Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last Time?

Getting the leaves off the ground every fall is the one true chore that this house presents. There are lots of smaller jobs that need to be done regularly, yes, but this one is awful by comparison. I've written about this before, but the first couple of years I did it with a rake and a tarp and it took three solid days of effort, spread across two weekends. I'm dead serious -- 24 or so solid hours of raking and dragging. I hated it. And of the 10 years I've been in the house, I've received material assistance only twice. Mechanization has offset the lack of support, though. First with a rented blower, then my own. Then adding my trailer into the mix, towed with my walk-behind, to cart the leaves from parts distant to the woods. Then finally to my contraption and its iterations.

This year, I 've so far run my leafing rig for maybe 8 hours, and gotten most of the work done. Down from 24 hours of raking, I can now get the leaves done in maybe 10 hours, most of which is spent riding my tractor in a standing or seated position, and instead of a disposal problem, the minced leaves (mostly maple) make a nice mulch to spread around erosion-prone areas of the yard.

Today I finished most of what was left. Juliana gave me an hour or so worth of help raking up along the picket fence and in places I can't really take my leafing rig. We made a good team, and she didn't really complain. She raked the dry, top layer out from along the fence, and then I followed behind, scraping the wet, wormy leaves out from underneath. Hard to say how much time she saved me, but it doesn't really matter -- her company alone was welcome. At first, she looked a little uncertain when I started raking after her, cleaning up the wet stuff, so I threw her a thumbs up and told her we made a great team, and she was all smiles after that.

Less than two hours this afternoon with my leafing rig got the space outside of the fenced yard and the back yard most of the way cleaned up. The leaves underneath were still wet, so some stuck to the grass, but they'll dry out overnight and I can get them up tomorrow. I just need to clean up alongside the house, in the garden beds and along the fence (inside, this time) in the front yard. Maybe an hour or so of raking, a bit of time with my blower and then an hour or so of sucking up the results with the rig.

Using my contraption was as much an adventure as it always seems to be. The oil smoke from the tractor is still pretty bad, despite using degunking stuff in the crankcase. And for the second time, the truck loader's engine popped a crankcase plug I'd improvised (Profile handlebar tape plug), blowing maybe a pint of motor oil all over hell and gone. I stole an oil cap from another engine, and that one worked (as designed) to finish the job. But now I need to go buy a new oil cap for the leaf blower, because I need to use it tomorrow.

Assuming I get everything done, that'll mark an even decade of cleaning up the leaves here at my house. Still no offers on the house, and my wife and I are meeting next Friday to talk about progress in settling. One thing we'll talk about is a buy-out figure for the house.

Last time with the leaves, here? Time will tell.

If I have to do it next year, I've got a list of improvements to make to the leafer. More on that tomorrow.

All for now,


No comments: