Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘ATV

Prepping Machines

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It seems like it should be simple to just cut down a couple of trees and grind the branches into chips, but there are a lot of little steps to setting up and actually executing the tasks.

After work yesterday, I set about prepping some of the equipment, in hopes of priming this morning’s start on this weekend’s logging project. The chipper attachment was stored a couple levels deep in the shop garage. I needed to do some rearranging before I could get access to it.

The back-blade was still on the big tractor, so the first order of business was to find somewhere out-of-the-way to park that.

Except, that wasn’t actually the first order of business. I decided to move the Grizzly out, to make room for fueling up the New Holland, and in so doing, ended up driving the ATV down to the barn to hook up its trailer.

After that, I was finally ready to back Big Blue out of the garage and get rid of the back-blade.

Once that was done, I hooked up the chipper to the 3-point hitch and parked the rig in the barn.

Next, I started collecting equipment I would want to haul to the work site in the ATV trailer.

Chainsaw. Check.

Chain oil, mixed gas, wedge, face shield, leg protectors, ropes, come-along, chains, pole saw, log holder, hand saw, ax, spare ear muffs/hearing protection, ladder, rake, branch pruner… and if I can find it, a kitchen sink.

Still, there will end up being a need for some item that I forgot to bring. Honestly, one goal of bringing so much down there is so that we won’t need it. I’m not above using a little reverse psychology with the universe.

My hope is to have tedious setup tasks taken care of in advance to get full benefit of volunteer help for cutting limbs of felled sections of trees, feeding branches into the chipper, and cutting trunks into logs. If we are really productive, there will be the added chores of driving loads of woodchips away and dumping them, or hauling logs up to the woodshed.

Most importantly, I’m looking forward to the opportunity for hearty fellowship in the great outdoors and an outcome of safe and healthy success for all bodies involved, particularly the discs of my lower back.

I don’t want to get too greedy, but some time for good-natured banter around a fire with people’s favorite beverage after a day’s physical workout would be a fine outcome, too.

I’m just sayin’.

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2017 at 7:00 am

Prudent Preparations

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I did salvage my pride on Sunday by getting out in the warmth to knock off a few more winter preparation steps. After getting the Grizzly back from the shop with fresh fluids and cleaned up brakes, it occurred to me that I had yet to install the new beefier cable on the winch. That’s a chore that would be much nicer to do when it’s not freezing cold outside.

The primary use for that winch is to raise and lower the snowplow blade. That involves a heavy repetition of back and forth on a very short length of the cable. The original was old and brittle which made it susceptible to breaking, which it did, frequently –almost always at an essential time while clearing snow.

Fixing that usually involves working in the cold and after dark. A broken cable is always an unwelcome incident, but at a critical point in plowing, the impact is intensified.

When all else fails, get a bigger cable.

I hadn’t been working long when the chickens showed up to see if my project involved anything they could eat. I’m guessing they were disappointed by not finding anything. I stepped into the shop for a second and when I returned, there was a fresh pile of chicken sh*t on my pliers.

That’s a skill, dropping it so squarely on the tiny surface of the tool. I was duly impressed and totally disgusted.

With the new cable installed and ready to lift the plow, I moved on to the swapping out the summer tires for the winter set. That beast is now ready for the snow season.

Before we even get to that, the ATV and its trailer will be put to use this weekend transporting chainsaws, ropes and gear down by the road. It will also be hauling loads of cut wood back up to the wood shed, and picking up the inevitable forgotten tools that were missed the first and second trips of the day.

If a winch and heavy-duty cable turns out to be needed, it’ll be ready for that, too.

I just hope the more aggressive winter tires don’t completely chew up the not-so-frozen ground. I didn’t think to prepare for top soil that has been re-melting in the late November 60° afternoons.

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2017 at 7:00 am

Epic Normal

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Some days are just days. The simple steps of tending to basic maintenance and chores that happen every day can become so routine they fade to obscurity.

Yet, living it feels anything but obscure. Each simple accomplishment brings huge satisfaction.

This weekend, having our son, Julian, visit to pick up a package that Fed-Ex delivered here, and recruiting his help with some compost distribution and wood splitting, were particularly rewarding.

We used the Grizzly to pull trailer loads of wood, and with him driving, I gained a perspective of the squeaky brakes that helped to push me toward finally taking it in to professionals for service. Julian helped me get the ATV secured in the bed of our truck and I dropped it off in River Falls.

It could be several weeks until I see it again, so we are hoping there won’t be significant need for clearing the driveway of snow until well after that.

Maybe in a sympathetic response to Delilah’s painful condition, I experienced a return of degenerating disc symptoms as I leaned forward to pick up a piece of firewood, which brought a quick end to the delightful progress we were accomplishing. I’m on limited duty once again.

Luckily, that presented no disruption to a planned visit from a co-worker and her husband. She wanted to surprise him with the trip because he has a big appreciation for the majesty of horses, despite little access to them. Cyndie was wise enough to guide some time inside the fence for them, a step that is reserved for very few visitors.

