Here at East Hill, we have prided ourselves in being super transparent about our farm and our Creamery. We hope you have enjoyed us opening our doors to you and letting you see all aspects of the farm and the Creamery as it's being built. Often times, there are things that get done behind-the-scenes and people who do work that no one ever knows about. Well, not at East Hill. We are going to take the next series of blogs to tell you about the guys who are out there doing all the “dirty” work (literally!) to get our Creamery built and producing cheese (hopefully by December!). These guys are a very valuable part of our operation, and we want you to appreciate them as much as we do. We want the world to know how much their work means to us, and someday, when you sit down and enjoy a delicious slice of East Hill cheese, you can appreciate all the folks who helped make that possible.
With that being said, today we are going to focus on our logger, Dan Wagner. Dan is a local New York man who resides near Arcade, New York. He has made his living from the woods since 1979. He actually started logging with his dad when he was only 14 on his summer breaks from school. He describes logging and forestry as a 7 day a week job, “just like farming”. It's a job that he enjoys most of the time, but there are some 15 degrees below zero days that make his work pretty hard.
Normally Dan buys the marked timber in the stand from a landowner and has a contract with them for a year. He is responsible for selling the logs after he gets them out of the forest. What he really enjoys about working with East Hill is that he doesn't have to worry about selling any logs. We pay Dan on an hourly rate and all of the logs he cuts will go directly for use at the Creamery! Gary and Betty met him through the forester that they use to advise them on their forest. Dan is very gentle in the woods and respects the smaller trees that will be the next generation of trees to come for future harvest (sustainability). He minimizes injury and scraping of the remaining trees with his bulldozer as he snakes his way through the forest skidding logs. The use of a bulldozer prevents compaction and rutting of the logging trails, which is another plus.
Dan says he doesn't know what he would do if he wasn't a logger. He says he would probably enjoy building things or working in fabrication. He does however, have a secret skill: he was a professional go-kart racer! He has raced on a US team over in England and on NASCAR tracks around the US. He is married and has two daughters.
We hope you enjoyed meeting Dan. The wood that he cuts, red oak, will be used for the post and beam construction on our Creamery, and the other wood that he is cutting, hemlock, will be used for rafters. He is also cutting cherry for the knee bracing support for the post and beam. As you recall, Gary spent a lot of the winter cutting basswood to make our cheese shelves. There will be all sorts of East Hill forest in our Creamery (drawing of what Creamery will look like below). When it's finished, we hope you can come by and have a look for yourself. As always, if you have any questions for Dan about what he does, please email us or post on Facebook and ask. We are proud to have him on our team!