For the first time since the 18th century, cows are grazing in Ox Close Wood!
The cows will graze the paddock for a few weeks after which they will go to another reserve to continue their conservation grazing.
Once part of the Common lands of EastKeswick, Ox Close was a wood pasture where wood and timber could be cut and extracted during the winter months and animals grazed during the summer by the Commoners of the village – usually the most prominent residents. By the end of the 18th century, the management of Common lands was deemed inefficient so increasing numbers of individual parish Parliamentary Enclosure Acts were passed to provide the legal framework for privatisation. All Commoners rights to graze in Ox Close ceased at the beginning of 19th century on the enclosure of East Keswick when the wood became part of the Harewood Estate.
The photos show three cows, each with a calf being let into the wood. Because Clarita (below) has horns, she had to be transported separated from her calf and separately from the other cows.
Clarita walks out of the trailer, looking for her friends.
All six cows and calves are in the photo.
During July, Bardsey School visited Elliker Field to identification wild flowers and to learn about flower pollination
Students from Bardsey School exploring pollination in Elliker Field
Bardsey School in Elliker Field
In July, the Trust ran another successful course with Flora Locale on woodland management to improve biodiversity. The photos show the group looking at the newly created coppice coupe in Elliker Wood and discussing the fluctuating water temperatures in the River Wharfe
Flora Locale, July 2017
Flora Locale on the River Wharfe, July 2017
Now it’s late Spring the countryside is full of flowers and our efforts during previous seasons are showing results:
Ox Close grazing pasture
At the side of entrance track to the Ellikers
Looking down Elliker Field
During the winter months, the eastern boundary of Ox Close wood has been cut back. Trees that were overhanging the field have been removed or trimmed back to allow more light to the field edge thereby benefitting any growing crops. To maintain a boundary a new hedge has been planted along this side of the wood. Thanks go to The Woodland Trust for supplying the plants, guards and supports.
Planting the new hedge
Planting the new hedge
At our AGM in May, the Trust commenced its 25 Years Anniversary. Professor Ian Rotherham gave a talk on Ancient Woodlands to which the village History Group were invited… our first combined event.
The AGM in May, 2017 started our 25 Year’s Anniversary.
During the afternoon before the AGM, members of the Trust and the History Group accompanied Ian through Ox Close wood where given an enlightening aspect of the history of the wood. The rainy conditions did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm!
Looking at Ox Close Wood with a different perspective
During March, the bridleway down to the river was re-surfaced. The spoil that this work generated has been tipped to the sides of the bridleway and as a consequence has covered locally uncommon species of wild flowers. The Trust met up with the Footpath Officer (Groundwork) and the Parish Council to discuss this and other damage that was caused.
Spoil covering where Black Horehound grows which, locally, is very uncommon
Spoil at the side of the re-surfaced bridleway
The marsh in East Keswick is grazed again for the first time in at least twenty five years. Trust volunteers completed fencing the marsh during March and the Dexter cattle which were introduced in May will be there for a short while to reduce the density of the dominant vegetation of Meadowsweet and Great Willow-herb. This will allow the more delicate wildflowers to re-establish themselves. The Marsh was last grazed before the houses of Keswick Grange and Church Drive were built.
Dexters grazing in the Marsh
On Monday May 8th the cubs took their 15 bird boxes to Ox Close Wood. They enjoyed the evening as they climbed short ladders to screw their boxes to well distributed trees.
The cubs put up nest boxes in Ox Close Wood
Work has started on the construction of a log store in Elliker Wood. We plan to move most of the log piles (others are habitat piles) from Elliker Wood and some from Ox Close so that the logs can season for a couple of years under cover before they are used. We intend to start selling logs to the community in the autumn of 2017.
Constructing the log store