The stump is cleanly cut. A splash of wood chips fan out alongside in the snow. There are no footprints. No tire tracks. It’s as if Paul Bunyon used his razor to nip an errant whisker. Such is the precision and skill of logging today.
The logger who cut in our woods recently used a remarkable machine to reach into the woods, grab a tree at its base, zing the blade across, carry the upright tree over the next tree, grab the second tree, then zing the blade again, then move on to a third three, and maybe a fourth, all without the cut trees touching the ground.
The machine is called a “feller buncher.” It’s described as a “high performance zero tail-swing machine with outstanding service access.” It’s “tight touch boom geometry minimizes residual stand damage.” Sales language for friggin’ mean cutting machine.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it in action. But I did see the logger feed trees into the chipper. From a one story pile of trees, he plucked four trunks at a time and fed them into a chipper that blew the chips into a waiting tractor-trailer. The shredder operator occasionally would jiggle the feeder rollers forward and back if a tree got stuck. If that didn’t work the logger would pick up another tree and poke the stuck trees, like someone using a toothpick to clean their teeth. Fifteen minutes of tree chipping and the trailer was full of 30 tons of chips. By the end of the project, the logged trees generated over 1,000 tons chips—all sent off to Vermont for bio-heating fuel or plywood.
Anyone who’s had to deal with one dead tree in their yard knows that an ordinary tree can make a big mess with branches, leaves and twigs all around, not to mention the big, heavy trunk.
That’s why I am particularly impressed with the aftermath of this logging project. There’s one main path that was created through the forest, with minor side paths off from it. There’s a line of small debris—small branches and twigs—along the edges of the main path. The landing area where the equipment was is covered with a fine layer of wood chips. And that’s it. No jagged trees, no dangling branches. Only a little more open space for the better trees to be harvestable in 15-20 years.
Harvesting trees is seriously hard and dangerous work. Considering the volume of wood that was removed, I’m impressed with the end result. Who knew that logging could be so neat?
This is Part II of the logging saga. See Part I here: Winter Logging.