It’s Getting Harder

forks2I got out into the woods around noon today. The forks stayed on the trailer just fine as you can see in the picture. The dozer was cranky from the cold weather, but reluctantly started with some help from brother starting fluid. I let it idle quite a while before I tried to move. Then it was a foot forward and a rest, and a foot backward with another rest. Finally I got the feeling that the vital fluids were viscous enough to move forward, and things felt pretty good.

I drove up to the trailer and snatched the forks off the back as slick as a whistle. I set them off to the side, and drove out to the woods, parked, and started setting chokers. The logs I had in my sights for removal from the woods were in a pretty inaccessible spot. I had to spool out the entire 100′ of heavy cable from the winch spool. As the cable spools out, it gets heavier, and catches on things as I attempt to drag it to the logs. Once there, I need to get the chokers under each log (not as easy in the winter with the frozen ground as it is in the summer.) I kept at it and managed to soak my chopper mitts through.

Once everything was choked, I walked back to the dozer and engaged the winch. Things spun and whined, and then they groaned and stopped. I walked out to the end of the main line, and saw that two of the logs had gotten wrapped around a big maple tree. So they had to be unhooked, led around the tree in question, re-hooked, and tried again. This time I managed to skid the entire load to the dozer. I unhooked everything and, using one choker, was able to lasso all four of the logs I’d just moved onto one, leaving 3 to use to skid another batch.

Similar problems occurred this time, but I did get another batch of logs skidded up to the dozer. I wrapped a chain around the choker ends, hooked the other end to the dozer, got on the machine, and drove off to the landing with my nice load dragging behind me.

Once at the landing with this load, I unhooked the chokers, hooked the forks back onto the bucket, and started loading the logs onto the forks. I learned today that the snow isn’t really your friend for this part of the job. Using my hookaroon and cant-hook, I got a fork-load of logs on, and proceeded to lift them up in order to load them on the trailer. The slippery logs squirted all over the place. It took me three tries to get all the logs loaded onto the trailer.

Then I drove the scout back home, wishing to myself that I not get stuck on the way. The scout lived up to its reputation and moved us flawlessly through the snow and back to the house. Hopefully tomorrow I can saw up and split what I have hauled so far.

Will I haul more this winter? I don’t think so. I’ve learned that I’m not as strong as I once was, and found myself sliding around on my feet out there. A fall at my age (60) can cause more problems than I think I need right now. So I’m rethinking the process, and will do my best to keep you posted.

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