I don’t really remember much about the clearing of the trees. The land was waterlogged at the time and it was all a complete mess. Getting a tractor and a JCB on there cut up the grass completely. There were still a lot of trees around the edges, mostly willow and alder. But it was finally sorted out and I suppose we used the logs for firewood for years.
For the last decade or so, the trees have been rather neglected. Our friend Graham put his sheep on the land and he did general maintenance in lieu of rent; not that there was any sort of agreement about that. He’s a helpful chap and the land needs grazing and everyone was happy. But eventually, the work that needed doing was greater than his ability to do it. Willow is fast to grow but splits and breaks easily, so is best cut back every so often. The trees grow each side of the stream running through the field as well as on the island, and branches fell and the odd tree died and Graham did what he could, but it wasn’t really something one man and a small tractor could keep up with. The chap who dealt with my field here three years ago made a start, but he’s busy too – anyway, we muddled through for a while. Graham cut up what he could and took the wood in return for his work.
Now, finally, Rob has time on his hands because work has dried up in the current situation. First, I asked him to cut up a big tree trunk that had been left over from the work three years ago, as well as the oak (not that much of it) from the judicious pruning the tree surgeons did at the beginning of March. He also went to look at the orchard and said that there was a lot of work to do to put it all right. I’ve given him free rein.
Firewood from your own trees isn’t free unless you can cut it down and up yourself. I reckon the whole job will cost at least £2,000, but at least we’ll have several years’ worth of fuel. I’m not sure where it’s all going to be stored, but we’ll think about that when the wood store is full.
It’s made me think about the good times we spent at the orchard, back when the children were young. We had a rowing boat which we kept on the bank and went out on the river. We did have an outboard motor at one time, but I prefer rowing because it’s more peaceful. There was a time when disaster struck, but I’m afraid the Sage and I laughed about not, not that Weeza and her friend Mel did.