30 years ago, Dad and Aunt Janet made the decision to log part of the woods on our farm and replant pines as a source of income for the future. Those trees have become my dad’s babies over the years. He has carefully coordinated with the forestry department and independent loggers to keep the underbrush down, periodic controlled burns and periodic thinning. We have watched the trees grow from tiny saplings to tall, straight, strong trees. My son spent many a summer vacation on a little 4 wheeler gleefully driving up and down the rows of trees. Last fall, dad started talking about thinning the trees again. He often talks of projects on the farm that he intends to complete that we all know will never come to fruition. We just listen and agree with him. But in November, he actually was contacted by a logger that came to meet him and look at the trees. We once more realized his vulnerability in dealing with “outside” people. Dad was talking about thinning the trees. My brother and I talked with dad and told him that we would like to get several opinions before we committed to one person. That lead my siblings and myself to have the conversation of whether we needed to go ahead and cut all of the trees for the current and much needed income that they would provide.
The trick became to convince dad that this was the right thing to do. It is times like this that I understand the need to guide dad to right decisions, but I still feel duplicitous in my attempts to get him to see things our way. Mike had the forestry department go to the farm and prepare a report for him. I spoke with my aunt and uncle and got their blessing to cut all of the trees, as they own half. I made the trip to Washington that day very much dreading the conversation and hoping that the right words would come. Dad is such a kind, gentle person, but his paranoia is strong some days and he needs to be encouraged rather than challenged. We had a regular visit and went out to lunch. When we returned to my parents house, dad and I rode back on the farm, as we do every time I come to visit. I told him that we had spoken to the forestry department and they had said that the trees could be harvested (that was true!). I told him that I worried about ice storms and hurricanes destroying the trees before we could get them harvested(that is true also). I also told him that if we harvested all of the trees, then we could replant them and he would be leaving a legacy for his grandchildren and great grandchildren. And this was the argument that appealed to him the most. He came back around a couple of times to thinning and we talked through the reasoning for clear cutting several times. He looked at me and said that I should do what I thought was best and that was fine with him. I left very relieved that the first hurdle had been overcome.
Over the next couple of weeks, as the lawyer was preparing the timber deed and getting the paperwork straight, dad relapsed a couple of times into “no one is cutting my trees down!” Each time, mom called and I talked him down until he was calm and agreeable. We signed the deed on a Tuesday and I got a call on Friday at noon that the loggers wanted to start that afternoon! They were very nice and understanding when I explained the situation and told them that I had to be there for the first day of cutting. I made arrangements to be there the next morning at nine to start the process. I called dad and talked with him for a while about how exciting it was going to be and that I would be there to witness it with him. He had questions and spoke of needing to be there to make sure that everything went smoothly.
I made the 2 hour trip the next morning, arriving at their house at nine. To my great relief, I found dad excited and very much anticipating the day. He was still making references to thinning trees, so I knew that the next couple of hours were important. We drove down into the field to the woods where two loggers were waiting for us. They were extremely respectful and answered all of our questions. We sat in my truck and watched the one guy cut, drop and stack logs for 2 hours. Dad was amazed. It was so great watching him enjoy the process. I took a lot of pictures and I’ll put them together into a little book for him.
When I left that first day, I told him that I could not be there every day, but that I would be back the next week to watch the loading procedure with him. We went back on Wednesday and again, spent about an hour back in the woods watching them strip, cut and load the trees. Again, dad was mesmerized by the big equipment and the entire process. For the last couple of days, he has sat either in his recliner or in the yard and watched the log trucks roll out the long lane, heading towards Weyerhaeuser, loaded with his beloved pines! It has been a wonderful process and one that I have cherished sharing with him.