Posts tagged farm machines

The Log Splitter Wins Again


Fingernail pain is like no other pain! The Iroquois knew this well according to early Canadian history!

It was just last summer when the log splitter and I had an altercation and I ended up at the hospital, getting xrays. I now approach the big machine with caution and know that I should not attempt to lift huge log rounds. But with one lesson learned, no doubt another lesson is coming down the pipe!

We were cutting another cord or two of wood on the weekend and I simply misjudged where I placed the log. My ring fingernail got kind of squished between the log and the metal rack that holds the logs in place. It was just a quick pinch but it left me reeling in pain, seeing cartoon-like stars and acting like my arm had been severed.

After the drama, we called it a day for hard labor. My nail bed was red, filled with blood and throbbing. After listening to my woes and being genuinely sympathetic, FM offered to drain the nail bed using a method common to runners with blistered toe nails. With a red-hot paper clip, he would attempt to make a hole at the base of the finger nail which would allow the fluids to drain out. The source of the pain is in the pressure created beneath the nail bed, not the actual injury itself. So I gave him my hand and tried to be brave.

Surprisingly I could clearly feel the burning paper clip and I pulled away before a hole was complete. I decided that I would just tolerate the throbbing and carry on.

But when night came, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up every hour, thinking about my squished finger and wishing that I could put mind over matter. Finally, at 3:00 am, I realized that I had to be pro-active and I got up. I heated up a safety-pin to red-hot and finished off the job that FM had started in the afternoon. It was a gruesome enough result (no photos, thankfully). With my nail bed drained, the pain was instantly gone. I was able to drift off to sleep within 10 minutes.

Here, you can see the little drainage hole that allowed us to relieve the pressure.

Here, you can see the little drainage hole that allowed us to relieve the pressure.


Healing takes time, indeed. Here are a few updated photos of the finger after the nail sluffed off. It looks gruesome but doesn’t hurt at all.  It sure got munched!

My nailbed, 3 months later!

My nailbed, 3 months later!

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You Have to Start Somewhere!

With the arrival of summer, so came the arrival of our families. Everyone was keen on visiting our new home and checking out our rural lifestyle. I am proud to show off our place, with its wrap-around deck and new-car feel.

Home Sweet Home – but no garden in sight

But stepping back and looking at the photos that were taken, I can’t help but notice the abruptness of the modern house plonked in the center of wild land.  There is no gentle transition from wild to domestic. When settled on the porch, sipping a mug of something, I find that I am not really pulled to step off the deck into the surrounding nature.  We need to create a warmer feel that helps blend our home into its setting.

A garden is needed.  A small garden at the front of the house which will soften the edge of the gravel driveway and give the impression that the house has naturally sprouted and grown here.

A bit of a junk yard has developed at the side of the house as we continue to figure out where everything should go.

Can I count these weeds as a garden?

A lovely view of the weeds, concrete supports and our spider web collection!

With the beginning of the school year upon me yet no class to call my own, I decided that my September project would be the front entrance garden. I figured that a little hard physical labour would have me begging for the sub finder phone to ring.

I started the project by digging up the weeds and scraping up the gravel. I filled about six wheelbarrows of gravel just trying to find soil beneath it.

Next, I pulled out the tiller. Once again, FM had insisted earlier in the year that we would need a tiller and, once again, he was right. I fired up this tough little machine and next thing I know, I was being dragged around the driveway area like a rag doll! I spent the better part of two days churning up the earth and liberating rocks the size of watermelons. I managed to free up the soil to a depth of about 40-45 cm.

I headed out to the local hardware and garden stores where I selected a bunch of shade-loving, deer-resistant plants.  This is the north side of the house and receives only 5 hours of full sun at the height of summer. I want this area to be evergreen yet get a bit of colour variation through small flowers and variegated leaves.  I insisted on getting a few dwarf conifers (or specimen trees) that will anchor the garden yet never grow too high to obstruct the view from the porch. I also purchased that ugly black garden border in order to keep the soil from running all over the driveway during heavy rains.

The toughest part of this project was inserting the ugly black garden border. I guess I was in a hurry to get to the plants and it took freakin’ forever to nestle the plastic deeply enough. After that, I simply mixed in a few bags of topsoil and arranged the plants in an orderly way.  After planting, I covered the beds with a black mulch that really makes the plant colours pop.

A sitka spruce ‘papoose’; 2 azaleas, 2 heathers, 2 Euonymus – one columnar and one trailing

A weeping Norway spruce, 2 more azaleas, 2 more heathers and 2 more Euonymus

A Gold Coin dwarf Scots Pine – perhaps my favourite!

I used all those watermelon-sized rocks to cover and hide the concrete deck pillars. I am particularly pleased with the effect.  The log round works as a natural step up to the porch.

Would you believe that this project took me about two weeks from start to end?  I didn’t work on it the whole time, mind you. I will have to take one more photo of the front again for comparison   Although it is a small area (3 ft deep x 25 ft long), it is a step in the right direction.  And it makes a world of difference when you arrive at the front door.  Come on by and have a look!

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Testing My Physical Limits (or how not to use a log splitter)

Fallen trees. We got ’em in spades.

Luckily the property came equipped with five years worth of wood stove fuel in raw form!

There are piles of trees like this all over the Queendom. We are thankful that they are (mostly) all bucked and piled up.

There must be 75 fallen trees around the Queendom, at least. Some have just recently come down in the ‘great storm of 2012’ and some have been lying around for a few years, with grasses growing over top and in-between. Right away, I knew that measures needed to be taken so that we (I?) didn’t have to cut them all by hand with an axe.

Suddenly a log splitter seems like a great idea!

So yet another purchase was made upon moving to the Queendom – a log splitter. This gas-powered, 5 hp machine has a splitting force of 20 tonnes with a 23 cm splitting wedge. This was a power tool to behold! Upon purchase, we simply hitched it to the back of the car and rolled it home in no time flat. Of course we had to try it out right away. To start it, you pull the ol’ starter cord a few times and soon it is roaring. Operating it takes no effort at all. You simply move a handle forward to chop and back once the cut is made. The only strength required is in chainsawing the tree into rounds and moving those log rounds onto the splitter. It is honestly my dream tool! Now, when I survey the Queendom and see all the fallen trees, I don’t get a heavy sinking feeling. Instead, I contemplate all the wood stove fuel that is just waiting to be refined into a more useable form.

We decided to spend a day splitting and stacking wood. We had a great division of labour (for me!) where FM would heave the log rounds onto the splitter and I would operate the chopping lever (princess work) and then throw the smaller chopped pieces into a huge pile. This assembly line was chugging along quite nicely when suddenly FM got an urgent pager call from work and had to go inside to deal with it. Now, I could have used this opportunity to begin the task of stacking the chopped wood. But no. Wanting to be a true rough n’ tumble country girl, I decided that I would carry on doing both tasks myself. It would be slower but progress would be made. Besides, FM would be back out in just a few minutes.

Here, FM demonstrates the ease of cutting a few cords of wood without even breaking a sweat.

I must add here that I am no delicate flower. Although I am considered petite, I am strong, stubborn and not afraid to test the limits of my strength. There is little that will stop me and that is probably due to being raised in a house of three rowdy brothers and being treated no differently (so says me!).

So, I carried on where FM had left off. The douglas fir log rounds were large – a diameter of about 60 cm – and heavy. It wasn’t too difficult to roll them along to the splitter, but it took a lot of strength to lift them up. I was careful to select the smaller ones and to always lift with my legs. I worked like this for a while, but then, quite suddenly, I didn’t feel so well. I felt a strain up in my shoulder and a slight wave of nausea. I shut down the splitter and worked at stacking wood for a while.

The next day, my shoulder socket and my back ached a bit. The following day, it seemed worse. In fact, I quietly suffered indistinct pain for about ten days. I was able to locate a tender spot just under my bra line and finally decided that a trip to the walk-in clinic was in order. The doctor heard a rattle in my chest and sent me to the radiology lab for chest x-rays.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, I had torn intercostal muscle (between the ribs) when I was lifting and twisting, trying to get those rounds onto the splitter. The tear was sore but the bigger concern was the resulting fluid build-up which was partially collapsing my lung.

Hmmm … no wonder I was fearful of sneezing for 3 weeks! (BTW it looks like my liver survived my twenties after all)

And so ends my story. After few weeks of being afraid to cough, laugh or sneeze, I was back in full form, answering the demands of the Queendom. I suppose there is a moral in there somewhere or simply a lesson about acting your age, but I don’t like to dwell on that kind of thing.

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The Essential Rider Mower Tractor

The saying goes (in your best hilly-billy voice), “I cain’t read nor write, but I can drive a tractor”.

We hadn’t been in our new place a week before FM started hinting that we will need a tractor.  During our daily (!) visits to the Home Depot , he would wander in the rider-mower aisles, reading feature sheets, comparing prices and questioning the sales staff.  I was surprised at the suggestion, not knowing how such a gas-guzzling machine would have a part in our back-to-nature lifestyle.  In hindsight, I’m pretty sure that he had decided long ago that a tractor would be a key part of the Queendom.  I made quiet protests, pouted a bit (not really!) and made him justify his argument on a few occasions.  I pointed out that we aimed to only have a little buffer of grass close to the house – something easily handled with the push-mower which has served us so well on our city lot.  Our plans here are to re-landscape 3 of the 5 acres, letting it grow back into the forest  that it used to be.  So what purpose would a rider-mower serve?

Wouldn’t you know it but the Home Depot was having a massive sale on big equipment as part of their Spring Fling.  The timing of this sale somehow co-ordinated with our move.  Next thing I know, we are the proud owners of a John Deere D170 rider mower.

Preparing for the first drive

The much-debated rider-mower tractor arrives at the Queendom

"It's got a cup holder!"

“It has a cup-holder!!”

Little did I know that it can do so much more than cut grass.  With the lawn blade removed, we are able to get just about anywhere on these 5 acres.  With the trailer attached, we have been able to saw up the fallen trees and haul the log rounds back to the outbuildings.  It really did not take long for me to realize that this funny little machine will save our backs and hours of time.

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