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Sun and Bludgers at Sustead

On a freezing cold and frosty morning, 12 of us brave souls turned out to do some tidying at Spurrell's wood. Peter also came to wish us well but couldn't stay, and Trevor delivered doughnuts, the essential mid work party break treat. 


The plan was to tidy up, replenish and add to the dead hedge around the central area, coppice Hazel for stakes and binders for hedge-laying work, and reinstate the silt trap on the Gur beck near the hide. As it turned out it wasn't possible to do anything with the silt trap due to the strong flow and high water level. The briefing for the dead hedge work sparked a discussion about dead hedges versus dry hedges, and what constitutes a hedge (does it have to be living?) and is a dead hedge just a fence? I've no idea what the outcome was but feel free to comment.


As we got to work and the sun rose higher it turned into a bright sunny winter’s day with a glorious blue sky, and I, for one, found out I'd overdressed and was soon removing layers. 


A few Hazel stands had suitable growth for cutting the thicker stakes and thinner longer binders needed, so we split into small groups sawing and lopping, and took our efforts to Nick for processing – trimming off side shoots, cutting to length and sharpening the stakes so they could be driven into the ground. 

During the morning I saw some hedge-laying in action and learned the word pleaching – and let the cat out of the bag that I'd not yet read the earlier blog entry describing hedge-laying at Brinton where pleaching is described...


I also learned another new word and discovered a new tool: a bludger is a mallet-type tool fashioned from the 'elbow' of where a branch joins a slightly larger branch. Two were made on the day, and I believe one was used.


One Hazel stand was reduced completely, providing some large branches and more brash to be added to various parts of the dead hedging around the central area. 


Additional work on the day was clearing litter from the Roadside Nature Reserve and moving a pile of aggregates from the car park to one of the muddier paths and removing stored bird boxes for use elsewhere.


I'm always impressed by the amount of work achieved on our mornings and today was no different. Everyone mucks in and does what they can to achieve what's needed. Another productive, friendly and enjoyable work party. I just hope the fantastic fancy fingernails a certain person turned up with survived the day.

Stu Buck

January 18th 2024


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