Norfolk's fields of gold

 Saffron Crocuses in all their beauty. Pic courtesy Norfolk Saffron

Saffron Crocuses in all their beauty. Pic courtesy Norfolk Saffron

Norfolk’s most exotic crop

If you are passing through the beautiful countryside surrounding Burnham Norton you could be forgiven for taking a second glance at one of the fields and wondering what the farmer is growing. Where you are normally faced with the deep green of sugar beet or the golden yellow of barley, instead there are rows of purple flowers, growing from a grass-like foliage. 

This is because you have arrived in Norfolk Saffron territory and the crop you are seeing is the saffron crocus, a delicate purple flower with reddish gold threads. It is these threads that are the source of the spice that is, literally, worth its weight in gold.

It is with this backdrop that Dodd&Co have completed their latest project – to fence off this high-value crop from the hordes of marauding rabbits and muntjac deer that roam the area. The animals can devastate the crop, so Norfolk Saffron – the award-winning producers of this versatile and luxurious spice – brought us in to put an end to the problem.

The area to be fenced incorporated a 300 metre fence line. This is not a particularly large area but the fencing needed to be of top quality, affording the highest level of security against these pesky invaders.

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The other stipulation was longevity. These needed to be posts that would last for a number of years. For that reason, we used creosoted wooden fence posts that would withstand the elements. Burnham Norton is a coastal village, so the Saffron fields are assailed by sea breezes, salty atmospheres and the fierce north winds. The additional creosote covering will add a layer of extra protection.

The fencing also needed to be sturdy because deer are deceptively strong and determined. The straining fences stand three metres and are a hefty 7-8 inches wide. The intermediate posts are 2.4 metres and 3-4 inches wide. The main netting is a premium product, the Tornado Titan Knot (T15/155/15). 

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In addition, to prevent the rabbits from burrowing under the fence line, Tornado Premium Rabbit Netting has been buried into the base of the fencing. This is 1,200mm high with an 18 gauge. It has been turned out 450mm and then pegged. The premium netting is recommended and used by Forestry Commission and the Highways Agency. Again, Norfolk Saffron is at pains to offer the crops the best protection, so investing in a product of this quality makes economic sense.

 The rabbit netting is turned out to add further protection against burrowing rabbits

The rabbit netting is turned out to add further protection against burrowing rabbits

As an aside, rabbits are a scourge to the agricultural community generally. It is estimated that rabbits cause more than £100million a year through crop damage – for this reason, we always take extra care to make sure that the fencing offers complete security against the lagomorph population. The fencing is dug well into the ground to prevent the most determined rabbits form entering the crop growing area.

 The fencing is pinned down

The fencing is pinned down

There are two metal gates giving access to the field and these have a concrete base, again to prevent the rabbits burrowing into the field. The gates were hand-crafted at the Dodd&Co workshop and have been made to specific standards.

 Hand-crafted metal gates

Hand-crafted metal gates

This project has brought together two companies that share the same ethos. At both Norfolk Saffron and Dodd&Co, the owners have belief in the quality of their products and the need for sound investment in the business for the best return. 

A few facts about Norfolk Saffron:

 Courtesy of Norfolk Saffron

Courtesy of Norfolk Saffron

 

Norfolk Saffron gained a Great Taste Award for Norfolk Saffron in 2012, and independent laboratory testing shows that every year the produce from Norfolk Saffron conforms to ISO 3632 category I, the top international grade for saffron quality. This makes Norfolk Saffron roughly equivalent to Spanish Coupé grade - the grade above Mancha. 

WHAT IS ISO 3632?
This is the International Standards Organisation standard for saffron quality, also followed by the British Standards Institute (BSI). There are many different clauses in ISO 3632, but three of the most important ones are laboratory measurement of the amounts of crocin (responsible for colour), picrocrocin (responsible for flavour) and safranal (responsible for aroma) in a sample of the saffron. The crocin measurement is known as the "colouring strength" of the saffron. The higher the levels of these three substances, the better quality and stronger the saffron.

Quality is graded category I, II, or III (there was also a lower grade, IV, but this is no longer used). Category I is the top grade. The system is widely used in the major saffron-producing counties of the world, though you won't find the category nor colouring strength displayed on low quality, cheap saffron. 

WHAT DOES SAFFRON TASTE LIKE?
Saffron does not just look beautiful, it gives food a divine flavour too. Norfolk Saffron’s flavour is honeyed and floral, yet with a slight bitterness. Top quality saffron is so much more than just a yellow food colouring.

WHAT CAN I USE SAFFRON FOR?
Norfolk Saffron is perfect for sweet and savoury dishes. Aside from simple saffron rice, there are several other classic saffron recipes e.g. Cornish Saffron Cake, Paella, Bouillabaisse and Risotto alla Milanese. There are many other delicious recipes, as well as a history of Saffron, in Norfolk Saffron's book, Saffron Book. Finally saffron can also be used as a dyestuff and as an artists' pigment.

 

A deck with a view

Aside from agricultural construction, at Dodd & Co we are increasingly finding ourselves commissioned to do work on residential properties. Our ethos of working to a well-thought out design, using sympathetic materials and completing jobs to the highest standard has led to many projects across the county.

One of our recent residential projects was to create a decking area around two sides of a one-level property on the outskirts of Cley-next-the-Sea. The property itself is on a fantastic site, on a point of high elevation, with views across the fields and down to the sea at Cley. Anyone who knows this area will appreciate that the view is absolutely stunning along this stretch of coastline, it is wild and hauntingly beautiful and, understandably the new owner of the property wanted to make the most of the views that can be enjoyed from his home..

When the owner spoke of wanting a ‘deck’ around the property, I am not sure even he envisaged just how this feature would enhance the already impressive view and setting.

The deck, which has been built on the south-eastern side of the house, is constructed using Millboard composite decking boards, fixed to a substantial timber frame and steel posts. The light shade of grey-brown sits perfectly next to the blue of the property and is in harmony with the landscape surrounding the house. 

 April 2018: Half-way to completion. Balustrades and finishing touches still to be done

April 2018: Half-way to completion. Balustrades and finishing touches still to be done

 

To add a level of shelter from the wind that can whip across the higher land, we have added a very cool-looking glass and wire balustrade. To access the decking area, we built a set of wide, wooden steps. These have very clean lines and add another dimension to the build. A further ramped entry point onto the decking area is suitable for wheeled vehicles.

We also added a 3 metre x 5 metre garden shed, plus we reclassified and extended an existing shed, giving the owner far more storage space. The final touches included rendered walls and a lovely brick weave cobble floor around the perimeter of the house. 

