As the soil begins to warm and the signs of Spring proliferate, estate maintenance also gathers pace as the ground becomes more accessible. Fallen branches from winter storms can be cleared, whilst we leave piles of timber to provide habitat for insects, amphibians and small mammals.
The driveway always needs attention! Potholes have appeared and there are hairline cracks where water has got in. We do as much of this work as we can ‘in house’ but each year we need to bring in professional help for the more expansively damaged areas.
Water leaks start to become apparent when the ground dries and we can see any wet patches. Escot has modern blue alkathene pipes, older black alkathene, and older still galvanised pipes. There are many kilometres of water pipes underground at Escot!
As the grass begins to grow we need to politely remind walkers that grass is a crop and part of a farmer’s livelihood. While walkers may not realise it, walking through grass suppresses the crop. Dog walkers often throw objects for their dogs which are then lost or abandoned. These sometimes damage mowers but even more importantly if these are made of rubber or plastic they may be eaten by cattle. Sadly this can cause blockages or ruptures, which can lead to the death of an animal. We are grateful to all the walkers who understand this.
In the inner park we don’t use artificial fertilizers or insecticides on the fields so wildflowers such as dandelions and buttercups turn the area yellow in April and early May. You may have seen this area used as a pretty backdrop for wedding photos – it really is a sea of yellow! Southern Marsh orchids and other wildflowers also make an appearance in this area.
Last autumn we seeded one large field in the outer park with a herbal lay mixture of grasses and herbs instead of the biodiverse desert of ‘commercial grass’. This is much better for the environment but also needs to be viable for the farmer. Hopefully it will be – watch this space!
With the programme of summer events that Escot hosts, from the Foodies Festival to Beautiful Days, we need to manage a careful balance between farming and event activity. Grass must be harvested or stock removed in good time for the set up of an event, which can mean silage or hay has to be gathered earlier than when it’s at its best. Having to confine stock to a smaller area than normal can also be a challenge for the farmers who would usually have stock extensively in the park in the summer months, especially over a dry period when there is much less grass about. It’s all about evaluating needs, and we work really hard to get the balance right.
Hope to see you soon at Escot and don’t forget to enjoy the bluebells in May!