Have you ever considered parking the skidder and hitching up a team of horses to head out to the woods? Logging with horses can be fun, and economically rewarding. It is also a low impact way to get your timber to the landing.
Horses are a great way to get into logging on the cheap. Untrained draft horses cost between $500 and $1500 each. A trained team can sometimes cost upwards of $5,000. Compare that with $40,000 or more for a good used log skidder. You won't have to borrow large amounts of money to get going and that means no big monthly skidder payment.
Hay is cheaper than diesel fuel. With the high costs of fuel these days, it just makes sense to use a method that doesn't require any fuel at all. Acording to Jason Rultledge of The Healing Harvest Forest Foundation it costs around $5 per day per logging horse for hay and feed. When was the last time you ran a log skidder for $5 per day? Horses are much cheaper to work with.
Lower Ecological Impact
Horses make smaller tracks than any mechanical log skidder out there. They weigh significantly less than log skidders. A good size draft horse weighs around 2,000 lbs, so a team will be around 4,000 lbs. Compare that with a 30,000 lb log skidder and you will see a big difference.
A team of horses can get around in the narrow passages between trees much easier than a log skidder. Instead of plowing small trees over with a big skidder, horses will go around many obstacles, leaving a much smaller impact on the ecosystem of the forest. This will open up more opportunities for you as a logger. Land owners like to hire loggers who will make as little of a mess as possible when harvesting a piece of timber. You may even be called in to harvest a select few high value trees from ecological sensitive areas. You will be able to work in places where heavy equipment isn't allowed to go.
Logging on Autopilot
A well trained team of horses will make their way to the landing and back to the woods with no one driving them, It would be like having a skidder that drives itself. How great would that be? Think about all the money you will save by not having to pay a skidder operator to drive a machine.
Higher Market Value Timber
Logging with horses opens up a whole new market for you. You can tap in to the green market like no one else can. Think about it, no fuel was used to harvest the logs, and your logging operation makes the smallest imprint on the forest. You will have another marketing advantage, the nostalgic aspect of a traditional way of logging. Tell all your customers about how you log with horses. They will respect your efforts and will prefer doing business with you.