Snow and finish

Spot the bodgery.

snowy bodgeryWe’ve had about four inches of snow, which seems to be hanging around a bit.  It is not terribly cold, but this brings its own problems.  The snow was a bit soft yesterday and it started sticking to my clog soles.  The wooden, unsoled part in the middle welds to slightly damp snow, and then builds up, in the same way as how children roll large snow balls for snowmen.  Add a few shavings and pretty soon you’re a couple of inches taller, until one falls off and then your limping!



I believe there is a dialect word for these clods of snow, but I’m blowed if I can find it.  Any ideas anyone?

We had the return of a little sun in the afternoon which was very welcome, it having been rather cloudy for many days.


The last slab of the oak butt I milled attracted the attention of a cafe proprietor, so I’ve been working that up for a couple of food presentation boards with my usual knife-tooled finish.
SAMSUNG CSCIn the background you can see some progress on the green oak bench I’m working on.  It has a lower back than the last two.  I need to get the trailer down into the woods when the snow melts so I can level the legs in, the front two need taming a bit from their current wild splay.

Felling again today.  I have a new camera that takes pretty decent video – it looks really good on a big TV screen, but this extract is compressed for ease of downloading so quality is just ordinary.  Spot the inattention just before it finally goes down.  Tut, tut!  On this day that was the only tree to fall in one, all other three had to be hand winched down – I’m sparing you the endless video with a click, click, click sound track.

Not wildly exciting.  Today (it took a little while to load up the video) I’ve been felling on the slopes above where the video was taken, rather more snow now, melting stuff.  Keeping a footing is rather important, and the escape route is vital.  I did a lot of dragging timber to the ride, and left some pieces long to fit on the Landy roof rack, I’m not taking the trailer in until the weather improves.  I got the Land Rover a little stuck last week and ended up winching a rock out of the way so I could get home.



I leave the brash piles as shelter for wildlife.  Not that all wildlife is the forester’s friend:

The top of this sycamore had been de-barked by squirrels, the upper one in a full ring and killed the lead growth.




OK I know it’s much colder in some parts of the world (even parts of the UK, apparently) but it is a bit fresh round here this week.
SAMSUNG CSCThe Land Rover is rather like an icebox, so putting on gloves that have been in it overnight (Why not take them indoors? – Ed.) makes hands colder rather than warmer.  Here’s the opening for baler band.  As above yet another of the millions of uses to which it can be put, hanging gauntlets on the bodgery flue to warm them up a bit.

Theo came to work on Tuesday fired up for making a bird seed feeder he’d found in an old RSPB book.  We made it together, one each, and I found it quite a good way to help him along.  I think this is a good way apprenticeship should work (he’s not my apprentice by the way). I can point out my mistakes before he gets to them and he can make adjustments to the way he’s going about his version.  We had a little review at the end and discussed what might be done differently next time.  The outcome is thus.

SAMSUNG CSCDouble re-cyclement, an used jam jar, mine might be a pickle jar actually, and an old bike inner tube.  The lil birds seemed to get the idea straight away.  Must get an action shot.

Disaster struck yesterday –

SAMSUNG CSCMy faithful old potato oven sprang a leak.  Never mind, I’ll be able to re-cycle the lid.

Off felling now, not due to get above freezing today.

New Year, new milling dogs

SAMSUNG CSCPlease note, since this photograph was taken, the near side rear wheel has been replaced

Day 129 - March of the Mole Grips

Day 129 – March of the Mole Grips (Photo credit: DaGoaty)

by the spare.  The one you see in the picture had a pair of Mole Grips or Vicegrips, or cheap crappy copy (not checked yet) embedded in the tyre, as I found last evening at 9:45pm after band practice.  Should repair though – as the puncture is not in the side wall.  I was relieved that it was  a mere puncture as it sounded more like the prop shaft had broken or something serious as the grips hit the ground each time the wheel turned around.  They are not my Mole Grips; if the owner is reading, please stand forward.

Anyway next to the Landy is my new bench, or sawing dogs as it is described in Salaman. You can never have enough benches.  This one will live out-of-doors, there not being enough room really in my workshop:


I’ve made it to help me make the seat for a spec. garden bench.  Benches, benches, who’ll buy my benches?

The idea is that the plank or bed of the dog rests on the ground at the rear and is supported by two crossed legs at the front (four legs good, three legs better on rough ground).  This makes a nice slop up which a heavy log may be rolled by one man and another tool:

This is another dog, ring, cant hook dog, or log hook according to Salaman.  Essentially a hook (I’m using the double dogs from my Lift and Shift which in turn are spare hooks from a felling bar) fastened to a ring into which a stout pole is inserted as a lever to roll the log up the bed.


