Handing back the duck pond

Our borrowed landscape has come to an end.

There is a strip of land that lies between our farm and that of our neighbours on the western side of our boundary. Just twenty metres wide and running all the way up the mountain; it is the proud possession of someone I have never met, but he is a local chap with parcels of land dotted all around us.

Jean Daniel is doing one of those putting ones’ house in order pushes. And that means making sure his farm goes to his sons in the future with all the correct bits of land attached. He is only 80 and has a good twenty years yet… (unless you count his technique of cutting fallen trees by not using any protection, not sharpening his chain saw and standing directly below the branch where David is trying to cut. Bless.)

It is a patchwork of parcels and if all the notaires are aligned, he will finally have the missing bits. And that means he will get an underground spring that runs all year round and should help with the drought stricken situation he finds each summer with his horses.

And we can’t be more thrilled. This is definitely not a ‘Jean de Florette’ scenario. We have enjoyed the delights of more land than we need for 18 years and it’s time to pass it on. Plus we have sorted our own water supply and never need this particular body of water.

We inherited this bit of land from the previous owners who had a colony of ducks down by this spring. And they were a touch vague about boundaries.

That is the only photographic proof that it is a proper spring with an inlet ‘pipe’ and running water. I did this way way back in 2007 when I was Very Keen.

But because we never needed it to feed livestock we have been merrily neglecting it.

Well, I have neglected the spring. But I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours I have spent clearing the land. Then sowing grass seeds. And then mowing and strimming it all growing season.

It has always been pretty rough grass. But as it is a continuation of the lawn around the pool, I took great pains to keep it looking fetching.

But a few weeks ago I was able to chant quietly to myself: ‘this is the last mow.’

The last, very last time I have to throw the Viking mower around these stumps and trees.

The last time I have to repair the mulching around the trees where the badgers and boar have grubbed underneath. The last time I brain myself on the head with the low branches of the white mulberry growing over the spring. The last time I try and clear out the silt. (Very mucky.)

The wild boar have won. So many wild animals make their way up through the forest to drink at the pond, and with the drying summers, they are now frolicking on the lawn more than we can. It’s just too close an amble now from wild drinking pond to manicured lawns.

So time to put up the boundary fence and shift the electric fence and let the horses drink and munch on the trees, and eat the white mulberries, and no doubt hang over the fence and watch us swim.

I nabbed the last two rolls of chestnut fencing from our local agricultural suppliers. And then dragged one laboriously up the track to the place it needed to be. Thank goodness David was here to help with the second roll. The first one damn near killed me.

And he is a whizz at thwacking the posts.

And there you have it. A boundary fence. (And try not to point out that fallen cherry on Jean Daniel’s side of the fence. We will help him cut it into bits before the final handover.)

It will grey with age like the rest of the fencing around the farm.

I even had enough left of the 20 metres to add a bit to the end of the track to deter the boar from trotting up the stable steps.

They could of course leap up on the terrace bank and come around the side. But if feels like this will slow them down.

And I am sure I will grit my teeth with exasperation when Ulysses the cheekiest horse has that fence over by pushing hard on one end.

Or the wind brings it down. But for now I’m excited about all the time I will not have to spend working that strip of land.

There is plenty more for me to be getting on with.