Go and tell him to clear me one acre of land

Between the rock ledges and the muddy sea strand

Setherwood, sale, rosemary and thyme…

The dismal weather forecast for the weekend was belied by the national satellite image, which showed nothing of great significance bearing down on it.  AC was on duty at BMC all weekend, so I took a chance and planned on a weekend of orchard work.  Here is what the orchard looked like at the end of Sunday:

Saturday morning was sprinkling lightly but nothing serious, so I hitched up the cordwood hauler and got out about half a cord of four foot wood that had been weighing on my mind, having been cut not this winter but last.  Then I pitched in with D&E on some thinning in the woods over by the pole barn, and schlepped a few wheelbarrows of mellowed wood chips to mulch around the pear trees at the north side of the old pumpkin patch.  After lunch we tackled an issue with the transmission of the new (to us) Kubota, which had suddenly found itself stuck in first gear.  The shift lever just flopped freely around, not engaging anything mechanical within.  In order to get to the mechanism we had to take the seat (which was an aftermarket job) off, which entailed taking a bunch of sheet metal off, which involved taking the knobs off the levers…  And so forth, but we eventually got there, removed the bell housing for the shift lever, and found the problem – a 6mm roll pin had been sheared off, either by fatigue or by excessive vigor on the part of some operator.  The shift mechanism consists of a rod (maybe 20mm) which translates axially by about that distance, and also rotates through a small angle.  Inside the housing the rod has a sleeve, which is pinned to the rod with aforementioned roll pin, and the sleeve has an arm welded on to it which engages one of two cast pockets, depending on the axial position.  Each of the cast pockets is attached to a smaller rod which disappears forward into the mechanism of the transmission, and a rotation of the shift mechanism causes one or the other of the  smaller rods to move in the fore-and-aft direction.  Anyway, we didn’t have cause to investigate the workings of the transmission further, but rather ran up to Roger’s hardware (easily the best hardware store I have ever been to), paid 75 cents for a suitable replacement, and put the whole thing back together (minus the sheet metal) before dinner.

On Sunday morning I completed the sheet metal re-installation, then drove the tractor over to the west side, and hitched up the springtooth harrow.  We cleared about a quarter acre of new orchard west of the existing orchard area last fall, and a dirt contractor came with a big excavator to stump it out around christmas, but naturally he left a lot of big roots and rocks in the ground.  Getting the ground from stumped to ready for cover crop was a painful process for the previous two chunks of orchard we prepared; with the 25hp Kubota the springtooth would bog down on any little thing, and I had to stop, lift the harrow, edge forward, and drop it again, then come back and chip away at whatever combination of roots was hanging it up.  With the 50hp Kubota all but the thorniest roots would just yark right out; only occasionally would it bog down.  The springtooth spontaneously transitions from a harrow to a rake as it loads up with roots and sticks, so I would gather up a load and drag it over to a pile beyond the fence line, and then go back for more.  Dave joined in with the little excavator, moving a big pile of pine chunks and digging out a couple big rocks which had been left behind.

Once the roots and sticks were under control I hitched up the 2 bottom plow and plowed the newground, mostly to be sure I had dislodged all the roots and rocks.  I was again pleasantly surprised how much difference the new tractor made.  Having approached the project with trepidation, expecting to till only half of the newground this year with the rest for next year, I was elated at the speedy completion, thanks to diesel fuel and modern technology.  The new ground is on the order of a quarter acre, and together with the existing orchard and the triangular chunk to the south, which is stumped but not yet cultivated, the orchard is approaching an acre in size.   After a brief but glorious spell of sun in the midafternoon, wherein the newly arrived bees briefly emerged to check out their new surroundings, the rain which had held off so considerately finally set in, so we stowed the equipment and called it a day, and I packed up the dogs and headed for home, weary but grinning from ear to ear.


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