Monday, August 26, 2013

Barton Fields, 24th August 2013

This was our first session at the Barton Fields site for quite some time.  Since November last year in fact - that occasion was one of our rare rain-sodden outings, at which time Barton Fields was flooded in places with the heavy winter rainfall. No such conditions this time.  Even though the forecast again featured heavy rainfall, instead we thankfully got dry conditions.  Probably just as well since our main task this time was to rake and stack hay in the wildflower meadow area.

Earlier in the week, the meadow had been mown, hence the need for the raking.  If the cuttings are not removed, they would apparently encourage unwanted plant growth and ruin the pristine conditions for the seasonal wildflowers.  Which in turn would reduce the biodiversity that the field supports.  

As always at Barton Fields, we were working under the direction of Abingdon Naturalist Society 'Green Team' wardens, David and Jo.  Most of our fifteen or so volunteers were deployed in the hay raking and subsequent pitch-forking of the hay to a number of stacks around the field margins.  In addition, a couple of smaller groups were engaged in Himalayan Balsam pulling in the willow carr area and also in maintaining paths around the ponds.

The hay raking and stacking in particular was exhausting work with a number of piles of hay having already been raked by volunteers earlier in the week.  The piles were duly consolidated into the larger stacks with some variety of pitch-forking techniques on display.  Care was taken not to deposit a trail of hay from pile to stack, but this proved largely unavoidable with more raking then required to clear up all the hay dropped en-route...

Tea break was therefore most welcome as an opportunity to re-group, re-charge and to consume some lovely chocolate brioche for those of us who got there first!  Following much conversation and merriment, we eventually, if not reluctantly, resumed work operations. 

It was evident upon re-commencing, that the hay raking detail had lost some personnel to the balsam pickers, but not to worry, with a final push we were determined to finish the task.  This we almost achieved by home-time, with only a smattering of rogue hay cuttings here and there remaining on the ground. Job almost done.

There was, alas, no opportunity for me to get around to the willow carr and pond areas to verify the efforts of the sub-teams' labour, but I'm sure the usual high Green Gym standards were evident here too.  Another successful session at Barton Fields!
- Andrew

Piles of raked hay

David demonstrates how the pitchforking should be done

Gathering round for refreshments

Break time

Area of raked wildflower meadow

Andrew and haystack

Packing up

Rakes and pitchforks

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