Engulfed in Wood

Engulfed in Wood
     Story & photos: Tim Benseman

In our search for the most powerful forwarder ever made by John Deere we have somehow arrived at this eucalyptus clearfell operation near Invercargill where our first impression is that something has gone terribly wrong. Row upon row of processed logs stretch for long distances. These rows have been here so long that they are sun-bleached and foliage has started to regrow around them where they lie in the cutover. I stop and search the gearbox for reverse. I must have made a wrong turn somewhere.

But it turns out my first impressions are wrong and things are actually going to plan here. Mcarley Logging’s Nathan Mcarley is living in the land of plenty as far as volume goes. We check in with Iron Tester Stephen Unahi on what’s going on. 

“The forest owner brought this system in about 10 years ago. One of the goals was reducing weight for cartage. It also better facilitates dephasing for health and safety and specialisation of tasks, so there’s a harvesting contractor in here who is separate from Nathan’s owner/operator extraction operation and another contractor who comes in to load out.”

The system works well for Nathan judging by the mountains of wood he has forwarded out on to the load-out skids. The skids are buried in wood. Long, high and deep stacks on multiple skids. 

A blanket of fog is hanging over the higher cutover as we arrive, grounding our drone temporarily so we throw open the John Deere 1910E forwarder’s doors for a look. This is the most powerful forwarder Deere has ever made with 249 horsepower generated by the nine-litre engine and a 21-tonne payload. 

A clean cab

Nathan has kept the cab quite clean and has a no boots policy while operating.  I’ve never been too fussed about taking my boots off to be honest but thought I’d better check with Nathan as to the reasons why.

“Dust, basically. When it’s windy and dry, you open up the door and it’s just ‘whoosh’, dust everywhere and it just covers everything. I do put my muddy boots in beside me, so it’s not an ultrastrict no boots policy but it is important to me.  At the end of the day, it is my office really so I think you have to keep it a little bit clean to have a good day. Just don’t look in the ute and you’ll be sweet.” 

Well now that he mentions that, I can relate. I have spent a bit of time chasing dust out of cabs with an air compressor after such ‘whoosh’ moments and saw a workmate with his digger tilted on a steep angle, door side down one day and he was inside with a hose rinsing his cab interior, being very careful not to wet any electrics of course. A good case of an ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure I suppose. I think I might be a convert to this idea of no boots inside.


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