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!

Posted in 2016, Ferryside, SLURRY RELEASE | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in July 2015 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bagging the black stuff

Energetic  morning bagging up charcoal with Martin . 20 big bags and a builders bag of bio char.

 Afternoon with Ferryside school making charcoal in a biscuit tin.  Used a barbecue grill to heat a tin full of willow twigs.

Wonderful kids full of questions and ideas. Good luck with platinum eco school and Forest competition


Posted in 2015, June2015 | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Spring Time in the Woods

Exciting times, flowers aplenty and blue skies and sunny days at least now and then. We have been working hard on the growing spaces with carrots, onion sets, garlic and shallots planted. The Hugel mound has beans, beetroot and even lettuce growing. We have had one marauder visit ( a pheasant ? ) tuck in to some cabbage and broccoli.

The local school Ysgol Glan Y  Ferri – Ferryside primary school are visiting us next week to learn about charcoaling and to see the wild flowers in full bloom. Also great news from Mrs Howells, a teacher in the school. They are through to the last five in a competition  run by The Royal Forestry Society, Excellence in Forestry Schools Award competition ( ) The judges are coming to the school and visiting the woodland in late June. Congratulations!!

Some pictures of the wild flowers – Just got a handy reference book produced by the RSPB called  simply Wild Flowers A pocket guide to identifying over 400 wild flowers.

Early Purple Orchid

Early Purple Orchid


Dog Violet

Dog Violet

And the very British native Blue Bells evident where the last coppicing took place and throughout the glades in the wood.

Bluebells among brash in the coppice

Bluebells among brash in the coppice

Even common flowers like the dandelion give joy

Common dandelion

Common dandelion

Alternative name for the Anemone is “smell fox” because of its musty smell. Greek legend has this flower springing up where Aphrodite’s  tears fell as she wept over the death of her lover, Adonis. The plant is poisonous

Wood Anenome

Wood Anemone

Lady’s smock beloved of the Orange tip butterfly. It was once used as a food substitute for watercress. In folklore it was said to be sacred to the fairies, and so was unlucky if brought indoors.

Cuckoo Flower or Lady's smock

Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s smock



The celandine is one of the first Heralds of Spring






The willow hedge has been clipped and more branches tied in. An apple tree blossoms centred in its guild

Blossom with Guild and Hegge

and on the hill the small pond has burst into life with tadpole, water boatmen and fresh red leaves evident.

Liily pond

Liily pond

Posted in 2015 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Charcoal Making Course in Ferryside Woodland. 2nd and 3rd May.





WHEN:  Saturday and Sunday the 2nd and 3rd May.  10 til 4 p.m (Subject to change if heavy rain is forecast)

You will learn all about small and medium scale charcoal making. The course will be hands on. You will be making a batch of charcoal over the two days. You will participate in the process from start to finish and hopefully go away with a bag of charcoal you have made.

We will be using oil drum kilns that can be cheaply made and used by anyone with access to a small amount of wood to charcoal.  We will also demonstrate the use of a larger 6’ Ring Kiln.

During the weekend you will learn all about the charcoal making process, the uses of charcoal, what wood to use and how to prepare it, bagging, using and market the product.

Over the course of the two days we hope to show you the coppiced woodland, appreciate the woodland ecology, view newly planted woods and see the various interesting projects ongoing at Coed Panteg

Refreshments will be provided but you will need a packed lunch on Saturday, on Sunday we will cook on our charcoal so bring something for a barbeque. You will need suitable strong clothing for working in the woodlands and in making charcoal, strong boots and gloves are essential.

You are welcome to camp in the woods or on the field in approved pitches. Toilet facilities are basic and there is no running water. Parking is limited on site.


(CONTACT by email–     Mobile: 07904313156.   You will receive course details and a location map on receipt of your application plus cheque. Please include your name and address with if possible email and phone contact details)


Posted in 2015 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Already 2015


Rare event – ME smiling!

Already 2015 and not a blog post on line. Just invited Andy, Lucy, Mary and Martin to contribute posts- talk to me if you would like to contribute.

Coppicing weekend went well in February and March.A few pics from the two days. We got loads done and also had a cracking time- Spring/Summer is still a way off but the odd signs of change evident

Martin in good form apart from a twinge or two in his back. All better now!

Lunch break in the sun

Lunch break in the sun

Coppice area looks fine- lots of timber and the neatest brash piles in Wales.

Coppiced wood stack

Coppiced wood stack

Lastly my favourite tree – El Gigantico




Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Back on the land!

View up to latest coppice compartment

View up to latest coppice compartment

My first extended visit to Coed Panteg for some 4+ years was great. I finally met the ‘new’ members, helped tidy up the new coppice area, celebrated Martin’s birthday and attended my first AGM in a while… My last two days were spent exploring the changes that have happened on the land over the last few years – not least the ongoing hard work of managing the woodland and fencing projects. I enjoyed cooking on the fire and listening to the buzzards, owls, foxes and badgers(!?) at night. It certainly won’t be as long between my next visits.

Here is the link to my firends’ project in Devon. I’ll be getting in touch with them soon to arrange a long overdue visit to their land too…

My abode for the week

My abode for the week

It was great seeing how some of the original coppice compartments had developed. The woodland is much lighter and consequently more bio-diverse now. I heard woodpeckers this time which was a first for me!

Re-growth after coppicing in one of the previous years

Re-growth after coppicing in one of the previous years

I was particularly pleased to see how much the woodland that we planted nearly 10 years ago had survived and grown. Some of the trees were huge (tall and wide!). It was lovely to walk about them and feel that all the gruelling work planting them that freezing February had paid off.

Showing the growth width of one of the oak trees we planted

Showing the growth width of one of the oak trees we planted

Posted in April 2013 | 2 Comments