Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘lawn mowing

Parsed Words

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Every last one. Some with meaning, most with none. Flowing from the consciousness stream, but backing up every so often, words that appear and make their way to the forefront grasp what it takes to make the page. First off, they need to beat the sleep that is busy trying to stake a claim on the eye lids. It’s funny how that same claim so subtly plies its trade during the hour-long drive in the afternoon sun after a full day of mental processing. The closer to home, the more tenacious the pull of gravity on consciousness. With the bonus of an unexpected additional night at home before the weekend away, I groggily made my way from the dented Subaru to the lawn tractor. Foregoing the bad habit of guilty pleasure snacks the moment I walk in the door, I moved directly to navigating the terrain to be mowed. Right from the start there was a hint of an appealing aroma in the air. Smokey. Bold. Then I noticed the cut wasn’t looking right. Sure enough, the belt had moved off the middle spindle pulley and was rubbing away. I thought I had checked that last time I re-mounted the deck. About two-thirds through the mowing, I paused to find out what time it was and think about whether I wanted to complete the whole yard at once, or leave some to be done later. It looked like the scattered showers might hold off, and I received Cyndie’s support to forge ahead, so I got right back on the tractor and mowed. Then the clouds started to drip. The rain never fell dense enough to make anything soaking wet, so I just kept on going, eventually outlasting the precipitation to complete the lawn mowing, all on the same day. It was a nice accomplishment. An unexpected bonus. One less thing to wonder about over the weekend. Mowing in the rain is not something I would usually do. It felt good to not fret over the imperfect conditions. Another manifestation of fluidity. The cut did not turn out ideal, but it wasn’t all that bad, either. The damp clippings led to my wanting to clean the deck immediately upon finishing, overriding the equal other “want” to be inside, showered, and eating dinner. That would come later, at the end of a long day, before a long weekend with Cyndie’s family to celebrate a milestone birthday. Whatever happens, I plan to just go with the flow.

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Written by johnwhays

June 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

Same Result

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Last fall I bought a new yard tractor to mow grass. It’s a level up from the model we took on from the previous property owners, with a much sturdier mowing deck and improved steering. Now that I’ve had an opportunity to use it a couple of times, I’m able to judge its worth.

Performance is improved in all areas except one. Despite the inclusion of hose fittings to wash the underside of the deck with water, it collects grass and needs cleaning just the same as the previous one.

Since it was new, I decided to give the suggested water cleaning steps a chance, despite everything I’ve heard debunking the method. It just seems wrong to be getting the nooks and crannies of metal parts wet.

The results were as underwhelming as I’d expected.

Having mastered removing the deck for cleaning on the old mower, I figured it would be just as easy on this one, allowing me to turn it over to see the results directly.

In total neglect of checking any instructions, I boldly forged ahead to remove clips at the attachment points. Right away I realized, there was no handy lever to release tension on the belt. That didn’t stop me from getting it apart, but I knew it was going to complicate getting it all hooked up again after I was done.

Flipping the deck quickly revealed the gross limitations of the water method for cleaning. That might work if all you did was cut a short length of grass blades from a lush lawn. My reality involves a lot more weeds, small branches, dirt, and dust, combined with occasional areas of thick, too-long grass which packs on a complex brick of debris to the underside of the deck.

The sprayed water didn’t come close to being effective enough.

When it came time to reattach the deck, I made multiple futile attempts before finally wrestling all the clips in place at all the attachment points. All that remained was to get the belt over the pulley.

No matter what contortion of positions I tried, I didn’t have enough hands or leverage to muscle that belt in place. I knew there must be a logical procedure I wasn’t figuring out.

Yeah. This is the part where I went inside and consulted the manual again.

Surprise! There is a little square hole on the arm of the tensioning pulley intended for the post of a ratchet driver that would allow for enough leverage to get the belt over the engine pulley. Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?

I also learned that I had removed two clips too many, which complicated the task unnecessarily.

