This weekend, I attended an excellent firewood workshop at the Clark Conservation Area here in northeast Missouri. My primary motivator was the promised access to timber that would be granted by simply attending the workshop. I came away from the workshop quite excited by the possibility of obtaining free white and black oak logs perfect for timber framing, but very stuck as to how in the heck I could pull off getting the material actually out of the woods.
The Clark Conservation Area is full of white and black oak, and hickory ripe for harvest. The land is severely undermanaged, and the reason the Conservation Department has opened it up to locals to harvest wood is that they get the benefit of free labor in the form of timber improvement. What a deal for both parties! (Really, though, I think we are getting the best deal of all with free access to quality wood.)
Included amongst the lovely trees are tall, straight, knot-free white oak. Timber frame material, anyone?
The real conundrum is the fact that you cannot get a vehicle near to the trees to easily load the material. The land is sloped, and you can probably get a pickup no closer than 400-500 yards. Yikes.
So here’s the question: how would you attempt to move a 14-16 foot white oak log (a good 10″ in diameter) by hand that distance? I’d guess to do it by hand you’d need at least a dozen lifters with timber carriers, which is impractical.
My other thought was to actually bring tools onto the land to hand hew the material on-site, removing up to 1/3 or even half the weight, and then moving it with timber carriers.That way less folks would be needed to do the lifting.
Also possible is building a sturdy cart, with iron wheels, to balance the log to aid with moving it by hand.
Hmm. A real quandary, I’d say.