Bobcat Dirt-nap


At 9am yesterday, after watching the news on the cyclone in Vanuatu I started cooking pan cakes and my older son Nathan made coffee. My younger son Chris and his friend Cameron, both 16 were outside, moving the soil. I hired a bobcat to move some clean fill (soil) into an area in my garden. We were raising the ground level and  turning the spot into an outdoor living place. This change to our landscape would level a slight hill and give us an additional 100 square metres of flat area to entertain and enjoy the gardens outside.

The ‘cat’ was a few hundred dollars per day so time was crucial. The Hire company dropped the machine on Friday afternoon and I had a quick lesson on how to drive the 1.5 tonne machine.

When Chris arrived from high school yesterday, I showed him how to drive the machine. He was excited and took to it easily. He started moving the soil and filling up the enclosure. He had already built the wall and enclosure in the last two weeks.

Half hour later, while watching through the kitchen window, I saw the bobcat capsized with Chris in it and started screaming his name and running out to the balcony with his brother.  Chris’s friend Cameron had his ear-phones on and did not know, Chris and the bobcat capsized. The machine was on its side, as if it was taking a dirt-nap. I could see Chris inside the sitting cage of the bobcat.

I was still trying to get to Chris when he crawled out shaken, but without any scratch or injuries and said, “Mum, I’m fine”. He had a bemused face on. Apparently he tried to dig into the side on the dirty mount and the bobcat flipped over.

The bobcat’s ‘head’ rested on my garden bed, crushing everything I had been planting the last six months. Its two left tyres were up in the air and the other two buried in the soft dirt.

For the next hour, the boys told me not to ring for help because the cat was only on its side, and we could lift it back up. We could not. We tried.

Two more, and the ropes tied to my Honda to tow were snapped. We were exhausted and the pancake mixture dried in the mixing bowl when I got back into the kitchen to drink water. I was too afraid to leave the boys on their own – for safety reasons and we all decided, best to get a chain to tow the sleeping cat. Our local hardware charged a ridiculous $28 per metre for the largest sized chains. We bought four metres, and returned to the site and used the chain to join the cat to the Honda. We tried to pull and lift it up. The bobcat came up half way and fell back.

My sons decided it was easier to use the car jack to lift the sleeping cat part of the way  to help the Honda (to lift it). The boys still refused help from the hire company and I did not want them to feel, I underestimated their intellect or their determination to get the cat back on its feet their way.

Inch by inch, they car-jacked the 1.5 tonne cat up with a combination of counting, wrenching, and inserting off-cut timber slippers to raise the cat. Another half hour and Nathan said, “Mum! we are ready to tow”.

I started the Honda and revved it and at the first go, the cat was till too heavy and rocked back, instantly killing the Honda’s engine. On the second attempt I floored the poor Honda’s accelerator and although I burnt off the outer front tyre skin – it was not an intended burn out, the Honda smoked, jerked forward and pulled the cat to its feet. The boys jumped with joy and cheered and I honked. We all laughed and Chris got back inside and rolled the cat forward. Everything was in good order and we started working about 2pm until seven in the evening.  The bobcat stayed on its feet all day today and completed the job. Thanks to Chris and Nathan, all the hard work is done. I am a proud mum.

The project manager Chris and I on the new reclaimed living area.


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