Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Community of Interest › Events › Open Woods Day Report – Includes discussion of managing lines, and tree felling
- March 29, 2009 at 2:27 pm #40353
We had a rainy day for our open woods event, but there were many visitors to the site that saw modern horse logging for the first time. We were interviewed by a media company called: http://www.meetthefarmer.com – I think that is the address. I will post a few photos as attachments for your enjoyment. The other pair of horses are some mares that a Biological Woodsmen Blane Chaffin has been working for about a month for one of the horses and they are doing well.
I am so proud of the young folks that join us in this work. They are inspirational in their enthusiasm, dedication and resulting success. I will keep everyone in touch with the development of the media from this event. Hope you enjoy the photos. We have to four up some logs when they are large and the skid is adverse or uphill. This series of photos are the images of setting up a 18 foot log for the skid to the landing where it will be processed into a beam for the structure mentioned in the poster. You may notice the dark spots on the small end that show that one half of the crown in this big red oak was dead. It was a salvage harvest, as this tree was dying rapidly.
This is the gist of restorative forestry, take the worst first individuals that are declining and the forest will improve rapidly. Given the ground conditions on this day there is not a machine that could have done this work with less impact….March 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm #51182Robert MoonShadowParticipant
Excellent photos!! Thanks for sharing!April 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm #51176near horseParticipant
Glad to hear that you had folks interested in “soft logging”. I have a question about one of the pictures – Did you just hook one team’s arch to the tongue of another team’s arch to make your 4 up (picture 3 out of 4)? I just wouldn’t have thought of that but it makes sense.
Nice job.April 2, 2009 at 2:55 am #51157
30+ years and you still wrap your lead lines around your hand….??
That is certainly a teachable moment…I don’t recommend wrapping your lead lines or your driving lines around your hands.
Blane does have some poor form and his lines are not handled the way I do mine with the ends dragging along on the ground… but he has sensitive contact and is guiding them on an extremely heavy log, (a 300 board foot red oak butt log) coming out of a little depression or drainage. The left mare or lead had been working about a month….quite amazing when you consider that. He was just setting it out of the hollow so we could get the front team hooked on for heading up the long grade to the landing.
The lead team is hooked with our long log chain that is run through the center slot on the lead arch to the hole below the breast yoke and over the top of the tongue, back to the center slot on the load arch, which was attached to the log with a cradle hitch.
It is simple quick and a tandem arrangement that will work. It requires that the horses all start and pull evenly since the load is direct to each pair. We all use the contact/command/release simultaneously method and the lead team starts them as the back driver watches and makes his contact/command/release at the same time. Then pacing them to keep them moving no faster than necessary to move the wood over whatever ground you have to work on. This really helps in uphill skidding and we do it frequently, especially big logs on long skids. Once we get to the landing we take the chain off and head back for the next log.
We call it an “Appalachian Tandem”. It isn’t really a four up, just a hillbilly make do simple fun deal. The Cradle hitch lifts the big logs from the bottom so even when they are taller than the slot bar on the arch they can be suspended on the front end when the teams move forward.
You do have to swing the lead team on the outside of the skid trail in a curve and keep the power smooth and not frantic.April 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm #51183HalParticipant
@Biological Woodsman 7641 wrote:
Blane does have some poor form and his lines are not handled the way I do mine…
As a novice, I am interested in what makes his handling of the lines poor form–are his arms or hands in an awkward position? How would you have held the lines in this situation? I am not contradicting, just curious.April 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm #51158
Well, good form would include having the excess line gathered in some way to keep it from being stepped on as Joel suggests accurately as a possibility. I won’t be to particular about how one does that, although we tie a large eyelet in the end of the lines and loop one over my wrist and carry the excess that way and grip the lines in a through the palm position when walking on the ground.
But I think good driving form is the same as riding. Elbows at a right angle, forearms parallel to the ground or level – with the flexibility of the arms being able to move beside the body to steer the horses while having sensitive control. The flying arms are not as easy to keep a steady sensitive contact and this was a response to the new horse moving out quickly on this very heavy load. Again, it is easier to keep good contact through good form. I think the reaction of the driver in this particular photo is appropriate to keep contact and his form is usually much better, particularly when riding the arch. The young mare really moves out and on this heavy load it is important to allow her freedom to move forward, but of course still requires some steering so the movement of the arms to the side was a reaction to accomplish that steering in a very rapid experience. Rapid meaning this was a fast effort by the horses and not much time was available to make things exactly right, particularly when moving a really heavy log. Allowing a horse to honestly try hard means giving them their head and just staying in contact enough to steer them.
Good form includes keeping the perfect tension and sometimes no tension to steer and pace the horses. Usually good posture and balance by the driver will translate directly to the horses once they learn how to use themselves against serious resistance by the load.
