Come what may, I am bound to think that all things are ordered for the best; though when the good is a furlong off, and we with our beetle eyes can only see three inches, it takes some confidence in general principles to pull us through. – The Stark Munro Letters by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The old hummingbird feeder gave up the ghost after several years of good service.
For those of you wondering, yes the shiny stuff at the top is duct tape. We extended the feeder’s life by about a week while we waited for the new one to arrive.
It’s hard to tell from the above photo, but the new feeder has a bar for the hummingbirds to sit on while they drink. They seem to like it.
One of the things The Man of the House (TMOTH) has been working on over the winter is maintaining our riding lawn mower, Jalapeño.
Here’s a photo of Jalapeño from last summer. Note the TerraGrips on her back wheels. Those have made a world of difference in mowing our steep hill.
Jalapeño is a John Deere LA125. She sports a 42′ mowing deck and the transmission is a T40. (TMOTH tells me that’s a variant of the K46.) She came with our house. We think the former owner bought her in 2010.
Riding lawn mowers are expensive! So keeping Jalapeño going is a huge benefit to our budget.
The terrain makes taking care of the riding lawn mower extra difficult. First of all, there’s over two acres of lawn to mow. Secondly, we’ve got a heck of a hill! Most mower transmissions just can’t take the strain.
TMOTH has done things like:
- serviced the transmission – This is a huge deal because the transmission was built not to be maintained. (It’s a sealed unit.) However TMOTH is a canny guy. He found instructions from the transmission’s manufacturer on how to maintain it.
- sharpened the mower blades
- replaced one of the mower deck spindles
- Disassembled the wheels to repack the front wheel bushings
The plan is to keep Jalapeño going as long as possible. Plus, now that she has a name we’re getting really attached to her.
However, we are thinking of the future. That leads us to Ventrac mowers. They’re probably too much mower for us, but . . . wow! They can operate on a 30 degree slope!!
TMOTH discovered that Ventrac mowers used to be Steiner mowers. The Steiner family sold the mower business. Later, the Steiner family had second thoughts and restarted the business as Ventrac.
It’s also interesting to note that there’s a Steiner Tractor Parts. They manufacture and sell new parts for old tractors. Is this related to the Steiner family that’s now running Ventrac? We don’t know.
The reason this interests us is that if TMOTH can keep Jalapeño running for a number of years, we may take the money we’re saving for a new riding lawn mower and buy a used tractor instead. (We’re talking about a tractor from the 40s or 50s.) The ability to get parts opens up more possibilities for us.
With a tractor we could do things that require a 3-point hitch with a PTO. That could give us access to a tiller, a wood chipper and a brush cutter.
Our Christmas letter featured a review of our gardening for the year written by The Man of the House. I thought I’d share it here . . . .
There’s nothing like gardening to showcase how much the weather can vary from one year to the next. I’ve been growing vegetables for years, and at the end of every season I compare it to previous ones. I made notes of what I did, when I did it, and my impression of how things were going. So I wasn’t going just from memory. Still, I’m a guy that likes to measure things, and I never had precise numbers to compare one year to the next.
That changed this year. No more eating cherry tomatoes right off the vine. I brought every harvest inside, weighed it, and recorded it in the harvest log. I won’t have anything to compare it to until next year, but I can say that in 2017 I harvested:
- 1 lb 1 oz of rhubarb
- 20 lb 12 oz of tomatoes
- 30 lb 2 oz of peppers
- 3 lb 3 oz of garlic
Obviously I need to pick up the pace with the rhubarb. And the garlic. Now that I think about it, we could’ve used more tomatoes. I’m planning to grow onions next year.
New Garden Plot
Speaking of next year, we’ve got more room to grow because I rototilled a new plot. I had been breaking sod, and prepping growing areas with a shovel, but I realized that I’d never have the kind of garden I wanted unless I shifted gears. So I rented the biggest, baddest rototiller I could find. Had it a whole weekend.
I had hopes of breaking up old sod in a pass or two and ending up with great looking soil the consistency of ground coffee. Instead I ran the gas tank dry making pass after pass. I raked up sod and rototilled some more. Finally I got the new plot I wanted. After a little more work I had three 40′ rows of onions and garlic.
I’m really looking forward to next year!
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The Man of The House (TMOTH) has been busy! Yesterday he harvested 2.5 pounds of bell peppers from the greenhouse.Continue reading →
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This is the time of year when we start mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, spending time in the greenhouse and realizing that there are just not enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done. But you … Continue reading →
The Man of the House mowed the lawn for the first time yesterday. I think spring really is here. We’ve got about three acres of lawn and most of it is really steep. Our John Deere’s transmission isn’t quite beefy … Continue reading →
Our tomato plants are growing. It’s still too cold at night to move them to the greenhouse. (The greenhouse isn’t heated.) But it won’t be long now. We’ve had a hard time clearing new planting areas because there’s been so much … Continue reading →