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River in full flow through the leat

It's March. This is the time of year when the rivers and leat are full. You can almost feel the land swelling to contain all the water. We have to be very careful about working the sluices at this time of year. If they are shut too much you can back up the leat too much and flood the fields and islands further up. Too open and you can send too much water crashing along the river and it overflows on the bends. Careful management stops flooding! We are learning from our mistakes! There is something very satisfying about getting the balance right.

It's also the time of year for final hedge laying and copicing. Any tree planting needs to be done now as well. I have been working a lot on the top hedge this year, taking out the rogue shrubs and giving space to the hazel and chestnut. Laying down some of the hazel hedging and trying to take back control of the hedging that has been untended for a dozen years or more. We have been copicing the woodland on the far side of the road, partly for firewood but also to create more light in winter. The mid-winter sun doesn't get much above the horizon so we need to give it all the help we can to penetrate to the house. The plan is to fully compice the site opposite the house and then just thin out the rest of the wood a little. We also plan to leave some areas of woodland completely untouched so we can see how the different trees progress over the years.

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