 Ramped entry point onto the decking

Ramped entry point onto the decking

 

The whole project was about minimalism and style and I think we all agree that the finished product is bang on the brief. 

Our careful project management ensured that the build was completed on time and to budget, despite the dreadful weather conditions that prevailed for most of the time we were working in Cley. 

 Steps to the decking area

Steps to the decking area

If anyone has requests for similar work or would like to discuss agricultural/equine or residential projects, please contact Jamie Dodd on 07766 815830. 

Fencing for all occasions

 Industrial unit in West Norfolk. Security is no 1 factor

Industrial unit in West Norfolk. Security is no 1 factor

Fencing and panelling for all purposes

The fencing you install around your property is the first thing people will see. It is important that the fence gives the message you want to send out. For example, if a fence is purely decorative, then you are looking to install something aesthetically pleasing but not necessarily high or barrier-like in nature.

On the other hand, if the main purpose of your fence is to keep animals in or intruders out, or to maintain privacy, then the height, strength and durability of your fence are the most important factors.

You need to think critically about what task your fence needs to perform and what budget you are working to. For example, if you have a large area, such as a farm, to fence, then using the most cost effective material is probably better than using the most aesthetically attractive materials.

Two projects: two different outcomes

Two projects we have recently completed demonstrate the range of fencing that can be used for security, with different materials suiting different purposes.

Industrial strength fencing

In our first task, the brief was to make an industrial unit secure. The client wanted durable, strong, intruder-proof fencing that would deter people from trying to break into the premises. 

For this project we used 2.4 metre high section palisade security fencing with top and bottom rails. The rails were fixed with anti-tamper fixings and the posts had three-notch spikes on top to further deter intruders. The posts were sunk into a concrete base. This entire project was about security and durability.

The Palisade fencing is manufactured from cold rolled steel and has a galvanised finish to to help protect from rust over time. 

 Clean lines, high fences, triple spike deterrents. 

Clean lines, high fences, triple spike deterrents. 

 

While this was an industrial unit, this type of fencing is suitable for agricultural areas, railways, yards and any high security buildings.

A garden fence for all seasons

Our second project was a garden fence that needed to serve several different roles. It had to act as a demarcation for a property boundary; it needed to offer a level of privacy and security; it borders woodland so it needed to keep animals out, and it needed to look aesthetically pleasing.

 Close board panel fencing makes a simple, effective and attractive garden boundary

Close board panel fencing makes a simple, effective and attractive garden boundary

Our client chose close board panel fencing (also known as featherboard). It is strong and versatile and also looks good. It is also cost effective because, if quality materials are used, the fence will enjoy a long lifetime.

The timber, vertical slats of a close board fence provide a simple backdrop to the garden, which means that as the garden is planted, the fence will make a natural border, allowing the plants and flowers to be the stars of the show.

The fence also offers wind resistance and is also ideal for any uneven landscaping such as rises in the ground or tricky corners.

 Close board fencing is versatile and makes cornering a doddle

Close board fencing is versatile and makes cornering a doddle

 

We used 1.2metre high panels supported by three horizontal bars. The panels were fixed to concrete posts and the base was concrete to give added stability and durability. All the fixings are stainless steel throughout. 

These are just two of the many fencing options that we offer at Dodd & Co. We don’t believe one size fits all when it comes to fencing but rather, that every fencing solution should be unique to the task it is expected to perform.

Dodd & Co - our services explained

At Dodd & Co, we pride ourselves on the range and quality of our work. While we remain best known for the high quality fencing that we provide, we also design and build agricultural and equine  constructions – stables, tack rooms, cattle sheds – and a range of domestic buildings such as studios, garages, extensions and decking areas. Of late, we have also been commissioned to build high-end dog kennels.

Here is a little about each area of work.

 Fencing and gates that both serve the purpose and look good.

Fencing and gates that both serve the purpose and look good.

Fencing

We have a huge amount of experience when it comes to fencing. This is borne of our own agricultural and equine background but also from talking to and understanding the clients’ needs. There is no one-size-fits all and what might work to keep badgers out or horses in for one person might require a totally different solution for another client. 

Our recent fencing projects have included an industrial site, which called for robust secure metal fencing; a deer park, with the main requirement being height to stop the deer jumping the fences; and a garden project which called for clean lines and an aesthetic consideration. 

While much of our fencing work is for private owners, we also work with organisations such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust to ensure the nature reserves provide a safe haven for wildlife.

 We work on high-end domestic projects, such as this decking area in Cley.

We work on high-end domestic projects, such as this decking area in Cley.

Domestic construction

One of our most recent projects was a decking area for a home in the lovely village of Cley. The building had a great outlook on the hills overlooking the sea and marshes but had very little outside living space. Working with the owner, we designed and built the decking area, including some beautiful looking steps to the garden. 

We also built the porch shown in the pictures. The challenge here was to matcha  new construction to an old building. By using oak struts and a pantile roof, we were able to make the porch a real feature of the house, in keeping with its 19th century classical appearance.

 A cattle shed in East Winch

A cattle shed in East Winch

Agricultural and equine construction

A horse arena, complete with tack room and food store was one of our latest equine projects. The entire brief was to clear the ground of rubble and undergrowth, build an arena with accompanying buildings and install a large mirror for training and teaching purposes. The owner wanted a flooring that would drain well and provide a soft but stable surface for the horses and ponies so we came up with a solution involving shredded carpet material.

 Dog kennels built for comfort, safety and security

Dog kennels built for comfort, safety and security

Dog kennels

Working dogs need to have comfortable and well-maintained housing and we feel our latest projects are state-of-the-art. For the owner of a number of Siberian huskies we built a highly secure yard. The security level was important for two reasons: these are expensive dogs but they are also escape artists. For this reason the fencing was exceptionally high and we also made sure the fencing was dug deep into the ground to prevent burrowing.

The kennels shown in the picture were designed for working labradors. We paid particular attention to the temperature of the kennels, making sure the dogs could stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter months. The kennels are designed for ease of cleaning and are also highly secure to prevent dog-knapping.

This is just a snap-shot of our work. To discuss any agricultural, equine or domestic construction work give Jamie a call on 07766815830.

Plan and prepare for spring and summer grazing

 As spring approaches, take time to walk your fence lines and check all is okay

As spring approaches, take time to walk your fence lines and check all is okay

 

It has been a long wet winter and your livestock pastures and fencing will have taken a hit. Between now and the end of March is the time to give your horse, pony, cattle and sheep grazing a bit of tender, loving care.

The first thing to do is walk all your fence lines. Check all the fence wires, posts and, if using electric fencing, your grounding system. Make sure wire is not rusted, frayed or broken. Check that posts have not split or rotted in the wet weather and make sure all tension wires are holding up well. 

The spring is a good time to make repairs as the ground will be soft so replacing posts is an easier task.

For any major repairs or if you have new pastures that need replacing, get in contact with Jamie Dodd on 07766815830.

At Dodd & Co we always work hard to make sure our pastures are in tip top condition. below are some of the measures you can take to ensure that your grass is lush and nutritious this spring, summer and early autumn.

 Good pasture is the result of careful management

Good pasture is the result of careful management

 

Know your soil

Soil testing is important as it gives you a good idea of what fertilisation might be necessary. Getting the correct fertiliser, along with correct moisture levels, will optimise the growth and potential of grass. If you are working to reduce the amount of fertiliser you use, frost-seeding grass is a good idea. This involves broadcasting seeding grass on existing pasture when the ground is still frozen.

The cycle of thaw and freeze helps work the seed into the soil for germination. Allow six weeks to two months after germination before you start grazing it as this allows the roots to establish in the soil.

Manure management is another factor to consider. Uneven distribution of mature leads to uneven growth. To encourage more even grass growth, drag pastures as soon as the manure pats are not frozen. This helps break up the manure and it is absorbed back into the soil faster.

 Controlling weeds

Weeds always present a headache for owners of livestock. Rotational grazing is one answer. If possible, rotate your grazing areas so the pasture gets rest time. This will maximise forage growth and encourage desirable plants and plant parts.

The benefits seen from implementing a rotational grazing programme include more forage, more plant diversity, greater control of grazing heights, and opportunities to extend the grazing season.

When 'being in the dog house' is a good place to be!

 One of the many dog kennels constructed by Dodd & Co

One of the many dog kennels constructed by Dodd & Co

Dog kennels are a must if you have a number of large, working dogs, such as gun dogs or sheepdogs. And security, safety and comfort are the three watch-words when it comes to kennel construction.

Each dog is valuable – both in financial terms as a working animal and as a friend of the family. Making sure that thieves are unable to take your dogs is a key consideration when you commission a kennel. It is also important the dogs are unable to escape from the kennels and they should feel warm and secure in their home in the winter but be able to keep cool and relaxed during the hot summer months.

 A hard working dog deserves a top quality home

A hard working dog deserves a top quality home

 

Dodd & Co has extensive experience in constructing dog kennels – we are dog owners ourselves, with several working labradors – and we have made bespoke kennels for a wide range of clients. 

We are now moving our kennel construction portfolio up a notch with a new system that allows us to build the kennel in our own state-of-the-art workshop before transferring it to a client’s address. The beauty of the new system is that we have all the necessary equipment on site all the time and we cannot be halted or slowed by bad weather.

A recent project saw Dodd & Co commissioned to build a three-unit dog kennel for a client in West Norfolk. The dogs were working labradors and the kennels would be their permanent homes.

The dimensions

The entire unit measured 4.5 metres by 3.4 metres, with a run at the front and a bedding area at the rear of each kennel. 

The bedding area measured 1500mm x 900m x 1000 mm.

The bedding area was raised off the ground to avoid damp and cold and was insulated with 45mm insulating panels. A strip curtain separated the bedding area from the main run and rubber matting made the bedding area warm, further insulated and easy to clean. 

There was easy access into the bedding boxes, either through the pop hole or via a hinged lid on the top of the box.

The materials

The frame for the entire dog kennel unit was solid metal, with a reclaimed pantile roof. The exterior cladding was made from pressure treated shiplap, while the interior was lined using 6mm grey stokboard. There finishing touches included galvanised edging trim and a clever bolting solution that allowed the owner to let himself in and out of the kennels easily. There were also two internal dog gates linking the kennels. 

The result is a sturdy, good-looking building that suits the house and surroundings that are adjacent. The entire construct was carried out in Dodd & Co’s workshop, which mean that the process wasn’t interrupted by the inclement weather. 

The design of the kennels will allow for further units to be added easily and seamlessly.

For details of our dog kennel projects or any of our agricultural, equine or garden work, call Jamie on 07766 815830

Foiling the canine Houdini

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The latest Dodd & Co project involved working with the Houdini members of the canine world.

Siberian huskies are beautiful dogs, with thick, sleek coats, blue or multicoloured eyes and striking facial masks. The Siberian Husky, as its name suggest, originates in the cold arctic areas of Siberia, but their handsome features and wolf-like grace have made them an attractive breed for people living all over the world.

The only problem for owners of this lovely dog, is that they are inveterate escape artists and will use all their considerable intelligence to mastermind escape plots that can involve going through, over or under even the strongest fence.
 

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About the Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is believed to have originated among the Chukchi, a tribe of Siberian nomads. The breed's history is relatively unknown but DNA tests confirm that they are among the oldest of dog breeds. We do know that the Chukchi used the dogs as fast transportation and that they interacted with the Chukchi as a family dog. Huskies often slept with the children and provided warm comfortable beds for them. The Siberian Husky was imported to Alaska in 1908 and was used as sled dogs during the gold rush. 

For today’s dog owners, while the Siberian Husky may be a beautiful animal, it can also be fiercely independent and is highly intelligent, which makes keeping one a challenge for inexperienced husky owners. The Husky is also very powerful and athletic and is a confirmed Houdini breed – always looking for a route into the wider world. Fencing has to be both high enough to stop an escape over the top, while a sunken area of fencing is needed to prevent a ‘great escape’ type of manoeuvre. The Husky can be relied on to test every means of escape, whether it is slipping the lead, scaling a wall or digging its way out of a yard. 

The Siberian Huskies are medium sized dogs – they can weigh anything from 35 to 60 pounds and stand 1 foot 8 inches to 1 foot 11 inches at the shoulder.

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The project

Creating a safe, fit-for-purpose area for one keeper of Siberian Huskies was the challenge set to Dodd & Co. 

The owner has 11 Siberian Huskies, which live in specialised dog housing and have the run of a yard. Dodd & Co’s task was to create an area that would allow the dogs space and freedom but stop them from either escaping or being ‘dog-napped’. 

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To keep these beautiful, yet challenging dogs safe and secure, Dodd & Co put up a 2.4 metre Otter fence around the yard area. There was a turn-out at the top, to prevent the most determined dog from getting over the fence. A skirt was buried 50 centimetres below the surface and there was also an 18 gauge rabbit wire on the ground, adjacent to the fence, which stretched over 1.2 metres. This prevented the dogs from digging at the base of the fence.

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The entrance to the yard also needed careful consideration, so the team used Deer Gates, with cranked brackets and concrete threshold. Again, this high level of gating is a nod to both the dogs’ escapist tendencies and the threat of thieves. 

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Dog kennels and exercise yards are just two of many construction projects in which Dodd & Co specialise. For further details or to discuss your construction, agricultural, farming, equine or gardening needs, call Jamie Dodd on 07766815830. Visit the website gallery or articles page for further examples of Dodd & Co’s work.

Keeping wild animals out

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While much of our fencing work here at Dodd & Co is all about keeping animals IN, we are also often asked for the best ways to keep animals out.

As any farmer or gardener will know, there are some animals who are a persistent bunch and will go to any lengths to get into your paddocks and pasture – they really do all think that the grass is greener on the other side.

So we have some good measures that are pretty successful when it comes to keeping animals such as deer, badgers and rabbits out of your cattle, horse or sheep paddocks, which we will talk about in a moment. However, if you are simply looking to protect a small vegetable patch or prized garden, there are some measures you can take to keep unwanted animals out.

Simple solutions

Fencing works best when an animal doesn’t know what is being protected. A hungry animal that knows food is available on the other side of a fence will work harder to get over/under/through the fence. A solid base to the fence will provide a visual block.

Putting electric fencing around your plot is an effective way to keep animals out. You want the animals to  know the fence is ‘live so smear honey or jam on the fence when you first erect it so the animals get shocked. they will be less likely to test it out again. Make sure there is no vegetation touching the fence as it will reduce its impact. 

To protect bigger areas or for a more lasting impact, we offer a range of solutions. 

Deer deterrents

Deer are probably the most challenging of the UK wild animals when it comes to keeping them out. Certainly they are becoming a more widespread problem as the UK deer population has grown exponentially in the past few years.

We use a high tensile steel wire from Tornado as it is tough and durable. Depending upon their species, deer will either try to jump a fence or push against it. To prevent these athletic creatures from jumping onto your land, we recommend a 1900mm net with an angled out-ward facing slant at the top – this will make them think twice about attempting to jump it. 

Badger fencing

Badgers are also a common problem around Norfolk and, unlike deer, they have two means of getting over fences – they are surprisingly agile climbers and they are very strong burrowers. 

To protect against badger intrusion, we dig a deep ditch to sink the badger netting 250cms below the surface with a further 1.6 metres of high tensile wire above the surface. We generally add a top barbed wire as an added deterrent. The wire is attached to durable wooden posts.

HT15/158/8 is ideal for use along highways or areas where badger movements need to be restricted; the closely spaced vertical stay wires help prevent badgers from pushing through the fence. It can also be installed on post and rail fencing or used as embankment netting.

Tornado HT Badger Fence is manufactured with high tensile wire which strains tighter than mild steel and so requires fewer intermediate posts, making it quicker to erect. It does not stretch with weathering so does not need to be retightened annually.

The problem of pesky rabbits

Rabbits are the biggest problem to landowners and gardeners. Left unchecked they can decimate a pasture, stripping it of grass and leaving deep holes that can cause a domestic animal to break a leg. We use Tornado rabbit netting, which has a 31mm mesh, which has been proven to be the most effective some for excluding rabbits. 

When installing rabbit netting, it is vital that we take into consideration rabbits’ amazing ability to burrow. We always recommend a 150mm turn out, with a further 900mm above the ground. This means a total 1050mm height mesh is needed to keep the rabbits out effectively. 

Rabbits have also been known to chew through lighter stands of wire, so we tend to use either the 1mm or 1.2mm diameter wire as it is more resilient.

Who let the dogs in?

We also make sure, if necessary, that our fencing is suitable for keeping out domestic pets such as dogs and cats. Sheep worrying by loose dogs is a rural problem that is on the rise, so incorporating a wire netting fence that keeps pets out is always a good idea as well.

With all fencing however, we take each project on an individual basis. Different landowners will have different challenges, so call Jamie Dodd to have a chat about your fencing requirements.

Make sure your cattle have a good home this winter

We are fully into winter now, with some cold winds, icy showers and dark nights upon us. For cattle and other livestock, it is time to start thinking about making them as warm and comfortable during these next few months as possible.

It is now you need to make sure your buildings – cow sheds and stables – are fit for their purpose, i.e. keeping the animals warm and dry.

If you have calves, then the primary concern is pneumonia. For the first time in their short lives, the calves will be coming into contact with bacteria and viruses that are prevalent in enclosed spaces. They might also be suffering the stress of weaning and being brought into housing from open pastures. The stress produces cortisol, which lowers the calves' immunity levels.

For this reason, special care must be taken when housing young calves, to an extent that is not so important for older animals.

Four factors will impact the suitability of your cattle shed.

Ventilation
Moisture management
Draughts
Temperature
 

Ventilation

Your buildings need a good in-let and out-let for air, so it can circulate freely. This will promote good lung health among your cattle. Natural ventilation uses heat generated by cattle inside a building to push stale upwards (hot air rises). This leaves a vacuum that draws in fresh cool air. This means your building should have an air outlet in the roof, and air inlets along the sides of the building.

One note of caution: the air inlets should be above the height at which the calves lie on their bedding, you don’t want your animals to be lying in a constant draft.

Moisture

A warm, moist environment is the perfect place for germs to breed. Make sure that your cattle housing area has good drainage and the water feeders are functioning properly. Also, ensure the bedding is changed regularly and not allowed to get too wet. Repair any leaky downpipes and avoid using excess water to clean feeders as this raises the levels of moisture and humidity in the shed. 

Draughts

Airflow is essential to good hygiene but the air flow needs to be uniform and not blowing into the shed where young calves are likely to be lying. A boarded surround with no gap at the bottom, up to the height of the cattle’s heads is perfect, with slatted, well-ventilated spaced boards higher up. if you have an open gate to your building, you could use straw windbreaks to stave off the draughts.

Temperature

Housed in big airy sheds, young calves may simply not be able to keep warm enough. If it is a shed of young calves, they might not produce the heat necessary to push the stale air upwards and draw in the fresh air. Make sure your building is suitable for the needs of the animals who will be living there.

A project in West Norfolk

The images are of a simple cattle shed in West Norfolk. The roof is pitched, to allow the heat to rise, Yorkshire Boading ensures good ventilation and the surface is designed to prevent moisture build-up. The client wanted the cattle shed to be open access, so the front is gated but the client uses straw to act as a wind break when necessary. 

 

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Porch takes farmhouse to new heights of elegance

At Dodd and Co we pride ourselves on always producing top quality work, whether it is clearing a yard of rubbish or designing and constructing a beautiful timbered building. It is so important for our credibility and the customer’s satisfaction that we pour the same level of care, attention and detail into each and every job.

