Well, I have appreciated a break from writing: thank you, Mr. Editor for accommodating my request. A catalogue of skipped article topics includes the outstanding weather, resulting in hands down the best autumn I have ever experienced in this place, and the imminent end to a very busy season that is requiring an all-out effort right down to the wire.
A wealth of material to be sure, and yet all I really want to talk about is firewood and mechanics. Firewood, because now that I have started burning some I am also starting to think about replenishing it: at all times it seems I must have a yearís pile within reach or I fret. Obviously when I am 80, it will be an unhealthy obsession. For now, there is nothing to do about that but to get out there and get some. Not another word to be wasted.
The mechanics are on my mind because we have some big fixes to do this winter. In particular, the Crop Choppers are both broken. Badly. Five bearings, some gears and a fly-wheel assembly need to be replaced, and thatís probably just the beginning. I have no idea how to do that stuff, but hopefully dad does. As these machines are the basis of our cover crop program, from which we derive all the soil health for the potatoes, there is a certain amount of pressure. Replacement costs are in the $20,000 range so thatís all very motivating.
I am not optimistic about success, but then this is not really my speciality. Dad is good at these big fixes. They require someone willing to really commit to taking the thing apart and spending weeks on the project. Almost every winter he completes perfectly enormous jobs like this. My specialty is emergency and early intervention mechanical management.
Youíll be able to read all about it in my upcoming book Push, Pull, Wiggle and Look: Oh wow itís working! Which has not found a publisher yet, nor actually been written. In lieu of a book tour then, Iíll share some of the main heads of argument with you here.
When something stops working, I advocate the ďpush, pull wiggleĒ diagnostic technique. It is not necessary to actually identify the problem right off the bat. Push, pull, and wiggle things near where you think the problem might be, and turn the machine on again. It might go. If it does, get to work and think about what might have been the problem because if you donít know how you fixed it, you probably didnít.
If pushing, pulling and wiggling doesnít work, grease everything and put oil in all the places where things might need to slide. Turn it on and go, if possible. If it doesnít go, start concentrating and find a manual: the Internet and your friends are also valuable resources.
As a general rule, your first theory is probably not right, although your gut feeling probably is. Do the easy things first. Do not immediately act on your theory if it requires removing more than three or four of a combination of the following: nuts, bolts, fasteners, plates, covers and belts. Chances are your theories are unsound and youíll waste time and elbow grease. Work your way into the machine.
Hopefully, you can avoid all of this by identifying problems before they get big. Do this by looking and listening. Just like everything else in life, nothing seems to break without first giving a few clues.
Anna Helmer has almost forgotten how to type.