Wood Tractor: lawn tractor

I’ve bought this second hand lawn tractor to convert into a sort of “wood tractor” to use at Century Wood.  At the weekend, I took the tractor to the wood to try it out in its stock configuration, before making any mods to it, and made the YouTube video at the end of this post.

The tractor was built in 2004 at the Electrolux factory in South Carolina. At the time they had the contract to make tractors under Sears’ “Craftsman” brand, and the same place now makes Husqvarna lawn tractors.

The first thing is that it doesn’t have the removable mower deck on the bottom which did the actual mowing. It had rusted away and that helped push the price of the tractor down on eBay.

It has these wide shallow-treaded “turf saver” tyres which don’t chew up your nice lawn while you’re mowing. I’m thinking about replacing them with ag tyres that have a much deeper chevron pattern and work in the mud. You can see in the video at the end of this post how the current tyres do.

Between them is this hitch, which is a just a horizontal plate attached to the chassis with a hole in it. It’s there for pulling carts around gardens. But they’re not very strong as you can imagine and I’m planning to put a much more substantial hitch on there, since the main job of the tractor will be pulling trolley loads of wood around.

There are two bulbs on the front, powered by a dedicated 5A winding in the alternator. I plan to replace them with LEDs packaged as bulbs which draw a lot less current, and that will allow me to power 12V accessories.

I took the tractor to the wood and back with the same Maypole 1.5m trailer I used for the scythe mower in my last post.

Here is the video. It has more details about the mods I’m planning, and good look underneath using a jack. Then there’s a drive around the woodland rides. My next video about the “wood tractor” will show the first set of upgrades.


Trail cameras

I’ve been using trail cameras at Century Wood for the last couple of years. To start with I got a camera for security: to see if people were coming in to the wood following occasional thefts from my neighbours over the years. It quickly became clear that wildlife was a much more interesting use of the camera, and I’ve accumulated a good sample of images of the wood’s wildlife.

The first camera I bought was a Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Max with 8 megapixels. I bought it a year or so before starting to use it properly, and it lasted just over a year before it was stolen. I placed it on the edge of the main clearing in the wood, and I never saw evidence of people on the images. So it may have been taken the first time someone came across it. Then I bought a cheap Apeman camera from Amazon, at 12 megapixels, which is still there – in a harder to spot location – 18 months later.

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Concord and Walden in late summer

In September I was in Boston again and went back to Concord and Walden Pond that I first visited in March: ‘In 1845 Henry David Thoreau built himself a cabin in the woods beside Walden Pond in Massachusetts and started the process which led to “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” in 1854.’  In that post I talk about what Thoreau said and did, and here I’m just adding more photos and videos from September with enough of a description to identify them.

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Off grid videos by Max Ironthumper

This week I came across a series of YouTube videos about off grid living by Maximus Ironthumper (he does reenactments too, including making Viking items!) He covers a lot of topics relevant to people with woodland cabins, including generating electricity, sanitation, and managing firewood.

This is an introductory video which describes his set up:

For the rest of his off grid videos, he has provided a playlist.

Visiting Walden Pond

In 1845 Henry David Thoreau built himself a cabin in the woods beside Walden Pond in Massachusetts and started the process which led to “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” in 1854. This book has gone on to become a classic of American literature, held up by advocates of self-reliance, resistance to the power of the State, naturalism, and conservation; and studied by generations of school children. Even in the UK, it’s often quoted, with its mixture of philosophy and the outline of Thoreau’s efforts to lead a self-reliant life from the land around his cabin. For me, over the last ten years it’s become an increasingly valuable account of living and working in woodland, of learning and practicing woodscraft, and becoming the amateur naturalist of your own environment.

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