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Ditch cleaning with the Fleming Micron digger

A couple of Sunday afternoons in July 2010, I used my Fleming Micron to clear a ditch at my Dad's place. The ditch hadn't been cleared for about 25 years and was well silted up. Funnily enough, it was during helping to dig this same ditch by hand 25 years ago that I resolved to one day buy a digger!

The problems I encountered with hand digging the ditch in 1985 were that your Wellies sank into the mud and you couldn't move. The mud also stuck to the Cornish shovel and you had to bang it off on a stone or tree. This was back breaking work and as the ditch is about 100 yards long it took weeks to clear it all those years ago with my brother, me and my Dad all doing a bit.

In 2010, the same 100 yards was cleared in 7 hours to a greater depth without even breaking into a sweat. It proves that a towable digger is still capable of useful work. There were even a few fallen trees to clear and once they were cut through with the chainsaw the digger made light work of pulling them clear.

Ditch clearing

Early stages of the job. This is near where the ditch drains into the river. Even after months of dry weather the ground is just a soggy mud bath.

Ditch cleaning

Making progress uphill away from the river. The ditch is already filling with water and draining down.

Due to the high weeds I found placing the mud in front of the digger and then pulling the digger over the spoil was the quickest method as it killed two birds with one stone. I wouldn't normally attempt this, but it did save time as the weeds got flattened down by the spoil. Normally I would move the digger backwards away from where I had already dug.

Ditch clearing

My home made grading bucket was great for this job. The digger handled these big bucketfuls with ease.

Dicth clearing

This is about half way through the job. Just after this the ditch has a 90 degree bend and goes along another 40 yards or so.

Ditching

Now I am nearly finished. The top end of the ditch was not as muddy as near the river.

Ditch digging

Getting ready to tip out the load.

Dicth digging

Moving forward.

Ditch clearing

The ditch ends near the shed in the background.

The digger worked perfectly through this job and didn't use much petrol. The only problem that I had was that the mud pulled the valve off one of the inner tubes. I carried on working the digger with a flat tyre so as not to lose time and then replaced the inner tube. I have also welded a piece of tube onto the wheel rim to protect the valve in future.

On a job as wet as this, it's not always possible to make a really neat job straight away. Once the ground has drained you can often go back about eight weeks later and have a tidy up when the going is easier. The main thing is to get the water flowing away so the land can drain.