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Faced with decision... Log myself or work with logger

 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Not sure where else to turn for advice. I've narrowed down a logger. He's local, so costs are lower but his rate is 40%. With my 60% I pay taxes, replant and clean brush. But clearing brush on 7.5 or so thinned acres will be hard with no equipment. So I started looking for a tractor- wow they're pricey, even used. The owner of the store is adamant that i could do it on my own, save money, and have a tractor for all my other small farm chores. I realize this is partly due to his line of work, but he's also a farmer in addition to selling tractors.
So I'm thinking.. with the 40% "saved" (minus the cost for someone to load and haul the logs to the mill) in doing it myself (vs hiring a logger) I could learn the trade, and tax write off some equipment (bobcat or tractor, winch, safety gear and chainsaw) that could really help with swales, ponds, preparing foundations and future logging/pole drilling, all sorts of stuff. I realize this is a rather big risk, but is logging really that hard? I'm just thinking ahead, as this is a small lot and in the future, there will not be very much interest to log say one or two big trees because of the cost to get the equipment out. What say you?
 
thomas rubino
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Isaiah; Just my opinion but.....logging can be very dangerous. Oregon coast generally has large trees they look easy to fall but don't always cooperate. You don't mention if there are obstacles like power lines or homes or steep uneven ground that can make skidding trees out difficult. 7.5 acres is not very big and yes you could do it all yourself but it will take a lot more time than hiring a professional who knows how to fall ,limb, skid and size logs to get them to the saw mill. You should own a good chainsaw anyway and hand clearing logging slash is hot hard work but a lot safer than trying to fall trees , (you still have to pile the brush ), having a tractor would be handy but not really necessary. Make a bunch of small slash piles (burn piles ) instead of one big one, cut limbs down to a size you can throw by hand. Learn how to work with your chainsaw by watching and asking the logger what to do, sharpening a chainsaw is a real artform that most people have a hard time with. Let nature take care of replanting, trees grow like weeds in oregon, you will be surprised how fast things green up and start growing again after a logging operation. Good Luck Tom
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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... The owner of the store is adamant that i could do it on my own, save money, and have a tractor for all my other small farm chores...


Remember...they are trying to sell something, yet I would add that this is good advice nevertheless. I have not figured out how folks could own any quantity of land that they intend to "culture" in some way to any great degree with out either "draft animals" and/or heavy equipment...at least at some point(s) in its development. If one lives in a more "light on the land" and only "harvest what naturally occurs," I can more than see it. Nevertheless, if you plan on "timely work" in culturing anything besides yourself...tools of all sizes are a must have.

It has been suggested many times here and other forums that "logging" can be done by an owner...which it can...but only if they have a reasonable amount of experience and/or working with/for someone that does. That is if it is meant to be done well and safely. Much reading, research and guidance is required, or lots of time with "trial and error" which are both good, but costly teachers.

...his rate is 40%. With my 60% I pay taxes...


Not too bad a percentage spread if he is providing all tools, guidance and fuel. Some of the better ones will facilitate clean up as well. I am a bit lost on the "tax" part, as they have to pay taxes also if selling the wood...so I assume that is the "tax" you are referencing to. Otherwise, keep the wood and use it...no taxes involved. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding.

Also, makes sure the "value and grade" of log is evenly distributed in this 40/60 split, as it is not by volume/BF alone, and many folks are "taken to the cleaners" without knowing it by "certain types" of foresters/loggers.

...but is logging really that hard?


YES!!! and very dangerous to boot! As the "Tree Warden" for my town, and a former licensed Arborist - "climber-rigger" for the last 30 plus years on and off... I see and read of calamities all the time...even with professionals...so when you add "weekend warriors," DIYers, and the novice on their own...some of these are very bad accidents, and even deaths.

You can buy the equipment and sell it later...or use it for other things. You can also rent by the day,week, or month.

Ask more specifics and I will do my best to reply...as I am sure others will.

Regards, good luck, and be safe!

j
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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LOTS to think about here. Cost of equipment, me taking 4 months to do what a logger can do in 1, safety etc. Either way I'll post before/after pics to those interested. I'm leaning more towards working with the logger after more consideration. Is there anything else I should be aware of, in terms of the contract/terms of the project? Considering his 40%, would it be outside the scope to ask that the paths be cleared so that I can drive a truck/UAV through? Also that a minimum of two brush piles be made so that it's easier to clean up? Right now the 2 paths are covered in brush, trees, stumps etc and I figure with the big equipment already there, it may not be too hard for logger to cleanup, but want to be fair in my dealings.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Isaiah, et al,

Is there anything else I should be aware of, in terms of the contract/terms of the project?


Only that you should stipulate exactly what you expect to get and retain final payment until this is achieve. Payout in 1/2 or 1/3 increments. Be very clear about the 60/40 split not only being in volume but also in grade. This needs to be equitable with you in charge of determining equity...not just the contractor/logger...which often happens to novice.

Considering his 40%, would it be outside the scope to ask that the paths be cleared so that I can drive a truck/UAV through?


If this is what you want done...then request it. Its "your project" they can bid on it the way you want it or find work elsewhere. You are in charge.

Also that a minimum of two brush piles be made so that it's easier to clean up?


Same as above.

Right now the 2 paths are covered in brush, trees, stumps etc and I figure with the big equipment already there, it may not be too hard for logger to cleanup, but want to be fair in my dealings.


Again...get done whatever you want done if contracting this out. The contractor does not get to "cherry pick" what "they will or won't do." You bid the job in the complete form until someone agrees to do it to those specifications. I would also, considering the small size of this project, contracting with an Arborist. They are more likely to work in concert with your needs, and/or allow you to work alongside them to learn how to do it.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Be very clear about the 60/40 split not only being in volume but also in grade.


Thanks for you reply.
Curious about this one. What is grade and how can I write up RFP to describe this? Did a search for "logging volume vs grade" but I'm not finding much.
 
thomas rubino
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Isaiah: The volume of a load of logs is the total amount of all , the grade or scale of a log is how many boards can be cut from it. Saw mills do not pay on volume they pay on scale ,so if your trees are crooked or have rot spots or any other defect then you will be paid less . What jay was warning you about is this huge log load leaves your property and you are looking at it thinking ( thats a lot of wood( $ ) Then it gets to the saw mill and the scaler grades it poorly so instead of getting paid for the whole load you will be paid for the usable wood only. This is how a saw mill pays. You must have an agreement with your logger that his pay is dependant on your pay or you will find yourself giving him and the log truck driver all of your $ and there will be nothing left for you ! Another thing you should investigate is a state slash permit, your logger may have this handled for you or he may leave it up to you. I do not know if oregon has such a thing but here in montana you must get a permit from the state guaranteeing that all of your slash will be burned up.If your job is small they may waive the fee otherwise you pay them a portion of your $ and you will get it back after an inspector see that your job is cleaned up.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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thomas rubino wrote:Isaiah: The volume of a load of logs is the total amount of all , the grade or scale of a log is how many boards can be cut from it. Saw mills do not pay on volume they pay on scale ,so if your trees are crooked or have rot spots or any other defect then you will be paid less . What jay was warning you about is this huge log load leaves your property and you are looking at it thinking ( thats a lot of wood( $ ) Then it gets to the saw mill and the scaler grades it poorly so instead of getting paid for the whole load you will be paid for the usable wood only. This is how a saw mill pays. You must have an agreement with your logger that his pay is dependant on your pay or you will find yourself giving him and the log truck driver all of your $ and there will be nothing left for you ! Another thing you should investigate is a state slash permit, your logger may have this handled for you or he may leave it up to you. I do not know if oregon has such a thing but here in montana you must get a permit from the state guaranteeing that all of your slash will be burned up.If your job is small they may waive the fee otherwise you pay them a portion of your $ and you will get it back after an inspector see that your job is cleaned up.


I had no idea of this. I assumed a load of logs is a load of logs. It certainly was not explained to me in any of my conversations/questions on the process of what will take place from start to finish.
Maybe it's just assumed everyone knows this, because it makes sense that there would be quality control (and compensation accordingly) at the mill. With that in mind, I now understand the incentive (?) to cut the best trees and if not careful, for the landowner to be left with sub-par genetics. I have heard several times "most of the trees are pretty straight, good looking trees" so that's reassuring. I'VE GOT SO MUCH TO LEARN- so glad I didn't jump into doing this myself, lol. Thank you a million. So when it comes to the agreement/contract, do I just type these considerations up and present to the logger? Does it need to be notarized?
 
Amy Woodhouse
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Location: NC, Zone 7
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What types of trees do you predominately have? What board foot estimate did the logger give you? What is the estimate the logger is giving you for value (your 60%)? What type of trees are you replanting and what is the goal for the property once logged (timber, food production, etc)?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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The "teacher" in me just can't help it...

If there is level ground on the property, and local "remote or custom" sawyers in the area...though it is more work...much can be learn going through this process. Some of these "custom" folks will even do the logging. Now the trees are milled and selection is up to the owner, and sell the rest at "retail" not "wholesale," prices. Most of us that mill, see well stacked wood as "money in the bank," whether we sell it...or make something with it to use or sell.

I apologize for not being more descriptive about grade and scale. Thomas's description was very accurate...and this "naivete" of land owners is common, and being taken advantage of does...regrettably...happen.

 
Dale Hodgins
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I would only hire a faller to drop the logs and buck them. Unemployed loggers are everywhere. Make sure they have insurance or get it yourself. That's the most dangerous part. Once they are safely on the ground, you can hire a skidder, excavator, tractor, horses or whatever and a mobile mill. I will never allow wood to leave my place as round logs. I don't trust any of them, not one, and I've met a few.

Around here, a good faller is $50 an hour. A skidder is about $85 and a decent band saw mill will show up for $500 - $800 per day. If you can move a lot of the wood with a farm tractor, get one and you'll go a long way toward paying for it. Don't have them all show up at once. One step at a time. One day at a time. Clear method of payment in dollars, not some split formula that is designed to screw you. Pay them all and retain all lumber. Sell what you don't need. You are the retailer and warehouse. Learn how to sticker lumber and how to air dry. Try not to get screwed !
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Amy Woodhouse wrote:What types of trees do you predominately have? What board foot estimate did the logger give you? What is the estimate the logger is giving you for value (your 60%)? What type of trees are you replanting and what is the goal for the property once logged (timber, food production, etc)?


No one has given me an estimate of board footage. I have been told there are about 6 loads white fir, 6 loads cedar.
Tree types vary but mostly conifer. Doug/white/grand/noble firs, Oaks at southern most point. I have taken some pictures i will try to include.
timber/food production/grazing/poles/conservation/mushroom cultivation on stumps of firs are all interests. There's also existing erosion issue throughout, surrounding zone 0/1 etc. Not as much in forest but still some. Land zoned for grazing/farm use, but in terms of replant I'm thinking food forest at northern area that is presently cleared (nearest zone 1) and more nut/fig trees as well as wood fuel.
Also heavy broadcast seeding during/after the logging, to hopefully outcompete weeds that will likely follow.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Location: Oregon
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:The "teacher" in me just can't help it...

If there is level ground on the property, and local "remote or custom" sawyers in the area...though it is more work...much can be learn going through this process. Some of these "custom" folks will even do the logging. Now the trees are milled and selection is up to the owner, and sell the rest at "retail" not "wholesale," prices. Most of us that mill, see well stacked wood as "money in the bank," whether we sell it...or make something with it to use or sell.

I apologize for not being more descriptive about grade and scale. Thomas's description was very accurate...and this "naivete" of land owners is common, and being taken advantage of does...regrettably...happen.



JC - I like this idea, but will I need a kiln to dry the wood?
 
