature to a British farm” by Isabella Tree (2018.  ISBNNo:  978-1509805105). This is a truly inspirational book that should be read by everyone who has a care for nature. It tells it like it is and demonstrates how the degradation of nature can be reversed cheaply and simply to the benefit of all.

Wild Flower Meadow

I had a busy day yesterday hence no time to post here. What was I doing? Well further to last week’s post, which you can read here, about the bee hive arriving at our field and my plans to create a wildflower meadow for their benefit and that of other species too, I ordered some wildflower meadow mix online which arrived on Saturday. Although sewing is best in the spring or autumn with the infilling method I am using sewing at any time is possible, so yesterday was spent preparing the site and sewing the seeds.

You will recall that I mentioned I would start with just the bare area where a shipping container used for storage had stood. Our soil at the field is clay and the removal of the container had left a hard packed, dry and cracked surface:

 

Field Bare Patch

This patch is next to another container which is still in situ and likely to be for some time yet. When that is also removed we will also be reseeding this area with the same mix. It was quite hard work breaking up all the clay clumps and we were glad of the volunteered help from a friend. Once we had a reasonable surface broken down, with the help of a little strategic dampening of the ground, I was able to broadcast the seed.

Perpared patch

I had only got some of the seed sewn when I ran out. I had obviously underestimated the amount needed. When I say ran out I mean of the seed we had taken up there – I had left half of it at home, so it was back home for lunch and then I went up to the field to finish the job on my own. Unfortunately when I got there I found that I had forgotten to pick up the seed so had to return the home yet again for the seed! By then it had turned into a hot day and so by the time I had finished I was really sweating.

While I was at it I took the opportunity to also sew some of the seed on a second small bare patch beside the fence where an old railway sleeper (now on top of the stack pictured) had lain for some time. Then I gently watered them all in. I was rather pleased that we also had some gentle rain during the night.

As I was packing up to go home the bee keeper turned up to check his bees and to start the process of slow transition into the permanent hive by inserting the first proper layer underneath the nook hive. I left him to it as I wanted to get home to watch Johanna Konta, the last British tennis player standing at Wimbledon, progress to the quarter finals.

It is going to be next spring before we can hope to see the results of our labours but I can’t wait. I shall be monitoring the sight carefully, especially during dry periods in order to prevent the clay from drying and cracking up again, so that the seeds have a good chance to get hold. Once I am sure this project is going to be successful I will see about creating patches a bit at a time in the existing grassland to reseed with wildflower mix and gradually transform the fenced off area of the field into a wildflower meadow – at least that’s the plan!

Little Things

Clothes drying in the breeze,
the dappled shade of trees,
the gentle hum of bees.
Little things like these
never fail to please.

In Place


Bee hive

Bee hive now in place
in the corner of the field.
Anticipation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This morning my local bee keeper brought his ‘nook’ hive up to our field and set it up. A ‘nook’ hive is a small temporary hive in which to establish a colony. In a few days he will return to check on progress and then, if all is well, begin the transfer to a proper hive. On being let out the bees circled around close to the hive to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and by the time of his next visit he will be able to see if they are returning to the hive and bringing in pollen. He expects to be able to tell if it is going to be a viable location within a few weeks so fingers crossed.

I had a good look round while I was up there with him and I am pleased to say there are a few brambles in the hedge along the roadside and may be more along the edges of the cattle/hay field, so hopefully if I take up some cuttings to plant they should take hold. I also noted that there were a few butterflies and hover flies settling on the clover and buttercups that are already in the field and this too is a good sign. Next job is to order the flower meadow seed and plan the sewing, although it will take at least until next year for positive results so I’m hoping there will be enough to keep the bees on site while the meadowland becomes established.

Bees

I have mentioned here before that we used to run a small-holding. Several years ago we ‘down-sized’, selling the house and some of the land whilst retaining a 9-acre field with a big new barn. We moved a mile down the road into the nearby small town. In the 9-acre field we fenced an area from the road gate down to behind the barn plus a bit and the rest of the field we now let to the neighbouring farmer for cattle gazing and hay making. The fenced-off area has an opening (which can be closed off) into the field that we sold with the house so that the sheep that graze there from time to time can also graze around the barn to keep the grass down.

Over the last few years I have often thought of finding a beekeeper to keep one or two hives on our field. We are always hearing how much the bees need our help and have been keen to do my bit – short of learning to keep bees myself! Earlier in the year I turned this idea into action and advertised to see if anyone was interested in having a hive or two on our land. I eventually had one reply, from someone with whom we are already acquainted but who I hadn’t thought to ask directly! After various communication problems, not helped by our long absence in the spring, we eventually managed to get together and meet up at the field last Friday to discuss the proposal.

To say I was a little disappointed in that he didn’t seem over enthusiastic about the possibilities is a bit of an understatement. It just shows how naïve a lay person can be. We had grassed the land many years ago after it had been used for a cereal crop and the grass mix contained clover – ideal for bees one thinks. No. Apparently the clover in modern grass mixes is good for fixing nitrogen in the soil but does not produce the right sort of nectar that bees like. Modern farming methods and grassland management are bee sterile and I do have to admit there is not much in the way of wild flowers in and around our field. He was not particularly hopeful that the bees would do well there, but he has a hive that is about ready to move onto a site and is prepared to give it a go for a season.

The upshot of this is that this morning my husband and youngest son have been fencing off the bottom part of the fenced-off area so that the sheep will not knock over any hives that might be there and with a bit of luck the first hive should arrive within a week, although the honey season is practically over for this year.

I have now been giving much thought to how to make the area more honey bee friendly. To be fair there are a few houses opposite and up the lanes near-by that have nice flowery gardens and I know that some the occupants of at least one of these houses has had a beehive in the garden in the past. Our field has damson and elderberry in the hedge which should provide some spring foraging and I noticed that in the hedge between our barn and our previously owned field there is some dog-rose growing. The beekeeper bemoaned the lack of bramble, which apparently is good for the bees, so I am thinking of collecting some bramble with roots from our home garden (where I can’t get rid of it!) and planting it in the hedges up at the field. Will it take? I don’t know. I don’t know why such a ubiquitous ‘weed’ doesn’t grow there anyway, so this will be something of an experiment.

Additionally I am researching into ways to turn the fenced-off area into a wildlife meadow, starting with the smaller area we have just fenced round for the hive and expanding it if it works. It looks like this is the right time to do it as September-October, I understand, is a good time to sew the seeds. I can order mixes on-line for the clay soil of our field which can be sewn in existing grassland (no need to plough up and prepare the soil). However you do still need to create ‘bare’ patches by raking or harrowing over the ground.

As it happens we already have a bare patch where, until recently, an old shipping container used for storage was standing – I just need to loosen the soil and, before any unwanted weeds get hold, sew the mix there for a quick and easy start-up. I can’t wait to get started and am really excited about the idea of creating a new area of traditional wild-flower meadowland for birds and butterflies as well as, of course, the honey bees.

Blooming

wild flower border

 

Experimental
wild flower border blooming well.
Expansion next year.

 

 

York Rally 2019

We first attended the York Cycle Rally last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to go again, so we became ‘Friends of York Rally’ and signed up this year as volunteer helpers. This meant we got to go there last Thursday, a day earlier than the official start. We arrived at lunch-time, had lunch then got stuck in, helping with some filing of booking forms into alphabetical order to make it easier for those allocating pitches when people arrived. We had asked for a sitting down job as my husband can’t do much walking due to dodgy knees. A BBQ was provided free of charge for the organisers and helpers in the evening – a great chance to meet other volunteers. We had also discovered that free refreshments were provided for volunteers throughout the Rally at mid-morning, lunchtime  and mid-afternoon so we didn’t actually need much of the food that we had taken with us.

