120 cord of useless wood!
That's what I got now.
For a long time I have been contemplating what to do with those high bred hack we planted back in 1994 and 1996. They are a very fast growing tree and after 12 years they have gotten to be pretty big, about a foot in diamter and 50 feet tall. As some of you know, they got hit with a bark beetle infestation and have slowly started dying. About 3-4 trees per acre per year.
What to do?
After a bit of stalling I finally decided to log them off to make way for some sheep. That leaves me with 12 acres of trees to clear cut. Its tedius work to say the least. Small trees take forever to add up, and yet the more I cut, the less I seem to get done. I have cut about 1/3 of an acre, and so far got about 3½ cord of wood. That's about 10 cord to the acre, so naturally I am looking at about 120 cord of wood to harvest. At the present rate, I am going to retire I think by the time all 12 acres are cut.
For those that enjoy facts and figures, here are the numbers crunched up. Since they are hybrid hack, a softwood tree that has only one use...pulp to make paper. The current price is 60 bucks a cord, so that equates to about 600 dollars per acre, or 7200 dollars for all 12 acres. The trees were given to me 12 years ago in a program from a local paper company, so the actual cost of planting was (for computing purposes) essentially free. I don't factor in taxes either because it matters little if they are growing trees or being hayed, I would have to pay property taxes anyway. So at 12 years of growth, I made about 50 dollars per acre.
Lambs are getting about $238 bucks a piece right now in the 5-6 month old range. At a stocking rate of about 10 sheep per the acre, 10 mature ewes could produce 20 lambs a year since they typically birth with twins. Assuming that 5 ewe lambs are kept to keep the flock refreshed, that gives about 15 lambs per the acre to sell per year. Since the time line is short, but the cost of raising lambs is higher then trees, I figure about 100 bucks profit per lamb. That's 1500 dollars per the acre, or $1450 bucks more then what the trees are producing. Yep time to cut. Its also time to get into sheep. I figure if I can raise and sell just 30 lambs per year, I can pay for my property taxes.
Incidentally there is 100 acres in high grade fields. This is prime farmland with great soil (2e soil) with an even split between hay ground and corn ground. The hay ground produces a whopping 2800 pounds of high protein grass per acre per harvest (3 crops per year) and the corn is getting a staggering 19 tons per the acre. Because of an old gentleman's agreement between my grandfather and another farmer, the current lease is 6 dollars per acre!!
So here are some pictures. The first picture of planted trees giving me 50 dollars per acre per year. The second is of a 28 acre high grade field giving me 6 dollars per acre, and finally a dumb, wooly sheep that can produce $1500 dollars per acre. Looking at the pictures it hard to believe money wise that's how it shakes out.
I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"