Nature’s Waterway Project: Clearing The Creek With a Tractor

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Nature’s Waterway Project: Clearing The Creek With a Tractor

Feature Article: by Gabrien D. Rockwood

This Thanksgiving, I spent the week at my grandparents house in rural Northern California.  While we were there, I got the opportunity to help clear out the creek bed of my grandpa’s house.  It was pretty exciting.

First I had to learn how to operate a tractor safely, and drive it. I learned on my grandpa’s tractor. You have to put the key in, and plug in a red plug that is for safety measures. The next thing I learned was to always drive it in low gear. That is the safest gear for people under 18 to drive in, since I don’t have a lot of practice driving yet. Also, low gear is the strongest gear, and the gear that makes the most sense for pulling big stuff.

Next we looked at the project. There was a barbed wire fence and about 15 trees that needed to be cleared from the creek bottom to allow flood waters to flow this winter without getting clogged up.

To clear the fence, we had to dig around the base of each metal post, clip the barbed wire from it, and get it ready to pull with the tractor. After the post was ready, I tied the tow rope around the post and positioned the tractor scoop right above the post so the rope was tied to the tractor and the post. Then I could get in the tractor and lift the tractor scoop to pull out the post. If the post was loose from digging, it came right up, otherwise, we had to dig it out some more. We dug out about 15 fence posts. Some were old and just snapped off, but others were half buried with old floodwater debris.

After the fence was cleared, we could reach the trees that needed to be pulled. We backed the tractor up and hooked the tow rope to the back end of the tractor and also to the dead trees. This part was tricky because the ground near the creek bed was soft from previous rains, and the tractor kept slipping. I learned that if a tire was spinning, you would have to back the tractor up, and try a different angle. It was a lot of work. One time we got stuck in a hole because the tire spun and dug into the earth. I had my dad sit on the back end of the tractor to help us get traction. Then the tires could contact the earth, it balanced out and we could go back up the bank.

One of the things we had to be careful of was to make sure that the tractor didn’t get too close to the creek edge. My grandpa would not have been happy if the tractor fell into the creek. We did have my mom’s van to pull it out just in case, but we were careful, and I didn’t drive close to the edge.

Another of the dangers we had to watch out for was poison oak. Luckily, nobody ran into any during our project, but we were always on the lookout.

The biggest log was the hardest to pull up. We had to cut it into two pieces because the stump of the tree was digging into the earth while we were trying to pull it and the tractor didn’t have the strength to pull the tree, and the dirt. We didn’t have a chainsaw, so we had to saw it in half by hand. It was an oak tree, so it took a long time to saw through. After we sawed through the trunk though, it came out pretty easily. That was a big tree! It went from one side of the creek, all the way to the other side, and had been there for many years. My mother remembered it from when she was a little girl.

After we were done, I could see that the waterway was clear and my grandpa was happy because now his property wouldn’t flood. I learned how to cut a tree, drive a tractor, make a three point turn, tow stuff, and all kinds of good things about the creek behind my grandpa’s house.

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One Comment to “Nature’s Waterway Project: Clearing The Creek With a Tractor”

  1. great story Gabrien! You are a really good writer!

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