While on a trip to see the bull test station and learn about the history of the Feldun-Purdue farm – one of Purdue University's outlying farms overseen by Jerry Fankhauser – we got a bonus lesson in forestry.
The farm celebrates its100th anniversary with a field day in August later this year. Part of the plan for the farm includes harvesting timber on the property.
When we visited, the loggers were inside the woods cutting trees with chain saws. Many high-value trees were cut, but also some lower-value trees. Part of the goal in this project was to clean up the woods and trees in the surrounding pasture. It will continue to be managed as timber.
Once the trees were cut, two large machines pulled them out to the edge of the timber. A giant crane was set up to pick up a log with a grapple and place it in position on a truck that would haul the logs to Salem. The person operating the crane was obviously skilled. He turned out to be the foreman of the crew.
If logs pulled out were too long, he would pick them up and place them across a saw table. By remote control he would activate the saw blade which would cut the log into two pieces in a matter of seconds. Then he would place each portion of the log on the truck in a way so that he could get as many logs as allowable on the truck.
The Purdue Natural Resources and Forestry department aids in managing the woods, Fankhauser says. Proceeds from the sale of timber are split between forestry and the farms so that both have money to continue operating.
Long-term endowments have been very useful in helping provide operating income for the outlying research farms, Fankhauser says. Once money goes into an endowment, it remains there, and the income it generates annually is used for capital improvements on the farms.