Processor Moves On

The job in our woods is complete for the processor and it is moving on to the next logging operation. With a half million dollar price tag for this cutter/processor, the equipment needs to avoid down-time in order to pay the bills.

A red semi low-boy loading processor.A heavy-haul, semi low-boy was brought in from a neighboring company, Pellum Logging to do the moving.

From our woods the equipment is headedĀ  to Dixie Mountain for several weeks of hard labor.

The shovel, dozer and fire tanker are still here on site and will remain so until all the loads of logs are removed from the forest. The end of our contract is finally in sight and we have already started the cleanup by preparing the ground for replanting.

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Busy Mornings, Slow Afternoons

The log decks are stacking up faster than the log truck can haul them off. The fire danger is now at the level where all equipment has to be out of the woods by 1pm and that includes trucks for hauling. Firewatch isĀ  required for 3 hours after the last piece of equipment is shut down or out of the woods for the day.

One may ask what one does during the 3 hours. Aside from loading the Gator with firewood that had been cut earlier in the day, my phone works well on this high spot and long postponed communications are caught up. I crank up the sound and listen to a book on tape or music, I walk the new roads and the old paths, and I spend a lot of time looking up (usually from the shade of the big patches of trees left to grow).

Punching It In

A yellow bulldozer fashioning a road in the woods.Road building continues in the woods.

I enjoy watching from a distance as the road is formed inch by inch across the flat benches that span between the heads of canyons.

My job is cleaning up the edges, trimming up limbs on the lower side with my saw-on-a-stick and using the small chain saw on the high side to cut the willowy hazelnuts, maples and small fir that would eventually lean into the road.

On this day, Mike told me that the road was roughed in enough for me to be able to follow him down the hill to our lower road.

It took several hours to get to that point and the road is still steeper in many spots than I would have preferred, but I did manage to get the Gator to the bottom of the hill with the new trail. Let’s just say it still needs a lot of work before it will be the optimal entrance and egress from the deep woods will be ready for steady travel.

Back Into The Woods

The extreme warm temperatures have moderated. We had a couple of days of moisture that reduced the fire danger in the area, so it is time to get back at it before the real rains come and muck up the dirt roads that lead up into the woods.

We are back to cleaning up dead and dying trees in the forest on the hillside above our hay fields. This process will still take a couple of years to complete since we are also doing some much-needed thinning at the same time. Continue reading

A Story From Long Ago

Evidence of burned stump with tree growing from it.Where we are up the hill cleaning up the winter storm damage, we came across this tree that shows evidence of the fire that swept across this hillside in 1940.

The dark area you see near the lower middle of the picture shows charcoal. This was an old growth stump that had been charred as the fire went through. A seedling sprouted on one side of the old stump and began growing.

Now about 75 years old, the seedling is over 100 feet tall and all but enveloped the old, burnt stump that is nourishing its growth. On the picture, the right side of the stump is all bark from the grown seedling.

This tree will have to be cut off above the old stump in order to be felled. That means the undercut and the falling cut will be about 8 feet off the ground.

Make Way The Path

Pole saw leans against fir tree in the woods.On the hill where Mike is working on cleaning up the damage from the harsh winter, small branches off the fir trees stick out into the skid road that he had made with the bulldozer. These small branches slap at him as he drives through.

My job is with my handy-dandy saw-on-a-stick to trim the branches that hang into the skid road.

Last month a branch bigger than the ones seen here in the picture, slapped Mike so hard that it knocked his glasses off his head. He found them moments later, right after he drove over them with the dozer. With my cell phone handy, a quick call to the eye doctor got his new glasses ordered within minutes of the mishap. His bloody nose took more time than that to heal from the wounds.

Trees being dragged behind a bulldozer.Cleaning up these pesky branches is rewarding work. It is nice walking or driving through the trees without getting all scratched up or slapped in the face.

Finding Damaged Timber

Looking through the understory at downed trees.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.

Man climbing a ridge to find fallen timber.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.