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End of 2010 and Start of 2011



Someone almost stole September...


... one minute it was August and I was scratching and stinging my legs in my shorts on brambles and nettles respectively and then without warning it was nearly October, stock take looming and summer gorn and almost forgotten. It isn't surprising that Christmas seems to come round every three months when you lose a whole month like that.


A bit more cash came in than went out which makes a nice change and I sold my tractor without trying so I must have been around, I just can't remember it.


Reminds me of a bloke who after making love to a girl says "Was I the first?" To which the reply came "You might be, your face looks familiar".


We did manage a final...


... charcoal burn, hoping not to repeat the rather poor return of 3 bags over the bank holiday. We took the precaution of dragging Jon the Forestry Com Mon along to advise and point out where we had gone wrong. It transpired that it was all to do with the air vents rather than the stacking inside and timing of putting the lid on.


The result was a record breaking 53 bags of top quality stuff. The only downside to this was that it took us 4 hours to bag. An amiable bloke James who had come for some wood for a pole lathe got roped in and covered in coal dust but went away with a bag of black gold and a nice bit of Wellingtonia!


The pile of bags grew and grew until they wouldn't fit into the frame or truck - that's how we like it!

We had a Woodmizer in...


... for what I hoped was to be a bumper day's sawing and a chance to fill the shed with Oak. Frankly the result was poor. I have previously been told that the reason I didn't get as much processed as I would have liked, was that as a team we didn't feed the Sawyer enough.


That wasn't the case this time, despite David and Daniel being well over an hour late with the tractor and a dodgy excuse - as I loaded previously cut beams on to the saw by hand until Dave turned up with his perpetual cigarette and a day long grumble about nothing and everyone.


If you want my opinion...


... and not many people do! - pay for results and not by the day. I was so confident that I would tidy up the 20 odd Oaks awaiting the saw that I got Tom to bring another bit of Ash over to whiz through. There wasn't much whizzing and the lump of Ash pictured below is still at the site unscathed.


Unlike Dave, Daniel in the tractor quietly does everything asked without constant grumbling !

So without much stock...


... in the shed it was back to our knackered little saw in the wood. Here Dynamic Dave, not to be confused with the Tractor Dave above has been slowly improving the standard of sawyering with a mixture of advice and violence!


If I'm cutting badly or heading for an obstruction he will attract my attention by throwing the chalk at me - he must have been a teacher in another life. In the year of so he's been helping he has taught me quite a few things in his gentle but slightly menacing way.


We have hardly broken anything...


... since we swapped Brian's ram everything through as quick as you can and a bit faster for Dave's get it right, way. Unfortunately, whilst trying to get a large lump of Beech exactly right on the bed I dropped it and whilst I missed my mate we later discovered I'd buggered the saw rail bending it badly.


That's not an optical illusion the rail is badly bent in the middle & 'cattle trucked' to coin a phrase

We took the rail and support...


... to bits and contacted the dealer in Northern Ireland. I must mention M. Large and Co as they are very friendly and helpful especially Alan their technical support salesman. I'll have replacements with you tomorrow... £100 and 24 hours later we had it.


Annoyingly the bits are bigger and better than my version so it didn't fit. Happily Rob the Blacksmith managed to mend it but the old girl is creaking and a new one will have to be looked at before too long.


Back in the summer...


... I had been emailed by a chap called Andrew who was preparing his father's very large house with overgrown grounds for sale. He likened it to a fairytale Sleeping Beauty type place with Yew and Box hedges untouched for decades.


Knowing untrimmed bushes were not fashionable he got stuck in and did some serious coppicing with the result that he had a lot of branch wood.


Being a turner he also knew how good it is to turn branch Yew but didn't realise that selling it is harder. A good deal of time later hawking his wares, he had learnt that though turners love Yew they don't like digging deep into their pockets!


I was thus able to do a trade off with some Walnut and other bits and bobs.


One wet and windy November...


... day where the prospect of working in the wood didn't appeal was ideal for the road trip to collect. It was a doubly good day as Andrew had a bloke demonstrating a very good woodland management programme and the sun came out for the half hour we were loading the trailer!


Come and buy this lot quick and I'll get back there for some more.


Only Yew can make my dreams come true as the song almost goes ! Making a Bow ???

As Winter kicked in with...


... sub zero temperatures and then snow I had an unusual email. It was from a rather nice Vineyard not far from the Middle Wallop army helicopter base. The gist was " We have some firewood that is a bit wormy that the boss wants off the estate so if you want it you can have it ".


Not one to turn down a freebie me and Dave went over in convoy and it turned out the Estate Manager Geoff and the staff were lovely, very helpful.


Not only was the majority fine, there was enough for several trips. Dave got his log pile at home stacked up and I flogged a bit and put some for next year's charcoal.


That kept us quiet ...


... until Christmas was upon us. Not a lot of restocking and planking was going on though there was still a stream of customers. I did buy a bit of Cherry off Mark at the sawmill but for more money than I would have liked and Erwin found me a nice little Ash.


Me & Dave were still plodding away in the snow on Christmas Eve eve- that's the 23rd missus fortified by Dave's wife Linda's rather excellent 1997 sloe gin... rather a special year in the sloe world I'm told.


The entrance to the wood was looking a bit like Narnia... when it's as cold as this the timber is frozen and difficult to cut ... my testicles were just frozen, the wife had them cut 10 years ago!

Despite the cold...


... the customer's kept coming. I had a bizarre spell where four in a row were called Peter or Pete followed I kid you not without anyone else in between by four Colin's in a row.


Not sure what any of that meant except moneeeeeeeeeeee for me which filled me with Christmas spirit a lot more than tacky decorations and weary office Christmas parties with the real job!


The first of Tom the Forest's...


... new toys arrived. The rather lovely tracked chipper below. He kindly chipped some Oak for my Smoking Woods enterprise. This quality bit of kit will be more use to him than me but coming very soon and hopefully of much more use to me is a high speed timber trailer.


I'm hoping to have pictures of it rammed with my timber in the next edition... fingers crossed.


This beast cost more than 3 times the total value of my Truck and Tractor !


So into 2011 ...


... no VAT rise here loyal punters, which should now make us 20% cheaper than VAT reg proper wood suppliers. They might have bigger and better organised stocks but none I know of offer a trip up a bumpy track in the back of a knackered Pick Up. To be fair it isn't knackered it just looks it- like it's owner!


January was a bit of a funny ol' month , rather wet on my wood days and not much got done. There is of course lots to do- the Smoking Woods is about to be relaunched www.bbqsmokingwood.co.uk


I have a woodland management plan to write and action.


Coming up in next edition I should have news of some lovely burr Elm ... not mine sadly but it will be at the wood for viewing. Rob has come up with an Apple tree though it looks like it will be more for the food smokers.


Come on down, the price is right... well hopefully it is for me !