Tuesday, 20 October 2009
During the weekend of the 10th October we felled an ash tree to continue the process of bringing the ash back into coppiced rotation (as outlined in our felling licence from the Forestry Commission).
We also walked the perimeter to check for loose and broken overhanging branches. Nothing was found.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Our friend Chris came over for tea during the morning, bringing Jack the dog with her. Chris brought Tunnocks with her, too – yummy!
We spent some time looking at where we want to start coppicing at the end of October, and have decided that a good place would be toward the north side, about half way along.
We also had a walk around the outside and took photos of the black bryony.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
The morning promised to stay wet, but after an early shower or two the wind picked up slightly and the sun came out. The extra bit of warmth provided by the sunshine soon had the silver washed fritillaries on the wing (picture on the left). There were plenty of other butterflies, too - among them we saw red admirals.
The ash we felled earlier this year has bounced back with lots of new shoots - some of which are now about 1 metre high, and hopefully, will soon be out of reach of browsing roe deer.
We also have Enchanter's Nightshade Circaea Lutetiana with its irridescent white flowers.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
It started to rain in the early evening of Friday; drizzle at first, later turning to quite heavy rain. The floor of Rainbow Wood would be getting squelchy, the trees would be getting heavy with water drops and the fire wood for our camp would be taking on the burning characteristics of damp asbestos.
Saturday's weather didn't improve. Drizzle all day, which was occasionally relieved by heavier downpours. However, not to be defeated, Jill and I got the chainsaw out at home and finished cutting the ash we had felled earlier in the year into woodburner sized chunks. The pile grew quickly and we even managed to get it all into our wood store at the top of our garden. (Our wood store is an ancient Andersen shelter from World War II, which would have been capable of supporting a family of four during air raids.)
Monday, 29 June 2009
Sunday, 7 June 2009
While browsing someone elses blog this afternoon I came across this poem about burning logs. I rather like it, though I have seen something similar before.
Logs to burn! Logs to burn!
Logs to save the coal a turn!
Here’s a word to make you wise
When you hear the woodsman’s cries.
Beech wood fires burn bright and clear,
Hornbeam blazes too’
If the logs are kept a year
To season through and through.
Oak logs will warm you well
If they are old and dry.
Larch logs of the pine smell
But the sparks will fly.
Pine is good and so is Yew
For warmth through winter days,
But poplar and the willow too
Take long to dry or blaze.
Birch logs will burn too fast,
Alder scarce at all,
Chestnut logs are good to last
If cut in the fall
Holly logs will burn like wax –
You should burn them green.
Elm logs like a smouldering flax,
No flames to be seen.
Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent a room,
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom.
But Ash logs all smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way
They’re worth their weight in Gold!
Monday, 25 May 2009
We also have lots of damsel flies with their bright blue iridescent bodies in stark contrast to the vivid green of the leaves of this year's spring growth.
The family of blue tits nesting in our bird box have succesfully fledged this weekend, too. We didn't actually see them go, but we are pleased to have been able to provide a home for at least one family of these beautiful birds.
Last week we also discovered that we have a crab apple tree, and it's fruiting. That'll provide lots of apples for winter birds that stay in the wood.
On a slightly more disturbing note, we had someone 'visit' on Saturday night and vandalise one of the ash trees by carving a rather stupid face into the bark. They also left us their discarded food wrappers and drinks bottle. We don't mind uninvited visitors provided they respect the space we have created and respect the trees and wildlife.
The last job of the weekend was to walk the perimeter to check for wind damaged trees and overhanging branches. All was well.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
I am pleased to say that the box on the Faraway Tree has blue tits in residence. If they succesfully nest then next year I would like to install more boxes and put cameras into one or two of them.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Monday, 20 April 2009
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
We have just heard our application has been successful.
Monday, 6 April 2009
Sunday, 29 March 2009
While we were out we took the opportunity to patrol our perimeter and check for overhanging branches. All was well - no diseased or dead wood over the paths and rides.
