I haven’t been completely neglecting the tree bog. Here it was this evening, a day after I realised I needed some more roof joists:

Some of that was not as easy as it looks.

I’m taking a few days off the tree bog now, but this is what it’ll look like in the meantime:

The chicken wire sandwich around the lower part is waiting for the straw, which is waiting for the roof and walls, which are waiting for the floor, which is waiting for the anti-wood-boring-insect treatment, which is waiting for the rain to stop, which isn’t going to start until tomorrow.

So far, I’ve only made one massive mistake. It’s that post in the corner furthest from the camera, which is many, many inches too low – something I couldn’t tell from ground level. Not sure how I’m going to pull off a patch job on that. I’ll have to turn it into a feature somehow – a cup holder for Very Tall People, perhaps.

After a snow-enforced break and a few days Doing Other Things, it’s a huge relief to be back on the tree bog. I started with the corner posts, then added joists on two sides before planting and attaching the middle posts. After umming and ahhing, I decided to use joist hangers to make it look like this by end of play today:

The weather is forecast to be perfect over the coming days and the only distractions are one male pheasant who seems to be lost (and invisible to the dogs) and two good-sized deer. There are some other jobs that need doing, but for steady progress, watch this cyberspace.

Following a bit of research on tree bogs and how to build a tree bog, during which I found this link from PermaWiki with words and pictures and this video from the excellent woodland.co.uk site, I have a plan for a tree bog of our own.


I’ve never had such a detailed plan before, and I’m pretty excited about it. (Could it be that I’m actually learning something?)

To explain the image, there’s a 30 cm slope on the land over two metres (the whole thing will be two metres by two to allow room for a sink and baby changing area). The purple bits will be round wood stripped of bark to stop the little beasties that like to live under it; the turquoise bits will be sawn pine from a local builders’ merchant; and the pink bit will be decking. Everything else will make sense during the build process which will start as soon as the rain stops (hopefully Monday).

For anyone who thinks we’re over-engineering this, we over-engineer everything. Many of our guests have very young children and safety is obviously our main concern, along with beauty. Hopefully this tree bog will be both.

The first surprising thing is the length of those roundwood uprights – 3.45 metres on average and there are nine of them. It always amazes me how much wood goes into even a small building. If you’re in a building now, take a look around and picture the materials that went into it.

I know.

I nearly always forget to take proper “Before” shots before (ahem) starting a new project. But I always, always regret it. “Before” is not a moment that can ever be recaptured in all its natural glory.

For example, long-term readers may remember this shot from way back in November 2007, nearly before work on the orchard began:

Here’s the orchard today (“After” shots are easy):

Complete with new dividing fence which means we can rest the ground every six months to help keep the chickens healthy:

More recent readers may remember this shot from last November, almost-before I let the pigs into a new piece of woodland:

And here’s what the pigs have done to it after almost exactly two months:

Even more recent readers may have seen this shot of the field from just over a month ago, not very before the triticale we hand-planted started poking through the soil:

And this is what it looked like shortly after noon today:

But this is the reason for today’s blog post – a genuine, bona fide “Before” shot of the new Tree Bog:

Now all I’ve got to do is build it.

Apart from being ill for a few days (and discovering I’m not very good at it – what’s the point in being this fit and healthy if you’re too weak to do anything with it?), I’ve been working on the first guest yurt platform…

…the outdoor kitchen/eating area…

…and the compost toilet.

But I couldn’t help noticing that the pyramid orchids are through.

(For precision-oriented nature watchers, Her Outdoors said they came up about a week ago.)

Now I’ve finally managed to post those rocks (New readers – see below and below below), I can show you what’s on the work-in-progress list.

First: Grey water treatment for the outdoor kitchen. Washing-up water will drain through a straw bale grease trap, run along the pipe (a nice, easy bit under the floor there) into some mulch, filter through some washed sand, then gravel, before draining into the ground under a vine. Ooh – and must lay the patio floor and build the kitchen on that weed-suppressing matting you can see behind.

Equal first: Yurt platform. If you can get any more local, or sustainable, than using turf from the upper side of the slope to build up the lower side, I want to hear about it. This is huge fun, and much warmer than making igloos (I imagine). It also takes a surprisingly long time. It soon became clear I had too much mud, so I started making…

Equal equal first: Compost toilet platform. We’re going for a 2m x 2m toilet for comfort. This shot’s a bit out of date. There’s now some of the ramp leading to the toilet (for baby buggies and off-road wheelchair users).

Equal, equal equal first: Take down the 12-foot yurt, replace the cover, sand and oil the frame – when it’s not raining. And put it all back up in time for one of Her Outdoors’ friends, who’s arriving on Saturday. Lots to do. Got to go.