Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Working in the Woods - in the name of good beer!

While our main enterprises center on sheep grazing, we also produce sustainable forest products in partnership with the Edwards family in Colfax and with Courtney McDonald (who interned with us several years ago).  Today, we completed an order for 24 peeled poles for another small farmer here in Auburn.  We used 21 Douglas fir trees to manufacture the 24 poles.  These are trees that needed to be thinned from the Edwards' woods to improve the health of the forest - it's nice to have an economic reason to remove these little trees.

The process involves felling and limbing the trees, cutting the poles to length, and then peeling the bark by hand (using a draw knife).  This time of year, the sap is starting to move up the trees, which makes peeling the bark much easier.  Timing is everything (as with many things) - last week, the 20-foot poles took Courtney more than an hour to peel (because the sap wasn't running yet).  The poles I cut today took about 20 minutes to peel - an amazing difference.

Darrel Cote, a small farmer near Auburn, bought the poles to use as a trellis system for the hops he's growing.  We're looking forward to seeing these poles in use!  In the meantime, I got to sample a bottle of the beer brewed by the outfit he's growing the hops for - Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing!  It was great - can't wait to taste a batch of the beer that we had a role in producing!

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