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By Reading School Year 4 teacher

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24 May 2022

    Bluebells at Rushall Farm I first met...



 

March 2022

March 2022

17 Mar 2022

Trees obstruct treasured paths while the ways are strewn with debris through the woods. Broken branches, shattered deadwood and carpets of conifer leaves all hide the wet muddy tracks.  Storm Eunice has been and gone, but evidence of its destruction will stay for years. Future habitats are now made for insects and reptiles, fungi, mosses and lichens, and safe homes for voles and mice. Fallen trees and branches provide slow release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere unless handy as fuel for log burning fires.  Of course, storms make room for new plantings, but not ash to replace ash. The disease dieback has put uncertainty into this beautiful tree’s future.  So now it’s short-lived cherry, trusty oak and really hard wood beech, alder if it’s wet, poplar (has to be looked after), the chestnuts, mountain ash and silver birch.  There is always a place for hazel, so useful for thatching spars, woven hurdles, bean poles, pea sticks and firewood. Traditionally it was used to make faggots –  bundles of sticks 3 feet long and 8 inches in diameter which, when dried, were used to fire bread ovens. Today faggots are still made to improve the flow of water in rivers like the Pang.

Last time we had a serious storm was in 1987.  I had been to the farm office near Abingdon.  The wind was blowing hard as I left and joined the A34 in my long wheelbase Landrover. To begin with it was exhilarating until I saw, in my rear-view mirror, the box van behind me blow over and down the embankment.  When I reached the hill going up to the Ridgeway the road was strewn with overturned articulated lorries.  After weaving back to Rushall through fallen trees, I found we had 10 acres of mature soft wood in a mangled heap, corrugated roof sheets from the Black Barn had blown through the air to the Ashampstead Road in Bradfield, and a very special 17th century barn had been completely demolished.

So, Storm Eunice hasn’t been so bad, even though it feels like it.  And why should I get upset when it bears no comparison to weather-induced disasters like floods, hurricanes, droughts and wildfires that happen around the world, and last for just a day on our TV screens? Or the dreadful man-made destruction of war?

So, it didn’t take long for volunteers from Bradfield College to start clearing fallen trees on paths, and thoroughly rise up and enjoy the challenge!