Counting Sheep

Spring has finally sprung and yesterday I had a new experience. I helped a local farmer with shearing sheep. My lovely wife and I have been discussing lately about the prospect of acquiring some sheep and I got to get up close and personal with some.

My job was to stand in the pen with the sheep and bring them one by one to the guy running the shears. Basically, all I had to do was get one by one of their rear ankles and drag them backwards out of the pen. Pretty easy task.

There were about 45 sheep in all and it took about 4 hours to get them all shorn. I really enjoyed it. The farmer and his wife treated us to lunch afterwards and I enjoyed getting to know them over a cup of coffee.

We are starting our own little farm with some chickens. They are arriving in mid May and we are busy getting things ready. Our kids are very excited about this and are counting the days.

We are enjoying the spring weather and seeing our yard slowly emerging from the snow. It won’t be long and we can plant our garden.

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The Unstucking: Part 2 Things Get Worse

The next morning I awoke full of hope and belief that today was the day we would get the truck out. I only had a short way to go with the snowblower and a path would be there for the truck to follow to freedom.

It was, of course, really cold again over night and I had to start out putting the battery charger on the tractor again. While that was working I thought we could try to get the truck forward on the path and out of the snow pile. We had dug out the front end and the sides the day before. I wedged my way in and turned the key….no start. Gauges came up, lights on, but no start. Sigh.

I decided it was more important to finish the path and not worry about that yet. I got the tractor running again and tried to get things rolling. It wouldn’t move. I figured it may have frozen to the ground and gave it a “lift”. It started making some strange noises and lurched a bit, but no go.

Well, I fiddled around a bit and shortly thereafter there was a puddle of oil from the transmission pooling under the tractor. Perfect. The machine still ran, just didn’t move so I thought maybe I can rig it so the blower runs and then simply shovel the snow into it so it blows over the snow bank.

That didn’t really work so now I had to make a choice. Continue with the truck plan, or accept help from my brother-in-law who offered to come by. Option one means shovelling the rest of the way to the driveway (50 or so feet of 4-5 foot deep snow). Option two is to shovel around the trailer so someone can get by. Seeing as both involve shovelling snow, I go with two as it involves far less snow.

The snow bank by the trailer was fairly easy to work with as the top layer stuck together nicely and the bottom was compressed already. It didn’t take too long to make a lane wide enough for a truck to pass by. While I was there I shovelled the snow from around the front of the trailer and tires. It wasn’t too bad there, it wasn’t high centered or too deep.

I decided to take a risk and bring the bus back and try myself. I backed down the driveway and carefully tried to avoid the ruts I had left the night we arrived. Hooked on, fingers crossed, gently pushed the gas and hurrah! We are unstuck!

I proceeded down the drive proudly, my trophy in tow. My fans waving from the window, proud of their resourceful father. If only I had listened to my wife from the beginning. She had advised me from the start to try with the bus, or ask for help.

I still want the truck though as driving the bus everywhere is tiresome. But for today we can now leave our property.

The Unstucking: A Tale of Tragedy and Blessing (Part 1)

My wife says I often over complicate things. I don’t think she’s wrong in that assessment. I can recall many situations where I made things more difficult in my effort to make them simple. It’s worse when I’m presented with a simple solution and my pride gets in the way.

Recently we returned home from a wonderful tour through the American southwest. Upon our arrival I got the trailer stuck at the end of the driveway. It was a bit of a trick to get the bus unhooked and out of there too and I figured I would need a 4 wheel drive vehicle to get the trailer out.

We have such a thing, but it was buried up to the windshield in snow and ice. Plus it was parked down by the shed and a couple hundred feet away from the driveway. There is four feet of snow over that distance. That means I need the snowblower on the tractor to move that snow.

There's a truck under there somewhere

The tractor still had the mower attachment on and the snowblower was buried in the same snow bank as the truck. Priority one: dig out the snowblower and put it on the tractor.

That was probably the easiest task. The kids were interested in helping and we had a path shovelled and had the blower out in no time. The tractor was froze to the ground and the battery needed to be charged up. No problem. Switching the attachments and chaining up the tires, no problem. The kids started digging up around the truck.

The snow drift in front of the shed where the tractor is parked must have been closer to five feet tall and I started in. I made it about six feet before calling it a day.

Before beginning all of this, a good friend of ours picked up some groceries for us while we were still driving home. She brought them to the end of the driveway and we carried them by hand to the house. We were thinking she just had a few bags for us but were quite surprised to see a vehicle full of everything we would need. What a blessing!

I felt no pressure to get us out and we were content to be “trapped” in our house as the temperature was really cold. I told the kids we were like the Swiss Family Robinson as we would trek out to the trailer with a cardboard box on a rope to bring our belongings to the house.

The next day started with a battery charger on the tractor. It’s been bitterly cold here and the darn thing won’t start. As we waited, my boys and I started with shovels in front of the truck. More than once I got a scoop of snow crystals down the back of my neck from Titus randomly flinging snow around.

It didn’t take us too long to make a sizeable trench. There is a fresh layer of powder on top, an icy crust thick enough to walk on, more powder, another thinner crust and finally a layer of snow crystals. The top layer clumped well enough to scoop easily and the middle layer made for nice igloo blocks. The crystals are like sand and flow back in the hole if not thrown far enough.

The tractor finally started and I pushed on, making a path wide enough to drive the truck through. I made it half way to the driveway and crushed the plastic shoot for the snow blower. It’s been falling apart for a couple winters now, but now it’s nearly off. Some farmer fixin and away we go.

We started the truck and I dropped it into 4 low to see if it would move. Not a chance. Flat tire (sigh). Filled that up while digging around the tires some more. Still won’t move, but the tires spin.

I called it a day and figured a couple more hours in the morning and I would be through. Worry about getting the truck moved after.

To be continued…