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Yesterday I got a fresh taste of tough manual labor. It came in the form of a hand-operated Barreto brand rototiller. It’s a wonderful tool for taking a smooth area like a large front yard and chopping the soil into a finer dirt that would be more amenable to gardening or growing a grass lawn. It wouldn’t be too daunting a task assuming my soil had been tilled in recent years, but this soil had never been tilled; it wasn’t as hard as highway pavement, but it was close.

Going through the well-mixed soil wasn’t too bad, but there were occasional rocks the size of baseballs, and the two-inch diameter roots were plentiful enough, and when I hit one it would lock up the whole system instantly. The engine would stop and try as I might it usually refused to start when it was hot, so I would have to do something else for fifteen minutes. There was plenty to do, such as digging with a shovel to expose the root, then taking the arm-operated branch cutter with a two-inch snipper blade and cutting out the roots that had been discovered. That was a challenge!

But the most annoying thing was trying to get the engine restarted. Until I developed a technique, I had pulled with all my might to get it to fire and run for about five seconds, but it would then sputter and slowly die. There were several levers for controlling the choke and throttle and timing which had a range of possible settings, none of which had any visible range markers so everything was a big guess. Over the course of the afternoon, I must have pulled the starting line fifty times to get about four successful starts. Fortunately, when it did go, near the end of the working session I could get twenty minutes of operation by avoiding where the roots and rocks had been discovered.

Last week the guys up the trees were starting their power chainsaws with one pull. It had to be that way because they were in no position to be fighting with chainsaws.

I have the tiller until 8:30am Monday morning and tomorrow afternoon, Sunday afternoon, is free after about 4:00pm, so I could get in a couple more hours of tilling in the front yard before dark. Perhaps that can be let go because we are considering getting a professional landscaper to make it xeriscaped. The water here might be becoming a problem so it makes sense to make the landscaping as water-free as possible.

Oh yes, every muscle in my body hurts, except for those in my nose; I don’t know why they were spared.