Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘diesel tractor

Getting Orange

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Things are growing more orange around here. Yesterday at breakfast, Cyndie called me to come look at the difference in color of our eggs, compared to the ones purchased at the grocery store. Looks like the free-range diet of our three chickens is producing deep color in the yolks, seen on the right, below.

We spent the Labor Day holiday doing a lot of work, for a day off. Starting with a couple of hours cleaning out the compost area, using the loader bucket on the diesel tractor. There’s now plenty of room to store a winter’s worth of manure, just in case winter gets around to showing up.

Then we split up and Cyndie used the power trimmer in the labyrinth, while I entered a race against time to get the hayfield mowed before it rained.

Looking back toward the horses, I spotted another splash of orange color erupting from the green of our tree line.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like September.

At the end of a long day’s effort, we put our tools away and headed for the house under the drops of a perfect late-summer rain shower.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Final Step

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It starts out as luscious green grass. The horses eat it and their bodies process it. They spread it on the ground for me to scoop up and shape into big piles. In the piles, microorganisms take action and the temperature climbs to around 160° (F). Eventually, things settle down and the pile cools.

At that point, it’s ready for use feeding growing things which puts that luscious green back where it came from at the start. The final step is loading some bags for sharing our wealth with others.

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My project yesterday was a little more involved than usual after the chickens showed up to offer assistance. Their version of helping seems to always involve getting as much in the way as they possibly can. I tried negotiating with them, but it seems as though they don’t understand English.

Compost work was interrupted by lunch, after which our attention shifted to the north pasture. With Cyndie assisting, we pulled the posts with a chain and the loader bucket of the diesel tractor, which cleared the way for me to mow the overgrown field.

Well, not exactly. The evergreen trees in that field have gotten so big, the tractor doesn’t fit between many of them anymore. It becomes a maze of weaving around groups of trees that are often too close together to provide easy weaving.

It was certainly more trouble than I could manage, in terms of getting the field to look decently mowed. I did achieve a wonderful version of the ‘bad haircut.’

The night ended with a small setback, as the chickens made their way into the tree over the compost piles again before we could entice them to the coop. It seems as though the training for that may not have a final step, but will be a repeating exercise for some time to come.

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Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

Most Satisfying

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Every time I use our wood chipper, I grow more enamored with the machine and what it does for us. For me, it has become the most satisfying repeated task of property management that we undertake.

It is relatively easy to set up, makes good use of our otherwise under-utilized diesel tractor, and it makes quick work of the chipping. I love the way it transforms an unsightly nuisance of constantly accumulating dead (or recently pruned) branches into a precious resource of wood chips. We will never have enough.

We use the chips around plants in the gardens and landscaping, as well as a covering for our many trails. That is, we hope to cover the trails. Right now, we have a lot more trails in need than we have wood chips to cover.

If we could find a way to create a few more hours in a day, we certainly have no shortage of branches to chip…

And it would be a most satisfying additional few hours, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Tractor Timber

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IMG_iP1462eDespite the inherent risks in dealing with trees that have blown over, but remain hung up in the branches of other trees beside them, I chose to see if I could push them over using the loader on our tractor.

Whether or not it made any sense to try, I forged ahead on the idea that it just might work.

First, I needed to attach the loader bucket that I’ve recently taken to storing at one end of the hay shed.

The following is pretty much how the previous week unfolded for me, in terms of frustrations.

As I approached the hay shed on the tractor, I realized the trailer on the back of the truck was parked directly in front of the spot I needed to reach. Keys to the truck were up at the house.

I caught sight of Cyndie just crossing the yard and shouted to ask if she could grab the keys.

She turned the key and the starter stuttered the staccato clatter of “not enough battery.”

“Not again! Not now!”

IMG_iP1493eFor some unidentified reason, this happens at very unpredictable odd intervals. The truck needed to have its battery charged again. It was parked far enough away that it would require an extension cord, and then I realized the nearest outlet was dead because I had borrowed the circuit breaker last fall to use for the waterer over the winter.

I swapped out the breaker, got the battery charging, and decided to do some lawn mowing. All that served to do was intensify my frustration over the odd problem of the middle blade not cutting and the outside blades cutting low. Something more than just a broken bracket must have gone wrong when it failed last week.

I did the bare minimum of ugly mowing and then put it away to start the truck.

All that frustration before I could get to the task I intended.

Compared to those hassles, the rest of my project went swimmingly. I pulled up to the trees, lifted the bucket to test the weight, and after an initial slip, successfully pushed the trees over with a resounding crash.

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Yikes. It was both scary and satisfying.

Most of all, it wasn’t frustrating.

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Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2016 at 6:00 am

Unchecked Growth

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It had been a while since I made it down to trim the fence line along the south border of our back pasture where it runs through a grove of trees. Some of the weeds were as tall as me. Yesterday, I made it back down there to finish what I started on Friday, before being interrupted to get hay.

The task was made a bit more tedious than I wished by the presence of some monster thistle stalks, which defy the nylon line whipping away at it. More times than I can count, I had to stop and remove the spool from the trimmer to re-feed the line.

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When I made it through to the end of those trees, it was time to mow the lawn. I didn’t want the growth in the yard to get out of hand. However, there were other influences at play which hampered my completion of the job. The mower engine began to balk. Instead of trying to analyze that situation, I parked the mower and returned my attention to the unchecked growth along the far fence line.

I pulled out the diesel tractor with the brush mower to cut down pasture weeds and then moved to the stressful task of mowing between the fence and a drop off to the drainage ditch, a space that is barely wide enough to fit. I also needed to navigate driving down into that ditch without tipping the tractor in order to knock down the growth that can obstruct the runoff we have worked so hard to facilitate.

Succeeding, with only a couple scares where my weight was shifted to the brake when what I really wanted was the clutch under the other foot, I had the worst of the runaway growth on the far fence line knocked down and the ditch opened up just in time for last night’s wild, windy and rainy thunderstorm.

There are leaves and tree parts shrapnel scattered everywhere this morning!

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2016 at 9:46 am

Quick Transformation

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DSCN4680eI am so pleased with our decision to get a wood chipper attachment for our tractor. We have an unending supply of branches available for chipping and we have a need for wood chips on our trails.

In a rewardingly short amount of time, we were able to convert an unwanted pile of collected branches on the edge of a trail, into conveniently placed mounds of raw material for “paving” the paths.

It really feels like double dipping. Like having our cake and eating it, too.

There is even an added bonus of saving us from needing a gym membership to get exercise. Last night I could really feel the body fatigue from the constant motion of bending and lifting, done at an accelerated pace to keep the chipper fed while the diesel engine races along at optimal revolutions.

So, it has actually proved to be a 3-in-1 device! It’s a perfect model of efficiency.

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Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2016 at 6:00 am