Had to share some lovely letters and photographs from the Y5 and Y6 pupils of Ferryside School. They visited the woodland about a week ago accompanied by their teacher Mrs Howells and their assistant teacher. They behaved impeccably. Polite, courteous and always attentive. You can see what they thought about their visit by clicking Letter 1 and Letter2 :
Letter 1 and Letter 2
and 4 photos
Ferryside Primary school pupils and Mrs Howells
and one last one showing me really gripping everyone’s attention!
Lovely to see you all. Till the next time
Lucky enough to recently entertain a group of Year 5 and year 6 children from Ferryside V.C Primary School who visited our woodland for a science/environment lesson accompanied by their teacher and classroom assistant. A joy to share the delight of the children in the woodland. Magic moments like stopping still with closed eyes listening together to the sound of the birds or the sight of chiddren scoffing raspberries and blackberries and even fresh pulled carrots.
We walked round the whole of the woodland and came across log piles covered in fungi. Anyone tell me what we saw? Love to know
Menter Cwm Gwendraeth –
Thought you might like to see this short video about the charcoal making course held in Coed Panteg woods, filmed by the excellent Zero Carbon officer Paul Thomas. The course was led by Martin and every one who attended thoroughly enjoyed and learnt lots about the secret art of charcoal making. Thanks Martin. X
Apologies for the long silence – a thousand reasons not to write but all come back to one cause- extreme laziness!
Casey is back for a few days and we recently paid a visit to the hillside to pick crops and survey progress. Ace is Casey’s poodle and he loved it as well!
The mound has continued to produce great crops this year. We have been able to water fairly regularly using the newly installed water cubes. Despite the warm dry weather most plants dug deep to access the stored moisture in amongst the logs.
Beans, beetroot, broccoli, tomatoes and onions in profusion. Strange how you always think you’re a great gardner when the weather is with you
We have set more space for growing this Autumn by putting down black plastic. Carrots and parsnips seem to be growing away free from the dreaded carrot fly. I planted too thickly and in places pests got in and nibbled the seedling but we should get an Autumn crop.
Carrots under fleece
Further on up the hill birds are taking a lot of fruit. I’ve noticed a pair of blackbirds hard at work amongst the fruit bushes. We have lost all the black currants and some of the red. Most of the apples have been pecked in half and the crop is poor. I guess when you create a thriving eco system you expect all animals to prosper. Next year we will have to net the fruit and pick early and learn to share the bounty a bit more evenly.
Pecked not picked
The guilds are doing ok with comfrey and horse radish flourishing but we still need to restrain the grass.
Horse radish in a guild
We want to learn how to use hand scythes to tackle the grass. I feel a permaculture course coming on
Lucy’s growing experiment was a success, spare potatoes were planted in existing turf mounds and grew away. A tasty crop of small spuds- will do this again.
Dear followers we are hoping to organise a work day on one Sunday every month. We will let you know if we have your email but I will post details on this blog and on “Ferryside – What’s on” on facebook. We usually meet at about 10 and clear our most recent coppicing- usually there is wood to split and stack, brash to pile and paths to clear. Its usually a very social fun day with as much labour as you feel comfortable to give. Email me if you want details- firstname.lastname@example.org
Just got back from Coed Panteg. Went down with Lucy, Nicola ,Jim and Dave to open up the kiln and if possible bag up charcoal.
Open sesame. Looking good!
Although at first glance it looked good with about 50 % charcoal production on close examination there was a fair bit of unburnt partial charcoal. However we can use these bits in our next burn.
Brown and partially burnt charcoal
I’d spent the day making a charcoal sieving shute with the specified 20mm mesh. It worked ok and we collected a good number of bags due mainly to the combined skills of Dave, Nicola and Jim. Memo to self- buy effective dust masks.
We stapelled up the filled bags as they are destined for the Ferryside market and the Pont Yates market.
A local, product produced in sustainable woodlands – let’s hear it for Coed Panteg’s charcoal.
Second day of the course and Martin fired up the carefully stacked kiln. We retreat behind flimsy tape!
After a while the burn got going thanks to a pair of paraffin soaked trousers and dry kindling in the middle of the heap.
The smoke continued poring out and we ducked under to inspect the charcoal from the metal drums.
After a while the kiln was capped with fierce flames roaring and the chimneys put in place. Sand was poured round the lip and the chimney openings. The fire could be seen burning through the openings.
The chimneys were then moved on round every 2 hours for about 10 hours until hopefully all the wood logs had become charcoal.
Meanwhile the smoke continues to fill the woodland canopy. Strangely beautiful -I think
While we waited Martin took a walk round the top woods and Lucy took some folk onto our plot. A lengthy barbecue to follow using yesterdays charcoal. Always amazed by the ease of starting the barbecue- just a bit of crumpled news paper. Within 15 minutes the charcoal was white and very hot- perfect!
After about 8 hours Martin and I capped off the burn, removed the chimneys and made sure that no more air was being drawn into the kiln. Time for that shower and a cold beer- Good day with great people. Thanks to everyone especially Martin for putting on such a good show and to Paul (Zero Carbon ) for his support
Day one of the charcoal course with a fantastic day and a big turnout. Led by Martin and supported by Alex, Mary and Lucy.
Start of the day
New faces and old friends. Dave, Nicola and James from Ferryside. Fanny and her “woofa” Canadian Johnny. Sarah and Chris, Sue and Andy plus our guests Paul and Helen- Paul of The Zero carbon project helped us with the grant for the course and the kiln.
We fired up two drums of firewood led expertly through the whole process by Martin, everyone involved in splitting wood, sawing wood, firing up and keeping watch. The only hazards we failed to avoid were the pesky horseflies
Both drums smoking
Lots of breaks with even time for a chat and a fag to keep the insects at bay. Lucy and Mary on hand with cake, coffee and teas – Lovely!
Fanny and Nicola catching up
After lunch we stacked the big kiln ready to burn first thing tomorrow. Johnny leapt in and stacked the floor of logs followed by the” fireplace “with paraffin soaked rags, paper and kindling. Then lots of timber stacked all the way up. Good job.
Loading the 6′ kiln
Finished off the day with a short tour of the woodland then off home for a shower and a Twmpath with Ratlin Bog. Long day but a good one
Almost the end of April and a rainy afternoon -time to share some news from the woodland.
Ty’r Eithin have finished fencing the higher pasture and have recently brought in some lovely Belted Galloway cattle and some Welsh Blacks. They are very content spending some time down by the river but also grazing higher up. The grassland already looks different and I can’t wait to see how the ecology of the old pasture changes.
Belted Galloway Cattle
The mighty 6′ charcoal kiln has been delivered by Woodmiths Experience and put in place in preparation for the charcoal course due to run on the 10th and 11th of May.
Charcoal Kiln delivered
6′ Charcoal Kiln in place
We already have four people signed up and yet to advertise.
A lot happening nationally and in our own back yard. George Monbiot got me thinking ( he always does) about why it seems so hard to put across the case for tackling climate change. We seem to have moved into a grudging consensus that anthropomorphic climate change is happening but still a reluctance to mention the “Climate Change “words by people on the left leaning/ pro-environment side. George quotes George Lakoff a cognitive linguist . He points out, you cannot win an argument unless you expound your own values and reframe the issue around them. If you adopt the language and values of your opponents you lose because you are reinforcing their frame- Read Monbiot’s excellent post Reframing the Planet to dig deeper.
And then I received an email from Steve Brown of Transition Tywi Trawsnewid inviting anyone in the Tywi Valley to a meeting at the Shire Hall, Carmarthen Street, Llandeilo on Tuesday May 6th at 7.30pm to work out practical ways of improving local resilience to the threats from climate change, which are accelerating. A terrific idea from Transition Llandeilo.
Martin and Lucy gave an excellent talk to the Ferryside Gardening Club about the Coed Panteg woodland- well received with a request to visit the woodland next time we have an open day. Few there had any idea where the woodland was and what it was about !
Back in the woods – “All is leaf” and flower
Cowslips bloom after coppicing
Orchid amongst Celandine
Richard Mabey and Wikipedia are a mine of information on our native plantsincluding the humble bracken a source of fuel and even food apparently these Fern Fiddle Heads are a delicacy in Korea ( untasted by me!)
Lastly not forgetting the little black tadpoles as they journey towards frog-hood
Tadpoles in the small pond
A burst of activity after this winter’s hard rain (going to fall!) Even our barrow in the woods filled up.
A rogue flock of sheep had come into the district having escaped from some poorly fenced land two miles away. On numerous visits onto Panteg land they trampled the Hugel mound, nibbled some trees and generally made a nuisance of themselves. I tried chasing them off but led by a wily old one they evaded me. I managed to get in touch with the farmer responsible and after a month plus of freedom they were rounded up and carted off. Phew!
Good news from The Rural Development Plan for Wales: Zero Carbon Future Project. We have been awarded £1750 to put on a charcoal making course and purchase a small charcoal making kiln. The course will take place in May and will be led by Martin. All of which means we have to stack wood ready cut to size and get it under cover . The kiln is 6′ in diameter and should yield about 150kg of charcoal and will need loading with about 3 cubic metres of cut wood. The wood needs to be dry with less than 20% moisture content. We will be lucky to get our wood this dry , the yield will be about 15% of wood to charcoal. [2.5 cubic metres of dry wood weighs about one tonne.]
6′ Woodsmith Kiln
We hope to run at least two courses with about 10 people per course using a mixture of oil drum and kiln firing. Menter Cwm Gwendraeth will help us produce bi lingual adverts and we already have people signing up.
Coppicing work has been on going with one week- end devoted to it. We caught sight of Ben on the Saturday and also Mary and Alex as well. It would be so good if everyone lived close by so the woods could really thrive. Much more to do over the coming months to section the wood and tidy up the woodland floor so that it can prosper.
All felling must be complete by the end of March or sooner, allowing birds and insects to thrive free of the threat of having their habitat cut down. The section we have worked on has a mixture of ash, willow and a few oak. We seem to have created mountains of brash and a reasonable amount of wood. Some of the bigger ash trees have challenged my chain saw skills- ah well another learning opportunity.
Stacked Ash on coppice
Last bit of news – We have agreed to give a talk in April to the Ferryside Gardening Club about Coed Panteg. A good chance to tell the local community about all the interesting things happening on the hill and who knows creating an appetite for some locally produced charcoal. Tony will be moving his animals on to the grass land once the fencing is complete- Can’t wait to see how they get on.
Following festive frolics at Tycanol over Xmas and New Year we are back to the serious stuff. Coppicing and preparing for Spring 2014.
The wild weather resulted in a few issues for Coed Panteg woodland.
The stream is blocked again
As Martin remarked last year the pipe under the track is too small and consequently blocks up when Autumn leaves, sticks and lots of water combine.
- Kitchen Tent taken down and ready to be rebuilt
Following the gales that took down the kitchen tent it has been completely rebuilt using new Ash poles and re-covered by the coppice crew in January. Thanks to everyone who turned up and worked so hard on this and the regular coppice work. ( More to follow in my next post)
A fallen tree that was ring barked last year- sectioned up.
The wind blew down a few trees including this one in the section we coppiced last year.
We took Harry, Lucy and dear old Charlie for a play in the woods over New Year.
We pulled carrots,
Played in the woods and had fun!
Charlie in the drink
Took my latest toy ( not really a toy rather a vital bit of kit) down the woods to collect a first load of wood. So much easier than messing up the inside of the wagon.