Monday 20 January 2014

Andy and the Chainsaw Gang at Topsy's!

It is the way the Dower House project seems to work. 
An idea...a bit of thinking....a bit of planning...
talk to a few people... and it happens!

Over Christmas we stayed with Topsy and it occurred to me that while she is having to heat the house using oil and electricity, she is surrounded by large trees that need some severe management! 
120 Sycamore, with some Ash and a bit of Willow.
As I have some experience with wildlife and tree management and am always in need of a new project, I made a plan! 
We are hoping to heat a lot of the Dower House with wood burners and a Rayburn so this is all good experience for us too. 

The problem was that although we have 2 chainsaws between us none of us had been shown how to use one

Topsy spoke to a few friends and along came Andy, who was prepared to give up 2 days of his holiday to help us. Andy grew up on Islay, but now works in Glasgow in garden landscaping, with an interest in land and tree management.

Topsy is first to try the safety catch to stop the blades moving!

We started by coppicing an Ash tree to make ideal sized logs

Topsy watches carefully...

Then has a go herself.

Katie fixes Dan's helmet...

Then he has a go...

Andy  shows Jenny how to trim the side branches off...

Then stands well back!

We all asked questions, all day...

 Getting rid of small and diseased trees also opens up the light to allow other plants to grow as sycamore have very large leaves.Topsy's garden is amazing, full of massive natural rock features and in 2 months will be covered in ancient woodland flowers like bluebells, wood anemone and later foxgloves.

Jenny and Katie sort the logs from the twigs...

Nick has a go...

Topsy and I bought the safety kit while the others were away...

Day 2 was a bit wet and a bit cool, even Andy had a jacket on...

Behind the Old Stables Sycamore and Ash are encroaching,
 shutting out the light, growing into the walls and buildings, 
some had to go! 
We have been careful not to destroy the rookery in case anyone is wondering. Everything has it's place, even if it is noisy. 
Topsy also has otters, buzzards, kestrels, rabbits and hundreds of other birds visiting the garden that eat her out of house and home.

After 2 days with all of us felling, lopping and cutting and splitting seasoned logs, we made a good start towards a sustainable wood source for Tigh Cargaman. The plan is to use a 3 year cycle to season the wood and Jenny built the first wood store from pallets. (photo to follow when the sun comes out).

Now all we need is a bit of land to grow wood for the Dower House....anyone know of one on Islay?

Oh and thanks again Andy come again soon!

..and guess what I'm getting for my birthday?

1 comment:

  1. That sure is a lot of work! And yes, it's a good thing you asked for assistance on how to use the chainsaw. There are some things where the margin of error is too small and you really wouldn't want to make a mistake. Anyway, getting rid of those old diseased trees is important, as it gives other healthier plants more space to grow. They could also be a hazard in stormy weather. And I'm glad you enjoyed these activities! Take care!

    Melva Ullman @ MPDT