Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Powered Forestry International › Forest Products › Value Adding Forest Products
- January 26, 2010 at 3:32 am #41352
There are so many products that can be made from raw logs, even low quality logs.
In most rural areas, historically there were many small scale portable sawmills working just about everywhere. In our county the historical data sites that about 30 portable sawmills were in this small county fifty plus years ago.
With the advent of cheap intensive energy in the form of oil (combined with improved roads) provided a condition that tended to centralize the processing of raw logs at locations distant from most of the forestland being managed (or harvested at least). This situation lead to a simplification of the ground level workers involvement being reduced to nothing more than contract loggers and certainly nothing like being a “biological woodsman”. At the same time international markets were providing cheap building materials such as Canadian structural lumber that was available from large centralized companies in cities everywhere. So it was hard to compete with those situations by small local processing systems.
Another disadvantage is that in order to value add you also have to own the material and pay the additional cost of milling, storing, drying, grading and marketing – while moving it along the process to added value. This is hard for marginal economic livelihoods. Most are working from log check to log check and it is hard to have extra money to invest in adding value to raw materials.
But recent changes in increased fuel prices have given this a new equation – as well as the new attitude about the source of the material being bought by consumers. There is also a common sense side of acquiring building materials by many folks in the country or rural areas. So this has lead us to selling into different markets (green certified) than in the recent past and some of the same markets that were historically practical and appropriate.
The key is to process material that has a value in the community. This would include products like:
Fencing boards from low grade oak (12, 14 and 16 foot lengths, by 6 inches wide)
Siding lumber from softwoods (eastern white pine, hemlock, yellow pine)
Structural lumber ( 2x’s of any length) from low grade poplar, white pine, hemlock and yellow pine
Flooring from all hardwood species, which requires some drying and a good wood working shop or your own equipment.
Paneling, moldings, trim, stair treads and risers, door jams and windows casings, etc. – same needs as flooring infrastructure wise
Fence post, locust and cedar
Black Locust decking, very valuable as a non toxic exterior application wood, particularly from “green sourcing methods” a viable alternative to Rain Forest Species such as Ipe.
Railroad Tie logs, from low value species or hardwoods, much more valuable than giving them to the mill.
Pallet material if you have a pallet factory in the region, also from low grade logs and low value species (black gum, soft maple, low grade oaks, hickory, sycamore, etc…)
Firewood in long lengths, for stuff to small to saw or some decay obvious
Mushroom logs for local Shittake mushroom growers, we produce these mushroom log blanks in four foot lengths average four inches inside the bark from oak that is harvested in the process of “timber stand improvement” We have also made them from soft maple,
Our low grade softwoods, to crooked for sawing still go into pulpwood or are left in the forest as large woody debris.
Our low grade hardwood that is crooked and not firewood quality are often stacked to create mushroom colonies for the landowner’s use after harvest or in between continuous sustainable harvest rotations.
Specialty item sawing, i.e. – crotch wood, curly maple wood, figured wood from burls for turning stock and gun stocks.
This is just an example of some of the ways to value add forest products. It does take a good band mill or portable mill of some sort to do this on site. If you want to do it all yourself you can stockpile logs and wait for a bad weather day to saw, particularly if you have a mill set up on the farm under a roof or maybe you can find a band sawmill operator that will come to your site and saw.
It is important to have the markets in advance so you won’t have to invest your own money to produce the products since you already have invested your own time and skills to fell and extract (harvest) the material. When we get order or inquiries for these items we often request 50% down to pay for the processing cost along the way and then get our profit on the end after delivery or pick up of the material.
This method requires real integration into the existing community economically and culturally. Although many of the local loggers may be your competition to access the timber, they may also be able to help with other things, like hauling, loading and markets. Talking with folks in your community is important. Our intention is not to reinvent the wheel but to become productive members of the community at large and working with as many folks as possible to make a living taking care of the woods, not just being contract loggers or high graders or clear cutters. We don’t wish to compete with machines, so we have to do things differently.
Let me know what you think of this and if you have any questions or thoughts about all of it. You may reach me at:
firstname.lastname@example.orgJanuary 26, 2010 at 3:47 am #57296
Thats what I’m talking about!
