Art of Proprietation

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Before and after logging

These are some before and after shots peiced together. Before is above... The idea was to take out the softwoods to make more room for the hardwoods. It's opened things up a bit. There's a full size version Here

For extra credit, look in the background of the before picture for the trees that are now in the foreground of the after pictures.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

We have some woods behind the house

Out behind the house, we have a mix of forest and fields. The original owner of this house was a turn of the century wood mill owner and as little as 50 years ago, the whole property was logged. Since then, there have been quit a few pines that have gotten pretty big. Big in my terms anyway. Some of them were approaching 48" in diameter. And since some of them were hanging around close to houses, we wanted to get them down in an orderly fashion before they blew down on their own. I thought about cutting them myself, but they were going to require winching, and well, the bar on my chainsaw just wasn't big enough. At 16", or even with a bigger bar, my chainsaw was not going to cut these trees. And given their proximity to houses, it would take more experience than I had to take these trees down without crushing something.

I was hoping I had enough timber to trade for the work. I talked to several loggers and they ranged from too small to too big. It was like Goldy locks and the three bears. The too small logger was more of a tree service guy and he wanted three grand in cash to come in and cut the trees we wanted down and didn't think any of the trees we had were worth anything. He said many of them were too big and wouldn't be accepted at the mills. The second logger looked at what we had for trees and felt there wasn't enough volume to justify the road building or cover the cost of moving in his equipment. But the third logger worked alone, and with the spring road closures for mud season, he had some slack time and was willing to entertain a smaller project.

The idea of the arrangement was the logger would take down our problem trees in exchange for taking our big pines for lumber and pulp. No cash was to change hands. Initially, the project was going to be a wash for us. We were going to get rid of the risk of these problem trees falling, but at the cost of a significant amount of lumber. To us, anyway. The logger was going to use an entry point at the opposite end of the property. Not a bad place, there was an existing woods road there, but not particularly useful to us either. But, as things turned out, the woods road was too soft and the logger used an entry closure to the house. This new entry was a also a woods road, a steep entry that was passable for my two wheel drive van if it wasn't wet or snow covered. In order to be able to bring in a log truck, the logger widened and smoothed out the road. It's now easily passable for my van. As it turns out, we not only got rid of our problem trees, we also got a bonus new road into our upper field that we already think will be very useful to us.

These are some of the problem trees. They are on top of a bank and sit over a house. In an uncomfortable way. If you look down at the bottom, you might see the 15 foot stump of one that came down in a storm 5 years ago. Where that tree came down, there is a new building. Hence why these trees make us nervous. There are also a couple of trees below the bank, closer to the house.

That's a pretty good sized skidder at the bottom of the trees there for reference.

That's the Skidder pulling down one of the big ones with a winch. The logger cuts the wedge out, puts the tree under tension and then starts cutting from the backside. It might take a couple iterations, but eventually, there is a relatively thick web left and he pulls the tree down with the skidder. It's a balance of not damaging the tree but keeping it under enough tension to prevent it from falling on the nearby house.

This is a typical area after the logger has cleared the trees and dispersed the dead limbs. Certainly not pristine, but not a wasteland either. I have seen clear cut lots before and this is so much better. We'll plant some annuals before the poison ivy gets established and hopefully fill the niche first.

That's actually the same tree as the first picture, but looking down hill at the stump and the house it was leaning over.

These are some of the problematic trees after they were no longer a problem. Laid out and ready to be cut up to go on a truck

Logs loading up. I think this was the first truck load going out.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

My latest fiasco waiting to happen

I got an idea in my head last week and it is threatening to not only take over my consciousness but also burst into reality as a full blown action. An action with consequences.

The other day, I was driving along, minding my own business, completely innocent, when I was forcefully hit with something. A tractor. No, I didn't rear end or otherwise vehicularly impact a tractor. Rather, I realized that with some of the projects I have coming up, and some of the plans we have, owning a tractor as opposed to occasionally renting one might be the right thing to do. Particularly if I happen to find one for sale, say on the side of the road... So I stopped and looked at the tractor for sale on the side of the road. Now I am looking into backhoes and getting advice on diesel engines. All from a split second, off hand thought that could happen to anyone. Maybe not you, but probably anyone else. Well, maybe not your neighbors, or someone in your family, but anybody beyond that. Well, maybe not anyone you know, but it could happen, I am telling you, I know.

So, why would I want a tractor? It's not a manhood horsepower thing. The tractor I am looking at is a small to midsized compact utility tractor. It's in good shape, but even on it's best day, it wasn't sexy. It's orange, of all things. I am reasonably sure this is not a midlife crisis. I have a big job coming up that is going to mean a lot of digging. I was planning to do it with a rental tractor, maybe spend as much as $3500 on the rental. Maybe hire the job out for a lot more but get it done quicker. Then there are all the smaller projects I would like to do. Some I could do by hand, some I just would never get to without equipment. And my wife and I would like to be doing more in our backfield to amend the sandy soil and then expand our food growing adventures. Maybe even sell some. We could move a lot faster towards that dream if we had a tractor.

The tractor I am looking at is a 20 year old kubota L2850 with a bucket. It's not young, but it has very low hours. It doesn't have any other attachments I will need though. I most immediately will need a backhoe. But I could also use a tiller, sickle bar, box scraper, logging winch, snow blower or three way plow, hay rake, and I don't know what else.

So, for the past week, I have been looking everywhere for information and advice about tractors. I have been trying to do the numbers to decide if I can make the tractor pay. I have been trying to see if this tractor I am looking at is the right tractor for me. It's still coalescing, so we'll have to wait and see where it goes.

Wish me luck

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

What Love Looks like

This is what love lookes like. It starts at six times a day (at least a couple of them in the wee hours) warming bottles of milk and heading out to the kids. And to have the milk to warm means milking. That's only twice a day, but for us that means Six AM milkings. The first couple of nights, I just slept out in the barn with the kids. Sleeping with the kids reminds me of my two year old son. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and since he is awake, we must be too. Climbing on our heads, yelling in our ears, prying off our eye lids. The difference between my son and goat kids is hooves. Baby boys feet aren't sharp and hard. And Baby goats don't wear diapers, so when they pee, it soaks through your sleeping bag. Just a hypothetical , of course. Until it happens. And then, well, at least they will be well imprinted.

At least it is warm enough that I feel secure having them sleep in the goat shed with their mothers. Probably would have been fine all along, it is the end of April, after all. But Ruffles the Doe goat was a little gruff with the babies, particularly the buck kid that was not her's. And Sparky, well, she can be a little clutsy. For a goat, she's kind of addle minded... And, well, they will have a good imprint with humans now.

The Doe (on the right) can actually go right through the cattle panel, it's more of a suggestion to her. But she doesn't generally care to. The buckling, on the other hand, thinks nothing of going places he shouldn't. I was hoping the electric fence would be enough to keep him in, but alas, no, he needs a physical reminder, hence the plastic fence around the poly wire to keep him in the paddock.

This is the expanded Goat Shed. I added two more panels to the north side of the existing shed. The beauty of cattle panel structures, I suppose. We are adding three more paddocks so we can have more seperation in our rotational grazing. The north and south paddocks will be five strand new zealand style electric (high tensile smooth wire, permanent). the space in between is strung with three strands of poly wire, a plastic "temporary" fence. It carries the same current as the new zealand fence. Sparky has more than once told us it still packs a wallup. I touched it myself the other day. It's still "hot", but not as potent as the new zealand fence.

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