Friday, 18 January 2008

Willow, acorns and oaks


Over the weekend we spent quite a bit of time in the wood. One of the first jobs we did was to harvest some thin willow branches from the wayleave:

These will be dried for future use in basket baking - Tracy plans to go on a course to learn how in a few weeks.
 Apparently you can just soak them at some point in future, and they'll be supple again, ready for weaving. We stripped them of leaves and cut out the good bits to keep:

You only end up with a surprisingly small bundle!

More acorns were also collected:

We must have a few kilos now - I hope we can make them taste good after all this!

The important job of the weekend was meeting our local forestry contact and looking at the oaks with him. Now we have a patch in mind to coppice, we need to choose the oaks to thin. in the 0.75 acres we will coppice there are about 30 oaks! We picked about 15, and our friend looked at them with us and advised us on a couple of changes to make to our choices. He'll buy them from us standing, and come and fell them himself, and turn them into products for final customers, ranging from beams and fenceposts to firewood and blocks for turnery.

The next step was to number and measure the trees for the purpose of filling in a felling licence application. We numbered them with some paint we had handy - we'll return later with spray paint to do some larger numbers:

We also needed to measure the DBH (Diameter at Breast Height):

and I made a little contraption from some canes and a spirit level to estimate the height, by measuring the distance out from the tree:

and then finding the right place to stand along the tape measure, while sighting the top of the tree:

We're now in the process of completing the felling licence application - though we have to wait for them to send us a map to mark the trees on... It's a serious business felling trees that have been around for up to 200 years, so we've taken every precaution we can to make sure we have chosen the right ones. Our goal is that the oaks that remain will get a better chance to grow (we'll prune a couple of them to improve their quality), and may be ready to harvest in another 50 or 100 years. The extra light that will reach the ground will allow the chestnut to grow much better, and also support a wider range of plants and animals.

Oh and finally, here's what Pete and Tom think of the vacuum cleaner:


No comments: