Let the Chips Fall


A photo of Steve DautWe knocked off another one of our pre-garden projects this weekend. Between taking down the tree on the south end of the garden area and cleaning up a bunch of brush in the small woodlot on our property, we had a fair amount of chipping to do. For a few years now, I’ve been trying to talk Sue into buying a chipper even though we lived in town. But she’s pretty frugal, and she always pointed out that chipping up fourteen branches a year hardly justified the cost of buying, or even renting one. She was right of course.

Now I’m not going to claim that I wanted to buy this property as a chipping opportunity, but it’s definitely one of the projects I had in mind when we signed the papers. So I tied a rope around bunches of stuff in the woodlot and dragged it out with a John Deere LA115 lawn tractor, and we carried the rest over to our chipping area to start the project.

Bandit Model 65XP chipper

We used a Bandit Model 65XP chipper, which is a real guy toy. The 35 HP engine is beefy enough to keep going with barely a whimper. We were feeding in whole small trees and brush with root balls as large as 4 inch diameter without a break, and it handled the stuff like it was butter. It got a little indigestion with pine needles and when it got to the tips of shrubs where there were a lot of small branches, but hitting the reverse bar for a second or two cleared those out easily. When it got the occasional chunk that was a bit big for its gears, it broke it up with a hydraulic hammer action. Overall, this is a very impressive piece of equipment.

Probably the best part was that it vindicated my long-standing quest for a chipping session. Sue work right along with me, and before it was over we were competing for the chance to feed yet another big chunk of brush into the thing and watch it reduce to sweet-smelling rubble. Sue used to buy wood chips every spring to mulch the garden, and this place has a lot of flower gardens, not to mention the vegetable garden we’re getting ready to plant. So even she has to admit that at $8 a bag for a couple of cubic feet, we saved a ton of money by making our own wood chips.

I just hope those tree vines were wild grapes like I told her they were. If she comes down with a case a poison ivy every time she works on the garden, I’m going to play dumb.

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