Friday, March 14, 2008

Another blow

3/14/08 Friday
If it’s not one thing it’s another. I picked up the little Mantis tiller from Don the other day. It’s designed for light duty work on a home garden. Cynthia said it couldn’t mulch hay into the ground so probably isn’t able to cut through the roots and stuff in our ground. It will be useful but I really don’t want to beat it up and will still have to do lots of the work by hand. So I decided to give the old Craftsman tiller one more try. I had already taken the carburetor apart, cleaned it and adjusted the float level, and reinstalled it for the fourth time. I went online and looked up adjusting the points and timing so took the tiller apart to get to the electrical part. Played with that and put it all back together. Now was the big test. I pulled the starter rope and it coughed, a good sign. So I pulled again and again. On the fourth pull the rope snapped and I almost spun around in a full circle when it let go. Nuts. So I found a piece of the same kind of rope and installed it in the starter. Now I’ll try again so with great hope and anticipation I gave a mighty yank. It broke. I suppose that’s to be expected when you use old stuff you find in obscure corners. So I took the starter coil off the mower Dave gave us. It had been in storage for years and I was unable to get it started so saved it to scavenge parts off of. The rope was in much better shape so I again installed it.

This time the tiller started. It ran and it ran good. Cherie could hear my jubilant whoops from inside the house. At last, after much work, time, and precious money, it runs. What a relief that was. What a blessing and life saver this would be at this crucial time when I need to prepare maybe two thousand or more feet of beds for the plants we hope to gain a decent income from.

I took the tiller to where the strawberry beds are to be and began to till. It got two feet before the engine began to sputter and stall just like it did before. After taking the carburetor apart four times and studying it online I’m confident I know what the problem is. The float and needle valve are getting stuck flooding the carburetor. It was getting late and dinner was about ready so I left it there and went inside. An hour later, after it was dark outside, my phone alarm went off to remind me to turn off the sprinklers. Walking out I saw the fire.

By this time it had mostly burned down. The plastic from the wheel was still burning as was grass and fencing. In the dark it wasn’t clear how much damage was done but that didn’t matter right then. I rushed to get a garden hose out there and sprayed everything down putting out the embers that were smoldering everywhere. I just went inside and laid down. “I’ll go see how bad it is tomorrow when it’s daylight” I told Cherie.

It’s bad. The plastic gas tank was gone. I had just filled it up yesterday after I got the tiller running. When that went it must have been quite a blast. It looks like some of the aluminum melted. I’m pretty sure the engine is still good but the electrical wiring and carburetor are gone, along with the gas tank. The odds of finding a gas tank for a late 1950’s machine are slim but a little southern engineering can remedy that. I can buy a new carburetor for it cause they still make them. I’m glad this didn’t happen when I was using it. That could have been a very bad scenario putting me in the hospital.

But buying things for this tiller is not possible right now. The seventy five dollars we invested in seed and the funds spent on trees, blueberry bushes, blackberries, raspberries, has drained us. It’s the middle of the month and now we have to worry about having enough food to eat and gas for the vehicles. Hell, gas costs us more now than food does. So I’ll get the pitch fork out and get to work. I can use Don’s tiller to mix in fertilizer once I’ve turned the dirt up. All of this work is to produce an income from this farm, thus relieving the pressures that poverty bring. It’ll happen, it just won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile is.

I suppose I’ll try to get this posted. That is such a source of frustration now. It can take me an hour sometimes to just post something like this. You never know what the cellular gods will let you do. Sometimes it works just fine but those times are rare anymore. Getting a satellite internet connection will cost us about two hundred dollars for the initial equipment and installation. After that it’s fifty bucks a month, ten dollars less than we pay to use Alltel.

I got lots of digging to do. Today is poop scoop day and I am going to mulch Janie’s garden beds to pick up a few extra bucks. Got to go.

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