Pasture Champions: Fidelity Weston and Romshed Farm 3/5
It was during this period that the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) assisted us in a programme of hedgerow planting which meant that over 10 years we planted literally tens of thousands of hedging plants, gapping up every single hedge and joining up all our small woodland shaws with hedges so that the rare dormice we had in our woods could travel from one to another. We have since then laid over 400 metres of hedges, with more to go, and been thrilled to find dormice in these hedges and they are now connected into the wider landscape. The shaws themselves are actively managed so we coppice areas to allow in the light benefitting the woodland flora species but also the moths, butterflies and insects that live there.
In 2000 we introduced cattle onto the farm having reduced the sheep numbers significantly. We moved to higher level stewardship payments and through this put in 20 acres a year of spring planted cereals. Almost overnight the skylarks appeared, and the linnets and other seed loving birds arrived to enjoy our specially left bird seed margin. It is a thrilling sound to hear them high above the fields but at the same time, our beloved flycatcher which would arrive every spring and nest in a tiny wooden box housing a light sensor by our front door failed to arrive and we have not seen it since.
Also under Countryside Stewardship we established a species rich wildflower meadow with seed from a donor site that matched ours. The seed came with 140 species in it, we now have around 40 species in that field. Over the 15 years it has been in place its diversity has varied enormously with species coming and going according to the season.
We had a new orchid arrive this year but there was no sign of any of the much treasured yellow rattle that has helped to keep the field in balance – hopefully it will be back again next year. This meadow has led the way in seeing an increase in diversity in all our meadows across the farm and I now fully appreciate how much it varies from one year to the next.