I’ve been spending time on the back of a tractor, contemplating all the mysteries…
27-ton, chainsaw, chopping wood, family, farm boss, farm chores, farm equipment, farm tools, fireplace, firewood, front-end loader, hydraulic, kubota, laurel oak, log-splitter, nephew, Quercus hemisphaerica, Quercus virginiana, southern live oak, splitting wood, stihl, troy-bilt, winter fire
So, besides the feeling of power and glory, compensation issues really, the main reason that I chainsaw is for firewood.
On the ground is a Laurel Oak (Quercus hemisphaerica) that we took down because it was growing too close to a Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). Don’t you just love the Quercus rolls off the tongue? Go ahead say it really fast three times over.
After the initial felling, the main trunk is broken down into smaller sections known as rounds, using the Stihl Farm Boss, which I referenced in an earlier post.
I tractor up and use my front end loader to move the rounds from the tree site to the well house shed where I can split the wood.
Now, I used to split wood using wedges, hatchets, axes, and mallets, but that was before my enlightenment. At the shed, out comes one of my favorite boy toys, the Troy-Bilt 27-ton hydraulic log splitter, and a complete exercise in brute power,strength, and dominance.
From there it is just what you would expect. Stack the wood.
Burn the wood. Enjoy the life…
I like my chainsaws.
I like the power.
I like the danger.
I like the dirt.
I like the sawdust.
I use them.
I use them a lot.
I chop trees down.
I chop trees up.
I cannot make art.
At least not with my chainsaw…
I had big plans for the day, which really were no plans, perhaps do some fishing, get my sailboat out, chase a golf ball, float in the pool. Instead, as the heat index reached 100 (that’s about 38 degrees for my Celsius friends), I found myself shoveling dirt in a horse stall.
With our farrier making his monthly, bimonthly, six-weekly, visit tomorrow, I found myself under the gun to get the main run-in stall back in decent enough repair that I could hold reins and not be terribly embarrassed by the condition of the barn.
You see, the flies this time of year bother my boys terribly. Hell, wouldn’t you be? The damn flies bother me terribly too, but I least I can scoot into blessed air conditioning when the going gets too tough. No such luck for the horses, so what they do is paw up dust to keep the bugs away. Paw enough when you’re big enough and soon enough there’s a mighty fine hole in the ground and a mighty fine weekend of plans of doing nothing much goes bye-bye.
Bear with me, just a few more comments. The whole job would have been easier with a backhoe, instead of the front-end loader, but I am too cheap to buy one, and have no place to store it if I did own one. It is amazing how tight a barn stall can get, especially when you’re on top of a tractor. Things might have been easier if I had taken off the mower deck, too lazy, too hot, too bothered…
bountiful bush bean, dark star zucchini, farm chores, heirloom vegetables, kitchen garden, lioness f1 squash, organic gardening, plants, procrastination, solstice, sumter cucumber, tequila sunrise pepper, vegetable garden, vegetables, victory garden
Most folks call it a vegetable garden.
Others prefer to use kitchen garden.
Me, well, for me I go old school; it’s a victory garden.
Here at Totem Hall we let our freak flag fly and do our best to live the whole granola crunching organic lifestyle. Let’s see, for this year’s edition of my victory garden, I planted corn, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, basil, eggplant, tomatoes, watermelon, and, for the sheer heck of it all, potatoes. All are organic, with a big percentage of my garden being heirloom varieties. In case you’re curious, I do talk to my plants. Why not, it works for Zonker.
On solstice day, I had the first picks of the season. Yeah, yeah, I know the harvest should be earlier, but what can I say, I planted way too late, a victim of well, my tendency to do this or that before doing this or that.
Well, there is an explanation, broken heart, and broken tractor, and, so, I have been running late, and running behind.
The broken tractor is easier to explain than the broken heart. Underneath my rotary mower, manufactured by Taylor Pittsburgh, in the center part, is a contraption known as a stump jumper. The stump jumper is dish shaped so the mower will slide up and over large stumps and rocks. Bisecting the stump jumper is a brace, bolted to which are two blades that do the cutting. It is that brace which failed and put a damper on my spring fieldwork.
Of course, that is not the only equipment failure. There is an adjustment bar for the mower wheel simply vanished somewhere in my back forty, a victim of my negligence in checking for fastness. At least that job did not require a trip to the welder, just a wait on the UPS man.
Both zero-turn finish mowers, a Kubota, and a John Deere, required more than one trip to the shop. The John Deere had an alternator issue, thankfully covered by warranty. The Kubota suffers from a faulty starter, unfortunately not under warranty.
Tomorrow I make a run to pick up the now repaired Kubota. The John Deere I used today around the barn and pool area. The tractor went into the woods for a hard mow to maintain our hiking and horse trails. The new adjustment bar will need some adjusting; the back part of the deck keeps dragging, cutting down on my efficiency, and not helping the aesthetics of my mow.
arrow, brooks brothers, business chores, clothing, cov-ver, farm chores, filson, fishing, hay, hens, home chores, hunting, jc penny, koi fish, long leaf pine, polo ralph lauren, quarter horses, russell moccasin, sears, st. john's bay, wigwam
Back in the day, before the deluge of the modern mail order catalog, I eagerly used to await the latest Sears or JC Penny wish book. Once I had the catalog in my hands, I would carefully go through the pages, picking this and that for some vaguely defined executive future. Happily ensconced in the world of Sears and JC Penny, I put together many an outfit to wear to the office, on the golf course, at supper, in the garden.
Here we are now; flashed forward forty plus years, and those early dreams of an outfit here and an outfit there did not quite turn out as planned. Dress at Totem Hall is nothing but practical. Horses, chickens, pine trees, hay fields, vegetable crops, fruit trees, and koi fish demand nothing less, and those are just the living entities that want attention. I have not mentioned the pool, barn, home, fencing, drive, studio, well house, all of which have their particular care and needs.
Above, spread out over the bed, is my day. Below is my day, in detail.
Brooks Brothers and Polo Ralph Lauren
(age and, well, age means boxers instead of briefs)
(southern boys always wear crew neck tee shirts, always)
(the ubiquitous button down, worn out, frayed, usually Brooks Brothers)
(if there is a better pair to hunt, fish, farm, garden, chore, or spreadsheet in, show me)
• Socks & Boots
Wigwam and Russell Moccasin
(heavy-duty, warm, need to fill the boots)
(ma’am, just bury me in my boots, please)
St. John’s Bay
(goodwill find, wish it had pockets, absolutely love it and I like browns)
(my best buddy, very floppy, much worn in, much loved)
Even in our little bit of paradise, things break down, and chores must be done. Here, at Totem Hall, we do those chores; we have quite consciously made it a point not to hire staff. When, for instance, boards on our board fence break down, off I go.
I must admit to not being the brightest of light bulbs and I am okay with that. Consequently, it took me several years to come up with a way to handle broken down fencing on my own.
The first insight was using the C-clamp, rather than trying to wrestle with the board and hammer into place a new nail. Free hands are a good thing, especially when trying to leverage a 16-foot board.
My next discovery came from the contractor who built an additional paddock area for us. He used a drill and screws as opposed to a hammer and nails. In observing that method, honestly, I felt as if I had discovered fire, electricity, and the wheel. all rolled into one. I could say goodbye to the bear claw and broken off nails buried somewhere deep inside the post. I could say goodbye to smashed thumbs and bent nails.
I could earn extra time, which leads me to my just reward for all this work…
We keep horses, specifically quarter horses. Growing up, my only experience on a horse was as a young boy, dressed in western gear, and led around a ring at a fair. My wife is a most accomplished rider. Among her many achievements, early in our marriage, she trained horses for the track at her aunt’s facility.
So, horses are a big part of our life here at the farm. Horses eat. In fact, horses eat quite a bit. One of our main challenges is keeping them fed, especially in the winter, especially in the wake of a nasty multi-year drought, which plays havoc on our non-irrigated pastures.
Traditionally, we fed our boys (all our horses are geldings) square bale hay. Of course, this meant one of us had to make a run to the barn at least twice a day, sometimes more. Now, there is nothing wrong with strolling out to the barn, other than it does start to consume a day away.
As a result, over time, we started using round bales, which allow the horses to eat when ready, pretty much all the time. The downside to the round bale is the waste. Horses eat. Horses eat and pee. Horses eat and poop. Horses do not mind doing this on and around the hay bale that they have hoofed apart in search of the most succulent grasses.
I hate waste and I love the internet, at least for conducting obscure research. Someone out there actually did a study and found the best way to feed a horse with minimal waste is to use a cinch net, which is what we now do.