Mondholz Tradition

Logging using traditional methods

Rules and wisdom with regard to harvesting wood in harmony with the phases of the moon have existed all over the world for thousands of years, going back to the days when the moon was used to measure time. Over the years traditional knowledge of mountain forestry has steadily declined within Europe and almost disappeared during the economic boom of the 1970’s.

Today we know that the seasons also play a significant role, as well as the lunar phases. For example, in the county of Graubünden we find the following sayings: «Timber felled in the last days of the month (December) lasts long (Churer Schreibkalender 1708) »; «Fell timber on the second day in the sign of cancer after the full moon (only in winter). Pany 1972».

Advice given does not necessarily apply to all uses, but varies according to the purpose for which the wood is needed: furniture, building, firewood, or marine wood. However, one clear rule stands out: the best time for felling timber is during the cold months when the moon is on the wane or new; timber felled then dries better and is more resistant to fungal or insect infestation.

When should felling take place?

The ideal period for felling timber is between September and March. During this time, the tree lies dormant, and its sap has descended. The wood is drier and less likely to warp once it has been cut.

Sawing the timber

As quickly as possible, felled timber is transported to the small sawmill in S-chanf where each trunk is carefully inspected and cut into planks. Both the environment and the timber benefit when the wood does not have to be transported over a long distance. Once they are sawn, the planks are immediately stacked, with sufficient space between them to allow them to air-dry, and covered.

Drying

To be problem-free, timber must be dried slowly. It is essential that enough space is allowed for the wood to dry naturally. Wood that has been nourished by water for over a hundred years and then has its moisture content reduced from 80% to 8% within 3 days by drying in an industrial kiln can only be sub-standard. To obtain high quality timber, wood should be seasoned over at least two years, in a shady but well-aired place, following which any remaining moisture may be dried by technical means.