Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuesday Tool Straight Outta Serendip Edition

The job for Tuesday of last week was a bit of reclamation.  We had a chunk of one pasture that was very difficult to use.  It was next to what had been a decrepit barn, and there was a lot of discarded stuff in the ground--the remains of a couple of feeders, hoses, wire, glass, and so on.  Also, when we did the foundation work for the new barn, the excess soil had been dumped in the area, and then driven over while wet.  The result was a barn-sized patch of pasture, situated in what should be a high-transit area, that was riddled with foot-deep ruts, rubble, and weeds.  The plan was to drag out the larger chunks of metal and then level the damp and workable soil with a box grader and then smooth it with a screen.   The screen--a heavy "horse panel," would break up clumps and put a nice finish on things, though really, a harrow would be a much better tool.

So, I started work, digging up some chunks and hauling them out.  There was about half a foot of an old rail protruding from the side of one of the ruts, and it did not come out by hand.  So, I got the tractor bucket underneath it and lifted--and nearly flipped the tractor.

I dug a bit more with the bucket, saw that there was a chain welded onto the rail, and that it kept going.  I got some heavy chain, wrapped it around the tractor's bucket, and started tugging and yanking and digging and wiggling at it, and more and more rail and more and more chain started appearing.  It was starting to wiggle a little, but it was still not coming out, despite almost flipping the tractor a few more times.  The simple first step of the morning's work was becoming considerably more complicated.

After two hours of hard exertion by both myself and the redoubtable Kubota, it became clear that I was looking at a heavy drag harrow that had been buried underneath everything, I don't know how long ago.  I don't remember seeing it when we bought the place, five or six years ago now.  A few of the cast iron connectors had broken, but the welding was still good.  And heavy!  Lifting it with the tractor bucket caused the rear wheels to lighten noticeably, and that was with the box grader riding on the back!

I set the harrow aside, and set myself to work with the box grader.  I'm not skilled with it yet, so what would take an adept earthmover a half hour took me two hours, and I was still looking at a lot of wrinkles and ridges.  (If you ever want to learn humility, try to do something that a tradesman does easily.)  I thought to myself that a horse panel really would not do the job, here.  What I wish I had was a nice, heavy drag harrow...and hey, I have one!
So, that part of the pasture is returning to usefulness; here's Eleanor inspecting it--she has since decided that she needs to dig halfway to China there, marring its smooth surface, but still, it's much better than before.

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