This Old House

On my Pluto.TV television feed I have been binge-watching episodes of The Old House, which is a long running series on home fix-it projects. Over the years it and the Yankee Workshop series showed me that many repairs and builds are possible for anyone who wants to try. There are also series I have watched over the years which have also shown me that many car repairs are pretty simple.

I have had off and on again issues with the tractor and mower, not unlike life I guess. As things get older they need adjustments, care and repair. With the mower it seems I get a couple hours work out of it before it is down with another problem. I need the tractor and mower to cut the grass and weeds on my almost 9 acre farm.

The top half of the farm is planted with coffee trees five feet apart with 10 feet between rows and the rows are 10 feet apart. That gives me 2 passes with the mower for each row. Between the trees I have had guys do weed whacking. The orchard part of the farm is planted on a 20 foot by 20 foot layout with many of the trees citrus, some exotic plants and a bit of spice.

The recent mower issues started with bolts breaking off and I finally decided that since I was not adjusting that part of the mower, I could have the loose pieces welded in place. Each repair below gave me a few hours use before the next issue came up. Then one of the hammers which cut the grass and shred tree limbs lost a bolt and fell of somewhere in a coffee row. I noticed a bit of vibration and shaking but that has not been uncommon when I get a piece of wood stuck there it I have run over a plastic drip line and it gets wrapped around the shaft. When I finally stopped I discovered the part missing but was unable to find it. I decided to order a complete new set of 12 hammer knives so that I could replace them all. That took a couple weeks to get there due to the slowdown of shipments due to the shutdowns for the virus. I was unable to find the correct bolts to hold the hammers on and it was another week or two for them to come in. Then the roller lost its bolts. It keeps the back end of the mower from hitting the ground and having the hammers dig into the rock or dirt. I tried fixing it but the bolt holes had elongated some so I called a neighbor who tack-welded the bolts into place. Then as I got another 2 hours of use out the thing I was up mowing at the very top of the farm where I had left a few macadamia nut trees. As I maneuvered around one tree, my front end loader bucket touched the trunk of the tree and it came crashing down. I was not injured but one limb of the rotted tree hit the joystick which controls the bucket and broke it off. I was unable to find the piece in the mess of limbs and vines so I just Jerry-rigged a fix until I can get that part.

The house is way past due for a termite treatment. The most common treatment here is to tent the house and inject a chemical into the enclosure to kill all the termites. They will be gone for about 10 years, and shorter time period for cock roaches and any geckos hiding in the house.

I have only had one issue with the cesspool and I was able to clear the line of a tree root. At some point it may need pumping but I can wait on that it seems.

I have a set of outside stairs that need repair and a kitchen remodel to get done. If I can get the room downstairs fixed up I can get a worker to move in and manage parts of the farm for me. That would help with the replanting I need to do in the next couple of years to get the farm fully planted again.

My most worrisome issue at present is my two dogs. Koa, the 13 year old chocolate male Lab has lots of lipomas which are fatty, lumpy deposits. Some breeds are more likely to get them than others. There is not much to do to remove them as long as they don’t effect his mobility. He is a bit old to undergo much of an operation at this point. He appears to still hear pretty well but his eyesight seems to be an issue. The Vet thinks he may be getting or already be blind in one eye and has some vision problems in the other.

My yellow female Lab is just 10 and has already had the cancer scare. She started passing blood in her urine and it was determined that she had a tumor in her bladder. Because of its location and some other issues they decided that it was not in her best interest to operate. They gave her perhaps 5 months and that was more than 5 months ago. She was given an antibiotic and that plus an acidifier stopped the bleeding. S is also on a NASAID (a non-steroidal kinda like Ibuprofen) for the pain but it also has a side effect that it sometimes reduces the bladder tumors. She has been running and as active as ever. However this morning I noticed a large lump on her belly that does not seem like a lipoma. That growth is a real concern and I am taking her to the Vet this morning. The Vet meets people at the farmers market up the road as she does not have an office. I’ll have to schedule a time for them to see her. I am pretty sure that this lump will need to be taken out and soon.

The final concern is my self. I have been in pretty good health, especially after the prostate surgery and the quadruple bypass years ago. I have had a bit of hip and shoulder pain which has been treated but has not been eliminated. I am months away from my 70th birthday and looking back, the men in my family line have not lived to be very old. My Mom made it to 97 or so, but I am not sure I will make it anywhere near that. I have a will made out and put the farm into a trust so that it can be managed after I die, which I hope is not soon. Still, I have watched many of my friends die a lot younger than I am and have no overly optimistic idea that I will reach my 90’s. I may be surprised but each fay I am just slowing down and not wanting to do hours of physical work.

Although I worked many jobs in my life and done a lot of things. I realize that many of the projects I wanted to do and many of the things I had planned will never happen. I have never been out of the country except to go to Canada and the Bahamas. Moving to Hawaii was somewhat like a move to another country being 1/4 the way around the world from where I was born.

There s an old song that has a number of meanings but whether you think it talks about an old house or an old human body, it seems to explain it all.

This ole house once knew his children
This ole house once knew a wife
This ole house was home and comfort
As we fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now she trembles in the darkness
When the lightnin’ walks about
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles
Ain’t a-got time to fix the floor
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend no windowpane
Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer
She’s a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints
This ole house is gettin’ shaky
This ole house is gettin’ old
This ole house lets in the rain
This ole house lets in the cold
On my knees I’m gettin’ chilly
But I feel no fear nor pain
‘Cause I see an angel peekin’
Through the broken windowpane
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles