Thursday, 3 January 2013

Midwinter in the Woods: More Logs....and Making a Long Seat from Hazel Coppice

Midwinter in the Woods
This midwinter, we've some seasonal, woodland work to do.  First of all, we're processing logs - and as we're now producing more logs for sale (as well as our own use) we've recently invested in a log splitter. Splitting logs by machine doesn't have the romantic image of cutting logs by axe, but it's a lot less hard work and it's quicker. 

After some research, we settled on a Balfor 11 ton PTO (power take off) driven log splitter which will match our small tractor.  It's not the cheapest log splitter on the market, but we've seen cheaper ones break.  This log splitter copes with all wood, and has proved very reliable so far.  It also has the added bonus of having a table, so that it can be used without any bending (and this really saves the back!)

As we process the logs, the whine of the machine echoes around the smallholding.  When we stop the splitter, the air is suddenly quiet and still - until it's filled with a mistle thrush's song. The song of this bird is a familiar and lovely sound on the smallholding in early January.

Midwinter is also the time of year for coppicing (cutting trees to the ground to stimulate growth) before the sap is too high, because coppice material, cut in winter, dries better and lasts longer.  This winter, we're cutting more hazel for furniture for the barn.  We don't need a chain saw to cut the hazel stems - instead, we use a folding saw.  After looking around the woodland, we found some hazel by the stream that was suitable - we're looking for straight stems that can be used for a long "sofa" seat to be put with the hazel chair David made last year (and I wrote about in October). 

Cutting Hazel
Cutting the hazel stems isn't difficult, but dragging them away is - because the fields are far too wet to bring the Land Rover down.  So we have to carry them all up a steep hill; where I have to struggle through several curious horses that obviously think if I'm carrying something, it has to be investigated!

The Long Walk Back

The next day David makes the seat - and now I have to think about the cover for it so that it's comfortable to sit on.

The Finished Hazel Seat
It's a bit early to be thinking about spring; but the early signs are there in the woods - the primroses are about to flower and the bluebell shoots are pushing up through fallen leaves.  In these short, dark days, any sight of green is welcome in the dull grey/brown of the woodland landscape.


  1. I love the seat - your 'woodsman' has done a great job - I think I would need to lose a few Christmas calories before I sat on it though.

  2. Hello, and oh what a beautiful seat, and from your own coppiced wood. Quite perfect.

  3. Thanks to you both for your comments about the seat. It's now been placed with the (similar) chair, which has been well used - and at last we've more seating in the barn (although I'm still thinking of the right cover for the new seat to make it more comfortable).


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