"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tillers and Tribulations

It's been an enjoyable holiday season; a little rest and relaxation and a fun shopping trip to the city to hit the best places like JoAnns and Menards.  It was great to spend time laughing with family while exploring parts of town we'd never seen before.  But today was a get something done sort of day.

I bought a used tiller this summer, a really nice one with rear tines and an electric start.     (I am convinced that whoever invented pull starts hates women!)  Got it for a good price because it had just sat in a shed for a decade or more.  Little did I know I was starting another learning adventure.  All I had to do was clean it up, replace the battery and fuel filter, and I'm good to go...not.  While installing the battery I realized that mice had colonized the interior workings of the machine, and in the process they had eaten through the wires.  Another trip to the store, a new magneto, spark plug, spark plug wire, and battery cable; and a long session with the air compressor blowing out all the mouse debris and I figure I'm good to go...not.  It went like that all summer with constant tinkering and only limited success until I surrendered and took the thing up to a repair shop in mid-November.  Got it back just a week or so ago, and today being a gift day, I got it out and fired it up.

Wow, was that an experience!  My previous tiller was a little old front tine almost as old as I am.  It was cranky and difficult to work with, and especially hard to get started. This tiller is smooth and efficient, and I was feeling rather smug as I struck the classic tv ad pose, walking next to the tiller and controlling it with only one hand as left a beautiful swatch of loose, airy soil behind.  Until it hit a harder patch of ground and literally Took Off.  Suddenly we're racing along, completely out of control and spinning sideways and I'm clutching at the controls with both hands, my boots making deep furrows as they drag along behind.  I finally realize that I should let go and when I do the lever drops and the tines quit spinning but the speed and torque of the thing spins it to port and stands it on it's nose, leaving me to frantically jump, twist, and grab the handle to keep it from doing a somersault.  When we both settled back to the ground, thankfully upright, I stood panting and glaring at the darn thing.  Then I proceeded to tell it just exactly what I thought about such shenanigans, and how I was going to go back to the old tiller.  It simply sat there looking innocent and unconcerned.

Once I got my breath and composure back, I fiddled with the controls a little and discovered that we got along much better if I throttled it down some and lifted the handle to pull up the tines a little when we got to harder ground.  The sun was shining, the temperature was in the fifties and I almost felt like it was early April as I kept going and got the whole garden plot tilled.  In a perfect world, I would have done this tilling in October, and seeded a cover crop of clover to stabilize the top soil against the winter winds, but perfection is usually unobtainable, especially at my homestead.

It was such a good feeling to get some yard work done today!  I love it when we can make some progress.  Not only is the garden finally cleaned up and tilled, we also got some firewood hauled and stacked and a fence put up around the apple tree to keep those voracious rabbits away from it this winter.  I even found time to test run the snow blower and the generator and make sure they had fresh gas and stabil.  It might feel like March or April right now, but I'm sure the reality of a Michigan winter will check back in soon.  Hopefully soon, so we can go skiing!

Take care, my friends.
Sleep well, my little garden


  1. Oh my, what a trip with the tiller, my husband did the same thing with ours but I dont believe it was quite as funny as yours. Thanks for the laughs.

  2. Oh, what I wouldn't give to see a video of that. LOL!

  3. I'm trying to identify the tracks in the garden made by the boots. Just so glad you weren't hurt, however my sides are sore from the laughter caused by this mental image.