Amy Woodhouse
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No, you don't need a kiln but it will speed things up. Wood takes about a year for each inch of thickness to dry for use in furniture....less for exterior use (cedar). You could build a kiln that could handle say 1000 bf every two months and try to sell it dry at retail. That's how your going to make the most money. Whatever you do, I would not let a logger take those logs off the property...you will get taken advantage of.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
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Location: Oregon
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Amy Woodhouse wrote:No, you don't need a kiln but it will speed things up. Wood takes about a year for each inch of thickness to dry for use in furniture....less for exterior use (cedar). You could build a kiln that could handle say 1000 bf every two months and try to sell it dry at retail. That's how your going to make the most money. Whatever you do, I would not let a logger take those logs off the property...you will get taken advantage of.


This is probably a whole other subject, but how would a tiny operation like this compete with HD or one of the other big operations in the area selling the same wood with custom cutting on-site etc?
Seems like a very long time to recoup, especially if needing to build the kiln and put out $ for the other tradesmen to do their work. Ahhh why does this have to be such an adventure lol.
Traveling mill- nearest I could find said I'm too far away, which is normally the case for anything as I'm pretty far out lol. . Thanks for chiming in, this all helps with planning, My hope is I don't have to wait until next Spring.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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JC - I like this idea, but will I need a kiln to dry the wood?


(sorry if this sounds harsh to anyone...just my experience...)

Nope...NOT AT ALL!!

Kilns (and kiln drying) for wood is promoted by the "impatient, greedy, and/or ill experienced." To this day (as in millenia pasted) the best and most expensive board stock (timbers...like logs...don't really dry) are "air dried." Preferably very, very, slowly. Some even insist that the "saw logs" be stored under water for at least a year before milling and air drying. (This stabilizes the wood fibers.) The longer they are under water...the more expensive the wood...some have been there for over 10,000 years! This does not mean, you have to wait...as most real wood afficionados are more than willing to buy "wet wood" and dry it themselves. Depending on species and quality...wet or dry...may not affect the price at all.

Good Luck,

j
 
Peter Ellis
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Isaiah Ari Mattathias wrote:
Amy Woodhouse wrote:No, you don't need a kiln but it will speed things up. Wood takes about a year for each inch of thickness to dry for use in furniture....less for exterior use (cedar). You could build a kiln that could handle say 1000 bf every two months and try to sell it dry at retail. That's how your going to make the most money. Whatever you do, I would not let a logger take those logs off the property...you will get taken advantage of.


This is probably a whole other subject, but how would a tiny operation like this compete with HD or one of the other big operations in the area selling the same wood with custom cutting on-site etc?
Seems like a very long time to recoup, especially if needing to build the kiln and put out $ for the other tradesmen to do their work. Ahhh why does this have to be such an adventure lol.
Traveling mill- nearest I could find said I'm too far away, which is normally the case for anything as I'm pretty far out lol. . Thanks for chiming in, this all helps with planning, My hope is I don't have to wait until next Spring.


Such a tiny operation would compete very poorly indeed with something like Home Depot.

So Don't You go after specialty markets. There are greenwood workers out there who are interested in buying a log, not sawn boards. They're going to take the log and make it into a bunch of very fine furniture. There are hobbyist woodworkers who want sawn stuff that cannot be found in places like home Depot and who will pay well above Home Depot prices for quality wood.
Find these kinds of markets and you could do better than you would do with a straight "cut these trees and get them off my land" deal.

On the other hand, you won't see a big check all at once this way. You'll sell some here and some there over some time.

Another possibility is if there is a place in your area that caters to the specialty markets and would take your timber off your hands for them to hold and sell to the end users. That middle man won't pay you the full retail kind of price, but might still be a better deal than the 60/40 situation you've described.


And a question I have not seen asked - what is your plan for this land that you want to have it logged? There's always the possibility that your real best option is not in logging at all.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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Awesome thread! I have learned so much! We are having some logging done on our land this winter and this thread is a mine of information! Our land is enrolled in a program with the state to manage the forest which is why the work is being done in the first place. I have the middleman scenario already set up so I'm feeling pretty good about that! Thanks all!
 
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