Clutches, concrete, and a little time off

grillo_clutch_SMIt’s been a busy week. On Monday, I finally replaced the bearing in the transmission of the walking tractor. It’s been waiting since a few weeks ago when Emily was using it to help a friend grind up cover crop and till it in for planting. After a day of hard work, the machine was in a bad way… the clutch wouldn’t take it out of gear, meaning that to stop it, you either had to kill the engine or “drop” it out of gear. Bad.  The good news is that this is NOT normal; these machines have super robust mechanisms.  Turns out, after some troubleshooting on the phone with the nice folks that sold it to us, we determined that it probably had a bad bearing in the clutch housing. These bearings are a standard machine part that is made by a separate manufacturer than the tractor maker (Grillo), so occasionally one turns up that has a manufacturing defect. They normally last 10-20 years under hard use. Ours lasted just one year, so we got a new one for free. They also talked me through the replacement sequence over the phone, which was surprisingly easy, nothing like changing a clutch on a car. Took about an hour, all by myself.

We also did some communal work, with our ongoing Work Party. Today about a dozen of us helped our friends Trav and Emily on their farm, tearing out invasive blackberries from a greenhouse they are rehabbing, and helping build a pump house. Here we see Emily, demonstrating some hard-won concrete skills she learned in Peace Corps. Yep, she can work a mean batch of concrete, with the most rudimentary tools, anywhere in the world. I think the contractors that were helping us were pretty impressed. When we were done, we got a tasty meal out of the deal (tradition!), in this case some local ham. And when I say Ham, I am talking about both the food, and they guy slicing it. That’s Trav, chef extroardinaire, and host of the internet cooking show The Mason Jar Suite. Check it out! I have such interesting friends…

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We rounded out the week by taking a little trip. We have always loved backpacking, and this year we committed to do a multi-day hike at least once a quarter. This time, it was into the Three Sisters Wilderness. It’s nice that Oregon has so many fantastic outdoor resources available; with about 5 hours of driving, we were able to take a hike that placed us more than a mile above sea level, amongst glaciers. We camped in the high pass between Middle and South Sister, above a clear lake that made for some beautiful (but chilly) skinnydipping. Here we see Emily near one of the glaciers, and another picture of a glacier that is almost gone, a victim of global climate change.

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