This Sunday we had our last Open Day of the season. Without defining strict criteria, it seemed to be a great success. We had record numbers of visitors, all positive about what we were doing, and managed to raise enough money through craft sales for a good number of trees to establish a new coppice area.
The day started well when we opened a letter that had arrived on Saturday giving us planning permission to do all that we had requested in terms of woodland management – coppicing, transplantation, tree surgery and thinning operations.
We were also blessed with a lovely autumn day so that people could see the remaining leaves in all their glory before they fall for the winter.
Visitors were also treated to a good show courtesy of the vermin control guys who work for the adjacent farmer – they were ferreting for rabbits on the boundary and using a hawk to reduce their numbers. The Harris hawk was a beautiful bird indeed!
So now we can take stock of the wood, and what has been achieved over this season. It is nice to sit back and think rather than feel driven to work all the time. Having Open Days allows you to do this – people who come back can see the differences that you fail to see. You are making small incremental changes, but they see large changes when they return after several months. Having Open Days also reaffirms any doubts you may have about your woodland management.
Since this time last year, we have done a lot: planted 600 trees as a roadside hedge and some internal thickets, completed our gravel tracks including a culvert bridge over our ditch, freed up a lot of saplings, completed new mown paths to give access to the lower part of the wood, completed construction of our 6 ponds and populated them with pond plants, had a couple of goes at a wildflower meadow (fingers crossed this time it will work), improved the security of the site through a new fence, done a lot of wildlife photography and surveying so we know what is there.
This winter there is a lot to do: plant another 200-300 trees to form new coppice and replace some elder scrub, start coppicing our existing trees, start thinning some trees in an overgrown area, remove some elder and replant with hazel, put a roof on the old goat shed so we have a good wood store, and put up our greenhouse so we can grow some saplings.
It all takes time and effort, but this is rewarded many-fold by the improvements we are seeing and have seen. I think we can approach the winter season of work with some satisfaction of work well done, and things achieved. But with a woodland you are never finished – it may be the end of one season, but there is always another one to come!