Forestry Friday … What a difference a Decade Makes

Do you have a favorite spot in the woods that you like to get away to and reconnect with nature?  Somewhere that you’ve camped with your family or just a quiet place to escape the everyday bustle.  The familiarity of that kind of place has a timeless quality about it.  That is part of what makes it happy and comforting.  We want it to always be there and never change.

camping, camp, forest golden retriever

This is where we escape. Blitz gives Mary a snuggle.

As a forester, I work with a changing forest every day.  Some changes come quickly like a timber harvest.   Some come violently as with a wildfire.  Mostly, change comes slowly.  The different seasons transform the forest each year.  This brings about my favorite yearly change, the Spring burst of growth.  The fruits of my labor are on full display, as tree buds elongate and spring forth new needles.  Each year the trees that we planted are a little bigger than before.

forestry, seedlings, growth, forest

Hunter in 2002.

This photo was taken of my old buddy, Hunter, in 2002.  In the background was a newly planted forest.  The trees were harvested from the area directly behind him in 2000 and the seedlings were planted in 2001.  If you look closely, you can see the small pine trees growing.  Lassen Peak is just visible on the horizon in front of Hunter.

forest, forestry, sapling, golden retriever

Blitz, Hunter’s daughter, sits on the same stump in 2014.

Jump ahead to 2014 and Blitz sits on the same stump.  The trees we planted have now grown for twelve seasons.  Many of them are over twenty feet tall.  The view of Lassen Peak is gone.  Blitz was barely able to sit on Hunter’s stump because decay caused it to crumble under her.  The yearly change may seem small, but when viewed over a decade, it’s dramatic.  Expecting the forest not to change is like expecting your child not to grow up.  Forests are dynamic and never static.  Our memories and old photographs may not change, but our forests always will.

The Logger’s Dog

I’ve known Bob for a long time.  Bob is a Logging Supervisor or Woods Boss.  His operations are a going concern.   Bob is all business and his guys make logs in a hurry.   When I go out and talk to his crew about log quality Bob gets nervous because I’m slowing down his operation.  He isn’t the kind of man that one would think of as going around showing off a piece of art, but that is what he has done for nearly twenty years.

logging, logger, log truck, loader, processor, wood, forest, forestry, photography

Bob’s landing, whackin’ and stackin’ .

Twenty years ago Bob decided he needed a dog.  When he got his new dog he told me, “All of you foresters have dogs in the back of your trucks, so I decided to get one for my truck.”  If you have ever seen the back of a logging boss’s truck you would know that his dog would need chemical resistant feet and armor plating. Their trucks are full of hydraulic fluid, oil, truck parts, tractor parts, chokers, cable, tools, and all manner of oily, heavy metal things bouncing around loose in the bed.  So Bob’s dog was special….unique even

chainsaw carving, dog carving, logger's dog

Meet Would, Bob’s dog.

Bob’s dog is named “Would”, not Wood even though he is wood.   If you ask him why “Would”, he will say, “He would bark if he could and he would s–t if he could, therefore he is Would.”  Bob recently got a new work truck and when he didn’t put Would in the truck he caught so much hell that he had to load him up again. Would has been Bob’s constant woods companion for the last twenty years.  He never whines, growls or barks.  He doesn’t need food or water and doesn’t mind all the stuff in the back of Bob’s truck. I think Would has mellowed over the years, even developed a fine patina.  He may be the perfect logger’s dog.

Chainsaw carving, dog carving, dog, golden retriever, Blitz, logger, forester

The forester’s dog and the logger’s dog.

I had Blitz join Would for a group shot.  The two of the got on famously.  Blitz is, after all, the consummate stick dog.  Fortunately, she didn’t chew on his ear.  I tried to get Bob in the picture, but tough old loggers don’t always like having their pictures taken.

The Misery Whip – The Final

Watercolor, watercolour, logging, historic, crosscut saw, misery whip, auction, art

The Misery Whip.

Here it is, the final painting.  I hope you like it.

Now that I finally have time to catch my breath, here is what happened since my last post.  I left work and rushed home. I had about 20 or 30 minutes of painting left to do.  When I finished the painting, we had about an hour and 5 minutes before we had to be at the dinner auction.  I cut the mat and framed it.  With that complete, we got ourselves ready and ran out the door. We arrived at the dinner, and presented the painting to the master of ceremonies so he could put it on display.  After an excellent prime rib dinner the auction began.

This auction is a fund-raiser for the Education Fund of the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference.  The money goes for forestry education for local students.  The money supports Education Day for local 4th graders to tour the conference, that is where Mary gave her presentation, .  They also support the local college logging sports team, scholarships and a Spring woods tour, among other things.

Now back to the auction.  The painting was item 30 out of 50.  Not a bad place to be.  If it is too early, some folks are holding back, keeping their powder dry, so to speak.  Too late in the evening and many bidders start to leave.  The bidding seemed to be going pretty high during the early portion of the auction.  I was encouraged.  Finally, The Misery Whip was up.  Bidding started at $200.  The bidding was short and frantic.  Then, “SOLD” to the high bidder for $900.  I was very happy to see my effort contribute to bringing in so much to the charity fund.  I could not see who the bidder was.

Mary runs our booth at the conference, so on top of everything else we had been preparing for the conference and getting product ready.  As a result Mary and I were exhausted and were planning to go home after the painting was auctioned, but I had a ticket for a drawing at the end.  Since, we did not want to stay that late, I took the ticket to a friend from work who would be there for the drawing.  He was sitting in the area of the high bidder, so I asked him who it was.  He said “it was me”!  He told me when he saw it on display he was determined to buy it and it was his way of owning a piece of me.  I was flattered and humbled.  Thank you Ted.  I’m really glad he got it.

After weeks of getting to bed after mid-night, last night Mary and I were in bed by 7pm and slept for 12 hours.  The truck is unloaded.  Now it is time to fall back and regroup.  All in all, I would say it was a very successful conference.

Another Year Goes By

pencil, drawing, self portrait, Forester ArtistToday is my birthday.  My wife, Mary Livingston – The Backdoor Artist blogged a nice birthday post to me, and I want to say Thank you to her.  So, thanks honey.   Just for fun and for a little self-inflicted birthday humiliation I’ve attached a self portrait that I drew about 33 years ago.  This was part of my early beginning into serious art.  Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.   This was about a year before I met her on a blind date, don’t ask.  Back then I still had hair, a lot of blond hair.  I miss that hair.  Thinking back I can almost hear the disco music playing.

The Beautiful Blogger Award

Huge thanks to Maarit-Johanna of Literature and Culture,, for recommending my blog for this award.  This was a very nice thing to do.  Maarit-Johanna has beautiful site that everyone should visit.  It is full of wonderful art, philosophy and literature.


1. Thank the person who nominated you

Thank you Maarit-Johanna.

2. Post the award image to your page

3. Tell 7 facts about yourself

I married my best friend and we will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary next year.

We have 3 grandchildren that keep us in stitches.

I am a Registered Professional Forester and I love my job (Oops was that 2 things).

I enjoy watercolors, and pen and ink and I love that job also.

I love, train and raise golden retrievers with my wife.

I mine gold with my wife.

We have 2 cats, 3 dogs and 10 chickens.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers, and let them know about the nomination

The Backdoor Artist

Zeebra Design & Destinations, Playamart


Canadian Hiking Photography

The Afternoon Artist

Jelly Massee

Sleepy Tales And Lucid Dreams

From Brain To Brush

Rob’s Schetsblog

Rik Reimert

Russel Brown Art



Dancing Raven Studio

Gabriel Garbow

Congratulations everybody!

A Forester’s Traveling Companions

Blitz & Nellie taking a break for a swim at Lake Prairie

One of great things about being a forester is taking your dogs to work.  They want to go and I have an empty truck bed.  It works out for all of us.  It is a joy to take them along and bears run away from them.  They are pretty handy to have around.  When they find a yellowjacket nest they love to run to me so I can knot the bees off of them.  If they find something dead or smelly they love to roll in it so they can find me and share their awesome prefume.  However, we do have to watch out for rattlesnakes and Nellie could tell you a story, but we will save that one for later.  Perks of the job.  It seemed like a good time to bring up my traveling companions.  They bring a smile to my face and with all the chaos going on around here I hope they do the same for you.  More about them later.

Bo was our first Golden Retriever. He traveled with me for many years throughout the Sierra Nevada. He had visited more of the Sierras then most people will ever see.

Wildfire Returns to Northern California

The Ponderosa Fire from across the valley.

Fire is upon the North State once again.  It has been a few years since we have had fire like this.  Thousands of our neighbors have had to evacuate their homes.  The air is thick with smoke.  The firefighters, air attack, and equipment operators battle the fires to protect life and property.  Please keep the folks in the paths of these fire in you thoughts and prayers.


From Firestorm In The Forest, a Redtail Publishing Book.

I opened my front door this morning to let the dog out, and the air is clouded with smoke and the smell or fire is strong.  The Ponderosa Fire is burning about 15 miles from where I am sitting.  As this drama unfolds the picture of the forest that I worked on for years is rapidly changing.  Thinned timberstands, young tree plantations and acres of mature forests that I help manage.  For people the fire is a tragedy, but to nature it isn’t good or bad only different.  Nature is violently changing the picture of this forest that I remember.  It will re-calibrate and fill the void created by the fire and a new picture is created.  In the meantime the foresters and loggers work side by side with firefighters to stop this fire.

How Is A Forester Like An Artist?

The forester and the artist both create landscapes.  Only a forester’s canvas is far larger than an artist’s canvas.  The artist uses pencils, pens, brushes and all the other tools that create the play of color and light on paper.  The forester’s tools are far larger, louder and powerful.  They are the skidders, feller-bunchers, chainsaws, yarders and seedlings.  Okay, I know what you are thinking, what kind of baloney is this guy selling.  When we look out at a forest we see a beautiful thing.  Harvesting trees changes how that forest looks and develops.  The conventional wisdom may be that harvesting trees makes a forest ugly and at stages along the way I would agree.  That is all part of the process.  When an area is burned in a wildfire and the salvage harvest is complete it looks pretty bad to most folks.  This is only one stage in the development of an ever-changing picture.  Soon the seedlings come and it is no longer a barren clearcut, but it is a brand new forest.

A new forest rising from ashes of a wildfire.

Each year the trees grow and the picture is adorned with deer, turkeys and other wildlife that forage in this new forest.  As a forester I relish the changes I see with each passing year and how our work adds to the picture.  For a forester the picture is never done so we have to appreciate it for what it is at this moment in time.  Most folks have memories of that favorite camping spot in the forest that they went to as a child.  Memories that are so striking and indelible that they cannot imagine them ever changing.  However, these forest change every day.  Mostly slowly, but sometimes in blazing moments.  To the forest the changes are not good or bad, but simply different.  To the forester it is a canvas on which to apply his or her trade.  The forest changes and grows and our pictures change with it.  We may not always agree on what makes beautiful art or a beautiful forest, but I hope as practitioners of the trade we are passionate and dedicated to the process.

I did this watercolor for the children’s book Firestorm In The Forest , a Red Tail Publishing book.

As an artist working in the forest provides an endless source of subjects to paint or draw.  Never stale and always changing.  I never know when I will come across a bear crashing through the brush or a dramatic vista that will make me pause for a minute to take it in.