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... the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves ...
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Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 18 6:44 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

It has been rather wet here. Yesterday started damp and went on to 'heavy thundery showers' so we couldn't open the kiln. Husband and son cut some more wood for log sacks as we have an order for both charcoal and log sacks from one of our outlets, but I had to go off yesterday afternoon and couldn't get them in the sacks. Hope the weather is better today as we have 28 charcoal bags on order.

I was in engineer mode yesterday afternoon as I went to a local college to see a number of projects submitted for a prize I give in my fathers memory. Nothing very spectacular, but some thought went into some of them and they considered the details of what they wanted to achieve, and in several cases, managed it.

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 1869
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 18 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

This morning is clear blue sky, low humidity - just a wonderful day. I have some chores to do but hope to get into the garden. Yesterday was also superb but I was busy cooking for a dinner to bring to a friend whose house sale is completed today, so yesterday she and helpers were frantically finishing clearing out.

Wednesday was the garden club's trip to Morris Arboretum. Some superb trees, as you can see.



Also a Victorian fernery built in 1899, water features, rose garden with the first ones in bloom - nice outing.

Tomorrow is a Garden Conservancy Open Day with 3 open gardens in Pennsylvania. The one I especially wanted to visit has been withdrawn and a substitution made, one I've visited a few times before. Planning to go with a friend to the other two, and out to lunch inbetween.

Today the man who installed the solar hot water panels is due to arrive. It has been 7 years! and the glycol heat exchange fluid is due to be replaced.

Monday is Memorial Day, "official" start of summer. Hope the weather is good as the local parade is a big event - school bands, scout troops, fire crews (all the local ones are volunteer units), aged veterans in vintage convertible cars, younger veterans marching, shadow volley at the bridge, small airplane dropping wreath into the river, bugler playing taps - you get the idea that it is a major happening.

Have a good weekend. Hope Cassandra, that you have pleasant weather, firewood on hand if needed. Mistress Rose, since memorial Day is a hamburger / hot dog / barbecue menu day it's too bad I cannot get some of your charcoal to fire up the grill. Gregotyn, haying has been an issue here, what with all the rain. Saw one field, yesterday, where it was cut and in rows - probably they'll tedd it today and then hope to get it baled and in before it rains again.

gregotyn



Joined: 24 Jun 2010
Posts: 1618
Location: Llanfyllin area
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 18 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thank you, Jam Lady, I plan on a good weekend! Well sort of, my main function this w/e is to feed and look after my neighbours' horse. He is a lovely old grey who the girl rides, but they have gone away for a week end, to include today and Monday, in their caravan. So I am doing the honours with the nag. He is a gentleman, quiet and sociable. I have to spray him, anti-flies, and give him a cup full of nuts to eat as I spray to stop him fidgeting. Food rules with the horse!

That is some size of tree, the sort where the weather is different on the other side to where you are standing! Is that another tree fallen-down, or a heavy branch to the right hand side of another tree?
Hay making here would be stopped as the rain is pouring down.
My other outlet for the week end is to be cutting and chopping kindling ready for sale in the winter. I am usually much further ahead than I am right now and if it were to be winter tomorrow I would be in trouble. I am still selling around 6 packs a month even in summer, when it takes off as the weather gets colder it starts at 6 packs a day, something of a challenge! my main object is to get enough ready for up to next January, before it starts to get cold, then to chop steadily for the next 3 to 4 months after that to maintain stocks for up to summer then start on next years lot.

I did manage to chop a lot of kindling yesterday and I did as I said-and cut it into bags, ready for putting into nets when it is needed, or before if I have nothing better to do. I am after last year's fiasco with the nets begun to get on top of it, but it will be hard to get back the 6 months ahead ready for sale that I had in the past. I wonder if at some stage I will be able to change the system, and get the wood to go straight into the nets via a chute. If only trees grew in 3/4" diameters I could eliminate chopping all together, just use the cross cut saw! On the plus side there is a fair bit of wood to be cut and that is quick to do, and best done now whilst the weather is warmer. Chopping I like doing in the winter it keeps me warm!

