With stakes and binders organised we met at Nodes farm on a crisp but thankfully dry day. We walked to the farm and crossed a soupy boot grabbing mud section churned up by the cows and divided up in to teams of two with Alan and Peter acting as floating experts.
The first task was to cut off all the front facing branches, which seems pretty brutal, but we were just following instructions! We then started to pleach which itself was the same, but the aim here is to have a flat front side, with plenty of small fluffy bits out the back (this is the side the livestock is on, and the spikes keep them away from the new growth (in theory). After a few cuts we started to insert stakes, about 9" from the front. the tough thing was to get the stems to lay on top of each other, and keep the shape of the hedge, so lots of extra cuts were required to get everything to align. We also had to strip off any tiny bits on the front side.
The section Chris and I had was a bit thin, gappy and had plenty of wonky stems so we had to bulk up with some borrowed stems.
As we had staked (and bashed them in) as we went we were able to get a good line by looking down the line as we went.
Finally we started on the Binders.
Both Alan and Peter started with 3 tied together, 2 in the front and 1 at the back. These are weaved in bunches with the smalled one cut off after each new binder was added. Totally different to SoE, but the end result is a super strong bind which looks really good.
By the end of the day we had all completed a reasonable section, which we were all pleased with, plenty of practice still required to really get the hang of it, and we agreed that it would be much better with 1:1 training. Midland is much more technical than SoE in that you have to build as you go (the expert SoE guys do that as well of course).
A very enjoyable day, and something we will do again
Pictures as always