Friday 18 January 2008

Culverts, scythes and wildlife


Yesterday was hot, and after cycling to visit some friends from church in the morning we headed up to the wood again for the afternoon. There was a job to do before we even got to the wood, testing out the newly sharpened scythe to cut back some bracken on the wayleave:

We're still pondering whether to hire a brushcutter for a day though...

Once in the wood, we finally got round to felling the tree that has been partially blocking the entrance. Here's a picture before...

and after...

Part of the trunk from this tree has been formed into our first tool produced from our own wood - a mallet:

This was made using a saw to cross-cut the log at the top of the handle section, then a side axe to trim the handle down. I managed it without chopping my fingers off too! It's kind of rouch and ready, but it's an essential tool for green woodworking. All we need now is to finish the pole lathe, but as long as the weather is sunny (which has been most days this month) we're in the wood, rather than the garage...

I mentioned in an earlier post that all the trees we are felling at the moment will regrow, as we are coppicing them. Just to show the proof of this, here's a photo of a silver birch that we cut about 3 weeks ago, where you can see there are lots of shoots coming up already:

Today we saw some new wildlife in the wood: a snake and a frog. I didn't get a clear look to see if the snake was an adder or just a grass snake, but it was quite a small one, and very quick to slither off once it saw me - I must admit I heard it move before I saw it, as it was very well camouflaged. We also saw a little frog, which was near the snake, so perhaps the fact it hadn't been eaten means the snake wasn't an adder? Anyway, here's the frog:

The hard work for today was building a culvert across the main ride in the wood, where a stream has been running across it during wet weather in the winter and turning the ride into a bog! We started out here (ride running left to right, stream bed heading towards the camera):

then dug a big trench:

After the trench was dug, we laid in the long drainage pipe we'd picked up for free months ago on Wheatley Freecycle (you can see the end of the pipe in the picture above). At each end we used some bricks to build a bit of a structure round the pipe, and put large ancient oak logs across the top to cap it off and give a "natural" look, at least when you're stood on the ride:

The finished project:

We still have some work to do filling in the wheel ruts in the track, but that can wait for another day...


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