River Meadow (imaginatively named as it’s bounded by two small rivers) is prone to flooding and as it makes no sense to grow cereal crops on it, a small willow tree plantation has been established. We went over to check the trees this afternoon and to make sure that Bill will be able to get in to the field to mow the grass next week. Access is down a small lane, through a locked barrier, then a locked gate, alongside the river as it goes under the dual carriageway and past a nature reserve. The Town Council put up the barrier and gate to stop people driving onto the nature reserve but give us a key so that we can get through with the tractor. Unfortunately, the locks get cut off or vandalised quite regularly and when the council replace them, they forget to tell us we need a new key. It’s very frustrating to drive ten miles on a tractor only to find the lock changed and then spend ages trying to find someone with a key, so nowadays Bill does a pre check in the landrover each time he needs to get through. It’s a waste of time and fuel, but one of the joys of farming on the edge of the town. Today, Bill’s keys still fitted the locks (good) but the tractor might not get under the bridge because the recent rain has silted up the underpass (not so good).
After growing for about fifteen to twenty years the trees are cut down and taken away to make cricket bats. A condition of the felling licence is that each tree is replaced by another and you can see in the photo that there are trees of different maturity throughout the plantation.