Bud grafting, bush-hogging

Last Friday evening I bud-grafted the plum rootstocks over to peach varieties, using budwood from the peach trees we’d previously planted between rows. Then, yesterday I went up to Five Islands to do the annual bush-hogging of the fields. I used the smaller Kubota tractor and a 4 foot rear deck rotary mower – it is driven from the PTO and has two metal cutting blades under a protective steel enclosure. The blades are pivoted to swing out of the way if they hit something solid, which they do with some regularity on the rougher ground.

I started by hoisting the mower up by its edge and sharpening the cutters with a big angle grinder, which is probably futile given the rocks, but made me feel better. Things went smoothly, but by the end of the first field there was a weird vibration, and I noticed that the right-angle gear assembly that transmits power from the PTO to the mower disk had come loose. I got some lunch, then grabbed some wrenches and investigated – the gearcase casting was held to the welded steel mower deck by four 5/8″ bolts, and these had vibrated loose. The nuts were still present, though, and I could just barely sneak a half inch ratchet with a 7/8 socket up under the mower disk and hold the one end while I tightened the other. I had no further trouble, and proceeded to mow the south field and the west field down by the water – I didn’t get to mowing the orchard, which is getting to need it again already. I left the mower on the tractor for next time.

I felt weirder and weirder over the course of the day, which I initially attributed to either a bad night sleep or the hot sun. By the time I was finished it was pretty obvious that I was coming down with some kind of virus or something, so today is a quiet, dizzy, headache-ey sort of day.

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