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March 13, 2005

Final Row Turning / More Bush Hawging

Another early start to the day - out in the vineyard by 8am. So with the vines from last year transplanted over to row one, I was able to finish subsoiling the remaining 6 rows. Ahh, but first we must get the hole digger off the tractor and the subsoiler back on. Somehow I managed to wrestle the hole digger off, still ending up with 10 fingers and my back still functioning. Teenage boys will be quite useful someday...

Out to the vineyard where, I had to repaint my guidelines as they had worn off a bit from the snow, but no big deal. Also, because I had decided to leave the 200' bamboo stakes in place, I had a gap of about 15' in the center of each row that had to be turned. The gap was due to the length of the tractor, as I stopped subsoiling when the tractor reached the 200' mark. So i just had to turn the tractor around the other way and quickly do this short distance on each row. Got that done about 11am.

Now it was time to get back to bush hawging in preparation for the deer fence installation. I've kind of been putting it off because it just sucks sooo bad. Now with the vineyard rows all turned, just sitting ready to plant, there is nothing else to do but get ugly with the bush hawg. Ahhh, but first we have to get the subsoiler off the tractor and the bush hawg on. Good grief where is that farm boy???

Back in February my bush hawg came apart (for the second time) so the nice folks at Tractor Supply gave me a new one! Rebecca helped me put it together, but since it was a replacement it didn't come with instructions. (You know where I'm going with this but stay with me...) I put it together from memory, tightened down all the nuts/bolts and we're ready to go. (Stay with me...)

So this morning as I'm attaching the drive shaft to the PTO it seems to me that I'm not quite able to reach in to the shaft quite as easily as with the old one. Discounting that difficulty to the angle of the tractor, I manage to get everything hooked up and we're ready to go. (Steady...) I pull out of the driveway, head down Sagle Road to the vineyard, and as I turn in to the vineyard the shit hit the fan! Actually the bush hawg hit the tractor and the shit hit my overalls...

Basically the front support brace for the bush hawg was installed backwards, which brought the deck of the cutter about four inches closer to the tractor. Thus the deck got caught on the treads of the rear wheels of the tractor, and as the wheels turned forward it actually lifted the whole bush hawg up off the ground. The tractor started lurching forward and bouncing up and down as the bush hawg lifted further off the ground until the hitch arms could go no higher, at which point the transmission made a big fun noise and the engine shut off. Well now just kiss my country ass.

Of course it's getting close to lunch time and Shannon is bringing lunch soon - gotta fix this quick so she won't worry!

So there I am stalled in the field with the bush hawg waving in the air like a 600-pound flag. La de da I manage to get the tractor started, put it in reverse to un-f**k the bush hawg, which I then detached. Tractor tire not looky so good, but didn't pop (somehow.) Quick run over to the truck to get the tools to fix the bracing on the bush hawg and wouldn't you know it there I am sitting in the field with nuts and bolts and tools all over the place and up drives my pregnant wife.

"Ummm, hi honey. I'm being real careful..."

Happily she didn't confiscate the tractor key and send me home for the day. We had a nice lunch and just hung out in the vineyard for an hour for a little QT, as she's leaving on a business trip for a few days. :-(

So now back to the task at hand. Bush hawg fixed, tractor patted on the head (sorry about the drama there mate...) and off to find some bushes. The afternoon was spent chainsawing branches and a few trees, running through bushes chopping them down, clearing out rocks, just making a nice wide perimeter to get the deer fence in place. I think the thing that sucks most about this is no matter how careful you are, invariably you get whacked in the head with a tree branch, or some sticker bush gets under your face mask and tears into your neck. You may not think that a little branch could be that bad, but have somebody whack you in the forehead with a broomstick a few times and you'll see what I mean.

Made great progress though, and looking at what is left I'm hopeful that next weekend will be the last of the fence-pulling bush hawging nonsense. At this point I've cleared the entire perimeter except for a 40-yard stretch along the road. And the biggest relief is knowing that this is a one-time chore - from here on out all we have to do is keep it cut back a few times a year!

Posted by Stephen at March 13, 2005 9:08 PM