Our latest project is a case in point. We were set the challenge of designing and constructing a front porch that would give a new level of grace and elegance to a 19th century, well-proportioned West Norfolk farmhouse. It was one of those jobs where we knew that we had to get the look and feel right because a ill-conceived porch would be like a bad haircut – it doesn’t matter how handsome or pretty the face is, if the haircut is a bad one, then that’s what catches the eye!

After detailed discussions with the owner, we decided on an oak porch, with a clay pantile roof – classic materials, in keeping with the local environment and style – that would add sophistication to the farmhouse.

We used four 6ft x 6ft oak struts that formed the basis of the construction. The struts were 150mm across, so this is a hefty, strong feature.  

Topping the structure off is a lovely looking clay pantile roof, while the structure is held in place with Brett Martin cast-iron effect guttering. 

The porch floor is very much farmhouse-style; large indian sandstone tiles, which are a muted neutral. A single layer of low level steps go from the base to the front door. 

The effect is one of practically and elegance. The farm house is a lovely brick building with symmetrical long windows and a stylish surround of estate fencing and brick and carrstone wall. The porch is the icing on the cake and its beauty lies in the fact that it looks as if it has been part of the building for years.

 

A man's best friend

 Man's best friend deserves a good home

Man's best friend deserves a good home

They are our best friends, our loyal companions and often they are hard-working colleagues too. At Dodd&Co, we are firm believers that a dog should have the very best life and that includes a well built, comfortable home.

While the majority of dog owners house their dogs in their own homes, for some dog owners this is just not practical or desirable. Working dogs such as sheepdogs and gun dogs are often kept in outside kennels. This could be for a multitude of reasons: there could be too many dogs to house inside the owner’s home; behaviour might be an issue with a number of dogs in a confined space; the working  dogs might clash with other pets; or it might just be the way the owner wants to look after his or her dogs.

The same applies to people who run short and long term dog-homing establishments. It would be impractical to keep a number of transient dogs in a family home, so outside kennels are the best option.

At Dodd and Co, we recognise that a dog’s housing and welfare needs are important and all of our kennelling options are both well-designed and bespoke to the customer’s needs. But there are certain conditions that should always be met.

  • There must be a large enough space to allow separate sleeping and activity areas. Each dog must be able to walk, run and wag their tail without touching the kennel sides; to play, stand on their hind limbs and stretch/lie down without touching another animal/kennel. 
  • The kennels should offer protection in all weather conditions. It should provide shelter to protect from rain, wind and direct sunlight. Dogs should be able to move where they feel more comfortable, away from direct sunlight.
  • The temperature in the dog kennel should not be too hot or too cold so heating and/or automatic cooling/ventilation should be provided. Ideally temperatures should remain above 10°C and below 26°C. Heating/cooling systems used must be safe and not pose a risk, e.g. no trailing cables, risk of burning. Temperature must be monitored daily to ensure these requirements are met.  
  • Dogs must not be tethered/chained, except for very short periods, as it can lead to injuries and restricts normal behaviour. 
 One of our kennel design and builds

One of our kennel design and builds

When dogs are housed in kennels, there are other considerations to ensure their general welfare.


Provide constant access to clean drinking water and a well-balanced diet. Use a sturdy water bowl and check regularly.  

Ensure the dogs are able to behave normally, providing the opportunity for daily exercise, play and interactions with animals and people.  

Ensure the dogs have appropriate company. Don’t let them become lonely/bored. Don’t leave them alone long enough to become distressed. Distressed dogs may bark/howl/whine excessively, pant, hide and/or show aggression.  

Check your dog daily for any injury/illness. Ensure they are protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Take sensible safety precautions; be alert to risks that may affect them. 

If you need dog kennels designed, built or renovated, call Jamie to discuss what options we can provide to meet you and your dogs’ requirements.

Blocking the equine escape route

 High quality fencing provides a safe, secure environment for a horse or pony

High quality fencing provides a safe, secure environment for a horse or pony

Here at Dodd & Co, we are all about animal welfare. We are farmers and horse owners ourselves, so we are fully aware of the importance of getting the environment within which animals are kept as safe and secure as possible.

Put it this way, an expensive animal should be surrounded by a quality fence. The fence protects everything within the paddock or field as well as keeping undesirable visitors out. It also needs to be a durable fence because horses, ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep and any other animal will test a fence to its limits. Pawing, butting, kicking, scratching against the posts – no fence is going to get an easy ride when animals are involved.

A classic mistake is to keep the existing fencing because it ‘looks okay’. You must make sure it is fit for purpose. A fence that is a bit rickety might be good enough to keep a docile cow in but it is unlikely to withstand a large horse leaning on it.  

This article focuses on the fencing needs of an equine operation. The act of fencing in horses is contrary to their very nature. As free-ranging herbivores, horses have an instinctive phobia of being confined, and even centuries of domestication are not likely to convince them that the enemy does not lurk behind every tree. When in a panic, horses will try to jump over, or run right through, a fence - no matter its type - in an effort to escape from real or imagined predators.

One of the biggest concerns and costs among horse owners is injury to the animal, often caused by faulty fencing. Barbed wire is a no-no for horse fencing as it will easily tear their delicate skin. Likewise, sheep netting can result in nasty injury if a horse or pony get their feet caught up in loose bits of the netting.

 This fencing will keep small ponies in and rabbits and badgers out

This fencing will keep small ponies in and rabbits and badgers out

The cheapest option is an electric wire or tape – an electric wire along the top of existing fencing that keeps horses and ponies from pushing against the wooden rails, wall or other fencing. Electric tape is preferable to wire as it is more visible to both the animal and people. Woven tape can be used with a post and stock wire fence for a safe and secure option. Make sure the fencing stands to a height which cannot be jumped but also bear in mind the possible need for lower levels of wiring in the case of foals, which may scramble under the wire. In this case two electric wires at appropriate heights may be needed.

If you are using electric fencing, always remember to charge the battery regularly or use a mains fencing unit. Electric fencing is particularly useful for temporary pastures.

Stallions present their own difficulties, particularly if their paddock borders a field with other males or breeding mares in it. Fences may have to be as high as six foot to prevent the stallion jumping into the next field. Also be aware of potential escape issues when you introduce a new animal into the paddock. Well-established, quiet animals might not challenge the fence, a new member or a young horse might very well take a running jump.

The best option for more permanent fencing is a post and rail system. The fencing will need high quality, properly treated timber and the strainer posts must be strong enough to support the post and rail system. As a minimum requirement, the top rail of the fence should be level with the eye of the tallest horse in the paddock as he holds his head up. That will act as a deterrent to jumping the barrier. 

The thing to remember with horse fencing is to constantly check it for fault and to try to stay one step ahead of your equine escape artists. Contact Jamie Dodd on 07766 815830 for advice on your fencing needs. 

