Sunday, June 22, 2008


I spent a day working with a professional timber faller last week. This faller has been working in the woods for the last 20 years and was very good at reading trees. He could instantly size up a tree and know where it wanted to go and how far he could force the tree to fall in a different direction. He could spot a diseased tree by subtle hints that amateurs just don’t see.

Being an amateur, I was somewhat comforted that my self taught techniques were same techniques he used to test tree tension and to get the hell out of the way when movement started. I was impressed with his safety measures as well. In the woods you don’t get to become an old logger if safety isn’t your first thought before cutting into a tree. I have been so lucky that my skull hasn’t ever been pierced by a widow maker or that I hadn’t sliced off my leg.

The greatest thing I learn when ever I work with a timber faller is how much they respect the forests. Many people I’ve talked with over the years regard loggers as wilderness rapists. Some timber companies in the past were opportunists, but it seems that the lumber industry has come to realize that their future depends on the maintenance of a healthy forest environment. They now seem to make better decisions in regards to cutting, replanting and maintaining the forests.

(By the way in the event you were wondering the History Channel series, Ax Men was filmed around here. Some of it real close to where I live.)

It is just great to spend the day working with a rough and grizzly person with a 40 inch chain bar who is careful not to trample a seedling.


Blogger Mike S said...

Loggers are definitely professionals, it's the timber companies like Plum Creek that are developers 1st, timber 2nd that give them a bad name. They buy tracts, cut everything they legally can, then sell house lots. That particular company is WA based, but we've a real problem with them here.

The danger is all too real. I generally lose about one friend every 2-3 years in freak accidents.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly the timber companies are more interested in speed than anything else these days. I know toooo many really skilled timber fallers who have been let go while the guys just out there to cut and go are kept.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say Guy, ever listen to any Buzz Martin LP's? They called him the singing logger. He'd log all day, usually in Clatsop county and then sing his songs about logging at some place like Oney's or the Mccullough chainsaw distributor summer picnic on the weekend. He made 10 albums or so. All original stuff and was on the Johnny Cash TV show one time. He did not write any poetry about fishing and was good to his children.

3:59 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mike, maybe we have tougher laws out here, but from what I see most timber companies aren't that bad.

Anon 1, and let's not forget the cutting and delimbing machines put a lot out of work, but they don't do so well on slopes.

Anon 2, I never heard of Buzz Martin. But he will be worth an internet search. Thanks.

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Jennie said...

As a logger's daughter and now a logger's wife I am proud to say that my family makes a living that way. We love this land and spend a fair amount of our recreational time in these forests. I have a different take on some of the equipment working in lieu of timber fallers at present. The huge amount of blowdown out there is dangerous and anything that we can do to keep our timberfallers safe needs to be done. I disagree that speed is what comes first to most gyppos. I think it's safety. I love my Axemen!

11:40 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Jennie, I'm with you. My respect for fallers grows every time I see one in action. I think that TV series did a lot to educate the mis-informed. People associate clear cuts with unsustainable practices, but when you see the next crop coming in thick and lush, fifteen years later, one realizes that this is a renewable resource and somebody has to go in there and cut the crop so we can build our homes and wipe our butts with products from the forest.

5:48 AM  

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