Breaking Out

Stepping up in the steeplands

It’s getting harder to be a ground base crew these days, as harvesting jobs increasingly migrate to the hills.

Learning how to run a swing yarder or hauler operation isn’t something you pick up overnight when making the switch to logging steep sites. It can take many years of trial and error, and considerable hard work to perfect the dark art of cable hauling or grapple yarding.


Every cable and yarder logger would say you never really stop learning.

Fortunately, Morepork Forest Harvesting had some previous experience with yarding when they were called on to convert to cable logging in the Manawatu.


Brian Merwood, joint-owner of Morepork, had worked with a yarder crew in Northland for a couple of years before returning to his home base in Wanganui. And his son, Brad, is a bit of a dab hand at the hauler controls, too.


So, when the inevitable word came from forest manager FOMS that there wasn’t enough work to keep their ground base crew busy on the flat, they had to change horses.


Anyone who has been in that situation knows what comes next – a huge dollop of self-doubt and nagging questions, such as ‘where the bloody hell do I pick up a decent yarder, how do I pay for it and how do I make it work’.


It was another piece of good fortune that smoothed the transition for Morepork; FOMS is a rare beast among forest managers because it owns a fleet of cable haulers that it leases to crews who work on the woodlots that make up much of the company’s business...


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