By Ike Adams
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
My younger brothers, Keeter and Andy, came down from the mountains over the weekend for a short visit and to help me get some motors running on stuff that’s been nonfunctional for quite a while.
Both of my tillers were dead when I called them last week begging for help, but my fantastic neighbor and sourdough bread baker, Charlie Gruen, actually had my toy tiller running like an Elgin watch before they got here. In the meantime, I had broken a tie rod end off the steering on my lawn mower. I told the boys that I’d done it on purpose in case they got bored with only having to fix one tiller.
I have two, very old, Troybilt tillers that have served me well over the last 20 years and both were old when I acquired them. One of them is the smallest, self propelled, rear-tine tiller the company ever made. I believe they called it a pony but the name has been rubbed off over the years. I call it my toy tiller. It’s good for cultivating between rows but nobody is ever going to be breaking any new ground with it.
The second one is called a horse and it will do some serious digging when it’s running. But it should have been called a mule because it can get very stubborn. In fact, until Keeter and Andy came down last Saturday, it hadn’t even been out of the barn in nearly two years.
Two different small engine mechanics had previously told me that the problem was a bad ignition coil in the first breath. Then, in the second breath, they’d told me “good luck finding one that will fit that motor. “
The motor is so old that the plate where the model number was stamped is long gone. I talked Charlie into pulling the ignition module off and I began shopping around to parts places and repair shops all over central Kentucky. Nobody had it in stock and the couple who said they could order it wanted more than the cost of a down payment on a brand new tiller.
I took photos of the part and sent them to a small engine place in Minnesota. To make a long story short, they sent me the module for $30, and that included shipping. However, taking a coil off is pretty much a piece of cake. Putting one back on is not so easy because it has to be lined up precisely right.
And it turned out that the mule had a host of other issues that had developed because it had been sitting too long and the fuel system had become terribly corroded. But Keeter can fix anything and Andy is almost as good. He just has two years less experience.
But they got the tiller going and the garden perfectly ready for summer planting before they headed back to the hills early Sunday afternoon. The lawn mower is also running like it has power steering, even though we had to make one trip to Berea and two to Richmond and put 95 miles on Andy’s car before we found the right tie-rod end.
We didn’t eat supper Saturday night until after it got too dark to work in the garden.
Jimmy Robinson, who owns and runs Robinson Premium Meats (formerly known as Robinson Sausage) in East Bernstadt, had send us a big box of stuff to grill on the 4th but I figured Jimmy wouldn’t mind if I fed my brothers a little early because they won’t be here for the holiday.
So Loretta steamed up a big kettle of snow peas we’d just picked, a big bowl of tater salad and a skillet full of bodacious sweet corn from last year’s garden that tasted like it had just been picked to serve up with a dozen, big Robinson Polish Sausages.
The sausages are laced with sharp cheddar cheese and a variety of herbs. One of the 4-packs had also been laced with jalapeno peppers but she forgot which was which and you couldn’t tell without tasting.
I happen to love hot peppers in meat dishes if the cook doesn’t get carried away and I already knew that these were perfect, because I figured Jimmy wouldn’t mind if I sampled them before I tried them out on other people. So, the week before the boys showed up, I’d been eating one a day for four days just to be absolutely sure.
I looked across the table and Keeter was sweating like a race horse even though it was cool in our kitchen but he was literally stuffing that sausage away and I knew he’d latched onto one of the hot sausages.