A four-legged workshop

Today I ran a workshop for five people making deer.  I was ably assisted by my wife (chief photographer, waitress, tool mistress and adviser for the day).  Two of the chaps on the course shared today as their birthday and the course was a present from their wives.  Although we were surrounded by (melting) snow I managed to keep everyone busy and all went home with a deer (except for me, I’m more of a venison man):

Here are the youngest and oldest 15 to 62 (fortunately my insurance cover goes as low as 9 years old).

These gels had fun:

I should point out that the rips in the jeans were pre-existing and that no humans were harmed in the making of these deer.  The red stains liberally sprinkled around the middle work bench are just Flying Goose hot sauce stains caused during an eating incident at lunchtime.

There were actually six members of the course but the robin just didn’t seem to get the hang of things at all.  He seemed to enjoy the biscuits and home-baked bread nonetheless.

It has been very scenic in the wood this past week, if a bit chilly.  I’m surprised at the very low numbers of visitors considering the sights to be seen:

I think sometimes I like the shape of trees without their leaves better than with.  The shape is so much more clear and stark and beautiful.

Even the messy old bodgery looked not bad:

The sun did his bit too to make things look good:

These pictures take a bit of getting as the sun only shines on my side of the River Wharfe briefly in these short Winter days.

I feel so sorry for the wildlife living outdoors all the time, I know vaguely how they must feel, and they don’t have four pairs of trousers and five tops like me.  Earlier this week at home the temperature dropped to minus 13 centigrade – just how do you sleep out through that?  Maybe the cold is just another state to wildlife, but I guess they must enjoy warmer weather.

And another thing, why do snow pictures usually look as though they were taken on (almost) black and white film?

But always at my back I hear / Time’s wingéd charriot hurrying near.

Spring is well under way now in Strid.

The bluebell leaves are everywhere, and where they’re not there is wild garlic:

Most people will see these two easily, but if you look more closely there is an abundance of other plants shooting up.

Wood anenomy, one of my favourite Spring flowers:

Dogs mercury, as it’s name suggest, poisonous and very thickly spread in Strid:

Even the wild strawberries are back:

Down by the River Wharfe the butterburrs are sprouting through. I think they look pretty alien, I assume they are of a very old genesis:

The dipper now is separate from its mate who is presumably nesting. You maybe able to make out the white spot of his breast feathers at the far side in the river, standing on a semi-submerged stone:


Detail:

I’ve not just been idly snapping photos either. Yesterday I made this bowl (not quite finished yet):

And today I need to get more felled wood back to the woodpile and sheeted before, the plants are too tall, the birds nest, the wood starts to spoil … and people start making shelters & bridges with it or chucking it into the river. Cleared most of it now with the help of some asylum seekers from all the trouble spots in the world.

On with the work; load of logs to make, shift wood, get ready for the Knaresborough Castle medeval do on Saturday, edit bowl carving video (watch this space), chop, chop!

Made it.

The six chairs are now united in their new home on the moors above Bolton Abbey.

My customers are very pleased, especially with the little table

It was rather a struggle to get up there, even with snow chains on the Landy.  I kept thinking, well I’ll get up there, but maybe not get back.  But I was accompanied back and two shovels came in very handy clearing 3 foot drifts of heavy melting snow that the Landy kept on bellying on.  All the snow’s gone from down in the valleys round here, but at 1,600 feet up where the chairs now live it had only just yesterday got above freezing, first time in weeks, and my customers had not had their 4×4 car down to the village since New Year’s Day!

The package in may last post was a 2 1/2 pound Kentish pattern axe that I’m now making a new handle for. It looked like it was going to be a cleaver from the package!  Photos to follow when it’s re-shafted.  It’s an old War Department one in good nick.  I do wish, however, that people who sell tools on eBay would resist the temptation to ‘sharpen’ them.  Which usually just means putting a shiny, inexpert edge on with a grinding wheel.  Fortunately on this one they had not over-heated the edge and lost the metal’s temper as can happen with a powered grit stone.  I’ve just about restored a better smooth edge with my treadle-powered grit stone that runs in a bath of water keeping everything cool.

Course coming up tomorrow over at York with Paul Atkin.  I’m getting a couple of hook tools for bowl turning, and a half day on their use.

Thawsday

The thaw has started in Strid Wood, with the snow on the trees dripping into the snow.  It was also dripping off the tarp yesterday, mainly due to the roaring fire I got going in the afternoon.

In the morning I finished off moving all the stray Spring felled timber back to the bodgery.  I’ve been using two very useful tools for this.  First up the log tongs.  This is great.  The two dogs bite into the logs and then you can haul them into the trailer, mostly without touching them and keeping your gloves drier. The logs look rough, but they are fine inside.

If the logs are frozen together (and few weren’t!) I’ve been using this home-made pickeroon.

This was originally a short-handled job, not sure of its intended purpose, but with a long handle it’s great for freeing logs and digging the spike end into  log also allows rolling and pulling without bending – great!

While I was back in this part of the woods I surveyed my thinning work last year, you may be able to see all the stumps as larger black lumps.

And this is where I’m due to thin next.

There’s a lot of small stuff in there to fell.

Meanwhile back at the bodgery I spent the afternoon making rolling pin blanks and animals:

They are supposed to be foxes, the front one is OK.  I’ve since modified the big one into a bear, the rather angular one awaits further attention from the knife.

I also had a look round at tracks – I like the ‘shadow’ of the wing in this one:

When I got home there was an interesting eBay delivery:

Guess what’s inside.  See next post.

Last Orders

Autumn is well on its way now in Strid Wood.  I had a short stroll round at lunchtime yesterday and this is what I found:

These look harmless enough (they’re not in my fungi book, again!)

But this one is definitely not:

Destroying Angel, one of our more poisonous fungi – note the white gills and large ring distinguishing it from edible mushrooms.

(Amanita virosa, A. verna, and A. bisporigera) and death cap (Amanita phalloides) produce some of the most poisonous compounds known. As little as 30 grams, or half a mushroom cap, is fatal to a healthy, adult human. Amanitin poisoning is not a pleasant experience. The onset of symptoms does not begin for at least 10 hours; death may be delayed for as long as 10 days, which complicates diagnosis. When the toxin finally affects the victim, it causes severe abdominal upset, followed by liver, kidney, and circulatory system failure. The poison is usually fatal; there is no known antidote; and the progressive effect of the toxin causes the victim terrible suffering. It says here.

On a more pleasant note there is regeneration taiking place around the bodgery because of the higher light levels from last winter’s thinning work.  Even a couple of oaks:

After lunch I completed the assembly of the first of the six ash dining chairs I’m on with:

Then I sawed out a bowl-carving block, but more of that anon.

Charcoal!

Site #1

Site #1

Here is my lovely new charcoal kiln.  Freshly delivered to Bolton Abbey Estate Yard and levelled ready for sand sealing the base to the ground.

Site #2

Site #2

Here it is the next day, moved across the yard away from the trees, which would have interfered with the airflow.  It is fairly easy to move by rolling, but needs levers to jack it up onto the ports which act alternatively as flues or air intakes.  Notice the high tech airflow dampers – recycled bricks.  I had a tonne of sand delivered for sealing down – outside and inside:

I have an extension ring, but the first burn will just be with the bottom ring, which is still six foot round and four feet high.

Top ring in the distance

Top ring in the distance

It took two trailer loads to fill.  Using the old estae forestry trailer which is on its last legs so it ended up being two and a bit, as I dare not fill it too full as the floor looked very weak!

Forgot to take a picture of the floor set up to get the draught right and a fireplace in the center

Forgot to take a picture of the floor set up to get the draught right and a fireplace in the center

So here it is ready for lighting at 6am Monday:

Bet the trees across the river will be shivvering in their boots on Monday as the smoke drifts across.

Bet the trees across the river will be shivvering in their boots on Monday as the smoke drifts across.