Monday, 27 September 2010

So long summer, its September

Back to the woods again and, no surprise, the bracken has flourished; so second job was giving that a bashing. Then it was raked into piles so we could see if we’d missed any. Although the bracken is still strong there are other plants competing well with it including grass and some flowering plants that we haven’t yet identified. So hopefully if we keep up with the brushcutting there will be a better balance to suit the butterflies and other wildlife. First job was as usual to walk the woods to check all is OK and see what is about on this visit. Autumn has brought with it many fungi, from little brown jobs to glorious agarics. We also cut back brambles that were again encroaching on the path between car park and glade. While over cups of tea and soup we thought about the option of building a roundhouse and marked out where it could be sited so as not to be a visual impact on the wood s and be convenient to the glade and camp fire.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

July. Stuff and Nothing

We finally got the time and the weather to camp in the woods this month. It was good to be able to have more time at the woods to do stuff and do nothing too. The something included yet more bracken attack plus cutting back some bramble, while the nothing included sitting about playing guitar and mandolin, putting rails on the tree camp and attacking cans with rifle and catapult. We also cut back the overgrowth at the side of the track so we can get the car in without risk of scratching it up and this also gave a bit more light to the hedge trees we planted there. For the first time since we bought the wood we have fox gloves flowering, one in the glade and a few more in the area that was coppiced about 18 months ago. We made the most of an early morning to walk from the woods over to Bedgebury pinetum, using our sense of direction rather than a map we got there but not necessarily by the most direct route. It has been very many years since I was last there and it has been developed with new car park, a visitor centre and cafĂ©, plus a bike shop. It’s a lot more popular now but has lost some of its quiet charm.

Our campfire cooking has improved with no major burning of sausages etc and the jacket spuds were perfect. There’s something about the flavour of spuds baked in a fire that can’t be beaten. Sam joined us one day and took many photos of texture etc as inspiration for his artistic talents. It was good to have a visit by Silva Energy who collected some logs and we agreed what area would be coppiced this winter. It will be good to get an area coppiced and the wood put to good use by others, but we will also be keeping an area of the wood to work on ourselves more slowly, plus there is great satisfaction in the work itself and seeing the difference that you are making.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Jungley June

Having missed out on the chance to visit the woods in half term (car issues, there’s always something!) we managed to get there mid-month and the place felt quite jungley with the lush new growth of the trees (and bracken and bramble too). As normal our visit started with a walk around the wood to see what’s what before doing any work or chilling or whatever. The orchids seem to have disappeared and the bluebells flowers are long gone and replaced by seed heads now. The colours of spring are gone and the wood is now vibrant with the glorious greens of summer. We noticed some deer tracks in the mud by the stream, which is now reduced to a trickle. The wayleave isn’t as overgrown as in previous years so didn’t need any cutting back this time. Work focussed on controlling the bracken in the glade so flowering plants have a chance to get established, and completing the reopening of the track from the parking place to the glade. 1 tank of chainsaw fuel was just enough to clear and process the trees that were blocking the route of the track and level off some taller stumps. Rob turned up in his Landy which had no trouble getting along the newly cleared route, happily riding over stumps that we will probably be more cautious in negotiating in 4x4 camper if we do get one at some point. But for now the track will be handy for extracting the logs that are stacked up in the glade. Tom spent time plinking cans and attacking bracken with machete and brushcutter, while Julie also attacked bracken and did a great job of getting a fire going so we could cook sausages for lunch.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

May; Blooming Lovely

The bluebells were putting on a great show again. I do think we are luckier than many of us appreciate to have such beauty in our native land. You don’t have to travel the planet to see how wonderful this world is. Our time in the woods in May saw more pottering than hard work. A start was made on clearing an old 4x4 route through from the main track into the glade, another tank of chainsaw fuel should see it totally cleared and ready to allow access into the glade for collecting the stacks of logs there; and maybe sometime in the future we will get a 4x4 camper van – time will tell. The tree guards were retied to ensure the saplings had enough room to grow, all doing OK apart from 1 beech which has given up. Julie and Tom spent some time managing the bracken in the glade and the seating / camp fire area was pottered with too. Bluetits are again making use of one of the bird boxes (the same one that was used a couple of years ago). We will move the others before next spring to see if a different location encourages these to be used too. And great news; the pile of rubbish that had been getting bigger near the wood entrance has now disappeared – yay!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

April, Wet and Dry

The first visit in April found us driving into a very wet wood. The track was muddier than ever, not helped by being churned up by persons unknown including those who had increased the size of the rubbish pile by the entrance to the woods. Areas that have previously been, at most, damp, were more than soggy with standing or running water in some places where there was none before. It wasn’t all bad as the steam looked and sounded great with the extra flow. A couple of tasks on this visit were to tidy up the glade and attack some brambles. In the glade trees that had been felled were sawn to length and the logs stacked, the hardest part being moving 10 ft long trunks. Julie and Tom put the new brushcutter to use on some of the brambles that were growing near the path. We just got a cheapo Spear and Jackson one from Argos and its progress is slow but sure so far; easier than a machete or loppers, and cheaper (but of course less effective) than a professional machine. Another job later in the day was to push the car out of the mud.

A couple of weeks later and what was mud had mostly set hard and there was no standing water anywhere to be noticed. The sun was shining and the glade saw further tidying as piles of brash were burnt and some more logs moved to larger piles. While Tom did more debrambleficationing with the brushcutter. There were more anemones out, also primroses, violets and the first few bluebells showing their petals to the sun. The young trees are growing well and generally not getting eaten. Along the wayleave where we had in previous years seen 2 orchids, there were now about half a dozen starting to show through. Making the most of the sun shine (and the gap linking the glade to the field) we saw quite a few butterflies including a pair spiralling together.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Bleak Midwinter

That long period of snow (remember that?), plus travelling with work and keeping balance with other things in life has meant we didn’t get to the wood as often as hoped this winter. Instead of trying to coppice another half acre, which we wouldn’t have managed, our visits have been a little more relaxed. Work has been done on widening the glade a little to allow more sunlight in to benefit the wildflowers and butterflies. We now have piles of brash to be burnt or relocated as habitat piles. Many of the birches along the way-leave were bent over from the snow and these have now been cut back to keep the way open. The trees we planted from the Kent free tree scheme are doing OK, but those that were taller than the tree guards are now the same height thanks to the local fauna. Tom has been having fun with his new catapult and has been making an impact on his targets with paintballs. A good idea as the casings are camo’ and degradable and the paint is water based so doesn’t hang around. We are now looking forward to the arrival of spring flowers and warmer (and longer) days in the wood. However work will take me away again next month, oh well, only maybe another 10 years until retirement? We may have another session widening the glade before summer and I am also planning on getting a brush cutter to tackle some of the brambles (but want to leave some for diversity).