Tuesday, 29 July 2014

'Official' Visitors

To the wood to meet Petra Billings  (Author and West Weald Landscape Project Officer for the Sussex Wildlife Trust), and Jim Smith-Wright,  (Low Weald Ancient Woodland Restoration Officer for the Woodland Trust),   representing a 5 year Lottery funded joint initiative  which aims  to encourage, advise, and where possible, offer support to small wood owners in the effective management of their  woods. They were accompanied by Keith, a research volunteer for the Woodland Trust, and 'Bear', Jim's  large and beautiful dog.

We spent almost 3 hours walking round 30 acres of Old Copse to see what progress has been made in 5 years and to discuss future plans, followed by refreshments at Old Copse HQ , (aka the log cabin).

 We've gained a reasonably good idea of our approach to woodland management, and as we progress, we grow in confidence in what we hope to achieve. Our visitor's specialised knowledge was much appreciated, and we took note of further improvements they suggested such as:  selective  ring-barking of some Scots Pine for standing dead-wood;  birch coppicing as we get to grips with thinning the birch ; improving bio-diversity on the Ride by mowing it during late August/early September each year,  leaving a margin of longer grass at either side;  advice on the placing and building of a wild-life pond near the cabin; We've also been promised  some dormouse nesting tubes next Spring, to monitor any resident dormice.

 Valuable  as their practical and theoretical knowledge is,  their link to what's  happening in the wider woodland environment in terms of contacts, grants and initiatives, meetings and so on,  is equally important.

 'Thankyou for a thoroughly pleasant and interesting stroll around your woods, and in particular,  tea in your idyllic log-cabin! Great to see woods being so well looked after and cared for.'  (email from Jim). 

Thankyou Jim and Petra.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Cabin in the Wood Officially Opened

The cabin was officially opened in June, and the celebration  attended by a discerning group of woodland cabin enthusiasts. Enjoyed by all  despite the heavy showers - though  these  meant that the deck was fully utilised for shelter, and we had a good excuse to light the log burner,  which showed off how cosy and warm the cabin will be when it's not summer. The cabin,  Krysztof's skill, and the setting overlooking the Pond,  were much admired.  A large quantity of sausages were cooked on the open fire, and the cabin cake -  chocolate with raspberries and strawberries from the garden, went down well, as did the beer, especially the Polish Tyskie.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Ride-side thinning

Just completed quite a large section of the Old Copse 2 Ride that was choked with holly and birch, and so dark that nothing could grow underneath it. Unfortunately a 'before' picture wasn't taken, so must remember to do this next time. Now the fledgling oaks, beech, rowan and cherry can stretch out and grow properly. There is also a very impressive Scots Pine that escaped the 1987 storm, and with a bit more clearance around it will soon  be seen in all its glory. The site is now cleared of timber and tree tops, and the logs stacked on bearers to season for a year, and sell, or, preferably, to barter. We have learned the hard way to be properly businesslike about the sale of firewood, as our first contractor removed several cords, damaging the Ride in the process, and then 'forgot' to pay us.

Navvying continued

Sarah completed the digging out of the ditch, a distance of about 25 metres. Very hard muddy work. It was watched anxiously at the first downpour, and it worked well - the run-off finding its way along the ditch and through the newly cleared drain. Success, though a few more metres still needs to be dug, and a further 'French' drain is planned for further south on the Ride at a particularly boggy point.