|The Orchard in it's previous disheveled state 2011|
In the past, Tim had been driving his tractor over 8 miles and back whenever we needed to do work on the farm. Or, my step-father, always helpful, would take time out of his busy schedule to run through with his brush hog. This winter we bought a Ford Jubilee tractor, old Oliver brush hog and acquired, through charitable swapping with a neighbor, a pretty good 24hp lawn mower which had been used and abused to the point that it no longer either started or mowed but was quickly resurrected in Tim's Tractor Triage.
Then we cleared out space in the family barn across the road, brought a selection of tools and equipment to store there, and set about to farm on a regular schedule. The idea is we have a free afternoon with nice weather, and we just show up and have all the equipment we need all ready to go: shovels, rakes, pruners.... metal detector. Booze. You will understand why in a minute.
|Shiny New Radiator (and gas cap chain)|
The tractor liked to boil over whenever you shut her off, and has cast off her gas cap. The day after we gave her a whole brandy new cooling system (yesterday), she promptly sprung a serious oil leak (today). The brush hog pooped out it's blades one day. Just dropped them right off - KaBLAM! Tim went back with the metal detector two days later and found the main castle nut three circuits of the field back. How that 75(?) pound disc and blade assembly managed to stay on, and cutting, for about 15 minutes, with nothing but sticky old grease and centripetal force to hold it up, is anybody's guess. And the next important question was: How is one man supposed to lift the blades back up on the nut and screw it back on under there? Well, it takes an engineering mind, some determination and not a little bit of BamBam
Gas cap #1 is still MIA and evading the metal detector (gas cap #2, also rattley, has been chained to her post like a prisoner). The weekend after that, the lawn mower picked up a rose root, jammed the blades, bent a spindle, smoked the belt and then vibrated the main engine pulley right the heck out. Tim reinstalled the pulley, and replaced the spindle, but the battered blades are just going to have to do their job as best they can,
|The Oliver bush hog with blades safely contained.... for now|
Still, when the mower fleet is running well, things are great. And half of the orchard is flat and wide open, a pleasure to mow. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than mowing in the shady, bucolic countryside. I start with the mower under the low limbs of the healthy Cortland and Spy trees while Tim takes the Jubilee and brush hog up and down the long rows. Then I criss-cross in a grid two mower widths beside each tree to catch the grass left by the slalomming path of the wide hog. I finish up with a trip round of weed whacking and get the golden rods that are hugging the trunks, fearing for their lives. The orchard grass is heavy and thick, and the golden rod and multiflora rose are in abeyance. The orchard looks cared for.
|The orchard after it's first serious haircut in decades 2013. |
It looks even better now, but we're too busy meckanicking to take pictures.