Sadly not the start to a really good drinking song. 😉
Tis true though, I did indeed fall down a fox hole today.
While out working performing some heavy duty line strimming with the Stihl backpack brushcutter. Some thick and tall grass and heavier weeds and hedge encroachment. So 2 commercial lines and backed up with 2 lines of 2.4mm line; both square profiled. Slicing and dicing at nice mid to high revs so serious culling and carnage happening up at the metal line head end! =]
Taking into account I love these types of days. Really good core workout and also heavy thigh work out days; which was lucky really…
After an hour or two of this path cutting and hedge line fence cleaning and clearing; you get a good sweat on. Done during Winter this is still a hot job if the going is thick. During late Spring/Early Summer it can be a heat stress level task. So into Hour 2 and on the 2nd refuel and line change physically and mentally I was fully tuned into my day at work and the job I was doing. I like repetition of tasks I enjoy. I love strimming. =D
It’s a very good physical and mental workout. Operating larger more powerful machines for 45 minute periods in full “flow” takes some doing. In the thicker edge of border or property boundaries it can be sight unseen as underfoot is thick with strands of freshly snipped weed stems, blades of grass over 3 foot in length and strips of thick brambles or other stringy growth. Let alone dead fall twigs and branches and other long forgotten pieces of fence or gates etc. Mowing with line or blade in this places and for those lengths of time takes a lot of physical effort and mental agility is required as much as physical.
Strimmers dream of lines of simple grass that would be like butter to cut. An endless work day of thick lush grass ready to be trimmed. Long easy steady side to side motions from the hips and using abs and shoulder muscles would lead to major six packs supported by a strong to root core strength if those lengths of grass were yours to be strimmed for days!
The reality is however a lot of up and down motion to use the line spinning at up to 10k revs per minute as a vertical decimation tool. Brought down on larger and taller or thicker vegetation and grasses, the weight of the strimmer pole, head, spool and line with gravity making this a labour intensive task over duration. It is a great workout though; and more so when done with the correct application of a harness or using a back pack power unit.
You can focus which muscles you use to control the power head; by counterbalancing machinery with the belt harness. Offsetting weight by using your hips to swing and control the bulk of the machine and loads on the end of it. While also setting up your centre of gravity for the eventual loads put on the machine head in use as gravity and inertia meet objects set and targeted for destruction.
Treat any of the major physical tasks in your work day to be work out times or opportunities. Feel the rewards and see the benefits in your productivity and well being. As over long periods of time your productivity will be reflected by the efforts results as you gain physical and mental fitness and increased focus to task.
I see 8 hours of strimming or brushcutting as good cardio, core and upper body and leg work out days. Also a chance to clear my mental space and get absorbed into a long playlist of music apt for the task.
Wading through 8 to 10 foot nettles or 5 foot tall grass stalks with full seed heads is a task requiring a heavy and powerful machine to cull and clear it. Loud and dusty, sap and other plant matter flying all over. Tending and clearing ground or places and spaces that have not been cleaned or visited for Decades perhaps.
Life goes on, wildlife takes over; animals and plant…
So wading through the thick stuff, and the ground is softening up as for years grass clippings have been left here. Animals have taken over and Mice through to Rabbits are having a field day. I knew there were Badgers and Foxes on this property as I had seen other signs of larger holes and areas of high animal traffic leading to areas of holes or sets and dens. However to ensure security and enable the property to be managed and maintained; these areas all need to be cleaned and cleared initially to ensure safety and integrity of the property and home.
While working downhill on a slope varying from 5 through to 60 degrees I worked my way. Steady and easy pace running the lines through the nettles that were forming into a thick colony. Growing tall and reaching for the morning light, some over 10 foot tall further down towards the tree line and where I imagined the rear of the property line to be. I wouldn’t be int hose today, I was just investigating and establishing a path towards that area for later in the season. Today was clearing the back edge of the pasture to enable larger machines to follow and mow or for access to clear the perimeter line and so I can move between areas of the property.
The Stihl on my back + Fuel and what I carry on me; adds to about 20kg. Most of that weight is carried on my back or held in my arms; all of which are fixed at just above the hips at waist height through a very good over the shoulder and belt fastening backpack harness. The engine of the Stihl is supported with a dampener and spring to allow vibration reduction and smooth that as well as motion. The power unit controls are in my Right hand and the Left hand is holding the handle for the trimmer head; this is supported by elastic cords to act as a shock absorbent system (added after market) and decrease muscle workload on forearms and upper arms; as well as wrists (Mine!)
I lead with my Left leg as I work my way forwards, with each pass of the strimming head, I sweep back at a slightly lower or higher level depending which pass I am on. Taller material requiring different height passes staged to reduce material from the top through to the bottom at ground level. Some taller general weeds at height may need 3 or 4 graduated height drops to clear a good line through them.
This is where your legs also get a good work out; if doing that. Supporting the working head on it’s path of controlled destruction, lifting or lowering it under working load and then all of a sudden the floor under my lead leg goes soft, really soft. So soft in fact its taking my foot … I ease my trigger finger on the throttle and start backing down the revs; using the counterbalanced weight of the throttle and thick cable that runs the drive shaft and power cable to the control and operating parts of the boom that connects to them and operates the working head. That allowed me to float myself onto my Right leg and reduce weight on the left one which was know above ankle deep in a hole that was yet to feel firm on the edges as my knee fast entered it!
It was at this point I thumbed the off switch on the power control…
My knee came and went into the hole my foot had made and my groin was fast approaching the lip.
Lucky for me I was managing the load I was carrying and my now free hand from the left work grip of the strimmer. No point holding it as I was now performing a gentle splits with a folded right leg and a vanished left leg down a bloody Fox hole. The strimmer pole was lay across the ground and acting as a land anchor if I needed on former ground and I had held my stability with my leg on solid ground.
I was just left with the undignified task of pulling myself out of the hole and getting both legs back of Terra-firma!
Good job being a pro gardener requires good physical workouts all season. My core and legs saved me having a nasty and probably expensive accident.
Also would have taken so doing to get rescued from that situation. 😀
I did find it ironic at the time when I was able to start pulling myself out of the hole; that I once nearly moved to a lovely little place in Cornwall that was called Foxholes…