And we're back! The weather finally gave us conditions that allowed us to do something useful at Windmill today, so we braved the freezing temperatures to cut down a bit of wood for the year's cooking. In fact, we had quite a lot of folk, considering, as regular Mark was joined by Jo and Coryn along with new volunteer Nadine. We also saw the welcome return of Andrew who helped us out last year and long-time friend of Windmill Hugh joined us as well because his allotment was too frozen.
We got a little surprise as well, when we discovered that Mark hadn't just spent his time knocking the snow off the polytunnel on his last visit. He'd decided that we might enjoy a "celebrity appearance" on the site!
|Gaia, Earth Goddess
making a surprise appearance at Windmill.
We've been planning to take down some of our willow for a while because Winter is the time to do this, and we intend to cut it on rotation so that we will keep producing enough wood to fuel our rocket stove, clay oven and fires. Only burning our own wood means that we are carbon-neutral overall for much of our cooking, and obviously saves us money. Apart from that, it might not save us time, but it certainly keeps us warm! You've probably heard the saying, "Wood warms you twice. Once when you cut it, once when you burn it."
|Nadine helping last years wood to warm us twice
We work without fossil fuels when we can, so we don't use chainsaws as standard. This isn't necessarily a big hardship, because we have a fancy Japanese "Silky" saw which cuts through wood with very little effort and none of our trees is particularly large. It's also on a really long, extendable handle which is brilliant, because it allows us to take the tree down in stages, as well as being just the thing for high pruning. Everyone had a go with the saw, and even those who hadn't tried it out before soon got the hang of things.
|Coryn tries out the Silky
As each of the limbs were taken off, everyone mucked in to help process the wood using saws and loppers. We sorted it into fine material for use when fire lighting, sticks (keeping straight ones aside for the rocket stove), and logs. Just taking down one limb to pollard height created more wood than we could deal with on the day, so we've still got plenty of work to keep us warm next week!
|Jo and Coryn turning the tree into kindling, sticks and logs
At the end of the session, we enjoyed some hot soup and a chance to have a look through the Nottingham Organic Gardeners potato list for this year, as it's Potato Day on Saturday (26th January - details in the link). We've chosen a selection, and even pre-prepared labels for the bags! Now Tracey just needs to sharpen her elbows to fight her way through the crowds to make sure we get the ones we want!