The day started out at a high intensity. I got a text from Ironhorse at 8:00 AM that he was “ready to go.” I was still drinking my coffee. When I got to his place at 8:30 he had already gotten started without me. “Impatient?” I asked him as he limped up the driveway past me, giving me an irritated look. “On time,” he replied. Apparently he thought he had instructed me to be ready at 8:00. I did not recall that instruction.
He was already in a bad mood because a hydraulic line to his box scraper was busted and leaking fluid.
I should point out that his tractor was old when he got it, and has had the shit thoroughly kicked out of it since.
I should also point out that Ironhorse can accomplish about 200% of the work a normal man can in the same time period. The drawback is that it’s at about 90% the accuracy. That 10% differential can cause a lot of damage, and soak up a fair bit of the time that he saved working twice as fast. It’s a mixed bag. Ironhorse can “fix” most things that he breaks, and derives pleasure from the whole experience.
The upshot as it pertains to us in this moment, is that after being down for about a year, he has his tractor up and running again – albeit restricted to 3-wheel drive, and with no clutch. So there’s some power available, but with little finesse. Compound that with his inclination to get powered up on adrenaline, and the whole experience of wresting the Escape down to the road for Pick ‘n’ Pull was a highly stressful experience, involving lots of cursing and a high pucker-factor.
That’s a forced smile in this picture. The front wheel of the Escape was off the driveway at this point. We wound up having to lift the rear end with the bucket whilst winching it sideways with the suburban to drag the thing back into alignment. Ironhorse was pretty tweaked at this point. Pick ‘n’ Pull had given us an 8:00 – 12:00 pick up window, and I was trying to impress upon him that he needed to accept that maybe they arrive before we have the car ready for them. Then what, they leave and we’re out $350? Temporarily? Or they get mad at us? Or what? It’s WAY better than losing the Escape down the OTHER hill, or one of us getting hurt. He had a hard time hearing this from me at that moment.
That’s a genuine smile. We got the Escape down to the road and no one was injured, not even the lady on a morning walk who chose to stroll down our driveway into the path of tractor in reverse driven by an old fart with a stiff neck who would have run her right over without noticing if I hadn’t managed to flag him to a stop, and she got the hint and turned on her heel.
When we had the Escape positioned on the road I took a moment to express to Ironhorse an important perspective – “Dad, when concrete pumping was our livelihood we had to develop a ‘FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!’ mindset. But you need to realize – Failure is VERY MUCH an option. We need to slow down. We are pushing too hard, and there are consequences to that.” He started to point out that we are struggling because we are working with crap resources, but then he caught himself and added that our stuff is crap because we have wrecked it through our methods of working. In that moment I thought that maybe I had made some headway in trying to persuade him, at least for the moment, to slow down and not ride the adrenaline wave.
We got back to work – lifting the rear end to pull the tires and put it up on blocks.
$500 in brand new tires, and Pick ‘n’ Pull would only give $21 in credit for them. As it was we were getting $350. We felt clever at this moment, and it was on only after the vehicle was gone and we were comparing notes that we remembered that there was probably about $1k in palladium in the catalytic converter. Then we felt dumb again.
Ironhorse and I represent two extreme ends of a spectrum. He’s no dummy, but his method is MORE DOING! less thinking. Mine is MORE THINKING! less doing. When we work together we are a pretty good team, most of the time. But we are both getting older.
And of course I ripped my pants.
This is Ironhorse’s new area for intermediate firewood storage. (There is new tarp material on order). The plan is to set up some pallets and start loading firewood into this area, but he wanted me to blow the dirt clear first.
Okay, I guess that’s better.
Some of the aforementioned firewood lying where it was cut.
Loading up the Nissan. At about this point we heard the Pick ‘n’ Pull vehicle coming up the road and Ironhorse zipped off in the pickup to handle the transaction while I continued tossing firewood down towards the driveway where we could load it more easily.
Ironhorse came back hauling this terrible old trailer full of firewood that had been parked down the driveway. What you can’t see in this picture is that the hitch ball and the receiver on the trailer are not seized congruently. This is something I had experienced previously but it didn’t even occur to me in the moment. As we were moving wood, my parents’ tenant pulled down the driveway behind us. We scurried to pull our operation up the hill. I hopped into the bed of the pickup and Ironhorse started heading up the driveway…
…and immediately the trailer popped off the hitch and started rolling down the driveway towards the tenant’s car. This was another PTSD moment for me, watching yet another piece of equipment hurtling down the hill bent on destruction. Fortunately it turned and didn’t hit the tenant. Looks alright in the above picture.
But the consequences are revealed here. Ironhorse was sick to his stomach and didn’t even want to look at the damage at first. I knew exactly how he felt – immediately after wrecking the Escape I felt the same way.
Sigh. At this point I informed Ironhorse that it was obvious we needed to change our mode of living and working.
Our first recovery effort was to chain the trailer to the bumper of the Nissan…
…but we had to give that up as it began to peel the bumper off.
Ultimately we dragged it up tied to the Suburban.
The gate in the aftermath.
Another miserable and harrowing exercise. We dragged the trailer most of the way up chained to the front hitch arrangement. The trailer was careening from side to side and the ass end was dragging the whole way (probably a safety factor since it didn’t want to roll much like that). When we got to the large turnout we used the winch to pivot and drag it over to the neighborhood of the firewood station. Of course now it was blocking the passage.
We took a break to try and get our head together and brainstorm what to do about the gate in the immediate term. We decided we’d try heating the post with the torch while pulling against it with the winch. To that end we loaded up the torch into the pickup bed (a clumsy heavy miserable business).
This is the shit we are dealing with around here.
In these photos you can kind of get an idea of the arrangement of the winch. We used a snatch block attached to an oak tree to get the pull from the right direction.
Heating and intermittently pulling with the winch at Ironhorse’s command.
The video shows the last seconds as we pulled it vertical. And right at that moment there was an audible crack.
Okay, so there. We more or less gave up at that point. This was going to be a bigger project.
I cut loose from Ironhorse so he could work on other things, and started moving firewood into the new enclosure.
When I got the trailer unloaded to this point, the balance adjusted and it flopped forward onto the tongue, and started trying to roll away. I stopped it before it could take out the tent structure. Well, since the tongue weight was normalized, I figured I could at least hitch it up and move the trailer out of the thoroughfare.
Look. If you MUST move a trailer with an odd-sized receiver for your hitch ball, THIS is how you do it. (That’s only partly tongue in cheek). Hard to see here but there are several wraps securing the receiver to the hitch and lots of tension and friction. After I took the picture I also used the winch cable as a secondary attachment.
I got the road cleared without further catastrophe.
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