Success is mirrored in arena

Carpet on the floor and mirrors on the walls – the horses and ponies at Heathlands, Blackborough End are in for a pampered time!


A few weeks ago, we posted an article highlighting the early stages of construction at an equine arena in Blackborough End. This work is now nearing completion, so here is an update showing the work we have done and explaining how our work fits into the owner’s vision for the business’s future growth.

The arena has a post and rail surround, two five-bar gates, one at either end, and Tornado Taurus horse netting R10/90/8. Post and rail is a firm favourite with horse and pony owners as it is the safest form of fencing and, although it is more expensive than a post and wire fence, it is durable and you potentially save hundreds of pounds on vet bills! The netting serves the double purpose of keeping sheep out of the arena (sheep graze around the arena perimeter to keep it tidy) and preventing dogs from escaping the dog behaviour lessons that will also take place in the arena.

 Sand and fibre make for a stable and soft surface, perfect for schooling horses and ponies and to provide a soft landing!

Sand and fibre make for a stable and soft surface, perfect for schooling horses and ponies and to provide a soft landing!

The floor of the arena is laid with a sand and fibre mix. The fibre comprises thousands of inch-long pieces of carpet, which add structure to the sandy floor making it more stable. The carpet fibres also soak up rain, again making the floor much better for the horses to travel across. As owner Charlotte Carter wryly added: “It’s softer if you fall off too!”

Charlotte and Adam have big plans for the arena. At the moment they have up to 20 horses in livery but they plan to raise this number to 30 in the coming months. In the arena, they will school and exercise the horses as well as running classes, specialising in things such as therapy classes or dressage courses. Dog behaviour classes are an additional revenue stream for the hard-working family-run business.

 The arena has post and rail fencing and a sand and fibre floor

The arena has post and rail fencing and a sand and fibre floor

 

“We have invested a lot into this,” says Charlotte, “now we have to start making it pay.”

Besides the fencing and flooring, Dodd & Co has also installed a storage shed, where jumps, equipment and machinery can be stored. Built from 6x1 Yorkshire board, the upper sides have gaps between the wood to allow good ventilation. The roof is made from juniper greenbox profile, with anti condensation backing.

 Storage shed for hurdles, jumps, equipment and machinery

Storage shed for hurdles, jumps, equipment and machinery

 

Along two sides of the arena there are mirrors, which the riders can use to ensure they have the correct form on their horse or pony. This is an important part of the learning process as the rider is able to see for his or her self exactly how he or she is sitting and moving. 

 Mirror, mirror...

Mirror, mirror...

 

The whole set-up at Heathlands is very professional. From the arena and fencing which looks smart, durable and of the highest quality to the amount of time, thought and effort that the Carter’s have put into the project. This time next year, the arena will be buzzing to the sound of lessons, classes and courses. 

 Looking forward to using the new arena

Looking forward to using the new arena

Horse and pony care – we offer years of expertise

Keeping your equine friends safe and secure

 Post and rail fencing with rabbit wire to keep wildlife out

Post and rail fencing with rabbit wire to keep wildlife out

 

While we work across a raft of agricultural and domestic projetcs, Dodd & Co started out largely in the equine world of stables, yards and fencing. We went back to our roots recently with a project which we featured recently on our Facebook page – a schooling yard in West Norfolk.

This was a bespoke build for someone who has a clear business development plan and there were very specific needs. And that is what we think sets us apart in the world of fencing and construction – our desire to work with each project owner to make sure that we are meeting every requirement in the most logical, cost-effective way.

If you are considering buying a horse or pony or increasing the number of animals you own, then here are some basic guideline for shelter and security.  

A pony or horse’s health and safety depends upon the fencing and shelter you provide. Your animal should have access to warmth or shade depending upon the season and your fencing should be robust enough to keep the animals in and unwanted intruders out.

There are several fencing options that can be suited to needs and budget. The most aesthetically pleasing and effective is post and rail fencing. This involves upright timber posts with horizontal rails. It is good to look at and very robust. The downside is that it is the most costly fencing option and the rails need to be examined regularly to make sure they haven’t split or warped. 

Horse wire fencing is a second option. The wire should have small gaps so the horses don’t get their hooves caught, which leads to potential accident situations. The fencing is topped with ‘hot’ or electrical wire to stop the horses leaning over and damaging the fencing. This fencing style also has the benefit of keeping foxes and badgers out.

There is also the option of electric tape or vinyl fencing. 

On no account should barbed wire be used for horse fencing as it will easily rip the horses’ coat and flesh. If you are even considering barbed wire, weigh up the potential vet’s bills against the savings made on the cost of fencing. 

While pasture management is not part of our service, we can offer advice in this area and we do offer a clearing service if you need a field cleared of hedging and old fencing. 

Good practice in pasture management is to start with a soil test. This will determine the current soil conditions and will help you decide which fertiliser and/or grass seed to use. Which grass seed you choose should also be determined by climatic conditions.   

Your pasture should be checked regularly for noxious and toxic weeds such as ragwort, which can be fatal for horses and ponies. Most horses with adequate forage will avoid eating these, but if the area has poor grass coverage, or you do not provide enough hay, they will eat the weeds and it can become a serious health issue.

If your horse is going to be turned out during the day, you’ll need to provide him with shade. If you have a pasture trees are one way to accomplish this. Be careful, though, as too much shade will depress grass growth. 

 We specialise in bespoke animal housing

We specialise in bespoke animal housing

We specialise in bespoke buildings for horses and ponies and within our portfolio of projects we have designed and built stables that range from a  simple run-in to a fully-equipped stables, tack room and feed store. 

Owning a horse or pony is a hugely rewarding experience – we are on hand to make sure it is also a cost-effective and successful venture. 

Protecting our feathered friends

One of our most recent projects was some fencing work for Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) on their nature reserve which extends from Cley to Salthouse.

Our brief was to fence off the shingle beach to protect nesting ground birds, using fencing constructed to the NWT specification. While the NWT encourages people to visit to see the amazing birdlife that gathers in this unique ecosystem, it is also important to keep humans and dogs off the nesting grounds – once disturbed, a sitting bird is unlikely to return to her nest, so this is vital protective work to ensure the survival of many increasingly rare bird species.

The work certainly raised one or two challenges. Access is always a problem at remote sites such as this one. By its very nature a wildlife reserve is off the beaten track and, as the images show, we used some serious machinery to get the job completed efficiently and to a high level of durability. In addition, the loose shingle meant it was very difficult for the machinery to get traction. However, patience and some great work by the team meant that we were able to complete the work within the time frame. 

