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Retrieving logs from the forest  RSS feed

 
Rob Irish
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Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Its winter time here in Estonia. We recently had a storm topple over a few medium sized pines which would be ideal for replacing some of the log beams we are planning for next year renovations.

We'd like to get these trees out of the forest, and have cleared the branches off them, but as for getting them to the shed... we are new to this lifestyle and don't know the options.

I have been youtubing and seen the following options:

- Horses dragging logs
- ATV's dragging logs
- Winches on trucks dragging logs

We don't have a horse, atv, or a winch on a truck, but there isn't a road / path for an ATV or tractor. Maybe we can find and ask somebody with a horse to help.

With the ground covered in snow, we're also wondering if it is realistic to drag a log with 2-4 average people with the front of the tree on a kind of sled to avoid the noise pushing into the earth.

Any suggestions warmly welcomed.

 
amanda boyce
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Hi! The process you want is called tushing. First you must remove the horizontal branches to create as straight a log as possible. Hook a stout chain or very strong rope around the leading end ( usually the base) about 2 feet from the end. To get moving, lay some of the larger cut off branches in front of the log as rails (90 degrees to log). One big lift and pull, get the end of the log onto the branches, and now it will roll over them. It won't be easy but perseverance will pay off.
Still can't move? Try a lever and pulley system with another tree for leverage. Hope this helps! Happy tushing! Amanda
 
Alder Burns
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You might save some weight by making sure the logs are trimmed close to the size you want in use. Split them, if this is called for, and peel the bark off them in the woods too. This will make the timbers not only lighter but smoother and therefore easier to drag......
 
R Scott
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You want to use what is called a flip flop winch.

 
Jay Hayes
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Location: Missouri
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Rob,

I would say you will get very familiar with a block and tackle by the time you have your logs in the shed. I've done a fair piece of mule logging and work with some guys that do it as a profession, even with good mules and a good cart there are slopes and times (say when the log jams along another tree) that you have to winch. Bucking logs to their minimum usable length will be key, the other thing to keep in mind is that natural air drying of wood in temperate climates can decrease the total weight of logs by around 25% in 12-18 months, even if the logs are laying on the ground. If you are planning on sawing the logs they will still have good ,though possibly discolored, structural wood inside in a year or two when the bark and cambium is falling off and rotting to the point you can stick your finger in it. At that point they will be much lighter to skid.

How large are "medium" sized trees? Circumference, calculated into diameter, at the point 4.5 feet above the ground level and length is the standard measure. There are look up charts based on species that will tell you the specific gravity of wood types and their corresponding weight. That might help you plan for the appropriately scaled crew. I would also suggest planning your skid route very carefully to avoid root, rocks, and any more slope than necessary, these are the things that can hang up your sled and take a ton of time to work around.

Good luck!

J
 
Rob Irish
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Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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amanda boyce wrote:Hi! The process you want is called tushing. First you must remove the horizontal branches to create as straight a log as possible. Hook a stout chain or very strong rope around the leading end ( usually the base) about 2 feet from the end. To get moving, lay some of the larger cut off branches in front of the log as rails (90 degrees to log). One big lift and pull, get the end of the log onto the branches, and now it will roll over them. It won't be easy but perseverance will pay off.
Still can't move? Try a lever and pulley system with another tree for leverage. Hope this helps! Happy tushing! Amanda


A little organic train track eh? That sounds like it will reduce quite a bit of drag! Thanks for that idea. Should make the tushing definitely a bit more happy

Alder Burns wrote:...and peel the bark off them in the woods too. This will make the timbers not only lighter but smoother and therefore easier to drag......


That makes sense Alder. Thanks for this. Is there an ideal time when to peel the bark? e.g. winter or spring?

R Scott wrote:You want to use what is called a flip flop winch.


Ahh hah! I knew there must be something like this Flip Flop winch. Hard to believe so much can be done with a pair of sticks and some rope. Will be trying this method for sure - a great skill to have.

Jay Hayes wrote:I would say you will get very familiar with a block and tackle by the time you have your logs in the shed. I've done a fair piece of mule logging and work with some guys that do it as a profession, even with good mules and a good cart there are slopes and times (say when the log jams along another tree) that you have to winch. Bucking logs to their minimum usable length will be key, the other thing to keep in mind is that natural air drying of wood in temperate climates can decrease the total weight of logs by around 25% in 12-18 months, even if the logs are laying on the ground. If you are planning on sawing the logs they will still have good ,though possibly discolored, structural wood inside in a year or two when the bark and cambium is falling off and rotting to the point you can stick your finger in it. At that point they will be much lighter to skid.

How large are "medium" sized trees? Circumference, calculated into diameter, at the point 4.5 feet above the ground level and length is the standard measure. There are look up charts based on species that will tell you the specific gravity of wood types and their corresponding weight. That might help you plan for the appropriately scaled crew. I would also suggest planning your skid route very carefully to avoid root, rocks, and any more slope than necessary, these are the things that can hang up your sled and take a ton of time to work around.


Jay, I will have to measure them accurately (I didn't want to respond until I'd gone out again and done this). I guess 'medium' is a bit vague in hindsight.

Luckily the landscape here is very flat, which isn't great for epic scenic views, but good for dragging logs a bit easier i guess. I've heard using pulley's can dramatically reduce the pull required to move logs.

Just wondering if we should wait until spring to skin the tree, or if it is ok to do it mid winter?

That is a great tip to let them sit for 12-18months to reduce the weight so much. I would have thought the logs would be damaged by this, but you say it is just coloration which changes.


Appreciate all the tips for this.

Cheers,
Rob
 
amanda boyce
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Hi again Rob. I just thought of something. Being winter there (as it is here), maybe you could create an ice skid path for your logs through the forest. Watch your step though!
 
Alder Burns
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Bark is easiest to peel from live or fresh-cut trees in the spring, but since yours are already down, it will just become more and more difficult as they start to dry out, unless you wait so long that it basically rots off, as described above. So if you want the helpfulness of snow on the ground to skid them on, you might end up waiting till next winter. Personally if I had the time I would get it off them soon. This will hasten the drying process too, although it will also increase the likelihood of cracks forming. Logs allowed to dry slowly with bark on are less likely to crack. Tradeoffs....
 
Jay Hayes
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There was a huge wind storm in Southern Missouri 5 years ago. Hundreds of Millions of board feet of large trees hit the ground. There are loggers I have passed everyday on the way to work this week that are still salvaging down logs from that storm. The logs look rotten, no bark, not even a lot of large branches, but when you saw into them the middle part of the tree (the part where you would square it off to saw out boards) it is still solid on most. Granted, all of the trees they are salvaging this late in the game are oak, and the quality of the wood is not great, lots of stain, and advanced decay in the structural part of the wood. But, they are not worthless, even after 5 years on the ground.

That said, pine trees and other "soft woods" will not last 5 years on the ground. Pine will "blue stain", a fungus that stains the wood purple or blue-when it is present, in a matter of days in hot humid weather. The presence of blue stain is considered by industry standards to cull the log from structural use (i.e. dimensional lumber), this will make a log basically worthless. This is one of the big reasons that large sawmills sawing spruce/pine/fir will constantly hose down their log piles in hot weather, the moisture either inhibits the stain from growing or inhibits attack from the bark beetle that is the host/vector of attack (I forget which). In my experience pine is still solid and use able for the first 12 - 18 months, specifically if it fell in the winter (you get an handful of months for the wood to dry in a low microbe environment). If you are using round wood for beams or large dimensional wood any loss of wood strength will be made up for in the size of the beams. I would say it is a case by case basis on individual trees if you are planning to use old down pine logs for 2 x 4's in structural framing, if the wood is blue stained it will not meet code. I'm certain there are folks who would disagree with me, but I have worked with loggers and commercial and personal sawmills for a number of years and this is what I have always noticed and practiced.

