My Rototiller

JicJac-Tiller-800pxMy wife is fixated on me fixing the rototiller.

I promised to do it over the winter.

Before that I promised to do it last summer and before that I promised to do it last spring.

You get the picture.

So now, the little guy leans against my shed wall weeping pools of oil and begging to be repaired.

I don’t know why I made that promise because the tiller is not even ours. It is just one of the many things that my buddy Stan dropped off in the shed and pronounced mine. He does that a lot. He constantly borrows things then returns them to the wrong person.

I doubt if the owner will miss it because the transmission is shot. Whenever you put it in gear, it grinds its teeth.  So I need to crack open the case and replace a few parts.

It is a simple job but nothing around here is simple. In this case, the bolts that hold the transmission together are stripped. I need a bolt-cutter to remove them and I highly suspect Stan has borrowed the cutter.

But the real question is, why do I need a rototiller?

Every year I churn up a huge piece of ground to put in a garden and every year after spending a fortune on seeds and a couple of days wallowing in the mud – the rabbits eat everything that comes up.

Except for the weeds. They leave the weeds.

So last year I actually got to one of my many projects and ringed the garden with a fence.

Unfortunately, it was not strong enough. We have very aggressive rabbits and they bent a hole in the fence and helped themselves. So I repaired the hole and wove in a grid of rebar to keep the little thugs from bullying their way through.

To appreciate how tough our rabbits are, you must understand what they are up against.

This is coyote country and our coyotes are so tough and so bold that they will eat the food out of a Rottweiler’s dish then threaten you if they don’t like the brand.  The only thing the coyotes are scared of is what lurks in our drainage ditches. I have seen packs of coyotes spill into a ditch and only half scamper out the other side.

The terror that prowls the murky water of our ditches – is snapping turtles. They weight up to fifty pounds and have jaws that can crush an engine block.

And the only thing that intimidates our snapping turtle is – you guessed it, our rabbits. These little bunnies are wily, tough and resourceful  They are also as ill-tempered as a crocodile with a mouth full of rotten teeth.

So to avoid the entire cascade of difficulties, I steer clear of anything having to do with gardens.

Until she asks, “Did you fix the rototiller?”

“No,” I tell her.

“You promised you would.”

“I can’t fix the transmission until I find my bolt-cutter,” I explain.

“What does it look like?”

“Its like a big scissors with long yellow handles and shears the size of your fist.”

“Oh that thing, it’s in the garden.”

I remember using it when I fortified the fence.

“It’s lying next to that hole you cut through the fence,” she says, “and I don’t understand why you did that, it just lets the rabbits through.”

“I never cut a hole…. oh my.”

Author: Almost Iowa

51 thoughts on “My Rototiller”

  1. I’m back for a day, maybe two, and oh, how I have missed your posts, Greg. Wiley bunnies, indeed. Wish I could meet ’em. But I disbelieve that kitty can whip any. Our bunnies drove every kitty that lived–the biggest and wildest–from our yard. Not being overfond of felines, nor of finding their deposits in the sand my children played with, I used to take delight in their howls of fear when the bunnies would cause them to take flight over our backyard wall. Looked a lot like that rocket L.A. just experienced.

    Thanks for the great laughs.

    –O. Babe

    1. Hey Babe, glad to see you. I was getting worried…

      You should see how that little feline works. When Scooter got all excited and charged her, she stood up on her rear legs and spun her claws like windmills. Needless to say, there was much yowling of pain and panic from the Scoots.

      You take care of yourself.

      1. Thanks, Greg. I try my best.

        As to that other:
        Hunh. I think my boys’ bunnies would have sent both your whiz-clawed kitty and ooh-booga-booga Scooter skedaddling like…let me think now…: fraidy cats and scairt bunny rabbits.

  2. If you really need help with the rabbits, we could send you some jackalopes. They’re running wild down here, and have become such a part of culture that the Odessa, Texas, minor league hockey team is named after them. (What? You think hockey in the Panhandle is weird? You should encounter a jackalope on the road at midnight.)

    To change critters for a moment, I went down to the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge Sunday afternoon, just to see who was in the neighborhood. There were some coots, for one thing. When I got home and uploaded the photos, I found one that made me laugh out loud. For some reason, this made me think of your stories. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one wants the rototiller fixed.

    1. While driving west of Fort Stockton

      HER: Slow down, you are speeding.
      ME: I am just following traffic.
      HER: No, you are not, that’s a jackalope ahead of you.
      ME: No, it is not. Can’t you see the tail-lights.
      HER: That’s the glow from its eyes. It’s running backwards.

      As for the coot, I recognize the pair. They spend the summer on my pond. Coot are the only critters who the mosquitoes have never developed a taste for. You have to credit them that.

  3. Yeah, the coyoted don’t venture into rabbit territory in my ‘hood either! Can’t you just tell her you fixed it and keep renting one on the sly? Nope! We see all; know all.

    1. “Nope! We see all; know all.”

      Yeah thanks, Sammy. I just got chewed out for thinking about it. I had to explain to my wife that I was only reading your comment… She said that’s no excuse.

  4. Your rabbits are not just mean and scary, they are resourceful! But I’m thinking you should keep planting the garden for them, because otherwise they may figure out that you have a lot more food in your kitchen.

    1. Extortion is a common practice among the local fauna. We are currently feeding tribute to a cat who has taken up residence under our porch. She is a little thing with very sharp claws who has survived coyotes and snapping turtles – and for much of the summer has fed on the rabbits. You have to respect, feed and fear a creature like that.

  5. Great story. Reminds me of my acreage in Indiana. I had an old Ford tractor that was needing constant care. When you wanted to do something with it, you had to plan extra hours of fixin’ time. I enjoyed this post. (You sodbusters are supposed to fix all the equipment during the winter. You, of course, are missing in the winter.)

    1. You sodbusters are supposed to fix all the equipment during the winter

      One of these days, I will have a heated shed, until then not much gets down when the temperature dips toward 0F.

  6. All I ever wanted to grow was squash but the pheasants ate the seeds. Who knew they would bother anything? Fun post!

    1. We have volunteer squash coming out of our ears. It is the long yellow tuber kind that grows to about ten pounds. I don’t know who planted it but it comes up everywhere in the garden. We treat it like a weed, still we get a wheel-barrel full every year.

      1. Volunteer squash ~ love it! We have asparagus and rhubarb growing wild here. The asparagus is good but I wish the darn pheasants would take care of the rhubarb.

        1. When I lived in Wisconsin, a guy told me that the road grader went through his asparagus patch when they were putting in County QQ. You can find wild asparagus growing in the ditches along that road for twenty miles.

        1. There was some talk about importing the Monty Python breed of rabbit from England to lend our strain a modicum of decorum – but the Department of Natural Resources put the kibosh on that idea.

    1. You know.. that is not a half-bad idea. My wife repurposes all kinds of things for her garden.

      “Hmmmmmm,” he says staring at his long list of things to be repaired, “that could go in the garden, and that, and that, and definitely that.”

      Don’t be surprised if this idea doesn’t turn up in an essay. 🙂

    1. The fence I built is five feet high and the deer get such a kick out of leaping it that once they land in the garden, they turn and leap back out. They prefer the flower garden – like they say, food presentation is everything.

  7. Ha – this was a fun read. When rabbits start using tools, we’re all in trouble. The Mrs has a rototiller. It’s her second one. I kept the first one alive for years, but one of the bolts holding the carb on was stripped. I had re-tapped and gone larger, I had tried insert threads. They all worked for one season, but the vibration was too much. I finally gave up and bought her a new one for Mother’s Day.

    1. Actually, I am a little scared of what I might find after getting that clam-shell transmission case open – but there is this ethic around here that says fix it rather than buy it.

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