Tag Archives: Coppice

Spring 2018

From snow blizzards to heat-waves, we’ve had it all since our last posting. The energy is high and new ideas are rapidly unfurling at Pentiddy. We were anticipating sitting back and enjoying the feeling of having completed the coppicing for the year but the land here had other ideas….and plenty of them!

In this Newsletter…

Coppice products
Roundhouse
Hedgelaying
Burials
Sheep
Scything
Community Woodland
Networking
Volunteers
For sale

Coppice Products.

Finished biochar
Finished biochar
Biochar kiln burning
Biochar kiln burning

So, yes, the Hazel coupe is all cut. Considering it was a first cut we weren’t sure what we’d get out of it but we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much we’ve managed to sell and use. A wide variety of products have been extracted including hedging stakes and binders, pea sticks, bean poles, bale spikes for 2 straw bale houses and weavers for fencing. The rest will go for firewood and charcoal and the tops are being converted to biochar in Tim’s Oregon kiln or being chipped for use on paths and on beds in the forest garden. Duchy of Cornwall Nurseries and Goldenbank Nursery have been very keen to buy our local products to sell in their shops but sales will depend on the mark-up they put on them. Today we were making up sample batches of liggers, gads and spars to take up to the Guild of Master Thatchers to see if we can persuade them to use UK grown material instead of cheaper Polish imports.

Roundhouse.


The remaining weavers that we didn’t manage to sell are going towards re-building the walls of the roundhouse to replace the planks which were only ever intended to be temporary but have been in place for 10 years! The new walls will be wattle and lime. We will be opening this up as a community project from the 7th to the 11th of May. 11am – 5pm (sorry for the short notice!) Materials are being paid for by donations we’ve collected from people who have used the roundhouse over the last few years. If you would like to get involved please let us know so we can arrange tools etc. Please bring lunch to share. We hope to have a BBQ on the Saturday evening.

Hedgelaying.

Hedgelaying at Pentiddy
Hedgelaying at Pentiddy

We managed to fit in some lengths of hedge-laying before the season ended. We laid West-country style on top of the hedge banks and South of England style on the new hedge by the house. Hannan and Ele have worked up a £10,000 grant application for work on re-building, repairing and laying lengths of hedge all round Pentiddy. If successful there will be plenty of opportunities for anyone wanting to come along and learn the skills involved.

Burials.

Sheep grazing the new burial area
Sheep grazing the new burial area

It’s been a really busy start to the year in the burial site with some beautiful ceremonies and, with a bit of encouragement, an increasing number of families willing to take on more themselves rather than handing everything over to funeral directors. The wild-flower burial area is finally fenced and the sheep have been busy grazing in there. We are now ready to start looking at the rest of the process. The top soil that was removed from the area years ago is needing to find a new home. If you are interested in a large quantity of top soil then please get in touch so we can discuss logistics.

Sheep.

The sheep have been sheared mostly by Tim this year following on from a blade shearing day we attended at Fernhill Farm near Bristol. There’s a lot to it and it will take quite a bit of practice to get it down to 3 minutes per sheep but Tim’s determined. I now have some more fleeces ready for shroud making. Our first lamb was born on Easter day but no more yet so we’re not sure what’s happening there.

Scything.

Freshly Peened blade
Freshly Peened blade

From one sharp tool to another, the scything has begun! Kevin Austin of Skygrove hosted a peening day to help us all to get our blades hammered out and sharpened up ready for hay-making. We picked up plenty of tips from the expert. We will be working with him and others as a mowing team over the Summer so if you have fields that need mowing let us know! If you’re interested in getting involved at hay-making time then get in touch and we’ll keep you posted- or keep an eye on our events calendar.

Community Woodland.

The Community Woodland work days were staggeringly well attended this year. Many thanks to all of you who leant a hand and a good vibe to the days. There are large quantities of top quality firewood available and more to come over the next few years as Ash Die-back has well-and-truly hit. We have purchased a new trailer for the car so we can now deliver 1m³ loads for £120.

Networking.

The last few weekends have seen us attending 3 really interesting meetings relating to getting more happening in Cornwall regarding sustainable land use and community building. The first was the Land Workers Alliances first South West regional meeting. This was a very well attended and inspiring weekend with some very good networking amongst other land workers and policy makers. It also included the opportunity to look around the various projects based on the Dartington Estate of which there are many from forest gardens to CSA schemes and field-scale permaculture designs. We have returned with renewed enthusiasm for my budding forest garden which is really starting to come together. We’re now thinking of setting up a Liskeard area land workers group – watch this space!

