Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cutting the . . .

 . . . GRASS!

Mowing the lawn.

Curtailing the prairie.

Call it what you want, but in this family we have a backyard that never ends. And taking a two week vacation during the summer monsoon season equals a big mowing job upon return.

Our fleet of vehicles to tackle this job includes two derelict lawn tractors that no longer run, one all-but-dead mower that Dale drags behind the tractor (the same tractor he uses to drag the slightly functional snow-blower each winter that leads to using the front loader-bucket and scraping most of the gravel driveway into the yard), two push-mowers; one that I bought used a few years ago to do the trimming and a new Honda Dale bought last Summer to replace the most recently dead rider-mower, and two weed-whackers; one that functions and one that hasn't whacked for years.

(FOUL LANGUAGE WARNING: I grew up with a father who can really swear. And then I started hanging out with a bunch of River Rats who can really swear. And then I went to college, and my swearing was not frowned upon. And then I married a Baptist who very occasionally swears. It hasn't cured me of swearing. Sorry. Consider yourself warned.)

So the mowable area of our yard is currently LONG and juicy as a result of lots of rain, high dew points, and plenty of shade. Yesterday we finally had dry enough grass to tackle the part south and west of the driveway with the push mower. Joren took it on and when I examined his brief effort I realized that he was moving faster than the mower could handle. His tracks looked like 1/3 of the blades were actually cutting grass. (I am aware that it only has one blade. But earlier this summer during a different temper tantrum my husband reported that the mower was "cutting like horseshit because some moron had the blade upside down." Hmmmm . . . wonder who did that?)

Tonight Dale fired up the tractor to start knocking down the tallest stuff and I fired up the "new" Honda to take up where Joren had left off yesterday (with the blade right-side-up). BAD IDEA.

First of all, Dale's tracks with the big tractor looked like some strange wind gusts had blown through the yard. Some of the grass was clearly cut, but most of it simply looked crushed or blown over. The Honda push mower, purchased approximately one year ago, no longer has the exit flaps attached. It simply blows grass, sticks, stone, and dog shit right out a gaping hole on the right side of the mower deck. All the fancy plastic shit that should attach to the deck to direct the spew of crap from under the mower is broken beyond a duct tape or McGyver sort of repair. So it's mowing at your own risk with crap flying all over. Eye protection is required and a flack jacket is recommended.

It wouldn't be so bad to power through the shit storm if this mower actually cut the grass.

But the "self-propelled" assist creates its own problem. It's a pain in the ass when you need to back up, and when the grass is long and wet the front wheels simply sit and spin. Hell, my immobile mother could run this outfit smoking her precious cigarettes as fast as I can push it in the hopes that it actually cuts the grass in front of it!

I worked myself into a frenzy of disappointment in about six rounds of the driest, shortest part of the yard when Dale pulled up with the less-than-adequate tractor rig. I motioned him to slow down in the belief that if he went slower the mower behind the tractor would actually cut all of the grass it encountered. He stopped to get clarification of my hand signals. I started harping about all the stupid lawn mowing equipment on the property and he climbed off the tractor and started the push-mower when I was in mid sentence.

FUCK YOU! I thought.

He said, "Let me take it for a spin," as though I am incapable of understanding the finer points of pushing a goddamn mower through the fucking grass. My father at least had the sense to purchase solid beasts that cut the fucking grass. As I turned to walk away I simply said, "Oh, I wasn't talking or anything. . . ."

I shoved four bottles of beer into my bright red neoprene six-pack carrier, tucked the carrier against my belly under a tucked in t-shirt, donned my helmet, and kicked my trusty Yamaha Enduro 250 into action to ride to Peggy's house. (She lives less than two miles away through the corn and bean fields with less than 100 yards of gravel road from the field driveway to hers.) Upon arrival I walked in and asked the residential population who wanted a beer. Peggy asked what I was up to.

I responded, "I am AWOL from mowing."

We sat in her room chatting about lovely subjects, reflecting on the best parts of Summer as we sipped a couple of beers together. Her grandson, Kaden, and I discussed the merits and technicalities of sword fighting vs. light sabers and force-field shields. I vented about my husband who has no sense of urgency about fixing any damn thing. She delighted in having the summer off from work. I expounded on the excellence of having had a three week vacation that included projects at home, traveling with friends, and celebrating a wedding with family. I high-tailed it home just before sunset.

And there was my friend Mary's motorcycle in the driveway upon my arrival home. I am completely blessed with friends who are where you need them when you need them without even asking.

Lawn mowing be damned.

Classified: WANTED - sturdy, steel, sharp, powerful lawnmower that requires no TLC. Must be able to cut long, wet grass. No frills. Willing to pay $50 or less for used yet dependable machine. Call me if you have a machine that truly fits my criteria. I am not looking for a lawnmower that will groom a landscaped yard. I need a power machine that will cut the fucking grass. We live on a farm, not in an association-organized suburb. Will consider higher payment for demonstrated excellent restoration of a used Terraferminator. Kitten Clippers need not apply. (You really should watch the clip linked on the Terraferminator :) BCSkov

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