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Cars, Horses, Pulp Trucks and Skidders

 
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When you are a full-time farmer, you just never know what the day is going to bring. My day started at 3 AM, but by 7:20, I managed to get 3 of the 4 kids on the bus, as one was sick. Then I head up to cut some wood.

I notice the skidder is out of hydraulic oil, so I have to run to town. That is fine, but I am not sure how much money is in my account. I have not got a penny in income in the last three weeks. So, I stop at the bank and see it is $106…a lot less than I thought. I take out $60 in cash and head for the store for hydraulic oil and chainsaw gas. That comes to $64…and I only took out $60 in cash…drat, but oh well, and now I am down to $42 to my name…

Then I fill my skidder with oil and head into the woods. I cut two twitches, and then see my truck driver. He has come to get a load of firewood…Yeah, $600, so I now have $642 to my name!

Then he says he is going to haul my hay to the Amish that bought it. As he is hauling the firewood off, I go talk to the Amish, and find out it is going to (3) different Amish people. That is fine, I got 58 hay bales, so it is (3) truckloads anyways, a truck load per Amish person. (19 bales per truck load)

So, I head back, and it does not look like I have enough wood to make a load of wood to go to the paper mill. So I head back into the woods with my skidder, and cut a twitch of wood…but hit a rock and dull my chainsaw. Drat.

With a chainsaw that cannot cut wood, I head back to the house and start to file my saw, and get lunch…it is now 11 AM after all. And do not forget, I have a sick kid at home too. My lunch gets interrupted by the Wood Pellet guy showing up with a ton of pellets. Drat, I forgot about him coming today, but am very glad I sold 8 cord of firewood a few hours earlier. It is $225 for that, so now I am down to $417.

But as I am putting my wood pellets away, my trucker shows up to start picking up the hay. It takes 2 hours, but we haul and wrap 58 round bales of hay for the Amish. At $35 per bale, that is $2030, so a total of $2447…not bad because six hours earlier I had $42. But then my trucker tells me he charges $8 per bale to move it, so $464…meaning my net take for the day is down to $1983…drat, drat, drat.

But then then after moving the hay, he starts loading the remainder of my wood to go to the papermill. That is a net gain of $750 for the load, so a net gain for the day of $2733. But if you think I am rich, remember I might not get paid for another three weeks. As is, he owes me about $4000 for a load of Ash veneer logs...
 
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Ash, white ash, baseball bat ash? do you still have living ash trees? they are all dead here in appalachia, they are only good for growing turkey tail fungi
 
Travis Johnson
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bruce Fine wrote:Ash, white ash, baseball bat ash? do you still have living ash trees? they are all dead here in appalachia, they are only good for growing turkey tail fungi



Yes, we still have White Ash, but they claim the Emerald Ash Borer is coming. So for right now, Maine is the only state that has it, and it can be logged. With the trade war going on, the international market for logs is gone, but the domestic market is strong, so for us White Ash Veneer is paying $1200 per thousand board feet. Normally it pays $400 per thousand.

I have been saving these Ash Trees for the last 20 years so they are pretty big, some 3 feet on the butt. But with the emerald ash borer coming, now is the time to cut them, especially at these prices. Overall I have been on an White Ash eradication program for the last 4 years though.

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I hope that is someone expendable. Where are the chainsaw chaps??


The most impressive part of this, to me, is less that good days income, than that you know what has value, to who, where...

For me, with no training, no background, no family history in related fields, and no local connections, I spend time spinning in circles on some of this stuff. Someone will tell me, oh, you shouldn't trash(hugelkultur...) those trees. They're worth money! Oh, great. To who? Can't remember, but some guy down by such and such...

There is no phonebook here anymore, but none of these old guys are online in any form.

And so, I call around, and eventually figure out who they were talking about. I think. And those trees, are not worth money any more. Or, they are, but not enough to get them out of the woods, except I don't know what it costs to get them out of the woods, or to the mill 2 hours away. Or, they would be, if they were 10 years older. So I should leave them to grow. Except, they're dying off. In the shade of those other trees. Maybe it's because of the shade from those other trees? Wait, are those taller ones worth anything? (Mostly the answer is no, because if they were, the previous owner would have sold them, like he did everything of value.)


I know a lot more now, than when I got the place 14 months ago, but there is a lot to track down.
 
Travis Johnson
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Dillon Nichols wrote:I hope that is someone expendable. Where are the chainsaw chaps??


The most impressive part of this, to me, is less that good days income, than that you know what has value, to who, where...

For me, with no training, no background, no family history in related fields, and no local connections, I spend time spinning in circles on some of this stuff. Someone will tell me, oh, you shouldn't trash(hugelkultur...) those trees. They're worth money! Oh, great. To who? Can't remember, but some guy down by such and such...

There is no phonebook here anymore, but none of these old guys are online in any form.

And so, I call around, and eventually figure out who they were talking about. I think. And those trees, are not worth money any more. Or, they are, but not enough to get them out of the woods, except I don't know what it costs to get them out of the woods, or to the mill 2 hours away. Or, they would be, if they were 10 years older. So I should leave them to grow. Except, they're dying off. In the shade of those other trees. Maybe it's because of the shade from those other trees? Wait, are those taller ones worth anything? (Mostly the answer is no, because if they were, the previous owner would have sold them, like he did everything of value.)


I know a lot more now, than when I got the place 14 months ago, but there is a lot to track down.



Yeah that is me, so I am definitely expendable. But compared to my wife Katie, I am well geared up with safety gear compared to when my Lumber Jill logs with me!

I was talking to my banker once, and she asked me what I thought my best asset was, and I told her it was how long we had farmed here, and she said she actually thought it was how many connections I have. Of course with this being a very rural part of the country, we have been here awhile, and know everyone, and are probably related to most of them. It does help, but most of it is attitude. If you can help someone today, you better, because you never know when you will need help down the road. That mantra has really saved me a few times. Katie and I give away a lot, but people have really stepped up and helped us too.




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Katie
Katie
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:...If you can help someone today, you better, because you never know when you will need help down the road.



I think that one is worth repeating. In my previous life (because working for that company for those hours was your life) I made very good money. I was able to help out family and friends at different times in was they never would have dreamed possible.

Now I have a garden and raise chickens for eggs and meat. My wife asked me what I planned to do with all that stuff when I was talking about how much I wanted to grow and raise. Be kind. Be generous. Share the blessings I have been given.
 
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Travis, we are planning on selling our farm here in upstate NY and moving to Maine somewhere from Jonesport up to maybe Pembroke.  Do you know anyone up there in the real estate world that is reliable and may have an understanding of life that may not conform??

You can PM me at edm6103@gmail.com if you know someone.  

Thanks
 
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Ed Waters wrote:Travis, we are planning on selling our farm here in upstate NY and moving to Maine somewhere from Jonesport up to maybe Pembroke.  Do you know anyone up there in the real estate world that is reliable and may have an understanding of life that may not conform??

You can PM me at edm6103@gmail.com if you know someone.  

Thanks



No, that is two hours east of me, so I do not know of anyone. Sorry
 
Ed Waters
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Thanks for replying.  

I wonder if anyone has an idea on how to get leaves out of the woods.  Sounds simple, but trying to do it on any kind of scale has proven difficult.  We have gone the route of raking them into a tarp and dragging them down the hill but this takes forever.  I have a wood chipper for our BCS but the little wheels on the chipper make it impossible to move on any kind of rough terrain.  The vacuums that grind up the leaves will have a hard time in the forest with the stones and branches.  Most of them are electric which won't work.  I'm trying to just make big piles of leaves and twigs (removing most of the larger stuff for kindling) and seeing what happens in the Spring.  

Anyone have a better idea?
 
Travis Johnson
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I used to pull the trees out of the woods leaves and all, and then let my sheep graze on the leaves. What they left behind could be used for firewood.

It takes more traction and power to pull a fully-limbed tree out of the woods, but it can be done.
 
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I've thought about trying a blower for leaf collection, but the maples dont tend to drop until it's getting pretty wet, and (unlike some people I know) they don't blow well when wet..
 
Travis Johnson
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I think a person could get a leaf vacuum set up, and do a lawn service of leaf removal and perhaps make some money, while at the same time collecting leaves. But I am unsure what the purpose of the leaf collection is.

Myself, I am more about letting leaves, brush and such just be left in the woods. On my farm I have a working forest, not a park, so I am not concerned about logging activities that bring out every tree, limb abd brush, and then chip it up and take it to the biomass boilers. The pay is only $1 a ton, or $34 per tractor trailer load of chips, so to me that debris rotting in the forest does more good. I mean you are talking thousands of tons of debris making future soil.

My forester told me long ago about the 2 year rule, and it holds true. That rule is: In two years time, anything 2 inches in diameter or less, located 2 feet from the ground, will rot.

I can aid that by slashing up the brush with my chainsaw, but normally I just crush it down with my skidder. Doing that numerous times really pulverizes it.

Right now, within two miles of me there are 4 of us logging, and I am the only one leaving the brush behind. I think in the long run, such forestry is going to really harm the forest.
 
Travis Johnson
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Now I am at a cross-roads.

I did not get as much money as I had hoped for those veneer Ash Logs, the scaler cut me back quite a bit! :-(

I am not sure if this is just a "I expected more" thing, or if I should wait. I was eradicating my Ash, but in reading the Maine Forest Service website, they say they have found a way to cure the Emerald Ash Borer, and are working on eradicating the pest.

Still, right now they are paying 4 times more than what they typically pay for Ash, so it might be a good time to get rid of it. I am not a huge fan of Ash anyway...it makes for lousy firewood, it is much too light for pulpwood, and I dislike the smell of ash when it is being sawn into lumber.

 
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I find it amazing that your neighbours are hauling the brush out when it has no value wherever they might take it. Do they take it out in order to expedite replanting? Seems like an enormous waste of resources, in labour, fuel and loss of the biomass.
 
Travis Johnson
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Oh it is...

All these guys with mechanical logging complain because they do not make any money. And I can see why.

They have to own, maintain and fuel a feller-buncher, (2) skidders, a log loader, and a chipper. None of that is cheap, and everyone of those things consumes 50 gallons of fuel per day. Yet they only get out 45 cord of wood or so per day.

Me, I have a $12,000 cable skidder and a $1200 chainsaw, and I burn 5 gallons per day, and get out 10 cord of wood.

The ratio of money spent, to actual wood moved is so lopsided, that I have no idea why people even do it. And that is not even counting woodlots. They are constantly trying to find woodlots to cut because they have to move so much wood, but even when they do, they make no money doing it, so it is incredibly stupid...except they never get out of a nice cab in which to cut wood. me...I work my guts out, but I make a lot more money doing it.

 
Ed Waters
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That blows my mind. $1/ton for wood chips.  You can get them around here for free if you are on a route frequented by the guys clearing the electric lines. If not you are out of luck.  For those who are looking for chips, grass clippings and leaves try putting up a sign by the road.   $1/ton gets me a lot excited.  I'm sure there is a loaded trucking charge to go along with that, but even then.  When we first bought our place here in NY I wanted to introduce the ideas of Jean Pain for heating our green house.  The GH was just to big and too drafty (100' x 36' converted dairy barn) and I could never figure out the pump system until much later.  Starting over in Maine with a tiny greenhouse and woodchips for that price is exciting.  Maybe Maine has more sunlight in winter than upstate NY.  Elliot Coleman makes me think so.

The loggers sound a little like the Mennonite farmers around here.  Every one of them grows the same variety of a couple of basic types of produce.  There is no differentiation.  BTW they all complain about how they don't make any money as well. You take your stuff to auction and get what you get.  We grow mixed greens, micros herbs and cherry tomatoes which pays the bills.  Its all an interesting study on how to make an existence which is a subject that has been discussed here many times before.
 
Travis Johnson
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Ed Waters wrote:That blows my mind. $1/ton for wood chips.  You can get them around here for free if you are on a route frequented by the guys clearing the electric lines. If not you are out of luck.  For those who are looking for chips, grass clippings and leaves try putting up a sign by the road.   $1/ton gets me a lot excited.  I'm sure there is a loaded trucking charge to go along with that, but even then.  When we first bought our place here in NY I wanted to introduce the ideas of Jean Pain for heating our green house.  The GH was just to big and too drafty (100' x 36' converted dairy barn) and I could never figure out the pump system until much later.  Starting over in Maine with a tiny greenhouse and woodchips for that price is exciting.  Maybe Maine has more sunlight in winter than upstate NY.  Elliot Coleman makes me think so.

The loggers sound a little like the Mennonite farmers around here.  Every one of them grows the same variety of a couple of basic types of produce.  There is no differentiation.  BTW they all complain about how they don't make any money as well. You take your stuff to auction and get what you get.  We grow mixed greens, micros herbs and cherry tomatoes which pays the bills.  Its all an interesting study on how to make an existence which is a subject that has been discussed here many times before.



Do not get too excited, it would be pretty hard to get a truckload of chips....how exactly would they dump them?

At the paper mills they have an unloader that picks the whole truck up; truck, trailer, chips, etc and picks them up at a 80 degree angle so the chips topple out. You might be able to ask around and clean up the chips from where they spill out of the truck after the loggers vacate a particular spot. That is what I do, go after them and clean up the lef over chips, but honestly it is not a lot to clean up. They do a pretty good job stuffing the chips into the truck.
 
Travis Johnson
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We have the Amish here, and they are pretty good, but you can tell all of them came from areas where there is more fields than woods. When they built their houses and barns, they built them all in a field. Then they wonder why they have no land to farm?

We do not do that here. The area is 10% fields and 90% forest...you put your home and barn in the woods, and farm your fields because it costs a lot of money to clear forest back into field. That is why when I went to put in my road, it went across a rock wall, or plunged through the forest. My forefathers worked hard at clearing stumps and rocks, and I am not going to build on what they worked so hard to clear.
 
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