The Start of a Journey

Every journey deserves a bon voyage party – a huge send off with a bottle of champagne broken off the hull of the newly christened ship.  That is why I’ve started this blog.  Our new journey is buliding a log cabin in Newbury VT, from the foundation up, so I started this blog to record and celebrate our journey to our dream’s completion, and especially to capture all the lessons I learn from my dear old Vermonter husband along the way.

This start coincides with the start of Teachers Write, so I’m combining the two sort of – the old adage – kill two birds with one stone.  But anyway – you probably tuned in today to hear about the tractor I killed yesterday…so, here goes.

It’s been over five years since the lawn mower lesson, and I guess my husband didn’t give up on me, because during the past five years he has started to teach me to use his Kubota tractor.  This is, what one customer called, his “pocket-sized tractor,” a small but effective piece of equipment that he can use to bush hog, dig holes, bucket dirt, split wood, move heavy stones, plow snow, and every other task he may be called on to do.  Although he has a much bigger Massey Ferguson tractor, this is his go-to tractor for most jobs.  It has four wheel drive, which the Massey Ferguson doesn’t, and it can get into smaller spots better.  Plus, at a height of 5 feet himself, I think my husband favors it because like him, it’s little.

The first thing he taught me to do was to run the backhoe while digging in our yard.  There are two levers to use, one makes the bucket go up and down and left and right, the other curls and uncurls the bucket to do the actual digging.  It takes time and practice, but eventually you begin to get the handle for it, and you find your bucket fuller and fuller.  I encountered some troubles that day because I live in Vermont and there’s one thing Vermont has no shortage of and that is rocks.  Some of these were small, no bigger than a grapefruit, but many were much larger and heavier – the kind you like to find when hiking and you’re tired and need a place to sit and rest a spell.  I never dreamed I could ever move such big rocks, but my husband showed me how to loosen the dirt around the rocks, and then catch the bucket under one corner of the stone and lift.  Usually after a few tries the stone would budge and before long the stone was moved.

The next time I used the backhoe was last fall.  We had finally closed on our new property and although we knew we wouldn’t be able to start building our dream home until this year we had some work we could do.  Arthur got busy clearing trees so the Artesian well could be put in, putting in long days of chainsawing, cutting, hauling, and such, work that would scare me to watch as he dangled from trees sawing off branches.  After a day or so he decided there was something we could bring to the property, and I blush to admit it.  An outhouse.  If you are picturing a rough wooded 4×4 shack with a moon cut in the door and a hole to do your business in then you are picturing our outhouse almost perfectly, except ours doesn’t have a moon.  Of course you can’t put in an outhouse in, though, without first digging a hole, so that was my next digging assignment.  The specifications were that it was to be narrow and deep (very deep).  it’d been a while since I last backhoed, but I soon remembered how to handle the levers and was back to digging  Once called Sand Hill Road, it was easy to see why – because there were no rocks here.  The digging was a breeze and in a short time I had the required hole dug.   Now, I have to digress from my learning experience here to just share one that my husband learned.  He installed the outhouse, but had to make a new seat for it as the previous owners had used it more as a storage shed.  It was no problem for him to get the appropriate rough board and cut a hole in it using his trusty Sawzall.  He even made a little cover using a drawer handle that you pulled off prior to sitting.  But what he didn’t do was to consider the needs of his plus-sized wife, or any female for that matter.  The hole he made was positioned in the center of the board, like a bulls-eye for the guys to aim at, but large enough so they usually met their mark.  But think of a female’s anatomy.  The first time I used the outhouse I discovered (the hard way) that this hole did not meet the needs of half the population.  As pee puddled around on the dirt covered planks at my feet I knew my husband would have to do some modifications.  So, for once, he learned from me.  I can now report that the outhouse now has an appropriate sized hole and even a real toilet seat!

Now, back to my lesson.  I used the backhoe once more to dig another hole for the Artesian well installation, but to be honest, I don’t even know what the purpose of the hole was.  I was having fun digging.  Yes, I will be honest, I see the attraction of these big machines on men.  The same bee has stung me, and once I’m in the seat I enjoy running the tractor.  We won’t talk about how difficult it is for me to get in that seat, though.  Let’s just say that pictures would go viral.

Finally this month I learned how to actually move the tractor.  Not just the bucket, but the wheels and everything.  It was time to bush hog and I was the one chosen for the job.  Oh my!  And that’s where I’ll take up next time.  Don’t want to make these posts too long or you won’t read them (I know I wouldn’t).


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