Three generations of loggers and John Deere feller bunchers
Every picture tells a story. The one Theo Freake recently posted to the John Deere Facebook page tells us a little bit about our history — and his own.
It’s not often we see three generations of feller bunchers in the same photo. So when we received Freake’s photo, it caught our attention. That’s a first-generation John Deere 953G on the right. In the middle is one of our recent models, the John Deere 953M, and on the left is a 953K.
The photo inspired Freake to share a bit of his family’s logging history, which also spans three generations. “My father dropped out of school to fell trees and never looked back,” says Freake. “He started taking me out to the woods as soon as I was old enough to walk. As I got older, I learned to operate and service the feller bunchers. Logging is in my blood.”
His father, Ted Freake, grew up in Newfoundland working for the family logging business. About 40 years ago, he moved to Alberta, working a short stint in the oil fields. But like his father before him and his son Theo, Ted was born to be a logger. He started out running a chain saw before becoming a machine operator for various contractors. In 1998, Ted started his own logging operation with a Timberjack 618 and a skidder. Over the years, he purchased numerous John Deere feller bunchers and skidders while contracting with several mills near Whitecourt.
Ted is no longer contracting, so Theo currently runs a feller buncher for a contractor in Drayton Valley, Alberta, and hopes to retire a logger. “I’d rather be out harvesting timber than doing anything else,” he says. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”