by Rod Kebble
The kiln puffing away in the autumn sunshine. Later we found it had been puffing a little too well…
The saga of our new charcoal kiln continues with the news that, for a third successive time, the contents of the kiln were burnt to ash — though this time there is a little usable charcoal that can be salvaged.
The problem seems to be that although we were able to make very good charcoal in the homemade kiln crafted by Mike Clear and Conway Churchill from an old diesel tank, our new factory-made kiln is a bit more of a thoroughbred and requires more skillful handling.
Brian Lavers and Martin Boag recognised that perhaps there was too much air in the kiln and this time packed it tighter than before, using a couple of the chimneys as “motty pegs” — columns around which the wood can be tightly packed but are then removed to leave a narrow shaft down which lit material can be dropped to ignite kindling at the base of the kiln. The billets of wood were also cut shorter than on previous occasions, in order to more tightly follow the curved sides of the kiln.
All in vain, alas.
Having spoken to someone with more experience of charcoal-making, the next attempt will see the chimneys removed during the burn, in order to prevent them acting as air inlets, as this might have been the cause of our earlier failures.
To be continued…
by Rod Kebble
New volunteer Annie Silver (on the left) is shown the ropes by old hands Brian Sams and Ann Bates, who have spent the past six winters “rhodie-bashing”.
Over the past couple of working parties, we have been joined by two new volunteers, Jill Summers and Annie Silver. On 16th November it was time to introduce them to the traditional Pierrepont winter task of “rhodie-bashing”.
Although much of the Rhododendron Ponticum that once occupied large tracts of Tankersford Wood has been removed, enough remains to give the volunteers a workout to keep them warm on a cold winter’s morning.
(And untouched supplies of rhodie await in the less accessible parts of Wey Wood — but we’re keeping that a secret from Jill and Annie for the time being…)
Released back into the wood was Brian Sams, whose days of painting the education room floor an even shade of battleship grey have now ended with the completion of the task (marred only by a few muddy boot marks since the paint dried).
The area cleared of rhodie showed signs of having been tackled not too long ago but the work had, unaccountably, not been followed-through with the application of a glyphosate solution to the stumps. No such oversight will occur this time.
Jill Summers, our other new volunteer, untangles some overhead rhodie growth from the branches of a birch tree. The pile of “brash” (trimmings and small branches) shows Jill had had a busy morning.
by Rod Kebble
Doreen Dye, Bill Young and Brian Senior try to identify the fungi they have found. The purpose of the large stick on the table is unclear but is probably there to arbitrate in cases where two competing names are offered for a single fungus.
Wearing his monitoring group hat — or should that be bonnet? (sorry, fungal joke!) — Brian Lavers reports that a survey was conducted in a relatively small area at the Silvergate end of Tankersford Wood on 4th November.
Fungi identified during the survey are listed in the table below.
|Mycena galopus var. candida
||Small Stag’s Horn
by Rod Kebble
The Countryside Restoration Trust has appointed an education officer to Pierrepont Farm, to create and maintain links with schools and other groups, in order to increase the awareness of wildlife and agriculture of young people (and the not-so-young).
Annika Rees is the farm’s first such officer and will be working one day a week — though she has already put in two appearances, as she joined the conservation volunteers on their Saturday working party at the end of her first week.
Once Annika has had a chance to settle in, we shall feature her activities in greater detail.
by Brian Lavers
The farm played host to the Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) on Saturday 26 October when our Education Room was used for a briefing given by Glen Skelton, SWT RiverSearch Coordinator, to around a dozen volunteers each of whom will be allocated an approximately 500m stretch of the South branch of the River Wey which they will survey at least once each season. The volunteers will record river features, both man-made and natural, including non-native species, reporting these using a standard format (hence the training session) to a central database.
The volunteers taking notes on the riverbank, with Mike Clear third from left (without a hi-viz waistcoat).
The afternoon was spent along the stretch of the river running the length of Wey Meadow, an SSSI, putting into practise what had been learned in the morning and using a list of 63 features ranging from the “good”, e.g. meanders, riffles and buffer strips (plenty on this particular stretch of the river) to the “bad” e.g. weirs and concrete walled channels (none here).
Full details of the RiverSearch initiative are available via the SWT website.
The volunteers cross the Wey via the footbridge next to the ford as they return from the Wey Meadow SSSI (site of special scientific interest).