Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Charcoal – burning bright in my mind

A small kiln flares as the lid is closedI seem to have developed another obsession to add to a few others I have collected over the years. It’s a man thing I think or perhaps men are more obvious about it. I’m not too bad compared to some blokes I’ve come across in the past. I don’t spend weeks away sailing, or long evenings on railway platforms, or hare around the country chasing feathered rarities as they drift across the UK’s shores. Mine (apart from the obvious that most of us live with day to day) have been guitars and music (the oldest and most constant – on-going but mostly under control), motorcycles (currently in remission), beekeeping (probably now cured), trees and coppicing (in full vigour but excused because it’s earning us some money).

The latest is making charcoal. And that’s before I’ve made more than a small sack full. The usual pattern is well underway. I’ve been reading everything I can find about the subject; of course the internet has opened the doors to everything that’s ever been written, so that’s a bit of a challenge. But I’m up to it. I’ve been looking at catalogues – checking prices and sizes and specifications. I’ve been imagining charcoal making. I’ve been talking about it a lot – mentionitis in the Bridget Jones books if I remember correctly. Sound familiar? It feels a bit like being in love.

And now I’ve actually made some charcoal. It’s been a long time coming. I am patient. But it feels good to be getting into the reality of the thing even though I know the making of it is probably the only part of the process I will really be interested in. The packaging, storage, marketing and sale are, I fear, all far less engaging. But I think we can do it and I’m sure charcoal would be another useful income for us.

Tomorrow looks like a day to experiment. I started making an oil drum kiln yesterday and I should be able to get that finished and burn a load in the day. Joy! And all under the heading of work so I don’t need to feel guilty about it. I still find that guilt is inevitable when work is fun. If tomorrow turns out not to be fun, I’ll let you know.

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