What it takes to be a logger

PHOTOS BY SHELBY WOLFE/Newport News-Times | Scott Warfield, co-owner of Warfield Limited, looks out towards a company logging site up in the hills east of Siletz Bay.

SILETZ — Deep in the forest at dawn, the sap of a Douglas fir tree weeps from a fresh cut. Scott Warfield, a pillar of strength and resilience, is a logger by blood.

Ever since he was a kid, he wanted to be a woodsman.

“I knew where I wanted to be. I knew what I was gonna be,” Warfield said, “and I made it that far.”

Today at age 64, Warfield recalls growing up in Toledo, when the logging industry flourished.

“Everything was wood,” Warfield said, “Everybody in Toledo was pretty much a logger.”

Warfield dropped out of high school his sophomore year to help his father, Glenn Warfield, launch the family logging business. His father told him that if he wasn’t going to go to school, that he might as well work.

“My dad was just starting out, he had 60 acres of his own,” Warfield said. “We logged a little bit on that. We were real small — one-cat, two-people type thing.”

Glenn Warfield started his business, Warfield Limited, in 1968 and worked in the woods for 25 years.

“He was a high climber,” Warfield recalled. “In the old growth trees which were back in his era, they climb up the trees and they limb ‘em up and they top ‘em. That’s a high climber.”

Back in his father’s time, all logging operations were done manually.

“Those were very special, elite people that had no fear of death, no fear of heights,” Warfield said.

Although logging is much more mechanized today, it still takes a certain type of person to do the work.

“It’s like killing snakes every day, you’ve gotta want to go out there wide open and don’t stop,”

Warfield said, “It’s a different breed of people — people who can’t really fit in society.”

Warfield’s father retired at age 62 and left the family business in the hands of his two sons. Scott and his brother, Sam, are now co-owners and operators of Warfield Limited.

“I love to work hard,” Warfield said. “It takes a lot of perseverance and really putting your head down and hammering it out every day.”

Ever since, the family has lived up to the Warfield namesake. Scott’s sons, Dan and Rob, also help out with operations.

“I think at one time there were 12 Warfields working for the company,” Warfield said.

In 2008, the family business reached a crossroads and was in jeopardy.

“Everything was going really smooth up until then,” Warfield said, “Then as the recession set in, we went from 50 loads per day on average, down to like eight or 10 loads a day.”

The foresters put loggers on strict daily quotas for the amount of loads they could haul and along with curtailment, fuel prices skyrocketed.

“A lot of times I had to come home and say there’s no check this payday,” Warfield said. “You can imagine what it’s like to come home to your kids and wife and say well, even though we’ve worked hard – even harder than we normally work, there’s no money.”

Warfield’s daughter, Brenda Walters, was a single mom at the time, and had to quit her job at the bank to help her dad.

“It’s just bittersweet, and going through that journey with my dad, I’ll take it with me forever,” Walters said.

With the Warfield family willpower and a good banker on their team, Warfield Limited came out of the financial turmoil 10 years later.

“In 2008 we should’ve quit,” Warfield said. “Never once I thought about giving up.”

Walter’s home in Siletz sits on top of Camp 12, which used to be one of the logging camps built along the coast near the railroad lines used to get logs to mills. One afternoon in her living room, Walters recalled growing up and being raised by a logger.

“I used to go to work with my dad when I wanted to just get away,” she said. “It’s so amazing when you go up in the woods. You’re up so high and above the fog line in the morning, and it smells so good because all the trees are freshly cut.”

One time at the job site when Walters was young, her father told her to carry a heavy copper coil over her shoulder to take down a steep hill.

“It was so heavy, this coil,” Walters said. “I attempted to put it on my shoulder and my skin as a girl was so delicate, it felt like it tore into my flesh and bruised me. That’s just how enduring your body — how thick your skin — has to be.”

As a 60th birthday gift, Walters wrote her father a poem called “What is a Logger?”

A logger is a man whose soul cannot be set free. It’s trapped within the need to continuously perform. A logger has the hands of a thousand scars. Some of which tell a story of strength and fury. A logger’s heart pumps to the thunder of falling trees. Fear is an option, not a feeling. What lies over the edge, courage determines. His only purpose is his ultimate fate. Some say there is no one like him. What is a logger… He is my hero.” Signed, “Brenda Walters, A Logger’s Daughter.”

Today, Warfield said he feels he has achieved his goal in life.

“All them hills up there, it’s like my home,” he said. “It’s where I spent my whole life. Up there in the hills, that’s my place.”

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