Small logs are relatively easy to handle and small machines are available for each step. We learned to saw these small logs into lumber and make high value mixed-species character-grade flooring so our restoration work would be a profitable business. Small diameter logs have small knots and mostly good character that is very attractive. There is high lumber over-run when sawmilling and very little waste when making flooring, compared to big logs. We can earn nearly as much from commercially worthless salvaged logs as from our good timber.
We have built an extensive 8 mile (13 km) road and trail system through the forest and we can carefully harvest any tree on the property any year. No good tree is wasted if it dies or blows down. The trail system makes the whole property more enjoyable for the many people who hunt, trail ride, hike, train, and work here.
We selectively harvest up to one tree per acre each year using "Arthroscopic Logging" techniques. When your family owns the land and the forest supports your income, you cannot afford to damage the resource. Directional felling methods taught by Soren Erickson from Sweden are used. Safety for the faller, accuracy & control of felling, and minimizing the damage to the butt log all are important to our business.
This is our timber, so as forest owners we want to make the most of our harvested trees. Our stumps are cut low as possible, we utilize partially rotten & hollow logs, crooked & bent logs, dead logs (often oak logs that have been dead for 5 years are still sound, and spalted maple is actually more valuable than white wood), and small diameter logs. Crotches and sound burls are sawn and dried for highest value use.
Trees are pulled to a trail using a Fetching Arch and a radio controlled winch on our 55-horse power 2WD farm tractor. We constantly revive "old technology" by adding a little modern twist. The average skid to a trail is less than 100 feet (30 m). Our prehauler picks up the logs piled along the trail and carries the logs out of the forest and direct to the sawmill. The average distance from stump to sawmill is ½ mile (1 km). We never take a machine off the trail to protect our regeneration. We never take a machine on the trail if the ground is soft.
On the Farm Manufacturing
We process our annual harvest into finished products right here on the farm. We have an electric WoodMizer sawmill, a band resaw, and a circular two saw edger under one roof. Methods for efficiently milling the high percentage of curved logs and small diameter logs have been perfected. Straight oak logs are usually quartersawn to get the attractive and stable grain pattern. Our goal is to transform each piece of wood into it's highest value use.
Sawn lumber is immediately stacked on stickers in one of the pre-drying chambers of our solar cycle kiln buildings. The ends of the boards are protected from over-drying, rain & sun is kept off the wood, and the high roof overhead accelerates the natural air flow to pre-dry the lumber from 90% to 12% Moisture Content (MC) in 3 months.