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Building (friendly) borders one hedge at a time

Updated: May 4, 2023

Cannerheugh is in a very exposed spot, the wind can well and truly batter us, and when the notorious helm wind calls, its every man and chicken for themselves - it can absolutely knock you off you feet.

We realised pretty quickly that life would be easier for us and the stock, with a few more natural windbreaks around the farm. In 2014 we laid out first new hedge and each year we try to get a few more planted. They provide the best shelter for livestock, and are an invaluable habitat for wildlife.

This year we are pulling out all the stops with a whopping 1.6km of new hedges planned, predominantly splitting large fields in half. This helps our rotational grazing and also gives the stock something else to graze on.

This weekend (second week of January) we have had a fantastic group of volunteers from Eden Rivers Trust who braved the bitterly cold wind to get 170 m of hedge planted! Huge shout out to Jenni Payne who was the awesome coordinator!

Few facts about our hedges:

  • Each meter has 6 individual plants: Hawthorn, Hazel, Willow, Blackthorn, Field Maple, Crab Apple, Holly, Bird Cherry, Horn Beam all went into the hedge, so it will be a diverse platter for the cattle, chickens, birds and insects!

  • It takes about three years for a hedge to start looking like a hedge, we then take all the plastic guards off, recycle or reuse them.

  • By year six it’s really starting to make the spot sing!

Hedge planting is not just a nice 'extra' for us - its a tool that makes our stock rotation, a fundamental aspect of our farm easier, it adds diversity to our stocks diet and it brings diversity and a sense of abundance to the wildlife on the farm.

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