Coppice cut at Devichoys Woods
Coppice cut at Devichoys Woods

We also attended the Cornwall Coppice Group meeting at Devichoys Woods where Tom Kemp has been coppicing. He and Nick Jarvis have started a community supported firewood project which also encourages volunteers to get involved in sustainable woodland management. This was on the same weekend as the Cornwall ‘Village building’ Art of Mentoring event designed to connect together those wanting to look at ways to create more holistic communities throughout Cornwall and sharing ideas on how to achieve this. We’re following this up by going along to the Nature Culture Regeneration weekend in May on Dartmoor. We’ll report back…….

Volunteers.

We are set for a great season with a solid team; Tim, Hannan, Esme with Tom as a new addition this week. We are also currently interviewing for the Internship for October and have some very promising candidates.

Tim is taking on increasing levels of responsibility and we’re trying to balance that by offering him the management of areas of coppice and mature woodland for him to try out some of his many masterplans. Since putting him through his chainsaw training last year, the weight of all the felling and processing of timber has been lifted from Anthony who is enjoying returning at last to crafting and teaching. The second Hazel chair course took place earlier this month and produced some great furniture. More courses will be offered in the Autumn to include post and rung stools and a full chair-making course.

For sale:

We have the following products for sale- please contact us if you are interested in anything listed below;

Firewood– 1m³ – £120 – green ash, alder or mix- ringed/split – buy now and it will be ready for the winter… delivery free within a 10mile radius.
Charcoal – sustainable top quality locally produced hardwood barbecue charcoal – 5kg bag – £7.50
Biochar – 40l bag £20
Top soil – call us do discuss…

Winter 2017

Mid-Winter greetings to you all! We thought you might like a little holiday reading so here’s our latest offering.

In this Newsletter;
Pigs
Coppicing
Squirrel Skin Tanning
Internships
Volunteer days- Community Woodland
Bent Hazel Chair course
Winter salads
Fire


Pigs
5 minutes before slaughter
5 minutes before slaughter

December always seems to be a busy month but add in slaughtering and butchering 4 pigs and it becomes frantic!! Saying that, it all went incredibly well especially considering it was our first time. The results have been much enjoyed already and there’s plenty more to come!

Mid butchery
Mid butchery

We have hams drying, bacon curing, 4 types of sausages, brawn from heads and trotters, liver pate, fried brains on toast, copious jars of beautiful white lard, roasting joints, blood sausage, heart and kidney pie, pork scratchings……the list goes on. Tim took on the bulk of responsibility for organising everything which was a great relief for us and which is why it all went so well!

Mincing for sausages
Mincing for sausages

There is so much about the whole process that feels really positive. None of the pigs were aware of any impending doom. They were gratefully chewing on orange rind at the time. No faf, no transportation and the massive learning that comes from taking the life of an animal you’ve reared. Although the laws are constantly tightening on home kill, it is nice to know that what we did was totally legitimate. It’s very empowering to know that you can provide your own family with delicious protein and fats without any external inputs and no stress to the animal.

Coppicing

This seasons cutting has started well with a large area of hazel which has not been cut before being coppiced. We have been surprised at how much useful product has come out so far, with two orders for bale-spikes for straw bale building projects, beanpoles, pea-sticks and many good weavers for either hurdles or hedge-binders coming out too. Materials for the bent hazel chairs have also come from this area.

Other products we are investigating markets for are faggots (bundled up brash-wood) which are used primarily to stabilise river banks but are also used to fire cooking ovens, and thatching spars which are the hazel ‘staples’ used when re-thatching roofs. The remaining timber will go for firewood and charcoal which will be available for your Summer BBQs.

The other product we have started to cut is the willow- mainly the pollards of red willow in the community coppice area, but we will soon be cutting the bigger willow higher up in this area too. Most of the red willow Ele made into around 100 wreaths which Danny and Sheila Hobbs form next door decorated and sold. Basket making has started up again for Ele now she has more time due to Adeon being at school so there will be colourful Pentiddy baskets being made.

If you would like to order any Hazel produce then please get in touch.

Squirrel Skin Tanning
Smoking the squirrel skin
Smoking the squirrel skin
Squirrel skin tanning with egg yolk
Squirrel skin tanning with egg yolk

Adeon shot his first squirrel recently, and after eating the meat and offal he decided to do something with the skin. Firstly he put it ‘in salt’- pinning it out and rubbing salt with borax over the inside of the skin and then left it until it was dry. He then scraped it to remove the membrane and once this had been done rubbed 2 egg yolks into it and worked it whilst it dried to keep it supple, this took several hours and was very sticky to begin with then just a little icky after that!

