The summer hydro dip

Monday morning, and another walk to work.

Today was a day for getting the readings for our hydro-electric scheme. We send the readings to the government (to make sure we’re not being naughty and extracting too much water) and more importantly, to the electric company, so we can get paid for the power we push into the grid.

Here are the readings for the last 18 months:

As you can see, there is a large drop in the summer, when there’s not much water in the stream. Unlike mega-scale hydro schemes, we don’t have a dam to hold back water to create a constant flow. Whatever water comes down the stream, we’re allowed to take a percentage for generation. Hence the seasonal variation, and the random-looking peaks and troughs: sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t.

So whilst we’re not exactly keeping all the lights on in the rest of the UK, we are at least providing enough for 3-4 other homes.

A walk to work – but different

Most mornings when it’s fine, rather than take the quick way from home to work (about 50 feet) we walk around the block.

Here’s what we saw today (a sunny Wednesday in June)

 Starting out up the old valley road track. This became disused when the ‘main’ valley road (ok, it’s a tiny lane) was built in the 1920s.

Just up the lane are some impressively furry trees:


Mowed the ‘amphitheater’ meadow yesterday, getting ready for an event in July. Probably need to get some more tables..

VERY pleased that the new-planted trees from this year are getting started. The birch and rowan are getting away fastest, as we’d expect, but this oak is making the effort are the one’s we didn’t plant: Amazing what excluding sheep for a couple of years can do. Holly on the left, beech on the right.

We’re also at ‘peak foxglove’. These were just waiting for the bracken to be removed before springing up.

View back along the middle track, over to Sugarloaf

Also mowed a space to put a table back under the ash tree. 

…then off to work. Not a bad way to start the day.

Like work, but different.

Making trees into wood

At LWBD, weekends usually involve doing stuff on the farm.

Sunday’s job was to complete a track through the Christmas Tree forest, to get better access:

 Ready to work.
At this point, there was a HUGE thunderstorm, and suddenly being in an all-metal digger didn’t seem like such a great plan.

Have coffee and think.
New plan needed.

How about processing some of the blown-down timber? And make the trees into wood.

This is a lovely bit of Elm, which came down in a storm a few winters back, and has been sitting in the yard waiting for something to happen.Just small enough to get into onto the sawmill by hand. Any bigger, and I need the digger, but I’m not going out in that rain…

First cut makes a flat surface. (Not always the deepest)

Once there are two flats, the rest is simple: just keep slicing.

…and slicing…


Some excellent slabs, ready to be dried a bit more. For the nerdy, these were about 14% moisture on the surface, but nearer 22% on the fresh cuts, and that would warp terribly if I started to make anything from it. So it’s into the office plant room, which is a dry 25-30 degrees, for a few weeks, to get it down to <10 %, which should make it stable for a life indoors.

If you feel like making some trees into wood, then pop over and help out.

And you can take home what you mill.