Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘electric mower

Exploring Gravel

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Morning chores were done, breakfast was eaten and the paper read. It was time to commit to whatever work deserved to be accomplished for the day. Thinking that I needed to use the power trimmer, I asked Cyndie if it mattered to her what I started on.

She said, “Why don’t you go for a bike ride before the air quality gets any worse?” Man, I love her.

I got ready as quickly as I could and stopped to look at a map on my laptop for a new route to explore. 410th Street going north out of El Paso looked like a good option. (Did you know there was an “El Paso” in Wisconsin? I didn’t until we moved here.) A marker on the map for Driftless Farm Sanctuary caught my eye. I could check it out.

Being well familiar with the roads to El Paso, my exploration didn’t really begin until I reached 410th. Oops. It was gravel.

That wasn’t in my plan, but at the moment, I was feeling brave enough to ride the rough stuff. I turned onto the gravel and employed a little battery assist. What a smart idea it was to get an e-bike. The gravel continued for more miles than I expected, and every road that intersected 410th was also gravel. I learned that there are a lot more gravel roads nearby than I was aware of.

I came upon a very busy harvesting operation with two huge machines cutting and six trucks arranged for filling of what appeared to me would be processed to become silage. They probably didn’t expect to see a bicyclist passing by on that road.

I wasn’t aware there was growth already available for harvesting. This is the kind of discovery that comes from exploration.

There was another noteworthy find further on up the gravel roads. I came upon one of those places where you can’t roller skate.

When I left the gravel and rolled onto pavement again the pedaling became noticeably easier but the direction I was going took me to the big hills of 690th Avenue. I touched the control to increase my battery assist by two levels and sailed home with ease.

After lunch, I decided to test the idea of using the new zero-turn mower to cut along the fence lines from inside the hay field and back pasture to simplify trimming beneath the wires. I usually mow in there with the big tractor pulling the brush cutter but if the small mower can do the job, it would be easier.

Well, the little battery-powered beast was more than up to the challenge. That cutting, which knocked down grass much taller than I should have been trying to mow with the Greenworks CRZ426, will make the final cleanup with a power trimmer a breeze. I’ll be done in a fraction of the time it would have otherwise taken.

What a smart idea it was to buy that e-mower.



Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2023 at 6:00 am

Delivery Achieved

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I got a phone call from the store in Prescott a few days after I learned the next available date (April 16) the delivery company would be able to pick up my new electric zero-turn lawn mower from Tractor Supply and drive it to my home. It was one of the managers. She expressed sympathy for my long wait and wanted to know if I would be around later in the day because a member of her staff had a truck and the store got a new trailer…

Even though the mix-up on the first planned day of delivery wasn’t the fault of the Tractor Supply staff, they wanted to take care of me now that they had the means to do it.

Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Mark this down as another victory in the realm of Customer Service. I asked whether the store would get credited the fee I had paid to their third-party contractor and the manager said they would. At this point, I chose not to haggle over the cost. In fact, I spent a little more cash on the deal because I couldn’t resist tipping the guy who drove his personal truck to pull their trailer.

That’s all behind me now. My pride led me to wait until the driver left before climbing aboard for the first time. My initial attempts to drive in a straight line were embarrassing and I quickly learned where the button was to select the slower speed setting. I accomplished a fair amount of squealing tires on the pavement as I experimented in my first-ever attempt at operating a lever-controlled steering system.

One of the big attractions to having the agility this mower offers is the number of obstacles there are around here. That also means I don’t have a hazard-free location where I can practice developing my control. I anticipate operating it on the slow speed setting for a while once the mowing days arrive.

In the meantime, I need to pick a location and configure a setup for the three dual-battery chargers.

Our fleet of 60-Volt Greenworks Tools devices now includes a 20″ push mower, a blower, and a 26″ hedge trimmer in addition to the new tractor. I think it would be fair to call me a fan.

Speaking of being a fan, this morning I am ready to tear up my membership in fandom for Minnesota sports after the epic failure of the UofM Gopher hockey team to match the attacks by the Quinnipiac University Bobcats in the championship game of the Frozen Four tournament last night.

I don’t understand why the Gophers tried to defend a one-goal lead for the entire third period by going into a defensive shell when their strength is as an offensive goal-scoring machine. Hats off to Quinnipiac for being such strong competition that they knocked Minnesota off their game.

The end of that game was embarrassing.

As many others have already commented online, that was such a Minnesota way to lose in team sports [MN Lynx excluded]. A quick internet search revealed the common phrase is, “Minnesota Sports Curse.” It’s a thing.



Delay Gratification

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As our snow cover recedes and the ground becomes visible again, the urge to nurse our landscape back to life grows strong. I want to rake and trim and spruce up the most-viewed spaces as soon as I can. However, my “want to” and “can” don’t line up with the timing of when we should begin imposing our will on the land.

Some insects overwinter beneath the leaf litter on the ground and they don’t all pop out at the first exposure to direct sunshine. I can’t just decide to work on the lawn instead because grass areas should be allowed to thaw completely and begin to turn green before attacking them with a rake.

Then there’s the challenge of “No Mow May.” That’s the campaign to help fight the decline of wildflowers and pollinating insects by waiting until June to mow grassy areas.

I’ll never make it until June without mowing our “lawn” areas. Grass grows way too fast here for that level of intentional neglect. In our favor is the expanse of natural areas where we never mow and the acres of pasture that are only mowed occasionally. My mowing of the comparably small fraction of grass lawn that I do cut won’t shortchange the pollinators in our neighborhood.

