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First Job - JB Instant Lawn.

My first job since arriving in Oregon, has been with JB Instant Lawn.

JB is a large company supplying instant lawn and other landscaping services and products. I believe they are the market leader in their field.

Since employed at JB, I have been learning to drive the Trebro Harvester, pictured here.

The Trebro takes the instant lawn, from the ground, rolls it and stacks it on pallets. That sounds a lot simpler than I have found to actually get the machine to do it.

The Trebro AutoStack harvester shown above, has only one purpose.

That purpose is to take grass, or sod as it is called here, from the ground and roll it into 24" by 5' rolls, then stack 50 of them onto a pallet as shown in the right hand picture.

Prior to starting my first job in the U.S. I'd never given grass a second thought, except to curse the chore of having to mow it.

My job at JB has shown that grass and lawn have so much more to it than I could have imagined!

Sod harvesting
for beginners!

You start with a prepared field of lawn.

When it's wet and cold, it's not too flash. On a sunny day like this, with views of Mount Hood in the back ground, I can think of worse places to be.

Next you bring your $300,000 Trebro Autostack Harvester down to the field.

Once in the field, all you have to do is drive along, and the harvester cuts, lifts, stacks and unloads pallets of sod, or instant lawn.

What could be simpler?

The completed pallets are collected by forklifts and are loaded onto trucks for delivery to the customers.

Again, what could be simpler?

Here one of the forklifts loads sod, two pallets at a time, onto a trailer for delivery. JB delivers sod from the California border in the south to the Canadian border in the north.

Loads of sod are made up either in the field or a nearby staging area for delivery to the customers.

Depending on the size of the load, either a single or double semi trailer will be used.

JB's core business is selling sod, or instant lawn, a highly perishable product. Weather and other conditions can effect the quality greatly.

Some of the deliveries are handled by outside contractors, but the bulk of the deliveries are handled by the company's own transport division.

Just as doing the lawn at home takes tools, the planting, growing and eventual harvesting of sod, requires a whole range of equipment and people.

This machine is a larger variation of the catcher on the mower at home. This unit is towed along after mowing, to collect the clippings prior to harvesting of the sod.

Here are two of the forklifts we use, both are 4WD. The yellow forklift on the left picks up and carries two pallets, while the red one on the right can carry four.

The yellow forklift also has been extremely useful in pulling out bogged equipment, the down side of wet weather in the fields.

These vehicles are called "pickups" here, back in Australia, they would be called "utes"* showing more of the differences in the English language between the two countries.

These two vehicles are used not only to get us to the fields and machinery, but also to provide fuel and a compressor for infield use.

*In Australia, Utes is the abbreviation of Utility vehicle as they are known in that country.

The water tanker, with sprayer on the trailer.

Again, it's all the same equipment you use at home, only bigger!

Here on the left, the sprayer is being prepared to spray a field. I believe the sprayer can cover a 60 foot wide area, in a single pass.

In the picture on the right, the same sprayer has been fitted with different tires (tyres in Australia). Field conditions can range from soft and spongy to hard.

This buggy is the fertilizer spreader. Because of the large areas to be covered when in operation, this unit travels along at a fairly brisk pace.

The times I've watched it in operation, it reminds me of the footage of the Lunar buggy used on the moon during the early seventies.

I can't believe I just admitted to remembering the seventies !

Our uncle Terry, dad's older brother, would have been amazed and fascinated by the range of equipment this company has.

The truck shown here, was a prime mover or tractor. It's chassis has been extended, and a tray manufactured in the company's workshops for conversion to a rigid truck.

They say "Every dog has it's day". If that's also true for trucks, then this old truck has had it's day.

It sits quietly here, with some of the company's nursery stock in the background.

The Trebro Sod Harvester
Up close and personal!

The machine shown here, and real work horse of JB is the machine I've begun to call "Tabitha"*, is a Trebro Autostack sod harvester. It really is a remarkable machine to watch as it cuts, lifts, rolls and stacks, before placing completed pallets of sod on the ground behind it.

The machine is designed for a single operator to achieve a higher production rate, with more consistent quality, than the two people needed to operate an older machine.

The picture above shows the front roller used to roll the sod before the blades behind it cut and feed it onto the belt running under the cab. The right hand picture shows the empty pallets in the pallet injector that lifts to allow the stacked pallets to be lowered to the ground.

There are approximately 30 separate controls to operate the machine.

While looking out the front of the machine, these are for the left hand to control such things as turning on the cutter heads, depth control, auto steering adjustment, starting and stopping, rolling up on the belt, injecting pallets, raising and lowering the pallet forks.

Looking out the back of the machine, you use your left hand to control such things as positioning the accumulator, for the rolls to drop off the belt, adjustments to the position of the flaps on the rolls of sod, movment and operation of the stacker when placing rolls on the pallets.

All of the functions are supposed to happen automatically, and usually do. But often the operator must complete some functions manually.

Looking down, out of the rear cab window, you see the sod traveling up the belt, in the right hand picture. At this point the operator is looking for sod that doesn't satisfy the quality standards the company expects for our customers.

When looking at the sod, you only have a few seconds to make that judgement before it passes into the rollup section, before stacking on the pallets.

The job isn't normally physical, but it is mentally challenging with so many things to watch at once!

The picture above shows where the sod is rolled before being collected by the stacker shown in the right hand picture.

The stacker is the square section with the "W" shape in the center of the picture.

The stacker extends many steel spears to skerwe the sod to lift it, and retracts them to allow the sod to drop onto the pallet.

When the pallets have the required quantity of sod, fifty rolls in our case, the pallet is lowed to the ground for collection by forklifts.

The Trebro then is supposed to automatically inject another pallet and usually does!

There has been at least one night when I got off the machine and didn't think I was going to get back on it. Because of the help I had received from the crew, I just had to give it another go.

It seems that days on the Trebro are either good or bad, with little in between.

This is one of the older style machines that took a crew of two to drive and stack the sod on the pallet.

Although the rolls cut by this machine are only 18", instead of the 24" of the Trebro AutoStack harvester, they are longer and cover the same surface area.