Thursday, 30 April 2009
Monday, 27 April 2009
On Friday our neighbour Andrew collected some logs to burn on his upcoming caravan trip, and last night he gave his brazier a test run. He has to use this because caravan sites are sometimes a bit precious about their turf apparently... Anyway, it works really nicely:
This was just a little test though - I think he's going to build a much bigger fire in it when he's away!
As it went dark I got my telescope out to look at the stars. Andy and Rachel (my brother and his wife) recently gave me an adaptor to connect my SLR camera directly to the telescope, so I did a little test run with it:
There wasn't anything particularly exciting, so it's just some random stars. I'm going to need a bit of practice with it, but it was good to be able to get some decent photos first time.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Friday was the last day my family were visiting, so we had dinner up in the woods in the evening. The wayleave is now dense with leaves:and there's all kinds of flowers out on the ground, such as Violet:
and Blue Bugle:Also, our mystery tree has now flowered, thus confirming its identity as Crab Apple. I'll be interested to see if there are any fruit, as I've never noticed them before...
As we were cooking for six adults and my nephew Joshua:
we needed several fires going. There was the one we were sat round, which my brother Andy had started in the afternoon before we got there, and hot coals from that were used to light the kelly kettle to make drinks. I was also trying out my new pot stand attachment for it:With so many of us we couldn't fit dinner in one saucepan, so we had the big one on our normal cooking stove:and a smaller pan on my shiny new woodgas stove:
You'll notice it has a tiny battery pack - this supplies a controlled amount of air to gasify wood at the bottom of the stove, and more air at the top of the stove to burn the gas produced , just under the pan:I'll do a post just on this stove soon, including how to use it.
After dinner our neighbour Andrew called in to collect some wood for a caravan trip he's going on, so he can have a few camp fires on the way. He had a quick go with the air rifle while he was there:but seemed surprised he hit the tin can first time:Anyway, he got into splitting logs after that:
and we loaded up his truck.
My nephew had to go home to sleep, as he's only little, but my parents stayed up with us until dusk, sat round the fire.and we left with the sound of the Tawny Owl echoing through the woods.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Things change fast in the woods during Spring, and there are certain sights you only get to see on one, perhaps two, weekends in a year. Last weekend was one of these times. The Wood Anemone are fading, but still there, and the Bluebells are heading towards their peak, giving us the once-a-year opportunity to see them together:
In some patches the bluebells are much further on:
and the hazel is making rapid progress in Sweep Wood:
There's some great views with the sun coming through the trees:
We've got family here this week, so the wood is full of grandparents and babies:
So we're not really doing any work, or seeing any wildlife as it's scared off by all the activity! But we're having a good time, and catching up with everyone. We had a fire and BBQ up there on Sunday, and while I was using the very first stool I made as a saw bench it fell in half:
I guess that's the downside of using chestnut - it cleaves easily! Maybe I'll make my next sawbench stool from another tree, and keep the chestnut stools just for sitting on...
Saturday, 18 April 2009
I thought I'd share this video I took today of our cockatiels, looking for trouble on the table. They're busying trying to chew the place mats to pieces, but it's taking a while as they're quite tough. Tom likes to copy everything Pete does - in this video he follows Pete around while he's singing, and even goes to have a poo off the edge of the table at the exact same spot Pete did a few seconds earlier!
My parents and my brother and his family are in Rye this week, so we'll all be heading up to the wood tomorrow.
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
You may remember that back in February we were interviewed by Tom Heap (presenter) and Martin Poyntz-Roberts (producer) for Costing the Earth.
Well, it was on last night, called "A Burning Solution" and you can listen to it online here:
It's also going to be repeated at 13:30 this Thursday, 16th April.
This is also in the news, as the Environment Agency’s recent “Biomass: Carbon sink or carbon sinner” report has been mentioned, although in the main BBC news it is mis-reported with the headline “Biomass 'worse than fossil fuels'”, when in fact the report only said this was the case if nitrogen fertilisers were used to grow trees and/or the biomass was moved a long distance. (Neither of which we do, of course!)
Monday, 13 April 2009
Everything is getting very green in the woods now, the wayleave looks different even since three days ago
We got some more pictures of the "mystery tree", suggestions so far are purging buckthorn or crab apple. Comments welcome:
We did a bit of tree planting today. I know it's a bit late in the year to be doing this, but we were relocating tiny trees from places where they will never make it, like the middle of a path, so if they don't make it in their new places then there's nothing lost. We brought a few Hawthorn and Ash back from Sean and Sarah's wood, where they have thousands of them self-seeding, and we added some birch and elder from Sweep Wood. Rather than using the plastic tree guards we have, we tried making some out of brash and dead bracken:
It'll be interesting to see how effective they are against rabbits.
There were dozens of birds around in the cant we cut a year ago, more than I remember at this time last year. I wonder if this is because a year ago we'd only just finished felling there, so they hadn't claimed any territory. This year, it is full of pheasants:
and many more.
OK, on to butterflies. These were in evidence again in the wildlife corridor we created last winter, affirming the effectiveness of the plan. Peacocks were around:
and for the first time I got a good picture of a Comma, again 100m inside the wood, where we've never seen them before:
A quick update on the pond - it seriously needs digging out again, as the boar have trampled it a lot, but stuff is still growing in it regardless:
And finally, in Sweep Wood we saw more boar digging, and some droppings:
That's all for now, there's a week of work ahead, and then my parents and brother and his family are visiting for a week.
Yesterday we went to visit our friends Sean and Sarah in their wood in West Sussex, about 60 miles from us. It's a very different wood from ours, mostly hazel coppice with dense oak standards and self-seeded ash.They've done some coppicing but haven't started thinning the standards yet, though they've been talking to the Forestry Commission to get advice on this.
Their woodland has much more clay than ours, and is a lot wetter. As a result there are many more flowers, including orchids:
They've been making charcoal with some of the hazel they've coppiced, selling it in a local shop. Sean explained how the kilns worked
and showed us the results of the latest burn in the small kiln:There were loads of birds in their wood, and quite a bit of nest-making activity right near where we were having lunch:
They have a bird feeder up too:
which gave some great opportunities for photos of birds flying. If only the sun had been out I'd have been able to use a faster shutter and avoided the wings blurring...
Sean suggested our mystery tree might be a crab apple. This isn't something I'd considered as I'd assumed I'd have noticed the fruit. But perhaps not, so we'll keep an eye one it.