Pruning on schedule ensured good form and a clear butt log.
Selective harvesting means little mess and minimal disturbance. There are already secondary trees in this shelter belt who now get their chance to stretch up into the light. That includes some nicely formed totara.
Mixed Shelter Belt
The mixed shelter belt was wedge-shaped with multiple species including natives. The centre was planted with timber trees, mostly Eucalyptus botryoides and Acacia melanoxylon, both native to Australia. It was planted in 1989.
The contracted loggers move in, felling into a neighbour’s paddock after harvest.
Nice neat worksite
Nice neat worksite: boards stacked ready for transport, discards to the side and logs waiting for the mill behind.
Everyone is happy with the colour of the heartwood; not for nothing is Australian blackwood (A. melanoxylon) widely regarded as the world’s finest joinery timber.
The van transports the mill (and the millers), the digger moves around the logs and loads them onto the mill. Not much equipment, not much space needed either.
MacBlack owner Richard Thompson (left) visits the mill site, keen to see how the logs look on the mill. The bad news from the saw millers (right) is that not all the logs are big enough to be worth milling. They could have been left to grow on, but Richard and his wife no longer own this property. They retained cutting rights to these trees and the economics of bringing in fallers and dropping fences ruled out a second harvest down the track.
The 4WD Fortuna tows the twin-axle trailer that can transport two tonnes of boards. (A trucking company is used if there are larger quantities or the mill-site is further afield.)
Now for patience. The boards need to be air-dried for a year or more and must be stacked just right in order to dry straight and evenly. Decades of hard work and expense can be wasted if drying is done poorly. Every board at MacBlack gets looked after.
The first forestry tree Richard and Laurel planted in Whanganui was a macrocarpa. (It grew in the south-east corner and Richard liked to point it out to his small sons as they walked to the school bus stop. The “sacred mac” became something of a family joke.) These photos show what a single, well-grown plantation tree can produce. Three logs yielded a total of 1.9 cubic metres of useable timber. The large end diameter was 850 mm, so DBH (diameter at breast height, a standard timber measurement) would have been around 650-700 mm. The quantity is great but so is the quality; there are some excellent top-grade boards in here. They may even be for sale, if Richard or one of his sons doesn’t put dibs on the whole lot.