BIG happenings at the farm this week. Timber land belonging to the family (and a small section of ours) is being thinned this week. I went down with DH this morning to get a view of how this works.
Now before any of you say, “OH NO! They are cutting TREES!”, please understand that this is a pine PLANTATION… in other words… it was planted for this purpose. This is a cash crop, just like growing cotton… only it takes a LOT longer!! These trees are hybrid pines, planted for the specific purpose of harvesting and selling to plywood, lumber, and paper mills. The trees we are having thinned are 13 years old, and if they are not thinned this way they will begin to die out… natural thinning.
BE SURE TO CLICK TO ENLARGE PICTURES SO YOU CAN GET A BETTER IDEA. I also want to say, although the equipment looks like Tonka toys in these photos, these are VERY large pieces of machinery.
See how thick the woods are in this picture? Notice there is VERY little light reaching the ground level. Also notice… no lower branches on these trees. That is a sign they need thinning. They also go by the stump diameter to determine the readiness for thinning.
After thinning it will look like this… much more light reaching the body of the tree and helping it to grow in diameter. They will take out every 5th row of planted pine, and also take out any damaged or unhealthy trees. What damages trees? Wind storms, ice storms, animals…. Mother Nature! As with any type of farming, weather and nature have a great effect on your product.
I did not go to the area where they are cutting today (I’ll get a picture of that later for you), but this is how they get them ready to send to the mill.
A skidder grabs a bundle of downed trees and takes them to the load-out site.
The guy on the loader grabs several trees and places them in the de-limber. Knife-edged jaws close around the bundle and he pulls them through, which shears off the limbs.
When he gets close to the end of the trees a chain saw comes down from the yellow metal box on the right side and cuts the tops of the trees off.
He then swings the trees over to the truck… I was amazed at how accurately he was placing trees on the pile!
To market, to market…. almost ready to roll. Once the first thin is done, the trees will grow rapidly and will need thinning again in about 5 years, and then another 5 years…
At some point the stand of timber will be clear-cut, and we will start over with a new planting of pine seedlings. Why cut them all and start over? Mills are equipped to handle certain sizes of trees. If your trees get TOOOOO large they can’t be run through the mill, therefore you have no sale for them.
Do we get rich off of this? HAHAHA!! The first thin is not really a money-making event, but does help you recoup some of the costs of planting and spraying (to kill out unwanted trees and vines that naturally spring up in the middle of your nice, straight rows of pine trees). BUT if our trees continue to grow well, and IF we don’t have any catastrophic weather events, and IF we don’t have any insect infestations that kills the stand, at some point there will be an income from these trees. That’s a lot of IFs involved there… and a lot of time to wait and see.
Blessings to you today!! I’m headed to town to my favorite store (Russell’s Jewelry) to pick out something for my birthday…. rumor has it that SOMEONE (I guess the Birthday Fairy) stopped by the store and left me a credit there!