This spring my urge to mow is even greater than ever –and if you know me, the urge to mow is very uncharacteristic. Next week I am anticipating the delivery of a new battery-powered zero-turn mower. In the realm of delaying gratification, this purchase was made weeks ago and was subject to availability. I purchased from an online company but discovered their products have started becoming available from retail stores.

When I checked the closest Tractor Supply Company in Prescott, WI, one of the staff scoffed that I’d be lucky to find one. His co-worker jumped on their computer and looked it up to see what their system indicated for availability. To everyone’s surprise, she exclaimed, “There’s one coming into our store on our mid-March delivery!”

Neither of them was aware of any reason they would be receiving delivery of this lawn tractor. I asked if it was already committed to a customer.

It wasn’t.

I couldn’t help having a flashback to last year when I was looking for a specific Trek e-bike and eventually learned there was only one in the country that was my size and it was available in a Minneapolis store.

My goal in choosing to buy the tractor from a retail store was to avoid the substantial shipping fee online. There was just one hitch (pun intended) with that plan. I don’t have a trailer, nor even a trailer hitch on my car to pick up my new toy from Tractor Supply. Ultimately, I was able to order delivery from the company that Tractor Supply contracts with and arrange delivery for next week at a $50 discount from the online delivery fee.

After a few more days of delay, I’m hoping to be appropriately gratified.



Our Day

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A day after we celebrated Julian’s birthday with a family dinner at a Bloomington restaurant, Cyndie and I claimed yesterday for ourselves in honor of our 41st wedding anniversary. Our animal sitter, Grace, was on the calendar to free us up to do whatever we wanted. In the end, we both wanted to stay home and work on our property.

I am thrilled that our first accomplishment involved clearing small stumps, roots, and rocks in our north loop trail that have prevented me from being able to mow that section as low as desired for our walking trails. I’ve been wanting to take care of this nuisance issue for two summers.

In the afternoon, we focused our attention on the labyrinth. I brought down our new favorite tool, the electric push mower to give it a fresh cut.

We rearranged rocks and pulled weeds, addressing only a fraction of the total that is deserving of attention. The progress looks so good it has us both wanting to get back down there again soon to continue the beautification.

Just as we were about worn out for the day, we looked up to find the horses had wandered back to hang out in our proximity. That was all the invitation we needed to stop what we were doing to go hang out with them.









Throughout the day we reminisced about our wedding day back in 1981, an outdoor service on a day with very similar weather to what we were enjoying yesterday. I remember the trees were starting to turn colors, similar to what is beginning to happen here this week.




Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Latest Addition

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We have another new tool for managing our landscape. I have tried three different methods of cutting the grass path of the labyrinth, starting with a reel mower. The grass grew too fast for the spinning scissor mechanism to keep up. Next up was the Stihl power trimmer. It worked well enough but took a long time (hours) and used up a fair amount of plastic line and multiple tanks of gas. It was a real workout.

The new tool, a 21″ electric push mower, seems like it will be the winner for this job. The third time’s the charm.

I couldn’t stop smiling after I finished the job in just 40 minutes, exhausting only one of the two batteries it holds.

There are a couple of spots where I hope to adjust the rocks to optimize the exercise. There is one small portion that is probably an inch too narrow and several where the width is wide enough I needed to back up and make a second pass. Most of the curving pathway is perfect for an easy walking push directly along the route. Adjusting the entire distance for a perfect width will make the job even more fun than it already is.

I’ve been contemplating a push mower as an alternative to the yard tractor for areas in our front yard where there are obstacles and slopes that are tricky to navigate. When I found an electric model that would fit well in the labyrinth and got Julian to bring one he owns for a test, the decision became pretty easy to make.

By the way, this manufacturer offers riding mowers, too. Hmm. No more oil changes, dirty air filters, spark plugs, fuel…

It’s tempting.

Even though there are other things I was hoping to accomplish today, all I really want to do is mow the tricky part of the front yard with the newest addition to our collection of yard maintenance tools. Somewhat reminiscent of a boy with a new toy.



Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2022 at 6:00 am

Driveway Fun

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On Saturday, Cyndie and I had so much strenuous fun raking gravel up against the edge of our new asphalt that we took yesterday off from doing any heavy labor. Our afternoon was brightened by a visit from Julian who brought over his battery-powered push mower and leaf blower for us to test.

Cyndie has decided a blower is the best way to clean out the large areas of river rock landscaping around our house. I’ve been thinking for a while that a small push mower might be a better tool for mowing around our sloping front yard’s features and might even fit on the labyrinth pathway. One of my hesitancies in adding more power equipment has always been a disdain for small gas engines. I’ve already got three times more than I want to care for so the possibility of switching to electric is enticing.

While we were playing with Julian’s battery-powered equipment, he hopped on his electric one-wheel board and took a few spins on our fresh asphalt.

You would think that the new driveway would give us a break from struggling to maintain a well-tended appearance around this place but I discovered evidence of nature’s tenacious ability to demonstrate dominance over us by way of the first weed sprouting through the pavement.

It didn’t take more than a month. Really?

The electric mower worked well in the labyrinth and finished the job in a third of the time it has been taking us to use the power trimmer. Just a few adjustments of the rocks forming the pathway borders at the 180° turns and the 21″ deck will fit nicely. I think some electric outdoor power equipment is likely in our future.

At least we will be able to keep the labyrinth looking well tended.



Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2022 at 6:00 am