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.


Pictures of an English Winter

SAMSUNG CSCWe’re having a rather typical English Winter, wet and cold, not much snow at all, or even frost.  Rather grey, so when the sun shines through the trees covered in raindrops, it looks rather pretty.

All the rain makes the river run high and as it washes away the sand the early Spring plants show through, rather too early.


These are butterburrs which will be in their ‘other planet’ bloom in a couple of months time.  The snow drops are much more seasonal.  I reckon these get washed down into the wood fron gardens upstream.

SAMSUNG CSCAll this moist atmosphere makes for much moss and ferns.


This one looks almost humanoid.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus) I’m making into a duck bowl, hopefully.

SAMSUNG CSCIt has an interesting orange hue in the more mature inner wood, not sure if it will stay longer term.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some work in hand.

SAMSUNG CSCOn Thursday (my Friday) after above photo was taken,  I discovered that a spoon neck gouge is rather better than a knife or a drawknife for the tricky shaping of the neck and tail transitions where the grain direction is rather like the transition between the handle and bowl when carving a spoon except a much bigger area and challenge.  Watch this space.

Quack, quack.  As the lady mallard ducks have started repetitively calling around here.





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?

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!


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.

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!