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Buying a woodlot without owning big equipment

 
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I'm interested in buying a small woodlot. It was always one of my "dreams" to cut my own firewood. This winter I'm finishing our basement and a wood stove will be installed. I also have a nice fire pit that I use a lot.

The thing is that I don't own any big equipment that the (semi) professionals use for cutting wood. I just bought a brand new chainsaw and might be looking for a 4-wheeler with a cart. I also own a full size pick up truck. Since I'm self employed and make my own hours, I also have time.

My idea is to take down trees, cut it into logs (16-18") at the spot, bring it to my truck (with the 4-wheeler, if it's a distance) and then take it home. Then I can split it and let it season.

Not sure if it matters, but I'm located in New Brunswick. Everyone here seems to be doing something with wood, which is not surprising since about 90% of our province is trees.

Is this doable?
 
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Daniel,

Have you considered a log arch?  These can make moving logs a whole lot easier.  One that looks promising to me comes from HERE:

https://logrite.com/Category/small-log-arches

The small and medium sized arches might work for you and might be in your price range.  That ATV will work well with any of these arches.

Good luck,

Eric
 
Daniel Benjamins
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That's a great idea Eric, thank you!
 
Eric Hanson
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Anytime.
 
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I use a come-along on a wire cable to 'persuade' trees to fall where I want them. It doesn't always work because they can still fall 90 degrees to the left or right of the tension. And I use this equipment to winch 'Barber-chaired' trees out of the tops of other trees when they don't fall completely down.

A problem can occur on a tensioned oak. If the notch at the first cut doesn't go to the middle the tree may split

 
pollinator
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My neighbour currently gets most of his firewood off my place, in about the manner you describe; he comes over with a quad with a small trailer, heads to the trees or logs I have offered him, fells if needed, bucks to stove length, loads the quad, and takes em home one little trailer at a time.

He dumps it in a pile by the woodshed, and then some other day runs it all through an electric splitter while his wife stacks it neatly in the shed.

Your process going from quad-trailer to truck to home would have an extra handling step... I hate extra handling steps.


I think his process is a bit goofy as bucking to stove length right away multiplies the number of pieces needing moved. I prefer to move it in bigger chunks, as big as I can carry on a shoulder, so with alder 8ft is a nice length unless it starts getting up over a foot as the thick end.

Of course if you are cutting bigger trees this becomes pretty impractical! Some of the big dying fir at my parents place needed two of us with a ramp to get each stove-length round into the pickup...

I am only lugging it into piles to move with a tractor... but you could just as easily be carrying it a short distance to a quad trailer set up to move poles, or directly to the truck depending on how you deal with access at your woodlot.

I am about the only person I know without a quad, in my area. Whether you really need one will depend totally on how truck-friendly the woodlot ends up being.. I've dragged logs to the road with 100ft of cable hooked to the truck, but it's not ideal, a winch would be a better plan.


Is the quad gonna live at the woodlot, or do you need to have a way to lug it back and forth as well?
 
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Two things to consider:
1) Don't transport too long of logs on the road or you'll need a transportation slip (or risk major fines)
2) After you purchase your woodlot, contact your local forest products commission. They have some resources for woodlot owners including a free consultation from a forester.

There are some great resources through the NS forestry department. Check them out as they're great learning materials.
 
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I've no experience wood cutting, but I do have experience moving materials.
Because of that, I wonder if a trailer might help.
Fell the tree, skid it out, cut to length, split and stack onto the trailer.
You could leave it at the lot till it was full of fire wood and then drive it home, dump it a raise surface, like a concrete pad or some skids.
This would leave your truck  bed empty and add flexibility to the process.

D Nikolls  has a point about the process, so maybe fill the trailer with movable lengths before driving it home and processing it there, cutting to stove length right off of the back of the trailer.

I have skidded logs and stones with a winch, its very doable, and way cheaper than a quad, but the distance is limited.
Detachable sections of cable work but swapping in a longer cable does not.
 
Eric Hanson
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William,

You are absolutely right about the weight.  This is what a log arch is for.  A log arch is placed over the log.  The arch has tires and a long connector to a ball hitch.  The log is raised up under the arch, sometimes by a levering action and sometimes by a winch.  Once it is raised and secured in place, the arch is hooked to the tow vehicle and the log is pulled away fairly easily.

Eric
 
William Bronson
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Hmm,  with an arch and a winch,  getting the  whole logs out to  and onto the transportation would be easier.
 
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Julian Williams wrote:
1) Don't transport too long of logs on the road or you'll need a transportation slip (or risk major fines)



I remember once we had a nice tree down and all the firewood racks full. Dad decided to sell it to the local sawmill a few miles down the road. He was wondering out loud if the only dual axle trailer we had at the time was strong enough to handle the log (probably not). I said, "The road's paved. Why not just hook a chain to it and drag it there with the tractor?" He did! The joys of rural life! Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.
 
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My system is pretty low tech and works.  I have an extremely beefy trailer that is 5' long by 3.5' wide with a vehicle sized axle and tires.  I hitch it to my garden tractor and tootle off into the woods to cut.  I buck all my wood to stove length in the woods and load the trailer as full as I can get it.  Haul it out to my processing area and split and stack it.  

Having a beefy trailer that is as big as possible yet maneuverable in the woods is my suggestion.  If it's road worthy, then you could load it up in the woods, ATV or garden tractor it to your truck, hitch it to the truck and haul it home.

I'm cutting birch and maple so my chunks weigh up to 90 lbs which is enough to lift already.  I'd rather cut them to size in the woods than struggle to drag them home in large pieces to just cut them at home.

Not the best picture of my hauling rig but maybe you get the idea...
20201009_165120_resized.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20201009_165120_resized.jpg]
 
Burl Smith
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Burl Smith
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Daniel Benjamins
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Thanks for all the great information and advice. I'm glad to read that my idea was not weird and actually very doable.