I think we should move this over to the public forum http://www.draftanimalpower.com/forumdisplay.php?f=67
Carl, could we start a sub-forum in DAPFI for forest products?
ScottJanuary 26, 2010 at 5:36 am #57304cedarriverhorseloggingParticipant
I have had two fires in my business life and they both forced me to think out of the box on how do I keep going with no money. There are two things I have learned from this business and that is inventory cost money, and employees can sink the ship. I worked a long time to reduce inventory and employees and came up with a system that works well. We go from tree to product and instead of buying the standing timber I charge the landowner for my services. The land owner pays me so much a ft or by the hour to log. I help him market the logs to offset his costs. if he wants to improve his forest and take worst first it will not cash flow. If he wants it to break even we cut accordingly. It does not matter what I cut I get payed the same. this creates a grater trust between me and the landowner because I am working for him not the mill. I only buy at the point of sale that I have on a specific project. I might have a kitchen cabinet project that needs a 1000′ but I logged 8000′ for the land owner. I buy the 1000′ from the land owner at market value on the landing and the rest I help him sell. If the landowner wants to saw it I log it and saw it and he stores it. I have got paid for my work and have inventory that cost nothing. If I need some of the inventory I purchase the lumber from the landowner. Then he benefits from the value added and so do I but he does not need the skill set of milling to gain the value. Then when I have made a sale I pay him wholesale price based on hardwood markets. If someone wants flooring i do not market flooring I market time. If the customer wants sustainable products they have to wait for me to cut the tree down and process the material. I set up long term contracts with landowners to manage their forest. This gives me inventory that I do not have pay for until I have found the write market for. I only hire employees per job. When the Job is done they are done. We have several logging Camps a year so I hire what I need for each camp. I hire on shares and if they have there own insurance and comp I pay more shares to them. If they do not I take comp and feca out. I am sitting in my tent in northern Wisconsin as I write this waiting for a winter storm to pass.January 27, 2010 at 12:50 am #57278
“if he wants to improve his forest and take worst first it will not cash flow”
Well this is a provocative statement for me. I suppose it could come down to the timber being of such poor quality and low value to start with that the worst first individuals are of so little value it won’t even pay for the harvesting cost? In our area even the worst first has some value and often enough to pay a fair wage for the harvesting. I wouldn’t/couldn’t work anywhere with forested conditions of lesser value and in any way call my work sustainable.
“If he wants it to break even we cut accordingly. It does not matter what I cut I get payed the same. this creates a grater trust between me and the landowner because I am working for him not the mill.”
Well it matters very much to me about what I cut. Without occupying the high ground of superior silviculture then I am just setting myself up for competition with machines and any high grader that will work for less than I am willing to take for my services.
I would also be afraid that one day in the future the landowner would become educated about the forest and not trust me as an a forestry professional. I guess this is why I did work to get my forester certification, I do know what I want to do, why I am doing it and that is what I am determined to do – restorative forestry in order to be sustainable forestry.
I don’t want this to sound harsh, or self righteous about it, but there is a dramatic difference in what HHFF promotes and what you are describing Tim.
Each to his own and everyone has the right to do as they wish on their private property. But this just confirms that using animal power alone does not make the forestry sustainable. I am determined to be more than just a “Horse Logger”. I and many conventional foresters have seen animals used to high grade historically and that has been something we have determined to not be a part of, regardless of what a landowner wants.
This is one of the principles of the Forest Stewards Guild; if the landowner doesn’t agree with the best management recommendations for forest improvement, disengage. Fortunately we have enough work to be able to do that. So that’s what we do.January 27, 2010 at 2:33 am #57295ngcmcnParticipant
Jason, we have black locust here in Maine, I think it is one of the most under utilized woods around. As far as I’m concerned it’s as good as teak for longevity, its local, it does take a while to grow to usable size, outlasts cedar about 10-1 as fence posts. The local loggers bitch about it but put it in with hardwood pulp. It finishes nicely, throws sparks when you saw it and can be a bit shakey interesting grain, with an oil finish honey’s(golden) out with time.
