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Ragwort Pulling In The Rain!

August 18, 2008

Today a rather soggy V-Team ventured out into the Dorset countryside to pull up ragwort at a farm somewhere in Buckland Newton. Unfortunately the rain was too heavy even for us and we had to go home early, but we still managed to get a lot done.

 

 A photo showing a mature Common Ragwort plant

Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is classified by DEFRA as a specified weed and it can be fatally poisonous to livestock, particularly horses and cattle. It contains certain toxins that can eventually cause liver damage if they accumulate within the animal after eating ragwort. A small intake of ragwort over a long period of time can be enough to cause poisoning. These toxins are not destroyed when the plant dies, so it is important that it is properly disposed of after being pulled up, particularly as the plant loses its bitter taste when dry and so becomes more palatable to animals. It can also be toxic to humans so it is important to always wear gloves when handling the plant. For more detailed information on ragwort, you can visit www.defra.gov.uk/farm/wildlife/weeds/index.htm

Today the V-Team had two new members – Nina and Lucy – along with Jared, Lucie, Kerry-Ann and Mike. We set off in the minibus to the farm in Buckland Newton and everything was going well until we found the road we needed to follow was blocked and so we ended up taking the back roads. We tried to ignore the black clouds on the horizon and hoped they would go away by the time we started working – but they didn’t!

 

Once at the farm, everyone changed into wellies and waterproofs and then we set off up the hillside to the field we would be working in. It had already begun to rain and we were hoping it would soon pass.

There was quite a lot of ragwort to pull up and it was made harder by the fact that it was quite wet and that some parts of the field were very steep. We worked from both ends of the field, each taking a different section and putting all the ragwort we pulled up into two huge sacks. It was surprising how quickly we managed to fill them. Thankfully we didn’t have to worry about carrying them back with us all the way down the hill, as the farmer would be coming later to collect them by tractor.

It soon became obvious that the rain wasn’t going to stop and it actually got heavier as we worked. Our gloves became so wet that we could squeeze the water out of them! That made it difficult to work and in the end we decided to stop for lunch. We tried to shelter under a tree but the rain was so heavy that it came through the leaves and we got very wet, so we all agreed with Lucie that it would be a good idea to head home. Despite the rain, we had managed to clear most of the field of ragwort.

The minibus steamed up on the way back because of all our damp waterproofs and as soon as we got back to the centre at Beacon Hill, we all had a hot cup of tea or coffee and some cake!

 

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    August 18, 2008 6:37 pm

    Hats off to you all for keeping going as long as you did in that weather!

    Sounds like you all stayed in good spirits though – and great to see that Kerry-Ann and Jared have made a very welcome return to the team!

    I do hope that the weather improves for Lucy and Nina to be able see just how enjoyable it can be – volunteering with THE V-TEAM!

    Well done to all – and special well done on getting the blog updated so quickly!

  2. August 18, 2008 8:06 pm

    Hi All. I agree! I wouldn’t have gone out in the weather today… you are all superstars. I’ve been looking at the forecast and hopefully the weather should cheer up a bit on Wednesday, so get loads of cake in and build your energy levels up! PS the blog is great! Jane

  3. Reg permalink
    August 19, 2008 4:19 pm

    Hi all, I wonder why a wildlife trust is involved in pulling ragwort? It is an important plant for much of our wildlife and should only be removed after carrying out a study of the environmental consequences. See:-

    http://www.buglife.org.uk/conservation/currentprojects/ragwort/

  4. August 19, 2008 10:02 pm

    Hi Reg,

    Fully appreciate that ragwort is indeed a useful plant if you are an insect – but in this case the Team were working on a Patures New project with a local landowner who uses the field for grazing purposes. As such, there is every need to clear the site of ragwort.

    As the article states – there is a danger that landowners could start to use herbicides to combat the plant, thereby damaging other wild flowers. It is with this in mind that I hope you can see that we are working with the land owner to find a practical solution in clearing ragwort without destroying any other flora. Rest assured that there is still plenty of Ragwort around the County – and no doubt always will be!

  5. September 4, 2008 8:15 pm

    Yes, I have lots of B. pascuorum on my ragwort and devils bit scabious at the moment. Great late flowering plants… I will be growing some more next year. However, I don’t have any livestock (well I didn’t the last time I looked)… so they are safe in my garden. When will we be getting another post? I miss not seeing what you are all up to! Jane

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