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 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.
Sorting 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.
Oak 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.
Time for a cuppa and a good natter!