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Making Macnuts into Mulch


Click to watch the chipper in action. (15MB)
In addition to coffee, we have about 200 macadamia nut trees.  Our macadamia nut orchard has been in need of a good pruning for several years now.  Unfortunately it's never quite made it to the top of my to-do list.  Then last week my neighbor offered to come over with his giant chipper.  It was perfect timing because I had been doing taxes all morning.  I prefer hard manual labor over taxes any day.

My neighbor's chipper is not a standard garden chipper/shredder, it's a large commercial chippers that can eat entire tree trunks without a hiccup.  It's large capacity also makes it quite heavy.  My neighbor's truck hitch was broken so he had the chipper chained to the bucket of his tractor.  The tractor worked fine on level ground but once we got to rougher terrain, the tractor just didn't quite have enough control and traction for the heavy chipper.

Towing Hitch After wrestling with the tractor for an hour or so it finally dawned on me that "Duh!  My truck has a hitch and four wheel drive, why don't we just use that?"  The chipper requires a military style hitch instead of the more typical ball hitch but my neighbor had the hitch itself, it was the hitch receiver on his truck that was broken.  So we attached his hitch to my truck, put the truck in 4x4 low gear, and headed off to my back field.  It turned out that my truck was the perfect compromise between powerful enough to pull the trailer yet small enough to fit in the orchard.  I'm also happy to announce that I made up for my previous knuckle headedness by proving to be an excellent backer-upper, maneuvering the chipper around the orchard like a pro.  It helps that I have had previous experience with the steeper locations and I was careful to avoid them this time.

Manny I had figured pruning the entire orchard was going to take me a week or more.  With the help of my neighbor Manny and his three workers (Martin, Carmelo and Owoldo), we managed to finish off the entire orchard in two days.  I had planned to do most of the cutting myself until I realized that Manny had previously been a logger.  He really knew what he was doing and he was much, much faster than I am.  A skilled person with a chainsaw is fun to watch.  Sometimes he was so fast that I'm amazed he still has all his fingers.

I relegated myself to part of the pick-up crew.  Our job was easy: drag all the branches and feed them into the chipper.  At least it sounds easy.  I've gotten used to the fact that I can't keep up with seasoned laborers but I didn't do too bad.  The best news is that I kept my injuries limited to a few minor scrapes and bruises, no big wounds or missing digits.

The trees didn't fair so well.  Did you know that macadamia tree sap is red?  It makes them looks like they're bleeding.  The trees will be healthier in the long run.  And with all the mulch we generated, the coffee trees will benefit too.  There are some rocky spots in the coffee fields that could really use some mulch.  That's a job for my tractor and another day.  I really should get back to my taxes first.

Blood MacNuts Cerveza

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