Blueberry bounty starts with a bounce

I’d bought 100 or so plants in four different varieties of rabbiteyes and some soil amendments. I’d rented skid steer with an auger. I was ready to plant blueberries.
That Saturday morning I timidly drove the machine off its trailer and started punching holes for berry bushes.
A skid steer has no steering wheel. Shoot, its wheels don’t even turn to one side or the other. To turn, one locks the wheels on one side while advancing those on the opposite side – thus the term, “skid steer.” Clever, huh?
The whole process is about as graceful as a herd of bison tiptoeing through the tulips, but it’s effective for a lot of farm and construction tasks.
Before long I could comfortably coordinate five levers and two pedals to maneuver everything necessary. The machine did in minutes what would take me many hours to do by hand, and soon I’d played – excuse me; I mean drilled – the first 27 holes.
As I moved to the back yard, however, something seemed out of sorts: As I backed down the first row, every mark I’d so carefully laid out was blurred by some kind of liquid. A broken hose was “fertilizing” each planting site with a dousing of hydraulic fluid. The machinery place had just closed, of course, so I reloaded the skid steer and waited out the weekend to take it back.
Journalism precluded horticulture for several days, but then my boss offered a day off, and I retrieved the now-repaired skid steer.
Sighting the auger onto each mark and sinking its bit into the clay, I soon had rows of rust-red collared cavities in the grass.
On the next-to-last row I misjudged how far to go, though, and in a split second the machine and I were rolling over, backward, down a gully’s slope. I hadn’t finished praying for protection before we came to a crashing stop, with the skid steer on its right side.
I walked to the house to let my dad know, in case he looked out the window, that I didn’t have a scratch. The rental place told me to call a tow service to upright the machine and then sent a mechanic, who ascertained the skid steer was also undamaged.
The machine cost only $250 to rent, and the wrecker just cost another $125, but I nearly sacrificed my life to plant these bushes. If anybody ever tells me the price on my blueberries is too high, I just may slug him.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens