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the village idiot

An Idiot's guide to Ancient Woodland management

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On 03/12/2019 at 20:48, the village idiot said:

Of course at this point any normal person's brain turns to dead bodies, my brain was no exception. It would be perfectly possible to convert Granny into charcoal and then use her (literally) to cook the sausages for her wake. If anyone has ever had a better idea for a business model, I am yet to hear it.

WWW.IFLSCIENCE.COM

The world’s first funerary human composting facility is slated to open in the spring of 2021 after Washington State...

 

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7 minutes ago, Mark J said:
WWW.IFLSCIENCE.COM

The world’s first funerary human composting facility is slated to open in the spring of 2021 after Washington State...

 

Fantastic Mark.

 

That sort of thing is right up my street. I hope it catches on.

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2 hours ago, Lucan said:

 

If you want some bedtime reading on the biodiversity value of sycamore in UK woodlands: The ecology and biodiversity value of sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus L) with particular reference to Great Britain

 

That doesn't surprise me. I have a different problem with sycamore in that it doesn't seem to spread into the bits of woodland I own. There's a fair bit of neighbouring sycamore that produces abundant viable seed but everything seems to eat it before they germinate. The few saplings that are produced are rapidly browsed off and the few trees I have have been massacred by grey squirrels. Apart from that...

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41 minutes ago, Paul in the woods said:

That doesn't surprise me. I have a different problem with sycamore in that it doesn't seem to spread into the bits of woodland I own. There's a fair bit of neighbouring sycamore that produces abundant viable seed but everything seems to eat it before they germinate. The few saplings that are produced are rapidly browsed off and the few trees I have have been massacred by grey squirrels. Apart from that...

I haven't fully assimilated everything in that document, but it seems quite a complex process involving a number of factors (including the surrounding mature trees) as to whether sycamore takes over. 

 

Would controlling/reducing the squirrel numbers be that much of a problem?

 

Funny enough I was discussing replanting conditions with our local TO this week, in that it seems almost an obligation to specify 'native'. I was suggesting that we're too fixed in our thoughts, that we disregard trees such as Leyland cypress and sycamore because of their biodiversity values, but currently they're trees that grow well with few really serious threats on the horizon. Are we so stuck in our ways that we forget that everything is part of the evolutionary process and in the long term some of the current ideas and practice could actually be more harmful than beneficial.

 

 

Sorry TVI, I'm digressing from this very educational and entertaining thread. 

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THRILLING MILLING IV. THE LUCAS MILL.

 

The Lucas Mill could possibly be thought of as filling a niche somewhere between the Alaskan and bandsaw mills. It is a fairly portable machine with a lightweight aluminium frame that can be set up around a log in situ. The Lucas Mill uses a pivoting circular saw blade to make it's cuts.

 

As with Alec, it was Orchard Barn who brought the Lucas Mill to the Wood. They had made an arrangement with Greenways (a local conservation charity) which resulted in them bringing their mill to the Wood to produce some more Oak construction timbers.

 

The Lucas Mill assembles in about 30 minutes. It can be bolted down to hardstanding or pegged down into soft ground. It can even be erected on sloping ground as the saw carrying runners can be independently adjusted to keep them parallel.

 

lucas3.thumb.jpg.478ce4808b241ddf4c89b09b6539c7cc.jpg

 

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This type of mill has a circular saw blade mounted below an engine. They are carried on a carriage which is pushed along runners, the blade cutting into the log as it goes. The beauty of the Lucas Mill is that the blade can be rotated 90 degrees at the pull of a lever, meaning you can cut a beam or a plank out of the log with a single up and down pass with the carriage, rotating the blade after the first pass. The cut material can then be lifted off and you are ready for the next run.

 

You can convert a very big log into a large pile of beams or planks very quickly without ever having to manipulate the stem.

 

lucas1.thumb.jpg.43fd73db7588978202b3373b5cc83798.jpg

 

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The Lucas Mill is in my opinion by far your best option if you are after beams and boards. Where it is compromised is it's ability to produce wide slabs. It is limited to cutting a width equal to double the radius of the circular saw blade. That being said, you can purchase a 'slabbing' attachment. This is a hugely long chainsaw bar that runs off the mill's engine and cuts in the same way as the Alaskan mill.