The end result however is a very soft pliable skin but if left like this it would revert to ‘crispy’ if it were to get wet, so to preserve it it needed smoking.

We found some ‘punky’ wood (wood that is soft and crumbly- too far gone for firewood) which creates lots of smoke. Adeon erected a pyramid of four poles and wove a light ‘web’ high up with string, then placed the skin on the web, wrapped it all in a tarp and placed it over a smouldering, smoking fire. It’s turned out to be of amazing quality. The next stage will be to sew it into a pouch of some kind but until then it’s decorating his bedroom wall.

Internships

We have finally got around to writing an outline of the internship we are proposing to start from October 2018. This is a really exciting opportunity for the right person so spread the word!

The internship is an opportunity to join our family for 9 months living off-grid on an established experimental woodland smallholding.

From October each year through to the following July we are offering a full, rounded experience in sustainable living. You will be trained in numerous essential skills for setting up your own project. There will be a small training budget for off-site courses, free weekends (except during hay-making time!), 1 day each week for more flexible study or skills learning. 4 days a week helping on a variety of interesting tasks around the land.

Internship at Pentiddy
Internship at Pentiddy

Each season there will also be trips to the Green Scythe Fair and the National Coppice Federation AGM. There are plenty of interesting places to visit fairly locally such as the Eden Project, Landmatters Community, Agroforestry Research Trust, Keveral Farm Community…

We can only offer 2 places each year, and we would obviously prefer you to visit beforehand if possible. Please in the first instance apply in writing or by e-mail.

For further information on this please visit www.pentiddy.co.uk/pentiddywoods/volunteers/ or click on the image for more detail.

Volunteer days- Community Woodland

Please make a note of the dates for the volunteer days for helping in the Community Woodland.

14th January, 25th February, 25th March all from 10am to 4pm. More details available in the Calendar. Come and join us and we’ll feed you and share out the resulting firewood.

Bent Hazel Chair Course
Bent Hazel Chair Making Course
Bent Hazel Chair Making Course

The course in November was a great success. All participants had a fun time and went home with beautiful chairs. The next course is 27th-28th January. Before Christmas it was fully booked but due to very difficult family health issues one couple have had to pull out so there are still a few spaces left.
More information here.

Winter Salads
A beautiful winter salad
A beautiful winter salad

Ele just wanted to share a photo of one of our December salads. Such a lift to eat bright colours at such a dark time of year!

 

 

Fire workshops

..and just as a final thing, our friend Klaudia visited yesterday and is running the several ‘meeting and making fire’ workshops which some of you may be interested in- please follow this link:

Happy Solstice to you all!

As always it’s really nice to get your feedback on the newsletter- please feel free to e-mail us.

April 2017

A slightly later one this month- we thought we’d leave it until after the open day madness and make it a small one just to update a few things…

Open Day

open day fun.
Open day fun – picture credit: Hannah Crabb

So it’s happened, and all the stress, superhuman levels of activity and busy lead up to the day is but a memory.

We had a fantastic day, both in terms of weather and atmosphere, buzz and number of people who attended, all of whom, it seemed to me, had smiles and positive comments. Conversation was inspiring and the networking invaluable.

Over 300 people turned out to have a self-guided tour around. There were also 25 stall-holders around the site demonstrating sustainable crafts such as green woodworking, charcoal burning, scything, basketmaking and spinning and selling everything from handmade soaps and perennial plants to organic vegetables and local apple juice. There were talks on biodynamic farming, a wild cookery demonstration and the showing of a film of the straw bale house build on the site. An amazing lunch was provided by the Real Junk Food Project who take food that supermarkets would otherwise throw away and turn it into delicious meals to feed the local community.

Having allowed ourselves a pause and a breather we’ve had time to settle and reflect on the day and speak with various people and all in all it seems as though it was a big success.

Natural Swimming pond

The pond is finished! Unfortunately it is still 3-4 inches below “full” so the filter system is not able to effectively work yet, though initial tests are encouraging so it’s all ready to go once we have had a little more rain. Partly this is due to a leak I discovered in the exit drain pipe, where water was seeping in at a join. After a brainwave I solved this by rolling a section of inner-tube over the pipe to the join, and cable tied either side of it. So far so good I think- but again will know more when next it rains. Adeon was the first to go in the pond albeit VERY briefly, but today Adeon, Elowen and Anthony have all been in for a proper dip- brrrrr!

