Using Horses and Small Machinery in the Woods

Using Horses and Small Machinery in the Woods

Saturday 8/28/21, 9 AM – 12 PM

This session will focus on how these kinds of positive impact harvest tools offer an alternative approach to short and long-term woodlot management, and how management plans can be written with this non-traditional approach in mind. Horses will be working on-site, along with small tractors and forwarding wagons. Participants will tour the working zone and have the chance to hear and see how these harvest tools and techniques compare to traditional mechanical timber extraction systems. Time will be given to comparing and contrasting both the everyday capabilities and the final results in the residual stand of horsepower/small machinery versus traditional mechanical tools. We will also cover the economics of timber extraction with a system that does not include larger mechanical power. This session will be tailored to woodlot owners, foresters, and members of the public who want to see what horse logging is all about.  3.0 Category 1 CFE credits for foresters.

required. Click here to register.

Future tours:

Carbon Planning As Part of A Woodlot Management Plan – Saturday 9/25/21, 9 AM – 12 PM

How Should Loggers Be Paid? – Saturday 10/16/21, 9 AM – 12 PM


Each tour will be led by Brad Johnson, Derek O’Toole, and John Plowden, the three partners in TBHL. The three are not licensed foresters but can offer extensive experience in positive impact timber harvesting, woodlot management, draft animal power, lumber milling, and the economics of logging in New England. Also, they have invited a number of foresters and loggers to join and provide their insights and perspectives, including Rose Beatty, Russ Barrett, Carl Russell, Ben Canonica, Bob Capobianco, Sam Brown, and Peter Hagerty.  The goal is to have one or more of them at each workshop.

Brad Johnson is a co-owner and operator of Third Branch Horse Logging LLP.  With a background in farming and logging with animal power, Brad brings more than 20 years of logging experience in the forests of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  Additionally, Brad is a former educator, teaching in the classroom and the woods of Maine before turning toward agriculture and logging work full time.  He and his family own and manage a 94-acre woodlot in Northfield, where they focus on multiple long-term management goals, including timber production, carbon management, wildlife habitat, recreational access, and more.

Derek O’Toole is a co-owner and operator of Third Branch Horse Logging LLP.  After a first career at sea, Derek and his family settled in Braintree and operated a horse-powered CSA for a number of years. Over time, Derek worked himself and his horses into the woods, eventually transitioning to full-time positive impact horse logging work. Derek grew up with horses and brings an extensive knowledge of horses and horsemanship to the work in the woods. He is in charge of acquiring, housing, and training Third Branch’s working horses. Derek and his family own and manage a woodlot as part of their farm property in Braintree, at which the company’s winter sleigh rides are based.

John Plowden is a co-owner and operator of Third Branch Horse Logging LLP.  John spent a number of years as a cabinet maker in New York State, gaining a keen understanding of wood products and how they are utilized in the commercial marketplace. Like Derek, John’s early working years were on the water, and he transitioned to a life land-side. He brings more than 25 years of horse logging experience from the woods of Maine, where he also operated heavy equipment and worked as a building contractor. With a broad skill set and a focus on how to produce high quality and ultra sustainable lumber, John runs the saw milling side of the business and does the design work on small structures/bridges that the business builds.