Archives for posts with tag: ben law building

This week we the fencing has been going up around the coppice we cut at Swan Barn Farm last winter. The regrowth on the coppice stool’s is starting to grow and we need to protect it from the local deer population.

The new growth is really tender and suculant and is the favourite food of the roe deer that live in the woods. Deer populations are very much on the increase at the moment, and this can have quite a drastic effect on the woods. We are also starting to get new species of deer moving into the area, some of them, such as the muntjac are non native and escaped from private collections to become established in the wild.

The fencing is only temporary, as soon as the coppice has grown high enough so the deer can’t reach we take it down again. In practice this usually means we take down a block each time we put one up.

This fence was being taken down as the coppice was high enough, we will reuse the materials on the block we have cut this year.

Here the new line of posts is going in, with willow being as helpfull as ever! The posts are made out of sweet chestnut, which came from Ridden Corner Copse on Black Down.

Most of the woodland wild flowers have finished by now for the year, but there were still some really nice patches of foxgloves in the glades created by the work we do here.

They are a realy important nectar source, you can just make out a bumble bee’s bottom as it disappears into the second lowest flower. The coppice management we carry out provides the conditions of alternating light and shade which so many of our woodland wild flowers need in order to thrive.

Meanwhile the hedgerows through the farm are looking full of life, this was the one that was layed last winter.

Its starting to fill out nicely. In the other hedges through Swan Barn the sloes are starting to develop on the blackthorn (its looking good for sloe gin in the autumn!) and the wild roses are looking fantastic.

Meanwhile, on the Speckled Wood building scaffolding has been going up, it makes it look a little less gracefull, but means the next phase of work is starting. The wall plates and roof rafters will be going on soon, which means it wont be long until the first of those shingles starts to go on the roof.

I have been away for a few days camping on Exmoor, which is why I’ve been a bit quiet this week. It was really nice to get away for a few days, such a beautifull place and with good company too. It felt a bit like getting chance to breath after the pace of everything here recently. Glad to be back as well though, can’t wait to get back over to the build and see how things have moved on.

Hello everyone, sorry I went quiet for a week, I hurt my back and had to have a few days at home lying on the floor. The chiropractor has worked her magic though and I am starting to feel much better again now (its not just a plea for sympathy, honest)

We have been up in Ridden Corner today starting to extract and stack the timber we coppiced for the main frame of the building. I have been being good (to my spine) and have been operating the crane today. It makes light work of moving heavy logs.

We are used to extracting coppiced chestnut in quite large volumes for fencing materials, but the material for the frame of the house is needed in quite a number of different sizes and lengths, we have a long cutting list we all have a copy of, we look at each log in turn and decide what to make out of it.

Selecting the right piece of wood to cut for each item on the list is quite a skill, it takes a while to learn how to see the materials within the wood.

I really like working in the chestnut coppice’s, first of all you know that it is a very sustainable method of producing wood, but I also like to think of the many people who have worked in these woods before us, coppicing the tree’s and producing all manner of materials. Then there is the smell, when you work in amongst the chestnut tree’s all day cutting and moving timber the smell of the wood permiates the air.

We made a good start on it today, but there is lots more left to do. A busy month lies ahead of us.

Despite the best efforts of the wind rain and mud (and it is very muddy here at the moment) nothing could dampen our enthusiasm today as our new sawmill has arrived.

There was something about this moment that suddenly made everything seem very real, we have known for a while that we will be starting the build in March, but with the mill arriving and starting to convert the timber it is all coming into focus.

Allthough much of the frame will be made of roundwood there is also a lot of sawn timber in the building as well. This is the machine we will be using to process all of our locally grown sustainably produced timber to turn it into the planks, joists, rafters, studwork and floorboards that will go into the new building.

In the past we have always hired in sawmills, but the scale of this project has made buying this one economically viable, after we have finished the building I hope it will become a resource the trust will be able to use more widely in this area, so that we can get even better at making sure as much as possible of the wood we used comes from well managed sustainable woodlands (which hopefully are packed full of wildlife too).

Its quite a clever mill this one, I suspect getting used to the computer on it will take a while! We need to get some practice before we try anything too tricky with it, but I can see already how useful it is going to be.

We thought we would start with something nice and simple, so we put on one of the smaller pieces of Douglas Fir we collected last week and made some 1 inch square sticks.

These sticks are used as spacers in between the planks which we will be cutting later, they are used while the boards are drying to allow the air to circulate well around each individual plank,  it is important to make sure they are equal sizes so that the wood doesn’t warp too much as it is drying.

I am really looking forward to starting the next stage in the process, we have extracted some of the wood we have been cutting and now we are going to start turning it into the materials the building will be made of. Might wait till some of that mud has dried out a little bit first though!

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