"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Homero's New Toy (the Craigslist Chronicles)

A few weeks ago, Homero made a spectacular find on Craigslist - a Case loader for under a thousand dollars, more or less in running condition. He has wanted a tractor for ages - he has major tractor envy of our neighbor, who has a small, spanking new Kubota with a loader and a backhoe. But the truth is that five acres does not a tractor justify, not unless you have some sort of intensive revenue-positive business on your five acres that requires a tractor. An occasional need to move barn-litter or patch potholes in the gravel driveway does not count.

Our neighbor, by the way, also has five acres. When he bought his Kubota, complete with field mower and rototiller attachments, he spent week after week going over his land, converting it fairly quickly into dust, which blew away in the wind or ran down into the ditches with the rain. We shook our heads, but what can a neighbor do? What is a friendly warning about erosion, compared to the seductive smell of diesel exhaust? 

Homero sensibly sold me on the idea of buying the Case by explaining how he would make a few minor repairs and then sell it for triple the purchase price. Maybe that will happen. Who am I to say? What do I know about the value of small farm machinery? Not a whole lot.  Meanwhile, Homero has been enjoying playing with the loader.

My brother in law brought a load of chips recently, which had stayed in a pile in front of the barn for lack of a way to spread them. Done - a neat, four inch thick carpet is laid over the muddy area. The barn litter, which I had simply forked out through the window into the old pig yard has now been moved over to the compost area. And best of all - the old compost pile has been turned and turned and turned again. 

Some of the compost goes back five years. I guess it can fairly be called topsoil now. Grass had grown thick over the top of the oldest mound. I certainly wasn't going to try to turn it by hand, with my creaky shoulders and my obstreperous lumbar region. There it sat, a four foot high mound, fifteen feet across, inviolate, until today. 

Homero spent the last hour of daylight this afternoon practicing with the loader, going over and over the compost, turning it and turning it again. When he was done there was a pile of beautiful loose dirt - black as a devil's food cake; moist, crumbly, squeezable, and absolutely heady with the smell of freshly turned earth. I cannot doubt that it will work magic in the garden. Somebody's garden, anyway - I plan to offer it for sale on Craigslist. Turnabout's fair play.