Jackson the dog seems to have a hard time knowing just what his job is on this day.
I had the Gator sitting along side the log landing and Mike started to move up the hill with the bulldozer.
Jackson would walk behind the dozer for a short distance, come back down to the Gator then back up behind the dozer again.
Finally, I put him and his brother out of their misery and started up the Gator. It was game-on and the second that I put the rig into low gear both dogs knew we were heading up the logging road. Since I only carry essential items to keep the payload as light as possible, the dogs are on their own and they would not have it any other way.
Going into the woods means a day of freedom for the pair and they prefer as little intervention from us humans as possible, unless we stop the dozer, the Gator or the saw for a bit and sit down. That’s when they want to be as close as possible, snuggle up when we are looking for a little quiet time, and want to place themselves in exactly the spot where we are.
Jackson is known for his quirky personality, from riding on top of stacks of hay to diving into the river from the cliff edge. A bit OCD/ADHD, any thought or notion distracts him from what his good intentions were, except when he is in the woods.
While logging is going on, he is mindful of the dozer and the chainsaw and stays well away as work is happening. Yet the minute a tree is felled, he hops on to to walk along its length, many times he walks the log even before the limbs are cut off, weaving back and forth through his own little forest. Seems like he would much rather walk logs than on the ground.
This is his comfort zone, his playground, his forte. He doesn’t mind getting pitch matting his fur or oil on his back as he sneaks under the dozer for a nap when it has been turned off.
On those really warm days, he follows behind the dozer and when a new path has been gouged out of the earth, he lays down in the cool dirt. He is a very contented logging dog.
The forecast called for rain and the morning looked like a front was definitely moving in. We decided it would be a good day to work in the barn putting the parts on the bale wagon that we had ordered last week.
Looking out through the bars of the barn gate the rain had started to mud up the dirt road leading to the bridge.
About then a storm cell above us let loose with what looked like a fire-hose amount of water. The drops hitting the metal roof was so loud we could not hear each other talk or shout.
Within minutes the dirt road was filled with puddles, the grass growing in the hay field was flattened and we had recorded over a half inch of rain in less than an hour.
This amount of rain will push back the start time for mowing the hay fields, it will take more than a week for the ground to dry out under the grass. The rain also temporarily stopped our logging operation because the road is too muddy to even get to the bulldozer or the landing, and the bulldozer would not be able to go up the skid roads with it being this wet and slippery.
Concentrating on the hay equipment in the meantime will keep us busy in the meantime.
Finally we have enough board feet in the landing for a log truck load of timber to be shipped from the landing.
Log mills vary tremendously, some only accept logs to make into pulp, others need specific circumferences and lengths for international sales and yet others need a completely different set of criteria to ship for domestic markets.
Currently we have contracts with 3 mills, if we get to the thinning job to clean up the winter storm debris we will need to have another contract to take that specific timber. It really is a much more complicated sorting process than one would think. Once the logs get to the desired mill, sorting takes on a whole new realm with many more rules and regulations.
This first load is destined to go to the Weyerhauser facility in Longview, Washington to be shipped export.
Cutting down a tall fir tree is not the beginning of the story. Getting to the tree to cut it down can sometimes be much more work than the actual harvest.
The area that we are cleaning out is a tip of a canyon where the strong winter winds wreaked havoc on the timber. 10 trees were uprooted and laying criss-cross across and down into the canyon while others leaned and others yet had tops broken out of them.
If the downed and damaged trees were left unattended, the dangers could be significant. Bark beetles and other bugs could invade the trees and then once fed and breeding, move into the healthy forest where live trees could be infected. The fire danger increases as the trees that are down but not in contact with the soil dry out. Fire easily crawls through timber that is ‘laddered’ throughout the understory of the forest and can climb trees with terrific speed where it hops from tree to tree (called ‘crowning’) and then burns through a tremendous amount of wood.
A skid road was built (‘punched in’) to the top of the canyon and Mike fell this 140 foot tall Douglas Fir before trimming all the limbs off. The tree is currently at a downhill slope and Mike had to walk along the log as he limbed the branches off and measured 36 feet for the first log.
The butt of the tree measured 36 inches where it was cut into log length the log was still at 26 inches. It was cut into a log length of 36 feet. This one log off this one tree has 1120 board feet.
Once the tree is cut into log sized pieces, each individual piece is dragged uphill to the bulldozer with the steel cable to the skid road and dragged down the hill to the landing.
Living on a rural county road, I can usually tell what day of the week it is by the traffic that goes by.
I see loggers go by early weekday mornings headed for the logging site. Log trucks can start as early as 3am during the summer and 5am during the winter to get the first load headed for the mill. Familiar rigs go by that carry neighbors to work, and kids to school travel past around 6 or 7. Weekends have jeeps and refurbished 4 x4s that head out to the woods for 4-wheeling adventures. Bicycles by the bunches and motorcycles go past on the loop that takes them to Vernonia for a stop before turning and heading back to the cities. Continue reading
While out walking in the woods, we noticed some trees down on the next ridge over from where we were standing. I could not see the trees from where I was standing, Mike happened to notice one tree at an odd angle on the far hillside and when he investigated further, he noticed 6-8 trees down.
Sometime between late last fall after mushroom season and now, several trees had fallen and will need to be logged out of the area this coming year. Now that the fall has settled in and the ground is soggy, nothing will be able to be done with these trees until after the worst of the winter weather.
Most likely, the trees had come down in January when we had lots of rain and then a windstorm.
This is another reason why we need to get our bulldozer up and running again, there would be no way to get these trees out of the woods any other way.