Tales from Gazen Salts

Welcome Back to Gazen Salts

Season 2

See Here for Season One of Tales from Gazen Salts Nature Reserve Directory

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

Welcome Back to Gazen Salts

This summer was pretty quiet so far as volunteering. Since the last episode of Tales from Gazen Salts back on the 21st of July or seven weeks ago, and of those seven dates, l only managed to be present for five due to other commitments with worms or doctors and health. I was there also for the last Saturdays of both July and August.

Holidays or lousy weather [as in extreme temperatures heatwise] prevented volunteers from turning up for Wednesdays. So the jobs that were to be done were relatively small because although the avian breeding season was ending, we still had to be mindful of any young waterfowl in the nesting areas.

There was also a considerable change in staffing on the 8th of August as we lost the warden of the Reserve – Tom, who was made redundant by the committee due to a lack of funding. They did offer him part-time work of twenty hours a week instead of the contracted forty hours, but he had to decline.

He is married with a child and lives in Margate some 12 miles away, and given the price hike of fuel, a part-time role of twenty hours wasn’t viable. His last day was the 12th August.

I officially applied for the part-time role on the 18th August, but it’s an awkward topic, and l may write on this in a different series at another time. I would love the opportunity to work here, and l know l have the right experience, but it might be that l am not ‘good enough for the role in certain eyes.

i haven’t heard a thing in three weeks from anyone regarding my application which is a bit disheartening. But as said l will write on this in more detail another time.

It could become pretty uncomfortable somewhere in the future, and depending upon how they handle that, l will then decide whether l stay or whether l too leave the volunteer project. Time will tell in this situation.

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

For the July and August period, the tasks carried out were minimal and usual – chippings of paths and general maintenance of the pathways themselves – cutting back any overhanging bushes and weeds.

However, there was a considerable backbreaker of a role in excavating the round pond, which l will cover in the next episode.

The 12th of August isn’t that long ago, just under a month, yet in that short period, the Reserve has gone downhill. You can tell there isn’t a full-time warden present. Mike is there as a conservationist, and he gets a bit done concerning feeding the birds and other tasks, but he is seventy-seven years of age and can’t be expected to run the role of warden. Nor does he want that challenge, either.

Many projects are planned to start this month and will run through to March next year. Still, as said, we are just seeing the end of the birds breeding season, so the chores currently being managed are minor, and the bigger stuff will begin in October.

Two of these small projects have been the ‘Cottage Garden’, which began two weeks ago and the Gallow’s Field Open Day preparation. The 24th of September is the second planned Open Day for Gazen Salts. Our last one was back in November and was successful, given the abysmal weather on that Saturday. It rained all day and was freezing.

The Cottage Garden is in its infancy stage presently. But it is to become an educational walk-through zone for school parties. It is sited out of the actual reserve and near the car park by the Warden’s building. You can see in the images above and especially the first image that the area is a sort of out-of-way area filled with surplus materials from the reserve itself.

It all needs sorting out. However, that will be done between now and the end of November. The ‘garden’ is to be a small space that will have some herbs and wildflowers growing, which will, in turn, encourage wildlife and insects and pollinators and so on.

But to achieve that – my expertise was called upon. The soil in this area is not excellent, and they wanted to prepare the grounds and have a hands-on ready-to-use material to dig into the existing soils to enrich the soil beds. What was best to achieve that?

Compost and, more importantly, ‘ hot compost soils’. The latter is because l can create a compost pile from scratch and have quality compost ready in eight weeks. The secondary role of the compost set-up is to serve as an educational show how’ model.

I created a three-bay compost operation to produce a tonne of compost soil every 8-10 weeks to be dug into the existing soils. You can see a minimal view of the pathways they have laid up with logs, and the three pallet bays are at the back. These will be painted in a friendly organic green to blend in with the environment.

I have started two heaps with brown, and l will start the hot composting process in the next two weeks once l have managed to secure a quantity of aged green, which l secured yesterday from the groundsman of the cricket grounds opposite the reserve.

I will use the aged green to start the heap off as a low-level green layer whilst l prepare the active green layers from the reserve. We are yet to begin performing serious foliage clearances, and those we have completed are pretty woody and need to be processed through the chipper.

We now have a chipper to use. Thank goodness, as some of you may recall from season one, we were desperately awaiting the return of a very old model we had sitting in the sheds.

However, l feel that the Cottage Garden will be a project l will be writing about for a while, so l’ll keep you updated on its progress.

Operation Gallow’s Field Entrance Gate – GFEG
GFEG is located where you see the word ENTRANCE on the map and the new gate is to be sited just inside the main gate on the left and will be cut into Gallow’s Field.

One of the newer projects that began in earnest this month and in which Pete and myself were involved exclusively yesterday is being called Operation Gallow’s Field Entrance Gate – GFEG. It’s not called that at all, but it should be called something, and GFEG is at good as anything else.

This entails the opening of Gallow’s Field, which l briefly discussed in Tales from Gazen Salts – Episode 18th July 2022. We worked as a project group in the very early part of this year’s spring on refugia in Gallow’s Field [a fancy name for bug hotels]

The summer growth has hidden them. However, with the Open Day on the 24th of this month, Gallow’s Field needs to become fully accessible again, this time to the public and not just the volunteers.

So the refugia must be uncovered, and the entire field needs to be cut and mown. We have a current gate into the area that, although created at the beginning of this year, didn’t have permission to be made, so that must be sealed again. However, a new professional gate is to be installed.

