Yard Care Rant!

Last summer I wrote about my hate-hate relationship with our Bad Boy mower. I say hate-hate because I don’t have any love for it. There’s a job to be done, and our mower does it. Sometimes. This year has been even more of a challenge than last year. For starters, our winter was mild. In fact, really mild. So our grass in our former horse pasture started growing much earlier in the season that usual. And it’s been wet. Not Pacific-Northwest wet…but wet for Kansas. We’re usually pretty arrid by the middle of the summer, so I have a chance to get ahead. This year, not only has the grass been on a growing spree…but our mower has spent as much time in the shop as it has being useful to me.

The Spring started out with two weeks where the mower was stuck in the mud. We had a torrential rainstorm that lasted a couple of days and I went out too mow before everything was dried out. After burying the mower in the mud we proceeded to get our GMC Bravada stuck in the mud trying to pull out the mower. Of course, I’m a slow learner, so we then got our Dodge Caravan stuck in the mud in another location trying to pull out the Bravada. To add to the hilarity, one of our neighbors got his big farm tractor stuck in yet another location on our property trying to extract the Caravan that was to pull out the Bravada that was to pull out the mower. Sounds like some kind of kids song…doesn’t it?

One stuck mower Two stuck vehicles Stuck to the top of the wheels! One stuck tractor

Fortunately, another understanding, helpful neighbor applied his wisdom and farm tractor to pull out the first tractor. Then the two neighbors used their tractors to pull out the Caravan, the Bravada, and the mower. During the two weeks the mower was stuck in the mud, the grass continued on its growing spree. So when the mower was freed, I went back to work…mowing for several hours every day. Then the unthinkable happened and the radiator blew on the mower.

For nearly all of June the mower was in the shop getting its new radiator and associated parts. And the grass kept growing. At the very end of June we got the Bad Boy mower back…only to leave for five days to go to a wedding. And you guessed it…the grass kept growing.

Two weeks of mowing later and the mower started to act funny. It would sputter and die. The blades would quit turning. Sometimes it wouldn’t start. Things got worse. Finally I had to call the shop and they hauled the Bad Boy mower away. It wasn’t the end of the world, since we had a brand new push mower. I figured I could keep up with the mowing near the house. When I wasn’t mowing I trimmed the trees that were threatening to overgrow. I even got the string-trimmer out and trimmed around the trees, fences, and outbuildings. But after two weeks most of that work was caught up. The Bad Boy was still in the shop, with no resolution in sight.

14 acres is a lot of landSo I had the bright idea that I would cut larger areas of our yard. You see, for the better part of the summer we’d been push mowing the two acres up closest to the house. The other 12 acres were the purview of the riding mower. But one area in particular is fairly fine grass. While it’s nearly four acres, it’s relatively flat…so it seemed conducive to push mowing. The added benefit was that instead of getting on the treadmill, I could cut the grass and get a workout in. Don’t feel too sorry for me, the push mower that we have requires zero pushing. It’s an all-wheel drive mower. Basically, the only time you have to do much with it is when you turn a corner. Of course, when you cut four acres there are a lot of corners…but it’s not all that hard. Basically it’s just a brisk walk.

Things went well for about a week. Then the push mower started sputtering. Then it would overheat and not start for a while. In case you haven’t figured it out yet…I’m not a mechanical guy. I can tear down and reassemble a computer with my eyes closed, but all these mechanical devices baffle me. Or more correctly confound and anger me. I searched the internet and learned how to disassemble and clean a carburetor. I actually got the cleaning and reassembly done a couple times over the next two weeks. Then the push mower quit and nothing I could do would get it to start. So I enacted the extended warranty and we took it to the shop. The very next day the Bad Boy mower was done.

So now I’m back to sitting on the riding mower while waiting for the push mower to be repaired. The two acres by the house is looking really shaggy. The outer 12 acres grew so much that I’m having to use a lawn sweeper to pick up the huge piles of grass that are generated after I cut. And there are several acres that are too tall and fibrous for me to cut until they dry out at the end of the mowing season…likely in October.

I realize that part of the issue is that we’re trying to keep up with 14 acres of former horse pasture and turn them into a green lawn. Or at least a green lawn-like thing. I realize that my equipment really isn’t up to the task. And I understand that I’m not Mr. Mechanical and have no business doing all this. But it’s the life we’ve chosen…so I’ll be mowing, string-trimming, and hauling branches for the next few months.

On the bright side, I’m pretty much caught up with all the podcasts that I really enjoy and have started in on some new ones!

The mowing never ends

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