Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Dog Ate My Homework (no, really) And Clearing A Medieval Pond

I've been silent recently because I'm back at college and it has been non-stop. It is lovely to see everyone again and nice to be learning more ecology stuff. Today we have been restoring a medieval pond (more on that in a minute), so I left the house early. When I got back after lunch this was waiting for me on the kitchen table....


The kitchen table is Out Of Bounds To Dogs (a shock, I know). One dog (who shall remain nameless) finds it enormous fun to leap on the chair and from thence onto the table and chew whatever is on it. I thought I had shoved all the chairs tightly under the table when I left this morning, but certain people are evidently cleverer and more determined than I realised.

L, whose homework sheet this is, will either a) find it hysterically funny and spend the rest of the week telling his chums with great glee that his dog ate his homework (literally), or b) he'll be cross. Given that no actual work has been done yet and this is just a sheet of instructions, which can be replaced following the handing in of a note containing the legend 'please Miss, my dog ate my homework,' (which he has been dying to use ever since he started school), and also because he shares my sense of humour, I suspect it will be a).

There are two potential culprits as you know, but I don't think I need to point out who was actually responsible, do I.....?


My college course contains a practical day. These are always good fun, mostly because of the people involved, but the work we do is also interesting and varied. Last year, I learnt how to put up a fence, coppice a woodland, lay a hedge, bash scrub on chalk downland, make nest boxes and also watched the Red Deer rut at Richmond Park (which was fab). This year, we have an equally varied and interesting programme, which kicked off today with the clearing of an ancient pond. 
I said it was Medieval in the header because there are records of it dating from the 1600s, HOWEVER, it is also mentioned in a document from the 1100s, and given that the Parish it sits in has been around at least since Saxon times I would hazard a guess that it has probably always been here.

The road next to it is now a very busy one, but up until a hundred years ago it was the turnpike way into Winchester and there were few houses on it apart from the nearby manor, church and farm. The pond had long been used as a watering hole for cattle from the farm and for sheep that were brought down from nearby Teg Down (a Teg is a sheep in its second year, or before its first shearing). During the latter part of the last century it had been somewhat neglected, and a few years ago underwent a restoration project which involved lining the sides and base with concrete, putting two rafts at either end which reeds now grow on, putting in drainage channels from the road and a pump in the pond itself.






It was hugely overgrown with reeds when we arrived this morning, and so our primary task was to cut them back as far as we could. The main source of water for the pond is rainwater, or run off and drainage from the road, so it isn't rich in wildlife because the water quality is poor. Even so, life will find a way to make use of a resource like this and we found a Common Frog, a Leech, some goldfish (apparently they get tipped in after Christmas when people receive them as unwanted pets), a yellow water lily, wild mint and purple loose-strife growing among the reeds. I spoke with the pond manager who told me a surveyor found a newt in it a few years ago, and that he himself had seen dragonflies using it. I saw crane flies while we were talking, and I'd lay money there will be moth and butterfly eggs among the greenery, so it does have wildlife value. It is also an amenity for the local people so the management plan has to reflect all these different uses, views and needs.

It quickly began to look better when a number of Brave Ecology Students donned waders and intrepidly went in wielding slashers and clippers......


I was dying for someone to fall in and had the camera ready to record the moment, but Sash (who can usually be relied upon to oblige) was keeping well away from the water, and everyone else was steady on their toes.




Large amounts of disgusting rubbish were fished out and chucked away.....


And the reeds themselves, with attached gunk from the bottom, could hardly be called fragrant. But ecologists don't let a small thing like a putrid smell stop them.....

Fi, demonstrating her muscles. Go Girl!

Harv, being Lovely And Polite, as always....

Caroline adding to the pile of growing reeds


Stu came up with an ingenious method of drawing the copious quantities of duck weed off the surface using a piece of rope stretched between himself and Dave. They dragged it across the water, trapping Cal in the process....




 We were all surprised when it worked and soon the pond was looking much, much happier.....





It had taken us a couple of hours to return it to a healthier state. Man (and girl) power and a few simple tools can achieve much, eh?






