Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Power Toyz

Oh yeah! We're havin' fun now!

As you can see we received the Grillo and got it into action. It took me a while to learn how to engage the PTO. This has an automotive-type clutch and transmission. That is, an Italian automotive transmission. Mi parlo en po Italiano (I speak a little Italian), but I don't do it well: learning the ins and outs of an Italian transmission took some time. By the end of an hour, though, I was able to put this bad boy pretty much where I wanted it. The Grillo is a nice machine. It has 4 gears forward and 3 reverse; the forward/reverse control is in the right hand, the clutch in the left. It has independent wheel brakes, so swinging it around at the end of a row is pretty simple. The control column swivels to either side, and reverses 180 degrees entirely if the implement is to be pushed instead of pulled.

The tiller itself is just one of 4 implements we own. In due course we'll bring out the 53" sickle bar cutter, the chipper/shredder, and the rotary plow. I predict more fun will ensue.

We got this machine with a little (8 hp) Lombardini diesel engine. While diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline these days, a diesel engine burns only half to a third as much fuel as a gasoline engine with the same torque (in our case 8hp diesel = 12 hp gasoline). In two hours of tilling this quarter acre plot into a finished seedbed I burned about 1/3rd of a gallon of fuel. Added benefits are the reduced maintenance of the diesel engine (on average they last twice as long as gasoline engines), and the flexible fuel potential. We're going to plant oil-seed sunflowers so in a real pinch we could use some of that pressed oil as fuel in the tractor, with some minor modifications.

After the tilling fun was over we planted some asparagus crowns, and companion planted some tomatoes and basil. We planted some strawberry crowns, so we'll soon have a bevy of strawberries (we hope). And we also transplanted our pak choi and tat soi which we had started in paper tube planters. Hopefully the deer won't get them before I get the higher electric fence into action. Another concern is that we have frost potential tonight and tomorrow night. I covered the sensitive things with straw this evening, so hopefully we'll weather this cold air without loss and get on to growing in earnest.

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