We have moved up in size with todays task.
Armed with ten volunteers and four flint axes we headed back to the woods to fell a thirty metre high pine tree.Today the volunteers chose the axe that they preferred rather than us insisting on them using a variety, as we felt it would be more productive for them to be comfortable with a particular tool. We felt that it was going to take a while and yesterday we had all estimated how long it would take to fell the tree and we had a range from thirty minutes to three hours.
The tree to be felled
It didn’t take long for the chips to start flying as we took turns chopping for two minutes each and by lunch time we had cut a large wedge out of the tree. We continued into the afternoon focusing now on the back cut to ensure that the tree fell where we wanted it, not where it wanted!
The first cut
Starting the back cut
Ready to fall
At 2.30pm, after a valiant effort by all involved, the tree started to creak and a few more blows later it fell. Cheers echoed round the wood, we had done it all with flint tools!
11,000 blows later
The successful team
The total amount of blows struck was 11,477! We counted every one!
We have now reached the end of the harvesting phase and now all the materials will be delivered to Old Sarum for the construction phase to start at the beginning of March.
The project begins for real!
After a long time in planning we are finally in the woods with enthusiastic volunteers. With the weather forecast predicting rain by lunchtime fifteen volunteers arrived at a muddy Garston Woods
near Sixpenny Handley, Dorset. The wood is managed by the RSPB and has been regularly coppiced for around 400 years!
Our enthusiastic volunteers!
Over a hot cup of tea the project outline was discussed, tool safety talks given and then work could begin. With each volunteer being assigned a pair of loppers and a bow saw, they were quickly off harvesting hazel rods from the stools (the base of a coppiced) in our coup (the area of wood that is being felled). The cut rods were then divided into large and small diameters, tied into bundles and then stacked, ready for transporting to Old Sarum.
By lunchtime drops of rain were beginning to fall but undeterred we carried on cutting and dragging until the end of the afternoon, when the rain properly arrived. After an rewarding day we are on track to have the harvesting phase finished in a couple of weeks.
Volunteers coppicing in the woods