Monday, August 31, 2015

Logging

A year ago this month, a logging operation began on our land. We own about 245 acres, and most of it is woods, a mix of hard and soft wood. It is important that the wood be cut because otherwise it would become overcrowded, and the large trees would completely shade the land underneath them. This land is called the understory. Here is the dictionary definition:
a layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest.
If the understory can’t get light there is no new growth. When some of the trees are cut, the sun shines through and new plants and bushes begin to grow providing shelter and food for animals and birds. It is the healthy way to maintain a forest to have mature trees cut down every 15 years or so. Over the 34 years we’ve owned our place, it has been logged several times in different areas. The land where Margaret and Matthew have their house was a logging yard for a forty-acre cut of densely packed fir balsam trees that were inaccessible except through that part of the land. We wanted it cut before they started building because it will not be able to be cut again. 

Have you ever driven by a place and seen this sign? 


I suspect that some people think it only means a Christmas tree farm, but it doesn’t. You may read about the American Tree Farm System here. And if you go here, you may read about tree farms in your own state. We manage our woodland by hiring a forester who walks the land and sees what needs to happen and when. He gets a part of the money we make from logging but it is money which is very well spent. Our fellow, Charlie, has been working for us since we first bought the place. We trust him. He knows trees and forests and how to keep them thriving. 

Last year we were due for a big cut. Over the years we’ve hired different loggers, from large operators down to a one-man business. The man we had do the work last year has done logging for us before. We like him, and in one of life’s beautiful coincidences, his name is Forrest. The land being logged this time was up the hill from the house which meant big trucks went by steadily over several weeks. 

First they came and made a logging yard. 


This is a place where they haul the logs in preparation for them to be loaded onto trucks and taken to mills. The yard was a short walk from the house, and some ous went up most every day to see what they had done. Hazel Nina loved the machines and would start pointing and making noises as we got closer to them. 


Her dad and mum would come home from work, and they would take her up again. Whenever Michael, Estée, and Campbell Walker came to visit, we’d all go up. Those were sweet, fun times. 




Here are the ‘boys’ (Tom and Matt) on the first day, August 25.


They cut along the road on the way up to making a landing.


A logging road in the woods.


Hazel in the crib watching a truck out the window.


Intricate work with big machines.





I love this picture, as we walked back down the hill.


A baby’s favorite toy, a pulp hook!


When they were done, they did some cutting closer to the house to ‘weed out’ some trees. 


They finished up just about the time we had (another tree man) cut the old maple in front of the house, which I wrote about here

The loggers told us that when they were working they saw a hawk, a mother and her fawn, and they heard an owl before sunrise. We wondered what changes we would see this summer after all that logging work and the maple gone. We have had a summer of birds: phoebes, bluebirds, chickadees, crows, bluejays, song sparrows, other sparrows, and wild turkeys. We’ve heard a lot of coyotes quite close at night. They have big boulevards to travel on now. Tom and Lucy saw a moose the other day. The logger came back this year and smoothed out the logging yard. Tom scattered grass seed, and it is already looking greener.

21 comments:

  1. This post was so informative, and I love how you shared so many pics with us of the process.

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  2. What a job. I am glad it is all working out so well for you.

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    1. We've done it many times over the years - it is a good source of income as well as being beneficial to the woods and wildlife. Tom and Lucy saw a moose up there the other day. And we all saw bear scat.

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  3. This was very interesting. I've spent a lot of time in the woods as a child, often with my Dad, who would explain how a forest "works". I always avoided the working places, though, as they were too noisy for my liking :-)

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  4. A forest is a story that continually unfolds around you, isn't it? Great post!

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  5. Fascinating post! You really know your subject, Nan.

    Unfortunately on our street, some of our neighbors have sold their timber to people who simply strip the land leaving a holy mess behind. We had them approach us as they only wanted the timber on the top of the plateau that runs around 3 sides of our valley. They were far from being good foresters so we said no thanks.

    In addition they bought huge parcels of land themselves and tried to set up a logging business there. In this quiet agricultural section that would have meant the noise of logging and huge trucks roaring up and down our roads for years. We all fought the zoning permission and won, for now anyway.

    I know there are wise tree farmers as you have written about here, I just don't think they're in our city. Wish they were.

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    1. Tom here--Unfortunately, here too there are some clear-cut operations done by owners who want every penny they can get. The guys on this job were all very happy to be cutting in a sustainable way. They cut some small (5 acres or so) patch cuts that opened everything up, but mostly selective cutting. They also left plenty of areas untouched for a future cut sometime. Everyone benefits the variety, especially the wildlife.

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  6. I loved reading this, Nan, and have great respect for what you are doing there and your respect for all that surrounds you. I couldn't help thinking that this would make a great little picture book for your darling grandchildren. Thank you for posting this.

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    1. There's a great word that I love - steward. I like the idea that we are stewards of our land.

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  7. So interesting Nan. I did know about the need for logging...and the understory, but I also thought that tree farm sign only referred to Christmas Tree farms.... I really loved that Hazel Nina is loving the machines. (I expected the boys to love them.). I like very much that she is growing up so well rounded!

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    1. She is such a country girl! Loves frogs and stones and flowers.

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  8. What a fine post. Responsible logging is a hot political issue out here where logging is a big part of the economy. The first time I saw a clear cut mountainside I wept.

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    1. A clear cut here doesn't last very long. It seems like our woods grow back in a minute. We are the most forested state: http://nhpr.org/post/usda-nh-most-forested-state-union

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  9. I'll echo everyone's comments and say that I found this post quite fascinating! I've seen clear-cut mountainsides in Oregon, but as you know, we really don't have mountains or large forests here in Nebraska! Loved the photo essay and the pictures of the grands. :)

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    1. I'm happy you liked it, Les. As I wrote to Mary, our clear cuts grow back really fast. We already have new growth coming where our cutting was done.

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  10. I found this very interesting and informative. Until I read this, if I had seen activity like you describe I would has assumed it was the beginning of some sort of nefarious clear cutting. The process and result of forest management appeals to the organized control freak in me. Back in 2010 I read The Wood by John Stewart Collis which is the story of a man who was assigned to thin an ash forest during WWII. Living in the Barnaby Woods section of DC I look at some of our neighbors who have too many trees and as a result none of them are any good. most are starved for sunlight and most have really funky shapes.

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