Thursday 31 December 2015

Last of the 2015 firewood

Newly felled timber is about fifty per cent water, the best firewood contains twenty per cent water so for every tonne of green firewood we have, on average, to get rid of  300 - 400 kg water from every tonne.

The logs come with a waterproof covering, the bark, so most of the water loss is through the butt ends ergo to speed up the drying and seasoning I cut the 5' lengths of wood up into 15" lengths to increase the surface area  available for moisture loss which is quite fast in early summer but this load was collected in August.

Splitting these short logs further increases the surface area but as we move into winter atmospheric humidity increases and the moisture in the wood becomes increasingly difficult to remove. The logs in the picture were about 30 % moisture as tested by drying a sample in the oven, they are burnable but a further ten per cent drying would be good.

The workshop is dry and draughty so we've stacked the last couple of tonnes indoors with wind blowing through the gaps ( gaps big enough for a mouse to run around inside the stack). It's a slow time of year for wildlife photography so I roped in Hamsa to help with the skilled work. It may be useful firewood in another three or four months.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Mull of Kintyre to Ardnamurchan Point severe gale 9 to storm force 10

It's 4.15 pm it's dark and the wind is howling. The Norwegians ( and the UK met Office are both forecasting severe gales (23 m / sec) for the next 12 hours increasing to storm force 10 ( 28 m / sec). For those of you in the USA still using imperial measure that's 51 mph increasing to 68 mph with gusts of up to 80 mph.

So I spent the afternoon trying to anticipate the 80 mph stuff and it looks as if everything might be sufficiently battened down  Along with the gale there is probably 50 mm (2 inches Ian) rain on the way, not too bad by our standards just high humidity. But Jenny Wren the highland pony was still out on the hill, she is tough and rugged up but we decided that she could spend the night indoors.

Despite not having been indoors for some years she remembered that it means a good dry bed and old hay she walked straight into the old byre without any problems.

This continuous wild, wet windy weather has kept Mimi inside much of the time for the last three weeks, she is obviously bored. For a little light relief slashes my arm if I get close. That's something they don't tell you about wild cat hybrids. I'm running out of TCP and plasters.

Monday 28 December 2015

Ormsaigbeg Community Woodland - Another hurdle dealt with!

Approximate extent of the proposed woodland view from the war memorial
We had another site meeting in December with the Woodland Trust (WT) and the Forestry Commission (FC). In October our proposal was drafted by Willie Beattie of  WT this had to be examined by the FC to ensure that the site is suitable for the proposed planting, hence the meeting with Ian Collier.

 Willie's report is summarised below, I will include his full report elsewhere on the blog.

The soils are mainly shallow peaty podzols and podzols with gleying on the lower slopes. there is evidence of some tree cover around the crofting in-bye, comprising oak, larch, rowan, sycamore, hawthorn, hazel and willow. 

Proposed woodland types are ; upland mixed broadleaved woodland (W9) on the bracken dominated areas, upland oak-birch with blaeberry (W17) on the better soils and Scots pine on the heathy knolls higher up the slope.

Ecological site classification (ESC) indicates that the site is able to support a good range of native species with exposure being the main limiting factor.

The proposed extent of the woodland is outlined in red in the image above, it extends from the eastern boundary of the grazings west to above the end of the Ormsaigbeg road. It's about 70 ha., or 160 acres.

If the FC approve the proposal the next stage will be to inform all the shareholders in the grazing and to hold a meeting for all those interested where Willie and I will try to answer any questions and to provide more detail.