Springtime Show Known as the Tiller Rodeo

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Ahh! Spring has arrived with the beauty of its flowers and the sounds of garden tillers in the distance. Every backyard, open space and whiskey barrel is being filled, tilled and planted all across the state. Gardeners are releasing all of their built-up stress from a long winter of reading seed catalogs and watching HGTV. These green thumbs are finally planting Big Boys, Beefsteaks and other “b”-named varieties of tomato plants.

I, too, have had that same desire this year. Along with my fellow gardening friends, I spent the winter months seeking just the right place on my property to sink hundreds of dollars into the ground to grow $20 worth of produce over the summer. But, I also use the same reasoning used by other gardening enthusiasts as we write another check for more miracle dirt. I reason that it keeps us outside, and the soil is therapeutic.

This year I have gone even more in the therapeutic area of enjoyment by ordering one of those little tillers. After two deliveries by UPS and three big boxes, I prepared to assemble the last garden tool I would ever need. I could have paid $30 more to have them assemble it, but not old country conservative me. I have tools, and I’m a man.

So, one Saturday morning in my garage I opened the boxes and poured tiller parts out for hours. It is amazing what those folks can pack in a cardboard box! The instructions had plenty of pictures, thank goodness, but the packaging was all vacuum-sealed and encased in bulletproof plastic. Why do they do that?

After using the Jaws of Life to open all the packaging, I began to put the tiller together.

I did real well with the engine assembly and only got the handles backwards. That required me to disassemble the entire machine twice to get them right. Finally, after a few bruised knuckles and three Band-Aids due to box-cutter-inflicted puncture wounds from opening the hermetically sealed parts, the tiller looked showroom perfect.

With the pride of a kid holding a brand-new bike, I gently carried my 20-pound, two-cylinder tiller to the backyard. With instructions in hand, I pushed all the buttons and gave the starter cord a yank. The little engine started to purr like a kitten, and I pulled on my form-fitting professional garden gloves like I was a racecar driver in the Indianapolis 500. I pulled down my JD cap over my eyes and gave the troll lever a squeeze to set the tiller in motion.

The little purring engine immediately started sounding like a giant hornet locked up in a fruit jar for two days. It roared with its entire might, and I suddenly noticed one mechanical failure on my part that was really making a difference. I had put the blades on backwards, and my little tiller had suddenly become a deranged kangaroo. I had it by both handles in a death grip, but it was bouncing so high that at times it would block the sun.

I wanted to stop it, but I had failed to read that far in the instructions. I had just read the starting part, so I was now tilling things that I hadn’t planned on tilling.

After a bouncing trip around the yard, my hand finally (and accidentally) hit the kill button on the handle. The tiller stopped, but the laughs coming from the sunroom window where my wife had been watching the “tiller rodeo” continued into late afternoon. My arms had become like jelly and, when I tried to remove my gloves, I had a problem of making my hands come together. I couldn’t even take my finger and touch my nose.

Since that afternoon, I’m tilling somewhat like the advertisement demonstrated. But next time, I think I will pay the $30 for assembly. That seems more therapeutic than being the whole show for a “tiller rodeo.”

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