Good luck

J
 
Rob Irish
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Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Amanda Boyce wrote:Hi again Rob. I just thought of something. Being winter there (as it is here), maybe you could create an ice skid path for your logs through the forest. Watch your step though!

That is what we were thinking also! Drag it on the ice should be many times easier than on the soil. Great minds...

Alder Burns wrote:Bark is easiest to peel from live or fresh-cut trees in the spring, but since yours are already down, it will just become more and more difficult as they start to dry out, unless you wait so long that it basically rots off, as described above. So if you want the helpfulness of snow on the ground to skid them on, you might end up waiting till next winter. Personally if I had the time I would get it off them soon. This will hasten the drying process too, although it will also increase the likelihood of cracks forming. Logs allowed to dry slowly with bark on are less likely to crack. Tradeoffs....


I didn't know about that tradeoff. And less cracks means better insulated, stronger and more beautiful home doesn't it? So it seems the quicker process is for the kind of building that is not supposed to be around for too long.

Kinda doesn't seem right to treat a tree in a rushed process after it took so long to grow itself.

Fortunately the tree isn't on the ground as such, but it / they have been uprooted so the roots hold them off the ground a few feet.

Thanks for that info.

Jay Hayes wrote:There was a huge wind storm in Southern Missouri 5 years ago. Hundreds of Millions of board feet of large trees hit the ground. There are loggers I have passed everyday on the way to work this week that are still salvaging down logs from that storm. The logs look rotten, no bark, not even a lot of large branches, but when you saw into them the middle part of the tree (the part where you would square it off to saw out boards) it is still solid on most. Granted, all of the trees they are salvaging this late in the game are oak, and the quality of the wood is not great, lots of stain, and advanced decay in the structural part of the wood. But, they are not worthless, even after 5 years on the ground.

That said, pine trees and other "soft woods" will not last 5 years on the ground. Pine will "blue stain", a fungus that stains the wood purple or blue-when it is present, in a matter of days in hot humid weather. The presence of blue stain is considered by industry standards to cull the log from structural use (i.e. dimensional lumber), this will make a log basically worthless. This is one of the big reasons that large sawmills sawing spruce/pine/fir will constantly hose down their log piles in hot weather, the moisture either inhibits the stain from growing or inhibits attack from the bark beetle that is the host/vector of attack (I forget which). In my experience pine is still solid and use able for the first 12 - 18 months, specifically if it fell in the winter (you get an handful of months for the wood to dry in a low microbe environment). If you are using round wood for beams or large dimensional wood any loss of wood strength will be made up for in the size of the beams. I would say it is a case by case basis on individual trees if you are planning to use old down pine logs for 2 x 4's in structural framing, if the wood is blue stained it will not meet code. I'm certain there are folks who would disagree with me, but I have worked with loggers and commercial and personal sawmills for a number of years and this is what I have always noticed and practiced.

Good luck

J


That is helpful to know J. It sounds like it is best to then leave the log there until next year.

Most of the logs in this house have cracks in them. Does this happen to all logs, or is it because previous owners / builders have gone through the process of skinning too quickly without enough slow time to dry? It seems the general opinion of Estonians is to chop down a tree in winter, skin it in spring, dry it over summer and use it for building by Autumn. That is only an 8-9 month curing period and by the sounds of it is not long enough to a wiser forester / builder.

I wonder what you think then about Pine/Spruce that is not on the ground, but has been uprooted by the storm so it is a few feet off the earth? We have quite a few of these around that are quite old (at least a few years) - I wonder if they are salvageable at all. Is the way to test to basically chop in, and if it is still solid on the inside, it could be used for something? Or is there just a point where it has too much chance of fungus and microbes living in it? If it doesn't have blue stain and it isn't soft, does this mean it is basically good still?

