Sunday, 24 April 2016

Fencing and tree guard work at Lyme Park on Sun 24th April 2016

After a week (and more!) of glorious sunshine, 11 volunteers (including 2 newbies) turned out for a day of fencing and putting up tree guards, with the added task of planting an oak tree at Lyme to mark the 30th birthday of our Manchester National Trust Volunteer group:-)

In the main carpark Dan, the Ranger, informed us that it was 'tick' season, so it was best to tuck our trousers into our socks to avoid being bitten and sucked of blood!! Dan assured us that he had a tick remover, just in case, and knew how to use it!

From the carpark we walked through the gate at the back, around the fencing surrounding the back of the hall, to Calves Croft and met Dan again, who had driven round with the equipment. Here we had a health and safety talk before lifting the equipment out from his trailer and carrying it up to Hampers Wood.

We had 2 tasks today, so we split into 2 groups:
 - one was to remove the top 2 lengths of barbed wire running along the length of the wall in Hampers Wood. This had been added above the existing barb some time ago, to add extra height and prevent the fallow deer from straying. Unfortunately, the fallow deer are no longer at Lyme, so the barb could now be removed.
removing the barbed wire
 - the other task was to build 3 wooden triangular tree guards in Hampers Wood and then plant 3 of the 4 oak saplings that Dan had brought with him (the 4th was going to be MNTV's).
building a tree guard
We'd hoped the ground would be dry but there were some soggy, boggy area's, despite the recent dry spell. Unfortunately though, the nice weather didn't last and throughout the day, we had patches of sleet, rain, cold breeze and dull but dry weather, amongst the sunshine - what a mixture.

Sue had made a victoria sponge for our 11's which gave us a bit more energy to make a good job of what we were doing, and Jamie, another Ranger, came along and joined us.

Taking down the barb was quite hard work, not only did it need to be removed from the fence posts with fencing pliers and hammers, but then rolled neatly so it could be re-used at a later date - this was arm-tiring work. Some of the fence posts were going to be used for the tree guards, the others were carried back down to the Rangers vehicle.
rolling the barb!
Putting up the tree guards was also challenging - they are fixed quite high, but fortunately Dan had a platform we could stand on which gave us a bit more height so we could get the Fence Post Rammer/Driver over each of the posts in turn. The 3 posts had to be a minimum height and the cross-bars had to be level (a spirit level was used at each stage), also one of the triangular points of each tree guard had to point North (checked with a compass). When all this had been done and the fence guard complete, a stake was put in using the Fence Post Rammer/Driver again, an oak sapling was planted and a 'sleeve' was put over the oak to protect it from the deer or any other wildlife. 'Netting' (wire mesh) was then fixed to the tree guard so that the deer couldn't get too close to the newly planted trees.

By 2.30pm, we'd managed to roll up quite a length of bard and had completed constructing 2 of the tree guards, planted the oak sapling added the netting and almost finishing the 3rd (the 'netting' still needed to be attached). We tidied up at this point so we had enough time to walk over to where the MNTV oak was to be planted. Fortunately the Rangers had already built the tree guard for us so we just had to put in the stake, plant the oak and put the 'sleeve' over it - but this wasn't without incident! The stake we had was curved and, even when it was 'driven' into the ground past the curve, it didn't look right. Whilst trying to straighten it, we managed to snap it so had to dig it out and replace it - we'd done such a good job of driving it into the ground that it was really difficult to get back out, but it gave us all a good laugh and added to the occasion. We didn't have time to put the netting around the tree guard but Dan said the Rangers would put it up for us during the week.

So, when you travel up the long drive at Lyme Park, just as the house comes into view, glance to your right and you'll see a newly erected tree guard, on it's own, with an oak sapling inside  - this is the MNTV oak! Soon it will have a discrete plaque on the inside of the tree guard so past and current MNTVers can see it and take pride in their contribution to our volunteer Group having reached 30 years of age!!!

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