Since autumn appears to have arrived (and because it’ll take me weeks), I’ve made a start on coppicing over in the woods. Although it is mainly birch, I’ve started with an area that has some ash in it, to give the ash a fighting chance, and because it coppices far better than the birch, over which opinion seems to be divided as to its suitability for coppice. Younger trees will apparently coppice fine.
The trouble with felling in woodland like this, where the trees are very close together, is getting the first couple to fall into a gap, rather than ending up hung up on another tree. Once you’ve a bit of a clearing, then it gets easier, but the first couple involved a fair bit of hauling to get them right down.
I can’t afford to waste a single branch, and where larger scale coppicing would probably result in burning off all the fiddly bits and brash, I’ll keep it all for sticks. In the spirit of permaculture, I’ve found an ingenious way to use all the toppy bits and leaves of the ash trees, which results in nice clean branches. The answer is….

Mel. Horses and cattle love the leaves on ash trees, which used to get used as fodder buy Those Who Knew, but aren’t any more. Mel is especially taken with them and picks the braches clean for me. He gets a full tum and a break from eating rushes, and I get easy firelighters – everybody is happy.
It is good to know that a pile of firewood is building up, and by the time I’ve cleared my first coupe we should have enough to get through next year. It is slow going though, hence I’ve started a bit early. It’ll take weeks to shift and process it all.

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