Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Working with Nature

We’ve been visiting this part of Devon for many years, having our summer holidays here for the last 14 years; with each passing year we’ve noted the village of East Portlemouth  struggled to keep its community vibrant (no criticism intended, we know  a committed team work hard at many events) but the fact is there are less villagers and more holiday homes,  as an older generation passes. Indeed Mr Uphilldowndales aunt N was one of that community

So it was very exciting to see (and hear)  a new vibrancy to the village that has been brought my new tenants of the farm that wraps itself around the village, the aptly named Village Farm. The farm has lain unworked for a number of years and now its not so much being worked, as nourished, regenerative farming ;  delivered with an infectious enthusiasm and acres of passion.  I could try and describe their work, but I couldn’t do it as eloquently or a knowledgably,  So I’ll send you to the website of Village Farm,  do watch the video.

They use a method of grazing called ‘mob grazing’ a large number of animals, sheep in this case, in a small area of land for a short period of time, you’ll have to believe me if I tell you there are 800 in here somewhere…  happily and noisily munching away.

Village farm 10

Here they are coming down the village, with resident neighbours willingly mucking in with traffic and sheep herding (no dogs were used)

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They can move at quite a pace

Village farm 8

A view from the other side of the estuary gives an idea of what’s involved, this field, which will house the Field of Light, later in the year was grazed over three days

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Then it was time to move on to pastures new, with the sheep back off up the village again.

Village farm 3

The photographs on Village Farm’s facebook page are gorgeous, the sort of work that oozes from knowing your subject, field skills and, as mentioned,  acres of passion .

(We can’t wait to see the pigs next year).


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Cut, Muck and Roll

The field was mown, and basked in sun, once it was rowed up and baled there was haste to get it wrapped and off the field, we’ve had some dramatic storms and torrential rain.  The contractors worked through the night, it was about four thirty AM when they came into our field.

bales_

My patch of meadow flowers in the foreground is left for Mr Uphilldowndale to cut with his precious scythe, when it has fully seeded.

Today the field was mucked, Spud was delighted.

spud rolling_


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Thirty days wild. June 8th

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_08

The best thing that you can do for nature is to make it part of your life. That’s why we’re asking thousands of people to make room for nature in their everyday lives this June. Please spread the word amongst friends, colleagues and family and get them to sign up, too! After all, all our lives are better if they’re a bit wild… ‘

I’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust,  with the aim of blogging each day, a little bit of the nature of my world.

 

A low sun catches the meadow,

30WD back lit 2

 

the red campion look like they have stems of glass.

30WD red campion_

 

Landscape and lambs

30WD sheep


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Morning Meadow.

What is not to like about a meadow at six in the morning, on a beautiful summer day. Spud the dog and I took a meadow meander,

Meadow Morning

My friend Mrs Ogg say’s I look like I’m wearing a ball gown. I think the silhouette looks a little like the game piece in that little box of treasures I found at my Mum’s.

Game piece_ 

In fact I was wearing far more casual attire. My dressing gown, wellington boots, accessorised with a mug of tea, obviously.

Fashion statement

Seize the moment, I say.


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On Edge

Tom has been to Derbyshire this weekend, with his university mountaineering club, he was too close to home, for us not to pop over with Spud the dog to say hello*, first of all we had to find him, it was busy on Stanage Edge (we’ve been here before)

 

Stanage_

 

Spud found him

 

Spud

 

A beautiful crisp day, the visibility could not have been sharper

 

Stanage 2

 

Bouldering is the done thing.

 

Stanage 3

 

We came across this rather fun gate, I couldn’t move the sun, or the gate, so I’m afraid you’ll have to take the photo as it is; loving the shadows.

 

cow gate

 

cow gate 4

 

 

* We asked Tom’s permission first, we didn’t gate crash…


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Teaser

Today, I could almost imagine what a Summers day might be like. 

Promise -1

Whilst things are starting to ‘colour up’ around here, it is happening very slowly, everywhere is incredibly dry. We’ve not had any ‘April showers’ of note, as the farmer put it the other day, ‘Its not rained properly since it snowed, and all the snow ended up in the lanes not the fields.’ He chain harrowed the field the other day, it was biscuit dry and the tractor was trailed by clouds of dust.

I don’t think it would take much to start a moorland fire.

Promise 2-1

We’ve taken delivery of an SLR camera at work this week, a NikonD3100, I’ve brought it home for ‘field trials’ the photos here are taken with it.


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Land of Snow and Ice

A selvedge of snow still remains, banked up against the drystone walls, it lies in dips and gullies (or ‘gips’ as I used to call them as a child, no point wasting words when you can blend).

April snow -1

There are lanes  that are still full to the brim, some with cars still entombed! Our lane was cleared  of snow this afternoon, by man in a JCB digger.

Tom has returned home from a geography study trip to Iceland*, it has been warmer there all the time he’s been away than it has here. How silly is that.  On his return he said how ‘green’ everything looks at home, but this is only in comparison to Iceland, not ‘as it should be’, at this time of year, in this part of of the world. It is dire for livestock.

Here are Joe and Spud on our walk on Sunday

Spud Joe and Trees-1

Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to show me some mine workings that have ‘opened up’ recently: as a child I used to play no more than a stones throw from here.

mine shaft -1

My Mum has said for over fifty years that she is convinced the loud crash she and a friend heard one summers evening could only have been to do with the old  mine workings, of which there are many around and about, both coal and lead.  It’s not really what you want at the bottom of the garden.

Making them safe is the remit of The Coal Authority.

mine shaft 2-1

* I’ve been envious of Tom, I went to Iceland in the early 1980’s with my friend Bob’s-mum; it seemed a bit off beat for a holiday destination back then. I loved it, however unlike Tom, I didn’t get to swim in The Blue Lagoon, or see the Aurora Borealis… sigh.

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