Zechariah with a front end tiller.
Rototillers are our most important garden equipment, turning
the soil every fall and again in the spring. Over the years we have
used a wide variety of tillers of different sizes, depending on what we
had. Although we still use several different sizes, we have been able
to retire some of the oldest machines; or rather we had better
replacements for them. With the majority of our machines coming to us
second hand Dad's expertise in small engine repair is very valuable
each spring and fall when we need to get several running.
Nathanael with our Mantis.
Among our collection we now have one of about everything.
Well, not quite. When we first came here to
New England we purchased a tiny Mantis®
which we still use on raised beds and similar small plots needing
tilling. While a hoe would do the same thing this aggressive little
machine very rapidly paid its way by drastically reducing time and
labor on these plots. The
front tine tillers have been our mainstay and still are to a
large degree. While requiring the greatest agility and physical
endurance these versatile
machines can do many things at which the
larger machines fail. Because they are light enough to physically
Jeremiah tilling our main garden.
manhandle, we till between fences (like our bean fences) with them and
any other tight spaces. We lift them into large raised beds and we
often use them in narrow parts of our gardens due to their capability
for sharp corners. Both the speed at which the tines rotate and their
relatively short tine length are a disadvantage, and an advantage at the
same time. In addition to the fact that they don't turn the soil very
deep, the job takes longer than with a larger tiller. On the opposite
side, front-end tillers are the only ones capable of mixing the piles
of leaves we dump in our gardens.
Nathanael works with the Troy Built.
While the high speed Troy Built®
can mix loose leaves if they are not too deep, it's not worth the extra
Caleb tries his hand at the Troy Built.
effort. Being a rear-tine tiller the Troy Built pulls itself making it
very easy to use in good soil. Its tines spin quite fast, which
thoroughly mixes the soil, and it can dig up to about 6 inches deep in
our rocky soil. On an even slight slope it can be a bit unwieldy,
however, and its length makes turning and
narrow areas difficult. Altogether, because the majority of our
gardens are open level areas and we both build up our soil with leaves
and remove many rocks every year, this recent addition is a major
improvement from the plowboys perspective. In addition to these, we
have had one larger piece of equipment for as long as I can remember.
Zechariah man-handles the Gravely with a rotory plow.
has a rotary plow
attachment which is very effective at turning the soil to
10 inches. While plowing deeper and covering area faster than our
rototillers it does require a bit of strength so it is used primarily
in our largest garden. Being awkward to turn due to its length, we
usually plow a furrow across the center of the garden from one end to
the other, and then alternately throw the soil into our last furrow
Nathanael tills the upper garden.
from either side until we reach both sides of the garden. We have
chosen this pattern for our garden, but you just do what is needed
depending on your garden shape, size, and the slope.
Of course rocks are a pain for all the tillers. They also wrap
up weeds, hay, twine, etc... and the cucumber fence, oops, all of this debris must
be removed from the tines regularly, otherwise for some reason the tines grow shorter.
Well, OK, the shaft grows larger.
Tip: Not all tillers are created equal. Reverse is an amazing
labor saving feature not found on all of these tillers. The heavier the
machine, the more labor it saves.
Tractor by: Zechariah
Zechariah on the tractor.
I have used the little tractor a lot on projects from picking
rock from our garden to hauling firewood to lifting shingles onto a
roof. Personally I enjoy using the tractor because it can do so much
more work than I can and so much more rapidly.
The only trouble I have run into while using the tractor was
when I was pushing up a big pile of brush and trees. It just so
happened that on that day we had all the sheet metal off the tractor,
because we were painting them, they were the hood and the front grill.
While I was pushing, the stub of a little bush about two inches in
diameter punched a hole right into the radiator, immediately the water
drained out on the ground. Thankfully I was watching the gages and
noticed when the temperature started to rise so was able to shut it off
without further damage. I had to walk home but that was no problem as
it was only about three fourths of a mile. We took the radiator off and
soddered it up so it is working again. Now the grill is painted so it
is back on protecting the radiator like it is supposed to be.
Pickup truck by: Jeremiah
Our pickup truck.
A pickup truck is very handy, we use it on almost every
project. From hauling mulch for the garden and orchard to getting a
batch of construction supplies, the uses are almost endless. A bed that
will hold a sheet of plywood is a necessity for many construction
projects. Good gas mileage is nice, diesel is nicer yet.
Bulldozer by: Zechariah
We bought a
Zechariah runs the bulldozer.
a few years ago for a construction project and afterward we
kept it as it had been able to pay for itself. We did not know if we
would need it for any more jobs, but we did have need of it again later
that year when we had to replace our septic system which is under our
garden. We had spent years and hundreds of hours building the dirt in
that garden so it would grow vegetables, so it would have been very sad
to have lost all that dirt in the construction. So we used the
bulldozer to take all the good dirt off the top and put it in a pile at
one end of our garden. Then we used the
Nathanael on the bulldozer.
bulldozer to clear the rest of
the ground, which was a big rock pile from when our yard had been
originally cleared some 40 years ago. When the project was done and our
septic was working again we used the bulldozer to flatten out the ground and spread the black dirt back over the top.
The garden still grows food even though the soil has been damaged and
compacted. A lot of the dirt was lost in the process, also it has been
spread over a much larger area, so we continue to bring in leaves and
manure to help build the dirt in our garden. The bulldozer has served
us well even with the work that we have had to do to it and we have
learned another skill that may be needed again some day!
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