Category Archives: Wild wood

Crawling to the finish

I think I haven’t done much on my diploma, or this website, for pretty much a whole year. I’m not going to beat myself up about that. I was busy bringing a human being into the world. But now she’s here, and we’ve got our routines, I need to just finish this thing. Why is finishing something so hard? I have done more or less all the work, I just need to present it in a compelling way.

 I have never been much of a ‘finisher-completer.’ I am far better at having ideas and getting them going than I am at seeing them to completion. It’s probably one thing doing this diploma has driven home. It’s now a matter of pride to take bite-sized chunks and see them through to completion. I am doing well in other areas of my life, but finishing the diploma seems to elude me. I know why though. I haven’t given it full headlights-on focus. I need to think about it, and just it, for a period of time. And that’s the issue… I am doing plenty of other things (not least looking after a baby) and they seem (and frankly are) more important than what my brain now regards to be ‘admin.’ But, but… I have to finish this darn thing so I need to make time and space to do so. 

So, here’s what I am going to do… I am going to set myself two simple tasks… 

1. Read the diploma guidance manual in detail and check how I should be presenting my designs (and whether I have missed any steps). 

2. Contact a diploma tutor and ask them to look over my designs (I jettisoned mine a number of years ago). 

That shouldn’t be too hard! 

Now, where am I up to with my designs? I’m afraid not a lot has progressed but a few things have. 


Action Learning Pathway

Not redesigned. I need to be honest with this one. It’s less of a redesign and more of a historical document. I just need to write down what I did. I’m happy to be honest about this. Were I to do another diploma, I would be able to plan it in detail from the start, but when I started this one, I had not yet developed the skills to have that overview. So, it developed piecemeal, and designs chopped and changed though my focus was always on developing designs for livelihood. So, I think this design needs to be a sort of ‘how my diploma panned out’ précis to the whole thing. Suddenly it’s seeming more achievable 

Action: find my original ALP and work out how I got from there to here.  


Career Design

Written up! 


Scythe Teaching

Written up! 


Permaculture Teaching

Written up!

DVD

Yet to be written up. 

Action: write it up


The Seed Blog

In all honesty, I can’t remember where I am up to with this. Implementation of this has all but ground to a halt, because of the baby and because of the need to focus on other projects. I think it’s written up in draft form though. 


The Garden

As I am currently implementing this design, I have written up what I can. I need to revisit this and finish this write up. 

Action: finish this write up


The Larder Project

Yet to be written up

Action: write it up


Fat Hens

Designed and written up!


Baby

Designed and written up! 

Am I finished? How I know when a design is done.

At the beginning of my diploma, when I was looking at my big, sprawling, open-ended designs, I wondered how on earth I would know when they were finished.  It was a good question, and the lack of clarity was definitely a flaw in my design process.  Two years in, I find that the constant process of thinking about what I want to achieve has really developed my skills in defining project  boundaries and knowing when I am done.  I find that I can come up with an idea and not only know whether or not it is feasible (through experience of biting off more than I can chew), but also know how I will know when I have finished that particular design.  I have italicised the I, because I think that markers of success are very person-specific.  For example, in a design for a business, one person’s goal might be to earn a certain amount of money, but financial goals just don’t work for me, I am not motivated by them.  I would prefer to set goals along the lines of ‘run x amount of courses,’ or ‘raise prices to x amount’.  What I have realised is that being able to clearly define what you want out of a project means knowing yourself, your priorities and what is feasible for you really really well.  So, for me, the first step to knowing when a design is done is to know yourself well and set project boundaries that fit in with that.

The second way I have discovered of knowing when a design is done it to understand the lifecycle of how things are achieved.  I wrote about this idea in this post.  It’s the Hero’s Journey, the idea which suggests that all of the stories in the world are based on one story – the monomyth.  My friend Erica has just written a book on how you can use this idea in your own life.  The hero’s journey goes (a little) like this:

The call to adventure – “wouldn’t building a garden on this roof be cool?”

The refusal of the call – “nah, it would be too difficult and I couldn’t do it.”

The acceptance of the call (this is when you get cool stuff and people want to help you) – “ok, sod it, let’s have a go!  Wow, thanks for all of the plants, mum.  Yep, it’d be really great if you helped me out.”

