In our area, the best times to harvest timber are during late fall through winter and during the dry period in summer.  This is partly because there is usually water in the creek and river crossings.  For the veneer quality timber, it is best to harvest after the sap has decreased above ground.  We had some trees that had reached peak maturity and some that we had waited a little too long to harvest.  We had some areas where the trees needed to be thinned.  And after cutting three loads of trees, we still have too many.  It isn’t easy to manage a farm between two people, and the next area that needs attention is the tree lines between fields.  The fields keep shrinking in size because of the tree overgrowth.  It looks like trees will be the farm theme for 2012.

This year, the honey locusts were taking over all of the pastures, approximately one new tree per 3-4 square feet in many areas.  To remove honey locusts, you have to cut every single sprouted tree and apply a tree-killing herbicide.  There were a few mature trees that needed to be girdled and treated as well.  Cattle eat the bean pods and spread the seed.  This may occur worse during drought years.  For someone who uses herbicide products as little as possible, this is a major but necessary concession.  Greg began removing the honey locusts in the north pastures, but spring was coming at a faster rate than he could cut.  This needed to be done before the pastures were bush-hogged, and the weeds were growing.  We hired someone to help with this project, but in this heat, he could only work mornings, and only 3 days/week.  At a rate of maybe 2 acres per day, we are finally near completion, and the pastures look nice again, that is for brown grass.

We caught a break for the past several days.  Rain moved in and the mornings were cooler.  Today the temperature is climbing at a rapid rate again.

The guy who was hauling the timber called this morning to ask me to unlock and open the gate before he arrived.  I had enough time to take Jade for a quick walk, and she needed the exercise.  In the summers when she doesn’t get enough exercise, she is “loaded for bear”.  That is, she must find a way to use her excess energy.  Otherwise, she’s like a Newfoundland on a super-coiled pogo stick.

So, Jade and I took a fast walk, then went back to open the gate.  The sawyers were already busy, with heavy duty chainsaws buzzing.  The “Log Hog” arrived and began stacking trunks on the bed of the truck and on the trailer.  This guy was set up for “quick”.  The cherry picker was mounted on the back of the truck, between the bed and the trailer.  It had two large legs for stabilization and heavy duty hydraulic equipment to operate the arms and the legs.  It didn’t take long for the guy to load the truck and trailer.  There is no doubt he has had plenty of practice!

I recognized that this was a unique socialization opportunity, so Jade and I waited outside the fence.  The guy picked up a log and dropped it to break the remaining connection.  He picked up a very long log and moved it to the outside.  He loaded all of the pieces in that area, then moved his truck closer to the remaining logs.  One of the guys moved his 4 wheel drive diesel pickup close to where we were standing for the log truck to have better access.  It was getting hot, and there was no breeze, so the dust hung in the air.  Jade is accustomed to the tractor and some of the farm equipment, and she was handling the noise and the tree-moving very well, until the guy slammed his truck door.  She jumped.  I was a little off-guard by then, and didn’t react in time to keep the leash.  She ran about 10-12 feet, then spun like a Quarter horse and looked at the rest of us like she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with us.  Didn’t we hear THAT?!  I called her, but she didn’t want to come back.  Finally she conceded and returned.  One of the guys sawing stopped to pet her.  She seems to be fond of the sawing crew, and her perspective was quickly improved again.

The truck was nearly loaded, and the guy was moving a log on the other side of us that was causing the entire load to tip slightly.  I moved Jade further away, to the other side of the gate and waited for him to finish tying down the load and moving the truck out.  Then we went inside for a cool-down break, me with a Dr. Pepper and Jade with a nap, where she can “saw logs” in her sleep.

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