Do you know of markets for it as a flooring? cabinet wood etc.?
I’m restoring a 1880’s wood splitter locust. The Red oak that was the frame rotted.
NealJanuary 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm #57279
Black locust is made into flooring by the commercial processors and us too.
They call it Appalachian Gold and I charge for it like it is gold plated at least.
There are markets for it, we have it on our web site and sell it through Architects that prescribe it as a “green” alternative to Ipe or rain forest woods. So if you have any sound stuff and can saw even 3″ wide boards out of it and get it dry, slowly, it is valuable and the most durable wood in North America. There is even a sub species called Ships Mast that is straighter than normal black locust (pseudo acacia), it has slightly more oval leaves than the normal and is exported and planted in other parts of the world from scions that are dug from the root system.
I love the stuff, we search for it everywhere and it is usually about ready to harvest in an intermediate age ranged forest (75 y.o.) If you begin to see shelf mushrooms the real hard woody kind, it is to late to harvest for lumber, but still is awesome firewood. We burn the slab exclusively.
We sell the decking for about the same price as Ipe.
Here is a photo of one we shipped to Mass.
Thanks for asking, hope you find some you can use up there. It has to be pre-drilled and screwed down with treated or stainless steel deck screws. We sell it as “DRAFTWOOD green certified” and as a product that brings good money without kiln drying….as it is applied to exterior applications. It has made my land payment more than once.
~January 28, 2010 at 1:32 am #57297
@Biological Woodsman 14945 I don’t want this to sound harsh, or self righteous about it, but there is a dramatic difference in what HHFF promotes and what you are describing Tim.[/QUOTE wrote:
Even though I am a little confused as well Jason, I’m not exactly sure that is what Tim meant.
I do not carry inventory as I am only a horse logger & forester. I charge a service rate which is based on time (hr/day) or area (acre). That was the same model I used most of the time even back when I ran a mechanical show, mostly gov’t contracts by the acre.
Charging for services takes out any incentive to high grade by the logger. Most of what I did was “worst first” or true restoration forestry; much of it based with a primary intent of, or funded for, fuels reduction. We often deal with what I coin as “knee jerk forestry” out here. Whether it is fire, bugs, etc.. the money and landowner’s interests tend to follow the crisis at the time. We all know that sound forest management addresses all of those concerns and that would be my foot in the door to pursue it with the landowner.
These jobs are my most prominent and publicly viewed advertising. Aside from my devout forest management ethics, it doesn’t do much good for your business if your job sites look like shit and they are prime examples of piss-poor forestry.
If someone wants me to just harvest the pumpkins and leave the inferior stock for a net gain in revenue or a reduced treatment cost for them, I just say ‘no thank you’, tell them why, and walk away.
In short, the service model works very well for me out here. Pretty much the only circumstance where I will buy stumpage is in high quality, post-size lodgepole pine on a terrific site. Unlike the forests you folks deal with, this is one forest cover type that truly responds best with appropriately scaled even-aged management, and is indeed how those stands would normally function ecologically.
Tim’s response will be the ultimate answer, but I have a hard time believing he would hire out as a high-grading horselogger.January 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm #57312lancekParticipant
I don’t think that is absolutely true in Scotts neck of the woods may be but in eastern forest there should be no excuse to high grade if you have a good value added system in place! And don’t say that you don’t have a sawmill or the equipment to manufacture these products there are small shops in every area of the country that will do the work and in most cases you can get them to do the work and still sell your product cheaper that the big mills! Its just a matter of doing a little foot work and sharing the wealth and thats what a true value added system is about connecting community together.January 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm #57280
The property taxes were paid here on the 5th of December and it was with worst first log/lumber/forestry services – money, as it has been for decades. We’ve been paying property taxes on forests owned by neighbors in our community by cutting worst first for 30 years now too. We ain’t getting rich but we are some how managing to get buy. Yes I wear patched coveralls and don’t have a vehicle younger than 15 years. The newest machine on our place is a chainsaw.
Yet we control thousands of acres of the best timber in the world – by just being the best at taking care of it. Not with money, but the cultural skills to do what the landowner wants with it, and that’s usually also restoration.
