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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Leash Fen cattle pens construction

Staff and volunteers have been working hard throughout August to replace some very ageing sheep pens on Leash Fen with new pens for sorting cattle. This reflects the change of grazing on the estate with a switch toward cattle who leave a higher sward height than sheep. 

Firstly, the old pen structure had to be removed:

Although it was quite dilapidated, there was a lot of timber and quite a bit of concrete, so some of the posts required quite a tussle or pull with the Land Rover if we were feeling lazy! There was a lot of sledgehammer and bar work to smash the old rails off:

We ended up cramming two skips full to the brim, with some amazing skip tetris from Peter: 

A modern contractor would have done this all with a tractor – but we used our hardy team of volunteers, and a giant post basher! It was hard work – the ground was very hard due to dry weather. But one post at a time we gradually got them in:  

Once the posts were in we could start railing up: 

There was quite a lot of grumbling about “bendy nails” and “duff hammers”.

Gradually the pens start to take shape. The gates are meshed at the bottom so that the cattle don’t trap their hooves:

The pens are just about finished now. It's been an interesting project, we've learnt a lot as well as getting a good workout from the post basher and honing our hammering skills.