I was just wondering if your large kiln is in a fixed spot, MR? If it is you could have a roof built over the top to be able to press on if the weather is as now, wet. The roof could be made easily to be able to roll out of the way during firing, and rolled in when you have shut the kiln down, so you can work in the dry- it could well extend your season. Typical of me to be looking for more work for you!

Raining quite heavily now, just as the children will be coming out of school. Poor little dears!

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 18 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Agree with Gregotyn Jam Lady; that is a lovely old tree. The place sounds really lovely, so I expect you enjoyed your visit. Have a good time on you Pennsylvania trip. Sounds as if you Memorial Day is a bit like our Remembrance Day in November. We have it to mark the end of WWI, but it covers all conflicts since. Think it will be a big one this year as it is 100 years since the end of WWI. My grandfather fought in it, but was lucky enough to survive, being found to have a congenital heart condition when he was wounded.

The weather here was dry yesterday, so husband and son opened and dug out the kiln and bagged most of the contents. It wasn't a very good burn again unfortunately. We are not quite sure what we are doing wrong this year, but it was a bit windy, which doesn't help, and after the previous one where we let it go too long, we didn't let that one go far enough, so had a lot of brown ends.

I am not sure about the rolling roof Gregotyn. The ground isn't really conducive to anything rolling on it as it is uneven, sloping and covered in fine charcoal and earth. We have tried working under a gazebo, but it doesn't work very well. Have to deliver some charcoal today, and got 2 more orders yesterday, so it is all go at the moment!

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 18 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

By the way, I forgot to say that I had my hair really severely cut yesterday and now rather than being nearly to my waist it is rather short. Husband and son aren't too sure about it at the moment, and I must admit the wave is making it look a bit odd in places, but once it settles, I hope it will look good. I was getting extremely fed up with my hair getting in on the act whatever I was doing, even if it was tied back, and it was taking ages to wash, brush, and well over 24 hours to dry.

gregotyn



Joined: 24 Jun 2010
Posts: 1618
Location: Llanfyllin area
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 18 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I didn't get up too early today, awake by 4.30 as usual but lay in bed thinking, which didn't take long, and I got up and netted about 10 nets of kindling, the product of yesterday evening's chopping. I have also been to see the man who supplies me with wood when I get a bit short-which happens. I have however just had 2 ride-on mower crates to dispose of, and however good the wood is, there are so many nails and staples in the wood, that makes it a slow process, and that I have still got one left crate left from last week and I need bulk right now not metal. I have accidentally come across a huge pile of wood in a shed I rarely go into, so I will be attacking that for a few days. I will have to chase him up in a week or so again and hope he has some pallets for me. The plus is he understands-he has been very good to me in other ways, the tractor towed roller was cheap and there is always a cuppa whenever I go there. He has parts off my employer so I deliver to him often and see when he has wood to spare! This afternoon I will spend sorting the pallet boards I have found and cut them. Hoping for enough to chop another 10 nets. Then the fun starts looking for more wood!

On to the important stuff. The hair cut, what brought that on? I saw you on the web site a while back and it didn't look so long then. I am not in any position to comment, but I am a fan of long hair. My first ever love wash a tall, slender, long blond haired, beauty. My mother was livid with me when I gave her up for a short, long dark haired beauty, who didn't last! And, if I am honest, so am I. She was such a quiet person, but we all have to make a few mistakes, giving up Sheila was the first of many. Hindsight, useful so as not to make the same errors! The consolation is that your hair will grow again if you want it to.

I hope Cassandra is ok.

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 1869
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 18 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

In my younger days my hair was long enough that I could hold my arm out from my shoulder and still have hair spilling out of my fist. But the only way to manage it was braided, day and night. Currently I keep it somewhat longer than shoulder length, which allows me to pull it back to keep it out of my face.

The tree you both were admiring is a Bender oak, natural hybrid between Quercus coccinia, scarlet oak, and Q. rubra, red oak. That specimen is estimated to be 250 years old, with a girth of 22 feet, canopy better than 90 feet, and about the same tall. Ancient among trees, it is managed differently than might homeowners with mature but not ancient trees - it is cabled, large branches are cut back to reduce weight / strain and encourage growth back towards the trunk. As the largest tree in the vicinity and up on a hill it has copper cables from treetop down 10 feet into the ground to protect against lightening strikes.

Gregotyn, you have sharp eyes. The "branch" you noticed is a large chunk of the tree which came down in winter storms in 2014 / 15. There was some modest cleanup but most of it was left as a teaching moment.



Mistress Rose, the arboretum is home to some of the Delaware Valley's "trees of record" - largest specimens. Here's an image of a katsura and some of the garden club members that really impressed me.



A brother and sister bought the property and began landscaping / planting in the late 19th century. It is now owned / managed by the University of Pennsylvania. If only it weren't so distant from where I live I'd make regular visits, at different seasons.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 18 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

That is quite a normal way to manage ancient trees in the UK Jam Lady. A lot were pollarded in their younger days, and some experiments have been carried out to pollard them again. We have trees in our wood that we estimate to be several hundred years old, and some a bit younger we know were planted some time between 1841 and 1871 because of maps. We think that some of the ash stools may be over 1000 years old, but we have no real solid evidence of that, just the size, which is only a very rough indicator. It has been noted that our wood contains a lot of veteran trees, which is certainly good for wildlife.

Those trees look magnificent, and I think the leaf colour on the Bender oak must be amazing in autumn (fall).

The longest I have grown my hair is so I could just sit on it, but I am sure it would grow longer. I had short hair as a child, as my mother wasn't allowed to cut her hair when she was a child, so reacted against it. I started growing it in my teens, and it has been up and down since then. I got it cut because it was a nuisance. I was digging the other day, and even with it back in a pony tail, it was falling over my shoulder and getting involved with the fork handle. It was also a pain to wash, and took over 24 hours to dry as I don't blow dry it. I looked like a demented spaniel if I did as it got wavy, and rather bushy, so dried it naturally in a plait.

Sounds as if you have a lot of work preparing your wood for chopping Gregotyn even if it comes as pallets or packing cases. You have been busy by the sounds of it. Husband and son put my bagging logs through the firewood processor, but I still have to cleave some by hand if they come out too chunky or too slabby.

We have a day off today, so if it doesn't rain too much I will do some more in the garden. I got my summer cabbages in yesterday and cleared another raised bed ready for digging. I am now having a compost bin crisis as I have so much old cabbage, weeds etc., so have to go through and move the bin again and take out any layers that are compost now.

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 1869
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 18 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mistress Rose, the ancient trees are not pollarded as I understand it which is evenly cutting back all branches to make a symmetrical crown. In this case it is selectively cutting back specific branches to not uniform dimensions.

My tree mad friend and I are planning to perhaps go back in autumn so if we do will let you know about fall color.

Yesterday's Open Days garden visits were fun but exhausting - the weather was hot (it got to 90 degrees Fahrenheit here at home so would have been similar in the gardens) and very humid to boot. I was sweating so much!

The first garden belongs to a man who was a plant broker. If another garden would have one of something he would have 5 or 6. If they had the regular one he had the weeping form. If they had the weeping form, his was variegated. Wonderful rare specimens of conifers and deciduous trees, 40 or 45 years old - a variegated zelkovia, a weeping styrax in bloom - and beautifully laid out huge garden.

Then lunch - I had a smoked bacon and avocado BLT on toasted whole grain bread and house made chips. Cold green tea to drink - confess I gulped the first glass down and asked for a refill.

Second garden even larger, just went on and on and on. Somewhat repetitive use of plants, lots of "features" - a bocce court, arbors and pavilions, water features - one really splendid one had deep grooves cut in rock ledges down a slope with water cascading from channel to channel, gurgling as it went because they were not lined up. Ornamental fowl including squalling peacocks, a couple of swans, geese - I took too many peacock pictures but they are spectacular.

This second place is also a nursery, an expensive nursery. And they did have two abutilons that are not among the 8 cultivars I ordered from a nursery in California to arrive next week. They were reasonably priced so came home and will be repotted today.

I need indoor activities as it poured rain last night, 3/4 inch and drizzling at the moment. So as hot and humid as it was yesterday the timing for the open days gardens (only day open this year) was wonderful.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 18 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You are right about pollarding Jam Lady. A lot of trees also have crown reduction, which alters the form of the tree by taking off some branches or just shortening them. That is becoming more common over here as buildings get put in closer to trees. I am not sure what you would call what was done to the beech tree in our next door neighbours garden, but it survived and is growing again. The tree surgeons removed virtually everything back to the trunk. They were pretty awful, but he though they were cheap, until their 'estimate' got a lot higher when they did the work.

The gardens sound interesting, but tiring in that heat. Peacocks are very spectacular, but not a bird I am very fond of. They are noise, dirty and bad tempered, but as you no doubt found; photogenic.

I managed to get a lot done in the garden yesterday. Emptied one compost heap onto various parts of the garden then moved most of the loose stuff from the 'in use' compost heap into it. I have now struck a layer of compost/soil, so will try to take the frame apart and spread it as I do, removing any uncomposted bits to the new heap. Then dug over another raised bed and pulled weeds out of another. I just need to get some pea and bean sticks from the woods and the peas, sweetcorn and beans can go out. Found that my sweet peppers have finally come up, and that I have another courgette come up too.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 18 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Had a local show yesterday, which was good but tiring. It was rather hot, but I am glad to say that it stayed fine, although towards the end there were some rather threatening clouds. I managed to finish a spoon, which, while it isn't the best shape I have ever done, wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, a spatula in a slightly different shape to normal, a butter knife pretty well finished, and a spoon part finished. Son did quite a lot of wood turning and made several door wedges, although they were selling like hot cakes.

gregotyn



Joined: 24 Jun 2010
Posts: 1618
Location: Llanfyllin area
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 18 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thank you ladies for your lesson in tree husbandry. I have 3 large trees on my ground-well I have a lot more than 3 but these 3 are giving me trouble. The 2 oaks cover a lot of ground and make the area below very unproductive and they cover the flat bit at the top of a field. If I drive to get to my top fields then the machine is driving across a slope which is unadvisable. Up it and down it straight is fine but the driving doesn't work quite like that-the law of sod comes into play. I really don't want to cut the offending trees, but from my health point of view I have to. Obviously I will wait till next autumn now. What I need to do is get my hay down the hill by going under the trees, the tractor will just go under, but a worthwhile load won't. The sag of the branches in the summer and autumn due to the growth, weight of the leaves and extra water-sap, lowers the heavy branches by 2-4 feet I think the branches would be around 40 feet long. The main oak is huge and around 16 feet to the first massive branches, but in summer I have to duck to miss them. The main trunk, guess, the diameter is about 4ft, 1.2m, at about 6 feet high, the first serious branches are at about 12to 14ft. It has minor branches lower than the first large. Any way the plan is to get a man from the forestry to come and have a look.

Apart from sawing and chopping, I fed the neighbour's horse for the weekend whilst they were away in Anglesey; they took the dog who I would have enjoyed looking after to her mother's!

I have at last found the cut rug wool, MR, and it measures 2 and 3/4", not exactly sure what that is in metric about 42 mm is about it. I am sorry for the delay, but it only came to light when I was looking for something else.

Disaster has struck at home I have 2 sets of keys, house set and buildings set. Can't find the buildings set which has put the dampers on wood cutting and chopping today and till I can get a new set of padlocks and someone to come and cut the old ones off with the appropriate gas cutter and then I can start again. I was so sure they came to work with me but not so. Next instalment in this saga on Thursday.