I appreciate Joel’s comments, and want this to be a teaching experience for anyone interested, but this is an art that requires practice, by team and teamster. Nice to practice while working and making a little money along the way.
The most important aspect of this photo series is that the work is getting done and it was not easy work. That level of performance earns some regard from a serious student or accomplished teamster. We are all still and hopefully continuing to learn.April 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm #51173
Joel, Why would you need the loops? Why not simply let the excess line follow behind you? Taking up and letting out line would be a simple matter in that case and no chance of tripping on a loop, which if held in the hand is by definition in front of you. Does this relate to using an arch? I’m confused (and blonde, so bear with me):(April 2, 2009 at 4:46 pm #51177near horseParticipant
Line management is an art of sorts but to me what matters is an awareness of where your lines are. To clarify, I do my best to keep the excess in my lines loosely coiled and held in one hand BUT sometimes things happen when working and the coil becomes a hinderance. I let it go, get myself straightened out and regather the lines. That’s why I didn’t have an issue with Blane’s lines and hands in the picture. Sure, as a snapshot in time it shows “form” that you don’t want to use all the time. But, pulling out of draw across a face with a heavy load – I’m apt to cut him some slack. Regather when you’re in better position to do it.
There’s the perfection we strive for and the reality that we have to deal with. No biggie.April 2, 2009 at 11:55 pm #51166
I will let my lines hit the ground only when I’m in tight quarters and will stand still, letting lines follow the horses, until I want to stop to change position. If I am moving I always carry loops, as Joel suggests.
It is not a hard thing to get used to, but it is one of those safety issues that was driven into my head when I started, “never let your lines drag on the ground when you are moving”.
It goes for walking or riding. At best it can be very distracting, painful, and disrespectful to the horse if a line catches, and at worst a nightmare.
I think Geoff’s point about always trying is important. It can be difficult to perfect, but just like making the horse stand quietly before you ever hitch, I think a teamster should always have control of the lines before driving.
I see a moment in time, where several things may not line up, but as Jason says, the work is getting done.
CarlApril 3, 2009 at 11:05 am #51159
Well it is hard to communicate the subtle ways we all handle our lines, all the words in the English language don’t always give us clear understanding of each others methods. I don’t think there is a perfect way to do many things in life, but getting things done is important and lots of folks on here seem to do exactly that.
I have carried my lines (looped or coiled) in one hand or the other over the years, usually the stronger hand or the side that the horse was softer on. But a few years back I started tying an eyelet in the end and putting that big eyelet over my wrist to keep the lines up and out of the way so I could just have one line in each hand allowing for sensitive contact by only having the one line in each hand instead of a handful of coiled or multiple layers of the lines. This is shown in the two photos attached somewhat. I certainly don’t want to be tied to the horses in case I would perhaps fall while walking behind them so the eyelet is big enough to allow the line to slip off if needed or to allow the driver to hold on if wanted. It is just something I started to keep it neater and just have one line in each hand while driving on the arch, forecart or from the ground. Given that the default command is whoa and it works, the method of handling lines is a minor detail and not a big deal, just a style and personal preference.
Jen, hope you see the little technique and understand how it looks and works.
I also will provide a u-tube link to a piece some Realtor put on the net from our little open woods day event. We are working on one of our own without the real estate sales spin, please excuse that aspect and know that I am not trying to sell anyone land down here in the Appalachians. But it is also interesting that these folks are using the cultural presence of this type of community based forestry and forest products industry to appeal and attract
potential buyers of land in our area. They are somewhat of a version of what we have come to call “culture vultures”, or people that use the culture for there own goals and purpose with no real connection to the culture themselves. Hope you all enjoy the images nonetheless.April 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm #51174
Thanks, Jason…those visuals were helpful. When Joel first mentioned this technique, I was envisioning several loops of rein and that seemed alittle cumbersome to manage. I can see that we are not talking about alot of extra line, so it makes more sense to me now. I think I have sort of short lines as I never really seem to have alot of excess (ends don’t hit the ground). What length lines is customary? I imagine it might be different depending on what you were doing?
BTW, I enjoyed the video.April 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm #51167
My logging lines are about 15 feet long. It is important that there is enough line to allow the teamster room to get out of the way, and as I tried to describe before, I find a lot of situations where I need to let the horses advance without moving myself, letting the lines slip through my fingers. In this picture I am standing still letting the horse advance without following her just so I can be in the best position as she gathers the hitch. Before the end of the lines comes into my hands, I may start walking, or at least take a few steps before stopping her to reassess and reposition. Click on these thumbnails to get the larger views.
