Friday 27 November 2020

Start of coppicing 2020

We took a year off from coppicing over the winter of 2019-20, as we'd cut so much wood the preceding two years, but this winter we're back in action again. And for the first time, we're cutting trees we've cut before! Back in 2009, we were working in exactly the same part of the woods; here's links to a couple of blog posts from October and December that year. We're cutting here again because some of the trees we left back then that border a road or neighbouring property were getting quite large, so we felt it was time to take them down rather than risk them falling the wrong way during a storm. 

Almost the first thing to do was to fell an Ash tree, which had been relatively small in 2009 but had since grown to tangle with a telephone line. After using a pole saw to trim the branches around the wires, it was straightforward to fell with a rope to encourage it in the right direction. It was also the first decent-sized tree we felled with our new Husqvarna 540iXP battery chainsaw, and it did the job very well!

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Rather than use it for firewood, the bottom five metres of the tree went to a friend at Dengates Farm for turning into bowls, like these.

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With the Ash tree down, we had space to build a rack to store logs in, and start felling some more trees.

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We try to avoid having fires to burn up brash these days, but given the relatively confined space we were starting in, we had to have one fire near the start to create enough space for us to work. Leaving the brash in piles to rot rather than burning it reduces pollution, creates habitat for various creatures, and is also less work.

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With the volume of brash in our way reduced, progress accelerated:

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This view is looking back along the footpath towards the road, and to the left of the path in the distance is some Holly, which had grown a lot since 2009 and was leaning over the road and a power line - a potential recipe for problems in a storm....
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So, we got to work with the winch and chainsaws, and now there's a gap where there hadn't been for a long time! It was a shame to take down a large Holly tree, as it was really good habitat, but the proximity to the road made it necessary, and it will regrow too - but we'll try to keep it at more of a shrub size in future, rather than letting it get large again.

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It was the same story moving along the bank, where the wood borders a farmyard:

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One bit there was a bit tricky, with stems so tangled that they could not be felled individually. So these three came down in one go, using the winch.
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You can see the grey sling in the next photo, which held the stems together as they fell, and was also what the winch attached to:

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I did of course have to spend some time working in a water-filled ditch again, just like I did 11 years ago!

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Here's a view looking back towards the road, the people who live opposite have commented on how they enjoy the light that's now coming in to their homes! Of course, the trees will grow back, but at least they'll get a few years of extra light.

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You can see the effect of that light from further down the hill here, creating some atmospheric photos:

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That's all for now, back with another update soon.... Mike

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