Ingenuity

A tractor or a horse can pull a log out of the woods. So can someone with a winch.

My sister, Cathleen, has taken a number of forestry management courses, studying how to create different habitats on her property to attract a variety of native creatures. Strategic clearing of trees is a key component in maintaining a healthy woods: taking down diseased or dead trees (many of Cathleen’s were killed by a gypsy moth infestation a few years ago), and opening areas to give more light or relieve overcrowding.

In one of her courses Cathleen learned how to use a winch to remove felled trees from the woods with minimal impact. With ropes, pulleys and the winch itself (a small yet powerful engine that runs on gasoline), one person can pull a log a long distance—although having two people makes it easier since one can stay with the log while the other operates the winch.

One Saturday I went out to watch Cathleen and Cherisse working…and pulled two logs myself. A rope was attached to the log we wanted to drag out, and then to a pulley attached to a tree. The winch was at a right angle to this, so the log first moved horizontally. As it reached the pulley (or “snatch block”), the pulley released and the log shifted to point downhill. The winch bears most of the load, but it takes some effort to pull the rope, hand over hand, propelling it forward. It is hard, but immensely satisfying.

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