Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Season Is It?

This isn't real.  It's just here for fun.
It’s mowing season.  Yes that’s right; over the past few weeks we’ve been getting ready for the first cutting of the year.   Although warmer weather took its time getting here, we knew it was right around the corner.  That meant lots of work had to be done.
These are just a fraction of the trees that had to be cut and then cut up for removal.
To start with, some friends helped us move trees further from the runway.  We do a little each year but in 2014 we really went after it.  For a full day two chainsaws filled the silence with 2 cycle screams and exhaust while a large loader hauled cuttings away.  When all was said and done, the south end was ready for the arrival of the B-17 (eventually someone will give in).  After that, another few days of chainsaw work were completed in an effort to clear out the tornado damaged trees and to begin the clean up of the area along the road.  Gradually we are doing more landscaping to lift the aesthetic appearance of the airport perimeter.  This clearing had to be done to accomplish that.
All tires will be purchased online and changed in house from here on out.
The next job in line for mowing season prep was the tractor and mower maintenance.  All the fluids and filters were changed on all the equipment.  When it comes to tractors, this can take a while.  The small tractor alone holds 7 gallons of hydraulic fluid and the big tractor has a total of seven filters.  So as you can imagine, it’s a full day’s work just doing these things.  After that came the mowing decks.
Our big concern this year was a heavy check for the primary mowing deck.  Mowing season arrived before we could finish it but the service will be finished between uses over the next month.  This will involve changing all the tires.  It has 14.  New blades will be fitted.  It has nine.  All universal joints will be serviced or replaced.  It has nine.  A good percentage of the belts will be changed.  It has six.  All gearboxes will have their oil changed.  There are four of them.  All high pressure hydraulic lines will be changed as they are rapidly approaching their life limits and potential failure.  It has eight of them.  And finally every grease point will be fully serviced.  It has almost 40.   And that’s just one mowing deck.
Only a part of all that was added and or changed.
Of course there’s the mowing.  Before it could be done the runway had to be inspected for anomalies.   This year the extended period of snow cover and severe cold was very tough on the turf.  It also insulated the critters instead of killing them.  And though they didn't make anything big enough to affect aircraft operations, they have made a lot of runs and killed a lot of grass.
This is one of the spikes that holds the runway markers in place.  It is sticking up 3"-4".  That's how
much the ground heaves in winter due to freezing.
Repairs will include bringing in top soil and mixing it with sand and grass seed.  The bad spots will be roughed up covered with this mixture which typically fills in rapidly with growth.  The rest will have to wait for fall when the budget and weather will be better suited for bringing in a trailer load of seed.  For now though, mowing must begin.
Taken during the first grass cutting of the year.
As you can see from this photo of the first cutting, the grass took a hit but it isn’t as bad as I may have made it sound.  In fact, it’s incredibly green isn’t it?  It’s also growing very fast.  You should come see it.

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