January

What a strange winter so far – the ice on my goats’ water trough has never been more than wafer thin in the morning, and most days the temperature has been almost in double figures. My poor chickens are wading around in mud, but have hardly stopped laying, so they can’t mind it as much as I do, and the bottom of my garden is a permanent bog. The experts said that global warming would bring warm, wet winters, and they were right. I don’t remember them threatening wild as well, but it has certainly been wild.

LEAP’s pond clearing day in December, tackling the pond by the village hall car park, was a mild and not wild day, and it was good fun if extraordinarily muddy. Hard work too! It’s surprising how tough it is dragging weed out of the water – I suppose you are doing the job at arm’s length most of the time, and the weed is very heavy because it is water logged. Two intrepid souls used the waders that we had been lent, and the borrowed cromes were also very useful, and we managed to reach our target, of clearing one third of the pond, in less than the two hours which we always allocate to a working party. I know two hours doesn’t sound long, but when you are working hard, it is quite long enough! Particularly in winter when, however mild, you still get chilly after a while.

Most of the weed taken out of the pond was put in a trailer for taking away – after it was thoroughly examined for wildlife; some, taken from further out into the pond, was stacked by the side so that any creatures that had been removed with it could find their way back. I expect we will go back and remove that in the early spring, but we won’t do any more work to the pond this year now, as the newts will start moving into it in the early spring, and will need to be left well alone all summer and autumn.

It would be good if we could make the pond a bit bigger – it looks like it was at one stage, but has gradually filled up with silt over the years. The more water area we can make, the better variety of wildlife we can attract, which would be lovely. And the trees surrounding the pond need pollarding as well, so that they are not overhanging the pond so much, and more light will be let in. Another nice thing was spotting a mouse in the pile of pipes that were, I suppose, part of the drainage system from the car park to the pond at one time. We would like to protect these pipes with some logs around and on top of them, so that anything using them as a home will feel properly protected.

And, to top it all, at least no-one fell in – this time!

[Ed: see the image gallery for Claire’s pictures]

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