We’ve been putting our boys to work around here, doing some very selective logging of our forests.
Logging with draft power has many advantages. Horses can maneuver and squeeze into rather tight areas that a truck or mechanical logging equipment never could. For this reason, land does not have to be clear-cut to remove a handful of very desirable trees. We can go in as stewards of our land, select trees that are dead, dying, overly mature, clusters that are too thick, etc., cut only those trees, and have the horses haul them out. The result is land that much prettier, purer, and still appears natural, as opposed to looking like an explosion took place and left everything looking ugly and dead for several years. Another advantage is that horses leave a smaller footprint–not literally speaking, as their hooves and actual footprints are quite large, actually, but metaphorically speaking in terms of being “green” and earth friendly. The horses do not compact the soil like the large machinery does, and rather than pollute the remaining trees with exhaust smoke and petroleum fumes, the only waste the horses might leave behind is a pile of manure that will simply serve to fertilize the soils. It really is a beautiful thing.
For us, it is still a 2-man job. We are mainly collecting still-usable downed logs from the edges of the timberland for the most part, to either mill or turn into firewood for next winter. We haven’t gotten to the cutting of standing trees yet. We plan to do more of that later this summer when other projects are completed. S isn’t quite comfortable doing the tight squeeze turn-arounds yet, and is still practicing his driving skills. I, on the other hand, am not good at lifting the heavy logging hook and attaching it to the bigger logs (the thing must weigh 60 lbs plus the evener and chains!). In addition, when the horses are fresh, they aren’t perfect at standing still and waiting while we get it right, and risk stepping over their trace chains. So, for now, we log together. I do most of the driving and focus on the horses, while S does the land/trail prep work and handles the logging equipment. Also, if we happen to get ourselves in a bind (which we have a couple of times), then it is nice to have help around!
For your viewing pleasure, here is a video S took earlier this week. We had to haul a stack of fenceposts from the pasture to the barn for stacking. There was a very tight turn at the end to get them where we wanted them and out of the way for vehicles.