I know I was going to post shorter articles. But I’ve failed again as it’s time for my annual retrospective on the year seen through some of the photos I’ve taken. Almost chronological but I’ve taken some liberties to stretch a few points. The year started with an Icy blast. Even my landrovers were shivering in the yard.
The icy blast continued into February. Working outside on the heath in the short days needed a good fire to stop us freezing up. We cleared an area of scrub and Birch to join areas of restored lowland heath and on the odd occasion I leave a scuplture behind.
Make room for March! I could swear there was a landrover in that corner before somebody dumped a rusting and rotten pile of wood and iron in there. But I could sense a magnificent farm trailer just waiting to be reborn. Very handy too with plenty of logs and hay bales to move through the year. I really liked the traditional sturdy wooden frame so with plenty of help from Richard the trailer was restored. That’s all very well but where did that Landrover go?
Not called Puff the magic Landrover for nothing. First you see it and then you don’t but more of that later. Despite the signs of spring the weather remained so cold it seemed that Winter would never end.
May arrived and slowly the weather improved. The summer event season arrives and it’s peak time for selling all of the winters woodland products, beanpoles, peasticks, flower stakes, brooms rakes and charcoal. As well as getting busy on the polelathe.
The mowing season starts in earnest in June with the Green Scythe Fair and the West Country Scythe Championships in Somerset. I’ve been seduced by the lure of the traditional English scythe, you know the grim reaper one with the curvy handle. These haven’t been in production for the best part of 50years so it was great to have Mike Abbott demonstrating the steam bending of an ash snathe in Somerset.
By July the mowing season is frantic and I’d like you to understand the sense of urgency that imbues our scything. It’s not just a weekend posing with our scythes in front of a National Trust mansion – whatever gave you that impression?
Well ok so I do tractors sometimes? August saw Peter my vintage Massey Ferguson 135 with my Vicon-Lely Acrobat hay tuner in full swing. We made 830 bales of hay on a 9 acre traditional flower meadow in 30 degree (C) temperatures during our summer heatwave. Very good hay it was too, and no great surprise that locals flocked to the field to picktheirown bales so we sold the lot in a very short time.
I am losing the plot a bit. Ah yes it’s September and meanwhilst down at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum my friend Martin Fox the blacksmith has become infected with the English Scythe bug. As well as becoming quite competent swinging his blade through the grass Martin and I have been working on the repair and reworking of old English scythe blades. He’s even threatening to start making reproduction medival blades. Just as well, because people seem to turn up on my courses with a lot of broken old English blades and it does give Martin something to do all day!
Earlier in the year I came across some lovely little axes made by Magnus. These axes are made traditionally to patterns found at archaeological sites. The head is wrought iron which is wrapped and forge welded to form the eye socket and then the hard steel edge is welded to the head. Magnus is an armourer and a lot of the weapons he makes end up on TV just like this axe which is to a ninth century Viking pattern. It makes a great little carving axe.
Having been a hot summer the sales of charcoal have gone well. I try to make more than I need at the end of the season before the weather turns – but the Gales of November came early and I didn’t quite make it.
The gales are still with us and they’ve been the major feature of December except now they’ve graduated to Storms with winds forecast at Hurricane force. We spent a few days on Cornwall’s north coast admiring the waves before retiring to a log fire in the evenings.
Yes. It’s disappearing again. The final photo of the year has to feature Puff my magic landrover. Everything was going so well and then…….. a meeting with a big stump on the heath ripped off a chassis crossmember and peeled back a section of the chassis bottom. Not too good and a clear indication of too much rust in the chassis. The top half of the chassis is very good though – anybody want a top half of a landrover 1961 long wheel base chassis?
Well I’ve squeezed in a few of the things that have happened over the year, I’ve had to miss out so many things that made this year special but thats the nature of these things and it does lay a great start for lots of things to happen in 2014. If only I had the time. I hope you had a good 2013 and I wish you all the best for 2014 wherever you are !