We had a break for some food and pictures....

My buddy Dave, looking dashing as he models this season's must-have item....waders

Fi, lending grace and elegance to a spade, a pair of wellies and workmans' gloves

Sash with Harv (who is not as frightening as he looks in this piccie. Promise).

Yellow lily Nuphar lutea
After lunch we cleared up and packed away. During the course of Clearing Up, Great Excitement was caused by the discovery of a leech, who Harv picked up so I could take a picture and we could all see it better. I suggested some action shots would be preferable, and asked whether he'd mind putting it on his arm so it could draw blood, but for some reason he wasn't keen, so you'll just have to make do with it on his glove instead....

 
 And here is everyone being Fascinated By The Leech....


All in all it's lovely to be back :o)

I'll leave you with Poppy 'All Your Homework Needs Taken Care Of' Russell.


Hope you're all keeping well?

CT x

43 comments:

  1. Love it! My youngest would be thrilled if that happened to his homework. We would have to have a full time dog though & not just dog sit my sisters.
    College sounds huge fun for you, where else would you get the chance to clean out such an old pond. It looks like you have a lovely bunch of class mates too!

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    1. He's been waiting nine years to be able to tell a teacher that, so as predicted he collapsed with laughter when he saw it :o)

      My classmates are a top bunch and I love them all. We have such a laugh in lessons and out in the field. I'm going to really miss them when we go our separate ways.

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  2. Let's leave it at this. At least said dog was not in the pond assisting with the work. Just imagine what chaos that would have caused!!! Actually, I take that back, just imagine what chaos there would have been if both dogs had been assisting in the work!! xx

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    1. Can you imagine?! She'd look like a pond monster all covered in green goo. She would leap in too, unlike Teddy, who would hop anxiously from paw to paw on the side until she came out :o) x

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  3. Cheeky faced little poppy dog! xxx
    Things people do to get some fresh air.....!

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    1. She is a total scamp. But I do love her. Yes, fresh air freaks, all of us. It will get worse as the winter comes on too! Thank you for the comment Sandy :o)

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  4. Sounds like a really interesting course. Must be nice to get out of the lecture hall and learn some practical skills.

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    1. It's fascinating, even the hard bits :o) The practical days out really make the course and we've all got to know each other better as a result. They are a great bunch. x

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  5. I shall be driving past the pond tomorrow, so will admire your work!

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    1. Excellent! I hope all the locals will be pleased. You'll have to let me know how it looks tomorrow after it's had a night to settle down. It should at least be healthier, now all the rubbish is out. Thank you for the comment, Celia :o)

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  6. Lucky that assignment was early on in the year, wouldn't have been half as much fun in January!

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    1. True. January is coppicing in the woods around hot fires with a large thermos of something warm in it :o)

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  7. Why do they like to shred paper, old man is quite skilled in shredding paper neat little strips he makes, our old dog would rip the post out of the letter box if she got the chance, making sure it was dead before she handed it over...
    Getting back into the collage routine is a little hard after having so much time of... I am soooo jealous of the work and subject you are doing, would have loved this, I enjoy seing what you get up to.
    Amanda xx.

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    1. Pop does exactly the same with newspapers- neat little strips.
      You would love the course, so interesting. Although I think statistics which we have this term might prove to be more of a challenge! x

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  8. I honestly can't believe that a lovely little doggy face like that could have been the culprit.....
    Briony
    x

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    1. I know- she has the whole 'butter wouldn't melt' or 'who? me?' thing down to a fine art.... x

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  9. Oh Dear and he is laying there looking all innocent!! Looks like a great course you are on.

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    1. Too innocent, Margaret! It is a fab course, lots of interesting things to do x

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  10. I just love "the dog ate my homework" story. Lovely to see the old pond being restored.

