During the winter months, staff in the museum’s forest are hard at work chopping down trees. They make sure that enough fuel will be available for all the kilns in the upcoming season and that the craftspeople can use this raw material to produce their products.
The historic houses at Ballenberg have gone into hibernation, and their doors will stay shut until next spring. The surrounding forest, on the other hand, is a hive of activity during this time. Together with the local forester, staff decide which of the heavy, large trees can be felled. They also check which trunks and branches could be dangerous for guests and need to be removed for safety reasons.
Just under half of the 66-hectare museum grounds consists of mixed woodland. Conifers and deciduous trees such as spruce, beech and ash grow here. Operational staff cut down approximately 150 cubic metres of wood every year. That is more or less equivalent to the new trees that are grown in this area. The staff manage the forest in a sustainable manner and also tend to the smaller plants, facilitating a process of natural regeneration.
The timber from our forest is only used at Ballenberg. The wood is given a second life in numerous different ways, be it as fuel, for demonstrating handicrafts or for lighting the approximately 200 kilns in the various buildings.
Our own wood is also used for lime and charcoal burning, while planks are produced from the finest fir trees at our sawmill. Our craftspeople use this natural material to construct historic pasture fences shaped like shears in addition to troughs, shingles, continuous water troughs and benches. In total, eight kilometres of conventional wood fencing must be maintained each year, around 600 metres of which requires replacing.
While the historic houses at Ballenberg are closed for the winter break, lots of work continues throughout the grounds. The sounds of chain saws, axe blows and engines reveal the locations where operational staff are currently busy chopping down trees. They ensure that the buildings will continue to emanate a pleasant warmth in the coming season – and that our craftspeople and chefs always have something to do.