Separating the wood from the trees.
Much of the work we do as ranger volunteers is related to helping to maintain the woodland. Throughout the parkland there are numerous ancient and veteran trees, interestingly all have been tagged and their positions recorded in recent times; when looking at old maps of the estate there is evidence of similar recording having been maintained over many decades. An important aspect of woodland management here at Croft therefore is the identification of trees that will become ancient and veteran trees of the future.
Having identified a specific tree, there is often a need to remove some of the other trees that have grown up around it, to give it space to grow. Coupled with the trees that fall due to wind damage and those that become diseased we end up with a considerable amount of wood that has to be processed one way or another.
Many of the newer structures around the estate have been made with oak that for one or other of the reasons mentioned above provide useable material. The bird hide in the fishpool valley, the interpretation barn up in the wood pasture, the building housing the bio-mass boiler and much of the new shed in the wood yard where wood chip for the bio-mass boiler is stored, are examples of how the wood has been put to good use. Most of the way-mark posts on the walks are made of oak cut from trees on croft grounds as are many of the rustic benches we are putting out along those same walks.
The bio-mass boiler consumes wood from the parkland that has to be reduced to wood chip by a contractor.
A large quantity of wood is also reduced to firewood; the shop, visitor reception and the tearoom all have hungry wood burners; all fuelled by wood from the estate. For several years as a volunteer, I have found myself along with all the other volunteers splitting wood in an endeavour to fill the wood shed with logs for the wood burners and to sell locally.
This year has been no exception other than by the end of March the wood shed was looking just about empty and so when we haven’t been cutting up lime trees we have done little else other than chop and split wood; and we have still only half filled the wood shed.
However the old rundown wood shed has been replaced and we have now got far better facilities to work in; making our job much easier and more enjoyable.
It’s now the end of September and already the demand for wood has started as folks begin to prepare for the winter ahead. By late spring this year (2016) the wood shed was pretty much full all of the contents had been cut, chopped and split by the rangers here. Last year a contractor was employed to undertake the wood processing for them it took far less effort;
they had a tractor and an attachment that split and cut the wood, unfortunately when they had finished we had to clear up the wood chip and bark that they had left behind. We however resort to manual effort to fill the wood shed and we make far less mess!
Oh! if we only had a tractor with such an attachment our task would be so much easier and completed so much faster.
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