Cynefin, Pembrey

Many thanks to Judith Weatherburn for all the details and photos of her meadows below:

 Meadow Holding/Owner name and location

 Cynefin, Pembrey, Carmarthenshire:  Owners Kay and Roger Griffiths and Judith Weatherburn.

1: How would you describe your meadow, e.g. stand alone, part of a smallholding, part of a farm, managed lawn?

Part of a small holding with woodland and grassland (classed as neutral grassland by CCW in the past), that until recently was part of a larger farm, this side pretty much unmanaged for 15yrs+ before we bought it .  It has an interesting past as we are still finding out – not long before we bought it a large group of foreign cockle pickers were camped out here for months, hence the shoes, clothing, bits of vans and sacks of cockle shells we kept digging up.  Until the 1970’s the land was a small part of a very large unit run as part of a  commercial chicken farm (Eastwoods Ltd if anyone remembers them).  Our bit was apparently for the free range chickens supplied to M &S so I don’t feel quite so bad. This is very relevant as its seems to have left us with a legacy of high levels of nutrients from all the manure piles we assume – at first we couldn’t understand why some of the grass areas grew so much!

2: How would you best describe your management of the meadow, and what are your priorities for the meadow e.g. commercial farm, hobby farmer/smallholder, purely managing the meadow on its own for its wildflowers/biodiversity?

Our current management of the site is best described as ‘very part time’ at the moment.  Progress is often slower than we would like as there are such major obstacles to over come such as land clearance, ditch systems to be reinstated, mains water installation, and none of these can be achieved cheaply. I was also seriously ill soon after buying the land which has set us back with our plans. We tend to zone the site and move on to new areas as time and funds allow – trying to do at least 1 to 2 new major projects per year. 

We have planning permission for 2 commercial sized polytunnels on site, which would be a commercial venture and maybe we would like to do some small scale seasonal camping/glamping in the future too (we are only a cycle ride away from Cefn Sidan beach).  However, we see the grassland and oak woodland being managed primariry for biodiversity value with maybe some very low level livestock enterprises such as a few pigs in the woodland for very limited season, rare breed goats on the scrubby areas and winter grazing of meadows/grasslands possibly by the Exmoor ponies for a short period.  While we all work full time it is unlikely we will make progress with the above enterprises and as the weather has been so wet last summer and this winter sometimes I’m not sorry we are still currently stock free.grmpyhobbit2wet meadow (3)

3: Roughly how big are the meadow(s)?  The holding is about 11 acres in total including hard standings and oak/hazel/willow woodland.

 Wet meadow – approx 2.5 acres

Log cabin field – approx 0.75 acres

Bungalow footings field  – approx 0.5 acres

Orchard  – approx 0.25 acres

Pond field  – approx 0.75 acres

Glamping meadow –  2.25 acres

4: Roughly how high above sea level?

 Approximately 10 metres

5: How long have you been managing the meadows for wild flowers?

Approximately 5 yrs – 8 mths depending on the areas.

6: Do you know when the meadow was last ploughed/reseeded?

Wet meadow – unknown history.  We have not ploughed or re-seeded it.

Log cabin field – dug up and reseeded in 2014 by us with a low ryegrass mix suitable for horses/hay making – it was full of debris, fly tipping and scrub.

Orchard – not ploughed or re-seeded but managed by regular mowing to lessen docks, nettles and hogweed.

Bungalow footings field – as above but all flowery margins left and cut once a year only in late autumn.  In 2015 a large patch was left to be cut for hay.

Pond field – re-seeded in 2014 by us with a low ryegrass mix suitable for horses/hay making – it was dug up and levelled as it was full of builders debris, bricks and rubble from the huge former chicken shed and allegedly the remains of the telephone exchange building in Burry Port!

Glamping meadow – we have only just cleared this area in 2015 and after levelling by Rob and his 8 tonne digger we re-seeded it by hand in September with with a diverse non dominant meadow grass seed mix for clay soils, bought in UK yellow rattle seed and some of our own wild flower seed from all corners of the site such as ragged robin, oxeye daisy, devils bit scabious etc.  grumpyhobbitglamping field (2)

7: Do you know when the meadow last received any fertiliser or farm yard manure?

No – unlikely to have received any in 18 yrs +. We are currently trying to reduce fertility.

8: What do the field boundaries consist of, e.g. laid/regularly flailed hedges, banks with no hedges, fence only, mature hedges, mature trees?

A varied mix of mature hedges, banks without hedges and mature woodland edge trees.

9: Is the meadow ever grazed by stock, and if so by what, and roughly when?

Since we have had the land we have not grazed any part of the site.  This is mainly because we don’t have any livestock on site yet and also because we have been busy trying to restore the area and remove debris like old tractors parts and large bales of old haylage from ditches etc.  We also have had to clear up all the field edges before we can even consider installing any gates and fencing.   

10: Is the meadow regularly cut, or burned and if so, when? And is the material removed and used as hay or bedding, or left on the field?

We have been cutting most areas with a quad flail mower between 1 and 5 times per season for 2 years now, depending on the stage it is at; when newly reseeded it can be swamped by pioneer annual weeds which we mow regularly. Before that we mowed with a garden petrol mower which was very hard and took a ridulous amount of our time compared with a few hours bouncing along on a quad bike!  We would like to be able to remove the cut materia to reduce nutrients but so far have not been able to due to lack of suitable equipment and it has been left on the field. The existing wet meadow was previously cut for big bale silage or haylage by a previous owner. In 2016 it would be good to make hay, on a small scale, on the ‘new’ areas of meadow, after experimenting in 2015 – I think a power sythe would be best.  It will depend on the weather and whether we can get it dried and baled or bagged successfully. We need approx. 40 x small bales as an emergency standby for the Exmoor ponies I use for conservation grazing on another site – it would be fantastic to be able to contribute towards that.  grumpyhobbitlog cabin field (2)

11: Has the meadow ever received any herbicide treatment, and if so, what, and when?

 No not in our time here but we are seriously considering topical use via knapsack sprayer / weed wiper of Glyphosate on the wet meadow in very early spring to deal with hemlock waterdrop wort invasion from ditches .  Has any body tried this – will add to question and answer section separately?

12: Have you ever imported or scattered any flower seed or hay ?

No.  I wanted to do this on the area we re-seeded in September 2015 but I couldn’t get any when we suddenly decided to do it and not wait until spring.

13: Is the meadow flat, or sloping, and is it hillside/valley bottom?

All the land is basically flat valley bottom at the base of the western edge of Pembrey Mountain – with  all the run off that entails….

14: Do you know roughly what the soil ph is?

No – we need to do that and let you know.  CCW classed this as neutral grassland and I was surprised it wasn’t acid grasland.

15: Have you ever had a botanical survey carried on the meadow, and if not would you be interested in having this done?

 No.  We do keep a photographic record of plants we come across but we really must do this in summer 2016.  I think we would do it ourselves.

16: Would you be happy for your meadow, and the above data to feature in the Gallery section of the CMG website?

Yes

17: Would you be interested in help from a contractor in managing any aspect of meadow maintenance, and if so what help would be useful to you?

A cut and collect machine to take of cut material from the wet meadow in late summer.  It might cost too much with transport for a small area.

 

Uploaded to the gallery in January 2016

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Thanks for reading.