Gathering for Saturday’s Retro Ride

There was a briefing for all helpers first thing on Friday morning and jobs were also then allocated for the day. We were given the job of manning the Rally HQ stall in the main marquee for the morning. Although the official time for arrivals was not until 4.00pm there was plenty to do as people wanted programmes and information about the location of facilities as well as bringing donations of cycle related books, clothing and parts or to buy some of these things in support of Rally funds. We took advantage of this stall ourselves too, picking up a few bargains! We were free for the afternoon and in the evening there was  a Quiz for teams of up to 6 people. We joined forces with another volunteer couple, calling ourselves ‘Tail-End Charlies’ and this is exactly what we were, coming last! Although it was officially a ‘general knowledge’ quiz, we found that the questions, even the history or geography ones, were highly biased towards knowledge of obscure facts about Yorkshire and it’s famous sons and daughters – knowledge our team was sadly lacking.

On Saturday we had signed up to the ‘Retro Ride’ so had no volunteer duties for the day. This started at 9.50am, took in a large circular route out from York Race Course where we were camped, to Tadcaster and back, with a café stop half way. Some hundred-odd people took part in this ride which, due to numbers, was split into two groups. We had taken our classic Henry Burton bikes for this ride. We returned to the Rally site in time for lunch after a ride of approximately 27 miles, allowing us an afternoon to look round the trade stands and the auction preview – where people could sell unwanted bikes etc. There was nothing we wished to buy so didn’t attend the auction.

On Sunday morning we were once more in volunteer mode, spending some time manning the gate into the Saddlebag Sale – this is a sort of bicycle jumble sale. Sellers could set up from 10.00am and it was open to the public from 11.00am. Volunteers were needed on the gate to prevent buyers from trying to sneak in early! I then did another stint on the Rally HQ stall, selling badges, programmes etc as on Friday.

Ice-Cream Boat

In the afternoon we went on a short ride out to the local velodrome and back along the riverside where the ‘Ice-cream boat’ was a major attraction, despite the weather not being quite as warm as it had been on Saturday. We used our recently built ‘champagne’ tandem for this ride of approximately 11 miles with only 8 people taking part. Clearing up of the site had begun in earnest by the time we returned and by 5.00pm many people had already left. In the evening and overnight it rained, heavily at times, and we moved the motorhome nearer to the roadway than our pitch in the middle of the field, to ensure we could get off in the morning.

Monday morning saw us preparing to leave and I also spent another short volunteer stint helping to remove HQ stuff from the marquee while the hire firm were busy taking it down. Hubby sat this one out as he had already done far too much walking and was suffering the consequences.

We left about mid-morning as we had arranged to pick up some things from a friend in Derby on our way home. It rained much of the morning though it cleared up a bit by lunchtime and we arrived home around mid-afternoon, exhausted but having had a wonderful time. This was an extremely well-organised Rally, which is entirely run by a committee of volunteers and there was much more going on than I have mentioned here, including many more rides and plenty to entertain families with young children too. Roll on next year when we plan to volunteer again.

Cycling Again!

No Haiku today as I have now finished posting all 10 of my Holiday Haiku (the 10th, about falling off my bike was posted first!). This has actually worked out quite well as I shall be away for the weekend so I can start afresh on my return.

By the time you read this we will be in York for Cycling UK’s ‘York Rally’ which takes place from Friday 21st to Monday 24th June. We attended last year and enjoyed it so much that this year we are going as volunteer helpers from Thursday 20th – a day earlier than the official start of the Rally. This is making it rather confusing for me as I am writing this post on Wednesday to schedule for today, Friday (we have an early start on Thursday morning!).  We will be in our Motorhome with no electric hook-up or much in the way of WIFI so I am not even bothering to take my computer with me; I will not, therefore, be posting anything here for Monday but should be back on-line on Wednesday next week.

Being helpers does not mean we will miss out on the cycling and we are particularly looking forward to the Retro Ride which is a new addition to the programme on Saturday. We have our classic road racing bikes with us for this, but we also have one of our tandems for any other rides. The Rally offers a choice of several rides each day and other than the Retro Ride we have not yet decided which others we might do. We’ll wait until we get there to choose from the full programme and as usual I will report on the event on our return.

 

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