So I went and rented this:
Self-powered, huge, mama-jama rototiller. And it still couldn’t cut through the dry, hard-packed soil. I had to park it for a couple of hours while I watered the yard. That worked. I still was having problems getting it to dig in, instead of running away from me, until I figured out there was this little extendible bar between the rotoblades that I needed to lower so that it would actually drag through the soil and slow the machine down and get the blades to catch.
Then it was tutti all the way, as Prof. Peter Schickele says. By supper time, I had tilled the whole circle and raked it flat. It’s still a bit dicey on the far edge, where it dips down the slope, because when you rake tilled soil, all the vegetable matter ends up at the end of your raking, so that whole outside path on the northern side is for the moment a mite spongy.
Anyway, here’s what it looks like:
Those who saw it in person may be able to tell how much more of a plane the surface is now. My main goal was to even out the bone-jarring dip in the southwestern quadrant (to the left in the photo above). That has been accomplished. I’ll decide whether to build up that northern arc to be level with the rest of the yard as I go along.
Next: the excitement of using my new cutting tool thingie to begin cutting the stones for the center circle. Actually, the next exciting thing is to get that huge tiller loaded back into my van. A big thank you to Marc and Galen for providing the extra muscle necessary for that.