The greatest challenges
Maintenance is the biggest challenge Roy faces. He says: “Young trees I planted in 2004 are now 12m high, and the pond is overgrown with reeds which need clearing. Everything grows so fast and it’s hard to keep on top of it all. I do have help occasionally in the summer, but it certainly keeps me fit and active.
“I’m nearly 80 now and it’s hard work. There’s mowing and pruning and I’m involved in an ash project, looking at how to eliminate ash dieback disease through careful pruning and maintenance rather than destroying the trees. It all takes a lot of time. I fill my log stove with wood pruned from the trees and have little need for central heating because the wood burner heats the upstairs through vents in the ceiling.”
Other challenges include the rats. “They eat the guinea fowl food, but I’ve found that they also like Pilgrim’s Choice cheese with sultanas. I put that in a trap, which goes bang and kills them instantly. I don’t want too many of them running around spreading disease and taking birds’ eggs.
“The fox is a big problem too. He takes the ducks when he can catch them and he took two guinea fowl last year as well. The foxes are put off by human urine so if I know where they are I collect some and spray it around the guinea fowls’ area.”