Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

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We were lucky on Wednesday, getting the one fine day all week. It was touch and go again with the appalling weather whether we cancelled or held firm, but in the end we had a fantastic day on the Helm.

Pictured: Grey but dry day

Last week was a battering by snow and black ice, this week has been winds, rain, flooding, power loss and so on. It has seemed like basic survival skills at times, the loss of key things such as water, power etc making just living that much more difficult. We were debating just how you make candles from rushes and reeds and how many you would need to get any light worth having! Life at High Borrowdale farmhouse must have been hard…. A day on the Helm with not too much wind, a great collection of new and old volunteers and some very cheeky fell ponies was just what was needed.

Pictured: What's in the bag mate?

We certainly did some laughing with the antics of our four legged friends, and quite a bit of work got done too! We have just about finished rabbit wiring our enclosures so next time we can begin planting them up with seed and fruiting trees to help the wildlife. 

Pictured: Volunteers hard adding rabbit wire to our enclosures

We introduced conservation grazing onto the Helm some years ago. Cows and ponies eat differently to sheep, both in terms of how they eat the grass but also what they eat. They are much better at eating rank grass or vegetation sheep would ignore and the way they rip off the grass is better for the grass and other plants. Nicola grazes native fell ponies which she breeds, and John has hardy native cattle. They have to be animals that won’t be spooked by people or dogs given the use of the land by local people for walking. The ponies have a reputation for being nosey, quite often nibbling a bobble hat or rucksack. They excelled themselves yesterday. 

Pictured: Tasty glove

We were just unloading the kit when our first pony visitor arrived, next minute he legged it with a bag of cable ties in his mouth! We retrieved those and it soon became apparent that everything was up for grabs.

Pictured: Little and Large. Tiggy the Labrador makes friends 

Lunchtime was like a smash and grab raid, trying to have some food whilst defending ourselves from five fell ponies looking in our bags, wanting apples, and they even fancied a cup of coffee and tried to steal a flask...

Pictured: Any tea on offer?

The cake bag was just irresistible and came home at the end of the day with only one handle, but then again so did the cable tie bag!! But it was fun and they were fun, we achieve a lot and have more stories to tell of our adventures on Friends of the Lake District workparties… 

More fun next week as we build a willow den at Dam Mire Wood with the children from Threlkeld School. The delivery of the willow was delayed twice with the weather but we have it, so lets hope there is no wind on Monday. Everyone is welcome to join us by booking here>