Winter 2015 – 2016
2015 was a great year for Forest Harvest to celebrate, with lots of highlights.
A perfect evening in August was amazing testing the coracles out at Barton:
Another was learning all about pole lathes from a hugely knowledgeable Peter Wood (looking forward to the new Pole Lathe Course on 27th August 2016).
Most enjoyment came from just relaxing and chatting with so many kindred spirits.
Successes in 2015 have to include growing some 30 pumpkins for the Halloween Carving despite the weather, and thanks to a mild autumn bucket loads of raspberries will keep us in jams and jellies for years.
I hope the squirrels enjoyed the best sweet corn ever grown because we didn’t get much of it.
At the end of 2016 Forest Harvest will be moving into the woodland Workshop at Woodmill. As the name suggests, for hundreds of years it has been a place of timber work.
Research at the very helpful Lichfield Records Office revealed Tithe Maps that show Woodmill Hadley End at the centre of the Needwood Forest.
The 1749 Bowen’s map shows Needwood Forest stretching from Alrewas in the South to Uttoxeter in the North so it was a large expanse of woodland with many traditional industries. It also shows place names such as Brickly Lane which in conjunction with other names such as Brick Kiln Wood indicates brick & tile manufacture was one of those crafts.
The raw material of clay next to the timber fuel for the ovens made it an ideal site. Further evidence is the numerous little ponds in the area where clay has been dug leaving clay lined pits that hold the water.
In the Summer it is planned to use this as an inspiration for a number of practical Forest Harvest workshops.
Thanks to everyone who has been on our courses in 2015, wishing you all the best in 2016.
Part of the basic bee keeping course was spotting other types of bee and the results were interesting. There were plenty of white tailed and red tailed and garden bumbles in the phacelia, but a tree bumble bee was also happy feeding along with the others. It only arrived in the UK in 2001. It makes doing the nesting boxes worthwhile; more for next year.
There was ample theory on the beekeeping course but the practical work of assembling and fixing bee frames was most successful. Considering this a couple of new courses will be running in the autumn making straw skeps (used since the Middle Ages for keeping bees) and another making the more traditional ornamental hives looking from the outside like a William Broughton Carr. Although ornamental, both hives are bait hives and may well get a swarm in the Spring which can be sold back to beekeepers who will be only too pleased to collect them.
They will not only be good for the environment but may also yield some pocket money.
Forest Harvest will be glad to buy back a swarm or two.
The Willow Weaving courses were fun, everyone surprised by the amount of art and ornaments they could do in the first day; beautiful baskets on the second.
In future the weaving will be run as independent days as you don’t need the skills from one to do the other. A new marquee will ensure there is enough room to expand the courses for next year. Each weaver needs plenty of room.
Another development is that Forest Harvest is joining the Family that is the National Forest.
It is hoped that our forest gardens can become points of interest in the increasingly popular activities of the forest.
Advertising has started for our first National Apple Day event on the 21st October 2015. This will involve the free use of the Forest Harvest Apple Masher and the Juice Press for visitors who want to come along. (Scrumped apples are welcome ….. with owners permission!)
One advantage of keeping bees is a knowledge of what plants flower when. On the 13th September it is an opportunity for couples getting married next September 2016 to see what blooms in September. This course is especially for couples thinking of doing their own flowers. The workshop will demonstrate how to make table decorations and button holes, and how to grow them.
Tweets suggest that more and more people are enjoying getting back to the outdoors,
Bees definitely asleep now, just the occasional winter flight when the sun comes out.
Planted 30 Pulmanaria in 2013 to give them some early pollen and the plants have become more established. Snow drops, daffodils & bluebells planted extensively in 2012 also coming through.
Rain & sleet has filled the pond, good if it can stay filled until the Coracle course in August.
Bad weather means a good time to do those inside jobs of repairing hives also a lot of work still required to get the stables converted to an education room ready for the basket making course in May.
A mild Autumn saw the bees at Hadley End still collecting from the late brambles and ivy well into November. The mice guards had to be left off until then. A few unwelcome holes in the side of the hives started to appear at the Wigginton Apiary, signs that the woodpeckers were back.
Chicken wire wrapped around them until Spring should keep the birds at bay.
Good to see the Fieldfares return to clear up the remaining apples in the orchard. Quite reassuring to think they like our winter climate!