Cleaning Up The Back Landing

Salvaged firewood from the log landings are what we use on the farm for our domestic heat source. The landings always seem to collect those end pieces, tops that are too small for logs, large branches and other chunks that have no value to sell. We clean up the landings by making pieces small enough to fit into the outdoor wood-fired furnace. It is a win-win situation, the log decks are free of debris and the wood pieces heat our home.

We have been in the process of cleaning up the back landing where there are very large pieces of logs strewn about. It takes the large, hydraulic splitter attached to the back of the big tractor to split the chunks with some weighing several hundred pounds. Continue reading

Getting Back To It

More than two months ago, while the summer was still hot, I had been working on tearing out an old fence that ran between the show barn and the road. It had been in need of repair for many years, and had been completely ineffective for the last year.

The old fence had been a mish-mash of barb wire, woven wire, cedar posts, treated posts, T-posts, sections of tube fences along with lots of baling wire and twine. Years and years of temporary fixes left it a mess and no longer viable as critter containment.  What remains after all the cleanup were several treated posts and T-posts that were to be pulled out with a chain and the front loader tractor.

Man nailing boards onto fence.We are finally beginning the rebuilding process and have started with the corner post near the county road.

This fence is more substantial than the usual post and wire fences because when the herd sire is on this side of the river there are a lot of distractions if he gets down into the woods while the neighbor bulls are on the other side.

The new fence boasts recycled materials. Some of the treated posts will be re-set into this new fence (a foot or two off the original line), two heavy duty gate ends were cut from an old power pole, and the rest will be cedar posts that have done fence duty before and were salvaged for this fence. The boards themselves came from the old farm house that was torn down ten years ago and stored under the eaves of the shop until we needed them for a project.

The Falling Of Old Three Top

The big white fir that we called Three Top had been turning red on the top and was quickly dying. Since this three is by the log landing, it would be dangerous to leave the tree standing where it could fall and land while we work or where the cows lounge.

Logger falling large white fir.The tree had provided nice shade while working near the landing and while I have been progressing along on my firewood project.

It took a deep undercut on the far side of the tree to assure that all the many tops and heavy limbs tipped the tree so it would not damage another tree in the area.

As the tree hit the ground, the dead tops shattered. All that could be salvaged out of the entire tree was two short logs of 16 feet each. The rest of the ‘bits ‘o tree’ debris was raked into piles by the bulldozer to decompose naturally and safely on the ground.

Too Small To Ship

With the last load from our logging project hauled to the mills, the stacks of cut and limbed trees that are too small even for the pulp mill have to be dealt with.

Piles of timber left in stacks around logging site.Mike is working on the cleanup by scraping the limbs and un-salvageable debris into and under growing trees with the dozer.

Every time he comes down the hill and out of the woods for the day, he throws his five choker cables around bunches of trees and hauls them to the landing at the base of the hill.

He can bring between 15 to 20 logs out of the hill with each turn. In the landing, the wood will be made into firewood. A firewood project will be starting soon.

A Day Of Firewood

The first salvaged alder was cut into manageable chunks and pulled up from the river last week. Today we had the chance to tackle this first tree.

A stack of alder logs piled next to a Gator.The large chunks were cut and split into firewood sized pieces before being loaded into the Gator and hauled up to the outdoor furnace.

It took four Gator loads to clean up this first and smallest of the two trees that fell along the rock bar.

The next tree will take quite a bit longer to clean up because it is almost twice the size of this tree.

Not As Pretty As Last Year

The wood stack is not the nice, tidy stack that was the result of that big old white fir that was formed with all the split pieces that fit together in one huge square pile.

This year the stack is more of a mish-mash of remnants from the logging. All the limbs, tops and crooked butt pieces make up the majority of the wood pile this year. The pieces are oddly shaped, some are short while others are long, many taper to a splintered point or are fractured and ready to split into several pieces if dropped.

Large stack of wood for winter.It is a good thing the wood-fired boiler we use to heat the house and domestic water has a large door to fit all the crazy shapes. The firebox is big enough to take a hunk of wood 3 feet long. When stacking firewood, the statement ‘If you can lift it, it will fit’ rings true. It’s just that I can’t keep a fire going with only big wood. One grunt piece (makes me grunt when I pick it up) needs to have smaller pieces packed in around it to keep the boiler and me happy through long winter nights.

By using the slash (discarded wood pieces from logging), I am able to clean up the landing and salvage what would be just left to rot. Many years ago I had deemed myself ‘salvage reclamation specialist’ it is a job that creates a lot a security for me. It is not a job that is fought over.

With all the tree damage we had last winter, the windstorm and the subsequent cleanup with harvesting,  the backlog of work will keep me busy for several years. Oh the joy of job security!

Demise of the Crooked Barn

For the last few months I had been saying that you would see all the work done in tearing down the crooked barn and putting up the replacement structure.

This is the first of the posts to see that start-to-finish project.

This is what the barn looked like before we started the demolition process.






We started with removing all the little fixes we had done just to keep this building staying upright for the last few years and took off all the easily removed bits first.

The equipment was moved out and any extra boards not holding the structure up were removed.

With equipment out, the tractor was used to help dismantle the manger and flooring where the hay was stored.

We tried to save as much of the usable wood as we could for use in the replacement structure.

Salvaged boards stacked for use in new barn.









The boards were stacked by size and length, unless I was stacking. Then they just got put onto the pile.

With the bulk of the cumbersome walls gone, it was time to lower the structure before it decided to fall on its own.

With the right side of the barn on the ground, crowbars were used to pull the metal roof off one nail at a time.

The beams that were bug riddled or rotten were cut to be used for firewood.

All the nails were saved for scrap metal and all the roof was bent in half, flattened and set on pallets for removal to recycle at a later time.

The second side was dismantled just like the first. The area was swept several times with a strong magnet to make sure we had not left any metal pieces. The tractor and bulldozer were brought in to smooth the area in preparation for the replacement structure.

All this was done around all the other farm work and commitments that usually occur during the spring and summer. Definitely not a quick project.





Progress on Crooked Barn

Progress on the crooked barn is moving slowly but safely. The entire inside of the old barn has been gutted out and it is now time to work on the roof. Since we are cleaning up the area as we dismantle, we are able to salvage much of the useable material from the structure. We have piles of timbers, piles of roofing, piles of piles, and buckets of nails. Continue reading

May Update

We have 21 calves so far this season. The count is 9 heifers and 12 bulls. I’ve got the hardest part done, that is naming all those babies.

Our best bulls will be raised to be herd sires for other farms. Our best heifers will be raised to be mother cows for the next generation; some will stay here on the farm while others will be sold to be mother cows at other farms.

The bookkeeping part of a Registered Angus Herd is ongoing. The American Angus Association requires more than just the pedigree of the parents to register an animal. Birth weight, weaning weights, yearling weights, along with matching dates for all the measurements are meticulously kept and checked for accuracy.


Also continuing this month, is the demolition of the crooked barn. We are currently gutting out the inside and tearing apart the old manger. Since this barn was used to accommodate bulls from 900 lbs. to 2500 lbs., the manger was built to withstand the pressures of big animals as they pushed their big heads between the frame openings to eat hay. Posts made from power poles cut into 8 ft. lengths were sunk into the ground to secure 85 lb. railroad ties, in an effort to keep the bulls on the correct side of the manger. When tearing it apart we found several railroad spikes had been used to hold the corners together.

The manger in the picture is half-way demolished. Still a lot of work to do before it can be pulled out of the barn with a tractor. We are salvaging and re-using as much as we can from this structure. More posts about that process will be coming to this blog soon.