Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tractors, owls and high tunnels.

If riding a tractor is like riding a horse, I want nothing to do with either one of them. I had my first tractor experience on Friday and I was still feeling the effects of it on Saturday. My introduction was slightly more traumatic than it should have been.

For starters, we were discing five acres of previously unused pasture. Dave, the CSA manager, and another intern, Dayna, had done a good deal of discing before me so the ground was nice and torn up. When I got on the old Landini I had the pleasure of being jostled over peaks and valleys on a machine with no suspension. My butt spent one second on the seat and two seconds in the air while I swayed to the left and right trying to steer the tractor straight. I yelled out to Dayna, who showed me how to use the tractor, that I think I was going to flip it. She yelled back " you won't." I screamed out "I think I may fall off." She just told me to go faster.

After an hour and a half I was more than ready to get off the tractor. Towards the end of it I was standing up more than I was sitting down.

I was switching with Dayna when we realized that one of the hitches on the three point hitch was no longer attached, part of the pin had broken off. That put an end to our tractor work. We removed the implement and I said I would bring the tractor back down to the garage. As I was driving it out of the field the wheels would not turn to the right, no matter how much I turned the wheel, I almost ran right into the gate. I reversed and turned to the left, and decided to try again and found myself again almost crashing into the gate. For some reason the wheels would only turn left. After several attempts I turned the tractor off, and muttering a few expletives, walked a mile to the CSA shed to get Dave's help.

It turns out the hydraulic fluid was leaking and steering had completely failed all together when they got up there. I was slightly relieved because I half worried that I had done something stupid. At least it was the steering and not the breaks.

Sunday chores were quite adventurous. In the morning, as I was letting the meat birds out of their coops in the orchard when I pretty much came face to face with an owl. The owl, who must have gotten in through a tare in the plastic, was sitting quietly next to its carnage and staring right at me. His talons were as big as my dogs legs. I opened up the door and the owl spread its wings and gracefully flew out. I was left with his mess. Three headless chickens lay in the coop while the rest of chicks must have been quietly shitting themselves.

This morning in the pouring rain, yes rain, that elusive thing we have seen little of this summer, a large tractor trailer showed up carrying our high tunnel kit. A high tunnel, also known as a hoop house, is an unheated greenhouse that is technically not permanent. They are useful for season extension (can grow greens longer into the fall or start crops earlier in the spring) or they can be used for your heat loving plants such as tomatoes or melons. We already have one, but we plan on building a bigger one. That will be a project for us in October.

Dave had to go to a meeting, so us three girls went to offload the high tunnel kit. Well as I tried to fine a place to put the Bob Cat, I took one look at the items on the palettes on the truck and I was like hell no, I am not going to be responsible for dropping $4000 worth of materials. Cale, the livestock manager, showed up to help and so did one of the contractors who was in the middle of leveling out the pad where the high tunnel was going. The boxes were very long and awkward and one of them weighed over 2000 lbs. They needed chains and a crain to get it out of the truck. It was a tad bit more involved then we thought it would be!

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