Bewdley Town Council
October in the forest
Bewdley Town Council
Landowners (including gardeners) in and near the forest tend to find out that they are supplying the local wildlife with food. This may be by choice: at Uncllys Farm we get through sacks of sunflower seed and peanuts for the bird feeders at an amazing rate. These attract tits, Nuthatches, Goldfinches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. We have a record number of juvenile Blue Tits around the house which, not content with the peanuts, have been pecking at the paintwork of the window frames, damaging the new putty/paintwork and competing with the cockerel to wake us early in the morning. (By October the sun will rise just after 7am so we hope for a longer sleep).
We have a traditional cherry orchard and a few old damson trees, and newer plantings of apples, cherries and plums. Cropping varies from year to year, but the trees always supply food for wildlife in the form of nectar from the blossom, ripe fruit and living and dead plant material for herbivores of all sizes. This month the last of the apples will be harvested. A few such as Bardsey and Captain Tom (a cooker) were ready in early August, and I had to be on the alert to get them before they rotted on the trees or were eaten by wasps or Hornets. Since then the Herefordshire Russet, Worcester Pearmain, Bramleys and sundry others which lost their labels have gradually ripened. We planted many trees of Scotch Bridget because it was used successfully in the Teme Valley in the past and it has proved to be a heavy cropper and resistant to disease. It isn’t a particularly juicy apple but forms the main constituent of our juice which is pressed, pasteurised and bottled for us by Richard Styles at Lower Blackstone Farm.
Our fields are fenced to keep sheep and cattle in but are not high enough to keep Fallow Deer out. When we moved to Uncllys we were surprised to discover that all the grazing animals we have had on the farm (and I include the pigs) seem to prefer to browse the branches of trees and shrubs rather than eat grass. Chickens, on the other hand, surprised me by the amount of grass they eat, given the chance. All our young trees have to be protected with tree guards but still sustain damage at times, especially when the weight of fruit bends the braches down to reachable height. The photo shows a sheep looking particularly guilty (‘sheepish’?) when I caught him munching both apples and branches. We have found over the years that deer are cheeky and persistent but I hope that at least our defences around the garden will continue to be successful. I’m slightly worried about the encroachment of Muntjac Deer which are smaller and can squeeze under stock fencing quite easily and also recent sightings of rabbits on my lawn. Maybe the days of my beloved flowers and vegetables are numbered
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The Guildhall, Load Street, Bewdley, Worcestershire, DY12 2AH