The belly of the whale – “Aggh, it’s really hard to get stuff to grow up here because of the wind.  This isn’t as exciting as when I started out.”

The Supreme Ordeal  – “All my plants have died.  Ok, I’ll plant the whole lot again.”

Triumphant return – “I’ve done it!  I’ve grown all these plants through a whole season on this less than easy roof. Want me to teach you?”

When I think about all of my designs, I can plot them along a point on this journey.  I have come to realise though, that a greater ‘journey’ (e.g. making a living from scything) might be made up of several smaller journeys.  You might not get your big success all at once.  In fact you probably wont.  I think that every success (for example, I feel like I have done really well with scything courses this year), heralds a rethink and a new journey.  I have discovered that it is impossible to create a design that is too big, because each big design with naturally break itself down into several smaller ones.  A garden design will do this – e.g. a smaller design for a pizza oven, for planting for beneficial insects, for year-round produce.  This ‘breaking down’ is a pretty good example of designing from patterns to details – a principle that baffled me when I first started, but which I really really value now.

 

 

 

 

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We moved, goddamit, we moved!

Well, finally we have moved. Here it is, my new abode (the one with the white door and the yellow flowers outside of it). I am sure that I will get over the post-traumatic stress disorder in the next few months…

The house!

The house!

Now that I have moved house, quite a few of my designs can enter a new stage of implementation. It’s really interesting how having more (and different) space means that new and exciting things can happen. I thought I would use this post to map how my designs are affected by my new place – area by area.

The Shed

Well, we don’t have one yet, but Will assures me that he’s onto it… Once we do have a shed, I will be able to expand my scything empire by stocking more scythes to sell on courses and perhaps at other times too. Having all of my teaching equipment on the ground floor (and not up four flights of stairs) means that going off to teach courses is a much pleasanter experience. I honestly did not realise how much I dreaded emptying the car and dragging all my crap upstairs. It’s little things like this that make a big difference to how you feel about doing a particular job, and I am glad that I will have this sorted for next scything season.

The Garden

Long view of the garden

Long view of the garden

IMG_1081

The current growing area

Well, I have one! And it’s great! I have been doing some observation of light patterns and – in August at least – most of the garden gets sun at least some portions of the day. The soil looks really good and well looked after. There is a compost bin with a strong-looking colony of worms. There is corn and courgettes and beans to harvest.

I am going to spend a year observing and growing on a small-scale – in pots and annuals in the empty beds, and then do major changes next winter (i.e. winter 2014). I think what I’d like to do over this winter and next spring is move the compost heap closer to the house, research and get some chickens and establish a 365 day a year salad system. I’d like to work out my seedling system so that the whole house is not completely covered in pots all the time. We have south-facing windows which is very exciting.

Other than that I shall be doing lots of research and getting some idea of what I would like the garden to contain and to look like. I still think that I would like to do a garden design course, so I will have to see if I am rich enough to be able to do that!

The Outbuilding

The larder to be...

The larder to be…

I started calling this ‘the larder’ until I realised that Will and I had not discussed how we would use various rooms. So anyway, this is the larder… 😉 Currently it’s housing much of the crap that will go in the shed, but when that’s moved, we’ll put a work surface over the top of the washing machine, and as many shelves as we can fit in there and it will become a larder of great joy! I am itching to get going at this one… I am going to attempt to emulate the store stump from Brambly Hedge or Bilbo’s larder from the recent Hobbit movie. I’m a bit obsessed.

The store stump

The store stump

Bilbo's larder - with hairy dwarf

Bilbo’s larder – with hairy dwarf

Having outside space and space to store stuff means that I will be able to get going on the dehydrating and canning that I want to do with ease (and with somewhere to store the equipment).

The Office

The office to be...

The office to be…

This was another room that I had started calling ‘the office’ in my head before I had really discussed it with Will… Ooops! Having an office means that I’ll be able to write more easily and I can do stuff like leave my sewing machine out so that I am more likely to use it. I have an online sewing course to finish after all! We’ll use this as a guest bedroom as well, as rooms have to have multiple uses in this house.

