Logging on

Stacking logs. It’s ideally a fair weather job, or at least a dry day or two. We order from our supplier up the road, whose family home is a smallholding in one of the forest’s clearings. Her flatbed tip up slides our drop of seasoned logs on the gravel by the east end store, an extension of our covered deck, sided with Yorkshire boarding (spaced vertical planking). A good spot for timber to carry on drying. There’s even room, time I’ve finished, to allow for some wet weather chopping of kindling, which pleases me. Last year, in haste, I just threw them all in willy-nilly but this Spring decide to stack, stepping the logs up to the back wall. Tucked ‘tween stone and joist above me is last year’s swallow’s nest, recently colonised by a cock wren who has topped the hirondelle’s mud and straw cup with a soft green bed of moss and stems. This is just one of a number of nests he will build (or in this case, adapt) so the hen bird can choose the one she prefers to lay in.

Our supplier tells us that the concrete floored drying sheds suffered a leak this winter so they’ve had to dry out some timber which had got moldy. Her main competition for the great forest’s stands of timber is the county’s new biomass power station. Generous government subsidies allow it to outbid the local players and the price for private households increases accordingly. The wood we get from our harassed friend is OK for use in our old living room stove, though it would be great if we could get some ‘heavy’ (i.e. dense) slower burning hardwoods like birch, beech, oak, or sycamore to balance our ‘light’ quick burning softwoods like Sitka, Douglas fir, larch and pine.

I turn up a lot of pine cones in last year’s bottom of pile detritus. There’s a surplus this year too of spent alder fruits all about the place (looking like miniature fir cones) and we’ll use both as supplementary natural firelighters. Spare bark and chippings I scatter on the east end beds under bushes to act as mulch.

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