We're in a pretty cold part of the world here, a bit like Canada, so I'm wondering if those times mentioned above might stretch out a bit more.

Thanks for helping me get up to speed. Feeling grateful to get so much wise advice.
 
Peter Ellis
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Rob, when wood dries, there's always a probability that it will crack (often referred to as "checking"), or warp in significant ways if it has been sawn into planks. Round wood isn't likely to warp, but the cracking issue is definitely there.

Depending on the species of wood, the conditions under which it dries, whether the ends are treated or not, all of this affects the extent of the cracking as the wood dries. It happens because it is very hard to get the wood to dry all the way through at a constant rate - and is even harder in round wood. so it's entirely to be expected that there will be cracks in round wood used in building log cabins. It really isn't a problem, structural or otherwise, in anything but extreme cases.

If it were me out there in your cold Estonian forest I would be peeling my logs now, cutting them pretty close to the lengths I will need for my application, and hauling them on out of there this winter. Between the flip-flop winch, a block and tackle, some Very Good quality rope, little tricks like using other round wood as rollers, and a couple of friends, it should be possible to move some significant timber around.

Get it back near where it will be used, slap a coat of paint or layer of wax on the ends of each log, and leave them stored off the ground and under cover (a decent waterproof tarp over them, to keep the rain and snow off the wood). And then wait for weather when it makes sense to do the repairs.

 
Rob Irish
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Peter Ellis wrote:Rob, when wood dries, there's always a probability that it will crack (often referred to as "checking"), or warp in significant ways if it has been sawn into planks. Round wood isn't likely to warp, but the cracking issue is definitely there.

Depending on the species of wood, the conditions under which it dries, whether the ends are treated or not, all of this affects the extent of the cracking as the wood dries. It happens because it is very hard to get the wood to dry all the way through at a constant rate - and is even harder in round wood. so it's entirely to be expected that there will be cracks in round wood used in building log cabins. It really isn't a problem, structural or otherwise, in anything but extreme cases.

If it were me out there in your cold Estonian forest I would be peeling my logs now, cutting them pretty close to the lengths I will need for my application, and hauling them on out of there this winter. Between the flip-flop winch, a block and tackle, some Very Good quality rope, little tricks like using other round wood as rollers, and a couple of friends, it should be possible to move some significant timber around.

Get it back near where it will be used, slap a coat of paint or layer of wax on the ends of each log, and leave them stored off the ground and under cover (a decent waterproof tarp over them, to keep the rain and snow off the wood). And then wait for weather when it makes sense to do the repairs.



Thank you for this Peter. I guess we will start the peeling and pulling process then and not worry too much about the cracking. If the cracking doesn't do anything much to the structure of the wood this might be a good thing for the restoration of the house, as fitting in logs with a similar look to the cracked ones might look more whole.

Thanks again all.
 
John Merrifield
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Is it possible that though the tees have blown down, part of the roots are still in the ground and the tees are still alive? In that case you should cut them from the roots.
Also, a "snatch-block" which is basically just one pulley used to redirect the angle of pull, could come in handy. I have used one in conjunction with a pick-up truck to pull logs from the nearest dirt road.
 
John Merrifield
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Another comment on the flip-flop winch. If you go this route use a rope with very little stretch or you will spend a lot of time winding up slack.
 
Rob Irish
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John Merrifield wrote:Is it possible that though the tees have blown down, part of the roots are still in the ground and the tees are still alive? In that case you should cut them from the roots.
Also, a "snatch-block" which is basically just one pulley used to redirect the angle of pull, could come in handy. I have used one in conjunction with a pick-up truck to pull logs from the nearest dirt road.


Oh I see. Until cut off from the roots they are still sucking in moisture? Even though the tree is horizontal, or more like a 95 degrees decline from the root to the tip?
 
I think I'll just lie down here for a second. And ponder this tiny ad:
Systems of Beekeeping Course - Winterization Now Available
https://permies.com/t/69572/Systems-Beekeeping-Winterization
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