Mariton: “You don’t miss your water…

September 24, 2021

…’til your well runs dry.”

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

I first heard Taj Mahal’s rendition of William Bell’s great song back in the 70’s.  Of course, Taj is singing about the loss of his woman, but the axiom has many applications.  In the 90’s I often quoted the song’s title because we were going through the decade-long drought locally – and several wells did go dry.

More recently, this has applied to Mariton’s tractor.  In early August the tractor went to the shop for some repairs and routine maintenance.  But because of miscommunication and parts supply issues, the tractor’s return date kept getting pushed out.  The tractor is my work horse and it ended up being gone for two months.

I mow meadow trails (and even forest trails with the tractor and brush hog), so things got a little overgrown.  I sometimes don’t use the tractor for a week or even two, but I really missed not having it when it was needed.  I don’t think I take the tractor for granted, but I do rely on it for many tasks.

Trees came down across trails during several of the storms we had this summer.  Usually, I load the chainsaws and other gear in the tractor’s bucket for such occurrences.  Without the tractor, I had to hoof up the hill with the chainsaw over my shoulder.  I’m not complaining, because I walk up the hill many times a week, but it would have been much easier to drive the tractor with the equipment to the down trees.  (Especially, when the temperature was in the 90’s.)  Talk about missing your water.

Tractor bucket with trail clearing tools

The tractor back in its “stall” with most of the things I need to clear a tree from the trails.

My tractor came home yesterday.  Hooray.  Before the storm came, I brush hogged the trails, finishing the task just as it started to sprinkle.  Today, loaded with hand tools, I drove it to the top of the hill to install a butterfly hibernation box in the woods.  This was impossible without the tractor, or a couple people to help carry tools.

Tractor bucket with tools

Tools necessary to install the butterfly hibernation box.

Living without the tractor for several weeks reminded me just how much I depend on it for the normal tasks of a preserve manager.  I do feel more confident going into the fall and winter knowing that it  is ready for hauling trees, moving snow piles and maintaining trails.  We maintain our equipment to prevent break downs, just like we steward our preserves.  We hope we don’t have to live very long without our equipment, just like we hope we never have to do without open wild spaces.

A butterfly hibernation box.

A butterfly hibernation box in the woods.