Mo & Terry Smedley
Logging Project (Summer 2007)
This summer , we undertook a project to "daylight" the area around the house by removing some ... actually lots ... of trees. We hired a logger to bring down just under 100 trees, limb and buck them, and haul the logs to town where they were sold at a sorting yard. We removed eight truckloads of logs, which scaled to about 25,000 board-feet of wood. To put that in perspective, it takes about 20,000 board-feet of wood (for framing and sheathing) to build a 2,000 square foot house. Our market timing was poor - earlier in the year, mixed pulpwood loads were selling for record high prices, but by summer's end the market had reversed itself. Getting heavy log trucks across our property dictated that the logging be done towards the end of summer when the ground was dry and firm, so we didn't have the luxury of timing the market.
I've assembled pictures of our project from its inception in July to where we left it for the winter in late October. There's still a lot of landscaping work to finish up next summer. And after narrowly escaping tree damage to the house in a series of windstorms this fall, we may elect to remove a few more trees around the Southwest corner of the house (that is the usual direction for Pacific storms). A Douglas-fir tree in this part of the country will grow to about 140 feet in 50 years time, so unless you're prepared to clear the ground 150 feet out in all directions there will always be some risk of a tree coming over on the house. It's interesting to consider that a tree far away from the house, but still within "reach", can almost certainly cause far more damage than a tree right up next to the house. Just imagine how fast the top of a 140 foot tree will be moving by the time it becomes horizontal - there are a few pictures here that show how fast a falling tree comes down.
While we contracted out the cutting, limbing, bucking, and hauling, that was the quick part of the story - done in a few days. The biggest effort came when we cleaned up the enormous mess that is left behind after logging. We used a combination of techniques - chipping, piling, burning, and firewood production to get rid of all of the fiber left on the ground after the merchantable logs were hauled away. There were days when I thought we'd never see the end of it. Something I relearn every now and then: the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Our logger was Jack Adams of J&L Tree Service in Aberdeen. Jack has dropped a few trees for us from time to time over the years. I am in awe of his ability to put a tree down right where he wants it. You'll see some pictures that show the felled trees lined up perfectly parallel to one another.
Click here for a post-mortem on my thoughts about how to do this more efficiently the next time around.