As always, Legacy proved the consummate companion for the interaction with his herd-leading confident calmness. Dezirea couldn’t spare but a moment to accommodate us, as her attention was otherwise fixed on something in the distance that I couldn’t see.

Regardless the obscuring nature of the inherent normal-ness of the weekend, it all felt perfectly epic.

Given the right perspective, living in the moment can provide that result.

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Written by johnwhays

November 5, 2017 at 10:43 am

Working Through

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Some chores don’t wait for nice weather, so we ventured out into the constant drizzle on Sunday to open space in our compost area, despite the inconvenience. Cyndie had moved the horses indoors out of the wet on Saturday night, which resulted in soiled wood shavings in their stalls at a time when we didn’t have space in the compost area.

Luckily, there is a spot next to the barn where we’ve been using composted manure and old hay to fill in a drop in the landscape. The area had been a too convenient runway for water drainage that was problematic. Bringing it back to level with the surrounding area will spread and slow water flowing from above.

Out came the Grizzly, after putting air in the leaky front tire, and the metal grate trailer for an increasingly muddier series of loads from the compost area. Very similar to working on moving innumerable bales of hay, as time goes by, the loads seemed to get heavier and heavier and I started to move slower and slower. Cyndie pushed back against my increasing moments of pause, with a goal of getting the job done as quickly as possible so she could get in out of the cold and wet.

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When she proclaimed we were down to just two loads remaining, I corrected her with the estimation of four loads. After I tried to take out a small load to assure my estimation would win, she suggested we could toss some of the last bits into the woods around the compost area, leading to an outcome of three loads completing the task. It was declared a tie.

We were wet, it was muddy, but we had worked through the nasty weather to accomplish a necessary chore. We now have open space for composting again.

And not a moment too soon.

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sinking Feeling

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I was all fired up to pick up where I left off on Saturday with the plowing of trails, but my plan changed quickly when I discovered a flat tire on the Grizzly. Actually, the fact that it was flat was no surprise. I’ve been nursing that tire for quite a while because it has had a slow leak.

The difference now is that it is not as slow a leak anymore. When I added air there was a very audible hissing. I had never been able to actually hear the leaking air before yesterday. Time for some Slime.

Actually, the time for Slime was way back when I first realized it needed air every time I wanted to use the ATV. Maybe I was thinking this would be one of those problems that would go away if I ignored it long enough.

It wasn’t one of those problems.

I rearranged my goals for the day and turned my attention to moving hay bales from the shed into the barn. When I slid the barn door open I discovered the iron rail that is supposed to be a catch for the two doors had dropped out of reach.

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Or maybe the ground has heaved up around it. It’s confusing.

I don’t know what the difference is from last year, when the ground and the rail both heaved up to the point we were rarely able to use the big doors.

All I know for sure is, the ground sure moves a lot around here.

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2017 at 7:00 am

Doggin’ It

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Racing home to beat the sunset, I arrived in time to drive the Grizzly into the woods with my chainsaw to clear a fallen tree from the trail. Actually, to clear half a tree, as it had fallen from our neighbor’s side of the fence. The top half of it was protruding into the path of our trail.

It wasn’t large, so I made quick work of it and returned to the garage where I changed to the winter wheels on the Griz and mounted the snowplow to get it ready for the next wave of precipitation moving our way.

Then all the off-season tires for both the ATV and Cyndie’s car were stowed away on the high corner shelf, and the garage got rearranged to make room to store all the equipment we probably won’t be needing for the next few months.

By the time I got in from chores, Delilah was overdue for attention and let us know it with an endearing parade of dog toys she pulled out and presented for our review. After chasing her around the house for her rubber yellow monkey, she got distracted by her antler chew.

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I laid down next to her and listened to the sound of her teeth clanking and grinding against the hardness of the branched horn. I was down on her level and we were just chillin’ together.

With all of the things I accomplished after work on a Monday, I deserved to spend a little time dogging it.

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Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2016 at 7:00 am

Winch Works

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I discovered that my problem with the dead winch on our ATV wasn’t the winch or the solenoid. It all works just fine if the wires are properly segregated. What would mess with the wiring?

dscn5177eRODENT invaders!

What is the deal with mice and chipmunks that they choose to chew on wires? Does the plastic coating taste good to them? Are they trying to get more copper in their diet?

The other question I have, from driving past farm after farm with equipment parked outside year round, is how they deal with the constant threat of damage from nesting critters.

We leave our truck parked outside most of the time, and now when we lift the hood there is the disconcerting sound of collected acorns rolling down inside the lid.

The heat tapes that our gutter installer put in the problem spots of our roof and routed through the downspout and into the garage to the AC outlets only lasted one year before rodents chewed through both of them.

Maybe this explains why one of our neighbors has so many outdoor cats. A way to keep the rodents at bay.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2016 at 8:36 am