 Getting machinery onto the beach was the first challenge

Getting machinery onto the beach was the first challenge

 

The length of fencing was approximately 1,700 metres, and we used three strand, high tensile wire. The posts, all timber HC4, included 3”-4” six-foot intermediate posts, plus 6”-7” 8 foot strainers and 4” 8-foot cross members to form box strainers.

 

The work was commissioned because the shingle beach and saline lagoons, along with the grazing marsh and reedbed support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, as well as bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.

A little more about Cley Marshes

NWT Cley Marshes is Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s oldest and best known nature reserve. It lies on the outskirts of the village of Cley next the Sea and extends to the neighbouring village of Salthouse. The 430-acre site was purchased in 1926 to be held 'in perpetuity as a bird breeding sanctuary'. It provided a blue print for nature conservation which has now been replicated across the UK. It has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area, due to the large number of birds it attracts.

 The water levels in the pools and reedbeds are regulated to ensure they are ideal for the resident birds, and reed is harvested every year to keep the reedbeds in good condition. 

It is not just birds that the environment attracts. There are also several nationally or locally scarce invertebrates and plants specialised for this coastal habitat. 

A new eco-friendly visitor centre opened in 2007 containing a café, shop, viewing areas (including viewing from a camera on the reserve). The newest addition is the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre, a courtyard and viewing deck, which allows for breathtaking views across the Marsh to the sea.

For information about this project or to discuss your own wildlife, livestock, agricultural or equine construction requirements get in touch via the website or call Jamie Dodd on 07766 815830.

A new arena at Blackborough End

This project is still in process but here is an early glimpse of what we have been doing for one horse-loving client in Blackborough End.

The brief was to turn an old yard into a modern, functional and attractive horse arena, suitable for working out the horses and ponies and giving lessons. The owners also have plans to run dog training classes in the arena.

 Some of the rubble we moved to create the new arena

Some of the rubble we moved to create the new arena

 

At time of publishing this article, we have cleared the area of rubble and rubbish, laid the floor, and erected the post and rail fence, including five-bar gates at either end. The surface is a mix of silica sand and fibre, approx 100-125mm of sand and 50mm fibre. This means it is durable and weather-resistant and also easy on the horses' feet. 

 The silica sand and fibre flooring provides a safe, durable surface

The silica sand and fibre flooring provides a safe, durable surface



As part of our service, we cleared a metre around the outside perimeter of the arena and this will be sown with grass. We have added Tornado Taurus horse netting R10/90/8 so that the owners can use sheep to keep the grass on the outside edge of the arena nice and clear of weeds and cropped short. The netting will also prove useful when wilful dogs are in the early stages of training!

The next stage is to build a jump store, for storing the horse jumps and the arena leveller. It will measure 6m wide by 4.5m, constructed out of 150 x 150 posts, clad in Yorkshire boarding, and roofed with juniper green anti-con box profile roof sheets. 

The project took two weeks from clearance to completion of the arena.

Specifications

100 x 125 x 2.1m posts.

Rails and gravel boards are 150 x 38 x 5.4m.

Fence height 1.35m

Spacings between posts 2.7m.

 

 Nearing completion... just a storage shed to add

Nearing completion... just a storage shed to add

 

 

 

Cutting and clearing dates, one EU law that is likely to remain

While the UK is in the throes of negotiating its way out of the EU, and the myriad of rules and regulations that a 40-year membership has created, there are many environmental regulations that are likely to remain in place and continue to have an impact upon both the countryside and the farming community.

One of those is the restriction on when farmers or landowners can cut and trim hedges and generally tidy the land. 

Under the cross compliance legislation, which includes Statutory Management Requirements and Agricultural and Environmental Conditions, several restrictions have been placed on landowners and farmers with the aim of promoting public, animal and plant health; environment and climate change; the condition of the land; and animal welfare.

The most relevant to us at Dodd & Co and many of our clients are the rulings on hedge cutting and trimming; and clearing land.

 Hedge trimming is permitted until the start of March

Hedge trimming is permitted until the start of March

 

Under the legislation, you are not allowed to cut or trim your hedgerow between 1 March and 31 August unless you have applied for a derogation from the Rural Payments Authority (RPA) and received written permission or any of the following apply:

    •    The hedgerow overhangs a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way and the overhanging hedgerow obstructs the passage of, or is a danger to, vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders

    •    The hedgerow is dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted and because of its condition, it or part of it, is likely to cause danger by falling on to a highway, road or footpath; or obstructs the view of drivers or the light from a public lamp

    •    It is to carry out hedge-laying or coppicing during the period 1 March to 30 April (inclusive)

    •    It is to trim a newly laid hedgerow by hand, within six months of it being laid

Orchards are not included in the ruling and coppicing and hedge laying is allowed from 1 March until 30 August.

Under a separate ruling but still part of the cross compliance legislation, it is not permissible to burn heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium on land (other than in upland areas) from 1 April until 1 October.

The implementation of these cutting and clearing dates was introduced under new EU Regulations requiring the protection of birds during both the breeding and rearing season.

While many EU regulations are despised by people in the UK, there is little doubt that some of the regulations regarding the management of the countryside and environmental improvements are both for the good and here to stay. The results can be seen for themselves.

  • Under the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, farmers have voluntarily put aside more than 450,000 hectares of land for wildlife.
  • More than 70 per cent of English farmland is managed under agri-environment schemes.
  • The amount of hedgerows has risen by 50,000km since 1990 to 550,000kms.
  • England has about 190,000km (118,000 miles) of public rights of way which criss-cross farmland - 78 per cent of those trails are footpaths. There are more than 33,000km of rights of way in Wales.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from British farming have been cut by 20 per cent since 1990.
  • The overall bird population across England is relatively stable. Of the specialist farmland birds a number are showing population increases Goldfinch, Stock Dove and Whitethroat. The numbers of Wood Pigeon and Jackdaw have more than doubled.
  • There are over 478,000 ponds in Great Britain, with 70,600 created in the ten years up to 2007.
  • More than 40,000 hectares of farmland in England are managed under an unpaid, soil related environmental measure.
  • There has been a long-term declining trend in fertiliser nutrient applications with nitrogen applications in England and Wales down by 30 per cent and phosphate applications down by 57% between 1990 and 2012.
     
 Birds, insects and other wildlife is benefitting from agricultural practices

Birds, insects and other wildlife is benefitting from agricultural practices

For advice about cutting, clearing and general agriculture, equine or small-holding construction, contact Jamie Dodd on 07766 815830

 

All jobs great and small...

Not every piece of work we do has to be a huge construction. We recently undertook a piece of work on behalf of a client to tidy and landscape an area along the front of three barns.

