Bolehill is a small village in the middle of the England, just outside the southern edge of the Peak District National Park, and half a mile across the fields from Wirksworth. Our house looks across a shallow valley, with sublime views of the hills and cliffs opposite, especially at sunrise and sunset. With the house comes a small field, too big for a garden, but too small and too sloping for most crops, so, like much of Derbyshire, it is pasture, grazed by sheep couple of times a year to keep the grass from going rank.
A field of grass is mostly boring. Bird life is limited – just the occasional pheasant, jackdaw or pigeon. Overhead there are buzzards and peregrine falcons, but apart from the occasional kestrel dropping onto something in the marsh, they are indifferent to the field. By comparison, our garden bird feeders see several species of tit and finch, plus nuthatches and greater spotted woodpeckers. As for mammals, there must be the usual rats, mice, shrews and moles, but they are generally invisible, although at night we see the flitting shadows of bats.
We could continue as we are, with the sheep eating everything except thistles, nettles and docks, which we have to weed out to stop them taking over. We could just leave the field to run wild, but the grass would smother any wild flowers, and, judging by other areas left alone, we’d end up with a field of thistles and nettles and probably not much else. But we would rather work to promote a diverse ecology, planting trees, bushes and flowers in a way that ensures that they continue to flourish, and which can support a wider range of birds and insects. For a whole field, that is a lot of work – more than we can manage in one go – so we are doing a bit at a time. And this page records those bits.