Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Minnesota NCR-SARE Grant Project to be featured on the History Channel

Tim Carroll logging with draft horses – photo by Ronnie Hartman

After working at a treatment facility for juveniles for 16 years, Tim Carroll never planned to have a successful career logging with horses. But Carroll married his wife, Doreen, who had three riding horses, and he soon grew attached to draft horses and began using them to plow his driveway and do other work on his property. Soon after, down the road from his home in Minnesota, Carroll noticed a neighbor had hired a machine logger. The rest, you could say, is history

“Those loggers had left a mess on his property,” explained Carroll. “I asked if I could come by and clean out some of those logs with my horses. It didn’t take long and I had a crowd of people watching. People started asking me if I could come out to their land. Before I had my first job done, I had three contracts waiting. Not long after that, I had 27 contracts. After 5 years, I quit my day job, and started doing this fulltime.”

Cedar River Horse Logging and Wood Products has been in business for 18 years using draft horses for sustainable forest management.

“Equine forestry,” as Carroll calls it, became his new passion. Other than cutting firewood, Carroll hadn’t been involved in forestry. Before he got started fulltime, he traveled around the country working with other horse loggers, such as Jason Rutledge with Healing Harvest Forest Foundation.

Carroll developed a strong desire to educate people about the benefits and sustainability of equine forestry, so he submitted a proposal to from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE). He received a 2006 Farmer Rancher grant from NCR-SARE for $6,000 to promote this low-impact forest harvesting method.

“Draft horses are incredibly efficient, and people need to know that,” explained Carroll. “This project was started to educate the public about equine forestry and to bring young people into the profession. The average age of a horse logger is 45-55. It’s not for a lack of demand for the work; it’s a lack of educated young people getting involved.”

With his project funds, Carroll created a DVD to demonstrate and promote equine forestry. It was aired on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). For the production, Carroll set up an old fashion logging camp with a 20 man crew, 11 horses, four saw mills, and a camp cook. During production, the camp logged and sawed 36,000 board feet in eight days.

“The film was aired for the first time on January 12, 2008 on TPT and I have had a lot of calls from people who want their land worked with horses,” said Carroll. “I have done a lot of seminars and demos and found people really want this service. This grant has given me an opportunity to understand the PBS system and how it works. My role as a businessman is changing from a producer to a manager and teacher.”

Carroll is convinced his method is sustainable from many angles.

“I don’t think that there’s a system that’s more sustainable for logging than ours,” he explained. “Horses cost about $2.50 per day to operate, including deprecation, and we can move a semi load of logs per day with them. We even use them to harvest the hay they eat. Skidders don’t produce baby skidders. Horses reproduce colts.”

Carroll’s project will be featured on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels program on November 21st, 2008. Visit the Modern Marvels web site for listings.

Read more about Carroll’s project online at the SARE reporting site.

1 comment:

Linda Kleinschmit said...

Thanks for sharing Tim's story. I recall reviewing his proposal. It's great to see the outcome. It is just one example of why the farmer/rancher SARE investments are so important, supporting those that have the on-the-ground expertise and are willing to share it.