Finally, just knowing where I am going to be for the next few years means that I can get on with my coppicing design knowing that I will (hopefully) be in one place for the whole of a coppice cycle and I can design for succession after that. Also, being in the countryside (more or less) means that my foraging design – whatever it turns out to be – will be so much easier to implement. Even though I’ve put a lot of planning and thought into this move and what it would make possible, it’s still amazing to be here and realise that all those things really are possible and I can do them now!  Expect more from me soon…  Maybe even pictures of bits of the house without stuff all over it!

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End of winter round up: Part 4

Nearly there…

LOCALISE

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!

 

COPPICING 

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!

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End of winter round up: Part 1

Welcome to my six-monthly round up of how my projects are going.  Please overlook the fact that it’s nearly the end of May and cannot really be described as the end of winter any more.  On the surface of things I have hardly done anything for my diploma this winter – no blog posts for four months etc – but actually I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my designs, about my motivations for doing them, about how to make them work individually and all together as a group.  What follows is fairly dense, apologies for that now.

ACTION LEARNING PATHWAY

I am using my diploma to effect major change in my life.  I have chosen to do it over four years to give myself the time to make these changes happen.  This long period of time has also meant that I can observe and redesign the more complex designs.  I’ve also used it as an opportunity to do ‘practice‘ designs in some cases.  I’m working on a redesign of my Action Learning Pathway as I have refined my ideas a lot since I used Hedvig’s as a jump off point.

One of the ways in which I have refined my ideas is working out just how big or small a project should be.  In my head, the optimum size for a single design is the size of Hedvig’s clean air plant design (which I can’t seem to find a link to right now, but I am sure Hedvig will supply in the comments).  I’ll admit that when I first saw it I thought that it was quite unambitious in its scope, but that’s before I learnt how much observation and analysis it takes to actually make a design work properly.  Now I think it’s just about the right size to be interesting without being so big that it needs to be broken down into smaller designs.  This realisation has actually made a big difference to my designs as it as given me a scale at which I feel comfortable doing observation and analysis.  I feel like I have ‘got real.’

I have also realised that there is a different between a project which is large in ‘area’ (i.e. happens over a large piece of land) and a project which is large in complexity (i.e. has lots of different facets and therefore requires lots of different mini-designs).  A design could be large in size but not complex (i.e. the coppicing design I am working on – more soon), or be complex but not obviously large and important (such as the marketing designs I have been doing).  What I realised is that it’s really hard to work out the size and scope of a project without either quite deep analysis or without doing it.

As I know that I naturally tend towards massive overblown projects that will change the whole world (and which I haven’t got a hope in hell’s chance of pulling off), this has been the biggest win of the diploma so far.  Using the design cycle has made me slow down, observe, analyse and really think about how a design will fit into my life because for me (and I suspect for most people), it’s self observation rather than external observation that makes the difference between the success and failure of a project.

So, in redesigning my ALP I have decided to include a ‘non land based design starter kit’ which can function as my jumping off place for all non-land-based designs, as well as the basic roadmap towards my goals.  I’ll include the checklist in this starter kit obviously as I am already finding it immensely useful.  I’m so glad that I managed to write those ideas down because where the hell you start a non-land based design has always baffled me completely.  There’s so much help with land based design and almost none at all with non-land-based design.

ACTION: Write up redesigned ALP and ‘design starter kit.’  

 

TIME AND MONEY

The design is a basic overview of the ways in which I make/hope to make my livelihood, how much each strand will contribute to my finances and how much time it will take.  With this design as with a few of the others, I hit the issue that it was impossible to do real observation and analysis without actually implementing it.  I found that without actually launching my scythe teaching business I could not estimate how much time it would take up nor how much money I would make from it.  My first design was based on a series of guesses.  This is because almost no one (with a few exceptions) are teaching scything at the scale that I want to do it.  Even if I could have done, I think I would have struggled to estimate how much time it would take me to get up to speed with running a micro-business (a long time).  I really feel like I had to learn by doing in this case.

