If you are sitting at your maple kitchen table, or rocking in that old oak rocking chair your grandma gave you, there is one thing they have in common. They are both made of wood and they came from trees that were harvested. Logging and forest management practices are as old as civilization.
In the beginning it may have been a sharp stone that was beaten against a tree. That lead to an axe, which is just a sharp stone with a handle, then the steel age came and a metal head was forged. Along with an axe, a saw was used and the two became logging tools. The chainsaw came about and made the axe and hand saw obsolete.
Horses or oxen were used to haul the logs out of the woods. Wagons and sleds, then trains and trucks hauled the timber. In the end, the logs were delivered to sawmills, paper mills, furniture factories, and any other venture that utilized wood products.
Things have changed. Chainsaws are still used, but slowly they have moved over to allow the really big boy toys to take over.
This past weekend I took advantage of the nice weather and went to the Northeast Forest Products Expo in Vermont. Huge equipment with names like Tigercat feller bunchers, Timberwolf firewood processors, Barko log loaders, Timberjack skidders, Timbco forwarders, and Bandit chippers where on hand to see, climb aboard and some were even being demonstrated. Powered by diesel engines like Cummins and Caterpillar, these forest and timber harvesting machines were awesome. Watching a 16 foot log 20 inches in diameter being chipped up in under a minute is something to see.
Smaller forest owners needing equipment got to choose from names like HUD-SON, Farmi, Stihl, Husqvarna, Fransgard and Igland. Portable sawmills that go to the woods were on hand and both beams and boards were being cut as demonstrations of the machines ability and ease of use. Forest management for bio-fuels such as chips and pellets, saw logs, and firewood products all have some specialty machines.
Whether you own a small woodlot like my own, where I was looking for a three point hitch winch to allow me to manage and harvest my own logs for boards, fence posts and firewood, or you own a thousand acres of timber where you utilize production equipment, it was all there to see, hear and touch.
Band saw mills cut out boards. Chippers chipped chips. Shavers shaved shavings and chainsaws and rotary blades sawed out firewood. It was two days of pine scented pleasure and lumber leisure.
Soren Erikson’s Game of Logging held a training session on chainsaw safety and felling tactics. I got to see the fellow who trained me back when: Game of Logging saw master, Bill Lindloff of ProCuts Co.
Along with all the equipment, there were two Discovery Channel logging documentary loggers on hand who are renowned. Bobby Goodson of the Swamp Loggers show and Jeff Pelletier of American Loggers fame were on hand to meet some of the young blossoming loggers, woodsmen and women and future foresters. I got to meet both of the guys and they are the real deal.
For Christmas I bought my grandsons the logging DVD’s so they would know what forestry and logging was all about and not have some misconception about cutting down a tree. Bobby Goodson and the Pelletier Family are big names in our house and the boys have learned a respect for logging. I would rather have them watch a DVD about logging, than sitting doing some stupid video games killing people.
Soon my young trainees will be in the woods with me learning about trees, forestry and timber management, while we make deer and grouse habitat.
Homes, barns, towns and cities were built from forest products. The land gets farmed for food, and the forest gets farmed for wood products. So while you sit back in that rocker of oak, have coffee at the maple kitchen table, read a book or paper or think about that note you wrote to your mother for Mother’s Day with a Ticonderoga pencil, remember they are all made from forest products.
Many of our neighbors make a living logging and working the land. Forestry is the wise use of a renewable and sustainable product. In my opinion we should be using more wood and less oil and plastic.
Money may grow on trees if you manage your woodlot; plastic doesn’t, but wood does!
The NYS Woodsmens Field Days are held the third full weekend in August in Boonville NY on the Oneida County Fairgrounds. For more information check out www.starinfo.com/woodsmen or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at email@example.com.