Tractor maintenance, and a start on the fence

Last weekend we went up to Maine, we did some service on the tractor, and got a start on the electric deer fence. The weather was sunny and cold, with a howling northwest wind. We changed the fuel, oil, and air filters on the tractor, changed the oil and transmission lube, and vacuumed a bunch of dust and crud out of the radiator. We also greased up the zirc fittings on the suspension, checked the coolant, and replaced a rotted-out manifold gasket that had been leaking exhaust. Earlier in the winter we also replaced the right front tire, which had some sidewall damage presumably resulting from a rock or stick in the orchard or surrounding woods. At the same time we cleaned out the right bay of the red barn, pitched a lot of trash, and swept out the dust. Dave reported that the tractor had a lot more pep following the service, presumably because of the new air and fuel filters.

Sunday morning Dave and I loaded some tools and a generator onto the back of the tractor, and moved some treated 4×4 and 6×6 lumber up to the orchard. We plumbed up 3 4×4 corner posts against the trees we’d selected previously, shimming with scrap lumber as needed, and attached the posts to the trees with long 1/2″ galvanized lag bolts. I laid out and drilled holes in the corner posts, the first at 8″ off the ground, and from there at 8″, 16″, 26″, 36″, 48″, 60″, and 72″. I then dug two gate post holes on either side of the entrance road, planted 12′ 6×6 timbers in them, plumbed, and backfilled.

By that time my aunt, uncle, and cousin arrived for Easter dinner with the grandparents, so I cleaned up and called it a day. Next time, I’ll cut the gate posts off level, spike them together with a large cross timber, and stiffen the structure with angle braces. I’ll set the fourth corner post, which is a bit more complex than the others because it can’t be attached directly to a tree. Then it will be time to attach corner insulators to the corner posts and insulated eyes to the gate posts, string the wire, and install the Zareba solar fence charger that I bought. I’ve got tensioners that should be sufficient to carry the wires between the posts, but the ground isn’t perfectly flat, so we’ll need to put up small intermediate posts to adjust the height of the wires conformal to the ground. These posts may also carry light-duty deer netting on the inside of the wires to further deter animals in the winter, when the electric fence won’t work so well. We’ll eventually make nice swinging gates, though I suspect initially something more expedient will suffice. With the fence functional, it will be time to transplant the trees – we’re floating the idea of another orchard weekend for early May.


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