Chipping party fiasco: what happens when you don’t use the right machines and 400 trees for Kilkenny

Hi all,

Just an update on our chipping party that we planned for Easter last weekend. Well, the weather forecast was bad but  in fact it was a beautiful spring weekend. Many thanks to friends, Eileen and Steph, even turned up early on Good Friday before we were to start chipping on Sat to help drag all the spruce branches (brash) out of the wood to the edges ready for chipping. Other people had volunteered, our closest Pro Silva forester, Edmund was keen and even someone who has been following my blog since last years Green Irish Gathering was coming… but disaster ensued.


Never, ever, use a chipper named after a great artist, Vermeer, to deal with chipping Sitka branches. We tried both a 6 inch and later a 9inch model and neither worked (it did work fine for logs though). We had hoped to get the chipper our neighbours had used with great success, a ‘Wolf’ chipper but it had been booked out for the weekend. So I quickly emailed people not to come; Martin wasn’t going to give up though,and he tried all means to make the machine behave. It was not to be; Martin spent most of the weekend with his hand down the shute trying to unblock it – in the end we had two small piles chipped. However, we managed to get most of the branches out of the wood, near to our driveways and will have another go in May when we are free again.

We were a bit disappointed not to get all this done, but I was reminded by our forester Chris from about all the other forestry going on in the area. It’s almost a year to the day when I had neighbours and interested friends to the ‘Tree Marking’ workshop (the first step in conversion of a spruce monoculture to a mixed species forest) with Jan Alexander (see her new blog: for loads of ideas and down to earth observations on close to nature forestry; in fact any readers seriously interested in close to nature forestry should subscribe to Jan’s blog; her observations, depth of knowledge are so much deeper than mine but she is delighted that the model of close to nature forestry is taking root in other parts of the country, her latest post will give you an idea of all the seedlings, natural regeneration that happens after thinning) and many of them are making great strides in their different interests in wood.

Friends & neighbours who attended our 'Tree Marking' workshop with Jan ALexander ( last April, 2008

So a brief review of what the workshop group have been up to: two neighbours have been planting broadleaves (one removed a Sitka spruce plantation first from a difficult hillside site), another friend, Anna of has been promoting all sorts of vegetable planting with schools and parents and has recently appeared on RTE news (Anna, many schools in NZ have small areas of native forest, as you know the natives here grow just as quick) and then I got news that Cllr. Malcolm Noonan has helped promote a recent FutureProof Kilkenny (a Transition Town project); planting trees, mainly seedsaver apple trees all over Kilkenny (Kilkenny hast a rich history of apple/fruit orchards). It was the best project for this year’s Kilkenny 400 years city celebration by far; so congratulations to all involved (see video below). Another friend who came last year, Eddie McLoughlin

Bird paintings from the Amazon forests by Eddie McLoughlin

Bird paintings from the Amazon forests by Eddie McLoughlin

is also making a debut in the art world, showing his paintings of birds in rain forest flora from his years spent in Guyana, the exhibition is opening this Sat in Carlow, see details on the site  here. Another neighbour who took some great photos at the tree marking workshop, is raising money for forest communities in South America by horse-riding for charity and lastly Nicola is seriously considering planting her land this autumn.

Enjoy this great video below on all the recent tree planting in Kilkenny, well done Brian, Malcolm, Paul and the Future Proof Kilkenny team and Seedsavers too. It was great to see local film production company stepping forward to help promote this project. Great to see the Kilkenny local authority getting in behind supporting this Transition Town initiative (Transition Towns is an exciting and growing international movement; a holistic, local community led groundswell of people interested in finding practical local responses to the effects of climate change and peak oil; it’s evolved from permaculture, yet includes all facets of life; food, energy, arts, healing, education, transport etc – it started in Ireland and has caught on like wildfire in NZ too). By the way, Transition Towns Ireland , care of,  has now created a social online network at last (like a special interest Facebook site),, people from all over Ireland are joining! I belong to several ning sites and created a private one for Pro

Pro Silva Ireland is on Ning too!

Pro Silva Ireland is on Ning too!

Silva members (I and other PS members can connect with each other from all parts of the country, share ideas share skills so much more effectively).  Internet developments like ning are a hugely exciting development,  connecting people/revealing members skills for all different of interests and actions (think of how Obama used facebook so effectively, ning is a more focussed model). I’m going to put a ‘close to nature’ forest group andart & ecology group on the Transitiontownireland site, do join so we can all get to know each others skills and talents – it’s a lot of fun too, connecting with people all over the country!

One thought on “Chipping party fiasco: what happens when you don’t use the right machines and 400 trees for Kilkenny

  1. Cathy – thanks for the mention. Our school had the beginnings of a woodland – we hope to put in some hedging soon – and some willow structures – built one at home over Paddys weekend – see

    In addition we now have 2 apple trees, thanks to the sheet mulch bed that my saturday students installed. The site already had some trees, mostly hawthorn, and the landscapers put in a few maple and birch. So not bad for a start, but I’m sure we can do better.

    We hung bird feeders in the trees beside senior infants classes in the winter, and they were delighted to see the birds eating the fat balls we made…


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