Worst First does often include some very valuable trees. Especially in old forest 125-50 average age. There ain’t much of it left and we aim to get in all of it we can. Sometimes large over mature trees need to be harvested,
if they are declining faster than they are growing.
Yup, the land and timber belong to the landowner, and smart ones will use it to grow money in healthy trees – if they are not desperate.
But a point that is missed by many traditional and conventional thinkers is that the landowner doesn’t own the water or air that moves over their land. Those values are common to all humans and are of a “public interest”. That value is quickly becoming an accountable cost of forest products and we will serve it better than a any machine.
Oh yea, I did buy some (80 acres/1/2 wooded) land 30 years ago Joel, still happily paying for and have been doing this for a while. It was high graded five years before I got it. I know what it takes to make a valuable forest from one that’s had that treatment for three or four harvest rotations. Not owning some land would bug me.
I have heard countless times from conventional foresters that all “horse loggers” were high graders and therefore cannot be recommended to cut anybodies timber.
So we are battling the conventional mindset and will keep doing so, that is our reality…
~January 28, 2010 at 10:58 pm #57288Carl RussellModerator
Well I was wondering about this thread. It says it’s about value adding, and I know that there is a formula that as the material moves through each step of the process another profit center is absorbed, and by this way alone some of the value of the product is regained by the owner of the raw material.
However in my mind that alone is not sufficient to “add” value. I think it has to come down to the other discussion that popped up that is more concerned with the “way” in which the raw material is cultivated and harvested.
Green beans in a can are not the same as “organic” green beans in a can. Farmstead cheeses are not the same a Kraft. Timber harvested with animal power from a sustainably managed forest is not the same as lumber from logs from a mechanized operation put on back haul trucks to Canada, processed and shipped back. In every one of these cases the “product” appears the same, and in some ways if there is a difference it is not measurable. But there is a process at the foundation that speaks to a higher value, not just a cost, but a value. Some level of craft that is brought to the processing.
As far as Tim’s post I read it completely different.Quote:The land owner pays me so much a ft or by the hour to log. I help him market the logs to offset his costs. if he wants to improve his forest and take worst first it will not cash flow. If he wants it to break even we cut accordingly. It does not matter what I cut I get payed the same. this creates a grater trust between me and the landowner because I am working for him not the mill.
I work very similar to this. However I generally tell the landowner how we are going to cut the stand, otherwise I don’t know why they have me there. But I have done several jobs that did not cash flow… at least for the landowner. I got paid, and they made an investment in the future of their woodlot. It doesn’t matter to me either what I cut, except that I only cut to improve the lot. If I have to pull a bunch of crap, I still get paid…well, and it will cost the LO. If I pull awesome timber it makes little difference to me because I am still getting paid well… but it makes more difference to LO because they are making out even better. Truthfully most jobs that I work on can easily make money, or certainly break even, without coming close to compromising my standards.
Anyway, I think this helps to highlight what I’m talking about. If we are just cutting logs with no insight into the improvement of the resource, including multiple bottom lines like ecology, community, and aesthetics, etc., then we are not “adding value”. However if we sell our products into the abyss of the conventional market then that value is diluted by the average acceptable denominator in forestry and harvesting.
So if we are going to “add value” to the raw material by the process that we adhere to, then we HAVE to find ways to follow that product out into the market, ie portable mills, small scale secondary wood manufacturers, etc. Tim’s example is one that has a lot of merit. Working directly with LO, either providing them with a product that they cannot get any other way, or by procuring for himself material for his markets that are available in no other way. Keeping inventory on the stump is an excellent way to adhere to strong standards of sustainable management. Not cutting a good tree until there is a good reason is part of maintaining a high value woodlot, and we all know that once you cut ’em you can’t put ’em back up, and while we can sometimes get good money in the conventional market, it doesn’t measure up to the market that truly wants the “Added Value”.
This doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to use these methods on every property, and like Joel suggests many LO just don’t want to be bothered… This is another reason why animal power is so logical. I’m busy, I can wait for someone who cares.
