Outdoor Wood Fired Pizza Oven

Having made it all the way from Portugal to Hesketh Bank without damage, it was quite exciting to unpack our new brick built outdoor pizza oven. As it weighs about 600kg, the forktruck was definitely needed to carefully lift it out of its packing crate and onto a pallet.

I have been reading up on how to ‘cure’ the oven before any serious firing of the oven. It basically involves lighting a series of small fires on consecutive days to slowly drive out any moisture that remains in the oven after manufacture. Patience is a virtue, but not one of mine. No matter; better to do it properly than have the thing crack in half!

Let’s hope some better weather eventually appears.

Unloading our new outdoor Pizza Oven
Unloading our new wood fired Pizza Oven

Green wire wreath bases

Not much ever happens by way of innovation in the world of wire wreath bases but these new green plastic coated frames are causing a bit of a stir amongst the trade.

They are only slightly cheaper than the more traditional copper finish but for some who ‘hide’ the base feel that may now be an unnecessary operation and using these could save time and money when making up a wreath.

Green plastic coated wreath rings
Green plastic coated wreath rings

We have stock in sizes of 10″, 12″ and 14″ diameters ready to ship (sorry UK only).

Order from http://wreathsupplies.co.uk/wirerings.html


Valentines 2016

Just as we have nearly finished restocking after the Christmas rush on wreath supplies it is all systems go getting all the orders for wire heart frames and heart shaped padded wreath bases on their way.

Copper coated metal wire heart frames
Heart shaped wire frames

The Berisford ‘Hearts and Kisses’ and the cross stitch ‘Love’ design will no doubt again prove to be a very popular choice for adorning Valentine gifts or for hanging hand made crafts.

Berisford 'Natural Charms' Valentines Ribbon
Berisford ‘Natural Charms’ Ribbon

Please see www.WreathSupplies.co.uk and www.Christmas-Wreath.co.uk for more details.


Frying Pan Flue Fix

The storms at the end of 2015 left our little ‘woodcutters hut’ wood burning stove chimney cowl blown off. Made from an old twin walled gas flue, the lightweight aluminium had ripped in the wind and was beyond repair.

Wood stove chimney cowl blown off in storms.
Wood stove chimney cowl blown off in storms.

The stove would probably work very well without any chimney cowl being fitted but I really didn’t like the thought of the incessant rain we are experiencing driving down the chimney.


To hand was an old frying pan which provided a very easy to make but robust fix:

Making wood stove chimney cowl from a frying pan
Making wood stove chimney cowl from a frying pan
Adding metal support brackets to frying pan
Adding metal support brackets to frying pan
Wood stove chimney with new frying pan cowl
Wood stove chimney fitted with new frying pan cowl
The woodcutters wood stove back in operation with the 'frying pan fix'
The woodcutters wood stove back in operation with the ‘frying pan fix’



Pollarding Ash Trees

We have quite a few young ash trees which we grew from seed gathered from local trees and planted out around 8 years ago. Whilst the vast majority of our ash trees are being grown to coppice, we have some that are under grazed by free range chickens.

Ash Pollards
Creating our Ash Pollards

Pollarding trees is a bit out of vogue but we decided to give it a go with these trees to allow us free access between the stems but still provide a good canopy for the benefit of the hens.

Research suggested that we were now at the optimum diameter to initiate a pollard and create a ‘knuckle’ from which future growth will occur.

From BS 3998:

7.10 Pollarding
If pollarding is to be carried out, it should preferably start soon after the tree has become established and is between 25 mm to 50 mm in diameter at the selected height of pollarding (often 2 m to 3 m). The initial pollarding cut should be made at a height which reflects site usage but which, if possible, allows some of the pre-existing foliage to be retained, in order to maintain physiological function and thus reduce the probability of dieback or death. If the tree divides into a number of stems or branches below a height of 3 m, these should be individually cut so as to initiate a “candelabra” framework.

If the stem has attained a diameter of more than 50 mm, but less than about 200 mm at 2 m to 3 m height, pollarding may still be initiated. The tree should be cut at or near the same height as a younger tree, but extra care should be taken to retain some existing branches. Larger trees should not normally be treated in this way (see Annex C for severe cutting for special purposes).
Once initiated, a pollard should be maintained by cutting the new branches on a cyclical basis. The frequency of the cycle should be decided according to site management objectives, species, age, condition and/or any product that might be required. Selective cutting, whereby some of the pollard branches are retained within each cycle, should be chosen if this would help to prevent dieback and decay in the stem.

Branches that grow after pollarding should normally be cut at their bases in order to encourage the formation of a knuckle after a number of cycles. If, however, the pollard cycle has been allowed to lapse over many years, the crown should instead be reduced (see 7.7) to the minimum necessary to fulfil current objectives. These could include the relief of any mechanical stress that would otherwise be likely to cause the stem to split apart. Even if the stress on an old pollard branch is severe, it should not be cut back to the knuckle, since the removal of all its attached foliage would probably lead to physiological dysfunction and decay. It should instead be shortened by cutting just above a suitable lateral branch [see Figure 2, R(c)], or failing that, by retaining a live stub from which new shoots could grow.

If crown reduction would be insufficient to safeguard those branches that are most likely to fail, they may be reduced to stubs in one operation (a “pole thin”), while the remaining branches are shortened so as to retain enough of the leaf-bearing twig structure to sustain the tree.

NOTE Retention of live stubs on lapsed pollards will often help to reduce the risk of serious dysfunction and hence decay and weakness developing below the knuckles.

Using just a trusty Silky Zubat hand saw it didn’t take long to do the deed. We still have no signs of the inevitable Ash Dieback disease so hopefully we will see the new growth get established over the next few years.

All material recovered from the hen pen will be utilised. The brash will be chipped for use in log boilers and the larger logs used for craft projects, replacement tool handles or sawn up and sold as firewood for log burners.

Wood fuel collected from Ash pollarding
Wood fuel collected from pollarding our ash trees