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12 January 2018Stratford gate replaces iron rail stile

Yesterday Ian M. and I dismantled the extremely old and rather awkward iron rail stile at the lower entrance to the Sledging Field. We replaced it with a Stratford gate, see "before and after" pictures below. This will make access much easier when a new field gate is installed, as it should be chained when required to control the grazing régime when the cows return to us around the start of March 2018.

The gate was given to us by our area Somerset C.C. paths warden, as this gateway is part of a public footpath (no:FR20/10).      Jimm Y-->

Entrance to SOS "Sledging Field.

Exit to individually owned field.


10 January 2018Permissive Path

Today I fixed "Permissive Path" waymarks on the two new kissing gates at the top of the big field alongside the A362. 

This is to indicate to walkers that we are happy that the route is used, as if one has not been there before, it is not obvious that there are two gates. Whilst doing so I met a gentleman with a dog who had actually walked outside alongside the road, as he had started to come into Frome before I fixed the second waymark.

He said it had been a while since coming that way, and was delighted to see that two gates were now in place.

We have decided to leave it like that unless there appears to be a good reason for asking Somerset County Council to take over responsibility for this path by declaring it a Public Footpath.

Of course within the three SOS Whatcombe Fields are we do not expect walkers to keep to the designated paths, but in the adjacent individually owned fields the public footpaths and the unfinished Sustrans metalled way should be used.

Jimm Y-->

11 November 2017Bramble Roots Grubbing

Today the 4 members of the Fields Committee with 10 other volunteers attacked the bramble roots down the side of the T.H.White boundary fence which over the years had grown out to an unmanageable distance.

This will try to ensure that the brambles grown nearer to the fence and will be thicker and less straggly, giving good crops of blackberries, better and safer locations for birds' nests, and extra grazing for cattle. We finished at 1PM with the most of the aim achieved.

Before arrival of the team of volunteers 9:10 AM

Raking the cut brambles away

Removing roots with mattocks and forks      JY


01 November 2017Update from 30/10/17 Wild Flower seeding


Seed Mix Ingredients


Mixing Seeds


(More) wild flowers for Whatcombe Fields

We (Jimm, Sue and Ian) have just finished introducing more wild flowers to the field nearest Whatcombe Road. This field already has a flower-rich bank but we are aiming to get the whole field to eventually become a stunning wildflower-rich meadow. We used a seed mix harvested from a wild meadow in north Devon that contains many of the flowers that would be expected to grow in fields in this area (if only most of them had not been ploughed up, sprayed with weedkiller, spread with slurry or other fertiliser.) We hope to do more in successive years.

The cost of this work has been: our time (quite a lot of it, and given free!), seed (£360, paid for by the Somerset Wildlife Trust) and the equipment (>£1000) which we had to purchase. We used Ian's vintage (1952) tractor - without which the job would have had to have been done by contractors at considerable extra expense. Ian's mechanical skills were also vital - setting up new  (second-hand) machinery, calibrating and repairing - thanks to Ian!

Restoring wild flowers to agriculturally improved grassland is possible, but requires light cultivation (to expose soil for the seed to fall into) and the introduction of the semi-parasitic flower, Yellow Rattle. As visitors to the fields will see, we have exposed strips of soil and seed has been broadcast across these. When we have suitable equipment, the rough strips will be rolled to help bring the seed into contact with the soil. 

It will take several years for the flowers to  become established. The field will continue to be grazed but we will need to exclude grazing animals from this field for a few months in late spring and early summer.

Should anyone be interested in supporting the continuation of this work in successive years, by purchasing additional shares - this money can be used towards buying more wild flower seed and other equipment which we need, plus improvements to the fences and gates so that we can manage the cattle-grazing better. Please contact SOS Frome if you wish to support the wildflower project in this way.    SE.


Today Ian harrowed more strips within the Sledging Field, and we used the recently purchased distributor to spread seeds over the harrowed areas.


About to exchange the harrow for the seed spreader


Ian with seed spreader

Jimm with seed spreader


View from the tractor seat spreading seeds on a harrowed strip   JY





30 October 2017Increasing Wild Flowers Underway

This morning our disc harrow was employed to cut into strips of grass in the Sledging Field in preparation for scattering wild-flower seeds to determine how they take.

The full results may not be known for a year or two, but the process has started.

The first two pictures date from September 20th 2017, and show work being done on the disc harrow before it could be used.

Setting a disc arm correctly after repair with new fasteners

Ian heating harrow brackets

Ian on first run with the harrow

Sue driving downhill on the third pass over a strip

Please see update 1/11/2017 next item above   JY.




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