This is the design which I always say is still up in the air and never go into more detail about and I am going to do the same again today. How frustrating!
I started this design with gusto a few years ago, and since then it has gone quiet. Coppicing was in the running to become an income stream but then a few things happened… Number one was that I hit my finger quite hard with a billhook while doing a tryout for an apprenticeship at Ben Law’s. I became, as you might imagine, a little scared of billhooks (and my finger is still wonky and doesn’t bend properly). Needless to say I didn’t get the apprenticeship and I can never look Ben Law in the face again… ;-(
The second thing that happened was that I went and helped my friends in with their coppicing business called Blackbark. I realised that while coppicing was great in that it gave me a reason to be outside in winter, as scything did in summer, it was actually going to be really expensive to set myself up. To be a coppicer and make money from it, you need a pickup and a chain saw and a chain saw license (and lots of other things, but those are the most expensive). It wasn’t going to cost me the £1000 it had done to set myself up as a scythe teacher, it was going to cost me £10,000 at least. While it’s entirely feasible to coppice by hand, especially if it is worked, rather than overstood coppice, it isn’t feasible to do it on a commercial scale.
Since I started the diploma, I have been thinking hard about one of my original aims which is to be outside ‘doing’ half the time and inside ‘thinking’ the other half of the time. I still aspire to this aim, but I have refined the way that I plan to do it. What I have discovered is that it isn’t possible to work outside and get paid for it unless you have a job doing that, or unless you give your whole life to it and don’t mind earning a pittance forever. Doing a variety of things is really important to me, so those two options are out. I’ve also discovered that what you might think is a failsafe ‘outside’ job – i.e. teaching scything – actually involves spending most of the time indoors doing marketing and administration.
So, I have come to the conclusion that getting outside often is probably not something I am going to be able to get paid for. Bearing this in mind, the coppicing design has become a much smaller project which will be done for the purpose of wellbeing and health and being in nature, as well as for getting a bit of firewood and charcoal. I am working on the design now, and will try to start to put it in place after we move. Not knowing where I was going to be has put the brakes on this project as well as the garden project. Trees work to a longer timescale than I was able to give them before, but when I move I will make a promise to be there for one whole cycle and to make plans for succession after that.
Action: Finish coppicing design
Aaaand, that’s it folks. My ten projects. Hopefully they’ll look different in another six months when I feel compelled to do my next round up post!