The hay field has previously been “improved” with farm slurry, ploughed and set down with Italian rye grass. It is slowly reverting with large areas of Yorkshire fog and other native grasses.
This field is currently used for hay, with the aftermath being grazed by the sheep. The other field has been divided into four sections with another three small paddocks. They are developing into wildflower meadows. One of the paddocks had been stripped of its grass and topsoil. It had been reduced to a muddy patch by our predecessor’s pony, but burst into flower in the early summer. Little by little the flowers are spreading into the other paddocks and the main field.
This paddock was intended to be a tennis court, but it was never levelled or grassed over. When we first visited in January 2002, it was bare mud having been heavily trampled by a pony over the winter. When we moved in in May 2002 it had grown into a lovely wildflower meadow.
Here is a close-up photograph of the wild flowers on the tennis court paddock.
This paddock, the size of a tennis court, was bare mud when we first visited Mitchell’s Elm in January 2002. It had been overgrazed and trampled by a pony. When we moved in at the end of May it had come up as a wildflower meadow. It is slightly different each year, e.g. cowslips and orchids appear in different places each year.
We put the sheep on it for a week at the beginning of September each year and then mow what they leave and rake it all off. Apart from cutting a path around the outside in the summer, we leave the paddock from the beginning of April to the end of August.