Friday, February 9, 2018
Need Bigger Tools
When we came to these thirty-six acres more than two decades ago, a simple life lived close to nature was the desired goal. A walk behind a Lawn Boy mower propelled by the one pushing it was the only power tool in use. Three hours each dry afternoon were spent mowing some of the former fields. Age and illness required a change in plans. A small lawn tractor, similar to the one in the foreground of the picture, became the tool of choice. It was never intended for the tasks here but it did survive for more than 800 hours of heavy use. The X500 in the background replaced it. We expected that the snow blower attachment would meet our needs. The new smaller tractor was intended to provide Becky with transportation to our distant acres when I was back there for an extended period of time. It also could be fitted with the plow from the first tractor.
Both tractors would function great in average suburban use. Short flat asphalt driveways could be cleared with ease using either machine. Our long sloped gravel driveway proved to be more than either the plow or the blower could handle working alone. Since the tools were not up to the task, we needed a different approach. The plow can handle about two inches of snow. The snow is first pushed toward the center of the lane since it cannot discharge snow into the deeper pile already along side of the driveway. Passersby might think it more than a little odd that the snow is pushed to the center of the road intentionally preventing its use .
The blower is then called in to blast the plowed snow clear of the driveway. This method comes with certain problems. The storm just before the current one began with rain falling on frozen ground. That layer of clear ice remains. The doubly sloped curve caused the tractor to slide sideways downhill. Had I tried to blow snow right next to the snow pack, the back wheels would have buried themselves in deep snow. With the snow to be removed located in the center, there is room to back up and center the tractor without hand shoveling a great deal of snow.
Here the ridges of snow cover more level ground. The tractor remains remains centered in line with the row of snow. Since our road is gravel, we needed a way to keep the scraper blade above the stones. High heeled skids were fashioned at a nearby welding shop and to date only one shear pin has snapped during several years of use. The snow left behind each pass of the blower becomes compacted and resistant to removal with the plow. If that snow is not removed, subsequent passes with the blower adds another layer. When that builds up our machines become mired in the deep layer and the plow truck is called in to finish the job. So far we have always been able to drive our machines to a clear location far out of the trucks path.
The current storm required three distinct sessions with our two machines. This was the first run made early in the storm. It is not obvious why such a large area is being cleared. The propane tank in the background feeds our boiler and the delivery truck must have access to it. Space is cleared to allow the delivery truck to turn around. The shed is used to house the larger tractor but the door is located on the far side. A forward run up the slope is followed by a reverse move into the shed. That requires a fair sized area cleared of snow. My truck is also parked here in the spot presently being plowed. With the blade set straight, this little tractor will push and pile a large amount of snow. In all honesty, I do enjoy the time spent in sometimes bitter cold removing mountains of snow. Coming out the winner in the battle against the elements is a satisfying experience.