Dead hedge, dead accurate, cremation.

Been doing a little dead hedging.

SAMSUNG CSCWith a little help from my friends David and Theo.

SAMSUNG CSCI’m the one with the chain saw who messes everything up with fallen trees and severed limbs then we try to make some order out of it all.

SAMSUNG CSCWe are working a long narrow strip opposite the bodgery on a bank above the river.  At times it’s rather challenging as the natural tendency of the trees is to go for a swim when they’ve been cut from their roots.  Much use of the winch required.  Some accurate felling.

SAMSUNG CSCFinished the live hedge-laying at home and had a good fire to burn the brash.

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Old wood, old trees

This log store keeps on needing filled (as they like to grammaticise in Scotland).SAMSUNG CSCAt the moment I seem to be mostly cutting and moving wood around.  The logs above are old.  From about 3 or 4 years ago cuttings.  Straight-grained and ash, but no longer use for much else than fire logs.  I’m needing to move them out of the Bodgery wood pile to make room for more recent stuff, like this ash I collected this morning at 7:20am.

SAMSUNG CSCHere it is in the wild, on the canal bank.  I had to do a 90 degree right-hand turn from a busy trunk road into a fairly narrow field gate opening, hence the early hour.

SAMSUNG CSCYou can see why one of them was taken down by contractors to the canal trust, going hollow.  You may be able to make out a shiny round label on one of the logs.  It has a number on it and shows where there is a geocache. I could see the stash between the roots.  This is going to cause a few people some consternation when they come hunting for it.  Seemed a pity that some of the good-sized straight-grained stuff was going to end up as logs or rot away.

SAMSUNG CSCMaking progress with this beech limb, the wallers can get at the repair work now.  Hope they do a lot better job than this mess, a bit further along the road:

SAMSUNG CSCRight next to this is a rather jauntily leaning beech tree, that really ought to come down before it falls on the road.  I’m finding out about closing the road for a couple of hours to take it down.

SAMSUNG CSCI guess it got a bit carried away with splitting its stem, and then the SW gales have been at it.

SAMSUNG CSCThe wood on the left is where all that action is.  The wood is gradually creeping up the moor side, you should be able to make out the stems of the silver birches climbing up the hill toward the sky-line.  Well at least it used to be all silver birches, but now things are changing a bit.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s a pretty well established oak tree (with ivy creeping up it).  And in the back ground the underwoods are starting up – small holly bush, good and green in Winter.

Ah Winter, we are on its tail end here, but my walk was peppered with hail showers.

SAMSUNG CSCI was leaning over here to get a look at yet another tree that’s fallen on top of a wall needing removed (as they might say…).  One benefit of living in a valley is that you can see what weather is coming next.

SAMSUNG CSCThe build up of the new woodland now also includes some ash, here are a couple of little saplings.

SAMSUNG CSCSee how the floor is changing as the canopy of this beech tree fills out and blocks the light.  That’s bilberry bushes retreating.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some more regeneration; an oak tree which has almost died with dead branches sticking out of its canopy.  But regeneration is coming along with lots of new growth closer in to the stem of the tree.  It almost looks like one tree behind another.  Known as a stag’s horn oak when those dead branches poke out of the top.

SAMSUNG CSCBack at the ranch, hedge laying is finished, just need to burn the brash.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd functional things like guttering, doors, electricity and drains are all coming along at the outstead.

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Half a hedge is better than too much

SAMSUNG CSCI’ve been laying the hawthorn hedge at the bottom of our garden.  This is a management method to fill in the bottom of a hedge and control the height.  I layed it 18 years ago and the bottoms of the oak 2 x 2 stakes have rotted away – but they’re only needed for the first couple of years to keep the cut hedge in place while the new growth comes on.

This is what it looks like before laying (you may be able to make out the remains of the old layer in the bottom of the hedge):

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That’s the new workshop towering over the garden. Just needs windows, doors, plumbing and electrician. Waney-edge green oak cladding, and then fitting out by Joe Soap.

It’s with a little regret that I’m getting rid of the bobbles that are reminiscent of guardsmen in bearskin hats (or ‘busbies‘).  My father served in the Coldstream Guards, but never wore a bearskin I fear, he was too busy driving around in the Italian mountains in a bren gun carrier.  However, it is rather a teetery job, standing on the top step of a tall pair of steps to trim them and I’m not getting any younger, and down they must come.  I left the bobbles last time.  Once layed it looks like this:

SAMSUNG CSCNew hazel stakes from Wood Nook and hazel binders to hold the top down too.  The uprights are cut about 7/8th through and then bent over.  As some of the bark and wood is left on the pleachers carry on growing in their new position.  The pleachers are woven around the stakes.  The material was a little sparse at the left so I’m weaving in a bit of hazel to make out until the regrowth gets going.  I think that, while it would win no prizes at a hedge laying competition, it is stock proof and will keep the sheep out.

Look what turned up in the ashes.

SAMSUNG CSCThis came from the sycamore logs I obtained a couple of years ago from along the road, when a big tree was taken down.  This must have been embedded in one of them.  No sign of it from the outside.  What do you think it is?

The results of the skep making at East Riddlesden Hall are in:

skep making 2015

Yes Linda, although you’re but small, you were obviously just too big for your skep!

It was a good course.  Bring on the swarming season – not until May 😦  .

Spring in the air

The crows have been paired up for a couple of weeks now, the pairs above were taken on 6th March. Now I’ve finished felling, phew! I’ve a bit of time to look around and get sorted ready for Spring.

But first a brief return to wintery weather for a hedge-laying competition. I won in the speed stakes (no prizes there then!) mainly because it was raining the whole time and as I am normally hiding under the tarp in Strid Wood, my outdoor wet weather gear just wasn’t up to it. I decided to dash home and return in time for the judging, hypothermia could have set in if I’d hung around a couple of hours wet through (well, not really; my feet were still dry). Here’s my length:

I won second prize – a bill hook, lost to the winner because I’d left a couple of gaps at the bottom. It was rather wet:

This guy’s wringing out his gloves.

Earlier in the week I had a chance to tidy up the workshop in Strid, moved the sales booth to the side and raked out some of the two foot of shavings. I think it looks a lot more open:

There are a couple of bowls I’m working on, the far one is a bird bath in chestnut.

I’ve felled an alder tree, that should make some good bowls too – watch this space!

Wakefield hedge laying


I spent Saturday at a hedge laying competition East of Wakefield in Fitzwilliam Country Park. It was a good day out with skylarks singing all day over the haymeadows. The site was the former Hemsworth Colliery Site. It is now hay meadows and neutral grasslands with three ponds. The restored land made the posts easy to drive in through soft top soil with no stones. Unfortunately the competition clashed with a big Lancashire final at Clitheroe so the entry in the open class was rather thin, but made up for with 11 novice entrant (including me).
Here’s my completed effort (no prizes!)

I didn’t get the top rail right; it should apparently be a continuous run, not like this:

I should also have woven the pleachers in more tightly as well, now I know better for next time!

This is the hedge of the winner of the open class, he worked next to my section:

Hedge laying – why not?

Today was the first day of my two day course on hedge-laying.  Here’s the tutor:

We started off by rolling back the fencing on a hedge planted five years ago and then removing the rabbit guards and canes:

Ed, our tutor, then showed us how to go on, he’s a great communicator and lays hedges for a living as well as forestry contracting.  His words of wisdom were very good, and often very amusing, a real good craike (or blather as we might say in Yorkshire).

This is the hedge before we started to lay it, with the stakes stacked at the side around which the pleachers, or liggers are woven:

Here Ed shows us how to start a pleach, or cut that will allow the plant to be laid over without breaking away from the roots, so that the ligger and the root will both sprout new growth in the growing season.

Bare hand for control of the axe and a donkey skin mitten to repell thorns.

This is the essential – the pleach, cutting the stem just enough to make it lie down without springing back up.

In goes a stake – carefully measured, “Good staking can make crap laying look good, but crap staking will spoil good laying.”

A man who knows what he’s talking about commands attention with ease.

Glorious afternoon, with everybody learning a practical skill …

Didn’t we do well?  A joint effort, and the style is traditional Yorkshire stock hedge, which is an immediately effective two-sided stock fence, impenetrable even by lambs.  It lies low at about 25 degrees for our Northern winds and the stakes are in the middle to hold it all together.