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Winter 2013 into 2014

 

 

More Blood than usual ...

 

... plenty of sweat (smelly lot my customers) and very nearly tears sums up the period since my last ramblings. If I needed a reminder that your luck can run out at anytime the three of us in the first picture below got one each in a short period of time.

 

Mine was the most minor in that all I did was nearly break my neck falling down the stairs at The Kiln carrying a box of smoking wood - it still hurt like hell and produced excellent bruises. Mark's is described below and Brian's nearly killed him without spilling a drop of blood.

 

Brian climbed on to the roof ...

 

... of the office at the Sawmill to get some sheets of tin where upon he was stung numerous times by some angry hornets. He managed to get down and seek medical advice but it took a couple of months before he was right again.

 

I would imagine it gave his pacemaker a good run so it was a good job it was due to be changed anyway! Informed medical opinion is that he was lucky to be alive.

Having operated his terrifying ...

 

... looking 23 foot pre war bandsaw for over 30 years without an accident, it finally got Mark one morning.

 

I'll spare you the gore except to say he was rushed to hospital minus 3 fingers on his right hand and left there a week later with 1.5 more than he arrived with - even the great skills of the plastic surgeons couldn't work miracles.

Below is a library pic of ...

 

... Marks's saw - I could hardly do a close up of the after, blood an' all could I! I chose this as it gives you an idea of the size of the blade and how close Mark gets to it.

 

I'm delighted to report that Mark is now well on the road to recovery and is back working but the pain he suffered and the damage to his business being a one man band is not something you'd wish on anyone.

 

 

 

Three wise men? Well, wisest are me hand on log and Brian behind ... well away from cutting edge

Four blokes ...

 

... have been going on the same Golfing trip to the Algarve for many years. Two days before the group is to leave, Jack's wife puts her foot down and tells him he isn't going.

Two days later, the three get to the Algarve only to find Jack sitting at the beach with a tent set up, firewood gathered, and dinner cooking on the fire, sitting having a cold beer. "Shit Jack, how long you been here, and how did you talk your missus into letting you go?"

 

"Well, I've been here since ...

 

... last night. At home I was sitting in my living room chair and my wife came up behind me and put her hands over my eyes and asked, 'Guess who?"

 

I pulled her hands off, and there she was, wearing a see thru nightie. She took my hand and pulled me into our bedroom. The room had candles and rose petals all over.

 

She'd been reading 50 Shades of Grey ...

 

... on the bed she had handcuffs, and ropes! She told me to tie her up and cuff her to the bed, so I did.

 

Then she said, "Do whatever you want.

 

So, Here I am!

Alaskan Chainsaw Milling ...

 

... has been talked about on lots of previous blogs and whilst hard and sometimes unpleasant work it can be the only way to convert timber where there is no access. Last time I mentioned Rob the on line vendor of the above had come up with a easy to add on winch that takes the strain out of the job.

 

Rob was demonstrating ...

 

... the winch on various mills through the summer at forestry shows. I went along to Longleat to ' help ' for the day & blag a bit of discount off the excellent geezers at F.R JONES & Son who share and I suspect pay for the large stall with Rob.

 

I now have a big Stihl and new Alaskan like the one pictured on the log behind Rob with a much bigger cut and an even bigger dent in my bank account. Worth every penny as it's best thing I bought all year & is a joy to use.

 

 

Considering Rob appears to have no legs he does a great job on that large & lovely bit of Oak ... I just had to pop it in the back of my car!

Smoking Wood Sales ...

 

... continued to be excellent into the Autumn. I regularly arranged to meet the serious BBQ ers just off the M3 so that they could collect one of my top selling mixed boxes and save the courier cost.

 

Handing over the cash, one Matt said " My wife thinks it's funny I'm meeting a man I met on the Internet in a lay by for some wood" - I have no idea what she is on about!

 

I considered expanding my range ...

 

... of woods for smoking from usual English ones to imported ones like Mesquite. I tried a bit from a UK importer but it was poor quality. I was worried about buying their minimum order of £750 for 25 bags and enquired about just buying 20.

 

My mind was made up by their reply why on earth would we want to do that and anyway they had just put their prices up to £950! On the plus side, it makes my English stuff much better value.

My mate Erwin ...

 

... is not only a top tree surgeon but also a supplier of a lot of my best timber. One of the many things I like about him is that when he rings it's always with news of something interesting.

