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Trying to take care of my little piece of the planet

It Should be Snow

Over the last thirty years, I remember a number of early December snowfalls; pretty serious combinations of rain moving up from the Gulf and cold air sliding down from the Arctic during the first few days of this month. Then, for whatever reason, we’d have pretty quiet weather until the second half of January at least, when we might get another snow. Rarely did we have snow for Christmas.

So, this morning I’m sitting in our kitchen listening to what should be snow, but it sounds suspiciously like rain. No complaints from me; it’s topping off the cistern, which should be full from recent rains, but I ran several hundred gallons out last weekend changing the water in the wood-fired hot tub. We’ve had our Snorkel Stove hot tub for probably fifteen years, sitting out in the field on a small deck and I highly recommend them. But anyway, the point is that it’s a cold, rainy Saturday morning, and the morning’s chores are on hold for a bit until the weather clears. So, I’m taking a few minutes to post pictures from the past couple of weeks.

First, here’s the re-welded lawn mower that I depend on to keep the pasture at bay around the house and outbuildings. That was the point of my recent attempt to learn welding at the local community college; my workhorse DR Field and Brush Mower (circa 1987) and the accessory lawn mowing deck had put in 20+ years of hard service. I had replaced the original engine with a Honda, replaced tires, etc. and had the decks re-welded once a few years back. This time I tried the welding myself with mixed results. All this seems like a lot of trouble and money; why not just buy a new one? Well, at least ten years ago, the DR name was bought by a much larger company who then completely changed the design of the mower, resulting in a much bigger and more complicated machine that didn’t suit my needs (or my budget). You can buy one of the new ones here. But you can’t buy one of the original models, because the company was driven out of business by a safety recall several years ago. A crying shame, because it’s a marvelous tool. So, I have to keep this one running, like a Corvair, because they just aren’t making them anymore.

Here’s the rebuilt lawn mower deck, with the new welds shown by the red arrows. The yellow cross-piece and the deck supports that hold up the arms that are attached to the wheels are my contribution, not being part of the original design.

DR Mower Repair2

One of my other favorite toys, is a MacKissic chipper-shredder that I bought used a couple of years ago from a rental center. I could only afford it because after it sat and sat with little use, they finally dropped the asking price to about one-third of the original price, even though it had only been rented for a total of five days. Here’s their website.

Here’s mine. And yes, I do wear the full face protection with this puppy. It does NOT play.

Chipper Shredder

Last weekend I used it to shred some garden and tree debris that I then placed around some of the fruit trees, as seen below. I’ve mulched the trees again and again, but the $@&#!! chickens love to play in it, so this year I resorted to the foot-tall cages.

Tree Feeding

Finally, two more animal pictures. Both taken in our living room. The first was taken through the front window on Wednesday while I was working at home on some stuff that I brought home from ‘school’. I looked up to see four deer in the front flowerbed and yard. (The hard-to-see wire with the pink tape is the support for the new clothesline that runs back to the front porch.) My faithful guard dog, Patti, was asleep on the porch when I took the photo.
Lawn Deer

Finally, here’s old Alis. I lay down to the floor to stretch my back after a session with the chipper-shredder and she decided that I needed to be held down. I’m going to miss her when she’s gone.

Alis Nap Partner2

3 Responses to “It Should be Snow”

  1. I note with great interest your modifications to your DR Field and Brush Mower’s lawn deck. I probably ought to do the same things to mine. My deck itself has been rebuilt but your connections between the deck and the wheel arms is a good idea for an add-on.

    What I really need to do is come up with some mechanism for latching up the lever that pulls the chain to the idler wheel when forward motion is desired. I have bad arthritis and having to keep the level pulled up toward the left mower handle for any length of time is a real problem. A mechanism to latch the lever in place when I mowing long straight stretches sure would help. It would have to be operable and releasable with one hand to be practical. Have you ever encountered such a thing?

    Thanks.

  2. John,

    Thanks for the comment. After using the upgraded mower for the 2010 season, I’m very happy with the result. I have not considered an add-on to fix that problem, though from a safety standpoint I can see why it’s not standard equipment. My first thought is using a weak elastic bungee to pull the handle just tight enough to engage the drive belt but weak enough that you could easily push down on the handle against the bungee (and stop the machine).

    Have you found a source for blades? I’m having a couple custom made by a local machine shop.

    Thanks again. The old DR is a sweet tool!

  3. Thanks for the comment. I am working on a mechanism for engaging the handle in the “on” position; it is based on the design of a self-locking latch for a wooden gate. Pulling up on the handle would engage the bend at the top of the handle rod inside the “latch”. The handle would be released by pushing up on a metal arm sticking out the side of the mechanism. I’m concerned about the downward pressure of the handle causing too much friction between the parts to allow the mechanism to release it quickly, but I’m hopeful that some polishing of mating surfaces will solve that issue. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    As to blades, I bought extras several years ago so haven’t faced your problem. As you are aware, the DR blades turn in the opposite direction from other mowers so using some other brand of blades isn’t possible. I’d be interested to learn how well your custom made blades work out. If they are successful, I may ask you how to contact the maker.

    Thanks.

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