My weekend on the farm consisted of fixing stuff, hacking down stuff, and blowing stuff up. Or as I like to call it, Getting In Touch With My Inner Male.
The fixing-stuff phase started on Saturday. After Chareva and I spent part of the day working on the book, she reminded me that one of the big drawers in her dresser had fallen apart. The pieces were sitting on the bedroom floor.
My initial reaction was @#$%!! Now we have to replace that dresser! Then I remembered that I’ve become a born-again Tool Guy. I don’t panic when things fall apart. I fix ‘em if they’re fixable. So I took the pieces of the drawer into my workshop and started tinkering.
I had attempted to fix the drawer once before, and it actually held together for a few months. Trouble is, I used the same skinny nails the manufacturer had used. Probably not a good idea, since those nails had already demonstrated a talent for working themselves loose. So this time I decided to use wood screws. I figured if the screws split the wood, well, I’m no worse off.
The wood managed to take the screws without splitting, and at the end of the job, I had a solid drawer in my hands. I high-fived myself and considered beating my chest while doing a Tarzan yell, but thought better of it. I moved on to re-installing a toilet-paper dispenser that had fallen off the wall in the girls’ bathroom. You know, real guy stuff.
On Saturday night, I blew stuff up … namely, the fireworks we didn’t get to set off on the Fourth of July because of thunderstorms. I had hoped to post a video like this on the Fourth, but better late than never. The other adult male you see and hear in the video is our neighbor Brian, who came over to enjoy the show with us.
Back in March, I wrote about tilling the ground in the old chicken yard with our new tiller. The yard looked like this when I was done:
After tilling, I pretty much ignored that patch of ground. Oops. Here’s what a patch of ground in rural Tennessee looks like if you ignore it for three-and-a-half months:
Clearly, it was time to feed The Beast. So on Sunday afternoon, I cleaned up the mess from the fireworks show, then played 18 holes of disc golf, then steered The Beast into the old chicken yard.
I’d knocked down about a third of the jungle when The Beast started smoking and refusing to whack any more weeds. I shut it off and smelled burned rubber. That meant the belt that turns the blades had snapped.
My initial reaction was @#$%!! Now I have to hoist this heavy @#$% into the van and take it to a repair shop! Then I remembered that I’ve become a born-again Tool Guy. I don’t panic when things fall apart. I fix ‘em if they’re fixable. In fact, I was pretty sure I’d changed the belt once before and even had the good sense at the time to buy a spare. So I wheeled The Beast back to the garage.
I believe in giving manufacturers props if they build a good product, so I’m going to post a few pictures to explain how impressed I am with the Swisher Predator – a.k.a. The Beast.
Actually, I’ll start by explaining why I’m not as impressed with my Toro lawn mower. Yeah, it cuts the grass just fine, but changing the belt (which I’ve only had to do once, thankfully) is a royal pain in the @$$. You have to turn the thing over and unscrew screws that can barely be reached. Then you realize it’s impossible to change the belt without using four hands. I had to recruit Sara to hold back a spring-loaded part with a screwdriver while I worked the new belt into place — which was no easy task. I’m pretty sure I expanded Sara’s vocabulary during the process.
The Beast, on the other hand, was designed for easy access. To get to the belt drive, I just had to unscrew a few bolts – which are right there on the top of the thing, no less – and remove a cover. (As you can see, the belt had definitely snapped.)
To release the old belt, I only had to unscrew one clip that holds it in place. And then, easy peasy, I wrapped the new belt around the belt-drive assembly and screwed the clip back into position. (The clip is surrounded in red in the picture below).
The whole job took maybe 15 minutes – including the five minutes I took to sit inside and drink a glass of ice water.
So with The Beast back in Beast mode, I finished taking down the jungle in the chicken yard. I got as close to the barn as I dared, since it’s become a condo building for wasps. Then I gave the yard a once-over with the lawn mower to knock it down another few inches.
This is the chicken yard afterwards:
With that out of the way, Chareva and I took the garbage and recyclables to the county recycling center, then went to the hardware store to buy another couple of belts for The Beast … because I’m a born-again Tool Guy now, and I know enough to keep some spare parts around.