 

The Lucas Mill leaves a slightly worse finish than a bandsaw mill but you can get a 'plane' attachment which also runs off the main engine to achieve a better end result.

 

In terms of versatility and user friendliness I would put the Lucas Mill at the top of my list, especially with the slabbing attachment, but it would depend on your own personal requirements. If you're a dedicated slab head a bandsaw mill would probably be a better bet. In terms of cost the Lucas Mill is fairly comparable to a decent entry level bandsaw mill, but vastly more expensive than an Alaskan.

 

As mentioned previously there is a wealth of more detailed information on these mills on other Arbtalk threads.

 

We have not yet purchased a mill of our own as we have always thought it would be too much of a distraction from our main interest (the active management of the Wood). I wouldn't however rule it out for some time in the future as it is hugely rewarding to see these 100 year old Oak stems getting converted and beginning the next useful stage in their existence.

 

Edited by the village idiot
spalling
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5 hours ago, the village idiot said:

I reckon it would be capable of a certain amount of 'winching in' especially if you orientated the arch to the log.

 

It might need a few design tweaks if you were planning to do a lot of this.

 

I'll see if I can get Tim involved in the thread to give his thoughts.

 

Without wanting to do him out of a potential sale, you would be more than welcome to borrow the arch to see if it fits in with your operations. It just about fits on the back of a pick up, (and easily onto a trailer) if the wheels are taken off. It's been out in one of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust woods to extract some truly mighty Oak stems.

That's very generous of you  , I may well take you up on your offer sometime ☺️

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SOGGY CRISPS.

 

In 2017 we welcomed Crispin (everyone's favourite digger driver, apart from LGP Eddie of course) back to the Wood for the next round of pond restoration.

.

During one of John Shipp's thinnings I had asked him to clear all the trees growing in a 15 mtr ring around each of 6 ponds located within the block. This was to give the ponds some much needed light and also in preparation for the big digger.

 

So you can get your bearings the block in question is pictured below.

 

image.thumb.png.3249bb40f501b8da5a050ce29316009c.png

 

Our conservation advisor Juliet had a drawn up a different prescription for each pond. Some were fully excavated, others were partially de-silted. The idea being we could monitor each pond into the future and see which prescriptions resulted in the best biodiversity gains.

 

Crispin followed Juliet's guidance to the letter and as most of the ponds were quite small he was done in a day or two.

 

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Some people choose to pump all the water out of their ponds before embarking on this type of procedure. This is only really necessary if the pond is so large that you can't reach into the middle from the safety of the banks and you have to track the digger into the pond itself. 

 

None of our ponds were quite that big so the water was left in place. However, Crispin was nearly left rueing that decision as he came very close to a highly undesirable sludgy swim wearing a very heavy digger shaped diving suit!

 

crispin24.thumb.jpg.f0e5df0cb9aedcf7c8c8dbef07b1e9fc.jpg

 

The picture above shows the aftermath of the rescue mission. Crispin had tracked up to the very edge of one of the ponds to reach into the centre. He had scooped up a bucket load of mush, but when he tried to lift the bucket the digger started to slide into the water. He was stuck in an unfortunate 'catch 22'. He couldn't track backwards because of the submerged bucket acting as an anchor and he couldn't lift the bucket as this slid him further into the gloop.

 

In the end a good old Defender sorted us out. We unspooled the cable from the winch mounted on the front of Crispin's Land Rover, having first chained the Defender to a tree directly behind it. We then fed the cable through a pulley strapped to a nearby tree and attached it via another strap to the running gear of the excavator. We then took up the slack on the winch. This just about held the digger stationary whilst Crispin gently raised the submerged bucket, slewed it through 180 degrees and clawed himself out of the mire.

 

It was all a little bum squeaky for Crispin as it was a hired in machine, but he soon regained his mojo and set about finishing the job, staying a couple of feet further back from the edge from then on!

 

The 6 ponds have all now settled down nicely and we will see in time how the differing interventions fare in terms of increasing pond life.

 

Below are a couple of arty winter shots taken by Steve of two of the ponds. This was after clearing the trees around them but before the digging out.

 

177890418_artypond1.thumb.jpg.597d57409cf91c3218a4eca062920eb9.jpg

 

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Edit: Now that I think of it, two of the six ponds were not actually located inside the block highlighted on the map. I lied and I am truly sorry.😁

 

Edited by the village idiot
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