The barns and a cottage behind them had been renovated five years ago and the landscaped area in the front of the buildings was looking tired and a little scruffy. The barns are all rented so there is little incentive for the residents to maintain the communal area to the highest standard so regular tidying is a necessity. 

 Overgrown beds and sizeable pot holes. Time for a Dodd and Co makeover!

Overgrown beds and sizeable pot holes. Time for a Dodd and Co makeover!

When the work on the barns was carried out back in 2012, the construction company gravelled the drive way but left a sizeable area in front of each barn as bare soil. The intention was for these to become kitchen gardens or flower beds but in fact, they had all just been over-run with weeds.

Our first job was to clear the gravel and flower beds of all weeds, so we used weedkiller to do this. Once the weeds had died off, we set about lining the beds with black liner to stop regrowth. We also took the opportunity to repair post rails around the adjacent paddocks that had come loose.

 Liner down and weeds killed

Liner down and weeds killed

When the liner was in place, we organised the delivery of 30 tonnes of natural, angular gravel. The gravel refreshed the old material that was already in place and also covered the old flower beds to give the entire complex a cleaner, fresh look. The gravel also filled the potholes in the communal driveway.

 The finished job - weeds gone, pot-holes filled and the barns looking as good as new

The finished job - weeds gone, pot-holes filled and the barns looking as good as new

While agricultural and equine work makes up the bulk of our workload, we are available for clearing and renewal projects such as this. Contact Jamie via the website or on 07766 815830 to discuss your requirements. 

 

 

It's a dog's life

 Home sweet home for this beautiful working collie

Home sweet home for this beautiful working collie

 

While the majority of our work is with big animals – horses, ponies, cows and sheep – occasionally we are called upon to provide a solution on a slightly smaller scale.

This project is one that Dodd and Co took on quite recently to provide a three-block dog kennel.

The owner was concerned that the working dogs needed to be housed outdoors but the kennels needed to be both warm and safe for the dogs but also protected against the sort of animal theft that farmers, herdsmen and shepherds are occasionally victim of.

Working dogs they might be, but these are also much loved dogs who earn their keep as essentials cogs in the workings of the farm.

 The terracotta roof adds a nice shape to the building 

The terracotta roof adds a nice shape to the building 

 

The kennels were constructed from 100mm thick insulated panels, which was guaranteed to keep the dogs warm in the winter months but also sheltered from the sun in the heat of summer.

The building is topped with terracotta box profile roof sheets with anti-condensation backing. This keeps the interior dry and prevents condensation dripping down the walls – bad for both the dog’s health and the longevity of the building.

The walls are clad with deep black feather edge and fitted with galvanised 8cm run sections. 

The kennels are divided into three individual pens with a enclosed space at the far end. The enclosed space is topped with a sturdy lid, which can be lifted to allow the kennel to be cleaned effectively.

 

For details on projects like these or for any agricultural construction needs, contact Jamie Dodd 07766 815830 or via the website.

No place like Holme

 Our fencing provides a safe environment for cattle grazing on Holme Nature reserve

Our fencing provides a safe environment for cattle grazing on Holme Nature reserve

With age comes experience and in the case of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT), 90 years of experience is helping the UK's oldest wildlife trust to run its nature reserves so successfully. We are delighted to work alongside the NTW on many of its projects. Among these is to erect and maintain the fencing around the marshlands at Holme Dunes. This is very rewarding work for two reasons. Firstly, it is always nice to feel that you are contributing to the upkeep of our areas of natural wildlife habitat; and secondly, it was a task that presented its own set of challenges – mainly due to the wet ground we were working on.

More details about the actual job will appear in a later post. This article just gives a little background to the nature reserve and introduces some of the residents you might meet if you take a trip to Holme Dunes and Nature Reserve.

 The views from the board walk towards the sea

The views from the board walk towards the sea

If you follow the boardwalk from Holme towards Thornham, you will have the beautiful, wild sea-shore to your left and the marshlands to your right. These marshlands are home to a whole manner of wildlife – hares, foxes, toads, frogs, barn owls, marsh harriers and a host of other animals and birds. Located as it is , where the Wash meets the North Sea, this whole area of the coast is superbly located to attract migrating birds.

Holme Nature Reserve also holds a variety of important habitats which support numerous other wildlife species including natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as a large number of interesting plants.

Various military remains from WWII can be glimpsed around the reserve, including the remains of a target-railway used to train artillery. Much earlier remains have also been discovered including Roman pottery and, in 1998, a well-preserved Bronze Age timber circle, which became known as ‘Seahenge’. The circle was uncovered by strong tides, having been hidden for some 4,000 years (no longer at Holme, the structure was removed for preservation purposes by archaeologists).
 
Sea Buckthorn
Probably planted to help stabilise the dunes, this spiky silvery shrub is prevalent here. In autumn, its bright orange berries are a godsend to the thousands of migrating birds, such as wintering thrushes, that stop off at Holme.

 Sea buckthorn grows on the dunes

Sea buckthorn grows on the dunes

Barn Owl
There are few sights in Norfolk more evocative than the ghostly form of a barn owl carefully quartering the fields and dykes. NWT Holme Dunes is one of the best places to catch up with the ethereal birds as they hunt silently over the grazing marshes in the late afternoon. Calm days are the best time to observe them.

Avocet
This unmistakeable black-and-white wader, with its characteristic upturned bill, breeds in small numbers on the reserve, and can often be watched feeding in front of the hides during the summer.

Migrating and vagrant birds
The perfect location of NWT Holme Dunes means it attracts large numbers of migrating birds. In spring, wheatears and warblers are common, with large numbers of finches and thrushes in the autumn. Scarce migrants such as wryneck, yellow-browed warbler and barred warbler arealmost annual. When the conditions are just right, thousands of tired migrants take shelter among the scrub and dunes in what is known as a ‘fall’.

Seabirds
Holme is a good place to seawatch: with the correct winds gannets, skuas, terns and divers can be watched passing by the coastline in their hundreds.

Bigger inhabitants

Besides the birds and other creatures you will find living at Holme, you will also see some animals of a larger kind. To keep the vegetation under control, the NWT has released wild Dartmoor and Konik ponies and White Park cattle onto the Dunes. 

 White Park cattle with some Dodd and Co fencing

White Park cattle with some Dodd and Co fencing

These living lawnmowers play a very important role in managing the nature reserve by removing yearly vegetation growth and maintaining open habitats for wildlife. By maintaining an open sward, a whole range of plants are able to thrive.

Working alongside the NWT, it is fascinating to see nature in action, and all the complex was the animals, birds, plants and humans live alongside each other to create such a successful micro-environment.