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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 26/08/15

Posted: Wednesday 2nd September 2015 by Joe.P

Paul with the bank commanderMowing a meadow

These blog posts are sent in by Mary Girvan of the Friends of Moseley Bog & Joy's Wood to give a personal perspective of a day in the life of a volunteer. She also does the twitter feed for @mosbogfriends.

Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow. Two men and their volunteer Mary, went to mow Pensby meadow!

The rain must have put everyone else off. The meadows have to be cut every year, after the wildflower seeds have fallen. All cut material must be cleared to avoid extra nutrients going into the soil, as native wildflowers thrive better on poor soil. Also you want to reduce the vigour of coarse grasses and allow the flowers to prosper.

After a slight delay for some oil, the Bank Commander got going, and it turned into a clear fine day of satisfying toil. The Bank Commander is an engine with 2 trailer tyres and handlebars like a chopper bike, to which various implements can be attached, then you walk along behind it. The first attachment was a scythe cutter, but looked a bit like a very large hedge trimmer, and while one man spiralled the meadow from outside in, me and the other man went around the perimeter to make sure there were no obstacles submerged in the grass. For this we used a slasher - a very satisfying instrument that does exactly what it's name says.

We also fished our spare sleepers out of the very smelly pond and hid them again. Some of the acts of vandalism we come across take such great strength and dedication, you can only wonder at the positive things they could achieve - if only. We also collected 8 black bags full off bottles cans and cardboard, said to have been dumped in the reserve by a bungalow resident after a party - a thoughtless task reported to the council.

Once the meadow was cut, the hay raker was attached, which looks like a medieval instrument of torture, full of spring loaded steel tines, which grab the mown material, bring it through and over the machine, depositing it in rows for collection. Sometimes it gets a bit carried away and the grass is thrown high in the air. We then begin pitch forking the rows into those big square bags that you get gravel delivered in, and once full, dragging them to the area identified for the hay pile - that will make a nice winter habitat.

Thankfully a second volunteer had turned up for the afternoon, and between the four of us we managed to get three quarters of the meadow cleared. Once the machinery stopped, the clicking of the woodpeckers took over as they leapt away from the pitch forks and rakes trying to hang on to the last mound of grass. We were also joined by a couple of cats who happily chased the mice and voles trying to escape from the machinery and us.

So how many men does it take to mow a meadow? More than 3.5, despite working an hour longer than normal. Even though we didn't get it all done, it was strangely fulfilling.
 

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