Charcoal making using the 6′ kiln

Second day of the course and Martin fired up the carefully stacked kiln. We retreat behind flimsy tape!

Lighting up

Lighting up

After a while the burn got going thanks to a pair of paraffin soaked trousers and dry kindling in the middle of the heap.

Smoking

Smoking

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.

3 Chimneys

3 Chimneys

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

Strangely beautiful

Strangely beautiful

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!

Barbecue time

Barbecue time

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

Shut down

Shut down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in June 2014 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid Summer’s day Charcoal course

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted in July 2014 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Green shoots and other thoughts

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

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

Charcoal Kiln delivered

 

6' Charcoal Kiln in place

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

Cowslips bloom after coppicing

 

Orchid amongst Celandine

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!)

Unfurling Fern - Fiddle Heads

 

Lastly not forgetting the little black tadpoles as they journey towards frog-hood

Tadpoles in the small pond

Tadpoles in the small pond

Posted in April 2013 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Coppicing work March 2014

A burst of activity after this winter’s hard  rain (going to fall!) Even our barrow in the woods filled up.

Wet Barrow March 2014

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!

Rogue sheep

Rogue sheep

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

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.

Coppice work

Coppice work

Stacked Ash on coppice

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.

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January 2014 -On the road again!

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

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.

Tent wrecked

Tent wrecked

Kitchen Tent blown down ready to be rebuilt
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.

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,

Carrot Pickers

Carrot Pickers

Played in the woods and had fun!

Charlie in the drink

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.

New Toy

New Toy

Posted in January 2014 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Autumn

Back on the hill after what seems an age. The woodland looks so soft and mellow

Autumn woodland

Autumn woodland

Lots to do on the hill but still time to have a look round and enjoy the sights and sounds.

The stream has silted up and I must dig it out to prevent a flooded track as we had last year.

Silted stream

Silted stream

The kitchen tent looks wrecked after strong winds have snapped the old A frame. Time to replace before winter comes and coppicing work starts again.

Tent wrecked

Tent wrecked

Back up the hill the Hugel mound continues to produce.

Squash

Squash

Carrots and peas are making a brave attempt to beat the winter weather.

Leeks and peas

Leeks and peas

Even the French beans have given us a tasty crop

French beans

French beans

Clean up and weed once everything dies back. Starting to think about what to plant for next spring.

Our major job has been to weed round all the fruit trees, renew paper or cardboard circles and then to cover with at least a few centimetres of our green compost from  The Nantycaws  site                                                   ( http://www.cwmenvironmental.co.uk/recycling/compost/ ). Its taken about six days hard graft to complete. Each tree has had a barrow load of compost.

Green gold

Green gold

 

Sorted

Apple tree weeded and composted

Blackcurrants

Black currants

Crab apple tree

Golden Hornet-Crab apple tree

Lastly we are going to start work on the willow trees to form them into a 2m high hedge (hopefully!)

Watch this space for progress

Looking down the willow tree line

Looking down the willow tree line

The trees on the other side of the plot are due a little work so as to remove weeds and to feed.

Hazel hedge

Hazel hedge

AND

Cherry Plumb hedge

Cherry Plum tree hedge

Lots of frogs and spiders about a source of delight

The Pond

The Pond

and one of our resident spiders

Little old spider

Little old spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in October 2013 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment
Team 157 at Dr MZ's

Team 157 at Dr MZ’s

Back in the swing of things and just come back from a presentation ceremony for the wonderful young people of The Prince’s Trust Team 157 at Dr MZ centre in Carmarthen.

Claire, Chloe, Chris, James, Josh and Joshua, Paul, Steve and Rob. Fresh back from climbing the Brecon Beacons, Cader Idris and Snowdon all in three days.The change in this fantastic team from when we first met them to now is awe inspiring. Confident, witty and so self assured. Congratulations to you all and to your team leader the wonderful Mr Ifor Griffiths. Can’t wait to meet the next team in the New Year.

We recently held our open day at Coed Panteg which was a blast. Great barbecue and food and a chance to sit down and have a good chat with friends and neighbours. Dave played some tunes and the kids ran wild in the woods. Great day.

