Our spindles have been going in on the veranda recently, they were cut back in the winter in one of our Sweet chestnut coppices on Black Down, we peeled the bark off them and put them to one side so that they would start to dry and shrink in the spring and summer sun. The aim of this is to try and ensure they don’t fall out after they have been put into place.
We used a hollow shoulder tool, supplied by Ashem Crafts (usually used for chair making) to shape the ends of the spindles to a consistant size. It works a bit like a giant pencil sharpener.
Several hundred holes of the required dimensions were then drilled into the veranda floorboards and the underside of the hand rail. The use of much baler twine and head scratching was chosen as the appropriate method of working out the spacings to try and ensure the spindles were going to look right.
We are really pleased with the finished result. Its a long and laborious job, as there are several hundred to do, and due to the nature of the building each one has to be hand made to fit.
Originally we had thought of weaving strips of chestnut or hazel in between the spindles, but on reflection decided that the spindles would look nicer on their own, that way they provide a space that feels safe and secure but they let the light and views flood through.
The landscaping work around the building is going on at the moment as well, you may have noticed the digger in the background in the pictures above. Its such a relief to see the place changing from a building site and starting to become a home.
Progress in the veg patch has been steady as well. The presence of large numbers of potentially pilfering rabbits and deer at Swan Barn Farm meant we had to fence it off if we were to get anywhere.
In the winter a large sweet chestnut tree fell over in the field next to the Speckled Wood building. A few weeks ago with the ground around it starting to dry out we could finally get to it to clear it. The main stem was about to become our new fence. It took quite a lot of work to convert it on the sawmill, and then for Richard and his team to turn put up what we had processed.
We were really pleased with the results though. It has been constructed with rabbit netting at the back to keep out pilfering bunnies, and the raised pales on it are at sufficient height to make deer from thinking twice about jumping in, ordinarily they would need to be higher, but here the shape of the fence and the fact that they have no clear landing spot should be enough to deter them (I hope!).
Over the last few weeks we have been growing on plants from seed inside the basecamp, and then planting them out into the new vegetable garden. Its a fantastic time of year in the garden, with everything so full of potential and new green shoots stretching for the light.
A couple of weeks ago we were lucky to be able to host a group of candidates who were looking to be the first to get the opportunity to move in to our new building. Competition was pretty fierce and it was a difficult choice, they spent a day working in the building beeswaxing the window seats and shelves and then a day out in the chestnut coppice processing some lengths of timber for hurdle making.
Thanks very much to everyone who came along, it was just a shame that there wasn’t a place to offer to all of you. In the end we managed to choose our successful candidates and we hope they will be joining us within the next month or so and moving into the new building. Better get a move on and get it finished for them!