 

This time it was Cedar. You at the wood he asked? ... " Yep" I respond and before I can boil the kettle he is there with the offering below and neatly stacking them.

 

I have decided to use ...

 

... some of it to reclad the front of the Kiln but I expect if you are lucky there will be a bit left for bee hives and that sort of stuff.

 

 

Considering the a pain it is acquiring and getting timber to the wood it's a real pleasure when it just appears

The prize for worst customer ...

 

... of the year went to Martin of Essex. It started promisingly enough when he ordered on first contact providing everything I needed to despatch the next day. After that it went down hill as it turned out he lived in a courier nightmare spot that they just couldn't find.

 

I then had daily calls to them and Martin until eventually he found a Citylink van nearby when on the way to get some beer and grabbed it.

 

I'm just off to Germany ...

 

... but will sort payment if I have internet. Clearly he didn't ... this was early August. A week or so later I emailed eventually he replied just off to Wales will sort it when I'm back ... he didn't. Then he was off to Sea.

 

So it continued, through September with occasional apologies and promises to sort it after his next trip. I began to think he was taking the piss and had no intention of coughing up. After the 9th email in October he said he would sort it later that day ... bugger me he did!

 

When my mum was ...

 

... in labour my head got stuck in her fanny and the midwife had to pull me out.

 

That's how excited I was to see my little brother!

It all got a bit gloomy ...

 

... as the nights drew in. Stock was low, the bearings on the big Saw kept seizing up and more money was going out than coming in. As usual a sniff of some decent new stock perked me up. The gales had fatally damaged a decent sized Cherry and Tom oop the hill took it down and put me on it.

 

Access was as ever a challenge ...

 

... but on this occasion being local I had Pete and Mick who had my old Ford 4000 and are always helpful. Mick is excellent with a telehandler which is a good job as getting it out into the lane with chains and sweat was as tight as a gnome's foreskin.

 

 

After a few bum cheek clenching moments it was out & before long heading for the woods where in due course it will be available to rent, buy or borrow - well the second one actually!

I met a dwarf called Peter ...

 

... who was a Baker. He was passionate about making flat breads and would go on for hours about them. I grew to love the Pitta patter of tiny Pete!

The latest Walnut ...

 

... of interest was close to home. Well, close to my brother's home to be accurate in that it was next door! It had split in half and come down partly over a stream and the other half hung up on a metal frame. Having beetled over for a look I was in two minds whether I had the skills to get it on the floor.

 

Like contemplating getting at a beautiful woman trapped on an Island in shark infested waters, part of me thought sod the risk it'll be great! The other half of me thought ... is it really worth the aggro! The old fart half of me won & I decided it was a job for a professional and put it on the back burner.

 

Meanwhile a new contact ...

 

... which should turn into a new source of quality wood popped up through Mr Internet. Colin has recently taken over as head Forester at a large estate near Stockbridge. He is currently surveying a large variety of trees & has already identified some interesting Oak in need of felling, that will be extracted in due course.

 

Got any Apple I asked ...

 

... as this is selling well in the BBQ world. Got a bit, he replied pinging the picture below. I pottered over and filled my boots - well half a Pick Up load. I came back the week after for more as he wanted a box of smoking wood for his brother in law .. can't beat a bit of bartering!

 

 

 

The skill is in sniffing out the Apple from the Ash Cherry and Oak

Stock of top quality Oak ...

 

... declined due to people annoyingly buying it and a failure to convert the lorry load from Scotland that I bought in Autumn 2012 with my mate Andy. I won't bore you with the why but the bottom line is that some is now cut and hopefully the rest will be back at the wood drying before spring.

 

The sawmill at Helmdon is fantastic and there will be more about it next time with hopefully lots of tempting new stock - be the first to look at the 2011/12 burr Elm log coming out of the stack, it won't be around long!

 

And finally Esther ...

 

... as Cyril Fletcher used to say on That's Life. I bought myself a little toy to ease the pain on our aching bones chopping up logs. Fits nicely on the back of the tractor and will hopefully last longer than me and Dave.

 

 

I find letting Dave do all the work hardly tires me at all !

 

Come on over ...

 

... and spend some money or at least some time having a rummage. Last year's Maple is looking good, as am I. Free cup of tea for those who drive into the woods and a warm welcome to everyone else - probabaly!

 

Regards,


Paul GOULDEN