A few coppice stools 

Here is a photo selection of hazel coppice stools I took at Wood Nook on Wednesday lunchtime.

Notice how the poles are bent and differing thicknesses when the stool has stood uncut for so long, there are some very old thick branches in there.

Here’s the next one for shaving, you can see the charcoal bag I’m using to collect dead and dry sun shoots for kindling. Hazel throws up sun shoots, new side shoots,even when there are loads of old branches which block out the light so much that many little shoots perish for lack of light.

An hour later, all flat and partly graded into the various useful items from brash tops to cover the stool to avoid browsing by deer, to deer parts and fencing poles. This one still needs to final big, low cut right across the base to encourage new growth from basal buds.
This is the regrowth a couple of years after cutting.

This one’s the best in the wood, I think it has a microclimate next to a wall, on a bank above the stream. Lots of good straight poles.

And here is the stream. At some point long ago it was partly culverted, I can’t think why in this rather remote rural location.

They made quite a job of it, but I think a lot of it has fallen in through neglect and heavy floods.

Jolly japes at the Strid

David took a time-lapse video of our Tuesday activities felling near The Strid:

cropped-StillWharfe.jpgMost of this will end up either as fire wood or in the charcoal kiln, but there is some decent ash, sycamore and what seems to be willow, new one for me from this woodland.

Don’t take it too seriously, the shot where a bough nearly took my head off has been edited out, along with other inappropriate content.  Also I am not in the habit of using a 24 inch bar for felling saplings.  My 260 was in dock for carburettor cleaning so the 66 was hauled into service, most inconvenient, I can tell you.

Just for clarification, the punning title was supposed to be Tree Fellahs at The Strid, we had it several times during the course of the day.

Many hands make light work, thanks chaps.

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.


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.


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):


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 😦  .

Fixing it.

During the mad Winter festivities I had a semi-serious line: “If it’s broke, don’t fix it.”  Well that can only apply in limited ways and I really spend a lot of time fixing things.  I find this really satisfying.  Take this morning, the fire bricks lining our No. 1 wood-burner are getting way past their best.  A couple are broken in two, one side cheek has a bit missing, the top section that gets hit when fuelling logs is rather worn.  I considered buying a whole set and just replacing the lot.  Until I saw the price £272!  No.2 wood-burner entire cost less than that.  I had always thought about cutting new bricks and I’ve found I can get a sheet that will more than do the job for £60 delivered.  It’s mainly vermiculite so isn’t going to present immense difficulties cutting to shape and the odd holes to be drilled here and there.  I’m going to improve the cheek pieces so they are less likely to break again.  So that’s on the stocks, ordering the sheet today.

On a woody theme, I fixed a couple of parts of the elf making process recently.  I’ve made over a thousand of these little chaps, which sell all the year round – even in early January – first sale of the year!

SAMSUNG CSC The paint doesn’t dry when the temperatures get low, so I put them in their rack in the fire box (once it’s extinguished for the night, obviously).  That works fine, unless it rains, when, despite having a good cowl over the chimney end, water gets down and mars the paint work.  But not with the umbrella I added to the rack quite some time ago now:

SAMSUNG CSCI can cut these elves in about 19 cuts with a following wind.  Just before the Misrule Season I found I could reduce the cuts to about 13 by taking two initial cuts with the axe, makes a smarter job of the hats too.  I’ve made over a thousand of these elves over the past few years (I analise my sales as I prepare my tax return).  This all started from a great Swedish site showing how to make them step by step.

My friend David made me some V-blocks for general holding of round objects and one of them has become an essential part of the production line.  I use them when I saw off the carved elf from the stick.  In the bad old days the elf fell on the floor about 50% of the time.  Now they stay in the V-block 99%.

SAMSUNG CSCI ride my shave-horse side-saddle when carving elves, which used to make it tricky to put my foot on the treadle to nip the V-block.  Now I have improved, self-closing dumb-head:

SAMSUNG CSCGrossly ugly, but works, and is easily removed for conventional horse-work.

Then, there’s the Landy, oh no not the Land Rover!

SAMSUNG CSCUntil its last visit to Railside Garage & MOT test, the faults were: fuel gauge not working; windscreen washers u/s; dodgy hand brake; end of exhaust pipe missing; two front tyres tired out and  a broken rear work light.  All but the last item were fixed and it seemed like a new vehicle!

That work light … essential these dark evenings when I’m packing tools etc into the Landy.  The LR version cost £70 and they’d changed the fixings, so a bit of a non-starter.  Well, I found an £18 LED version that would mount properly.  Hey Presto!


Let there be light.

What a difference.

SAMSUNG CSCLeveled up the chopping block that has had a jaunty lean on it for about a year, at the same time discovered that the shavings had crept up a few inches, much better working height now.  The shavings went into the newly instituted additional storage area.


Hum, the bubble was in the middle before I put that heavy cup of tea on it. (Wouldn’t that have made the bubble run the other way? Ed.)

I’m doing some paid fixing too, this National Trust bench will be getting a little TLC

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCTo sort some of the problems out I’m replacing three of the boards, so I need some inch oak boards.  Chainsaw mill at the ready!  Slight problem fixing the wooden frame for the mill to run on for the first cut.  I either use 4″ coach screws into the log – but these would definitely have fouled the chain,  or use log dogs.  My two big ‘uns are already fastening the log to the milling ramp. And the beautiful little ones didn’t seem to be in any of the 4 places I searched for them. Here’s my fix, again rather ugly, but worked a treat.

SAMSUNG CSCIn festive mood I’ve also discovered the wonders of Sugru – putty that cures to a rubber-like compound in 24 hours and sticks to many things.  Won a few Brownie points fixing kitchen stuff.





SAMSUNG CSCI’m not in the woods tomorrow, I’ll be in a massive tithe barn at East Riddlesden Hall learning how to make straw bee skeps (retro hives, now mainly used for gathering swarms). I prepared the long straw earlier.


Working so fast you can’t see me hand moving.

I felt thrown back a couple of hundred years to the time when straw plaiting was a good means to boost the family income of agricultural labourers.  The ladies (OK women and girls really) earned more than the head of household in that way.  It must have been pretty monotonous work.

read more here.

Gentle Christmas reggae dub


SAMSUNG CSCLink to lovely music to make your Christmas presents to.

Peaceful reggae carols played by the leader of our community band and his professional musical pals “Dread Supreme”.  Go on!  Click it, you know you want to! They don’t sound anything like any carols you’ve heard before (Well maybe a bit – Ed)