Back in the forge for another Blacksmithing course – I was teaching four participants how to make a ram’s head hook on the charcoal hearth. They had to split with a cold chisel, punch a hole with a square punch, bend and thin the horns, hot cut to length and finally thin and make the hook. No new fangled machines used at all, all done the traditional blacksmith’s way.
We run two forges- one is a portable forge and the other is the main forge in the Smithy. That’s so four people can work in the old Victorian forge working as pairs. One to watch the fire while the other works and then they swap roles. Mastering the fire is perhaps one of the most important aspects of blacksmithing as you need to know how hot the hearth is and how long to keep the steel in or suffer the consequences: burning steel and all your work disappearing right in front of you!
After all that work they had to clean up their iron work; what better way of doing that than using a wire brush and beeswax? The wire brush loosens off the scale and the beeswax, when applied to the still somewhat hot iron, melts and coats the iron completely so as to stop the rust forming; it also gives it a nice black finish.
Sunday and it was off to Burwash Manor to do a little experimentation but what was the experiment?
Well, for my part, I began to wonder if it was one of those trellis willow seats, but then … somehow that didn’t seem to be such a viable idea as there didn’t seem to be an entrance. So I will have to wait and see!
Now I was beginning to suspect that the item David, Matt and Jim was making was some sort of cage… maybe for the dogs?… or was it for some rather large chickens?… no they had not quite finished…
Well I never! They pulled it out of the ground, turned it upside down and gave it a snip; Matt’s girl friend then jumped in to test it out. Ah! It was some sort of boat but somehow I got the idea that it might, just might, not float!!!!!!!!! Got it yet? It will have to have a cow skin or cloth put around it and hey presto you will have a willow coracle. More on the coracle making in later posts!
Had to haul the log burner into the shed (’twas a bit heavier than we had thought but a few round stakes placed under the pallet soon had it rolling (sort of) along). All we have to do now is find a suitable flue and we’ll be roasting.
Job of the week was the hedge laying at Cobbs Wood Farm… got to do half a kilometre. This hedge was planted some 15 years ago… thrice!!!! The rabbits and hares demolished the first two attempts so we had to use spiral tree guards for the first time. The hedge has suffered from Roundup poisoning- unfortunately hawthorn is badly affected by even small doses of Roundup, especially when applied to rape crops to kill them off, as any wind results in spray drift and, when that happens in the direction of a hedge, any hawthorn (old or young) will be severely checked if not killed. The hedge also had a severe hair cut some seven years ago which made the laying of the pleachers quite ‘interesting’. Best style for this hedge was the South of England style. Normally we can lay hedges very quickly but this particular hedge had a thirty foot bank with a dense covering of trees, mainly young elm, on one side … that slowed us up!!!!!!
One problem we had was a lack of hedging stakes- we had actually run out of stock because we swapped them for binders that we needed last year with Foxcote fencing. But, remember the young elm on the bank? Well these made fine hedging stakes so, as we laid, we made stakes (and just as well as it turned out as, without the stakes in the hedge, it would have blown down in the winds we have been having).
Across on Rectory Farm Albert was ploughing the oat fields and, on such a lovely day as this, I just had to get some scenic shots…
All hands on deck for the rest of the week making stakes and clearing the brash.
Finally got the chipper working (although it was still playing up) and managed to clear one side of the hedge but, alas, after some rather frustrating hours, the electrics on the woodchipper finally decided enough was enough. No idea what was wrong so now we’ll have to get someone who can trace the intermittent fault – these are always the worst because you fiddle with the wires… it works… and then, after a little bit of work it decides to stop working again…so you fiddle with the same wires to no effect… but some other wires when fiddled with allow the chipper to work again for, guess what? Not very long… Aaaaggghhh! I…hate…electronics…