Friday, 19 April 2013

Chipper at work

We are in a bit of a race against time trying to get all these 400 Leccino cleaned up before Preston Valley grove comes to harvest.  Mick has changed the day to Sunday the 28th April.  He says he'll only do half the trees on that day, and come back a bit later for the rest.  I have had Simon the gardener working for two days, using the bigger chipper while Tania and her husband have done a few hours with the smaller chipper.  ( The problem with that unit
seems to have been a slipping belt.  It has been tightened up a bit, so is working a little better.  Probably really needs a new belt.) Tania has also been shifting the prunings which are bigger and more dried out on to our burning piles. I hate doing that with good mulching material.  Mick, and Dave, his manager, came during the week and quickly tidied up the rest of the trees, fortunately taking off much less, so it should be easier going when we mulch those prunings.  Simon the gardener says he is happy to come down this Anzac day to do more chipping.  I feel it is sort of morally wrong to work on Anzac Day, which is just about sacred here, but I am torn about getting this job done.  Due to my chemo and radiation commitments I don't have any other free days this week
Here is Simon feeding prunings into the chipper.  Although it wasn't too hot, it was incredibly humid, and working conditions were awful!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

A new chipper to clear all the prunings

The other day I noticed an email announcement from the WA Olive Council executive officer.  Someone was selling a Hansa chipper with a 20hp motor.  The chipper we have is a Hansa, but it only has a 9 hp motor, and it has been struggling.  We have thought for some time that the unit we bought was underpowered, and have been kicking ourselves for not spending the extra and getting a larger one.  Anyway, I got down to the grove last week to find that our chipper was in bits.  Tania had rung to tell me that it just wasn't chopping the prunings.  Her husband took it apart to see what might be the matter.  I went down hoping it just needed a good clean, but when I saw it I realised it was some fundamental problem that was beyond my powers of curing.  I took a precipitate decision.  I rang the seller of the bigger unit, who is someone I know who has ripped out all their trees and is trying to sell their property, and in an hours time he was over with the new chipper - identical to ours, except for a few refinements.  It's mounted on a licenced trailer and has a battery start, and the bigger motor.   Agreed selling price was $5000.  Tania and I tried it out a few days later.  Sadly, I can't say it is perfect.  It doesn't pull the branches through as quickly, and got jammed with chippings ( perhaps because the chute can't be angled upwards as much)  But we need a working chipper!  Dave from Preston Valley Grove has done one day skirting, and there are prunings everywhere that we need to get rid of before they come to harvest the Leccino, which is ripening fast.  The weather has been so unseasonally hot - the hottest ever start to April - that the fruit is ripening ahead of the usual schedule, and the ground around the trees needs to be clear to allow the harvester access.  Tania promised that she would come down and do some more chipping before I'm down again.  I'll also try and get Simon - who does gardening for us in the city - to come down for a day.  He works fast and can get a lot done.  I'm useless.  I nearly passed out when I was working with Tania.  Partly the heat, but this chemo is making me so feeble.  I hate feeling so weak.