Rcjp's Weblog

December 15, 2004

Bat in flight

Filed under: wild — rcjp @ 6:53 pm

bat(poor) My god its hard to take a decent picture of a bat in flight… my little digital camera just isn’t up to it. I really miss the bats when they are not around, as they eat up all the moths that otherwise fly in my bedroom window and bounce around the ceiling all night. As the ceilings are an inch short of eleven feet high in this old house there is not much you can do to reach them, even standing on a stool.

July 8, 2003

Axe Workshop

Filed under: wild — rcjp @ 11:39 am

Just spent three very enjoyable days in a forest in the Lake district on an axe workshop run by Ben and Lisa’s woodsmoke company. We camped in the woods on a scenic private estate next to a tarn (little hill lake) that was SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due the rare dragonflies. The trees we would later be felling had been selected to help preserve the habitat for them.

This was the first time Ben and Lisa had run this course and they were clearly concerned about potential injuries, so there were nearly as many instructors as students! Infact, they gave us foolproof tuition on stance etc. and there were no cuts except for a few blistered hands from so much wood chopping.

We had all brought a Gränsfor Bruks small forest axe for the course, and I was lucky enough that mine came with some beautiful heartwood colouring on the handle so it was easy to tell apart from others when we stowed them up against trees when not in use. The instructors brought lots of their own equipment.

We made several items including bow saw frame, a trug (a sort of wooden dish) using an adze, spoons etc. building up to, on the final day, tree felling.

axe0013 axe0016

After being shown felling – including some impressive rope throwing into the tree for a guide rope; we split into pairs and tackled our own trees at the edge of the tarn. After limbing them they were then sawn up into sections ready for us to make canoe paddles from the trunk sections. This is as far as I’d got when I brought it home.

After the course…

Althought the Frosts knives we are given for the course are excellent and astonishingly cheap, I was very envious of the handmade knives Rob Pickering had brought along with him and made with Ben (Orford) so after exchanging a few emails with Ben, I placed an order for the 3mm version with olive ash handle, gorgeous.

Whilst in spending mode I also ordered the Gränsfor Bruks carpenter’s axe: more out of curiosity than anything else, I was slightly skeptical about the wide range of axes Gränsfor offer for different purposes. However, when I used it, I was shocked at how slight changes to the weight and blade thickness/shape completely alter how it feels: the carpenters axe is great for taking shavings off easier to control and has much less forward momentum, but with its flat blade completely useless for chopping – you’d use the forest axe for that.

I love that the axes’ are marked with the makers initials and come with a useful little booklet of instructions, you get a weird sense of connection seeing a picture of the man who crafted the tool you’re using. LP – Lennart Pettersson made my carpenter’s axe and is the guy in the picture here.

It took a while to finish the handle knob end with the knife so that it fitted comfortably in my palm. The blade of the paddle is pretty much as finished by the axe, I even left some of the bark along the edge (you don’t get that on a machine made paddle!) but I did sandpaper the handle though and apply some linseed oil.

September 10, 2002

Tawny Owls

Filed under: wild — rcjp @ 4:24 pm

Next door there is a small wooded area and my landlord had put up some owl boxes. There have been some tawny owls flying around for a few years and occassionally roosting in neaby large conifers, or in the tree outside my window.

You could usually tell there was an owl around because of several very noisy blackbirds incessantly chirping alarm calls so that it couldn’t sleep (and I couldn’t read).

Owl7 Finally a pair switched to using the boxes and had two chicks, of which I think, only one survived. Fledging in mid-summer meant the owlet could hide in the canopy high in one of the white poplars making taking a photo very tricky.

It was great to see the owls on a regular basis, but to be honest, it was quite a relief when they choose not to nest in the boxes again this year as in the few weeks (though it seemed like months) between the young owl being able to fly, but not yet able to catch its own food: it would spend all night calling for its next meal from the trees around the garden.

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