Tinkers Bubble felling fortnight

SLACC members Ruth and Lorna recently travelled to Tinkers Bubble in Somerset to attend their ‘felling fortnight’.

Tinkers Bubble was set up in 1994 and was one of the first communities of its kind to be granted planning permission, creating a turning point in planning laws and entering phrases such as ‘low impact’  into the planning vocabulary.

The Bubble consists of conifer plantation, broadleaf woodland and coppice, orchards, meadows, gardens, and a market garden. There is permission for up to 16 residents and other residents include 2 Jersey cows, a calf, 3 goats, a horse, numerous hens, and a cat.

We were there to help fell some of the Douglas Fir plantation. The aim of the fortnight was partly to thin the plantation but also to provide timber for various projects. The community has a steam engine powering a sawmill, run entirely on the ‘waste’ wood it produces. The straw bale barn this is housed in is in a dire state and some of the Douglas we were felling is going to build a new barn.  The timber is also used as building material for the various dwellings on site and as firewood.

Axeing a 'gob' in the tree

One of the rules of the Bubble is that no fossil fuels can be used on site, therefore all felling was done with axes and large two-man saws.This is a lot easier than you might think and not much slower than using a chainsaw. Instead of the drone and the fumes of a chainsaw the woodland was filled with lovely noises – birds, the singing noise of a saw, the singing of the workers, the clatter of the axes, the cracking of the timber as it starts to fall and then the earthy thud of the tree as it hits the ground, plus the large round of applause when it did.

Cutting the timber to length with a 2 man saw

Once felled the timber is extracted by horse. Unfortunately the area was too muddy for extraction during our stay so we didn’t get to see the horse in action.

The evenings were spent chatting in the communal roundhouse, singing songs, playing music and drinking Tinkers Bubble cider. It was very inspiring to stay with a community that are managing to live successfully without fossil fuels. We hope to go back in the summer and help with the ‘Barn Building Bonanza’ and it’d great if other SLACC members wanted to join us.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.