Archives for the month of: June, 2015

Some of you may remember last year we reintroduced the Silver Studded Blue Butterfly onto Black Down. Since the start of the flight season for the butterfly a week or two ago we have been waiting with baited breath to see if the reintroduction worked. The butterfly has a short flight season, the species spends the rest of the year in other phases of its life cycle, as an egg, larva and pupa. Much of this time is spent with ants hidden away in the litter layer of the heath. Consequently the first chance to see whether the reintroduction had worked was this summer.

Yesterday whilst out checking the cattle on Black Down Jono, one of our Long Term Volunteers spotted something very exciting… A single Male Silver Studded Blue…

ssb on bl

The species has made it through the winter and out the other side, it is such great news. Reintroducing species doesn’t happen very often, and it is a fantastic thing to be part of.

Obviously there is still a very long way to go, one swallow doesn’t make a summer as the saying goes, and one male certainly doesn’t make a viable population! But hopefully over the next week or two more butterflies will start to emerge. In the meantime we will also be carrying out further releases of butterflies from donor sites to boost the population and hopefully get the new colony properly established.

So glad it looks like it is starting to work though, these are the moments that make all the hard word worthwhile.

Advertisements

Little Maple the Belted Galloway Calf.

WP_20150612_002

Born in a rainstorm last weekend. Her mum refused to feed her so she is having to be looked after by the Rangers. She was cold and wet and had to borrow a jumper.

WP_20150612_008

Her mum got confused and latched onto Apple, one of our other calves whilst she was giving birth. She then refused to accept Maple. Animals are funny things sometimes.

Apple is a very cute calf though, so you can maybe see why!

WP_20150616_011

The weather was horrible and she was looking very sorry for herself. We helped her out with bottle fed colostrum for the first couple of days. Now we are putting her mum in our cattle crush several times a day so that Maple can feed direct from her while mum feeds on hay.

WP_20150614_002

The hope is that over the next week or so they will both get the idea, sort themselves out and start to bond properly again. It seems to be going ok so far, Maple is well fed and happy, she seems to be growing well. Damson (the mum) is a bit grumpy about the whole thing, but slowly and gradually seems to be mellowing a bit. For now though its early morning and late evening feeds with Maple the calf for the team here at Black Down.

WP_20150616_004

Good luck little Maple, we are doing our best for you and hoping you pull through.

In between all of the other tasks involved in looking after the 1500 or so acres of countryside on the Black Down Estate we have been getting on with building our Orchard House.

Battens and the first of the Weatherboards have been put on, it is actually starting to look like a building now.

WP_20150521_0071

The battens run across the tops of the rafters horizontally across the roof. They will provide a base for the courses of hand made wooden roofing shingles to be nailed on to. They were made from Douglas Fir, grown in a wood on the outskirts or Haslemere, and milled at Swan Barn Farm.

WP_20150521_012

As the battens creep up towards the ridge you start to get a real feeling for what the roof will look like when it is finished.

The end bay of the timber frame is being made into a store room for all of our apple pressing, gardening and beekeeping gear, as well as for keeping apples and apple juice and fermenting our cider in. It will have timber walls insulated with sheeps wool to keep the temperature steady. The outside of the wall is being made of oak feather edge boards. The oak came from the coppice woodlands at Swan Barn Farm, and is an absolute delight to work with, really fantastic quality and full of wonderful colour in its grain.

 

WP_20150605_003

These boards are thinner at the top than the bottom, tricky to mill, but it means they fit together really neatly on the building. We are scribing and cutting them to fit around the roundwood posts of the frame. It is very fiddly and time consuming, but the finished look is well worth it. After having put all that effort into making a beautiful roundwood frame it would have been a shame to hide it.

Lots more to do before we are finished, but it is definitely taking shape, I am really proud of the building and all of the hard work and woodworking skills that everyone is putting in to making it.

WP_20150605_005

%d bloggers like this: