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?

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The white stuff

OK, more snow, so it looks like a day in the newly tidied garage where I should have enough room to put up the horse and shave some birch spatulas and rough out some bowl blanks.
There are some compensations for all the disruptions, like garden birds:

Great excitement as a pair of Bullfinches turned up at the feeder (hope they leave the apple buds alone)

I suppose I’ll be eating my tiffin, left over from last night’s curry feast, at home today instead of in Strid, the snow is still falling.

We had my brother and sister in law for dinner – they were drinking the wine, not us, honest! It is Lent you know.

OK as soon as the bread comes out of the oven I’m off into the icebox, aka the garage.

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.

Oh no! It snowed!

So what can you do in the woods when it’s all snowy?

Well you can get all that wood shifted back to the bodgery that’s been lying around since last spring for a start.

OK, no felling new wood until that’s done then.  Found some excellent large pieces of sycamore that will made great bowls.

Also went for a little stroll after lunch, before bowl making, and after log shifting, and found a rather large piece of willow tree lodged high up on Lud Island.

Remember when it was raining all the time instead of snowing?  That would be when it was washed down the Wharfe.  Now what could I use willow for?

Actually I’ve got my hands full with two chetnut stems I’ve bought from the estate.  First job will be a new garden gate for home to replace the ancient batten door my dad put up years and years ago, and which I’ve repaired at least twice.  Watch this space, it will be a green gate, and I don’t mean one that’s been painted with green wood preservative!

This weather is also good for learning how to drive safely in the snow, only, in Strid so many people walked on the partially melted snow before the temperatures became permanently sub-zero that under the snow is a glassy skating rink.  Snow chains on order

You can also look forward to Summer sun

And enjoy the scenery

And you can just about watch the Wharfe freeze over

I also sat by the woodland stove and roughed out a couple of bowls, sampan and barge.

Winter

It should be a day for sitting by the stove today making spoons:

However, it’s going to be a logging and bowl carving day, considering the snow is making things rather tricky on the roads, I guess I should stay off them and make room for people who really need to travel.  Looks like yet another delay for the moorland chair delivery.  Here’s the table that is part of the order:

I think this has turned out well. The legs and rungs are all just worked with hand tools, no turning.  This makes a good contrast with the Elm top.  I can’t help feeling there’s some feel of a henge about this!

The travelling is even affecting the Leeds Liverpool canal that runs past our house.  On Sunday we saw a barge struggling to go forwards, and after the -9.5C temperatures on Sunday night it must be frozen in somewhere by now.

There is some compensation to all this cold stuff, but not for the sheep, poor beggars, who no doubt couldn’t care less about the picturesque sun sets.

Fire burns hotter in the cold

Especially if you use petrol as a fire starter.  Lovely smooth hands now, and no bobbly bits on my fleece.

I took a spare length of stainless flue liner in today to improve the draught on the new bodgery stove.

The difference it makes it very noticeable.  The stove now roars.  The firebricks are steaming out the summer rain, hot enough to dry more wood and gloves round the outside.  And the added luxury of a wooden door (soak before using!).

OK, so now it stacks up like this:

1. A large stone half buried in the ground.

2. Rusty old wagon wheel.

3. Centre hole covered with the flue blank from the new RC wood burning stove.

4. Firebricks, dry walled, air ingress where they do not sit tight to the wheel.

5. Wooden door.

6. Flue liner.

7.  At the base of the flue liner an old chain to weigh down the flue.

8. Drying fire wood.

It is a really good hand warmer.  Standing with your back to it it also warms the parts other stoves are too civilised to reach. Possibly the best stove in the word.  Definitely carbon neutral.

And when accompanied by fine food it completes an abode of bliss:

Also featuring in the picture is my lunchtime work.  A new small ladle from the silver birch we took down at home.  Safely stowed in a plastic bag so it does not dry between times working on it.  I know I should have taken a photo of the fantastic crook I’ve taken it from, but then …

Being snowy it was surprisingly quite in the woods, I guess people are busy getting festive.  They certainly don’t seem to want to buy Christmas tree decs anyway.  It was rather cold:

I had rather a lot of snow shovelling to do as the NE wind had brought a lot of snow inside under the short tarp.  I spent some time doing a Winter solstice clean up.  The off cuts and failures accumulated over a year had become an unmanageable pile leaning against the  back of the sycamore tree.  In fact I had to walk round it to get into the workshop.  OK so now it’s all reduced to logs and sitting in the trailer waiting to come home for the ever hungry  RC stoves.  It’s surprising just how much there was.

The new Landy is becoming a more familiar tool.  Needs WD40 in the locks to stop them freezing up.  Back window heater is bust, needs to be fixed under the guarantee, along with a couple of other niggles.

It takes me great places though.  Look at this.  The view’s been featured before, but it’s worth it:

What a commute!