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swift brick

Swift-bricks: fancy sex in a swift box or in flight?

by Angus ~ 24 July, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Swifts are amazing creatures - they migrate from Europe to Africa and back every winter, they cruise at 70mph and in a lifetime they might fly a distance equivalent to three return trips to the moon.  There is some question about where swifts actually mate - it is certain that they can copulate in mid-air, but they also routinely mate at their nest sites.  Possibly mating on the wing is a lightening quick liaison between individuals that are paired with someone else - a case of a 'swift quickie', that may have the effect of widening the gene pool - even if it's a long shot.  Despite all their aerial stunts, they spend about a month every year incubating eggs or brooding chicks on a solid surface such as a ledge or crevice, an old nest or a specifically designed swift box or swift brick. Read more...

LiDAR - amazing technology for tracing the history of a woodland

LiDAR – amazing technology for tracing the history of a woodland

by Angus ~ 3 July, 2020 ~ 4 comments

Over the last 20 years there has been a revolution in understanding the history of our woodlands.  That's because a technology known as LiDar (Light Detection and Ranging) allows planes to map the forest floor to an accuracy of 4-6 inches (100 to 150mm) which means that earthbanks and holes of any significant size can be mapped accurately.  An aeroplane flies over the woodland with very precise plotting of its height and position and it bounces laser beams off the forest floor to collect enormous quantities of high-precision data.  The cleverness of the technology is that even though a beam is bounced off the ground the signals from trees and leaves can be filtered out: so it maps a detailed picture of the ground surface totally naked. Read more...

tools before

New tools for old

by Dick ~ 24 June, 2020 ~ 4 comments

About 2 months ago, mid-lockdown, I had a major calamity: my outbuildings burned down (see image below), cause unknown although the fire brigade investigating officer suspected a carelessly discarded cigarette butt (the buildings back on to a road).  Although it was originally a stable block, built by the previous owner of the property, I used it as workshop / equipment store / timber store. Everything went: trailer, wood-chipper, ride-on mowers, chainsaws, brush-cutters ….  Even now, after 5 A4 sides of contents lists for the insurers, I am still remembering other things that were stored there.

After a couple of days wandering aimlessly around the wreckage, looking at a heap of ash and cinders which had previously been a stack of oak boards that had been seasoning for about 3 years, I started ‘tidying up’ – shovelling the ash into heaps and sorting the remains into separate stacks: wood, metal and other / unidentifiable. Read more...

Hugelkultur -another use for wood / wood trimmings.

Hugelkultur -another use for wood / wood trimmings.

by Angus ~ 6 April, 2020 ~ comments welcome

In a woodland or indeed one’s garden, there are often bits of wood and trimmings lying around.  Sometimes these can be useful in a woodburning stove or used to support peas & beans / vegetables but another use is in hugelkultur.

Hugelkultur or hugel beds are basically raised beds with a difference - they are filled with rotting wood and other biomass.  They are simply packed with organic material, nutrients and air pockets. They can be an effective way of creating a productive area for growing fruits and vegetables in your garden / woodland.  Instead of putting your wood offcuts, branches, leaves and grass clippings into bags for the ‘green collection’ or the compost heap, consider building a hugel bed.  Read more...

Making a stool from green ash at the Sylva Wood Centre

Making a stool from green ash at the Sylva Wood Centre

by Angus ~ 8 November, 2019 ~ comments welcome

I learnt 10 lessons in making my greenwood stool:

1. It's hard work using an axe to reduce a triangular piece of wood into a cylinder but less hard work than using a draw knife to reduce the timber down to size. With both tools, axes and draw knives, you soon learn to work with the grain and how to make the tools work for you.

2. Using a drawknife is extremely satisfying but it's "the wrist action" that matters - to avoid the blade digging into the wood.  Because you have a hand on each end of the drawknife you can't easily injure yourself, but this didn't stop one of my course-mates from digging the corner into her leg.  This created a small nick that justified getting out the first aid kit. Read more...

shave horse

A shave horse, my kingdom for a shave horse!

by Angus ~ 20 June, 2019 ~ 2 comments

"Traditional bodgers and woodworkers would have spent the first day in a new woodland making their equipment such as a shave horse "explains Adrian Dennett a supplier of wood bodgers' kit.  These are stools where the craftsman (or woman) sits at one end of the 'horse' and uses a foot-controlled lever to hold their work in place.  It's remarkable how firmly this device holds the wood in position and allows the operator safely to shave down a piece of wood.

Shave horses are mostly used for green woodwork (using unseasoned wood) to make items such as spoons, kuksas (small bowls) or chair legs.  Typically they are used to hold rougher bits of wood which are being moulded into shape using a two-handed draw knife. Read more...

What we have done with a wood of our own

What we have done with a wood of our own

by Martin ~ 26 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

One family's account of buying a their own piece of woodland in Devon.

There are many reasons why you might want to buy a piece of woodland. Perhaps you want to use it for wildlife conservation or to help you and your family strive for a better way of life and well being.   For the Turner family their decision was motivated by the latter. They wanted a place they could escape from the stresses and strain of modern life and the trappings of digital connectivity.

Martin Turner discovered woodlands.co.uk who specialise in selling parcels of woodland. Woodlands had a wide range of potential sites and after making contact, Martin was soon viewing potential locations with the local woodland manager.   The family wanted their woodland to be close enough to their home so that they could easily reach it within half an hour. Their criteria also included a light, varied and characterful piece of woodland, with good vehicle access,  the potential for the production of firewood and all of this in an area with no phone signal! Read more...

Survival in the wild with the help of a "Survival Kit"

Survival in the wild with the help of a “Survival Kit”

by Angus ~ 3 May, 2019 ~ one comment

A small tin can carry vital equipment for emergency use in a survival situation.  I spent £22 with Amazon to get Limitless Equipment's "Survival Kit Mark 1", although you could put one together yourself.

The one I bought contains these 10 items: Read more...

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