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Author Topic: At what point is it worth more?  (Read 2436 times)

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Offline Firewoodjoe

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At what point is it worth more?
« on: August 14, 2020, 08:09:50 AM »
Iím hand cutting with single bunk forwarder and cable skidder. Happy with the hole operation. We do 10-20 cord per day average. With all factors included. Making money. Been thinking a cutter of some kind but is it worth it to spend more to make less per cord? More headache with computers, bigger machine transport, and just overall cost. It would cut down on danger and physical body wear. But I cut a lot of 18-30Ē log trees. So Iíd still be hand cutting at least some maybe 50/50. What do you all think? Just thinking out loud. Prolly a mistake to even thinklol

Offline nativewolf

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2020, 08:36:29 AM »
Iím hand cutting with single bunk forwarder and cable skidder. Happy with the hole operation. We do 10-20 cord per day average. With all factors included. Making money. Been thinking a cutter of some kind but is it worth it to spend more to make less per cord? More headache with computers, bigger machine transport, and just overall cost. It would cut down on danger and physical body wear. But I cut a lot of 18-30Ē log trees. So Iíd still be hand cutting at least some maybe 50/50. What do you all think? Just thinking out loud. Prolly a mistake to even thinklol
I am doing the same because I can't yet afford a new Ponsse Bear with an H8HD head.  However, when I can I will.  
  • Less physical risk-  Loggers cutting with saws get hurt.  FACT
  • Production- production will increase significantly.  We estimate 300% increase based on our work, your increase may vary.
  • Increased ability to react to market.  Markets are becoming very volatile.  The ability to quickly complete a job and capture higher spot prices means a huge difference in profit margins.   For example:  RO is moving higher right now, back up to $750-800 for 2-3 side logs, $1500 for butts.  This is for our lower quality Southern Red and Northern Red, we are slightly out or range for best RO prices.   This is a 50% bump in 3 months.  In 3 months that could be gone.  RO at $500/mbf splits out as $300/mbf to us and $200 to owner.  All in harvest cost are $200/mbf.  That left a $100/mbf profit and that sucks.  At $800/mbf $480 is back to us and our cost are $200 or less as the buyer may help on trucking.  So we move from $100/mbf profit to maybe $300/mbf.  To get that locked in means logs on ground quickly.  By December it could be right back to $500/mbf.  If you have the luxury of only cutting woods in high demand cycles (WO or Walnut at the moment) than you don't have to worry about speed so much.  
  • Low cost of capital- debt is as cheap as it will ever ever be.  SBA is backing anyone with a pulse.  

My thoughts.  
Liking Walnut

Offline Haleiwa

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2020, 09:42:51 AM »
I cut a lot of small stuff as I am clearing an old farm.  The harvester definitely is safer.  Personally, I think there is as much or more risk in limbing than there is in felling, and the processor head really helps in that department.  Depending on your conditions, the processor can lessen the need for the skidder if you can make piles that the forwarder can access.  As far as hand cutting the larger trees, that will be easier and safer if you have the smaller ones down and off to the side.  If you are running your wood through a firewood processor, having logs cut to length may increase your efficiency.  It's fun to push a button and pull the trigger to cut the length that you want.  It's especially nice when it is cold out and there is a foot of snow on the ground.
Socialism is people pretending to work while the government pretends to pay them.  Mike Huckabee

Offline mike_belben

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2020, 10:05:09 AM »
Im on my 7th day in bed with still no idea whats wrong after an MRI, EKG, Xray and all sorts of bloodwork.  And no idea when i will be better or how to pay that new bill.


Kick that around when youre considering fresh debts that demand your health to repay.  

I would suggest an old cheap hydroax with a 6bt.  Not expensive enough to liquidate your estate.  And not full of computers to fry your brain.  
Revelation 3:20

Offline tacks Y

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2020, 10:24:44 AM »
Mike, Hope you feel better soon. Tom

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2020, 12:03:06 PM »
The tracts for the most part keep getting smaller. Growth is fine and so is newer and better stuff but debt in this business has sunk the majority who tried to leverage. The paper mills made a handful wealthy with backing, prime plantation jobs, and unlimited quotas. Others they encouraged to grow when demand was high and then forgotten with load a week quota when times got tight. The bank sells the latter group out every bust cycle which usually comes before your note is paid. 

I have bought timber for guys that had to move 10 loads a day to break even. Only money made there was made by the banker, dealer, and insurance broker. The loggers I have known that did well bought their equipment with cash from income tax savings. Having a keen eye and buying land with timber on it or and timber tracts lump sum because you have the cash when the buyer needs to sell is how money is made in this business. You are selling a commodity; the only possible way to make money is being an incredibly efficient high volume producer or a shrewd buyer.