Despite ostensibly being about ‘time and money,’ this design is really about me – what motivates me, what I want to spend my precious time doing.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this recently and when I have finally come to some conclusions (I’m 90% of the way there), I’ll need to do a redesign of this.  One of the biggest changes I’ll need to make is to take account of how many different income streams one person can really deal with.  I am still in favour of the poly-income (a portfolio career) – spreading out your income over a number of different streams so that it is resilient to crisis – but I have come to realise that the number of different subject areas that one person can keep in their head at the same time is limited.  Changing gears, e.g. from thinking about marketing scythe courses to writing, is an activity that takes time in itself.  Working out which strands to keep and which to drop is hard though and I have not quite come to the end of that process so I don’t feel like I am in the right place quite yet to do a redesign of this project quite yet.

Action: Time and Money redesign when ready

Two projects down… more coming up in the next posts!

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Designing information: Organising my RSS reader

bloggery pokery crop

 

I spent a few hours today reorganising my RSS reader.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and an RSS reader, like Google Reader (which I use) means that you are informed when blogs are updated and don’t have to visit them individually to find out.

I follow a lot of blogs  (yes, including interior design blogs, I am entering into ‘that’ stage of my life…)  I’m unapologetic about the number of blogs that I follow.  I do spend a reasonable amount of time looking at them which used to set up a frisson of guilt in me (Am I wasting time?  Should I be doing something ‘more useful?’).  In the end I just concluded that I was interested in certain subjects which other people wrote about so why feel guilty about garnering inspiration, information, advice and ideas.  Actually, why feel guilty about being interested in someone’s life?

I am a ruthless culler of blogs too.  I only keep the blogs that I look forward to reading, otherwise looking at my RSS reader turns into work.  I also cull blogs that I enjoy, but which give me the feeling that my life is rubbish.  These tend to be American blogs written by women whose children are perfect, husbands are perfect, houses are perfect, Christmases and birthdays were perfect…  Likewise blogs that rejig the same tired ideas.

I signed up for a few more gardening blogs today because I am looking for places to write guest posts about scything for and by the time I had added them, the list of blogs that I follow was enough to give you a migraine.  No more!  I decided to put them into really simple folders according to their subject.  Previously my folder titles had been things like ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Green Thinkers.’  They date from a time when I had many few blogs to follow, but even then they were a bit vague.  Inspiration for what?  Thinking about what?

Putting these blogs into categories was really interesting because when I was done I looked at it and thought, yep, those are my life interests.  I thought through my diploma projects and considered whether I followed blogs about all of those subjects.  The answer was, almost all of them – coppicing, preserving and scything didn’t get a folder of their own but they fit in under rural skills and food.  One area that I did notice was missing was general life design, livelihood design and blogs about money.  These are all things that I am working on very hard in my diploma and yet they weren’t represented in my blog-roll.  I think this is because I still find the idea of talking about, thinking about or designing for financial rewards a bit gross – the way I felt about marketing before I discover Marketing for Hippies.  I’ve signed up for finance/entrepreneurial blogs in the past and always unsubscribed because I didn’t read them because it made me feel icky.  I need to find someone who is talking about these things in a way that I am willing to listen to.  Any ideas?  They need to be funny and directed towards money-phobes.  I’m also looking for some life-coaching/life-organisation blogs that don’t make me want to be sick.  Help gratefully received…

After I had taken the picture above, I went and looked at these folders and put the ones with some connection to each other next to each other.  Really, they all have connections to each other in my head, but I wanted to draw out the most important ones.   Gardening, foraging and permaculture went next t each other and also next to food.  Photography and graphic design went next to each other and were also linked to lifestyle.

I have decided to read them in a different way too.  Instead of clicking on the feed for the individual blog and seeing a stream of posts just from that blog, I have decided to click on the category – e.g.  Food.  This will show me posts from all of the blogs in that category in the order that they were updated.  Doing it this way means that it’s much harder to discern immediately which blog you are reading.  This is useful because it means that I can see which blogs broadcast their individuality immediately.   For example, I predict that in the ‘food’ category I will be able to recognise Smitten Kitchen immediately because while the pictures are good but not amazing, the writing is hilarious (which is, I have to say, unusual for a lot of the blogs that I read).  I also predict that I will be able to recognise What Katie Ate immediately because of her distinctive photographic style.  This sort of observation is really useful for developing my writing and photographic style.

