Today we have been working in Valewood, felling and extracting the ridge pole (it runs along the middle of the top of the roof) wall plates (they run along the edges of the roof) and some beams for the Speckled wood building.

These should hopefully (unless we have forgotten anything or make any mistakes when sawing!) be the last trees we need to fell for the building.

These are larch trees, a deciduous form of conifer, by which I mean they shed their needles in the winter. They are native of the high mountain places in mainland Europe and the far east. Its thought they evolved the ability to shed their needles so they don’t get too heavily burdonned with snow, this enables them to grow higher in the mountains than other species.

Larch is a pretty durable type of softwood, which is one of the reasons it has been extensively planted for forestry in the UK. Like all softwood plantations this one in Valewood requires regular thinning in order firstly to encourage the remaining trees to grow on to their potential, but also to ensure it doesn’t become a desert for wildlife. In this wood where it has been thinned over the years there are some really nice patches of wood sorrell growing.

Its another of my favourites, its leaves are a really nice edible adition to a wild salad, and its flowers always look so delicate in the spring sunshine. Its quite a clever plant as well, it has evolved the ability to fold up its leaves and petals at night to protect itself against frost, one of the dangers of flowering in March during the gap before the leaves grow on the trees.

These are the longest timbers in the building, and getting them back to Swan Barn Farm is going to be a bit of a challenge. They had the first part of their journey today.

They had to be winched out of the woods, skidded through two fields and another wood and then across a small bridge…

The picture above also incidentally shows them leaving West Sussex and entering Surrey as they cross the small stream which is the first tributary of the River Wey.

When we got them into the main meadow on Chase Lane they were stacked up to wait for the next part of their journey.

That will come next week when we borrow a big hay bale trailer to get all the long timbers back to the build site, I am looking forward to that as its going to be another challenge!

It was a really beautifull day today at Valewood, it was nice to see the plantation grown wood going to such a local project, its only half a mile or so from Swan Barn Farm. Normally I don’t get involved emotionally in the journey our timber makes, it seems that the shortest journeys can sometimes prove to be the most interesting. One of the great things about the new building for me will be looking at the timbers and knowing where they came from. These came from a plantation next to Winding Meadow in Valewood, Winding Meadow is one of the nicest fields we look after. When I look at these timbers I will be reminded of the stunning displays of orchids that come up there every summer.