December up North

On the road back home today after a wonderful few days in Manchester. Fascinating to listen to what folk are talking about. Lots of Brexit chat but I sense the possibility is sinking in that it will actually happen and may even not be as bad as first feared. Nothing much on Climate change not even a whisper on Extinction Rebellion Interestingly I chatted to someone about the demonstrations in London recently that closed off London bridges by non violent direct action.

My latest eco-not word is ” whitebait” I didn’t realise it isn’t a species of fish but the generic name given to immature fish of a wide variety of species. Strictly controlled in only a few places in order to conserve future mature fish stocks. The taking of small fry is generally considered to be “not ecologically viable”.You can explore the sustainability of most fish species on the web site of The Marine Conservation Society. Excellent site

Posted in April 2013 | Leave a comment

Sunny Sunday

Early start today and lots to do.

Planting carrots. Two ways, 5metre strips of carrots properly spaced. Nice and easy but expensive!

Then planted 6 rows of Berlicum Italian seed. Closely spaced. Room for 6 more rows

Finished off the runner bean bed, dug over and trenches filled with Merlins Green compost and sheep dung manure. Covered over with bio degrading paper.

I’ll plant through the fabric along the string lines. Lot of fuss but may be worth it.

Andy, Alex and Martin on the hill today. Great to have the company of friends.

Last lap preparing a cabbage patch for Lucy’s plugs. Firm ground with addition of compost and fish, blood and horn. I’d planted a small beech hedge with saplings from our neighbours Geoff and Jenny. Glad to say they are starting to leaf.

Long day but very enjoyable. Early bed methinks

Posted in April 2013 | Leave a comment

Pheasant weather

Alex trapping skills have netted him a surprised pheasant. Not sure what the future holds for the bird but glad to see one of these darned pests trapped. George Monbiot described the uncaring way these birds are reared so as to provide shooting “sport” and then abandoned once the “season” is over Written in 2014 ,it sets out a revealing picture. George is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. God bless him and hope he has a speedy recovery

You can just spot the birdy!

The water tank is fixed and I managed to fill the lower tank. The challenge being to siphon water down a pipe without getting a mouthful of dirty water. Physics to the rescue- immersed a length of hose under water so all air is out and it’s full of water. Then keeping one end in the water lift the other end out and fasten to another hose. Hey presto a strong flow down the hill.

Planted up two patches of garlic planted through the biodegradable fabric. Just might work.

Posted in April 2013 | Leave a comment

Water Butt woe

The reservoir for the water off the hill has leaked at the tap. Time for a quick fix with a thin branch wrapped in plastic. Hope it holds!

The hard work next. Edged the garlic (late) and onion patch with old planks. Anything to keep couch and buttercup at bay.

Last job a good dose of well rotted manure from Steve Shop’s sheep fields. Also bone meal. Ready to plant in a day or two. Did want to plant through my bio fabric but I don’t think it’s robust enough. Time for a trial me thinks.

Alex has done a brilliant job on the track with rain water run offs and consolidating the turning area. Much needed as Tony has the cattle herd back on the hill.

Must go as sun is shining and the call of the wild is strong. X

Posted in April 2013 | 2 Comments

Good day for planting

Up on the hill for a mornings joy. We planted potatoes and strawberries and weeded our two rhubarb plants.

Using bio degradable material for the strawberries. Will it be effective? Hope it keeps the weeds down and aids water retention.


Two kinds of potatoes, International Kidney and Charlotte.


Back on the hill this week to sow onions and garlic.



Posted in April 2013 | Leave a comment

Marching on

How quickly time passes and resolutions crumble! Just finished another round of coppicing and garden preparation. Thought I should keep you up to speed.

We have had a lot of fun coppicing a new section of the woodland. To date we have been cutting mature trees but now we are coppicing previously coppiced wood. The wood is mainly ash and hazel. Long straight and thin.


Coppiced and stacked alongside the path

The work force have been a bit cranky but joyous. Jim is thankfully recovering from his op as is Stuart and Martin has been easing his knees back into working order. Less chain saw scream and more chat and laughter – Way to go.

A few lessons from Martin on how to create faggots from brash -perhaps we can raise some money at ferryside market. Also hazel peas sticks


Peas sticks

The woods and hill side are starting to shake them selves back from dormancy. Young Alfie plunged his hand into our pond to show us the healthy wriggling frog spawn.

Lastly some effort needed on our growing space. We moved the old Garden shed  from home up on to the hillside (Thanks Andy) plus a renovated picnic table.  Murray made this for us over 10 years ago. Great to have a place to make tea, store things and sit out enjoy the wonders of nature . Cue music by Grateful Dead  Sugar magnolia  ” Sweet blossom come on, under the willow, we can have high times if you’ll abide. We can discover the wonders of nature…..”


On the hill -garlic planted





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Posted in April 2013 | Leave a comment


Just went out for a walk in the woods close to Ferryside. The bluebells were in abundance and filled the air with their sweet fragrance, leaves appearing on the trees and the birds filling the wood with the joy of Spring.

Then as we walked down to the main road alongside the road that leads into Ferryside by Jed’s Garage a change. The strong smell of slurry everywhere the river usually crystal clear was a dirty brown flecked with brown and white foam.


The crystal clear stream turned slurry brown and stinking

A closer look revealed many dead fish about 9″ long floating listlessly  in the turgid water. Killed by the effluent in the water -such a crying shame.


Killed by slurry release


Jed’s wife June was beside herself with anger. She sensibly had called an officer from Natural resources Wales and he was busy photographing the scene. He had an idea where the outflow had come from and was on his way to follow up.

I recalled reading a post by the environmentalist George Monbiot called STRATEGIC INCOMPETENCE  in a post from November 2015. A cautionary tale following a similar incident which led to no prosecution of the offending farmer. Lets hope Wales does things differently- If you feel able please ring 0800 80 70 60 (24-hour service). The incident location is the small stream opposite Jeds Garage, SA17 5UU. Ask to be kept informed of the outcome and please share this post on social media.

Last thoughts as I walked home. When I can see the direct effect of our impact on the environment it makes me sad and angry but the slow drip drip of changes to  atmospheric carbon dioxide content or other slowly unfolding environmental disasters pass me by. Time to Wake up!

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January 2016 Coppicing

Third week in January and time to get the wellies on and head for the woods.A great turn out and so wonderful to be out there instead of watchng the rain coming down day after day.The Met office tells me that the mean temperature for December was 7.9 C which is 4.1 C above the 1981-2010 long term average. 191% of average rainfall making it the wettest December with 2-4 times average rainfall. Stop it, you say your telling me what I already know.

On the clay basin close to the road we squelched around but coppice work went on. Martin and I consolidated previous brash piles and cut down three or four willow trees. The timber burns reasonably well provided it has dried properly. A log of seasoned willow feels light because  of its high initial water content and consequently burns through quickly compared to ash or oak

Martin in the willow Jan CopMartin brashing using chain saw

The next coppice work will probably be in this glade and hopefully we will have a decent quantity of timber. The brash piles are a problem and it is possible to do a selective burn in the summer on the other hand they provide great habitats for smaller creatures especially when protected by blackberry runners.

Lower down in the woods Stuart, Lucy, Julia and Adam worked on coppicing hazel and ash stools which were last coppiced over 8 or 9 years ago. The timber is being sorted in to useful piles: Bean poles, bender poles, Pea sticks  and some firewood.The brash is collected for fire starting once bundled in to faggots. It takes some experience to decide what goes where, experience gained by just doing it with guidance.

jan Coppice 2016 Bluebell Path workSorting out hazel and ash poles as well as mountains of brash

One loan oak branch was felled and  laid on bearers to season in the open. Compared to the willow its extremely dense and provides a good work out to stack.

Jan Coppice 2016 Oak StackOak stacked to season

This all looks like work but we had such a nice time with tea breaks and lunch breaks liberally sprinkled into the days. I find I can do about two hours and then my batteries start to give out. We have great plans for the year ahead which will be discussed in our next coppice weekend in February which is also our date for the annual AGM in the woods.

Jan Coppice 2016 Round the fire

Time for a cuppa and a good natter!

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Great news for Ferryside School and Coed Panteg Woodland

I had some terrific news from our local Primary School Ysgol Glan Y Ferri/ Ferryside Primary school.

The school  entered a competition The Royal Forestry Society’s 2015 Excellence in Forestry Schools Awards  ( ) and came up trumps gaining second place from all selected schools in Wales. A tremendous achievement for the school especially the pupils and their teacher  Laura Howells and the Head Jayne Davies. The judges said ”

Silver Award winner Ferryside V.C.P School has formed a partnership with a local woodland co-operative. This gives the children the opportunity to visit a woodland within their local community that is managed by coppice rotations for the production of charcoal, helping them to understand and appreciate woodlands within their local community. Project work has increased their knowledge of woodlands on a global scale where they learn about the value of the world’s forests.

Judge Phil Tanner says: ” Projects on ash dieback and the wood processing cycle demonstrate the importance Ferryside School placed on pupils being aware of the importance of trees and wood products within their daily life.

“The value of Ferryside’s woodland education is evident within the school and the local community. Winning silver in the RFS Excellence in Forestry schools award provides Ferryside with the recognition that their efforts to provide first class woodland based outdoor learning deserve!”

Headteacher Jayne Davies said: “I feel immensely proud of our success in this highly-esteemed national competition and grateful to all the staff, pupils, governors and members of the local community who have worked so diligently during the past year to establish Panteg Woodland in Ferryside as an inspirational learning tool.

“Physical, practical, hands-on experience in the beautiful outdoors has led to a positive improvement in pupils’ enthusiasm for learning and has impacted upon cognitive skills, raising standards in all areas of the curriculum. The outstanding work undertaken as a whole school has raised awareness of the natural world on a local and global level.”

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