Diary - 05/02
Diary - Feb 2005
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February 2005

 

The tree showing the two points where the branches broke off

 


The two broken branches that fell from the tree, one resting on the other

 

We had our work cut out to manage the sheer size of all the fallen timber!

 

The work of sawing up the large branches was undertaken by hand, and with a bit of use of the chainsaw when needed!

 

The work to make sense of all the fallen timber meant we had a large pile of brushwood that was taking up space and needed burning ...

 

... so it was collected together, and set alight ...

 

... and made a very nice fire to keep us warm during the cold February afternoon!

What do you do when several tonnes of wood fall from the sky? This was the dilemma we faced recently when winter storms tore one of the upper branches from an oak tree in the Sanctuary. We knew the limb had fallen because you could see the white gash on the trunk from the bungalow two fields away.

On investigation, we found the limb had fallen onto another branch and was resting on the top of one of the willow trees. It seemed safe enough for now, but we knew it couldn’t stay there for ever. Another storm or the actions of gravity could bring it down to the ground and we didn’t want to risk it falling on someone underneath.

This wasn’t a job for one person and time elapsed while my father sought aid to throw a chain over the branch (still 20 odd foot off the ground) so the tractor could drag it down safely. Towards the end of February, he went over to Condicote and borrowed another length of chain and took it down to the Sanctuary ready to start the rescue attempt. When he got down there, he found that nature had completed the task for him. The limb was on the ground in a safe place, but had brought another branch down with it.

A week later, we arrived to make a start on clearing up the debris and try to decide what to do with the wood. The girth of the thickest branch was 1m 30 cm and they measured 10 metres 20cm and 9m 90 cm respectively, although it was hard getting an accurate measurement when one end is stuck up high like a totem pole and the other end is deep inside the branches of a neighbouring tree! Thankfully there was no major damage where they fell as there was only a fallen elder tree and a non-productive apple tree underneath. The wild gooseberry bushes did get a bit squashed, but they soon sprang back once the weight was off them!

Our first task was to clear the smaller branches and twigs so we could reach the trunk. Cutting them away, they were consigned either to the brash pile for burning or the woodpile for fires to have later on in the year.

When my father removed another major branch which fell over 20 years ago, he managed to get three large gateposts from the branch. This would not be a possible use from these branches as there is only one straight piece, all the other lengths are curved either one way or the other. Although we released the apple tree and cleared as much as we could, it was impossible to do it all in one weekend, especially in freezing temperatures with the wind taking it down even further. We hope to use most of the wood to make seats or tables for people to sit on in different areas around the pond. It’s going to take a lot of time and muscle power to get our ideas realised!

The other major story for February was my father’s encounter with an tawny owl. As he was feeding the hens one morning, he saw something moving at the edge of the rickyard. A closer inspection revealed an owl, who didn’t seem to be able to fly. Not wanting the owl to be attacked by the hens, he placed a cardboard box over it, to protect it. In the evening, the owl was still unable to move and was completely disoriented, so he picked it up and moved it into the barn so it wouldn’t fall prey to any predators during the night. The owl didn’t appreciate his help and attacked him with beak and claws.

By this time, my sister and her family had arrived and she suggested the owl needed to be taken to the nearest owl sanctuary. Her husband was still in Derby, but a quick phonecall to him produced an internet search with the nearest contact for an owl sanctuary being given as Tewksbury. When they rang there, they were given the name of someone who looked after owls in Bourton on the Water. This lady immediately said she would look after it, so they took it down and left it with her.

The next morning, daddy discovered a small white egg near where the owl had been fluttering under the ivy clad wall. When the owl lady reported that “he” seemed better, but was not yet fully recovered, Daddy had to tell her he thought the owl was female and had laid an egg. This changed the treatment plan considerably and the following day, the little tawny owl was taken down to Bristol to be seen by an expert and scanned to discover if she was suffering from a complication of egg laying. My uncle arrived the next day and took the egg to one of his friends who has an incubator and is used to rearing unusual chicks.

Happily, after several more days of tender loving care and treatment for calcium deficiency in the Bourton on the Water owl sanctuary, she was returned to the rickyard at dusk and released. She flew straight into the ivy clad tree and hasn’t been seen since. We are hopeful her mate has found her and their hunting cries will continue to be heard all around the farm!

 

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