It has been a while since I last wrote something for the blog. I won’t bother with excuses, but will just direct you to Frantecol’s post No Time! I just seem to have too much I need to do, too much I want to do, and not nearly enough time to fit it all in.
So what have I been doing? PhD work, BES festival activities with the BES Roadies, catching up with friends and family, and generally trying to maintain some sort of order in my life while communiting between Nottingham and Silwood every week!
In terms of work, I have been very busy, but I haven’t actually been collecting much data. Instead I’ve been fulfilling various requirements for the department and funding bodies – giving talks, presenting a poster, and writing reports (more about this in a future post).
I’ve also been doing a lot of work to prepare the DIRECT study site for the summer treatments and data collection. There have been a lot of little jobs to keep me busy, but the big one has been weeding the plots for the diversity experiment. There are 56 plots in the diversity experiment, each just over 5.7m2 and containing one, two or three plant functional trait groups. These groups are maintained by weeding the plots once per year in the spring.
For some plots, this means removing obvious species like Taraxacum officionale (dandelion) or Trifolium repens (white clover). In other cases, it means removing some grass species, like Arrhenatherum elatius, but leaving others, like Holcus mollis, which is when it gets tricky and very time consuming. It’s less finding a needle in a haystack, more finding a specific type of hay in a haystack.
Weeding the plots is a long job with some peculiar side effects. I managed to strain something in my index finger, so I can’t actually bend it completely. I have strangely tanned hands and pale arms from wearing long sleeves, and I’ve had more than one odd dream about sorting grasses. Luckily, a few friendly people agreed to help me, which made the job much quicker and more enjoyable. After three full weeks and around 180 hours, I am very pleased to say the weeding is finished and even the hand-tan is beginning to fade.
Now on the the next task… cleaning and erecting the roofs for the summer climate treatments!