A productive Friday

We had Mercy at the truck-accessories shop when it opened yesterday. The work order called for fitting a few additional lights and having a breakaway brake switch installed (for when the Jeep tags along behind the bus).

Wiring and mounting took longer than we’d expected but the result was worth it. Two small rocker switches to the left of the steering column control the new lights — a pair of LED floods mounted on each side of the cowl, and a 20-inch LED bar on the bumper above the winch.

The required-by-law “dead man” brake switch is now installed on top of the bumper, its lead run to a spot under the driver’s seat.

We haven’t yet tried out the new lights on the road (or on The Mountain) at night, but after dark we did audition them here at the campground. They’ll do the job, for sure — a major improvement.

The lengthy work on Mercy, though it was necessary and the outcome gratifying, put us behind for the day. We got a late start for The Mountain, where there was work to be done, and we didn’t arrive until after 1pm.

Thursday’s backhoe activity (pictured in yesterday morning’s post) left massive piles of brush and downed trees. We were to meet Deb’s cousin there and, using a couple of Stihl chainsaws and a 4WD Kubota tractor equipped with a bucket and a blade, begin to make it disappear.

By the time we got there he’d already finished most of what could be done — freeing manageable chunks and trunks and dragging them down to the road, where a neighbor will process and haul them away for his own firewood supply.

Deb and I were able contribute a bit of sweat toward completing the task, helping to chain-up and move the last five trees to the roadside. She took a number of photos, a few of which I’ve included here, making it look like I worked harder than I actually did.

I did, by the way, get to test-drive that Kubota. I hadn’t operated a tractor since my youth, maybe 45 years ago, and that was a highlight of my Friday.

We met another of the neighbors while we were taking a break. (Keep in mind that the closest “neighbors” out there are a half-mile away.) He’d driven his UTV (utility task vehicle) up The Mountain — a late-model Polaris Ranger 570 decked out with a full cab, winch, rack and other smart accessories.

With two seats, four-wheel drive and a good-sized truck-style bed, it’s the sort of tool that comes in handy in a place like that. This one has been meticulously maintained, and it’s for sale.

I was intrigued. Deb was smitten. Don’t be surprised if that Ranger appears again in accounts of our time up on The Mountain.

Before leaving for the day there was one more thing I wanted to do. I’d noticed a lot of red cedar saplings in and around the cleared area, small and dead-straight, and I decided to harvest one for a walking stick.

Deb’s cousin started the smaller of his Stihl saws and handed it to me. I cut the sapling I’d picked out, shut down the saw and, using my machete, stripped it down to the trunk. I’ll leave it to dry for a month or so on the floor of his shop before I remove the bark, shape it and cut it to size.

And then I’ll make one for Deb. Simple pleasures.

When the weather cooperates and brings rain to The Mountain, we’ll move the remaining brush to the center of the new clearing and burn it. (In the process I expect we’ll find and hold back more firewood.) The backhoe will return and work will continue.

To say that we’re pleased with this week’s progress would be an understatement.

Before (Thursday) and after (Friday).

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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