At Crag House Farm, we are blessed with glorious countryside which reminds us, all year round, of the awesome Creator we serve.
Winter is always a beautiful and a busy time in the conservation year mainly because some seasonal jobs can only be done in this dormant season. One such job is our yearly programme of hedge laying which requires the sap to not be running through the stems before we start; so this usually takes place between November and the end of February. Crucially this must be completed before the start of the main bird nesting season commences in March. Hedge laying is a way of regenerating a hedge and preventing it becoming a gappy line of maturing trees. Not only does this extend the life of the hedge (similar to woodland coppicing or pollarding techniques) but it maintains its value as a wildlife corridor of food and shelter.
It is a real privilege to work on these hedges (despite the cold, wet and mud this sometimes entails!) because they are the fruition of decades of work to try and restore and improve the farm environment. It is lovely to look out on the patchwork of trees and hedges that now surround almost every boundary here.
Winter is certainly the best time to see the beautiful outlines of trees devoid of the weight and distracting colour of their leaves. Their distinctive characteristics enable you to quite accurately identify each particular species by its silhouette even from a distance.
Hopefully the birds will approve of our hedging work and find some dense, safe spots in which to build their nests. We are hoping to spend lots of time exploring the birdlife that use these hedges this year through regular walks around the farm as part of the nest recording scheme. It is, of course, heart-breaking that our beneficiaries who love the farm and who enjoy so much being out in God’s creation, can’t enjoy it with us at the minute. We do, however, keep them up to date with wildlife activity remotely during times of lockdown through the use of trail cameras and new audio equipment to record birdsongs. We look forward to seeing and hearing much wonderful wildlife using these trees and hedges this year.