Log Skidding Tips and Hints

These log skidding tips and hints will make your wood hauling easier, includes suggestions for communicating with your animal and establishing teamwork.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
September/October 1977
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These log skidding tips will make it easier to haul wood.
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Learn about these helpful log skidding tips for hauling wood.

Log Skidding Tips and Hints

Skidding needn't be an aggravating task — for you or your animal — if you'll take the time to follow a few simple rules.

First and foremost, learn to communicate with your mule, horse, jackass, or whatever . . . then be consistent in your demands and expectations so that the animal in turn can develop consistent responses. If you fight or argue with your beast, the end result will be frustration (for both of you). Jude and I learned together, since we were both beginners. I lectured her sternly a few times — and she treated me rather roughly on a few occasions — but we did ultimately begin to understand each other and work together.

Secondly, never force your animal to pull a load that's beyond its capability. This is the one thing that will force your beast to quit (maybe for good) before anything else. (If you've ever pulled an oak log very far, you can understand the problem . . . and you can see why it's good to have a spirited beast!)

If your animal doesn't want to pull, find out why . . . because something is wrong. Check the collar and harness. Are there sores anywhere (on the animal's shoulders, for instance) that might indicate rubbing or an improper fit.

When you attach the chain to the log, wrap it around the log once and then hook it to itself. This way, it'll pull tight or "choke" the big timber as the beast steps out. On a short or lightweight log, choke the small end and let the butt drag. If the log is exceedingly long or heavy, it's best to attach the chain to the butt and let the small end trail.

For safety's sake, always stand uphill or to one side of the log to avoid having the timber smash into you. (This is a sound practice both when you choke the log and when you're bringing your beast toward the landing.) If you're caught standing between the log and the animal as the animal steps out, you're likely to spend the rest of the day nursing a sore shin or ankle. Remember: Be alert to dangerous situations at all times. Use your head. Think!

Also, whenever you're going uphill (or undertaking a heavy pull) give ole Jude a rest as often as she needs one . . . she won't hesitate to let you know when (by stopping). Nor will she hesitate to begin pulling again after she's caught her breath. (To simplify matters, Cheryl and I felled most of our trees in the area of forest above the cabin site so that we could transport our logs downhill. We recommend that you do likewise.)

The key — remember — is teamwork. Get to know your animal . . . be patient with him/her . . . and together, the two of you will be able to accomplish some truly creditable feats. Jude and I managed several times to move 20- and 26-foot-long oak logs (weighing hundreds of pounds) to the construction site, and we felt right proud of ourselves afterwards. Jude — hard worker that she is — humbly accepted a can of oats as her pay for the day.

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