I also talked to my neighbour about this, who is a hay farmer and owns 207 acres of land. A lot of his land is still wooded and there's more trees on there that he can ever burn in his stove. He told me we could work something out regarding getting (buying) trees from his land. He'll probably mark trees so I can fell, limb and buck them, then bring them home to split.

This gives me the opportunity to get used to cutting firewood and get a feeling of how much wood I would need for a year, for myself. Then I can (re)consider getting my own small woodlot. My idea of having my own woodlot also was to sell firewood to others.

Part of my own land is also wooded and has quite some huge birch trees on them. At least of what I can see from a distance since I haven't actually walked down there myself. This would probably give me a few years worth of firewood. I'm not sure if I want to clear that part, I think there's a lot of deer and other wildlife living there...
Screen-Shot-2020-10-23-at-12.39.44-AM.png
Wooded land marked with red border. All the rest has been cleared by previous owner (this is an older aerial image)
Wooded land marked with red border. All the rest has been cleared by previous owner (this is an older aerial image)
 
Daniel Benjamins
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I ran into this video on YouTube, it's very long and I've only watched 5 minutes of it so far. Very helpful!

 
pollinator
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Good advice from all thus far.

Start small on equipment (except for safety gear) and then start looking for used equipment.  Its hard to overstate the need for safety equipment for chainsaws, atvs, and all things involving large circular weights (logs).  Take your time, fail small.

The crux of "How to" seems to be the distance from the woodlot to your woodpile.  I like the idea of keeping logs long for as long as possible - an arch is great for this - just because it reduces the times you have to handle the wood. I also dislike bucking logs on the ground - even incidental contact with the dirt manages to dull the chain significantly while the arch can actually hold the log high while bucking or help deliver it to a set of sawbucks.

ATVs sure are common, but if you have a small tractor it can be (carefully) used as well and has some benefits like a front-end loader and a roll bar.  My tractor is outfitted with a set of log tongs on the 3pt and it works very well.

 
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I know a little bit about this. my property is quite hilly  and much of it sloped at steep angle and thinking and talking about harvesting wood out of forest is much more difficult to actually do. I use a farm tractor to drag logs out and its still a whole lot of work.
 
pollinator
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We’ve been cutting firewood since we were kids..literally. We’re in our 60’s now and still cutting!  We do have a tractor but rarely use it for firewood.  We use a come-a-long to urge a tree to fall where we want it if it’s bigger and we need to tease it one way or the other.  But, mostly you’ll learn how to cut a tree to make it fall where you want it.  It’s a learned skill and just takes practice!  Have some oldster show you how to make the cuts.


We cut to length and throw it into the back of the pickup or tow it out with a chain and the truck..Don’t be worried about big equipment if you’re just cutting firewood. Just enjoy your time in the woods. It’s such a pleasure.

 
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Daniel Benjamins wrote:Thanks for all the great information and advice. I'm glad to read that my idea was not weird and actually very doable.

I also talked to my neighbour about this, who is a hay farmer and owns 207 acres of land. A lot of his land is still wooded and there's more trees on there that he can ever burn in his stove. He told me we could work something out regarding getting (buying) trees from his land. He'll probably mark trees so I can fell, limb and buck them, then bring them home to split.

This gives me the opportunity to get used to cutting firewood and get a feeling of how much wood I would need for a year, for myself. Then I can (re)consider getting my own small woodlot. My idea of having my own woodlot also was to sell firewood to others.

Part of my own land is also wooded and has quite some huge birch trees on them. At least of what I can see from a distance since I haven't actually walked down there myself. This would probably give me a few years worth of firewood. I'm not sure if I want to clear that part, I think there's a lot of deer and other wildlife living there...



I have 80 acres that is mostly wooded, and I can tell you I will never need to cut a living tree if I don't want to.  Never.  I could supply more wood than several families could burn to heat their homes simply with my blow-down trees.  Just as an example, after our last pretty big wind storm, my lady and I walked around and counted more than 60 trees down on about 10 acres of my land.  It will save both of you time and effort if you agree that you will only cut dead, fallen trees.  Saves him from marking them and you from looking for marks.

Someone that I trust who heated with wood heat exclusively all his life told me that if you have 8 acres wooded, you never need to cut a living tree.  My experience says that is accurate for our area.  Maybe that will help you get an idea of how much wooded area you need for a given amount of wood.  
 
pollinator
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I am curious about the efforts taken to cut the trees down.
It there any effort put in for replacement trees, so it does not become bare land after time passews?

Secondly, tipping trailers would save a lot of time.
It does not take much to convert any trailer to a tipper.
 
Mike Haasl
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In my area the trees are really good at replacing themselves.  If I spent 20 hours a year planting new tree seeds, I suspect it wouldn't generate any more biomass than would otherwise be naturally generated.  If I was in a drier environment, it might very well be different.

Much like Trace, I think I can get all the firewood I need from 10 acres of mature woods by just cutting the dead, dying or tipped over trees.
 
Janet Reed
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John C Daley wrote:I am curious about the efforts taken to cut the trees down.
It there any effort put in for replacement trees, so it does not become bare land after time passews?



Ref cutting trees/replacing trees where we live....if an area is “clear cut” generally for commercial purposes then an effort is often made to replant species.

We have 150 acres and couldn’t begin to cut enough firewood trees to skin it.  We have select logged it once and it’s still coming on strong. I’m working on a tiny piece next to our home ( finally) and have probably taken out 200 lodgepole that just come up like weeds here.  I’m keeping the fir, tamarack and spruce.  It’s still thick and beautiful.

Some people do plant other species trees but in general..everything here reproduces well on its own!
 
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