A Truckload Of Payback

Getting help a few weeks ago to fix the switch box in the wood burning furnace means heat for the house and another kind of heat also, the kind generated when making a load of firewood to payback the help.

A pickup load of fireword ready for delivery.Our outdoor furnace can take large wood pieces up to 3 feet long. We have made more than 10 cord so far this year of this long heat source so it was difficult to saw pieces that are only 15 inches in length to fit the size of his firebox.

I had to go so far as to measure one piece to use it as a guide when cutting the seasoned cherry, fir and alder that was stacked along the edge of the landing from our logging that we had done nearly a year and a half ago.

My right hand helper and I had been able to get wood cut, split and loaded into the bed of the pickup on a beautiful fall morning. The frost on the ground kept our feet cold while the activity created fine beads of sweat at our temples and runny noses during the process.

I think I’ll save the unloading at my brother’s house for Mike, I would not want him to miss getting his share of the warmth from this payback.


The Palette Of Fall

Fall colors show bright through the tall timbers on the hillside.The understory of vine maple trees in this patch of tall Douglas fir trees are showing their bright red fall colors. The picturesque scene hides the fact the the forest may not be as safe as it seems.

Vine maples are considered a nuisance tree by many loggers. The limbs are known for their flexible qualities. It is easy to get tripped when walking through a patch of vine maple even when the multi-trunk bases of the trees are large enough make a good sized firewood log.

When using a chainsaw or driving equipment through vine maples there is always a risk of long, willowy limbs getting bent back and snapping forward with a dangerous whipping motion. The growing tree can hold an inner tension and can twist as it is being cut. The long branches can get twisted in with logs as they are being dragged along a skid road and slap at trees and anybody close by as they are dragged along.

There are a few uses for vine maple wood. The wood is dense and heavy. Creative people are able to use the twisted, gnarled larger limbs for table legs, decorative furniture pieces, floor lamps and the like. I would rather keep the vine maple in this natural state to enjoy the beautiful green leaves all summer and watch the season change with the turning foliage.


Planning Ahead

I was asked the other day if I plan supper ahead of time, so that when I am out in the garden or in the woods or gone for classes or tours I have the meal already come time to settle down for the evening.

The answer was no. Usually not. I just don’t spend a lot of brainpower on this subject. That is the reason that there are many times, usually just before supper, that I am thawing a package of hamburger, or scrounging through the freezer for something to cobble together for a meal. Continue reading

Carrot Chips

The carrot crop is still abundant even though we have been harvesting for almost every meal for the last couple of months. In an effort to use more of the root vegetable I’ve been trying to make carrot chips for snacking.

Continue reading

Last Log Truck Load

The final log truck load of the year has been sent off to the mill. Our season in the woods has been rather dis-heartening because of the amount of damage we found.

Overall, the trees that we planted 30-35 years ago took the brunt of the winter storms. The trees were well on their way to being a good timber stand when heavy, wet snow combined with sudden wind storm snapped the tops out of many of the trees without leaving enough of the green crown to support continued growth of the tree. Many other trees that did not get broken from the weather completely uprooted and slumped over. Some fell flat to the ground but those that did not hung up in trees around them creating spots where fire could ‘ladder’ from the ground up into the crowns of the live trees.

During August the overall fire danger in the woods from the very warm weather curtailed most attempts of working in the forest and this was during the time that the Columbia River Gorge Fire exploded into a raging inferno shutting down the I-84 road system for weeks. With so much of our local fire suppression crews working long hours away from the area and the fire danger rising here in the West, we pared down and completely stopped our work in the woods to avoid the possibility of a fire of our own.

The harvest of forest lumber in board feet from our farm this year was less than half our normal output. Cleanup and road building took up most of our efforts and we are starting to see improvement in our stand of timber. With that we have also opened up large areas that will need to be replanted in January and February. Trees have already been ordered and we have that to look forward to after the winter.

Building A Road

I had the chance to see road building in the woods at a seminar held in the Tillamook State Forest recently.

The Oregon Department Of Forestry Takes Charge Of The Woods

ODF and Natural Resource Specialists Jahmaal N.K. Rebb and Pat Dunlap were on hand with three pieces of equipment to demonstrate the workings of the machines and setting up a trail for motorized access into a forested landscape.

Getting A Look At The Finished Project

Before the trail making began, the group walked a current track that is well used by ATV enthusiasts to get an overall idea. As the day went on, the volume of people in the forest increased. Those wanting to enjoy the woods for recreation geared up and set out onto the trails with areas for Class I (Quads), Class II (Four-Wheel Drives), Class III (Motorcycles) and Class IV (Side-by-Sides). There are even equestrian and walking trails through the forest at this site. Work in the woods including trail building and logging operations go on while groups continue to use areas for recreation.

The new trail was to be set up specifically for youth riders and while you may not be planning to make trails for dirt bikes in your forest the plans would start the same.

  • Know your woods (where are the slopes, water areas, unstable ground)
  • Know what you want to accomplish (how much access you want from a walking path to hauling roads)
  •  Make a plan (including turns and drainage) and adjust as needed.

At The Site

Plans being made at the edge of clearing by three people,To begin the demonstration, Jahmaal and Pat reviewed with the group an area near a parking lot that looked like a fairly open spot with large trees located throughout the plot.

After review of the sitemap that marked slopes and swamps it was time to begin the layout of the proposed trail. The group walked the woods path plan and marked the proposed trail with biodegradable ribbons.

A Rough Cut Into The Forest

The rough cut of a mechanized trail building machine into the woods.

Bobcat making rough cut into dense forest.










Once the layout was complete, Pat took the controls of the mid-sized machine and showed the capabilities of mechanization to begin the rough cut into the track while Jahmaal worked with a chain saw to clean up fallen and damaged trees that were blocking the proposed path. It took only a matter of minutes for the shape of the trail to wind its way through the tall timbers.

Winter Apples

Large apple still on tree.The late apples are large and juicy this year even though it was not a good apple crop overall.

All the spring rain kept bees from pollinating the soaked blossoms that fell as soon as they formed, but it seems that the later fruit that we refer to as winter apples seemed to have had a better chance of forming than the early varieties. The crop is still fairly sparse but the size of the apples are larger than normal.

These apples are the best after a frost or two condenses the sugar inside to clear pockets of sweetness in the flesh of the apple. Some refer to them as ice apples. They are good apples for fresh eating and make delicious pies and applesauce.

I will be harvesting this tree in a week or two and will fill the cooler with the crop, unless hard freezing speeds up the need to pick sooner.