23 February 2011

Tiller Update

As many of you know, I really, really, REALLY try to put the best spin on the metaphorical bumps in our farm road but I give up on Husqvarna. Their machine is a lovely thing to behold and it 'does what it says on the tin' but good golly it's a pain to change a belt or get help from their customer service department!

The problem with the thing is that I struck a rock which hit the belt thereby causing it to pop and turn inside-out. It also created about a four inch gash along the inner side. Too bad it was a Saturday afternoon. Our local dealer closes early (as do all the independent farm supply type places) and Husqvarna Customer Support is closed on weekends.

Monday was a bit less organized than I desired so I didn't get by the dealer like I ought to have. Silly me, I thought, "Customer Service is open until 8 PM EST, they'll help me." Turns out Customer Support is only for ordering parts. There is no technical support. And they hung up on me before I could ask for a replacement manual. You see, my English Language manual is bound with randomly ocuring French pages instead of English ones. Calling back, I was able to request a free copy from a nice gal who did not suddenly hang up on me.

Tuesday, I picked up a new belt from Wonderful John of T & E Small Engine. It takes two sizes of wrench to get the cover off. I also needed to remove a wheel. It took me an hour to ease the belt off due to an interfering bolt which holds the cover on. I was ready to blow a fuse. Thankfully at the moment of my most creative swearing my dear friend Miss J. called and we had a lovely conversation.

Today I talked to Wonderful John again. Seems I have to remove that bolt too. We had a laugh at the expense of engineers and I am not sorry about it. It takes yet another size wrench (and maybe a vise grip too) to get that one off and it'd best be a short one because there's little clearance. After walking back and forth to the house three times, I slipped the cover on and went off in search of a cuddly dog and a nice cupa before i blew my top.

Maybe tomorrow I'll get the darned thing going again and have a few rows tilled before the rain sets in for the weekend. I'd really like to sow my oats!

20 February 2011

Spring - maybe

The weather has been excellent of recent with comfortable daytime highs and lows ranging from 30F to 47F. Its been dry though and there are a number of wild fires burning currently in Virginia. Our witch hazel has burst into bloom and attracted the very first bee of the season.

Although there will surely be some hard freezes yet, the Farm is heading rapidly into spring so Mr. Vest came out and spread lime on the large pasture to lower the acidity. The ground here is rather acid, enough to prevent many plants from absorbing the needed nutrients from the soil. It seems that many undesirable plants such as broom grow only in acid soil and by keeping the pH where the grasses grow well, so it also serves to suppress the weeds. The lime is best distributed before the grasses begin to green so the time was nigh.

Mr. Fuzzy gave Mrs. Fuzzy a Husqvarna roto-tiller for Christmas (boy was that hard to sneak into the house). So yesterday, with much anticipation, we filled the tank with its first swig of petrol, double-checked the oil leveland fired it up, walking it (it is self propelled) 300 feet or so from the barn to the garden. The muffler works extremely well - wish our chipper engine was so quiet. Mrs. Fuzzy did less than one garden row of tilling and the infernal labor-saving machine went on strike; the engine runs but the transmission will not engage. Perhaps we have a lot to learn about operating these machines but the tines also became completely wadded up with the grasses and their roots. Back to the local dealer with it tomorrow! We are not amused.

Dearest reader, we trust that the pleasant change of seasons has come to your house and brought the cheer of the renewal of growth all around you.

02 February 2011

Winter weather

Friends, we have taken note of the massive storm(s) now enveloping most of the continental United States in snow and frigid temperatures, we here at Stratheden wish to reassure you that life in Paradise makes life bearable.

The temperature as the sun rose about 7:30 a.m. was a comfortable 44F. Now, just past mid-day, it is in the low 50s. Mr. Fuzzy knows you will commiserate with all of us here at the Farm because of the high winds.

And here is a photograph taken just after sunrise.