 

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End of the summer round up: part four

Nearly there, people, stay with me.  This is the last post…

Project eight: Wild food (foraging)

This is a project that has been on the cusp of being clear in my mind for about a year, but has never quite made it.  What’s been going well is that I have been doing a reasonable job at educating myself in botany and mycology and have been taking opportunities to learn where I can.  What’s challenging is that I am still not clear on the ‘project’.  I have several very good ideas for this project but haven’t yet committed to any of them.  If I am honest what’s holding me back with this one is that I want to include other people in this project but I have been badly burnt by working with community groups in the past (don’t ask…) and the thought of actually working with other people and having to make decisions with them gives me the mad fear.  However, I have pledged to myself not to make decisions based on fear, so this is no excuse.

What I want to use this project to do (my vision) is to teach me and others about about forageables – and botany and mycology in general.  Whilst I want the main yield of this project to be knowledge, I also want it to be fun, and I want it to not be a whole load of hard work that I am in charge of.

Next step:  I’ve actually done quite a lot of work on this project that I haven’t written up, so I need to sit down with that and firm up what my objectives for this project are and then analyse whether the ideas that I have come up with hit all of those objectives.

 

Project nine:  Wild wood (coppicing)

This project is still in the surveying stage and the surveying is going pretty well.  Last winter I spent a week and a half in the woods with Blackbark, my friends’ coppicing business.  I learnt a lot from it and one thing I am glad to have learnt is that I don’t really want to make coppicing into a business.  To do this I would have to invest in a lot of expensive equipment that I am not too happy about using (chainsaws, pick-ups).  I have decided that the coppicing project will be a way of providing for my own household needs (firewood and building materials) and I can therefore stick to handtools which would be completely impractical in a business context.  As this project is chugging away so slowly (there is not much I can do during the summer) there isn’t really anything that I have found too challenging yet.

Next step:  My next step is to start volunteering reasonably regularly for Tottington Woodlanders in order to skill up.  I’ve already volunteered for another Blackbark workweek next year.  I’m happy with that for now.

 

Project ten:  Teaching Permaculture

I have been progressing slowly but surely through the Brighton Permaculture Trust teacher training scheme.  I observed the course twice, then taught a section of it which went very well.  I developed some materials for that mini-teach which I’ll be able to use again and develop.  My teacher training and years of experience as a teacher kicked in again for this project and I was glad to  feel that that part of my life was useful to this part.

What’s challenging is that I am letting this project drift along.  Because it’s very structured, I am letting that structure dictate the speed at which I progress and I think, actually, I could be a little more proactive about this.  I need to give this project a bit of a kick up the ass.

Next step: Find out what the ‘next step’ in the teacher training scheme is.

 

Some overall conclusions and priorities for next year

One thing that I am noticing with all of my projects is that whilst I have tried to design a livelihood/lifestyle that means I am outside as much as I am inside, that’s just not happening at the moment.  I feel like I have had a very ‘inside’ year.  A large part of this is not having a garden.  Also, after having done all the inside admin and marketing for scythe courses, I then didn’t really get to do much of the teaching outside.  Arranging things so that I am outside more is an issue that needs to be fixed for 2013.

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Wood for burning and learning

My friend Mark Allery posted this poem up on his blog Woodland Antics, about the best logs for burning.  It was given to him by his mum, who did the calligraphy.  Like Mark, I’ve been thinking a lot about the best logs for burning as our new burner has been struggling with damp wood throughout the recent cold.  We got a new load of wood from a new place which seems much better, if not quite perfect.  I guess the only way to really know is to do it yourself, which is something I am most definitely considering…

What I particularly like about this poem is that I’m learning science fact, but not in a dry way.  I could go an find a chart on the calorific values of wood (in fact, at some point, I probably will) but that – frankly – will go in one ear and out the other.  I know the ways in which I learn and I respond to words and always have done.   I like the fact that it’s a poem, that it’s old and has history, that it’s full of images – ‘Elmwood burns like churchyard mould,’ – that it has a personal history to Mark, that it’s beautifully written out – that Mark’s mum did that because she thought it was important.  My new challenge is to make all learning experiences as multifaceted as this one…

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What could a woodburner lead to?

