Friday, 20 January 2012

Doing my bit for Biodiversity

Hay meadows are vital corridors of biodiversity through the English countryside.

This video, featuring photographs taken in late summer after the hay crop has been cut and harvested, illustrates sheep feeding on the new grass growth at the same time as they lightly fertilise the field and spread the vital seeds to start the process all over again. I agree I could have got more grass in the pictures but of course it looks better in the spring during the early growth than just after the hay has been cut.

Fields of Diamonds by Johnny Cash was chosen a) because I like it and b) because of its simple message and melody.

In terms of getting closer to the sheep the set of pictures where they come up the field towards me was achieved by lying on my back with my feet pointing in their direction and their curiosity meant they just had to come up and see what was going on! I had to take the pictures through my wellies so the sight of me in the middle of a meadow, spreadeagled taking pictures of sheep would have been worth a picture itself. The shots of the sky at the beginning were taken at the same time.

Part of the biodiversity argument is the use of natural fertiliser and “The art of muck heap management”, is probably the subject for another day. We use high quality Bedmax Shavings (other shaving suppliers are available) which need a lot of wet to rot down. But we use the shavings to help support the horse who is prone to laminitis rather than for bio-diversity reasons. I think it was at Badminton where I told the lady from Bedmax that the shavings don't readily rot down and she suggested we turned the hose on the muck heap which didn’t feel very sustainable!

In terms of an increase in wildlife then I haven't counted but it does make me look and think. Last year I noticed a larger number of butterflies in the hay before it was cut and foxes, badgers and rabbits use the meadow at will when they feel it is safe to do so. We've no shortage of birds, but I don't think I could claim an increase in "ground nesting birds" at present but at least I'm giving them a chance.
Please let me know what you think.