The other thing I have noticed is guys grow to where they can't turn down marginal jobs and the demands of maintaining production means they don't have time to hunt timber. Some guys are better at running equipment than buying timber. Cruising is the easy part. You have to be a surveyor, lawyer, and salesman too. The good deals seldom last long; you have to be able to make an offer and ink a deal sometimes on the spot unless you want to be known for free appraisal services. 

Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2020, 12:13:00 PM »
The tracts for the most part keep getting smaller. Growth is fine and so is newer and better stuff but debt in this business has sunk the majority who tried to leverage. The paper mills made a handful wealthy with backing, prime plantation jobs, and unlimited quotas. Others they encouraged to grow when demand was high and then forgotten with load a week quota when times got tight. The bank sells the latter group out every bust cycle which usually comes before your note is paid.

I have bought timber for guys that had to move 10 loads a day to break even. Only money made there was made by the banker, dealer, and insurance broker. The loggers I have known that did well bought their equipment with cash from income tax savings. Having a keen eye and buying land with timber on it or and timber tracts lump sum because you have the cash when the buyer needs to sell is how money is made in this business. You are selling a commodity; the only possible way to make money is being an incredibly efficient high volume producer or a shrewd buyer.

The other thing I have noticed is guys grow to where they can't turn down marginal jobs and the demands of maintaining production means they don't have time to hunt timber. Some guys are better at running equipment than buying timber. Cruising is the easy part. You have to be a surveyor, lawyer, and salesman too. The good deals seldom last long; you have to be able to make an offer and ink a deal sometimes on the spot unless you want to be known for free appraisal services.
That is about how I see it. For me around here anyways. I pay cash, owe nothing on my equipment. My goal was low over head. But production comes a factor. I honestly think Iím at my lowest per cord cost and still actually produce. Anything I buy or do will either just cost more initially for the same production or cost more to produce more. Yes will always make things safer and itís not all about money but will also take the rush and fun out of my love for logging sitting in a cab. 

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2020, 12:29:29 PM »
Now I will say from a safety standpoint that I have been to way too many funerals. In one case a son, than his dad on the same 40 acre parcel in a couple months. The odds are pretty high you won't work a lifetime in the hand cutting game without a serious mishap.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2020, 01:15:53 PM »
Man, thats really losing the farm.   Sad story  :(
Revelation 3:20

Offline nativewolf

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2020, 01:22:13 PM »
@Haleiwa @stavebuyer - could not agree more, safety was my #1 too.  I find that limbing is indeed highly risky, more so than felling for injuries.  My nicks in chaps are all from limbing.

I think if you get a harvester one route is one of the very capable harvesters like @Skeans1 uses, much more common than a bear and h8hd head so you can find a good one used.  I think it could be a lifesaver in limbing and bucking hardwoods but you may still have to do much of the felling- risk would plummet, production still increase greatly.  You are younger than I so I decided to do the moon shot and try to fell some larger hardwoods.  Like stavebuyer and mike caution...debt can be dangerous, wait til you get on a track where you have great timber, go slow, learn to use the machine, learn how to market it, spend more time on the following:

Market those logs wisely.  You are in Ohio, that's a deep hardwood market for good logs.  Maybe the best place to be today.  You are no more than 4 hours from dozens of hardwood buyers.  In that regard I am jealous.  I send logs to Ohio almost every week but it is a min $1000 on shipping.  

Liking Walnut

Offline barbender

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2020, 01:30:08 PM »
I think a smaller rubber tire buncher might fill the bill for you. Although they are no longer built, the Bell 3 wheelers with a dangle head always looked like a good step up from hand cutting to me, unless you work a lot of soft ground. I think @Maine logger88 runs one. 
  As much as I enjoy working timber with a saw, as others have said, it's not if but when that you will have an incident.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline nativewolf

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2020, 01:32:42 PM »
I think a smaller rubber tire buncher might fill the bill for you. Although they are no longer built, the Bell 3 wheelers with a dangle head always looked like a good step up from hand cutting to me, unless you work a lot of soft ground. I think @Maine logger88 runs one.
  As much as I enjoy working timber with a saw, as others have said, it's not if but when that you will have an incident.
Great idea on the bell with a dangle head.  
Liking Walnut

Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2020, 02:07:01 PM »
Iím in northern Michigan. And Iíve thought about the bells but thatís just going to fell. No bunching piles. Iíve run many large fellers and most ground I could pile 18Ē hardwood. Bigger and your not carrying it far before she starts to tip. Piles are the only way Iíd see more production I feel. Using the cable skidder to pre bunch 2+ trees really helped the forwarder. And itís odd you all think limboing is more dangerous. Yes you may get hurt more but most wont kill you or even put u in bed. Felling I find to be dangerous. Falling limbs and tops, then we get deep snow. Hard to get away from the stump sometimes. A harvester would produce more than my forwarder could skid so thereís a new problem lol This is why Iím asking and looking at crews and machines now and have been for awhile. To see if itís something I want or not. Most wood I produce is mill wood also. Cheap production is key. I donít market or care about markets as long as Iím working and they are happy. 

