We started in what we call “The Big Woods”. This 20 acre or so section is different than the rest of the woodlands in that it is excellent woods. Most of the bigger trees are about 150 years old and the forest doesn’t seem to have been logged since then. Jason and Jagger say it is the nicest woods they have seen in 30 years of working the woods in Floyd County. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t need work. There was overcrowded undergrowth to clear. There were some huge dead white oaks that were just taking up space. Trees with busted out tops. Rotting maples. Take these out and the good trees will grow 50% faster. And surprising as it may seem, faster-growing hardwoods are of higher quality lumber at death than slower-growing ones.

Worst First harvesting is what it’s called, and that’s where the horses come in. Any trees that come out that could be sawn into timbers are brought out by a team of Suffolk Punch draft horses. When finished with a skid-trail, there is hardly a trace, which is the whole point. Minimal damage to the existing forest is the name of the game. They even use biodegradable chain bar lubricant (the rest of us use old motor oil). For the documentary, we had some cattle and some mules, too!

Mule Team

Mule Team

Oxen Team

Oxen Team

In the big woods, they hauled out just about enough marketable timber to pay for their services of forest restoration. That we plan to use most of this wood to build our house was even more valuable. What could be better than building your house out of the dead, diseased, and dying trees on your property?

Suffolk Punch Draft Horses

Suffolk Punch Draft Horses