A couple of weeks ago Ben (my friend/housemate/landlord) and I embarked on an experiment.  The woodburner (“Badger”) that had been sitting around for a few months acting as a coffee table was finally installed and we started heating the house with it – and only it.  The start of our experiment was a little shaky.  We started by burning off-cuts and skipped wood but then decided that we wanted something cleaner, more local and with more calorific value.  Ben ordered a cube of logs from [I won’t say where] and when they arrived it was clear that they were hardly seasoned at all.  At my urging he bought a moisture meter and discovered that instead of being around 20% moisture (which is what seasoned wood should be), they were 40% plus.  They’re good logs – lots of oak etc, but they are wet.  Next winter we’ll be really warm but putting one of those logs in the burner this winter immediately cools the house down as all of the energy goes into turning the water in the logs into steam.  It really is that immediate.

I want to do a really good observation of how much wood it takes to heat a house through the winter, but it’s currently impossible to judge.  We’re burning the old window frames that have just been taken out of the house and (occasionally) some of the dampish wood that has been toasted on top of the burner.  Neither of those things provide good enough metrics to be able to draw conclusions about how much wood one would need to stay warm during the winter.  The one conclusion that I have been able to draw is thus – it’s impossible to say how much wood the ‘average’ person would need in order to keep warm.  It would depend on the size of your house, how well insulated it is, how cold the winter was, whether you were going to be in the house all day or just in the mornings and evenings, how efficiently you use your burner.

When we get some ‘proper’ wood, I’m going to start keeping an eye on how much we use.  I’m not sure how.  Maybe tick off on a chalkboard when you put a log in the burner?  I want to know how much we use on days when Ben or I are at home all day and days when we’re out.  I suppose I’ll also need to measure the temperature, I suppose.

As a potential coppicer, this experiment has already taught me a lot.  It’s taught me that I like the idea of producing firewood, even if it’s only for me, Ben or Will.  Firewood won’t earn you very much but it is elemental – you need to keep warm.  It appeals to the localist in me who thinks that basic needs should be provided for within the local area.

Some other lessons have been:

  • Wood needs to be 20% moisture or less when it’s sold.  People aren’t stupid, they will know if it’s any more by the fact that it totally fails to heat their house.  If you’re really unlucky then your customers will be like me and Ben, who are now the proud owners of a moisture meter and aren’t afraid to use it.
  • Canny people will buy wood in the summer, when it’s dryer and cheaper.  There is an extra market there – or at least the opportunity to get people thinking about what they’ll need come winter.
  • At the rate we’re currently going through wood, we’re going to need a lot, and we can’t store it all because we live in a small place.  Most people in the city will be like us.  Some option of regular delivery, a la Blackbark, would be good.

I’m starting to think that going small scale first of all and just providing for my, Ben’s and Will’s needs (one house, one flat) is a perfectly acceptable goal.  It would mean that I was outside less than I would like to be in the winter – but I have found exactly the same thing with scythe courses.  I’m not outside half as much as I would like to be…

Having a woodburner is making me behave differently though.  For one, I don’t feel like I am spending nights in alone any more.  “What did you do last night?”  “Oh, I stayed in with Badger.”  Having heat only coming from one place – a heat source that needs to be constantly fed – means that I am really thinking about what I am doing. Do I really want to stay up and watch Borgen on iPlayer?  That’ll mean feeding it another couple of logs.  It starts to seem outrageous, so I find myself going to bed early – largely ‘cos it’s warm there…   That sounds terrible, but it’s actually not.  More sleep, more …… Imagine the population explosion if everyone heated their houses with a woodburner!

The link between firewood and romance has been known for centuries.  This excerpt from an article from Mother Earth News explains it well.

“Know those old wives whose tales are famous? Well, when their daughters reach courting age, they gauge the marital prospects of a man by the way he stacks wood. Weak and insecure men (too timid to get far) build a low stack arranged by log size — heavy logs on the bottom, little stuff on top. The socially or politically ambitious (they’re all crooks) stack high and show-offish with big logs on top. The lazy (who never will amount to nothin’) leave their wood in a heap or start a pile but never finish. And the sly and mercenary (watch yer virtue and yer pocketbook) stack ground-fall tree limbs and apple tree prunings in with the wood. If you want to keep your psyche to yourself, stack as the sticks come out of the pile.”

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I joined the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group

I joined the Sussex and Surrey Coppice group.  Let’s see what sort of beneficial connections come out of this.Let’s see how many more beardy men I can get to know…

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