Recent winter storms have created a lot of damage in the woodlands and parkland with as many as 18 mature trees lost. The very wet weather has meant that most of the trees are inaccessible and so faced a long period of decay in the woodland.

All is not lost, however, and rather than waste this valuable resource a dedicated team of volunteers has begun a programme of harvesting the fallen timber to provide winter fuel for the house and retreat centre. Volunteers have begun to saw and split the trees into firewood for Minsteracres’ many log burners.

“The trees are first cut into rings using a chainsaw and ten split into logs by hand with axes,” explained environmental consultant Andrew Pennington. “Split logs are then arranged in circular stacks in the woodland to begin the drying process which reduces the moisture content naturally found in the wood. Towards the end of July volunteers will dismantle these stacks and move them into the woodshed for the final drying process.”

Stacking logs Feb 16

“There have been enough trees lost this winter to provide Minsteracres with winter fuel for the next two winters!” said conservation volunteer Malcolm Railton.

Andrew explained, “Some of the trees have been sold to a local sculptor and a woodworker, but this is still a large amount of firewood left. Any surplus firewood will be sold, with the proceeds going towards the maintenance of the retreat house.”

Most of the work has been carried out by Minsteracres’ own dedicated estate volunteers, but recently the volunteers were joined by others from Ireland, Germany the Netherlands and Syria to give the team a truly international feel.

“I am inspired but not surprised by the ability of honest hard work with an axe in the estate grounds at Minsteracres to bring people together from across the world.

“Our interaction with nature and the sweat on your brow, allows you to find your inner self and when you listen to your inner self you listen to others. Its then that you find out that you are all the same people. You have a shared bond through the work that you do, maybe it’s that which keeps you back come rain or shine to work in the woods,“ he said.