Country Life Gardening Tractors

Will Spring Come?

We have had fun getting ready for spring here on the homestead. Though it has been a cold start, we’ve already done our spring cleaning, wardrobe changes, furniture rearranging, and putting away of the wood stove accessories. And yet – today we had a fair amount of snow and the temperatures were certainly in the low thirties.

Last weekend, we made our way to the Penn Yan greenhouses to take our pick of the various plants we want to grow this year. As much as I want to start things from seed, we aren’t set up to do that yet, but we always enjoy perusing the various greenhouses run, mostly by Mennonites, in the Penn Yan area. This year we came away with flats of tomatoes, peppers, Calla lillies, seed potatoes, and a bunch of other items. My order from Stark Bros. also arrived, consisting of two each of Peach trees, Plum trees, and Fig trees. The Fig trees already had little figs on them!

Some of our plants for 2020

Because the temperatures were somewhat cool, we picked up a small 6×8’ greenhouse from Runnings in Canandaigua. This unit went together pretty easily.

The handy greenhouse
Fig trees!

Now with 20 degree temps facing us, I’ll probably be moving all the plants into the porch tonight to keep them from freezing.

Aside from all this, we did have some excitement this week as the Grillo 2-Wheel tractor was delivered!

A hazardous place to park

Thursday afternoon, an eighteen wheeler with lift gate arrived and Moses moved the 650 pounds of equipment into the garage with ease. Of course I couldn’t resist opening things right away.

Can you believe what they can pack into a pallet?
The whole tractor folds down into a box.

I ordered a Grillo G110d tractor, along with a 27” Grillo rototiller and a 28” single stage snowblower attachment. The whole kit was sold and shipped from Dailey’s Farm & Walk Behind Tractors in Tennessee. Richard provided great service and answered all my questions, in spite of the complexities in this COVID-19 restricted time. As I need more implements for this machine, I’ll be ordering from him again.

In my usual fanatical fashion, I had the tractor checked and running very in time for a quick flashlight demo Thursday night. Friday morning at 6:30 I was out and tilling our existing beds. By Friday night I had also rolled five new beds – one for flowers, one for strawberries, and three for vegetable plants.

Lots of newly turned dirt.

The G110d is a joy to use. The 13HP Honda engine purrs quietly and has more than enough reserve powers to easily handle even hard virgin ground. I found three passes at increasingly deep settings provided great tillage with very little effort on my part. Doing a first pass at the deepest setting will result in this powerful and heavy tiller running away from you. Because Grillo has an active clutch, the moment you release your hand from the handlebar all motion stops.

Offset handlebars – no footprints when finished!

All the controls on the Grillo are on the handlebars, which is super convenient. The wheels operate independently, allowing for effortless turns – but you can lock the differential for great traction if needed. Independent brakes and controlled on the right side handlebar.

I also ordered a snowblower attachment for this. To use it, you turn the handlebars around 180 degrees and essentially make the back of the tractor the front. I don’t really need a snowblower yet, but when the weather is nicer I will put the quick hitch on the blower and connect everything to ensure it all works right.

I am so excited to have this machine.m – I really feel it’ll be a time saver year round. Maybe I can even hire out to till for other folks sometime!

Country Life Home Life

Early Spring Projects

I am always anxious to get the springtime operations started here on the homestead. Once the Maple syrup operation is done, in mid-March I was out preparing some 5×10′ garden beds.

Once these were done up, I needed some more manual labor. We have planned a bathroom renovation for a long time, and I finally ordered the materials from Lowe’s for home delivery. I also ordered several sheets of Type X fire resistant drywall and some Rockwool insulation for the garage. For a long time, the two bays of the garage have been exposed to each other, though there is a studded wall in between. The drywall and insulation allowed me to finally divide the space up. It’s been frustrating and hard to keep things tidy in the garage, though that struggle is more due to my own failings than the lack of drywall! But, my hope is that with walls up there will be opportunities to organize both sides of the garage.

I started out by pulling out all the nails that were in the studs; these would cause damage to the drywall as I screwed it in. I will say: Type-X drywalls is HEAVY. I didn’t have many problems with the floor level drywall. Putting on the second layer – with holes cut in for the outlets and light switches – with a bit of a struggle. I wound up setting the sheet on a couple of five gallon buckets, and then sliding the drywall up the studs into place. With some pre-set drywall screws that I could zip in quickly, I managed to get things done.

The Rockwool insultation was actually a lot of fun to install! It gets pressed into the stud bays, and aside from some cutting for wiring and electrical boxes, there was really no difficulty installing it. Rockwool is fire resistant and provides a better R value than fiberglass. It’s also more resistant to moisture issues than fiberglass insulation.

The studs are, nominally, 24 inches on center. This varied in spots, but in general I had no issues aside from the sheer effort of lifting drywall. Because the drywall is 5/8 of an inch thick, electrical

Cramming thick drywall in here was a struggle!

boxes must either be set farther out from the stud, or small box extenders can be used to set the outlet or switch out a little bit.

The final result is looking good – and the whole first floor is set for mud, priming, and painting. I still need to do the high side of the workshop. I envision the drywall pieces getting smaller and smaller as I have to lift them higher and higher. The studs on the second floor are flat studded, so I also need to add additional studs there to add thickness for the insulation.

The back door hinges had to be re-framed to allow the drywall to fit.

I’m really excited to finally have an enclosed workshop. The workshop is currently a mess, but as I get back in there and start cleaning up and organizing, my goal will be to have a workshop I can be proud of.