Some of us have been referring to holding several coils of lines in one hand,as well as the lines. If you hold your driving lines in the palm of your hand this may seem cumbersome. However, I hold my driving lines between my first two fingers, and the coils in the palm held by my thumb. This way I can also hold both lines and the coil in one hand if I need to, say for hitching, or turning around while holding the evener with the other hand, by holding the line on that side between fingers, and the other line and the coil in the palm held by my thumb. In this picture I am obviously not working, but it shows clearly how I hold the lines in coils.
Also it is very easy to drop the lines if I need to let out slack when ground driving. When walking in the woods driving a horse with a hitch it is very important that you have the ability to overcome variations in terrain and footing by having some way to modify the connection between you and the moving animal, so that you can stop or slow down changing your relative position to the horse. Having extra line length and being able to manage it is a very important aspect to working horses in the woods. The other important thing to long lines is getting back where you can see the log, and not be in front of it, or not close beside it.
I also hold them similarly when on a conveyance like a sled, so that if I need to get off, or if I fall off, I will not run the risk of having the lines catch on something, and they are also up out of the gear and off the ground.
I gather the coils by holding the lines at the appropriate length for the situation. In one hand I hold that line between fingers, place the other line in my palm held by the thumb, then comb the loose reins so they both lay flat without any twists, take a convenient length (so the resulting coil is between my waist and my knee), and lay that coil under the driving line I’m holding in my palm, at the same time giving the lines a half twist so the coil lays flat all around with no twists, and repeat till there is none left over. I then can hold the lines in the correct hand and I can pass the coil back and forth if I want to.
Tie your lines to the barn door, and practice, practice, practice….If you want to!
CarlApril 3, 2009 at 3:02 pm #51168
I believe that that is not a barber chair, but an open face front cut ala swede-cut. It is designed to maximize butt yield by making the front cut so that it comes off with the slab.
CarlApril 3, 2009 at 4:04 pm #51175
Thanks for those photos, Carl. I suspect my lines are not long enough to be suitable for logging…good to know. I’ll measure them.
I have been taught to hold the lines in the two fingers as you do, so I guess learning to mange a coil or two in the palm can’t be that hard to learn. I’ll practice it…the barn door is a good idea.
Thanks again everyone…sorry to hijack the thread:DApril 3, 2009 at 10:52 pm #51160
Hold your lines however suits you to keep good contact with your horses and not step on them or have them get under the load. I am simply much stronger with only one line in my hand at a time. If for whatever reason I have to let go, I can, the loop over my wrist will slip off if needed, but we are working well trained horses – so they stop when asked.
The tree filmed in this demonstration had a clear hard lean in one direction, which is one of the “Nature’s Tree Marking Paint” indicators defined on our web site under that title in the HHFF documents section. It takes three indicators to establish that a tree is truly in decline and therefore ripe for harvesting. Sometimes they are over ripe for harvesting, but that is how our system of “worst first” single tree selection works.
This tree was a chestnut oak which is a species notorious for being full of wind shake, grease worm and very brittle wood. These characteristics contribute to the difficulty of felling them. Having reliable integrity of fiber in the tree helps control the direction of the fell and is very important. Currently it is impossible to know all of the interior characteristics so one must stick with the principles of safe timber felling and hope for the best result from following those principles. One may learn these principles by attending a course like the “Game of Logging” or our private instructional course.
Given that amount of lean, the tree definitely went where he wanted it to go and just about the only place it could have been put with any timber felling method.
We do use the four cut, open face, hinge and latch timber felling method. It is commonly called the Swede cut. The lean was so great that the tree did break the latch before it was cut completely through. This can not be helped or stopped with any other timber felling method on a tree with a hard lean.
The important part is to recognize all this before felling in a proper procedure which includes having an escape path cleared and be prepared to walk away at a 45 degree angle from the direction the tree fell. Because of the speed that a leaning tree falls when severed from the stump, the hinge – which must be adequate and substantial enough to control the direction of the fall – may give up holding the tree to fall in the controlled direction and break wood up the side of the log. But the amount that broke off in this demonstration would not constitute a barber chair in my opinion and experience. A barber chair is much more likely to occur when back cutting a leaning tree and it falls before enough hinge is removed to prevent splitting up the log. When a tree “barber chairs” it usually shoots the log or entire tree back toward the opposite direction the tree is falling and can be very dangerous, even deadly. As you also may notice the amount of wood lost from the butt cut is small and on the outside of the largest portion of the conical shaped log – so it will be removed in the slab at the sawmill (as noted by Carl)…read – no damage done…
This is the safest way to fell timber period…. It is recognized by the insurance industry as a required method to be certified by the state agencies and is taught in all logger certification classes of which I am and have been an instructor for years. Using this method through a certification program actually lowers workmen’s comp rates.
I actually trained with Soren Erickson that developed this method many decades ago. It is slower and that is a fair price to pay for operator safety and limiting the manufacturing defects created by the timber harvester.
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