By Susan Schmidlin
Our forest is 80 acres of predominantly Douglas Fir with some White Fir, Cedar, hemlock and spruce is mixed in, large leaf maple, and wild cherry with thickets of wild hazelnuts and vine maple. A logging operation by Sunset Logging in the 1920's had cut much of the large wood and hauled off the property by a temporary railroad placed on the far west end of the place. Shortly after the logging, a fire nearly cleared the hillside and decimated most of the remaining trees, these were trees that had been too small for the logging operation. The stand of timber that is currently on the hill has been from natural regeneration from the few trees that survived the fire. The property owners used the woods for poles to build the barns for the cattle they ran on the lower/flatter ground along the river. They harvested wood for fuel to heat the houses on the property. They used open-range grazing on the property, and for many miles around, so the cattle managed natural brush control and to lessen fire danger.
We purchased the farm in the 1970's. The overview of our tree management strategy has remained constant over the years. Clear out dead, dying, damaged trees from the woods. Clean up debris by creating piles of limbs and rotting wood for small creature habitat. Remove salvageable timber each year. Create access with skid roads throughout the acreage. Replant areas that need to be filled in.
Mike has been in charge of the forest part of our property and has done all the work in the woods. We knew that eventually we needed to do what is referred to as a pre-commercial thinning, one that takes out selected trees in a section to free up the space needed for the remaining trees to flourish to their potential. The damaging storm forced us to get help with the monumental task that compounded the need for thinning with the need to clean up the amount of unproductive dead and dying trees. Replanting more than we harvest has always been a yearly task and some of the trees that were damaged during the storm were some of the first trees that we planted.
With knowing the history of the forest and working in it, we assessed how much wood we would have after the 2018 summer season of logging was finished.
By the time we had moved all the wood down out of the woods and into piles in the flat ground of the landing, we figured we had about three log truck loads of timber that could be made into firewood. That measures out to about 30 cord of wood. Looking forward, we were anticipating several more years of thinning that would lead to the same volume levels of logs that would make good firewood.
In the past we had sold firewood by 5 cord lots in the old farm truck. That truck is no longer road worthy so that idea was out. The pickup could carry a cord at a time but we would need to build racks in order to do so, and we would have to advertise, take and deliver orders. By deciding to sell our firewood in bundles through the OWC, the Co-Op is in charge of the orders to local grocery stores and we deliver on a set schedule. We decided to go with bundles.