February 07, 2011

Machines for Mountain Living

Eighteen years ago M. and I moved into our house in the woods, bringing with us four internal-combustion engines:
  • 1969 Volkswagen Westfalia camper bus
  • 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck
  • Husqvarna 16-inch "Rancher" chainsaw
  • Human-propelled rotary lawnmower
Of those, the chainsaw remains. It has been to the repair shop two or three times, but it's still good.

The lawnmower broke and was replaced by a semi-commercial model with the oversize rear wheels—better for rough ground.

The Rabbit was replaced by M.'s Jeep Wrangler. (The pickup ran well but had poor ground clearance.) The VW camper was replaced by a newer Vanagon camper and then by a Jeep Liberty (see a theme here?) and a little trailer. Somewhere in there I picked up an old Jeep CJ-5 as a project truck and as a backup 4wd unit when we were both commuting.

Now the list of internal-combustion engines is up to seven. We also added a wheeled generator, big enough to run everything—and it does get used every year, sometimes in the winter and sometimes in the summer—and as of today a snow blower, the biggest one they had at the hardware store.

I blame my neighbor T. for the latest purchase. He was the guy with the tractor who could plow our long, picturesque, winding-through-the-trees driveway when it snowed two or three feet.

He had a backhoe for digging up leaking water lines, and if either of the local wells was not producing, he had a truck-mounted tank for filling your cistern, 350 gallons at a load.

And all for reasonable prices. (He is also the guy who welcomed me to the volunteer fire department.)

But then his wife took a job transfer to Gunnison, and T. was happy enough about that, because he grew up there.

As M. paced up and down the sidewalk in front of the hardware store, looking dubious as one of the clerks and I loaded the snow blower into the Liberty, I reminded her, "This is because we can't call T. anymore."

And I cannot always be borrowing the neighbor's snow blower, as I did after Saturday's foot of snow.

If we need backhoe work, we will have to pay someone else more than T. would have charged. I am not buying a backhoe, sweetie, really. Where would I park it?


Heather Houlahan said...

I wish I had developed an interest in engines at an early age.

On the farm, we have

Honda CRV
Subaru Impreza Outback Sport (two of them, ten years apart; the old one is leaving this week)
Kubota tractor
Sears lawn tractor (bought used, cheap, before we found the Kubota)
Push mower (from old house)
ancient rototiller
Husquvarna weed whacker
Husquvarna chain saw

I should sell the lawn tractor, but might fit it up for mowing again and just skip the belly mower on the big tractor. The push mower turns out to be the perfect tool for maintaining electric fence line in gnarly terrain.

But too many engines. I have a neighbor who works on all of them, but he's not all that cheap or affable, frankly.

Chas S. Clifton said...

There are days when I would appreciate a chipper too, when dealing with encroaching biomass.