{April 22, 2012}   Baby Got Backhoe


It might be a stretch to say I tried my latest new thing in honor of Earth Day today. But it does have to do with earth (moving it) and planting trees (eventually.)

Here’s the scoop: When I returned from our son’s soccer game yesterday, I found an honest-to-goodness backhoe parked in our driveway—a J.I. Case 580D Construction King loader/backhoe to be specific. I normally don’t get excited about construction equipment.  But my first thought was: “I’ve never operated a backhoe…another first! This will be great!”

My husband, Doug, had mentioned a friend was dropping off a piece of machinery for our landscaping project. We had a terraced area in our side yard that was bordered with painted railroad timbers. They’d been in place more than 25 years and were no longer attractive. The paint was peeling and the wood was rotting. We decided to remove the timbers and grade the area into a gentle slope. Then we’ll plant grass and a few trees or bushes.

The plan was to use the backhoe to scoop up and set aside the good top soil. Then Doug will use his own tractor to move the less desirable fill into place to create the slope, then spread the top soil over the slope.

Doug could see the gleam in my eye when I walked in the door and agreed to show me how to operate the backhoe before his friend got to work. After he helped our sons dig up a few buckets of dirt, the boys explained the controls to me.

The left control is a joystick that swings the entire backhoe from side to side and moves the boom up and down. The right control moves the stick (the arm attached to the boom) and the bucket, allowing the operator to maneuver the bucket to scoop and dump the dirt.

My husband gave me only two warnings: don’t dig too deep and don’t hit the well cover.

My first attempt at maneuvering the bucket was not pretty—the movements were jerky, but I managed to scoop and dump a nice bucket of top soil. I learned working both controls at the same time makes for more fluid movements. With the second bucket, I moved the boom more smoothly, but I dug too deep and ended up with half top soil, half sand.

On the third try, I managed to scoop only top soil but failed to lift the bucket high enough. As I swung the backhoe to the right, I heard Doug yell and I stopped just inches from the well cover. Whew! It was a close call, but I moved the bucket back a few inches, lifted it and continued on to dump the soil where it needed to go.

After this experience, I totally understand the joy little boys find in playing with construction toys in the sandbox, and why big boys like playing in the dirt with bigger toys. It’s good, clean fun!


Tina says:

Wow. Good one! I can’t even operate the sandbox backhoe you see at some playgrounds. Very cool.

Thanks, Tina! I think it’s even easier than the ones in the sandbox. Like the difference between a push mower and self-propelled. Not that I’ve mowed the lawn in years…

Wendy says:

How did I not realize this was your blog? Love it!

Thanks, Wendy! I’m still discovering the ins and outs of blogging myself. I need to learn if/how I can follow non-WordPress blogs like yours through this blog, rather than through Facebook. Well, that, and about 100 other things. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Marie Brannon says:

Julie, love the adventure and love the 47 and fearless theme. You go girl!

Thank you, Marie! I’d love it if you’d join me sometime. Tandem sky-diving? Dirty Girl Mud Run? Limburger tasting? C’mon! It will be fun!

Sam Perroni says:

Now that’s the ticket. Working a backhoe part time to make traveling money Sam

Good idea! And Cabo is at the top of that travel list! 🙂

Mike B. says:

This one hit me where I live. Isn’t it fun to operate machinery? Let me know, I can give you the lowdown on the hydraulic system, lol!!

Ha! I want to know about the hydraulic system as much as you wanted to know about the history of the phrase “throw a pot”.
But if you have some other heavy equipment I can try, let me know!

Sue T says:

MORE HEAVY EQUIPMENT! YES!! Come to Utah and drive/operate all the tractors and impliments using not only your left and right hand but your left and right feet all at the same time! Honest, if there’s anything that will keep your mind and body young, it’s this co-ordinated effort. Julie, you never change (basically), always seeing life from seat of a high flying jet, whilst spewing the funniest views of earth life. I love you.

Thank you, Sue! Maybe we will do that! Do you have a combine? Doug has always wanted to drive one of those. And when it comes to farm machinery, I’m not picky! 🙂 But the whole coordination of hands and feet might be a challenge for me. (I’m still working on that rubbing my tummy while patting my head trick…) I appreciate you taking the time to read this and comment! It’s wonderful to hear from you! xoxox

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