These Things

I spent a day at my inlaws’ place and oh what a time I had.  They have 14 acres of woods through which my father in law used to cut trails.  He hasn’t in a couple of years and I had a moment, so I had a go at it.  Lawn tractor time!IMG_1284

Although his tractor had been recently serviced, the ten year old battery sitting without a charger for a month did nothing to help start the beast.  He has jumped it with cables and his car, so that is what I did.  Easy as pie.  On to the trail cutting.  The land isn’t level and is bisected by a stone wall, so you have to cut two separate trail systems and then connect them with a weed whacked path.  The first set of trails went pretty well until I high centered the mower on an unseen rock.  Wasn’t hard to do since the vegetation was between knee high and head high.  I didn’t want to get off the mower because the seat has a sensor that shuts off the mower  if you get up.  I was pretty sure the battery wasn’t charged enough to restart the mower.  So I sat for a moment before doing what had to be done.  I got off the mower and pulled the thing off of the rock.  Not easy (understatement) but I managed to free it without breaking myself.  As I feared, it wouldn’t restart, so I pushed it to my car which was very luckily not far and downhill.  Second jumpstart and off I went to mow the second set of trails on the upper seven acres.

These were much worse.  Very uneven land and very high vegetation.  No sign at all of the previous trails.  My memory didn’t help much either.  Despite taking great care, I managed to get the tractor stuck many more times in many different ways.  Once I beached it in a gully so that the front and back frames were on ground and the drive wheels were unweighted.  I was able to carefully rock back and forth out of that predicament without dismounting.  Another time I was pointed downhill and managed to wedge a small tree between the nose of the tractor and the wheel.  It wasn’t going anywhere.  I didn’t want to walk down the hill and tell my father in law that his tractor was stuck up the hill, please call for help, so I did what I had to do–dismounted, killed the engine and lifted the front of the tractor off the tree and pushed it about five feet up the hill.  The thing weighed a ton.  Not sure how I did it (embarrassment induced adrenaline helped) without hurting myself, and low and behold the battery had enough juice to get the thing started.

Should have quit then but I was possessed.  After all that turmoil I wasn’t going to stop until I had a complete trail system.  After all, it is Frida’s favorite thing in the world to hunt around those trails for rabbits and poop and whatnot.  Onward for Frida!  Not long after, I got stuck again.  This time I saw Lacey wading through a field of blackberry bushes (thorns and all).  I’d been gone too long and she was worried.  I waived her over and got her seated on the thing so I could push while she drove.  Together we got it mostly done and it was clearly time to call it quits.  Clear because Lacey brought reason into the mix.  Thank you Lacey!

I managed to eat, sleep and socialize, but the next morning I didn’t hesitate before having another go.  Most of the hard work was done, but the two trails were still not connected.  I started with a  weed whacker and cleared a connecting trail over the rock wall.  Then back on the mower to finish the job.  I was ten times as cautious this time, didn’t get stuck once and the trails are done.  Sad thing is I didn’t even get to walk them with Frida.  We’ll have to head back soon.  Hopefully my nephews will enjoy them when they get home from camp.  It is a magical place and is all but inaccessible without the trails.

Phew!  What else?  Glad to be home and have a look around the garden.  I picked from the ground a pound of fallen tomatillos.  I now have a quart of tomatillo sauce from a recipe in Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican.  Next I whipped up roughly five pints of butter from Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry.  I doubled the recipe because the butter is supposed to freeze well.  I now have what I expect will be a year’s supply of homemade vegan butter.  If you are local and want to give the recipe a go, hit me up for a container of lecithin.  I was glad my co-op had a bottle, but it is a huge bottle, at least a quart, and I only needed 4 Tbs. for a year’s supply of butter.  That works out (without careful math) to enough lecithin for 18 years worth of butter.  Seriously.  You’d be doing me a favor to ask for a 1/2 cup or more.  The butter?  Beautiful color and texture and I like it better than Earth Balance.  Give it a go!  IMG_1287

Anything else?  I plucked from the curb a broken beach chair.  Didn’t seem broken on my first inspection but I expected something was wrong or it wouldn’t be at the curb.  When I got home, I saw that a nut on a pivot bolt had pulled through the aluminum tubing and the tubing was cracked at the other end as well.  I second of chin scratching yielded a memory of a saved aluminum shaft from my previous weed whacker.  I could barely believe it but the tubing was the exact size and even had a hole drilled through one end that was the exact size I needed to replace the broken piece.  I had to drill one more hole and then about a dozen pilot holes for the screws that hold the cloth seating surface in place.  With that in place, the chair was almost as good as new.  Only almost because I damaged another piece of aluminum tubing as I wrested the broken pice free.  If I had a pop rivet gun I could have easily disassembled it and put it back together with ease, but I’ve been dragging my feet on buying the gun.  Maybe this will inspire me to make the buy.  Anyway, a hose clamp is now supporting the tube I cracked and it all seems to be fine.  I’ll try it out tonight in the driveway.IMG_1282

Lunchtime.  Take care.

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