Coppice

Hazel Coppice stool sprouting.
Hazel Coppice stool sprouting

The chestnut and hazel coppice areas we have cut this year are just starting to shoot, so it’s going to be time for us to shoot too… rabbits that is! They are the biggest threat to these young tender stems. We all enjoy rabbit (some call it underground chicken) and it’s a good sustainable source of protein and makes sense in terms of management of the coppice. Rabbit fencing is just economically non-viable in the long term and is far from a sustainable solution. We have a couple of lovely curry recipes we use which I will post as a separate item sometime very soon. The cats are also helping us with the rabbit population, and their way of eating them certainly takes less preparation! Keep an eye out soon for our Bunny Bhuna and Rabbit Rogan Josh recipes.

Shiitake Mushrooms

We have had our first flush of mushrooms from our logs for this year… the next ones are in the bath being ‘shocked’ so we should get another flush in a couple of weeks. They are such a tasty and healthy addition to our diet- we love them. Our logs are beech and were inoculated three years ago. The mycelium takes a year or so to run through the log at which point shocking can begin to make them fruit. This is their second fruiting year, and each log can give two or three flushes per year.

Tree by Tree

Coinciding with our open day was the first event of a new project headed by a dear friend of ours Tino Rawnsley.

The project is called Tree by Tree and is a social movement to plant trees, create woodlands and celebrate!”

After things finished here on our Open Day at 4pm we hastily packed away the Yurt (kindly lent to us by Kath and Piers) and drove to North Devon to join the tree by tree crew for their special treefest event. Unfortunately we’d missed all the tree planting but we danced the evening away to some fantastic bands and caught up with lots of lovely people. A nice way to round off our busy day.

They are now on the look out for the next area of land to purchase to create another Community Woodland. If you know of any possibilities please let us know.

For more information or to donate visit https://treebytree.org

Pentiddy Shroud – In development

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With all the resources available to us here, we would like to provide the ultimate green burial shroud. To this end we have tried out various ideas and have chosen to develop this one.

The Pentiddy shroud will be made from 100% Pentiddy materials so there is no mileage on the product at all!

A hurdle – either Hazel or Willow, will support a woven shroud made from the wool from our sheep that graze the burial site. The fleeces would be washed on site and then carded by hand on a drum carder.

The weaving would take place here and I’d really love to include any family or friends of the deceased to join in the weaving. For a long time now it has felt very important to me that people can get involved in the making of the coffin or shroud, weaving in their fondest memories along with biodegradable object such as shells, leaves from the garden, letters and even strips of favourite clothing. I believe that to have a part in the creation of a beautiful final resting place for a loved one assists in a healthy grieving process.

As this idea is only in the developmental phase we’d be very grateful for any feedback.

Stop Press!… First Lambs born this morning!

Yes, our first Lambs were born this morning- a successful double from our one remaining Hebridean ewe- we think they are one ram lamb and one ewe, but have not ventured too close as of yet. Mum looks to be doing all the right things which is always a relief.

We have two Black Welsh Mountain ewes who look very heavy and ready to lamb soon too, so keeping a close eye on them at the moment. Spring lambs- aahh!

Newsletter February 2017

Welcome to what will hopefully now become our monthly newsletter. Our aim here is to impart some useful information and share news and insights from all the sub-projects that make up Pentiddy.  We hope the content will be insightful and informative.

We have a huge amount of gratitude for being able to live here and steward this plot of land. Many who walk, attend events  and learn here also have a love of the place. This newsletter is a means of celebrating everyone’s connection to Pentiddy.

This is the time of year for all thoughts that have been brewing over the winter to awaken and start sprouting. Buds and ideas swell and bulbs and new ventures push up through the earth. It’s certainly had its effect on us!

We’ve been enjoying our visits from the buzzard who perches on the same gate post daily to look for breakfast. we’ve also been treated to numerous breath-taking sunrises and the first taste of fresh wild salads.

Natural Swimming Pond

pond liner in.
Pond liner in!
is this level.
Is this level?

Sitting on the veranda one sunny spring day last year, counting our many blessings, we rhetorically asked- “…how could this be any better?”. One of the children then piped up- “Well… it would be good if we could swim in the pond…”

So we’ve started the process of changing our small wildlife pond into a natural swimming pond which is no small task! It’s been interesting work to carry out in the middle of winter as it has involved lots of mud, and wading in the pond in January to build the sand bag wall (which was not Anthony’s favourite job!).

