Now that my house renovation is complete, I have moved my attention and free time to working the landscape surrounding the house. The first order of business was to maintain all that Mum had started and then move on to improvements and tidying up the areas affected by the construction of the addition and the new porch.
My introduction to power tools was prompted by a visit from National Grid, who offered to remove a 100-foot-plus, double-trunk tree. They did a lovely job getting all the branches of the tree. See denuded tree below.
Then they cut the tree into large logs. And that is where they stopped and I began my path to Power Tool Empowerment.
There was a dauntingly large (read: taller than 7-foot) pile of logs. It turned out to be a bigger deal to get rid of them than I thought. It would have required a commercial dump truck, a full-size excavator, and a team of people to get the area cleaned up. It was going to cost roughly $3,000. Usually, my do-it-yourself chops stop when it comes to heavy equipment, but no more! My friend Mark reminded me that we have a tractor at the office and if it could be brought down to my house, we could move the pile of logs out of the front yard and over to an area of my property that I am clearing.
When the tractor arrived, Mark said, “Jump in! Here’s how you start it and here is how you stop it,” and then off I went. I will admit to being a bit nervous as I had never even gotten near Mum’s ride-on mower that lives in my garage! But here’s me in action:
Mark taught me how to use the bucket/loader and he chained the logs, each of which weighed more than the tractor itself, I might add, and I raised the logs and moved them.
This was my hairiest moment, when the tractor started to tip in response to the weight of the log. The answer in this situation is to drop the bucket, which makes the wheel go back down, but I hadn’t been given that piece of information ahead of time!
Once all the logs were moved, we were left with an enormous stump to contend with. So, not to be deterred, Mark suggested we rent a stump grinder! He hadn’t steered me wrong yet, so off we went in search of a stump grinder.
This took about 9 hours total to grind. And we both had bruises just about covering our quads, but it was hugely gratifying to, essentially, erase that stump! Mark told me afterward that there is a tractor stump grinder that would have done the job in less than an hour! I saw one in action a few days later and it was impressive. But it’s always good to learn how to do things the hard way first. Or is it? Hmmmm . . .
The last time I was on a small tractor was about 13 years ago and IT DID NOT GO WELL. Think I Love Lucy. I got on with only the how-to-go instruction and not the how-to-stop instruction—so I couldn’t stop it or get off! I ended up going in circles until my then husband could run alongside me and tell me how to stop it.
Enter Mum’s small tractor, perfect for ferrying away the chips left by the stump grinding. Again, Mark told me how to start it and, more importantly, stop it, and I was off and running. It was interesting learning how to tow the trailer, and I will say backing up was a bit of a challenge, one that I haven’t yet mastered. Ultimately, we moved 15 trailer loads of these chips, so I got LOTS of practice, and I’m ready for the next challenge.