Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Felling and presenting timber for horse extraction
Part of our business is firewood production. Here I prepare a mature Ash which was felled earlier in the year and left to dry out on the ground.
Now ready for extraction by horse it must be cleaned up. All its brash (side branches) are cut down into small lengths and cleared to one side or these will become obstacles which will trip up the feet of the logger and the horse.
Regardless of size, age or species of timber the onus is on the sawman to prepare the timber to be extracted.
To ensure safe practice the chainsaw operator must clean off the felled timber and clear a path to it.
The thinning of this Spruce is no different. Often a tree is not leaning in the direction of the extraction path so a sequence of specific cuts and use of a felling bar (a long handled wedge) is needed to drop the tree in the right direction to reduce further man handling.
This particular felling bar doubles as a 'Cant hook' which grips the tree so it can be rolled or turned without strain on the sawman's back.
It is essential that all its branches are cut clean off because any one of these will snag in the earth causing more drag on the horse, which will ultimately reduce the payload.
The chainsaw operator should fell and present all timber in a correct manner for the horseman. As well as leaving the racks (extraction paths through the standing timber) tidy and free of all obstacles all felled timber should be pointed in the direction the horseman has chosen to go, placing all the brash out of the way in between the racks.
There are two ways to present the timber. If it is too heavy to be man handled out onto the rack from where it is cut down, then it should be dropped so the heavy end is pointed towards the rack. The area around the heavy end along with the space between it and the rack should be cleared of brash- so that the logger can leave the rack with the logging horse and be able to back the horse right up to the timber having no other work to do than to slip the choke chain around the trunk.
If the timber is light enough to be man handled out to the rack then it should be left in bundles, ideally with the heavy ends propped up on a small cross beam of wood as can be seen above. Even a small branch is effective in providing a gap between the ground and the timber so that the logger can slip the choke chain around the bunch without having to roll any of them about to get choke chain under them.
This is the most effective use of labour.
A clear passage that is vital to ensure safe footing for horse and logger has the added advantage that can be seen on this rack which we extracted through by horse recently during heavy rain. Despite large volumes of rainfall the ground has been left in a perfect condition.