CarlJanuary 28, 2010 at 11:06 pm #57317vthorseloggerParticipant
I believe that in this day and age we all need to be as diversified as possible!! In the area I live in I can think of about 14 loggers, 1 other besides myself that says he logs with horses but thats another story. I am not new to the logging world but am new to the horse side of logging, I have been logging with different crews for years but am tired of guys that think that bigger is better and cut it all attitudes! My horses and I are both new to this experience but it is a very fun and rewarding experience as well. I also agree that if you are diversified enough that it doesn’t matter what the worst of the worst first you are cutting you can make money. You just have to use your head and work at it!! Thanks for listening, thats my rantJanuary 29, 2010 at 12:42 am #57281
I believe “high grading” is an untenable practice in all forest types, regardless of how the wood is extracted.
Our specific silvicultural prescriptions are definitely about the Appalachian Forest Type, I have said and written that frequently.
~January 29, 2010 at 1:08 am #57298
@Biological Woodsman 15033 wrote:
I believe “high grading” is an untenable practice in all forest types, regardless of how the wood is extracted.
I spend a lot of my time trying to ‘reconstruct’ and mitigate damage from the past in mixed stands.January 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm #57309TaylorJohnsonParticipant
I think things have got to be in balance. If you go to a clients property and see what they want done and the worst that they want to take is not going to cash flow and the client can not pay what do you do? You could walk away and leave the land owner to deal with another contractor that is going to have to take a lot more to come and do the work heck his moving cost alone just to get machines there will demand a much harder cut. One thing you can do is take the worst or what ever is right for the land and take some of the high value wood to help pay for the over all project. Ideally it always works out for the best as far as the land and what is best for it but it is not always possible to do this. I think it is better to help them get the job done even if you have to take some of the high grade timber to do so. Here is were the balance comes in , if you leave them to deal with other contractors the land will get a much much harder cut than it needs or you can work with them and help him do the best that he can aford for his land. In the long run the horse logger with the right intentions is a better choise.
There are time when you will have to walk away from a job that is best suited for a mechanized operator or a high grader. I have told land owners that there job was not for me to find someone else for the type of cut they wanted . If a harvester and a 6 wheeled forwarder can do the same cut that they want me to preform well why pay me to do it . Be forward and honest with them and tell them to to get someone else to do the job. If buy hiring you they can make some adjustments and improve on what there plane is then why turn it down even if it is not exactly what you would like to do in an ideal world . As far as Tim goes and his jobs go I am sure they very greatly. I did do a job with Tim about three years ago in MN , the land owner had a forester come to the job before we got there and mark the wood. We walked the 40 acres and when we were done Tim told the land owners assistant ( that is who was handling most of the sale ) to hire someone else with a machine if he wanted the job done in this fashion . The man handling the sale said well wont it pay for you to do the job and Tim said well ya it will pay ( it was a buy the hour bid ) for me to do it but you will be wasting your money on me because you can hire a bulldozer to do this for way less money. We did end up doing the job and we made a lot of adjustments that were not in the original plan and the forest was better off than it would have been with out us doing the work. If we were just after the money there would have been a lot more bill able time there in the heavy cut that the forester wanted than what we did. There were some thing that they did there that did not make a lot of sense but it was there land and up to them ultimately. Through finding the balance on that job in the end the land was better off than it would have been and we got paid. Absolutes are seldom of use in business . Taylor JohnsonJanuary 29, 2010 at 5:25 pm #57305cedarriverhorseloggingParticipant
I posted my system on value added based on the assumption that we all have the same ethics on forest management. If some of you were confused I would like to invite you to come up and see what we are doing. I am having a logging camp on February 13th-21st in Still Water Minnesota at the Warner Nature Center. We will have 20 or more people in camp, 16 horses, and two saw mills and a camp cook. I have students, apprentices from around the country and a production crew that works for me every year. Warner has never had a forest management plan until they started working with my company two years ago. We are now righting a long term management plan. 50% of the material is going to my shops. People are picking lumber of the mill to be processed by our shops to go into there new home. If you are interested you can contact me at 507438-2164.
We are sleeping in tents with wood stoves so bring a warm sleeping bag.
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