At last – a breakthrough! We hope to have cattle on the 3 meadows between the Lake and the River Colne by Spring next year.
The necessary fencing will cost nearly £20,000 and we have secured a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to cover 60%. Thanks to our Chairman, Nigel, who met with Ewa Prokop of Groundwork South who said that cattle grazing was just the sort of activity the Colne Valley Partnership Scheme wanted to encourage and that she would raise the matter with the HLF. Very successfully! So, our thanks and gratitude go to Ewa and Groundwork South and to the HLF. Not to mention our splendid Chairman who got the ball rolling.
Ian Watson has been working on this project since 2013 in which year he found a local grazier, Nicholas Maksimovic, who keeps his cattle in Northwood. The cattle are called Dexters, a small Irish breed who are very good with people. Ian had hoped to have the cattle on the reserve by 1 August and our fencing contractor was all set to fence the meadows in July. However, bureaucratic delays, not of our making, mean that it is unlikely that the fencing will be erected before early 2019, with cattle grazing by Spring.
Cattle will stop our meadows reverting to scrub; will encourage the fine grasses which are being overgrown by coarse vegetation; will bring to the fore the many species of wild flowers that we know are there; and the cattle dung will support valuable insects and other creatures, particularly birds and bees, which feed on them; and will save us cutting the meadows at an annual cost of £1,000. Not bad, eh?
Because of the rather annoying delays, we have had to have the meadows cut (by Nick Maksimovic) at a cost of £1,000. And for the first time he will give the meadows a light raking to remove some of the thatch that has built up over the years when there were no cattle and indeed no meadow cutting.