It’s always wonderful to get family input with the garden and tree surgeon J got his his chainsaw to work recently, thinning the trees in the copses. To save a boundary stone wall shared with our good farming neighbour at Southridge, we took out a major willow trunk that was leaning precipitously over the long distance path that runs alongside, through his pasture. The longer bough segments we saved and I’ve now used them to line the gravel path through the west copse, replacing the original logs I laid last year. Glad to discover thick juicy earthworms in the accumulated humus between rotting wood and weed suppressant liner. I looked up to see the pair of resident dunnocks (hedge sparrows) looking down from branches, hoping for an easy meal. We often catch them foraging: ground hugging, fleet moving, shadow coloured presences. An uneasy feeling that in taking out the big willow in front by the east gate may have unfortunate consequences in leaving that side of the property newly exposed to passing traffic and curious eyes. A dustbin sized corrugated zinc planter by the front door vanished one night. Thieves (It needs two to lift) had taken it as well as the box bush it contained. These planters have value in reclamation yards and garden centres, and of course on line, where no questions are asked. As it happened this loss coincided with a spate of thefts in town where three Victorian post boxes were taken out of the walls that had contained them for at least the last 117 years or so. Apparently since the post office started replacing and selling off old post boxes in recent years a market has grown up for such antiques and a box, depending on condition, can fetch anywhere between £100 – £400 pounds. It’s concerning that if such brazen actions can take place in plain sight in urban environments what hope is there for isolated old boxes scattered through our rural areas? On a happier note, and perhaps echoing remedial felling action, Southridge phoned last week to ask if we wanted any muck from the cowshed he was clearing out that day with the tractor. Yes please, said I. Where do you want it? Drop a load over the fence from your field into ours. Done that day; two full loads. No pressure on moving a heap while it rests there out the way. We’ll load the barrows and spread on the vegetable boxes and the borders in due course. The lawns have been cut for what I hope is the last time this year while out front the grass seed I planted late on in the cleared roadside border has taken well and will hopefully last out the coming winter and continue to thrive (if I keep weed free) come the Spring.