Wednesday morning Si and Dad headed to the Vashon Roasters for tea and sundries, taking the morning slow. The hardware store called while they watching the locals come and go, telling them they were planning on dropping the Bobcat T190 off at the property at 1pm, rather than Thursday morning.
They were planning to meet Tom, the owner of the portable Woodmizer that was going to be milling the trees from the property, at twelve thirty. He showed up and said nice things about the trees and the land, showed them how he wanted the cold deck set up and charmed Dad and Si completely. Both of them are still talking about how nice he was and how much they are looking forward to working with his state-of-the-art mill.
Maybe you haven’t had the pleasure of milling lumber with a small mill before, so it’s difficult to explain the absolute craziness of it. The tree sections spin and spit lumber out faster than you can pull it off the mill and stack it up, soaking wet and coated in fine, itchy sawdust. His mill has a de-barking blade, which means one of the most unpleasant aspects of the job, pressure washing the logs, wouldn’t be necessary. Knowing that I will certainly be involved in the milling process, I am pretty excited about about the fancy mill too.
The Bobcat showed up at one, as promised and Si took to it the same way he takes to any machine.
The T190 is a small cat with tank treads and a bucket. It took Si about an hour to get the controls down, joysticks for steering, peddles for lifting and lowering the bucket. The first couple rounds of grading were a little hurkey-jerky, but Si has almost limitless patience for figuring out motorized things.
The first 8-12 inches of the forest floor are duft, which is a mixture of soft moss and rotten wood debris. The first step of grading was to scrape this layer off and use it to fill in the low spots in the area marked out to be the parking space/staging ground for the mill. Once he was down to the actual hard dirt, the job of grading got easier and Si quickly leveled the road.
While Si was crashing around with the Bobcat, Dad was limbing the fallen trees and clearing out brush around them to prepare for racking the logs in the cold deck. After the road was graded, Si and Dad set to moving them out of the forest and on to the cold deck. Si would mash the Bobcat out to the logs, they would wrap a choke chain around the log and then using the bucket, Si would drag it out of the trees.
Moving the logs
Once to the cold deck, they would move the chain to the middle of the log, wedge one end up over the bottom of the deck, lift the log and drive the Bobcat in between the deck timbers.
Cold stack 1
Cold stack 2
With 15 logs to go, Dad and Si stuck to it, making good progress until 5 when they quit, filthy and exhausted and headed to town for Margaritas and food.
Thursday was more cold stacking and Tom, the miller stopped back by, and was impressed by the amount of work they had gotten done since he was there last. Because they had made so much progress, Tom decided he could squeeze us in before mid-October, which was what he had said previously, it sounds like we will start milling in mid-September.
Dad and Si worked on the cold deck until 2pm when the gravel truck showed up. The driver said, “there’s only 2 of you working?” with mild amazement. Then he drove his truck up the road, opened the bed and tore back down the road, dumping gravel all the way. Dumping gravel at 30 mph down an unfinished road is a feat and Si and Dad were throughly impressed. The driver said, “I drive the concrete truck too, so I’ll see you then!” and headed off.
Freshly graveled road
The cold deck was finished that afternoon.
Cold stack and truck
There was some gravel raking and then some drinking and eating in town. They headed back the following morning, disappointed that the hardware store had come by early to pick up the Bobcat. They bought the piping for the waterline on their way out of town and were home by the time I got off work that afternoon.