The Green man aka dave

The Green Man 

Evie gives a look

Evie gives me a look

Barbecue time

Barbecue time

Off  to Coventry this weekend to clebrate Rosa’s engagement.

I’m sure Iggy would approve.

IGGY POP - NEW VALUES

IGGY POP – NEW VALUES

Posted in Journal, September 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coed Panteg Open Day Sunday 25th August

Coed Panteg Woodland Co-op are holding their annual open day this Sunday the 25th August between 2 and 5 pm. Come and see what’s happening down in the woods and meet up with coop members and friends. A lot of work has been carried out with the help of Team 157 of the Prince’s Trust including the creation of paths, pond and Hugel Mound growing beds. We will have refreshments and a barbecue,  do bring along something to share  if you like. Children very welcome.

Hugel Mound on Coed Panteg hillside

Hugel Mound on Coed Panteg hillside

Please try to arrange car share to reach the woodland as parking is limited. All very welcome – Hope to see you there!

Contact Mike by email: mikee@canolnet.plus.com  or Mobile; 07904313156 for any further information you need.

Posted in August 2013 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Back on the hill

Thumbs up for Runner Beans

Thumbs up for Runner Beans

We went up to see how things were going on the hill after an enforced spell at home.

The mound is going from strength to strength with runner beans, leeks, french beans, squashes, carrots and cucumbers  all surviving and thriving. We harvested our potatoes which we grew next to the mound. The yield was poor, about a sack full,  mainly because I had put fabric on the rows with the plants poking through. The fabric restricted the amount of water reaching the plants with some even going to seed. Charlotte and Romano did best- better luck next year.

Hidden squash

Hidden squash

Veg on the Mound

Veg on the Mound

A quick scurry up the hill to see how things were going.The water cube had dried up in the sun but following some rain its full again- lets hope we need it.

Water tank filled up

Water tank filled up

Lucy picked a big bucket of red current off one red current bush.

Red Current harvest

Red Current harvest

Apples on only one tree but we want the trees to strengthen up a bit more before they carry decent amounts of fruit.

Court of Wick Apple Tree

Court of Wick Apple Tree

A damson tree had two branches snapped off, I can only guess that crows or jackdaws have been after the fruit and became too enthusiastic. It seems that the birds have us on their menu as a fruit garden because the black currents have also gone.

Bird damaged damson tree

Bird damaged damson tree

Elsewhere trees have put on good growth even the ones that were nibbled by the cattle last year.

Clover in the guild

Clover in the guild

The guilds are hanging on in there with clover producing a good show plus  lavender, strawberries and even a lupin.

Lavender

Lavender

 

Strawberries in the guild

Strawberries in the guild

One last treat at the top of the hill was to see the pond, Team 157 put in, filling with water and resplendent with a water lilly. Lets hope the frogs like it!

Lilly in the pond

Lilly in the pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in August 2013 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

After the rain

Popped up to see the Hugel Mound after a welcome drop of rain. We went up the night before to plant leek, carrot and borage. The squash, aubergine, runner beans and cucumbers are all thriving. We will keep a close eye on the mound as the rain falls. We may have to pin plants onto the mound and plant more to retain the earth. We are both thrilled by the possibilities opened up by the mound.

Runner beans and squash - all thriving so far!

Runner beans and squash – all thriving so far!

Lucy surveys the wondrous mound
Lucy surveys the wondrous mound

 

We had a visit back home  from Ifor Griffiths and Chloe from Team 157. Lovely to see them both. Good luck on the Three Peaks challenge. Ifor gave us a lovely thank you letter – he puts it so well; ” Coed Panteg is a delightful environment providing team members with an ideal opportunity to experience what nature has to offer.One of the themes the Prince’s Trust is keen on highlighting and developing is E.S.D.G.C (Education for Sustainable development and Global Citizenship ). By engaging in such a community project, team 157 has covered all seven of the themes within E.S.D.G.C  ”

 

 

Posted in July 2013 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment