Craft: Wood harvesting
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Wood farming is not an activity in its own right, but rather an activity done over the generations to ensure a plentiful supply of the right kind of wood down the generations. Noble families cling to their land rights as they represent not merely prestige, or the fruit of past labours, but also future prosperity - virgin land will take generations to bring into full productivity.
Generally maiden trees, hardwood trees intended to make the largest wooden creations, are planted widely spaced to give them plenty of growing space to encourage the growth of strong boughs, these trees are grown for a century or so and then harvested, their wood is carefully seasoned for a few years and then used to fashion ships or beams for cathedrals and other large buildings.
Of course a single harvest once a century is far too long for most farmers, and so smaller trees are planted between the maiden trees, these are then harvested every 10-15 years for wood needed to make small ships, furniture, weapons, etc. These smaller trees are called the underwood, and are typically divided into areas known as cants. An improvement on the basic system is also called coppicing with standards, in this case the underwood is formed of coppiced trees, and the maiden trees are termed standards. In this system the standards are typically harvested once for every ten times that the coppiced trees are harvested (so every 150 years for a 15 year coppice cycle), the coppiced trees may be as close as 4 feet apart with 20-40 standards per acre.
Generally a noble family, temple or guild with extensive land holdings will have started the harvesting process across several generations so that each generation can reap and sow the full range of harvests. Sometimes a family may miss a generation due to pressing need or idleness, this is sure to spell misery to their descendents a century later who will miss out on the income from harvesting the great maiden trees.
Trees are also planted on a more ad hoc basis, willows are often planted near reed beds for example, so that their pliable wood can be used by the reed harvesters, while fruit trees are often planted in small areas of land not worth large scale harvesting and which are unsuitable for other crops.
Coppicing is a variant on 'farming' trees by cutting and re-planting them. Coppicing seeks to retain the existing root system of the tree to make future growth more rapid, the trees is thus cut down, but the roots are not dug up. The root and trunk of a coppiced tree is termed a stool and may last a century before dying even if grazed.
The tree is cut down just above ground level. Done properly the tree will generally survive and sprout a number of new shoots in an attempt to re-grow its trunk. This practice is called coppicing. A key issue with coppicing is to fence off the area to prevent grazing animals from eating the tender new shoots.
A variant on coppicing called pollarding seeks to avoid the problem by cutting off the tree higher up out of reach of the grazers, or to create a visually attractive look for trees in a park. These trees are sometimes sculpted by use of ropes and suchlike to create a shape similar to a great candlebra.
Willow is commonly coppiced, indeed may be harvested such a manner every year. Trees of harder wood may only be harvested every 20 years. Trees which coppice well include alder, ash, hazel, sycamore, chestnut, oak and sycamore.
The Sidhe do not harvest wood in this manner, or permit others to do so. The Sidhe instead encourage growth of trees to suit their (minimal) needs and harvest them very rarely, often only collecting wood from fallen trees or trees that have become infected and need to be destroyed.
The Rjurik undertake a great deal of wood harvesting, but also keep large areas entirely wild 'for Erik'. The Vos generally do not coppice trees, instead they cut down a tree if needed and are simply done - the trees have always grown and the next generation can look after itself.
, 04-28-2010 at 03:58 PM|
Last edited by , 10-23-2011 at 12:21 PM
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