Something for the kids to play with, at last, we have been promising the kids that we would build them swings but we always ran out of time.
Something for the adults to play with – Chainsaw.
Today was dedicated to getting the swing made and tested. This will give the kids something else to do when we are working. We looked in to how to rig up a swing as we don’t have any branches that we could use.
Did you know that if you, or a squirrel, make a ring in the bark of a tree it will die? We had two options 1) baton the tree then tie the wooden post around this or 2) stick a nail in the tree, we researched the two options and surprisingly, as long as you use the right nails e.g. not copper, the nail option is best.
1st we needed a location for the swing. We went for one directly in the entrance we had two trees a good distance apart and the location was close to the cooking area and the car.
Within a few hours we had two tire swings and a rope swing, this would have taken longer without the chainsaw. The only thing is the rope we could get needed to be hard wearing and so it’s the blue stuff.
While working on this I lit the rocket stove and we had hot chocolate and stew to keep us warm. Gav made sure he tested the swings first purely for safety reasons of course.
With the off cuts of wood, and with the new power tool to play with,Gav made me a seat.
India said 1 thing to me that took a while for me to agree with ‘get a chainsaw’. I worried with having two kids and not having had any training yet that it would be the right move. That and we want to plant trees not cut them down, but India said you need to look at a tree and see if it alive or living. A tree that has been felled can still produce buds and even leaves, in the correct conditions, but that felled tree is not living.
We have a very large tree that is rotten through, it had leaves but it is not living and it is not safe. The tree will provide us with useful building material and fire wood and we will replant 10 trees to replace it. We need to take it down as it will fall and when it does it will damage many other trees.
The tree is very large but as it is dangerous we do not need a felling licence.
The chainsaw I went for is a Titan, after reading reviews this chainsaw is small and light weight. The chainsaw comes with a safety cover over the teeth and a hand guard. It also self-oils and is supplied with a spare chain.
Even though this is a two stroke, like the brush cutter, you need to check the mix of fuel.
One additional benefit is the vibration buffer it has.
Took an afternoon trip to the woods so the kids could sleep we took some photos of our wonder.
The entrance to the badger set does not appear to have been used in a while but as badgers hibernate we won’t expect to see them until spring. Olivia spotted deer poo, so she was happy, and then we found two deer prints.
We will have to keep an eye on the deer as they have already started coming in to our newly opened wood and are eating the young trees.
I met India from The Woodland Trust at a local shop for a hot chocolate, before driving up to Bramble Bank Wood, it was only 3 degrees in the woodland. We spent the 1st part of the morning walking around the accessible areas of the woodland identifying trees and mapping the area.
As the brambles had died back we managed to reach areas I had not been to before and found an active Badger Set, I have since reported it to the Badger Trust and invited members to visit our woodland.
Late morning we starting planning the restoration project, each woodland is different Bramble Bank Wood has a thick layer of leaf litter that supports various fungus’s and animal life this needs to be preserved. India provided me with some additional reading and research to complete before we could think about planning trees.
Paid the bill at the beginning of the week, ouch, but it meant the Solicitors were not waiting on us. The Solicitors confirmed that we had completed, today 11:14 16/12/2106, so we can now officially use Bramble Bank Wood. Just in time as the Woodland Trust volunteer is coming tomorrow.
I phone the Solicitors every week to try to ensure we complete before the 16th December, for 2 reasons, 1) we are off to Disney Land Paris for Christmas 2) Woodlands.co.uk will pay towards our Solicitors bill. Gav and I are very impressed at the support Woodlands.co.uk give both in terms of information e.g. www.SWOG.org.uk and funding.
This weekend is about cooking on an open fire and making a couple of temporary benches from the small tree we felled earlier.
We tried two different ways to elevating the bench off the ground as this keeps the wood dry and makes it more comfortable.
The first is by placing the wood on two car tires, this makes the bench springy and is quite comfortable but it would be better with a flat surface.
The second was to cut the ends off the felled tree and use them as legs. Gav spent a while pegging and tying this bench together. Tobias fell off of it and when Gav sat down to show Tobias how it is done the entire thing collapsed under his weight.
All in all a good day we have 1 bench and a balance beam for the kids. Lol
We were planning on getting some help with clearing the brambles so started to look in to insurance. It pays to shop around and also compare cover. One company was just going to charge me the minimum £340 flat fee but it did have 5-million-pound cover. A second company was only going to charge me £158.80 but that only insured up to 1-million-pounds.
I was told that I would have to have employer’s liability cover as the law states if I instruct someone to carry out a task in a specific way I become their employer even if they are not being paid.
I went for www.thebeechtree.com as it had 5-million-pound limit and free employer’s liability cover of 10 million, all for £154 including tax and admin fee. The website looks a bit strange as they insure entertainment venues but I got the information off the woodland website. After talking to Gary you can tailor the insurance to what you need. The type of questions were:
Will you be using a chainsaw
Will you be shooting
Will the area be open to the public etc etc.
If you know who your woodland neighbours are and will be using the land in a similar way I would suggest looking to get join insurance as I believe the value we are paying is the minimum and covers up to 10 acres.
On arrival on Saturday we found that the British weather had again taken its toll on the shelter. A design flaw in the A-Frame saw it bring down the shelter ripping out a few more eyelets and putting a hole in the so called hard-wearing tarp.
Time for another re-think; while I carry on cutting down the brambles.
Before lunch we built a primitive rocket stove, after lots of time spent on pinterest Gem decided to construct it with 7 breeze blocks but this was mainly due to the fact that we could not get the bricks we wanted, the original design had 3 on the floor, 3 sides and the last block for the top to draw in the air. On top of this we tried to make a chimney by adding building bricks, but Gem found that not enough heat was reaching the food to cook it.
So the construction was adjusted slightly and the fire moved back in order to speed up cooking.
One of the joys with this set up is the breeze blocks retain the heat long after the fire had been relocated, Gem removed the fire with a spade and used this to start the fire pit, but it was cool enough that the kids could warm their hands and little bottoms on it.
On to the last job of the day a new wind proof shelter. As we are approaching the end of the season we only need to keep a small stack of wood and the rocket stove dry, so the new shelter was scaled down to a mini square tee-pee with the large tarp wrapped around.
Gem had been busy on Friday, preparing the entrance to get our car in off of the forest track. Having forgotten the fuel for the brush cutter, this also gave her an opportunity to inspect the few trees that we had already uncovered.
One tree in particular was identified for felling, It was leaning at such an angle that it was pushing against a neighbouring tree.
Gem set about clearing it low level branches and then the area around it.
Sunday saw the felling of our first tree. No fancy equipment or power tools (this time), just a good old hand saw. The kids celebrated as the tree hit the ground. They’ve been promised the trunk will be used to build them a swing. 🙂
We also found out that our hard wearing tarp is not that hard wearing. The wind and rain during the week had caused it to tare at the eyelets, in turn bringing down our shelter.
The afternoon was filled with the planning and construction of Shelter Mk2, Complete with supporting A-Frame, hopefully this will withstand the British weather a little more.
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