Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Gordon in a hole

Clearing our very overgrown and silted pond

Clearing our very overgrown and silted pond

We are now into the second of a ten year agreement, in the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) and as well as what seems like miles of hedge laying, we are committed to clearing an old pond on the farm, which has become very silted and overgrown. According to a neighbour who has farmed here since the war, it lost lots of water in the seventies when the farmers at the time (Jane’s great uncles) cut a new channel to connect it to a nearby ditch. Why they might have done this is slightly mysterious; I wonder if there had been kids playing in it or perhaps on it in frozen weather and one came close to grief badly enough to warrant getting a digger out and doing some work on it. Who knows?

HLS will pay a small contribution towards improvements to farm ponds (amongst a whole raft of other things) and we need to get this one done before next spring. This is European money which, across the continent is helping to manage and improve wonderful habitats to benefit a huge variety of species. Our small contribution, we hope, will increase the available places for frogs, toads and newts to live and breed, as well as dragonflies and a load of other invertebrates. The proof will come next summer.

In the mean time, we employed another neighbour, Gordon, to get in there with a small excavator. Gordon’s a bit of a craftsman and has done a great job. There seems to be a spring feeding it and it gives the impression that it’s filling up slowly. I must try to find time on a beautiful, warm, June evening (remember them?), to sit and enjoy it in its summer prime.

HLS is changing, so there may not be funds to support such important work next year. I do wonder how, if UKIP were to gain any kind of power, such schemes would be supported.

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