This meant that the foliage and overgrowth needed to be cut back just inside the front gate to the reserve and on the other side of the existing fence line.

Pete [the reserve’s second conservationist] and l started the project yesterday in the humid temperatures after a weighty rainfall from the night before. All of our work, therefore, disturbed swarms of mosquitos which l learned are more dangerous than mozzies elsewhere in the UK and are almost exclusive to Sandwich. Citizens of the town have been complaining about the invasive Salt Marsh Mosquitos for 200 years!

They pack more of a punch than the average mosquito. I can vouch that l believe this to be true as l seem to be a sucking punch bag for anything with a sting and wings anyway!

The areas we worked in hadn’t been cut back for twenty years and run on the banks of the Guestling stream, which courses its way through 75% of the reserve itself. It was ancient overgrowth comprising aggressive dog rose thorns, wickedly nasty blackberry bush spikes, and hairy l hate you nettles! Two trees must be cut down, so in addition to picking the shorter straw, l ended up tackling the overgrown shrubbery, and Pete got the cushy task of strimming.

I jest about the term cushy – the snipper whipper was bigger than Pete!
We were both pleased with our combined three hours of hard graft, but sadly this piece of land isn’t a five-minute job, and next week, we will have to attack it more internally with most likely machetes!

This will not make much sense to someone who doesn’t know this part of the reserve as it is a forgotten section and has been hidden for fifteen years, BUT it will make sense in a few episodes’ time.

Tales from Gazen Salts Nature Reserve is about my time and stories of my voluntary work with this project.

I’ll see you next episode. Thanks for reading.

Gazen Salts Nature Reserve
Sandwich, Kent, England, UK

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

14 thoughts on “Tales from Gazen Salts

  1. Why would you not be good enough?

    You are very thorough and detailed and offering to do for them!! They would be idiots to say no!

    You are serious and driven with the work …

    So why again wouldn’t you be good enough? You have to wow them and not give them a moment to say no – make them see they need you.

    Write a letter explaining generally why you would be an asset and why they should consider.

    You could even put together one of your incredible spread sheets and say – here are the areas for blah blah blah and time of year or whatever

    You impressive! Make them see that!

    Just check in – sometimes my job gets crazy and if low budget and let go of people – might just be they overloaded/overworked …

    Checking in could be good thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh l did that Trisha, l gave them a very thorough application on why l would be good for the role ….. but it’s not that straight forwards.

      I will write about it next week properly and then you’ll see what l am concerned with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s just so complicated and that’s because the committee are overthinking the position and have eyes bigger than their stomach, they have this huge expectation for the role and want it from soneone a third of my age.

        It’s become political.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh 🙄 well this is why society failing.

        They are not being even slightly realistic.

        Probably because can have some young person work cheaper?

        You should say – let me work interim, and you see my skills. They have no one else currently

        And yes they will expect the world – because welcome to the world – why people complaining about jobs.

        And the age thing – well isn’t that grounds for discrimination? Does UK have discrimination laws?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh yes we have age laws – l will write about it all soon enough – l see what they want, BUT the reality is they’ll not get it not with all the hats the next warden would have to wear to please them and all the experience that person would need.

        I presented my application to the chairman and he hasn’t even mentioned it once even though l have seen him, he is just not bothered.

        I think l would be most upset if they appointed someone which l think they’ll do, and not even offer me an interview. I have a very detailed cv with a lot of expertise to it. But if they appoint someone and don’t even acknowledge my application, then l would leave as l would find that insulting and l think that’s what they will do.

        The biggest problem is that they don’t rate the value of volunteers.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sadly places do not appreciate the amazing workers they have – no

        Same in my business.

        They just think are replaceable and then get replaced with people who can’t handle

        But then also – do you want to control that circus ? Do you want that headache?

        They should at least interview

        Liked by 1 person

      5. And that’s the truth right there Trisha, do l want that headache?/ No, the committee are too drama llama ding dong at times.

        They want a warden who is enthusiastic, young, able to do the job, an experienced manager of people to handle volunteers, an advertiser, preferably university educated, a horticulturist and the list goes on ..

        But they want them there [in the reserve] for 5 – 7 days a week, 20 hours a week for £200 and they want them to live close to the reserve to be there for emergencies and they have to be part of the committee. They have to be able to carry out surveys and run reports and address people in meetings.

        Then they want someone who can cut and mow fields, have a chainsaw licence, be a builder …… it’s unrealistic??

        £200 a week for 7 days a lone is a big ask .. l think that is now $231 in US dollars. That’s a huge ask and more so that they want someone who can do everything and make coffee from their bum, and has to be a yes person, it’s way too big an ask.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yeah well – they can get what they pay for ✌️

        Save yourself a headache 🤕

        That sounds like drama 🎭 And for what? It would be hard – do you have energy to deal with bullshit like that?

        I do not – I got old this year ✌️

        But that could be me?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can do the job easily enough and have the energy for everything EXCEPT dealing with the committee.

    The irony is that l painted that picture for them in my application – l told them who and what they need for the warden’s role – BUT they’ll not get that experience for someone at that age for that pay … l would do it because l am five minutes away and am very good at organising my time so could fit it into my working week.

    What l would find awkward is dealing with the committee.

    Yeah fifty has a way of slowing us down, l remember l really started to feel the pinch at 52 and by 54 felt like l was a 100 year old!


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