Father and Son Like Eco Log Forwarder, Lgo Max Harvester Head
BIRNAMWOOD, Wisconsin — Doing more — much more — with less is a strategy that has worked well for Patrick M. Meverden ever since he started logging in 1977. Patrick owns Meverden Trucking & Logging.
Although he has not operated the trucking part of the business in five years, Patrick retains the original name in case he has a change of heart and begins hauling again. In fact, he also still has the wagon he used when he started his business. Someday, if and when he retires, he may get some horses and give wagon rides.
Horses played a significant role in the first eight years Patrick began logging. Patrick owned Belgian and Percheron horses, and he used them for skidding logs. When he started investing in mechanized equipment, he sold the horses.
Operating as an independent contractor today, Patrick owns and operates a forwarder. His son runs his own independent operation with a harvester under the name Kenneth Meverden Logging. Father and son typically work together.
Patrick has been through many changes in skidding since first using horses. He works his equipment hard, and when he is considering buying a new machine, he looks for durability, reliability and other attributes.
For the last two years, Patrick has been operating with an Eco Log 574B eight-wheel forwarder. The Eco Log 574B is also available as a six-wheel model. When working in areas with high stumps, rocks or deep snow, the rear axle can be disconnected.
Kenneth operates a Timbco 415 with a Log Max 7000 single-grip harvesting head that performs felling and processing functions. “I owned it first,” explained Patrick. “I had him running it, and he fell in love with it. The dangle head is just so much more maneuverable than the fixed head.” He sold the machine combination to Kenneth after only two months. “I prefer running the forwarder,” said Patrick.
Patrick has been real pleased with the equipment. “Eco Log and Log Max are outstanding performers,” he said.
Patrick had good things to say about the Eco Log 574B forwarder. “It’s narrow,” he said. “It’s quick. It holds a big payload — seven and one-half cords. The fuel economy is just great.”
The Eco Log 574B forwarder is easy on the operator, said Patrick. The cab is “very comfortable,” he said, and spacious. In addition, the seat and controls are ergonomically designed and arranged so the operator does not have to stretch or twist to reach them.
A feature he particularly likes is the boom reach. “One thing I like about Eco Log is the reach is 28 feet — 33 feet with the squirt boom,” said Patrick. The long reach allows him to stay off soft areas, an ability that makes the forwarder quite environmentally friendly, he noted.
He also has been satisfied with the technical support provided by the company’s representatives. “Eco Log — its support people, they’re really conscientious,” said Patrick.
Father and son were introduced to Log Max by a representative of the company, which, like Eco Log, is headquartered in Sweden. In fact, it was the company’s presence onsite that persuaded Patrick to buy the harvesting head. “Hakan Berg from Log Max in Sweden was out on the job,” Patrick recalled.
Patrick and Kenneth had previously seen a demonstration of a smaller Log Max harvesting head, the 5000 model. In consultation with Hakan, however, they carefully assessed the type of forests they would be working in and settled on the larger Log Max 7000.
Kenneth runs the Timbco 415 with Log Max single-grip harvester as many as 60-65 hours per week. About the only time that Kenneth stops working is stormy weather. Other than a downpour or lightening, he keeps cutting and processing.
The Log Max 7000 is designed and built for felling and processing big timber, with high power and speed. The patented knife control system minimizes feed friction.
The Log Max 7000 is capable of felling and processing trees up to 32 inches in diameter, according to Patrick. “Kenneth has successfully harvested several 32-inch maple” trees, he said.
In addition, Kenneth has learned how to operate the Log Max to maximize grade.
There is almost no downtime associated with the Log Max, said Patrick. Besides performing well, Log Max also has provided solid service. “It’s not only a good product, but support” is good, too, said Patrick.
Headquartered in Sweden, Eco Log’s staff knows a great deal about loggers working on rough ground. As it happens, Patrick works in similar terrain. He works in areas that are generally steep, and there are plenty of rocks and holes. All of that adds up to requirement for a nimble, stable forwarder.
Sweden has mountains that tower well above the highest elevation in Wisconsin. At 6,965 feet, Kebnekaise in the Kölen Mountains of Sweden is four times taller than the highest places in Wisconsin. Nevertheless, there are similarities in geography.
Remnants of rocks dislodged by receding glaciers still make logging a challenge in the Badger State. They form ridges and mounds. They have also scattered over time, thanks to the flow of water. During the same epoch when glaciers sent ice sheets as far south as the Great Lakes region in North America, glaciers also spread across European lands, extending as far south as Switzerland. So the Swedish forestry industry also is accustomed to working in rocky terrain, relying on equipment that can perform well and operate in such a landscape.
The grade on the tracts where Patrick and Kenneth work can be as steep as 45 degrees. In hilly terrain, Patrick has a long-standing preference for tire chains. In snow, he uses chains on the front and Hultdins bogie tracks on the back of the forwarder.
