Thursday, January 08, 2009

badgerland and stovular update

As the world becomes increasingly insane it is good for me to get out of town and walk on the hills, the only trouble being that it is freezing cold here at the moment though walking up a big hill certainly does warm you up. These photo's were taken on Christmas Eve around the badger land, a place so steep that it cannot be farmed so rubbish conifers are grown upon it. For some reason my last series of photo's appeared blurryer than usual although I reduced them in the same way that I usually do, maybe it was something to do with blogger not liking me putting so many up in one go. It's a pity as they were lovely and sharp and the last one looked like the leaves were actually spinning or dancing around the beech tree.

As I am beginning to get a bit low on wood I have taken to burning some of the coal that I bought and have found that the metal grate is best removed for burning coal (and wood actually) as otherwise the heat just goes straight up the chimney instead of warming up the firebricks and the cast iron stove will not radiate heat properly.

One of the unanticipated problems that I have encountered is that a lot of the wood I have is unchoppable and because it is hardwood it is not very good for kindling whereas pine or gash wood is ideal as it burns quickly and produces a good instant hot ash layer for putting the hardwood and coal onto. Because I have a small room here I find that in the morning it is still pleasantly warm and the stove is still warm to the touch at lunchtime from the fire the night before. Coal embers will still be glowing at around five thirty in the afternoon from the previous nights fire making a new fire burn easier.

My parents used to buy a bootfull of gash wood from the local dump but the man there has stopped selling it and is taking it home for his own woodburner instead, so sources of kindling are becoming harder to find. I can pick up wood from the beach which is good for kindling but if TSHTF everybody will be down there fighting over it, though we are surrounded by woods here so there is plenty around, it just means that you have to carry it further. The learning process goes on and on anyway.

The good thing about wood is that you get warm a few times from it. Firstly by collecting and carrying it, secondly by chopping it and thirdly by burning it. I love chopping wood, there is a real nice zen-ness about hitting a piece of wood in just the right place to split it and it has nothing to do with brute force. I have a nice big three foot axe and a smaller hand axe for doing the kindling with, both of which I am slightly in love with.


nina said...

That is just outstanding John! I go through this same stuff all the time and I ALWAYS think people need to know these things and then at posting time these IMPORTANT coals-tidbits evacuate as if we are meant to learn lessons in a void.
So wonderful is your photography and phases of wood warmth.
Good timing my friend and good work. I am smitten with the overgrowth renewing into new growth overlapping, recyling, on and on.

Anonymous said...

We forget that those places you bring out really do exist--with, or without us--I think they smile when they hear your camera clicking away--you are welcome there--an understanding of sorts with no explanations required or desired--

Jj (Followed a link from Nina's)

nina said...

We also forget than when we are alone, we're not alone.

notamobster said...

Not being quite so eloquant as my two comrades (Nina & Jj), I'd just like to say that I absolutely love the way you capture the world. Every shot.


su said...


thanks for the walk through badgerland.
a contrast to here where the landscape is parched and baked.

i could smell the moist decomposing soil, and i could feel the ferns tendrils brushing against my arm.

and the moss growing on the logs always gets a stroke.
such beauty abounds.
thanks for reminding me.

john said...

Blimey! Hello to you all, I must say it is very nice of you to come over here and take the time to leave comments, it is much appreciated. I do know you all in a way from Nina's, nobodys and Visibles and also your own sites which I do go to. I'm sorry that I don't comment as much as I should but it does take a long time for me to write anything, as for years I didn't write at all and I am still pretty rusty at it. As you can probably tell from the photo's I am a bit of a loner and my sociability does come and go rather dramatically. I hope you all continue to enjoy my work whether you leave comments or not. Best of luck to you all and again, many thanks, john

nobody said...

Thanks John,

I'm down with Susana. I come here to fill my nostrils with the smell of the forest. Like I said, it reminds me of that year I spent in Salisbury. Here the dry eucalypt rules.

I was thinking of you this morning. I'm after a photo of the green man. If you have one on the blog, can you point me at it? Or if you have one but it isn't posted here any chance you could email it to me? Fingers crossed.

Why would I want that?
As much as I'd love to tell,
it's a secret, ha!

nobody said...

Oops. I see the word 'please' failed to appear above. People's manners today! Dreadful!

john said...

Cheers nobody

'tis done.
Hope you like Sheelagh too.

nobody said...

And what a forward woman she is! I'm staggered.

She'd have been a popular gal, I imagine...

the Silverfish said...

More nice pics,but whats with this unchoppable wood stuff. I've split a lot of wood in my time and have never found a piece yet that couldn't be split, but Yuh gotta know the secret.
Several secrets in fact.
firstYuh gotta wait till the temp drops down to -40c or thereabouts, which could be a bit of a problem for you in the UK as you people don't really know from COLD. Second after placeing the block onto the chopping stump imagine the face of GW BUSH, TONY BLAIR or even KEVEN RUDD on the block, then just haul out and plant that axe right between the eyes, works every time and it's thereaputic as well.

Or Yuh could just do what I do and use the other Canadian method. Just use a 150 ton hydraulic log splitter. That way one dosen't have to wait for the cold as it works well in the summertime it's easier on the back and it doesn't give a flaming rats ass what one puts into it, it will split it.

Hell I've loaded it with oak blocks 36"wide x 48"long weiging in at some 400 pounds that took three men to manhandle. The beast just chugs a little and keeps pushing the splitter head into the log. Sometimes those logs just explode like a cannon shot and yuh want to be carefull where your standing or those billets will take Yuh out at the knees.

Lord but I'm a lazy bastard.

john said...

Evening Mr Fish

I really hope it doesn't get down to -40 here, we've just had -9 to -12 and that seems pretty nippy, ok most of the time but not so good when I have to wait half an hour for my bus at night and the wind is blowing.

Maybe i'll put my wood in the freezer for a bit and see if that works. The log splitter sounds like a lot of fun though i'm not sure my genteel neighbours would be too delighted.

Cheers for now

nobody said...

Ha ha ha. Good stuff. As for cold, around here when it gets down to 10C we all freeze our arses off.

nina said...

Yeah Noby, I bet you do! Especially if all yer wearing are Thai fisherman's pants.

susana said...

It is 10am.
The mercury is resting (for a short while) at 37degrees C.
Not a flurry of a breeze.
Not a cloud in site.
Time to take to the hammock.

nobody said...

I love this new photo Nina. It reminds me of Christopher Robin, ha ha.

And Susana, don't contradict me - your hammock is under a Poinciana. Whether it is or not, I just like the image.

john said...

Warmth and a hammock sounds just perfect. Our summer last year was cancelled due to the weather but we're going to have another go in a few months. The weather here has just changed and we are back to the westerly rain again, which is good.

Skye said...

Your photography is absolutely wonderful John! I've been scrolling through your posts and admiring all the magical places you show. They touch my more romantic side and have me imagining wood nymphs, fairies, and unicorns frolicking and dancing in the dappled light.