    Carol

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    1. It was rather fun to be able to use it for real. L wonders if he is the first person is history to say it and be telling the truth. The letter's gone in to the maths teacher today so I'm just hoping she has a sense of humour, or keeps dogs.... :o)

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  11. No couldn't be Poppy, look at that innocent little face... hehe. x

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    1. I think she practices in front of the mirror every day. Ted must've been jumping about in deep anxiety the whole time- he hates it when she does something he knows she's not supposed to do! x

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  12. I remember that line from my young school days and my brother was the one in our family who actually got to use it. Shep, our dog did eat his homework which was on his bed. Shep jumped up and BINGO - papers to play with. This is a lovely job you all have done and there was a lot of cleaning going on there according to the size of the pile of cut reeds and crappy junk hauled outta there. Great job, very lovely indeed. The leech at the end - very cool find. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. We did wonder whether it had ever happened to anyone else! I've never seen a real live leech before so was happy to. Have a lovely day too :o)

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  13. And there's Poppy looking so innocent :) Looks like you had great fun at the pond while doing a very worthwhile task :) Sounds an interesting course.

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    1. It's an art form with her - the sweet, innocent look :o)
      I'd never cleaned out an ancient pond before so I found it really interesting, especially all the history. The course is great. I shall be back with more about it soon! x

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  14. I do remember being able to tell my English teacher that my baby brother had been sick on my homework once. It was a glorious moment. Nice to see you back, and I would have loved to have waded into that pond. And why so camera shy? :))))))))
    Leanne xx

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    1. Oh, being someone being sick on your homework definitely trounces the dog eating it. I will have to tell L.....he will be jealous.
      I am very careful to stay on this side of the camera...although Dave mentioned the same thing so I suspect there may be some photos of me on the wrong side of it before long :o) xx

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  15. Oh, I know everyone else has said it but your course sounds totally fabulous! How old is your little gnasher? Our dog used to be a mad chewer, especially shoes, Italian shoes-:( One day though, she just stopped, now she just wants a smelly old bone. :)

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    1. It is fab Shauna, and I do really enjoy it, although we have statistics last thing on a Tuesday after several hours of lectures so I may not be all that chipper if I post after that!

      Pop's just turned one. She does have some heavy-duty chewy toys to work on....but I think she just can't help being naughty. Scamp is her middle name :o) xx

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  16. Poppy looks so innocent! You all dis such a good job on the pond! Sarah x

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    1. She's got it down to a fine art, Sarah :o)

      Thanks re the pond- it was good to see how much better it looked after a couple of hours work. Hopefully with a few days to settle down it'll be all set for winter xx

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  17. That's a beautiful pic of Poppy. Great way to spend a day. I used to look after medicinal leeches, they used to arrive on the back of a motorbike from Wales, everyone else was too squeamish and I loved it!

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    1. She has got lovely eyes that little doggy. I love your leech story. I'd never seen one in the wild before so for me it was a real treat. Apparently there are 11 native species. Not sure what this one is, I haven't had a look through for an ID yet- any ideas? xx

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    2. Not a clue sorry, I had no idea there were so many species either.

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  18. I always find it shocking that people would throw their crap into a beautiful pond. Shameful. As for the chewer, perhaps she and Jack could go to some kind of aversion therapy together? He ate one of M's crocks and a whole roll of lavatory paper a couple of days ago. xx

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    1. Litter is foul, isn't it? Among the stranger objects we found was a baby's dummy! A whole roll of loo paper is marvellous! I hope you gave him a certificate? xx

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  19. There is a benefit to being a photographer, is there not? You don't appear to have done any work here!!! ;-)
    Sounds like a really cool course you are doing......and the dog chewing your homework when you have only to print it out again isn't quite the same as the olden days when we had to handwrite everything, but it's still hysterically funny. :-)

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    1. I worked- it just wasn't captured on camera. Phew! :o)

      This homework piece was a hand written one for once, but luckily he hadn't yet done it so it was only the instruction sheet she got hold of. I don't think he would have been so amused if it had been the finished article! x

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    2. Ha! Got caught there cos I didn't read that homework bit word for word as I was more interested in reading about clearing up the pond....... :-) And I thought it was YOUR homework! :-) xx

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    3. Tee hee :o) I've been known to skim read too - it's better than missing posts entirely because you're busy with other things x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x