This oak log must have weighed about 4 cwt I would estimate and there was no way I could have lifted it – one end lift would have been difficult, and so I would have ended up milling it on the deck with my back bent over for about half an hour (try it!).

While rolling up the slope I insert 1 inch dogs in mortices at the back of it so I can take a fresh hold with the ring dog.  Once at the top it is at a good working height and held in place at the front by the top of the legs, at the back by 1.5″ dogs and its own weight.  I could fasten it down with a couple of log dogs but it didn’t seem necessary.  Milling proceeded with a fine straight stance.  Although I did subsequently find it easier to work from the other end so I didn’t need to step over the two beds!
MillingRather a messy business with all that fine sawdust, and I admit using a chain saw for milling, is not very efficient, but I only do a small amount, certainly not enough to justify anything more sophisticated (read expensive).  I’d recommend one of these pairs of sawing dogs, I’m pleased with the result.

Sawing dogs

Another dog:

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, ...

Nipper, “His Master’s Voice”, The Original RCA Music Puppy (Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

Here we go! Bring on the future oak forest …

We always try to go for a walk on New Year’s Day.  It is usually quite brisk. This year we stayed local and walked from home, just a short way onto the moor above our village.  This moorland has an interesting history, much of it hidden.  There are a couple of despoiled long barrows from the bronze age.  A monument to Queen Victoria’s jubilee year.  Two millstone grit quarries, where building stone was extracted for local buildings, including, presumably, the one in which we live.

“When I was a lad”, as we like to say around here, the moor had been recently grazed by sheep and was mostly heather, or ling (useful for thatching and for raising grouse for sport), with some bracken and small areas of trees, not big enough to call woodland.

During the last 50 years the wood has been steadily marching over the moor, unbrowsed by sheep.  It is a mini study in colonisation by those cunning ancient earth dwellers – trees.

This post is a pictorial (Eh, that’s not really anything different then – Ed) check on how that progress is going.


English: Birches in Sherwood Pines Forest Park...

English: Birches in Sherwood Pines Forest Park. Sherwood Pines is mainly pine woodland with birch, oak, sweet chestnut and beech. The silver birch, one of our most common native trees, is becoming a feature of woodland glades on this former heathland site as natural habitats are restored. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These guys start the assault – silver birches (OK there’s a sycamore or three in there too).  They must have started their invasion about 50-70 years ago, my Mum and Dad used to pick their favourites when they were out walking in courtship before the Second World War.  This picture shows a dell we really like, a stream runs through the middle and it is mostly silver birches.  You could sleep out here, or have a picnic.  The trees have shaded the ground for so long that the heather and bracken have given up and grass is prevailing.

Look at the trunk (stem) on this one – you can easily tell we’ve had a really wet 2012 (Well it was a bit dry in March) – look at he green of the moss.

DSCF1193So, the silver birches started the colonization quickly followed by these fellows.

DSCF1197This is a mountain ash, as we call them (Rubbish picture – Ed. Well at least you can see all the rubbish bracken and that’s about all there is to see where there’re no trees – FS).  They have no close relationship to the real ashes, except that they have a similar leaf form, so they will not suffer the dread fate of chalara fraxinea or ash die back – more of this in 2013 and for a couple of decades to come.  My father hated this tree as it produces it’s bright red berries really early in autumn, presaging the cold Winter days to come (he worked out of doors).

OK, fast forward, and today the oak is establishing itself widely on our moor.  The pictures should tell the story, but they need a little help.  They start small.

DSCF1184Oaks don’t appear on their own, they are helped by squirrels (wash your mouth out) and jays burying acorns and forgetting where they are – apparently jays are the best at this.  In Winter, unlike their parents, they keep their dead leaves on which helps protect buds against frost (it says here).


This makes them really easy to spot in Winter.  Below’s one open to the vicious blast of our prevailing West Wind, you can perhaps see how the leaves have been ripped off windward, but preserved leeward, and how the growth of the tree has been affected.

DSCF1195If the sapling grows in a sheltered position the formation of the tree is much more even.


This one is atop one of the stone quarries and therefore a bit exposed, but it seems to be coping well. See those serried ranks of silver birch in the distance.

As I look forward to 2213 I am happy that there is a good chance of oak trees like these coming to adulthood and producing much of value to whoever walks the moor in those days to come.


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