What a winter it was, for some reason the countryside around Haslemere seemed to be particularly badly hit by windthrown trees in the storms. It started before Christmas and only really finished a couple of weeks ago, although we have been hard at work all through that period we will still be clearing up well into spring.

 Tree over lane

I know I shouldn’t complain, a lot of people had it much worse than us, and I do feel sorry for them, but there were a number of days in January and February when the only way to get around the countryside we look after was by taking a chainsaw with you.

We mostly only clear fallen trees where they are over roads, paths or neighbouring properties, those that fall in the woods stay for habitat value. We do use timber across the estate for various purposes though, and try wherever possible to use our own sustainably produced home grown wood. With that in mind we were out at Chase Woods on the edge of Black Down this week where the wind had whipped through one of our larch plantations skittling a group of them over.

Windthrown larch

We need some timber for a natural play trail we are building as well as for our new Orchard House, a roundwood cruck framed barn and workshop space we are aiming to build at Swan Barn Farm this year. It will house our apple and orchard based activities and events. These larch trees were just what we were after. Felling and extracting windthrown trees can be pretty tricky, but we didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, these trees are going to come in very handy this year.

Elsewhere in the woods the spring flowers are starting to make a show, the celendines are looking wonderful already and the bluebell leaves are starting to reach for the sky.

Blubells starting

It has been so good to see the sun making a reappearance over the last couple of weeks, spring is coming as such an unbelieveable breath of fresh air this year, all the better for a tough winter. I was out clearing up some birch trees the other day and noticed the stumps starting to weep, the birch sap is flowing. In one of the stumps I carved collecting rays and a small bowl with my chainsaw so I could have a taste of the first birch sap of spring… Soon be time to get out there making that birch sap wine.

Birch Stump