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The highs and lows of clearing your own lot

Posted by joeabbott on June 26, 2016

When we bought our lot, we liked that it was about 65 miles away … not too far, not too near … but it always makes for a long-ish drive to get there. Not too long, but long enough that planning on having an audio-book is a priority.

The problem comes in when we get to the property and something goes wrong.

Our goal yesterday was to use the new brush cutter head on our Stihl trimmer to continue making progress against the overgrown lot. As we pulled in, we went through the now-familiar routine of stretching after the long ride, getting a few items out of the shed, and assessing the daily projects. We’re at the point where it feels like we’re just “doing more”. We trimmed one edge of the lot, we cleared a stand of trees in the middle … and now it’s just beating back the massive center portion that’s 8’ high with alder, maple, and wild blackberry shoots.

As Suzy surveyed the yard, I changed out the head on the brush cutter and tried starting it up. And tried, and tried, and tried. I’m pretty sure I tried some more. It got bad enough that I even pulled out a manual and read that it might be a sparkplug that got wet. Oh, ok, I thought … when I was changing out the head, I must have tipped it in a way that allowed fluid to dampen the spark plug.

Upon carefully taking the sparkplug cap off … the entire cap came away in my hands. The spiral coil of wire that loops around the top of the plug had separated from the wire leading to the engine! It needed to be soldered or replaced.

And now I hit the tipping point.

Miles from my home shop, miles from the store that sold me the unit just a weekend or two back, at a lot without other tools that would allow me to do work that day … I was pretty angry. Mad that we didn’t have the second string trimmer to make progress against the yard, mad that I bought a brand new tool and it was broken on the second outing, mad that I had a lot requiring so much time and effort and money. I was just plain mad.

After walking the perimeter of the lot, we packed up the chairs and the few tools we had and popped the trimmer into Suzy’s car and headed back home. What else could we do?

Upon hitting town, Suzy stopped at a local Ace Hardware and I ran in to ask if there were local Stihl dealers … I didn’t expect to hear much beyond “in Lake Stevens” or something directing me to another community some distance away. But, our luck appeared to be turning and the nearest shop was around the corner and down the road a quarter mile.

So we drove to Glen’s Hardware and while it’s not much to look at from outside, they had a goodly supply of Stihl units and a couple guys at a bustling desk. When it was my turn I asked the guy if he could repair “this” … whereon I handed him the wire that’d broken off and the cap. He looked at it a second and, without looking up, asked where the rest of it was. Meaning the rest of the trimmer unit.

I mentioned not wanting to bring it in if they didn’t have time to get to it today and he said he could.

By the time I got it in, another 2-3 people had wandered up and I started thinking about things Suzy and I could do with our afternoon while we waited … or see if they had Sunday hours to get it the next day. But, on seeing me, the guy grabbed the unit, popped it onto the shop workbench, and started taking off the cowling!

Before I could run back to the car and get my wallet, the guy was walking through the back doors firing it up! And, on telling me it had some adjustment problems (that he’d fixed), he presented me with my repaired tool and a $6.73 charge.

Now I knew my luck had turned. I nearly told him to keep the change from a $10 but returned to car with the repaired trimmer and let Suzy know that “Grumpy Joe” had been replaced by “Giddy Joe”.

After this we drove down the road another couple hundred yards to a nursery on on the outskirts of Granite Falls and spent a half hour among a fantastic assortment of trees and plants, getting to know their offerings and the onsite manager, Justin. We didn’t buy anything, but got to know what they stocked, got some prices on bulk materials like gravel and topsoil, and generally made ourselves known. I’m sure we’ll be back.

And as we drove back to our lot with our repaired tools and attitudes, our decision to buy a lot in Granite Falls was reaffirmed. It’s just a nice place to be and spend some time and get to know.

I’m sure I’ll have other days of highs and lows, but hope, for the most part, the highs are sitting on our chairs under the shade of the trees on our lot looking at our property … and the lows are just the work it’ll take to get it into order. That’s a balance I can enjoy.

Thanks for coming by.


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