So, something monumental has been brewing for about three years, and it’s finally coming together. A month or two after we got back from Peace Corps in Guatemala, right after we moved to Oregon, we were talking with another recently returned Peace Corps volunteer and she mentioned a really cool program called “VIDA”. Sponsored by a collaboration of the state and a few nonprofits, it grants cash to low income participants who are able to save money in a controlled account, for use buying a first home, getting a college education, or starting an agribusiness. It sounded too good to be true; if you can save $3,000 over three years, they will QUADRUPLE it for qualifying purchases. We did the research, and it turns out that it is a legit program… in fact, they have trouble getting people to sign up, because it sounds like a scam. The prerequisites are moderately challenging: you have to attend some business classes, make the monthly payments for three years, be below the median poverty level when you enroll (that was the easiest one; we made about $3000 per year Guatemala!), and like all government programs, put up with a mountain of paperwork.
But the proof is in the pudding, and I’m pleased to announce that IT WORKED. We had several qualified purchases, and the biggest one just arrived on a truck yesterday. May I present to you our bouncing baby tractor. Or, “walking tractor,” actually. We test plowed with one last year, and fell in love with the idea of having our own. It’s a GREAT tool; digging a planting bed used to take about 90 minutes per 100 square feet, now I can do the same work in about 37 seconds.
When you get a new one from the dealer, it’s quite shiny and awesome looking. It even has that new car smell. Aaahhh. But unlike a new car, some assembly is required. Luckily, our neighbor Lance let me use his barn as a staging point. The freight company dropped the pallets right on the barn floor, and I got to work breaking apart all the crating, reviewing the instruction manuals, and sorting parts. Tools in hand, I tightened bolts, checked oil, and scratched my head a bit as I read the (mostly in Italian) instructions.
As I worked, I noticed that I had an audience. One of the occupational hazards of building something in a barn? Turns out, cows are very curious animals, and they watched patiently for the whole two hours. And I know it was legitimate curiosity, not just waiting for food, as they stopped all the crazy mooing after about the first half hour. From then on, all that could be heard was the occasional plopping as cow patties hit the floor.
We also purchased four implements for the tractor. Besides the rotary plow and rototiller we mentioned in the other post, we were also able to get a wood chipper and a flail mower… both of which will be super handy for the orchard. I can’t wait for the ground to firm up, so I can get out there and start working with it!