Tales from Gazen Salts

So, all in all, it’s a win-win … ish

Season 2
Main image, completed log pile – Thursday 17th November 2022

See Here for Season One of Tales from Gazen Salts Nature Reserve Directory

The wood stack as it was on the 4th November and both 16th and 17th November after all the work was completed. The logs on the far bottom left of the middle and last image are for the building of more refugia in Gallow Fields.

I have to be honest and say l am bushwhacked. I feel seriously knackered; physically, although mentally, l am fine, l am feeling muscle strained. It’s hardly surprising given everything l have been doing and performing, not just in the last few weeks but for the previous few months. I must keep digging into my energy reserves and finding strength from deep within.

Of course, the more activity you do, the more endurance and stamina you build. But gardening, composting, working at the reserve and gardening in Plot 17 are not disciplined activities. This means that, sure, you can throw your body this way and that way, but without order and a fixed regime of actual exercise to how you are throwing your limbs around, no matter the regularity and frequency of the action. It still amounts to undisciplined training and conditioning.

So whilst specific muscles are building up very well, and in some cases, upper body strength is significantly improving, because l am not being stricter with a formal discipline of exercise, my body is more tired through all the exertions. So l feel pooped and not refreshed. Combined currently with poor sleep and everything is starting to feel worn down.

But all that aside, l am making headway even if it still feels like l am juggling and spinning many plates simultaneously.

The fair weather broke early Tuesday morning, and once more were were plunged into bad weather and we had horrendous rainfall for the rest of the day, all day Wednesday and for a good portion of Thursday too, making everything truly saturated and, in some cases, soaked through to just plain uncomfortable.

On Wednesday, l was once more working inside the Gazen Salts building and l managed to achieve my target: to organise behind the door, introduce a more efficient long tool caddy [spades, shovels, forks, hoes, rakes] and formalise the work benches’ efficiency. All done. I couldn’t take any photos of the work because behind the door, it was just too dark.

Next week l have the end bench to tidy up and reorganise, and if all goes well, l can extend all the functional space along that left-hand side wall which will mean every single bit of hand kit we need to use in Gazen Salts can be located in one area.

If l accomplish that, l can completely rearrange the front right-hand side area and convert that to hold all of our much more extensive available kits. Tractors, trailers, boats and so on, which will mean that only at the bottom of the hut on the right-hand side will be all the ‘stuff’ for want of a universal descriptive term that will be for sale.

By the end of November, the hut will be ready to start laying down the organisation onto paper, boards and maps. I can’t do much about lighting, but at least the committee will be able to see correctly what needs to be sold off. Then and only then will we be able to understand how much space we require for actual function with our equipment.

In addition to working inside the hut, l had with me a small team of three who were working on the outside of that building and kudos to them because most of their work was performed during weighty rainfall. I was multitasking and coordinating and assisting their work efforts as they started to empty off the Wood Stack area beside the building.

I finished off the remaining logs by myself on Thursday morning just as the rain storms were sliding away. It took me perhaps three hours to move the remainder.

I met with the chairman of the committee last Saturday and negotiated a donation cost for all of the logs that were not to be used by the charity. We cannot legally sell them as they are not certified logs and new laws in the UK mean that logs for burning in residential areas must be certified as being kiln-dried. The sale of wet logs has also been banned.

This meant that our wood stacks needed somewhere to go. Suze and l discussed last week especially given the extensiveness of the heavy rains we have been experiencing, the absolute need for wood chippings to be on the allotment pathways.

There are many advantages to having bark chip pathways, from aesthetics to the practicality of not walking on muddy paths. Remember that it is an organic and more natural pathway that can be composted and organically broken down into the soil. But also having the proper density works equally as a weed suppressant. The benefits to me far outstrip the cons.

Mike’s son is an arborist, and he is the one who supplies the majority bulk of the chippings to the reserve, and when he can, he also delivers wood chippings to the allotments. However, with Plot 17 being right at the very bottom of the entire site, this means that when he does show, if we are not in the know or not present on the delivery day, we will never see those chippings. They will be harvested and gathered up by those closest to the entrance.

It is common for three tons of wood chips dropped off on a Tuesday [as an example] to be gone by Wednesday afternoon. That’s a quicker turnaround than the wood-chipping teams at Gazen Salts on volunteer day!

So, Suze and l both knew that we would only be able to quickly get what we needed for the allotment if we bought in. So l ran the whole process of pricing up five tons [roughly 3000 litres] of bark chips with delivery – even then, they would only be able to deliver indirectly to the allotment. That meant they would drop off at the gate, which could have been more practical. Five tons with delivery to the entrance worked out at around £700, which is a lot of money.

I then priced bark chips up in bagged 50-litre quantities and worked out
l would need around sixty to seventy bags which, with delivery to the house, would cost about £600, never mind where we would store all those bags.

So this meant that l had one other option, and l had a target of £650 to come in under if possible, and that was to produce the quantity required ourselves.

So as said, l negotiated the old wooden logs for around £100, which is a nice donation to the charity. I bought a log splitter for £12 and a wood kindling splitter for £50 once l split and kindled the log pile the images display. I will then book Mike’s son, the arborist. He has the machine required to chip down kindling wood at speed.

I think l might be able to book him for around £200-300. If so, the total for five plus tons of chippings will be roughly between £350 – £450. Mike and l think the logs will probably produce around seven tons of chips. I have told Mike that if we have a surplus, he can have them for his allotment; thanks for helping out.

Of course, Suze and l will have to cart them up to the allotment in the car, but it will still work out cheaper in the long run. I can also use surpluses in the compost heaps. So, all in all, it’s a win-win.

Well, as long as you don’t include the back-breaking work, it’ll involve splitting and kindling down the logs, which is my job. Hahaha, I got to laugh.

However, on the bright side, we are starting to get the wood shelter sorted out for Gazen Salts. Next week, new shelving struts are being constructed, and then we can move the wood piles off the grounds and have them efficiently tidied.

Wood Stack 17th November
The many stages of the wood stack becoming more efficient from clearing out the last of the log pile to the tidying up of the empty space and laying it up with a view to improved expansions. The projects ahead are to include shelving this structure and then replacing the lost roof. This project is to be completed by the end of this year.

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

Tales from Gazen Salts Nature Reserve is about my time and stories of my voluntary work with this project.

I’ll see you next episode. Thanks for reading.

Gazen Salts Nature Reserve
Sandwich, Kent, England, UK

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

15 thoughts on “Tales from Gazen Salts

  1. An idea for lighting. I know they used to sell battery operated round LED lights that you just pressed on or off. They could be mounted with magnets, doubled sided tape or Velcro. We had a few in our shed at one time. They were about 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Not huge, but a few might give more light in those dark corners.
    Of course, getting the money to pay for them from the council might not be easy🤪🤦🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Grandma,

      I donated two LED Tilly Lamps and they serve a pretty good purpose, they play havoc with photography, but we also have some solar powereds now present, but we have to be careful with expenditures now as the building might have been condemned.


      1. Of course, what l meant is ‘we have no bath here’ to write home about Betty. There is a bathroom, but the heating system takes longer to fill a good hot bath which is why l shower. 🙂

        Mothering advice always welcomed, just sadly can’t always act upon it 🙂


  2. Rory you’re so good at organizing. Well done with the shelter. Great plan for woods chips. Now in coming years you’ll have your own equipment and it’ll be cheaper than buying

    Liked by 1 person

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