Logging & Lumber

Throughout the winter, we’ve been working to clear ground for our orchard and berry/bramble plantings; see area (9) on our Future Plans map. We’re focuing on a 1/2 acre area of gently sloping ex-pasture which is currently overgrown in thick cedar trees, a common occurence in Missouri when fields are abandoned. Although it would be faster to just hire someone to clear-cut it, that would also result in tremendous soil disturbance and the wasting of much of the tree material. Doing it ourselves, we sort the logs into small – medium (for fenceposts and raised bed supports) and large (for lumber), and chip most of the branches for mulch, burning some of the larger dead material that is difficult for our chipper to handle. There’s very little waste this way, and we save a lot of money compared to buying trucks of mulch and large fenceposts.

Pushing back the cedars

Homegrown cedar mulch

We’ve been stockpiling the larger, straighter trees for milling into lumber, and on March 1 we did our first batch by hiring a local couple with a portable sawmill to come down and do the work. We had close to 30 logs stockpiled, but seriously underestimated just how efficient he would be in getting lots of lumber from each log. After eight hours of work, we had only gone through about half the logs, and had generated a stack of beautiful heartwood cedar lumber about 4’x6’x10′ (the accompanying photo shows the stack only halfway through the day).

Portable sawmill

Halfway lumber stack

The lumber, mostly 1″x4″-10″ planks and 4″x4″ posts, is just beautiful, with the swirled red/orange/yellow of heartwood cedar. We’ll use some of it for home projects like cabinetry and tables, use the rougher material for sheds and other outbuildings, and are considering selling some of the best stuff to offset the cost of the milling. But it’s also worth a lot to us as wood that came from our land, that we cut and processed, and so we’d rather use most of it for our own purposes than sell it so we can buy generic wood from who knows where, harvested who knows how. We’ll just have really nice-looking and smelling outbuildings!

This is just a start, as we still have at least 15 logs waiting and at leats another 1/4 acre of trees on the way. Meanwhile, this first batch is stacked in the barn where it will cure for 5-6 months before we can use it.