Hedging your bets

 

Forging

Forging

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.

k

Hot coals

l

Fire in the hole!

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!

o
Putting the beeswax on
Rams head hook cooling down

Ram’s head hook cooling down

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.

 

Oh! What where we going to make?

Matt thought he might be building a stockaid

Matt thought he might be building a stockade

Sunday and it was off to Burwash Manor to do a little experimentation but what was the experiment?

k

Now what did the computer say?

 

l

Ah! Its a lovely willow seat…

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!

Bending the uprights

Bending the uprights

Finished

Finished

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…

Upright and getting a snip

Upright and getting a snip

Errrr, that's not going to float is it?

Errrr, that’s not going to float is it?

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!

In goes the space heater

In goes the space heater

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.

Hedge laying at Cobbs wood farm

Hedge laying at Cobbs Wood Farm

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!!!!!!

Running out of stakes

Running out of stakes

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…

Albert plough the oat field at Rectory farm

Albert plough the oat fields at Rectory Farm

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Looking east

k

Silhouette

l

Looking west

Getting on with the hedge

Getting on with the hedge

All hands on deck for the rest of the week making stakes and clearing the brash.

Chipping the lop and top

Chipping the lop and top

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…

 

 

About Sadeik

You may ask why "Sadeik" well it means friend in arabic. Worked in Jordan a lot doing tree surgery you see. I have worked in forestry since I left school with a two years in Telecom. Went back to forestry and tree surgery as it may not have paid as much but was far more interesting and dangerous. Spent a lot of years mountaineering, caving and canoeing too. At 29 I went to Bangor University to study Forestry and soil science then did an MSc in Water engineering all very interesting. By a quirk of fate in 1995 ended up helping sort out the woodland and park at Wimpole, funny thing was then I only intended to stay six months or so, but 18 years later I'm still here learning all the time. That's the best bit, if I wasn't able to learn something new every year I would not have stayed and as you get older you realise that the grass is not so green in the next field after all. In fact my patch is getting greener while much of the rest is getting browner.
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3 Responses to Hedging your bets

  1. graemeu says:

    Not sure why a tractor mounted chipper would have much wiring but… with all the vibration it could be that the wires are work hardened and fracturing. To do it justice it’s a long story but the short one is that Rainbow Skifield once upon a time bought a second hand chairlift. The generator would run for a day or two then break down, all fixed when the field was closed for a couple of days and all wires on the generator replaced.
    Of course it could be something else…just saying.
    Graeme

    Like

    • Sadeik says:

      All those sensors to stop you putting your head into it and of course the stress sensor, they even have a blasted black box in there plus a whole host of relays mind with the first ones that came out quite a few people would stick their leg in to push the brash through and you’ve guessed it that got chipped to

      Like

  2. graemeu says:

    Perhaps we need less protections and more Darwin awards!

    Like

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