Monday, 23 March 2009
We keep a running log of any regular patrols of the boundaries and woodland that we undertake, and also log anything we consider to be a hazard such as branches overhanging the boundary footpaths. We also undertake to patrol after storms to check that nothing has become dislodged. Anything we indentify as a hazard is then dealt with - eg lopping branches and felling unsafe trees.
In many respects this rigorous attention is counterproductive to the natural state of the woodland as it destroys the ecosystem and natural processes of decay much needed as habitat for birds, bats, insects, mice and other small mammals.
Since ‘Right to Roam’ can be exercised over large tracts of hillside, many people imagine that all countryside, including woodland, is now open access. Unless a wood was previously ‘common land’ no such right exists. Rainbow Wood is ancient woodland and has never been used as common land.
Readers - please see ‘Managing Visitor Safety in the Countryside’ - www.vscg.co.uk/
Monday, 16 March 2009
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Ben walked around the wood with us pointing out some of the plant species we have; eg laurel spurge, bugle, and the more obvious primroses and bluebells. We also have woodpeckers, robins, wrens, pheasants, black caps, blackbirds and blue tits.
Dave from the Forestry Commission talked about bringing some of the ash back into a coppiced rotation and taking out one or two of the oak and the more mature ash standards to let in more light to the floor. This would encourage a greater variety of flowers and wildlife (particularly butterflies).
I asked Dave about the need to remove some of the dead branches from the oak standards - but Dave pointed out that these provide excellent habitat for bats, small birds and insects and are best left.
Jill and I were not sure if we needed a felling license as it seems unlikely that we'll exceed the allowance of more than 5 cubic metres in any one quarter. Anyhow, Dave suggested that it would be a good idea to apply anyway.
Monday, 2 March 2009
Saturday, 21 February 2009
The old oil drum is first packed to the top with chunks of seasoned wood from last years hazel coppice, and then kindling is placed on top. The whole drum is then turned over and placed on bricks to allow the air in to get the wood burning. The drum, when turned over, has four holes in the top to allow the smoke and gases to escape. The term 'charcoal burning' is a bit of a minsnomer as it's actually the wood that is burnt to make the charcoal. The charcoal isn't burnt until you put it on the barbie to cook your food.
Once the smoke turns clear (after about an hour and a half) the four holes are covered over with four metals sheets, and soil is piled on top to create an air seal. The vents at the bottom are also sealed with soil to exclude all the air. The drum is then left to smoulder. When it has completely cooled (about 12 hours) the drum is lifted off, and hopefully the wood that was stacked inside has turned to charcoal.
This is the finished product from our oil drum.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
At the entrance to the wood there is a shallow ditch with a single bar gate just beyond it. This opens out into a space suitable for parking. The ditch presents a bit of an obstacle, and we decided the best way to tackle it was to dig it out and put in a drainage pipe to carry the water. We will then cover this over with plastic 'egg boxes' to spread the weight of the truck, and then cover it all over with gravel, allowing the grass and other plants to grow up and the water to drain away.
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Rainbow Wood is ancient woodland; the oaks are mature and the hazel has been coppiced (last coppiced five years ago). We intend to carry on managing the woodland in the traditional, sustainable way, coppicing the hazel to make bean poles, plant labels, stakes, hurdles, charcoal and other woodland produce. This method of management opens up areas of the woodland in rotation allowing native flowers, such as orchids and bluebells, to thrive. It also allows shrubs and brambles to develop as food and habitat for butterflies and insects.
Rainbow Wood is part of a larger woodland (32 hectares) in West Sussex. To the south lie the South Downs, to the north is open pasture. The northern boudary is marked with an ancient woodbank and a seasonal stream. Woodbanks were used to mark boundaries in previous centuries. The earth is dug from a ditch and piled above to make the bank. On top of the bank dead branches and twigs are layered. They make a good boundary as the sides are steep and are generally cattle proof. In Rainbow Wood the old branches and twigs are long gone.
Buying the woodland was quite straightforward. It's a bit like buying a house with searches and land registry, but somewhat simpler as there was no chain. We saw the advert on the 'Woodlands' website - www.woodlands.co.uk
Once we had declared our intention to buy, we instructed our solicitor to do the conveyancing, and within a few weeks, we had signed the contract.