Working together in hardwood stands, Patrick and Kenneth take a balanced view of their production goals. “We only produce 15 to 18 loads per week,” said Patrick. That’s 200 cords per week. “Hardwood doesn’t cut as quickly as pine,” he noted.
“We cut all grades,” he said, including seven grades of veneer logs, five grades of saw logs, bolts and pulp logs. Patrick takes responsibility for merchandizing all the wood.
Patrick described what he called “fern-gully” trees. They are so crooked and have so many multiple stems that they are almost useless, and they tend to grow in low-lying areas. When he encounters these crooked trees, he reaches for a chain saw. “I just absolutely love to cut,” said Patrick. He uses a Stihl MS 460 Magnum chain saw.
Patrick buys standing timber that he and his son harvest and sell, and he solicits jobs to provide contract harvesting services. “I’m pretty independent,” he said.
Patrick, his wife, Laura, and teenage son, Andrew, went on a combination family vacation and business trip in April. They traveled to Virginia to visit Busch Gardens theme park, to Pennsylvania to attend a major league baseball game in Philadelphia, and then to Maine.
Another son, Bradley, is studying pre-medicine at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse, where he also plays for the football team. A fourth son, Anthony, died at birth. “We will all be together again someday,” said Patrick.
Evaluating markets for logs in the East was an important element of the trip, said Patrick. He has been concerned about increasingly depressed prices for logs in the Midwest.
Meverden Trucking & Logging is based in Birnamwood, Wis. The town is in the east-central part of the Badger State and has about 800 residents.
In April, Meverden Trucking & Logging joined the Timber Producers Association of Michigan and Wisconsin. The
professional services provided by TPA will be a good fit for the philosophy that Patrick holds.
“We’re very work-oriented about doing a good job,” said Patrick. “We’re conscientious about doing a job very well. We wouldn’t do anything on a customer’s land we wouldn’t do on our own. We do over 20 jobs every year.”
Patrick has been logging long enough so that he can return to a site that he cut on rotation 10 years earlier and see the long-term outcome, and it is gratifying to see how his earlier work has improved the forest and residual trees years later.
He also strives to work closely with foresters. “We enjoy listening to foresters,” said Patrick. When they come to the site
of a completed job and say, “this looks great,” that’s a good feeling, Patrick acknowledged.
Patrick and Kenneth work mainly in central Wisconsin. Sometimes they work on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They cut a mix of species, including an abundance of hard maple, oak, ash, birch and pine. They subcontract for all trucking.
Kenneth started logging full-time when he graduated from high school in 2000. Patrick was not surprised by his son’s decision. “He was always my shadow,” said Patrick, who knows something about finding an interest in logging early on.
“My dad always had a logging horse,” Patrick recalled. “My granddad had a 39-man crew and logged with horses. I guess I got sawdust in to my blood, and it didn’t get strained out.”
Patrick enjoyed logging with horses years ago. “Horses are very calm, very gentle, very well trained — easy to work with,” he explained. “They enjoy working. We put shard-shodded shoes on their feet so they wouldn’t slip. It was a wonderful way to log.” Normally, a horse skidded one log at a time. If a log was unusually large, two horses may be used. Working with horses over the years, Patrick gained an appreciation for the work they could do as well as their intelligence.
Successful logging with horses required two things, Patrick noted. The logs had to be high grade, and there had to be good logging roads for teams of horses to haul the logs out of the woods.
Patrick really enjoys working outdoors, noted Laura. “He loves being outside,” she said. The men see wildlife regularly while working in the woods, including bears.
“I’ve gone out in the woods with him for a few hours,” said Laura. “When he did his own trucking, I would go to a mill with him,” riding along in the tractor in order to get some time together with her husband.
In their free time, Laura and Patrick like to travel. They have made recent trips to Alaska and Hawaii. Laura, a nurse, also helps Meverden Trucking & Logging with paperwork.
Patrick is interested in all aspects of the forest products industry, although he has stayed in the logging segment. For example, he marvels at the advances and high technology and equipment at work in today’s sawmills. A portable sawmill operator makes his way through the Birnamwood region each spring, and Patrick enjoys the opportunity to make lumber.
Patrick never stops thinking about combinations of equipment that might work even better. He regularly gets information on new equipment and arranges for demonstrations on job sites.
Patrick already has decided that when it comes time to replace the harvesting head, they likely will turn to Log Max again. “The next one will also be a Log Max,” he said. “The feed power and delimbing capabilities are impressive.”
“What we aim to do in the future is to buy an Eco Log 590 harvester to put the Log Max 7000 on,” said Patrick, or perhaps, upgrade to a new Log Max harvesting head at the same time.