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Pinebelt Tough: Loggers

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Grant Matheny with Arinder Logging says, "Used to it was all cut down by saws and pulled up with cable skidders. It's changed a lot but its still easy to get hurt if you don't pay attention."

No better start to Pinebelt Tough than its own namesake. Agriculture is the number one Mississippi industry and forestry brought in more than $1.3 billion to the state in 2012. Our story begins with the loggers.

Brain Taormina with Arinder Logging says, "It's sorta been tough this year. I mean we've got a lot of rain this go round. 

Modern forestry employs an array of heavy equipment including cutters, skidders, loaders, and trucks to haul. When the ground is wet, production is slow if not all together stopped it causes equipment to get stuck and break down.

Taormina says, "You have things that break down. Sometimes you go months without having much trouble, but when it happens it seems like it's just back to back."

When a logging crew like Arinder Logging gets to a new timber track, they must clear and set up equipment. Then it starts with the cutter. The loggers say, an average log could weigh up to a ton or more.  Once the cutter has cut and bundled the drags of timber, the skidder goes to work. The skidder clamps on and pulls the drag through the gate.  The gate is a matrix of steel tubing that resembles a gate. Trees are pushed through the gate to break off branches. Once the gate breaks most of the limbs off the skidder drags the bundle to the loader.

Taormina says, "Then the loader processes it to go to the mill."

The loader continues de-branching and separates the timber. Size matters. "Sort and separate what it is, some may be pulpwood some maybe logs." The smaller pulpwood is milled for chips, paper, or plywood, whereas the larger logs are milled for lumber.  And on a good day, "we can get up to 11 or twelve loads a day." That averages around 40 trees a load that Arinder Logging cuts for Southern Timber Products.

With the truck loaded the driver goes to work. He trims, pulls off hanging bark, straps down the load, flags the load for the road and sets off for the mill.

A logging crew that worked together for a while can work like a symphony of heavy equipment. Taormina says, "Everybody out here is like family. Everybody knows what they're supposed to be doing" Because if they don't Matheny says, "Ha, you can get hurt real easy."

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