Autumn is the prefect season to tidy up. With a wet spring and hot summer, brambles and bindweed have been growing vigorously across the farm and scrub has taken over in certain areas. Clearing these areas during Spring and Summer can be tricky as we don’t want to disturb nesting bids. But youngsters will have left by the nest now, so we can now safely cut back. Cutting at this time of year also means we can remove any overgrowth before invertebrates begin to hibernate. After doing an incredible job clearing up our ponds. Team RBS tackled our entrance near Mudchute DLR station and it’s already made a huge difference.
Autumn is one of the busiest times of year for us on our parks and open spaces. Now that young birds have fledged, we can safely cut back hard scrub. We also have a brief opportunity to tidy up our ponds, which can rapidly become overgrown. Many pond species, including frogs and dragonfly nymphs, will spend the winter tucked up in the mud at the bottom of the pond. So we need to make sure we undertake any works ahead of their hibernation. While we are eager to keep a variety of plants around our ponds, the glyceria have taken advantage of the sunshine and warm weather and grown rapidly and taken over much of what was once open water. To tackle the problem, you have to get in the deep end, pulling up plants from their roots and working from the inside of the pond towards the edges. We’re maintaining plants along the perimeter of the pond as these will be important places for emerging damselflies and dragonflies in the spring and summer.
A huge thank you to our corporate volunteer group from RBS who donned wellies and waders and got stuck in to lend a hand! Working with TCV they did a brilliant clearing job. We found resident newts, frogs and countless invertebrates more! Over the next week, we’ll be leaving the removed vegetation at the edges of the pond, so any pondlife that might have gotten caught up in the fray can slip quietly back into the water. But there’s no need to worry about the wildlife, opening open the ponds will improve the habitat for them. In fact, as the team took a quick break for tea, frogs popped up across the pond, dragonflies whirred along the surface and wrens came down from our hedges for a drink. The wildlife may not be able to thank you for your hard work themselves, but we certainly can. Thank you! We couldn’t do it without you. To find out more about volunteering at Mudchute (as a team or an individual) please visit our volunteering page.
Our handsome Oxford Down ram Bertie has been enjoying the company of the lovely Jacob Ewes of Stepney City Farm as well as a few of our own ewes. He’s all raddled up and wasted little time! Putting a ram to the ewes now in November should mean lambs will arrive in April if all goes to plan as the typical gestation in sheep is 5 months.
The harness Bertie wears is called a raddle. This holds a crayon which marks the ewes as he services them. These markings allow farmers to keep track of which ewes have been covered and by changing the colour of crayon, when this occurs. By monitoring the marks, we can work out if and when the ewes have come into or gone out of season.
Mudchute Bertie seems to be doing a fine job, so we hope to welcome new lambs in the Spring. If any Oxford breeders are interested in his tupping services, please do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.