A Bob Cat, dump truck and a tractor may not be a girls, or even a guys, definition of fun. But when my boss asks who wants to use them I have to use all my self-control not to jump and down and yell, I do! I do! For the past three days I have been playing around with them. And let me tell you, it feels like going Disney Land. Then again anything that involves machinery and a break from weeding and hoeing seems like a vacation right now. We recently had a compost pad built (a flat, level, and graded square pad, pictured on the left) that can and handle a whole lotta crap. Before we even started dumping manure on the compost pad we put down a bed of wood chips. The logic behind the wood chips is that it provides a bit of a buffer between the compost and gravel so when we turn the pile we are not scooping up gravel. Also, wood chips help aerate the compost which helps it breakdown faster and it means we don't have to turn the pile as often.
On Tuesday I spent five hours using the Bob Cat and dump truck. My mission was to move as much goat and cow manure to the compost pad before the storm hit us. Which it did right around lunch time. It was not easy. First, the terrain where the manure pile was located was either hard and bumpy or soft and muddy, making parking the dump truck a bit of challenge. I had to choose between getting stuck in the mud with the truck or not being able to access all three sides of the truck to dump my bucket loads with the Bob Cat. I needed to get at all three sides to evenly distribute the load. After a bit of maneuvering I found the perfect spot for the truck. In the Bob Cat I used the controls to prod and scoop up bucket loads of crap, the smell left much to be desired. Once I successfully filled the bucket, I would rotate 360 degrees and drive over to the dump truck and simultaneously lift and tilt the bucket down. There is a careful balance here that must be met. Tilt the bucket up too much and you end up with a face full of crap. Tilt the bucket down too much and you lose your load.
When the back of the dump truck was filled I would climb onto the seat and blast the tunes, for some reason the station was playing nothing but dance tunes, as I drove towards the compost pad. Then I would reverse the truck over the wood chip pile and lift the bed of the truck until a wall of manure came rushing to the ground. The not so fun part was putting up the tail gate up afterward which was covered in manure.
Today, I got to try out a 70's relic, a bright orange electric tractor. This thing has 6 batteries that cost about $100 a piece! Electric tractors were made during the brief oil crisis in the 70's and quickly fell out of favor as oil prices settled again. I find it interesting that there hasn't been a large resurgence in demand for them now. Although one downside is that they are a bit of heavy so rotatilling can be tricky, on one hand you loosen the soil on the other you may end up compacting it. But it can also be used for cutting the grass which is precisely what I did with it. My one complaint is the speed is seriously lacking. It goes like 5 miles an hour. But its green, and green is good! And it was my first official tractor driving experience. I still need to learn how to use the Landini, Kubota and zero turn mower. My co-worker Lise thinks its hilarious that I love using machinery but I can't help it, I wanna play with the boys toys.