Skip to content

Getting to the point

by Rod Kebble

The 26th November working party was to have been devoted to further log-splitting, but it turned out that most of the new crop of rods were pretty much of the correct diameter and that little splitting was required. Or so it was thought.

However, when Mike Clear turned up with a borrowed saw bench clamped to the back of his second-best tractor, he proclaimed much of the fence posts produced a fortnight earlier to be too fat. It therefore fell to cowman Tony Timmis and one volunteer — the others having gone off to rip down rhododendron — to split each offending post into two more acceptable ones, while Mike used the saw (driven by a power take-off on the tractor) to put points on the posts.

The pile from the previous working party was duly split and pointed by lunchtime and Mike moved on to deal with the new crop. By the end of the day, he estimated we had a couple of hundred finished fence posts, with a further hundred still required for the work he has in mind.

Chestnut makes good fencing — we are talking about the sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) here — as it lasts a long time in the ground, compared to other types of timber. Mike estimates the posts we made will be good for 20 years, so that their replacements will come from the coppicing after-next.

Countryside Resoration Trust tenant farmer Mike Clear with a pile of newly-pointed posts.

Farmer Mike Clear and a pile of posts he sharpened. The reason he is looking cheerful is that he estimates it would have cost around £350 to buy 200 posts but he has got these from his land for free (plus a bit of volunteer labour).

Tankersford Copse is not being clear-cut but left with enough standing timber to form glades (though at some point the glades will consist of young trees as all the older ones are felled).

The stools (stumps) of the chestnut and hazel felled last year were protected against deer by fences constructed from the brash (thinner branches leftover from cutting). This is fine where the stools are few and far between, but in a “coop” where several stools are found, it might be quicker and easier to fence them off with plastic mesh.

Quicker and easier but not cheaper, so to begin with we will experiment with piling brash in a barrier — though whether there will be enough to do the job remains to be seen.

A chestnut fence post in use at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Pierrepont Farm.

A fence made from chestnut posts and wire, of the type for which the new posts will be used.