Friday, 18 January 2008

Coppicing without the rain


We got our first full day in coppicing today (Saturday), and thankfully it was dry. We got up there before 8:30am, and left the site at 4pm, just as the light was bigging to fade. The weather brightened as the day went on, which definitely helped the light in the evening.

We're still working in the same bit of the wood, near the entrance, as we're aiming to expand the area we've cleared, leaving space for stacking the timber and firewood, and also gaps to fell trees into. Here's a few pics of us getting busy. Tracy's been going ahead of me using loppers and a bowsaw to deal with the smaller stems, then I've been using the chainsaw to deal with everything thicker than a few inches. We both work on snedding (removing branches) and moving the cut logs to their storage areas.

Most of the time we were working there was a robin hopping aorund and watching us, and ignoring the noise of the chainsaw - they seem to have a fascination for watching forestry work, perhaps we're disturbing bugs for them to eat? I'll try to get a photo of him next time if he's around.

There was of course time for lunch and a tea-break, and also a chat with a couple of friends who happened to pass by while we were working - though they were very well behaved and waited at the edge of the taped off area until we saw them and stopped work.

As we fell each tree we consider how the different parts of it could be used, and as the space for storage expands, we'll be sorting the timber into even more categories than it's in at present. Right now we have:

Firewood. The leftmost is straight sections cut up from bendy trees, the next pile is 2m lengths, which are  convenient to handle and we may sell to someone in bulk, or else cut up and split ourselves to sell (or barter!), and the rightmost pile of the three close together is all the weirdly shaped bits you end up with, which we will figure out what to do with later  - perhaps we'll use them in the summer for campfires? The pile further away on the right is various twisty bits that will go a guy who makes garden furniture.

Timber for various uses. The pile in the background is straight poles for the garden furniture guy - once we have space we'll sort these by length and diameter. The pile in the middle is 10ft lengths from some unhealthy looking chestnut, which is thick enough to go to someone local in bulk for firewood (they asked for 10ft lengths specifically). The two poles at the left are nice bits of timber that we're not yet sure what we'll do with - they could be turned into stakes for use at the alottment, or maybe used by the garden furniture guy. We're going to sort this kind of stuff as it arrives and see what we have in a couple of weeks.

Brash. We're inevitably left with a pile of this - some of it will be burned up in a few weeks, while other bits we'll probably keep to dry out for use in camp fires or the Kelly Kettle.

And this is what's left of the trees - the stumps are cleaned up with a single sloping cut, to make sure that rainwater runs off. If rain is allowed to collect the wood can rot, which would damage it and affect the regrowth this spring.

Here's a picture from last week, before we started:

and here's the same patch after today's work,

and to the left of the oaks in the picture there is another clearing appearing too:

We'll be up there again tomorrow, with my friend Rich who's visiting, and also giving us a hand moving house on Monday.



Giles said...

Interesting read, thank you.

I was curious - how do you find local people / companies who want to buy your wood in its various stages? Word of mouth? Google...? I like the idea of this, but am not sure I could make a woodland pay its way.

Good luck!

Mike Pepler said...

We've only sold through personal contacts so far, as we don't produce much. I think word of mouth always works better for stuff like this at a small scale.