A few months ago, the woods behind the Shack were utter chaos. I’d started coppicing the sweet chestnut so we’d have wood for next winter and, in five to seven years, a steady supply of poles for fencing, yurt maintenance, firewood, furniture and whatever else we decide to have a go at.

But I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So I would cut an overstood chestnut down, chop the generally straight trunk into two-ish-metre lengths and leave the awkward top bits lying around. Often, I would work until I was too tired to lift the chainsaw and so bits of trunk would be lying around too – hither and, to my shame, thither. Which meant at some stage I would have to go back in later with a billhook and tidy up.

That stage came a few weeks ago and closed a chapter on this silly, knees-bent-running-around working practice.

Now, when I go in to cut coppice, I take a chainsaw AND a billhook – and tidy up as I go. Seems simple, doesn’t it? (I also stop a few minutes before I am exhausted.) I suspect, with a not very sad backward glance, I may be growing up.

Here’s what the woods behind the shack look like now:


The mud on the left in the foreground is one edge of what will be the pond. The box on the right there is full of Interesting Rocks found while digging out a tree stump for the pond and trench for the pipe running from the sand filter. Got some real beauties in there, I can tell you.

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