Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Big Push Before Mud Season

The Big PushOut of all the months in the year March is the busiest time for the timber harvesting industry – what many call “the big push.” This is our last chance to produce as much product as possible before the end of winter.

This year winter seems to be lasting longer than usual, and that has given us a few more weeks of production until the spring thaw. The big push is everything you can imagine it would be. Chaotic, stressful, and tiring to say the least. It’s what we have planned for all season long. At its end is mud season, which brings a nice break from a daily routine and some much needed time off. Mud season usually lasts until the hardwood trees start to bud, somewhere around the middle of May.

Though mud season seems like a vacation (sometimes lasting six weeks or more) for loggers, it’s not. We use this time to plan for the upcoming harvest season: planning certain cuts for certain times of the year depending on site conditions and species; setting-up contracts; and most importantly, fixing and maintaining equipment. Doing this all while not producing any revenue requires careful planning.

After spending most of the winter rising from bed well before dawn and not returning home until well after dark, and working in what I would call rather harsh working conditions, mud season can seem glorious. And indeed it is, for a short time, until reality sets in and it’s time to go back to the real work.

Until mud season starts though, we’ll keep on pushing, harvesting timber until mother nature shuts us down. With cabin fever set in pretty deep around the house these days I’m eager to see spring come. But with the heavy snow pack in my yard I think it will be a couple more weeks before it even feels like spring, regardless of what the calendar says.

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Jason Richards is a fifth generation logger and an Adirondack Guide who lives in Newcomb with his wife and two sons.

He is an experienced outdoorsman with a a passion for hunting and fishing, who has hiked, paddled, and camped in the Adirondack backcountry his whole life.

Jason also owns and operates Jason Richards Logging and Land Management.

13 Responses

  1. Bill Ott says:

    A lot of people visiting this site would think any timber harvesting in the ADKS is criminal, but not me. It is the way life is. (By the way way, when I buy studs at Home Depot and the sticker says product of Sweden, where does that wood actually come from? Sometimes I think maybe Sweden gets it from South America. And is it true that trees north of he equator have a clockwise twist when drying while southern trees are opposite?) Now my curiosity has found a possible answer source for the answer to several of these longstanding questions. The current questions follow.

    What do you harvest, and what is most valuable. My favorite wood for a long time has been red pine. I used to look at the red pines planted by the Wanakena Ranger School in the 1920’s that were less than 4-6 inches in diameter in the 1990’s before the big blowdown. I walk that trail every year, but now the spoon feeding placards are gone. My question, is red pine used as a hardwood, does it have a higher value than say hemlock or white pine, and does anybody plant red pine?
    I would really appreciate anything you have to post.

    Bill Ott
    Lakewood, Ohio

    • John Warren says:

      “A lot of people visiting this site would think any timber harvesting in the ADKS is criminal”

      In almost ten years of editing the Almanack, I can’t recall a single time anyone has expressed anything remotely like that sentiment.

      If you are interested in learning more about forestry in the Adirondacks, you can find all of the Almanack’s stories here, including on logging and timber economics (and a lot more):

      John Warren

    • Jason R. says:

      To my knowledge red pine is a softwood tree. It does in fact have a higher value than White Pine and Hemlock and is a pleasure to cut when the trees reach maturity. Do to their tall and straight growing habits it does not take long to cut 1000 MBF. People still grow red pine mostly in the southern U.S.. Thanks for the comments Bill.

      • Judson Witham says:

        Howard Mason and My Dad the Swamp Fox would (wood) agree …. LOL. The Lumber Jack Shirt is REAL BTW

  2. Glenn Pearsall says:

    Nice article, Jason.

  3. Bill Colucci says:

    “A lot of people visiting this site would think any timber harvesting in the ADKS is criminal” –

    About as criminal as deer hunting……

    Nice article

    • John Warren says:

      Again, the Almanack has reported hundreds of times on hunting issues and never once has someone commented that hunting was criminal.

      John Warren

  4. TiSentinel65 says:

    Our country would be vastly different without logging. Take a look around your house at all the products that originate from the forest. Loggers are probably some of the hardest working people on the planet. They put in very long days and nights to keep the market supplied with the feed stock for every day items we use. I suspect the fringe benefit of being in the woods every day is what keeps them showing up every day plying their trade.

  5. Jim S. says:

    I am a loud and proud tree hugger. I always advocate for wilderness and I would like to praise the logging industry for their responsible logging practices. Our states and nations forests are in in good order and producing well. We just like to keep an eye on them to make sure they stay responsible.

  6. jeff says:

    Red pine (Pinus resinosa) is not a southern pine but a northern tree. The latitude of northern Pennsylvania is about its southern extent. It is considered a hard pine because of its density as opposed to white pine which considered is a soft pine. Pitch Pine is another hard pine than can be found in New York but it is not everywhere in the Adirondacks. Most pines are great for general purpose. The biggest irritant is the fast growth on southern pine plantations reduces strength so chemically treated timber tends to warp a lot.

    White pine grows a lot faster than red pine.

    The hardwood-softwood terms commonly refer to deciduous trees vs. coniferous trees but aspen, a deciduous tree, is soft like pine and red pine is more dense than aspen.

    Some of the pines around Wanakena’s forests are Scots pine, an import and not all are of the same quality. It is a harder pine. Generally the 2-3 needle pines are hard pines.

    Red pine gets planted readily and grows well in good soil. It is favored in poor soils like mine reclamation. White pine would be preferred in plantations But in places where the white pine weevil lives it likes to kill the leader. The weevil doesn’t like shade so natural regeneration in existing stands gets less weevil damage.

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