I hope Cassandra is ok.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 18 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

She has been posting on Facebook recently, so as far as I know she it. She had recently finished knitting a rather nice jumper too.

If you can, retrace your steps since you last saw your keys Gregotyn, and look in slightly unlikely places. I hope they turn up. Can you have a place that you always put your keys so that they always go back there? It helps no end if you get used to putting them in one place all the time.

Sounds as if crown lifting would be a good idea for your trees as they sound lovely trees, and you really don't want to fell them, but as you say, you need to take the tractor up and down the slope, especially with a load on.

We had to give up work yesterday because of the rain. Not on the scale of Birmingham, but we had intermittent rain between heavy and moderate from about midday, then the heavens opened; what today is called a 'heavy thundery shower' but the old name of a cloudburst suited it better. I was working in the log store at the time, so fairly dry, but the noise was deafening. The water was running down the track outside the store like a river, and joining the river running down the main track. We have a catch built across the main track to divert the water into the wood, but some of it was running straight over. When the rain stopped, son went and stood to divert the water with his boots until I could throw enough mud on top to stop it. Further down another catch was working well, but the water was then running out of the wood and into the track again. The forecast was for continuing rain, so we gave up as everything was soaked, including us, and are starting again early this morning as we must get a kiln firing today.

gregotyn



Joined: 24 Jun 2010
Posts: 1618
Location: Llanfyllin area
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 18 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We have had no rain to speak of, a shower once or twice, since I last said we had some rain. It is possible that it rained heavily in the night but I wouldn't hear anything once I am asleep. Lovely day today, warm this morning as I went out at 5,30am, a bit later than planned but who cares, I don't get paid till 7am. I found the keys last night as I got home; they were in a carrier bag which I had left out all night. I am going to start to leave them in the vehicle where they won't get lost in theory, but will be available when needed. The motor has all the keys to work and the house so in theory again, if I can't drive then they are at least at home or work or wherever I happen to be since I had to get to that point by vehicle.

You are now talking technical about trees-crown lifting for trees means nothing to me. But am guessing that the crown is the top of the main trunk where the first branches start? Felling would be an option, but it seems a shame to cut down 2-300 years of growth to let a tractor through, when it could go on for a fair number of years yet-well passed the point when I needed a log supply!
I hope the kiln fired up for you today MR. They won't want bbq's if it is wet but....there is nothing like having stock.

My measuring skills are not as the should be the 2 and 3/4 inches is much nearer than my metric reading-42 centimetres is completely wrong. I think it is 67cm, but I will check and confirm when I remember-sorry. Seems strange that I could be so far out when you consider I was in the sawn wood trade, and ran a saw mill as well as making cardboard boxes, you would think I was capable of a simple task like using a tape measure, I will have another try tonight!!

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9637

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 18 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Don't worry Gregotyn, I then to use both Imperial and metric measurements, so 23/4" is good enough for me. Sounds as if that was what it was cut to as otherwise it would be a multiple of 5mm I should think.

Glad the keys turned up. If you leave them in the vehicle, make sure there is nothing else in there that connect the keys to where they belong to, just in case some nasty person pinches the vehicle or breaks in to it.

We seem to have had all the rain you missed. We were hoping to bag charcoal yesterday, but it was so wet one way and another, either rain or mist, that we gave up the idea.

Husband decided to stay up near the kiln overnight, and eventually shut it down about 5am I think. He lit the second one at about 6am, so that one finished at about 7pm thank goodness. We both then came home, had some dinner and a bath, as we were both filthy. Gathering the wood and filling 2 charcoal kilns, then firing them in 2 days is a bit much, but hopefully we will get a good yield and can supply everyone that has ordered with a bit to spare. We will have to do another firing next week, and another the week after. I also filled 25 log sacks this week, so a busy week.

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