So, cleaning the deck ends up being the same result as the old yard tractor, but properly informed, it will ultimately involve an easier process of removal and re-attachment.

Overall, I’m happy to report being very satisfied with the upgrade!

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Mowing Again

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Last Tuesday, my 2018 lawn mowing season officially began. I had a little time, it was between rain showers, and it was dry enough that I was able to do a brief test cut on the small patch of grass on the south side of the barn. The grass there seemed to have a serious head start compared to everywhere else.

The reason it was a ‘test’ cut, is the mower. You may recall I bought a new yard tractor to replace the old Craftsman that was giving multiple end of life hints. When the new one arrived last fall, I barely had time to run it before winter took over. I hadn’t taken time to read the manual, so for the maiden voyage I couldn’t figure out the interlock to keep the mower blades spinning when backing up.

I just kept restarting to hastily finish the back hill before it got dark.

When I finished, I looked through the manual and learned the yellow triangle warning symbol was also a button to be pushed. D’oh!

This brings me to Tuesday, when I was doing horse chores and walking Delilah, but not prepared to mow. Except, the grass was so long out there and the rain seemed to be holding off. What the heck, I decided to go for it.

I didn’t actually remember how to keep the mower on when backing up, but I remembered that it was head-slap simple when I discovered the trick in the fall, so that was my primary focus. The other issue was seeing if it would start easily, after sitting so long with old gas in it.

I clipped Delilah’s leash to the railing and opened the garage. She had no idea what I was up to.

After topping off the tank with some less-old, but not necessarily fresh gas, I was ready to try. But, this new tractor doesn’t have a separate choke control like the old one. The throttle was all the way up, so I just turned the key and hoped.

Somewhat begrudgingly, it coughed to a start. I figured a little black smoke and rough run was a reasonable response after the long winter, so I forged ahead, proud that I quickly figured out the interlock for backing up.

I mowed for ten minutes or so, hoping the engine would warm up and settle down, but it seemed to chug the entire way through. After finishing the small area, and before the rain started to fall, I rushed the tractor back to the garage.

Since it was still running rough, I decided to pull the throttle down to a slow idle and then ramp it back up, to see how it might respond before shutting it off.

As I pulled the lever down, it popped out of the choke position and into the normal operating range and the engine purred like brand new.

I found the choke control. I had just mowed with it on the whole time.

D’oh!

At least the rain is bringing spring flowers.

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2018 at 7:57 am

Buying Time

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By the grace of a friendly and helpful next door neighbor, we have bought some time to find out whether the engine in our lawn tractor is worth repairing or not. If not, we need to buy a replacement mower. In the mean time, we have been granted the use of an old John Deere 318 that burns a little oil to cut our grass while awaiting the ultimate solution.

I was getting desperate. Some of the areas that hadn’t been cut at all when our engine failed back on May 19th were getting so tall I was worried the borrowed mower wouldn’t be enough for the job. Alas, my fretting was unwarranted.

This Deere was up to the task. The weak link in the system was the novice operator. I struggled to get used to the biggest difference between this one and ours: a lever on the console for forward and reverse control, versus simple foot pedals.

I breathed a sigh of relief when, having mowed until light faded, I ended without incident.

Exciting as it was to be able to cut the grass again, it paled in comparison to the thrill over reports from visiting Elysa and Ande about their surprising interaction with the chickens. Well, one of the Barred Plymouth Rock chickens, in particular.

As they explained it to me, Elysa crouched down among the chickens and the friendly bird hopped up on her knee. Then it kept going and hopped up on her shoulder.

When the rest of the chicks wandered away, Elysa tried walking –bent over for her passenger– to keep the loner from getting left behind. Much squawking ensued.

I guess we’ve done something right in the realm of socializing our birds to interaction with humans. I sure hope they are adept at figuring out the difference between friend and foe when it comes to non-humans.

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Written by johnwhays

May 31, 2017 at 6:00 am