Horse logging a family traditionPublished 10:36am Friday, November 6, 2009
By KATIE JOHNSON
Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – Three generations of Fishers have done the same work: raising and training horses, sawing wood by hand, dragging logs out of the woods.
But for Scott Fisher, big, shiny equipment and a large crew of loggers may be good for the pocketbook, but damaging to the forest.
The Edwardsburg resident has owned Fisher Logging for about 15 years; most of his employees are relatives, all born and raised in the horse logging tradition. He believes a little sweat never hurt anyone, especially Mother Nature.
“Ninety percent of our work we do without machinery,” Fisher said as he and a few other loggers wrapped up dragging 10 trees from the woods onto the Darrell and Donna Edens property on Chain Lake Street, near Cassopolis.
“It’s a family ordeal,” said cousin Chuck Crum, of Elkhart, Ind., with a laugh.
That day, they used two 10-year-old Belgians, Gus and Tom. Fisher said their horses compete in draft horse pulling competitions at county fairs; his team even took a national title. They buy them young – 4 to 5 years old – from the Amish.
“We work them on sleds and in the woods,” Fisher said. “Belgian horses are born to be pulling horses.”
They harvest hardwoods throughout Michigan and northern Indiana; that day, they cut maples, poplars, walnut and cherry trees. The wood is sold to saw mills, for furniture and grade lumber. Fall and winter is the best time for horse logging, because the trees are bare and wood prices are high.
Fisher explained that horse logging has minimal impact on the environment. A narrow path for the horses winds through the woods, and a few trees may be damaged when trees fall down. Although the process is slower than if they used machinery, Fisher wouldn’t have it any other way.
For more information about Fisher Logging, call (517) 795-3660.