11/13/09 - Ted sold his beloved little Bolens tractor before we left Virginia. With its leaky gas tank, which Ted patched up now and then using fiberglass and resin, iIt didn't make sense to ship it on the moving van. We knew we'd need to replace it in New Mexico because we knew the landscape would present many challenges that we couldn't meet with a wheelbarrow.
Our UPS driver tempted us week-before-last with an almost-new Kubota miniature backhoe-bulldozer. She had used it to move rocks, dig trenches, and all the usual stuff that comes with building your own house after work hours. Now that the house is finished, she doesn't need the Kubota any more and is looking to sell it--for a mere $15,000. Ted got to thinking--we could get a couple of neighbors to chip in and buy it together and then we'd all have access to it for stuff like hauling horse manure and maintaining our driveways. When Ted posed the idea to them at a dinner gathering the other night, the conversation paused for exactly three seconds, blinked twice, and then proceeded as though Ted hadn't spoken. We suppose now that they're not interested.
We'd been scrutinizing the market--eBay, Craig's List, the want ads--and talking to folks about small tractors. The bottom line is that the closest used ones are three states away and they aren't for sale. People around here use ATVs, which are great for hill climbing, tipping over, raising dust, wearing a dirt track around the house, and otherwise indulging in anatomy-and-ecosystem-damaging good times, but are also geared low enough for hauling.
So we went downtown today and bought one. Ted's all goofy about it. He says it's cute as a bug and he's named it accordingly--The Bug. He keeps thinking up excuses to take it out, in the perfectly valid name of Breaking It In. He plans to take it down to the highway to pick up the mail on days we don't go to town.
I plan to use it to haul stones, which is one of the sillier necessities of gardening in southwestern New Mexico. I'm certainly happy to have them, but the prospect of moving them from where I don't want them to where I do want them is just plain ironic.
I'll also use it to tow the landscape rake and break up the soil around the house so I can turn the yard--now a barren, stony field of post-construction backfill--into a lush spread of native grasses.
That will make our place attractive to the magnificent elk that hike down from the Gila National Forest during the winter and hop over the fences in search of forage. The grasses would also attract the cattle, but the fences keep them out.