Sunday was one of those days I would generally describe as “craptacular”.
With our woodshed rapidly depleting, I had planned to make it a day for bringing in more firewood. It would be a real shame to have to purchase something that I have 160 acres of free for the taking!
I headed to the dojo tent and managed to get the Yanmar up and purring with minimal effort (we were hovering around 0 degrees). Then I headed back to the solar power bank to start up the generator. At first I was going to swap generators, but considering the path I’d have to drag the big generator through, I decided to just leave it where it was and use it to top up the batteries.
Returning to the Yanmar, I was able to get the hydraulics warmed up enough to disconnect the grader blade on the back, and replace it with my skidding bar. I set off into the bush.
Jouncing, bouncing, and clawing my way through snow that was past the axles, I first tried to get to the main part of the bush. This involved traversing the ravine on a diagonal – it was about double the distance as our straight-across path, and it suffered from not having been treated to a “brush mat” road before the snow flew.
After proceeding a few metres, the tractor simply could proceed any further. Snow was well above the axles, and it was all I could do to worry it in reverse back to the junction in my two paths.
This time I headed straight across the ravine, to much greater success. Of course, on the other side, the snow was too deep and slippery for the tractor to have any chance of climbing up the far side. Sigh.
I turned the tractor around somehow, and then set off through the waist-high drifts to the nearest dead tree I could see. I made short work of it with my Stihl (which, by the way, I had test-started back at the dojo tent before setting out – I learn sometimes, albeit slowly). Setting the tone for my day, it was rotten through and through. I struggled over to the next closest tree, same story. The third tree, a veritable sapling, same story. By this point I had gotten almost out of sight of the tractor and there were no other likely candidates to be seen.
Cursing the snow that had managed to climb up inside my snow pants and spill over into my boots, I mounted the tractor to make the “drive of shame” back to the yurts.
This took me the better part of another hour to cover maybe a hundred metres. Climbing out of the ravine on the near side was more than the tractor could do. I had to dismount, hook up the comealong and chains to a nearby tree, winch six inches, then drive six inches, then repeat... After about ten repeats of this cavorting, I managed to get onto level enough ground (packed snow really) that I was able to proceed by churning inches in four wheel drive back to the main path.
After lunch (truly, the high point of my weekend – Mummu had most generously invited us to share in her awesome meatloaf! I had more helpings than I care to admit.) I hooked up the grader blade to clear the driveway for work on Monday. Small blessings – I had done a single pass up and down, and had reversed the blade to push away some of the snow at the top of the driveway up onto the bank. As I turned around in my seat to move forward, I noticed that the left wheel was almost 90 degrees to the tractor and wedged in under the steering linkage and the front end loader. This wasn’t right. Especially with the right wheel still pointing 45 degrees to the right!
Further investigation revealed that the king pin had sheared completely off as if cut with a knife. Right under the steering linkage. I lifted her up with the front end loader (thank goodness for down pressure!) and the gearbox slid right out.
I managed to lasso Grandpa to line it back up as I lowered the tractor back down onto the remaining portion of the pin, and we lined up both wheels as parallel as possible. I pulled the tractor forward about six feet to get her out of the driveway. I suppose that’s another blessing. It happened right in front of the dojo tent, and not back in the bush.
We lifted her up again and dismantled everything we could. I still cannot get the top portion of the pin out of the steering linkage – not sure how to proceed with that just yet. I’m trying to see if I can source out a new king pin for the old girl – I’d hate to send her out to pasture just yet!
In the meantime, I think I’ll have to purchase some firewood after all. Yuck. At least this helps me focus – hit up the sawmill and cut beams for the next little while.