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A Week on the Estate: A Box for Barney, Snapping the Seasons & Plashing Like a Roman

The nights are drawing in and Halloween is upon us, but spirits are high at South Ormsby Estate and our work towards a bright future continues apace.

This week we installed a pole which will soon support a barn-owl box. Hopefully, we’ll soon glimpse some new feathered tenants on the estate.

An owl box being installed at the Estate

Last Sunday proved a wonderful day for Damian Furlong to take an autumnal stroll with his cousin, Louise. He wisely picked the JJ’s Café Walk and both enjoyed a well-earned breakfast in Hagworthingham. On their travels, they spotted a Lincoln Red doing its best to look like a teddy bear, a selection of alpacas, llamas, donkeys and pigs, and a bevy of keen hikers making the best of the weather.

With winter around the corner, the Saturday Club prepared for spring by planting bulbs at both driveway entrances. They also topped up the bird-feeders and stacked logs for the week to come. Damian Furlong returned for the enrichment hour and the kids got acquainted with his Nikon camera.

Members of the Saturday Club sat on a fence

Damian re-staged the original team photo from August to show how the changing seasons affect the landscape (and the team’s choice of clothing!). We’re going to re-stage this photo again in winter and spring, which will give us a fascinating snapshot of the rhythm of life on a rural estate.

Traditional hedge-layer Matthew Davey has been plashing on the estate. He clearly doesn’t mind hard work or driving rain. Plashing is a time-honoured way of forming strong, long-lived and biodiverse hedgerows so that they become havens for wildlife and impenetrable boundaries to livestock. Even if managed with a tractor and flail, modern hedges can become leggy and die out over time. By contrast, periodic plashing can extend a hedge’s life indefinitely and give wildlife a real boost.

Estate hedgerows after Plashing

Matthew learned hedge-laying at agricultural college then gained experience on a countryside management project, learning traditional skills from older hands and securing his chainsaw ticket. His job demands experience, skill and physical strength. No amount of theory is a match for laying kilometres of hedgerow every year. In Lincolnshire, he applies the Midlands style of plashing – one of several regional varieties – which involves binding the top of the hedge with willow or hazel.

The craft of hedge-laying is remarkably long-lived. The Roman legionaries who colonised Lincolnshire nearly two millennia ago would have recognised some of Matthew’s skills. They used plashing to reinforce their timber forts and the practice was old even then. Europe’s pre-historic settlers are thought to have plashed hedgerows to corral livestock after clearing woodland. This ancient and sustainable way of managing the rural landscape is right at home on the 21st-century South Ormsby Estate.