So after my interesting journey, Chad and his two loggers arrived with their four horses. One of the loggers is Chad's brother, Dylan, who has been horse logging since middle school. The other is Bob, who is one of those people that confirms stereotypes one minute and rips them apart the next.
The first thing that struck me was the size of the horses. I'm a tall guy, and I could not even see over their backs! The Suffolk breed is truly made to work, and they seem to want to work too, as Chad explained while one of his horses lowered its head to make it easier for him to put on the harness. Once I got over that, the second thing that struck me is the environmental commitment of the crew. You might expect loggers, even environmentally conscious loggers, to care for the forest only insofar as it gave them a marketing opportunity. This was definitely not the case here.
Throughout the day, I experienced example after example of this knowledge and commitment, more than I can recount here. Chad expertly avoided taking down any more trees than he needed to. At one point I suggested we cut down a small tree that was in the way of a one of the logs we were pulling out, and he decided to try to get around it. The log got stuck and we had to take down the tree in the end, but the fact that I was the one arguing to cut down a tree and he was arguing against says a lot about the way he operates his business. When I first met Chad, he told me that he considers himself an "active-ist," someone who's out there "doing the work, practicing good forestry" rather than just talking about it.
When I first arrived, I assumed Dylan, who is my age, was the trainee, and Bob, who is middle aged, was an experienced horse logger. How wrong I was. As I said, Dylan has been out in the woods with his older brother since he was a teen. Bob had only been on the job for a few weeks, but had been a conventional logger for many years. The interactions between the two of them were interesting environmentally as well as socially. In addition to teaching Bob things like rigging cable and commanding the horses, Dylan continually practiced his older brother's "Active-ism" by picking up Bob's mountain dew bottles and scolding him for leaving them on the ground.
This is where things get interesting. Rather than get annoyed or pissed off at having some hippie boss kid telling him what to do, I think Bob was really trying to learn these good environmental habits. When I asked him later if he liked his new job, Bob told me, in his thick Appalachian cockney, "This here's more environmental." He also talked about the silence. He laughed at how Chad put his earmuffs on whenever he had to use a chainsaw, and told me about how loud conventional logging jobs are, with multiple giant machines working at once.
Though I had to endure plenty of chiding from Dylan "You're gonna have plenty of footage..." I did in fact manage to get enough video clips to put together a little taste of my day in the woods. Its a bit slow paced, but hey, so are most things that are worthwhile. Check it out below: