Living Otter Holt – Part 2
Sunrise: 08.19 Sunset: 04.06
I started the Living Otter Holt project today.
I coppiced the willow, hauled it to the build site, cut and pointed the staves, marked and pegged out the general outlines, and hammered the staves into the ground.
At the moment it all looks a total mess, I know, but when finished it will look fine and do its job. The image shows the entrance and exit run. At the midpoint of the inside wall of the bend, is the entrance to the living chamber and the first of its wall sections.
The living chamber wall is constructed from two closely packed circles of vertical willow staves hammered into the ground. The outer and inner walls of the entrance/exit run are constructed from single rows of willow staves placed 150 mm apart, and hammered into the ground. Willow withies will be used to weave in between the outer wall staves. A ramp consisting of brash, leaves and earth will be packed against the outer walls of the holt to make them weatherproof.
Once the weatherproof roof is on, and the wall ramps are in place, it will provide an excellent home for otters; especially when a table, easy chairs and the bed are installed.
The holt will be entered through the plastic tube visible to the right of the image, which will be placed close to water. The exit will be out of the tube at the middle top of the image, and around the right-hand side of the oak tree trunk. Beyond the oak tree, the otter will have the choice of exiting left to open countryside, or right into the water.
There is a small chance that an otter will appreciate the decor and make the holt its home. However, there is also a chance that a marsh fox will take up residence. Either way, it will provide a home for something.
Neither the willow staves, plastic tubes, or the roof will be visible when the holt is finished.
The willow staves will root, and the shaded location should ensure a slower growth rate than would be the case if the holt was out in the sun. The main reason for rooting the willow is to prevent rotting. However, I do expect leafed withies to emerge during the growing season to provide camouflage.
A brash barrier will run from the oak tree, around the holt and down to the water. This will prevent the marsh cattle from trashing the holt, and provide the site with a degree of privacy and security that otters might appreciate.
The next stage is to get some help to finish the job on a Saturday, before the start of the growing season. Ideally, I would like to finish the holt this month, but we will see how things go.
Five man hours have been expended so far.