Offline nativewolf

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2020, 02:48:41 PM »
darn...why was I thinking ohio.  Oh...well in that case....hmm...scratch what I said.  You are in totally different market aren't you. 

In that case, if you are cutting mill wood I'd be quite careful.  The pulp mill closures in WI are going to impact the wood supply in MI guys are driving wood over to MI.  I think in that case you'd be wise to watch debt loads really carefully.  Proximity to the mill helps but as we've seen in Maine and WI it doesn't help if the mills close.  I

How much sawtimber are you harvesting vs pulp?   I could see the deep snows making it hard to escape from trees.  I agree on harvester overwhelming a single bunk forwarder.  I just had you pegged in the wrong state by several hundred miles :D going to be worse problem with your wood mix.  



Liking Walnut

Offline Skeans1

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2020, 03:24:43 PM »
@Haleiwa @stavebuyer - could not agree more, safety was my #1 too.  I find that limbing is indeed highly risky, more so than felling for injuries.  My nicks in chaps are all from limbing.

I think if you get a harvester one route is one of the very capable harvesters like @Skeans1 uses, much more common than a bear and h8hd head so you can find a good one used.  I think it could be a lifesaver in limbing and bucking hardwoods but you may still have to do much of the felling- risk would plummet, production still increase greatly.  You are younger than I so I decided to do the moon shot and try to fell some larger hardwoods.  Like stavebuyer and mike caution...debt can be dangerous, wait til you get on a track where you have great timber, go slow, learn to use the machine, learn how to market it, spend more time on the following:

Market those logs wisely.  You are in Ohio, that's a deep hardwood market for good logs.  Maybe the best place to be today.  You are no more than 4 hours from dozens of hardwood buyers.  In that regard I am jealous.  I send logs to Ohio almost every week but it is a min $1000 on shipping.  


 They are very capable machine and head size, itís the equivalent to the H8 from ponsse. If you need a bigger youíll need a track machine or a Timbco/Timberpro and honestly it sounds like a clambunk would fit your needs very well.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2020, 03:31:08 PM »
Now tell him the monthly payment.
Revelation 3:20

Offline barbender

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2020, 03:38:41 PM »
I'm looking at this from a perspective of what could reasonably boost production of your existing operation. I've only watched videos of the Bells, but it looked like they could fall and then drag the tree, I think a guy could build piles like that, and they'd be easier to limb than buncher piles. If you're looking to get an actual CTL harvester, that's a whole 'nother world! Can you get rid of 3-4x as much wood? You already realize your forwarder won't keep up. Markets in the Lake States are pretty grim right now, any way that you can make the specialty sorts is a plus (which CTL is great at) but it is not a good time to take on the debt of a CTL operation, IMO. But then, I know guys that have charged hard into a poor market that everyone else was running away from and have done well🤷‍♂️
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2020, 05:37:55 PM »
I'm looking at this from a perspective of what could reasonably boost production of your existing operation. I've only watched videos of the Bells, but it looked like they could fall and then drag the tree, I think a guy could build piles like that, and they'd be easier to limb than buncher piles. If you're looking to get an actual CTL harvester, that's a whole 'nother world! Can you get rid of 3-4x as much wood? You already realize your forwarder won't keep up. Markets in the Lake States are pretty grim right now, any way that you can make the specialty sorts is a plus (which CTL is great at) but it is not a good time to take on the debt of a CTL operation, IMO. But then, I know guys that have charged hard into a poor market that everyone else was running away from and have done well🤷‍♂️
Keeping current operation is preferred and just upping production cost affectively would be great. Iím not to worried about our markets. For one itís usually up and down and itís been a lot worse than what it is now. Thereís also guys in a lot worse financial shape than me. The fact is we have to keep trying and if you never take a risk youíll never get there. That being said I donít take big risk! 😆 but either way Iím glad with all the thoughts! To this point I cut mostly 50-80% logs. But also sort all pulp and bolts. On occasion some decent pine. What would the future holds who knows. Got to stay busy. 

Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2020, 06:01:00 PM »
This is what I try for but it donít always work. Fell a few and trim them. Then drag them together and buck and pile it. Works very well for the bucking and the forwarder. 


This is a small hard maple job. 16-20Ē trees. Average 15 cord a day so far. 

Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: At what point is it worth more?
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2020, 06:11:33 PM »
I also consider transport and right now I can easily haul all equipment with gooseneck. Keeps me versatile and a little more independent. Also a reason a looked at the bells. But they just seem like a weird design.


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