The principle of a natural swimming pond is simple enough- instead of chemicals to clean the water, oxygenating plants are used and nutrient levels kept as low as possible to inhibit algal growth. The planted zone has to be at least equal in area to the swimming zone, so we will still have a haven for wildlife. We’ll let you know how effective it is once it has been completed and the plants and biology have established properly.

We can’t wait to swim in it come the spring…

Pentiddy Natural Burials

Burial Extension

We have received planning permission to extend the burial site into the area to the south of the existing site where the previously planted Chestnuts have not thrived. This area was under our Woodland Creation Grant with the Forestry Commission who have agreed to us removing the trees and changing the use from forestry to burials. Because of the low fertility levels in this area we have decided it will work best as a wild flower meadow which also offers further choice for those being buried here and it increases the diversity of habitat.

Following a meeting with local grassland expert Kevin Austin (Skyegrove) we now have a clearer plan in place for using the sheep to manage the grass in the early Spring and Autumn and cutting for hay in the summer. We have also sown a couple of areas of yellow rattle, a wild flower that is parasitic on grass and will assist in the creation of some wild flower glades for wildlife.

Sustainable, Biodegradeable Coffins

With the Burial site, the coppice and the skills base, we figured we should at least look into producing a sustainable coppice-based coffin. We’ve encouraged our basket-making friend Jessie Carr who lives here in Pensilva to have a go at making a willow coffin for our next burial here. She agreed to include some willow grown at Pentiddy which we’re hoping to supply to her in increasing amounts. The coffin she has produced is stunning.

Back at Pentiddy’s workshop we’ve been busy thrashing out ideas for using Hazel for coffins for a quicker and therefore cheaper coffin and we’re also looking at developing shrouds with a hazel base. We’ll keep you posted on progress.

Coppice and Sales

Chestnut coppice in process

We have started the coppice cycle with a cut in the area of Sweet Chestnut above the house, and also a re-cut of the 3 year old Hazel. Although only a small area, the Hazel is of fantastic quality with pretty much all of the poles selling by word of mouth. It has gone for hedging stakes and binders, bale spikes for a straw bale build and of course bean poles. We have also supplied the Devon Rural Skills Trust with materials for their hurdle making course. As it is the first cut for the Chestnut there are not really any useful poles this time round but an awful lot of firewood! Tim is also experimenting with a kontiki kiln for making biochar with the brash tops.

Workshop dry store

As part of our post-house process, the Heartwood Creations woodworking workshop is undergoing an overhaul with the anticipation of running a series of courses starting again this year. Materials salvaged from the demolition of the mobile home and left-over house build straw as insulation have created a dry store attached to the workshop so Anthony can have rust-free dry tools. Francis (who has the allotment here) has also donated her old kitchen cupboards for storage. He’s a very happy man! What’s even better is that he also has a whole list of things to make so he’ll be making very good use of the new space in the next few months.

Open Day – April 8th 2017

April the 8th will see us opening the site here to an event tied into the Small Woods Association national bean pole week. This is looking like it will be a fairly large event with a ‘local and sustainable’ theme – around 30 stalls showcasing businesses and individuals from the local area. there will also be talks, demonstrations and live entertainment. Put the date in your diaries. More information will be available in the next newsletter.

Courses and Events Calendar

The websites and content have had an overhaul and we now have a calendar of events which include courses run through Heartwood Creations, community work days for the Community Woodland and  anticipated dates for sheep grazing and hay making in the burial site. We’re breaking ourselves in gently with courses this year offering only a few but we hope to be at full speed in 2018. Ele’s pursuing a Food Hygiene course so that we can include a home-produced lunch down at the house for course participants.

Newsletter Subscriptions

Once again an apology for any spurious e-mails, and any odd things that have happened whilst things were tested, re-jigged and set-up. I am not a whizz with technology, just a little bit of a geek, and I hope that eventually my efforts will make the suite of Pentiddy websites an interesting, useful and informative resource….

Please pass on the link to our newsletter to anyone you think may be interested and encourage them to subscribe.  Unsubscribing is also easy and is honoured- we are not into e-mail spam!

As always we love to get feedback. Let us know your thoughts on the newsletter content, how we could improve it or the websites and their content. Any broken links or spelling mistakes…

Enjoy the Spring!