Why coppicing is like making stir fry

Spot the similarities?

Much chopping and sorting into heaps.  Sharp stuff to do the chopping. Hi-tech background equipment (well a hob and a Land Rover are pretty hi-tech compared to a bill hook and knife).  Raw ingrediments. Piles of stuff.  Promise of future good stuff.  Cold first then hot.  And working alone.  The kitchen and the new coppice woodland (very rare in West Yorkshire) were both my domain with no visitors.  I’m not anti-social, but it’s good to have your own time now and again.  The woodlands were filled with animal tracks, many rabbits, and some others, and there were deer as I looked around first thing with Michael, the owner.  The piles of brash soon attracted a robin, as did the disturbed soil.  This wood has not been worked for many years, and there is much dead wood to prove it. I’m hoping that my efforts will produce a richer environment in years to come.  The plan is to coppice 1/2 hectare a year for 5 years in blocks of 5 to 11 stools.  This should produce a good mix of woodland environments.  I’m looking forward to coming back and looking at the wood in Spring.

Here’s a little 8″ x 8″ bird table recently commissioned.  I always try to give them a go with the birds, and this one worked as usual – spot the coal tit inspecting the sunflower seed.

It’s hard in Winter

Today I’ve been finishing a couple of jobs at the workshop and making logs and filling the charcoal kiln in the yard.  The weather has changed and we had rain – the sort that falls and then instantly freezes on anything it touches.    The new logs I was splitting for the kiln/firewood logs for next year were glued together with ice, I couldn’t lock the trailer hitch as the lock was frozen, going into and out of the wood was hazardous – rain on compacted snow – not good. But it still looked kind of pretty.

Yesterday I recovered the loaded trailer from the other-side of the river (I’m usually on the dark side, but this Winter I’m felling timber on the “sunny” side).  The exit from the wood on that side is short and steep, and too much for the Landy, even in pulling gear and locked 4×4. Gave up as I was tired after quite a day’s felling (about 2 in 10 trees fall, the others are winched down.  Thanks Theo, winchman) parked the trailer in the wood and went home.  It was much easier on a new day.  This is the “solve problems by ignoring them” method of working.  I’d brought my concrete three-pronged rake and smashed up the ice a bit.  Out came the trailer first go, although it took quite a bit of the rocking-to-and-fro technique to free the trailer wheels from the frozen ground.

Note.  This was actually written late last Thursday, but embargoed pending checking.

Advertisements

“Out of the strong came forth sweetness” Judges 14:14

Huh?  What going on here?

Making glue or summat?

Nah!

Just lunch – a shallot and a baked potato, soufflé next!

This is an adaptation of my informal firebrick rocket stove, sometime steamer engine, sometime midge repellent, handwarmer, crowd pleaser, but I must say oven is a great hit with me!

Anyway, as we approach the depths of Winter and the shortest day can I offer you this picture?

This is a hazel at the entrance to Strid Wood.  It is showing budding catkins at the same time as a few of last Summer’s leaves still cling on, just what the Heck is going on?  The birds will be making snow nests next!

I can’t resist giving you a link to this video of Susan Greenfield’s sermon on Storytelling.  It’s not about storytelling, but blogging does get a mention – and now read on/watch it.

 

Cunning little vixen

A prototype fox is now hanging around the deer, and I’m rather concerned about his interest in this prototype mini deer.

My wife, Jane, developed the little deer and that’s what inspired me to try a fox, which has been mooted for some little time.  Recent visitors to the bodgery will have noted that the fox is now a gang of two, and the new recruit has a meaner, hungrier, sharper-nosed look, and looks fleeter of foot.

These should get round the stock problems such as “Can’t fit it in the car/Can’t carry it to the car/Not enough room in the garden for it, now the car has swallowed up most of it etc, etc.

Another deer course today with much auger wielding, shaving making, antler trimming, fun and as a bonus … mallet swinging (note these Bobby-socks feet!)

Squealing of the rounder plane

And of course the usual amount of sitting about drinking tea and eating soup and rolls.

By the way the “Twig Nook” name plate is now on its way to Wales, where it looks like sparking a house re-naming!

Those Autumn Leaves

Not long ago there were this many leaves on the trees.  Now there are very few.  Not so bad as the form of the trees shows better without leaves.

Both wood stoves are now running at home, so logging is on the agenda.  Today Theo and I found a decent-sized ash deposited in a cut off of the Wharfe.  We’ll be logging it next Tuesday when he’s back for his regular work experience session.

On Sunday morning (a work day for me) three chaps were busy clearing rabbits from a neighbouring farmer’s field using ferrets and purse nets.

They looked to have quite a haul of game.  These creatures were introduced as a source of food for the wealthy in warrens (some of them royal), but inevitably nature got the better of us and they ran wild, now there are lots of rabbits, and some think too many.  It’s getting to the same pass with pheasants, which look like becoming a popular garden bird (even though they were introduced from Georgia!)

I’ve been busy in the bodgery making deer and table centre pieces:

These boards and the deer are available in my shop.

Return of the pint pot!

Yes, today I located a brand new pint pot for £2.75 on Skipton market.

Every working chap used to have one of these and they were very easy to obtain.  Sadly no longer (‘cept in Skipton market).  All those working chaps seem to drink pop, what is the world coming to?  But perhaps we have met the turning point at last.

Long live the pint pot!

My wife is taking bets on how long it will last – I have a bad habit of breaking them, usually by dropping them out of the jock bag as I take it out of the Land Rover.  I’m taking care of this baby, it is china apparently – rather posh for a man o’ the woods (even if it is a second), but what the heck, you have to take those opportunities when they arise – I can’t be doing with a tin mug with a picture of flocks on the outside for aye.

Woody stuff

Return of the killer oak shrink pots.  Three more, all from the same branch, they are now awaiting blackening with vinegar and iron.

Like the back drop?  It’s from m’new pattern book bindings.

Shows at the National Forest and Kilnsey coming up over the Bank Holiday, busy, busy. Elm to dig out from store for a stool, gates to hang, bench to fit with new boards, phew, makes me feel tired even on my day off.

Pots, sweet and savoury

I’ve been working on shrink pots. These are pots which are made as hollow cylinders and then a dry base is inserted in a rebate.  As the pots dries and shrinks it tightens onto the base.  Unless some kind of caulking is applied a waterproof fit is unlikely, but they are fine for dry goods etc.

Here is some work in progress.

The sycamore one on the far left is carved from a whole log, as is the brown birch one.  All the others are turned, some from a branch or whole stem like the barrel-shaped ash one and the two small birch ones.  The two tall ash ones at right are turned from quartered logs and I think that makes for a good pattern in the grain.  While the pot itself can be a fairly simple shape the tops can be more imaginative.  I’m working on some lumps of burr birch to make tops for the small birch ones, and I turned another quartered ash one yesterday with a top that looks a bit anthropomorphic.  I think these should be quite saleable as they are easily portable and shouldn’t be too expensive.  They will make good presents, which a lot of my sales become, seeing as many people who buy are on holiday.

I made stir-fry for tea last night and topped it with freshly home-roasted buckwheat.  I had the leftovers on my cereal.  I must get a wooden spoon and bowl made for eating breakfast!

And today another load of logs to the yard for maturing into firewood and charcoal.  First burn coming up next week.