How to Communicate with Loggers

Farmers and loggers have long been rivals. As a government soil conservationist, I’ve been trained for effective communication with both groups. With loggers, I communicate in plain speech, with simple questions like, “Hey, buddy, you been sleeping on the job?” Sometimes they don’t understand, just glare and shake their head.

Despite limited comprehension, loggers always strike me as some of the most thoughtful and cerebral storytellers around. There’s often a lot of math in their stories, particularly concerning the angle of a leaning tree, the tree’s rate of descent once severed, and the top speed of a soil conservationist in steel-toe boots. Occasionally, they also get philosophical with quips like, “If a tree falls on a government employee’s truck and no one’s around to hear the horn, does the truck make a sound?”

Loggers love nature and tell lots of stories about snakes, hornets’ nests, and cornered wildcats. One logger told me about the time he put a large and beautiful specimen of copperhead in the county forest ranger’s truck. He never saw the forest ranger in the forest again, but he did run into him once at a bar, where the forest ranger picked up his tab, but hardly said a word otherwise. This shouldn’t reinforce the old stereotype that loggers are heavy drinkers; usually loggers just stumble upon liquor stills in the woods and feel duty-bound to dispose of the liquid contraband.

My grandfather was a logger, and I remember building forts out of logging debris, the smell of pine sap on my hands, and the sound of the skidder rumbling while I played blissfully in the woods nearby. Sadly, when I wax poetic about our common experiences, loggers always hurry back to work sharpening their chainsaws. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a logger to dull a chain on a nail or piece of barb-wire embedded in a tree. Nails show up so commonly on logging sites that on several occasions I’ve left a logging site only to soon thereafter hear a loud clunking noise and to find a nail in a tire’s sidewall. Being a government truck, it takes an act of congress to change the tire, and sometimes I’m forced to walk back to the logging site where the loggers welcome me with open arms, though sometimes the closed-fisted slaps on the back are rather rough for my liking. Still, boys will be boys, and it feels good to be included by loggers; not everyone is as kind to government employees. 

government employee deterrent.

5 thoughts on “How to Communicate with Loggers

    1. Yeah, copperheads aren’t my favorite snake. We had a small copperhead get in our house once. I suspect it came in through a crack in the stone chimney, but sometimes I’ve wondered if a logger may be to blame.

      1. Yikes! They exist here in Ohio, but mostly in the southern part of the state, thank heaven! Our snakes tend to be black snakes, Lake Erie water snakes (when we go to the islands), but mostly garter. Love nature, but not a fan of anything that might be happy to kill me!

  1. I was impressed when loggers came through my property. The macheniry they use is awesome and a little terrifying. It takes more skill than some people think to be a good operator and successful logger. I came across a few ‘logging’ companies who were simply a few people with chainsaws and a backhoe… But I guess they need to start somewhere, right?

    1. Yeah, I really do like talking to loggers. They have a lot of crazy stories from a life spent in the woods. Few loggers around here actually use chainsaws anymore. Most use feller bunchers. Having a chainsaw on the job site actually increases their insurance rate. There is definitely a lot of skill involved in running heavy machinery, and a good, smooth operator is a valuable resource.

Leave a Reply