The week in review

It's been a busy week at Occidental Acres.  I've been slowly working on the chicken coop, on Wednesday I finished my part of the 7x10' pantry (now over to Laur for paint/electrical), started roofing the wood shed (one of those jobs which needs to be done, but only gets done in spare time), planted seven trees in the new orchard,  took down a HUGE ash snag (an incredibly dangerous job done by Mooshum. I was definitely the assistant) and tilled a garden plot.

On Thursday I rented a 6hp, rear tine tiller from the local rental place. I reported first thing in the morning at 8am and loaded it into the truck after an abbreviated tutorial.  Incidentally, I've never used a four speed tiller before - three forward and one reverse speed!

I brought the tiller home, unloaded it and with equal parts trepidation and excitement I got right down to work!  By "work" I mean chasing after the machine as it blasted over the rock strewn clay.

I know I cut a pretty amusing figure as I was dragged down the hill trying both to hold on and use my weight to push the tines into unyielding soil.  I must have gone sixteen times over that same small patch of ground.  Battered and exhausted from the fourty-five minute ordeal, I gave up and turned to bring the tiller up the drive.  Can you imagine the surprised look on my face when I realized our mail delivery guy had been standing there watching my rodeo with great amusement!

I signed for my package, sighed and resigned myself to loading and returning the tiller.  As luck would have it, the rental place had a tiller for the tractor's three-point-hitch! Bertie saves the day once again!  I reserved the TPH tiller for Saturday. 

Cue Friday! I'm not sure when it blew down, but we had an ash tree leaning on a couple other ash and maples.  I wish I'd taken photos on Friday while we worked - it was an enormous tree and a very dangerous job to get it down. Initially we thought it best to cut it off the stump in a diagonal fashion - this would allow the tree to slide down hill, away from us. However the butt end of the tree got caught up on the upended roots.  This meant we had to cut the tree again.  Danger, danger, danger.

I had brought the tractor down to the tree using a very old, over grown road.  But because of the location, I was really uneasy - the soil was soft and a small stream running below had cut a very steep gash into the hillside.  This meant there was very little room for error in front of the tractor, and only inches to squeak between trees in the back.  Nervously, I got the tractor in place and battened her down in preparation for pulling the tree sideways after which it would hopefully slide down and away.

The second time Mooshum cut the butt end, the tree slid over the roots but got hung up again in the soft soil. I fastened the tractor and winch to the tree but it didn't budge.  Mooshum suggested we use a snatch block.  I brought it out and we looped it to the ash and back to a large maple near the tractor.

I'm going to have to study up on the physics of using a block and tackle, because I just don't get it.  But, by using the snatch block we were able to slowly inch the tree over until it broke loose from the others and came crashing to the ground in a glorious cacophony of snapping and whipping branches, dead leaves, dust and a satisfying whoomp!

I moved the tractor around and pulled the tree into a clearing where I'll have room to cut it up.  I am sure there is enough hardwood to last two, if not three years! That said, I'll save the majority of the trunk and have it sawn into lumber with the other logs I've set aside. To access the tree, I'm going to have to make a wee bridge from the upper meadow, across the small stream and over to the logging road.

This week I'll take some photos to show you what I mean.

Saturday.  I asked Mooshum if I could borrow his trailer to pick up the tiller and he consented. But when I showed up at his place on Saturday morning we realized my truck didn't have a big enough ball (hitch, that is).  I was going to use Mooshums 2 5/16th ball, but my hitch has a locking pin on it and I did not have the key. Instead of going home to get it, Mooshum suggested I borrow his truck.

Whilst waiting for the fellow to load the tiller, I heard a faint hissing noise coming from the trailer.  Luckily it was a slow leak from valve on the passenger side rear axle's tire. As there are four tires on the trailer and the load was not at all heavy, I knew I'd be fine to make it home.

I picked up the tiller and dropped it and the trailer at our house before refueling and returning the truck to Mooshum.  I had just made it back home and was unloading the tiller with the front-end loader on the tractor when Laur and The Boy pulled into the driveway - he had just finished ballet and gymnastics.

Laur said she wanted to go to the poultry show in Windsor and we all hopped into Ingrid and zoomed off, spitting gravel in a dusty haze.  I thought the show would be bigger, but we did get to see some interesting birds - bantam Call Ducks, various bantam chicken breeds and a few large breeds as well.  Boy had his hands clasped over his ears most of the time as the rooster crowing was too much for him!

From Windsor we returned home at which time Bertie made very short work of tilling a space for our garden!  Because the rental place closes at 1pm on Saturdays, we get to keep the tiller until Monday.  After Sunday Driving today, I completed another couple passes in a perpendicular pattern, just for good measure.  I know we'll still have to battle with meadow grasses, but the ground is ready for my wee tomato and hot pepper starters!  On Monday we'll get some seed potatoes and get those rolling.

More on the garden later...

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