Leaf Rake Product Review

20171206_133028Fan rakes are used for more than leaves, and that is what gets most of us into trouble. Instead of fighting with bent out pieces of spring steel or brittle bamboo, you can buy a brand new fan rake for the price of you and your sweetheart going to a movie.

I’m not sure if that’s an accurate statement or not. I don’t get out much and, to be honest, I don’t remember the last movie I saw in a theater.

However, Mrs. Cunha probably remembers and would be glad to remind me.

To her credit, Mrs. Cunha encourages my tool buying habit. In our younger years, she learned to buy the heavy duty equipment after I burned out two electric chainsaws in three years. A little pain in the present prevents catastrophic failure in the future, when a tool is pushed to its limits.

I’m a Husqvarna man, but when the logger select-cutting my fire-damaged stand of white oak referred to my baby as a “butter knife,” my competitive streak kicked in. I’m now eyeing one of the big boy 461 models from Stihl.

Like being an drunk, the first step is admitting that I have a problem.

“Hi, I’m Carlos and I’m a tool-aholic.”

For the paltry sum of twenty dollars (.001198 Bitcoin, if you’re that sort), Mrs. Cunha replaced several previous fan rakes that failed to go the distance; thwacky-cracky bamboo, springy-sprangy steel, and bendy-snappy plastic.

20171206_133022This True Temper fan rake is a tough customer. It’s a bit heavier than I would like. Having said that, the trade off is the sheer amount of material it is able to gather up. We took turns working it hard. Leaves and twigs were gathered up easily, both is short grass and long. The tines are stiff enough to pull up partially buried yard debris, while working between tufts of grass we wanted to leave behind.

The wooden handle painted to look metallic does not impress me, but the end you swing it by has a medium density foam grip that lends a good amount of comfort to the chore of raking.

I raked out the sheep pen with it and was impressed at how clear a swath it left behind. It didn’t gather as much of the sheep poop as I would have liked because of the relative size of pellets to the tine spacing, but once they picked up some hay, a reasonable amount was left behind.

Where this rake really shinned was its ability to dig down and pull apart compacted chicken litter from the coop. The sharp points and stiff tines pushed right down to the floor and pulled everything out of the coop in a handful of motions.

20171206_133044The label says there is a fifteen year warranty, but like most such claims, I will believe it when I see it. This isn’t to say True Temper won’t honor their promise. I just haven’t had need to ask them, which is testament to their confidence in offering a long warranty.

My guess would be that leaving it out in the weather or exposed to sunlight for long periods will shorten its life, but so far, I’m pleased with this product and recommend it.


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Carpenter Bee Catcher Review

20170416_160512Carpenter bees are thumb-sized termites bent on destroying barns. My plan was simple. The best ones usually are, but God and bees laugh at the best laid plans of mice and men.

Impulse buys are interesting things. They are products you didn’t know life was possible without prior to walking past them. They are like pretty girls you catch a glimpse of in traffic. They grab the eye, cause the heart to flutter, and often result in a traffic accident.

Knowing my barn is being slowly shot thru by Carpenter bee tunnels, I’ve been on the search for a way to control the little beasties that won’t poison any of the other critters roaming the farm. The bees are smart enough not to get near the chickens, and offering the kids a dollar per bee carcass was a bust.

The current generation completely lacks entrepreneurial drive.

Investigating the price of hog chow at one of my local feed stores, I came across the insect trap pictured above. The girl at the counter assured me the device was designed specifically for Carpenter bees. The idea being the little hardwood chewers make their way through one of the holes and then can’t find their way out. I assumed the plastic jar was for easy bee body removal.

Exactly how and why the bees would wind up in the jar of death was a mystery, but I’m a trusting sort, who assumes everyone knows more about farming than I do. That’s generally a safe assumption.

Verdict: Don’t waste your money for this design.

That stupid little bee trapping box has been hanging in the feed closet of my barn for a month, and hasn’t trapped a single Carpenter bee. I’ve killed more of the boring little buggers with a feed scoop than that contraption has captured.

Since Carpenter bees like making their homes in hardwoods, I’m wondering if the pine the box is constructed out of just isn’t attractive to them. Or, maybe, the bees aren’t interested in going to the trouble to leave their current abodes.

I’m not sure what the problem or the solution is, but I know this Carpenter bee trap isn’t the way to go. It’s just another fifteen dollars wasted.


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L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapter.