I tend to mow the grass around the barn areas as green feed for all of the animals. This not only gives them the greens they love, but it also helps to protect the roaming chickens and geese.
You see, it’s easy for a fox to sit and wait in the tall grass and not be noticed by a chicken until it’s too late.
I have seen such a fox around.
He doesn’t seem to be bothered by humans or even scared of them. And this isn’t good for the health of the chickens.
This past week, we have taken the mowing to another level. We are looking at creating some pastureland and to do that we needed to knock down a whole lot of poplar saplings that were growing in an unused area of our property.
This is not something the run-of-the-mill lawnmower is going to handle. And it is back-breaking work with a chainsaw or axe. So we borrowed a chain mower from a friend.
A chain mower is basically a rotating disk with chains attached, underneath a metal shroud. It hooks up to the tractor’s three-point hitch and is powered by the PTO or power take-off.
As it is driven over small trees and shrubs, it shreds them with the chains. It also shoots sticks and rocks out from under the shroud. Making it very dangerous to be on the ground nearby.
Working with a PTO, a person has to be very careful. It is a quickly turning shaft that turns the gears on the mower. But it can also catch clothing and do some real damage to people.
Having grown up on the farm, I learnt to give a wide berth to the PTO when Dad was using it to mix feed or whatever. But for some reason, I had never operated a tractor while running the PTO, so I was a bit nervous.
But I figured that as long as I was careful and didn’t have it operating while I was on the ground (as recommended by a sticker on the tractor), I should be OK.
So, after Allan got everything hooked up and took a few turns about the field to make sure it was all in working order, I asked if I could give it a try.
Boy, was that fun!
There is nothing like the feeling of driving over small trees and having them shredded up and turned into pulp. I had so much fun that those first few passes that Al took were the only ones he did on the field.
There I was going happily in circles as the field of trees got smaller and the grassy area got bigger.
At one point, as I was going up a hill, the tractor started to sputter and then actually died … I had run out of gas. But instead of just refilling it and continuing, Al suggested that I call it a day. Reluctantly I agreed, it was starting to get dark anyways, but I couldn’t wait to finish the field the next day.
Now with all the trees gone, a fox can be spotted from quite a distance away, where before a bear would have been hidden by them.
And the chickens seem to feel much safer.