Quantock Hills Blog



Andy Harris

Posted by Andy Harris on 10 March 2010

ARE EWE SERIOUS? Another fine day meant another fantastic opportunity to go swaling. Although swaling can be quite exhausting I must confess that I never tire of this traditional land management practice.

On this occasion, to our amazement, we found a ewe with a minutes old lamb right on the edge of the swaling site.  Obviously we couldn’t start the burn, and not wanting to cause any stress to the ewe and lamb, we took advice from one of the hill commoners and delayed the burn until the lamb had taken a good fill of milk.  After 30mins we slowly encouraged the ewe and it’s newly born to walk to a safe distance from the intended fire site allowing us to get underway. 

We always check and plan the burns to be as safe as possible for all concerned.  Once a swale has finished we walk across the fire site to check if anything has been caught up in the burn and I pleased to say we’ve never found anything.  Although there’s a lot of heat given off by the fire it’s amazing how damp and cold the soil remains just below the surface and even droppings from sheep and deer remain unscorched.  Obviously summer fires are a lot more damaging as there are ground-nesting birds and the ground is drier and can even burn underground.

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