Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘lawn mowing

Strategic Mowing

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The drought we are experiencing has stressed all growing things but our grass is the plant that looks the saddest. I have tried to stay off it as much as possible to avoid completely turning it to dust. The problem is, we’ve got a lot of weeds that don’t seem to care one bit that it is so dry. Heck, they appear to prefer it.

In addition to the weeds needing to be knocked down, there are shady areas where the grass is growing enough to deserve mowing.

Since I am headed for the lake again this weekend, joining Cyndie who is already up there, I decided to do a little strategic mowing yesterday after work. I made selective passes over spots most visible from the road or our driveway.

It provides a first impression that implies our property is well-tended.

Closer inspection would reveal that is not entirely accurate.

It feels good to have trimmed up the most prominent grassy areas despite the remaining spots where the weeds are getting taller than grass blades. I’m going to focus on the fact I am avoiding driving over the sections where the grass looks the most stressed.

A long, soaking rain would be a welcome change, but we have only been getting brief, heavy bursts that promote just enough growth that I have to strategically mow the green areas while the stressed areas fail to show signs of recovery.

I am curious to learn whether this month will offer any change to the weather pattern we have experienced for the last two. Time will tell.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Watching Change

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How often do we notice that we are witnessing change? Consider the perspective that everything is changing all of the time. We are watching transitions and adaptations happen every single second.

This time of year, the metamorphosis of our dull brown forests from open branches to a thick fabric of green leaves is very easy to notice. The significance of the difference is truly dramatic to experience first-hand. One snapshot is entirely inadequate to represent the vastness of what is happening, but that didn’t stop me from deciding to take a picture of one moment when the early sprouts of green are just becoming visible.

It was a moment when I was witnessing the continued adjustment of our horses to their new home. I stood among them as they luxuriated in the calm comfort of our hayfield. Cyndie captured the view as it appeared to her from the driveway.

Meanwhile, major change is now underway in the pile of composting manure, as revealed by my thermometer.

The modifications underway that will transform this pile of shit into rich soil are happening right before my eyes, even though there isn’t much to see except a little steam, depending on conditions.

I did the first lawn mowing of the season yesterday and kicked off the oscillating changes of long grass/cut grass that will play out for the next many months.

Change is happening all the time and we are witness to it whether we are paying attention or not..

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2021 at 9:38 am

Spring Erupting

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It is fascinating to witness what a couple of days with temperatures in the 80s unleashes in the natural world. Between the heady gusts of wind randomly battering us throughout the day, the myriad sounds of emerging frogs are woven into the songbird whistles on top of a persistent snapping and cracking of pinecones gradually, but steadily, opening.

New buds are appearing on tree branches and ground cover plants are sprouting tiny flower blossoms.

Cyndie reported that our neighbor to the south was out on his lawn tractor, appearing to mow the grass. I am not surprised to learn he is already out on his machine, as he mows more acres, more often than anyone I have ever seen. I just don’t know how he found any grass tall enough to cut yet. Our grass doesn’t look like it will be ready to mow until tomorrow or the next day.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week and temperatures are expected to moderate. That will only pause the explosion of growth unfolding before our eyes for a moment because the water will hydrate thirsty plants and launch a monumental next phase of greening to our surroundings.

Seems a little odd that a frog would seek shelter from some rain, but Cyndie found this little guy hanging out under the recliner in our sunroom.

Is that some sort of hint about how wet the next few days will be? Maybe how cold it will get?

No matter how nice and warm the last few days have been, it is always in the back of my mind that we received 18 inches of snow on the 2nd & 3rd of May in 2013. Nice weather today is no guarantee it will continue through the rest of spring.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

First Cut

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For some reason, surrounded by more simultaneous projects than I can keep track of, yesterday I decided to do something that wasn’t on the list: mow some grass. It was earlier in the year than I usually choose to mow, but it was something I could just get done while quickly making the place look better. Cleaned up the leaves nicely.

That’s just a way to not say that I’m bugged by an inability to finish taking out all the trees that have been marked for removal by the DNR forester so long ago I’ve lost track. That whole project is conflicting because I’d rather be planting trees than cutting them down. It is also daunting due to the large number of trees in multiple locations with red dots painted on them.

Compared to that extensive lumberjacking exercise, sitting on the lawn tractor while spiffing up a few of our lawn grass areas was easy picking.

Unfortunately, I allowed myself to get sidetracked after the mowing by attempting to remove several of the last piles of downed wood from Saturday’s effort, which ultimately usurped plans to make big headway on the produce garden terracing.

The intended quick effort to remove two of the heaviest sections of downed tree trunk ended up killing valuable time while I fought a losing battle with the winch cable on the ATV. I allowed the cable to unspool too far and it came off the winch. Unfortunately, I had upsized that cable because the previous cable kept breaking when used with the snowplow blade.

The bigger diameter cable doesn’t fit well in the hole of the winch spool hub, so my hasty attempts to re-secure it were repeatedly foiled. In the end, I temporarily rigged it to accomplish the immediate task after multiple iterations and we were able to move that wood into the barn. I’d like to let those pieces dry out for use in undetermined future sculpting projects.

It just took three times as long as it should have.

We think the tree was an American Hornbeam or Hop Hornbeam and may have some burl adding bulges to the otherwise muscle-looking features of the trunk.

I think it will present some interesting visuals when carved and sanded.

I’ll have a hard time figuring out where to make a first cut on that beauty when the time comes after a year of seasoning.

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Written by johnwhays

April 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mixed Up

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Yesterday afternoon we had plenty of sunshine that enabled me to get out and mow some grass, not because I wanted to, but because it needed to be cut so bad I didn’t dare wait for another chance. Our grass had grown so much since the last time I mowed, it looked like a June afternoon around here on October 7th.

On top of that, the recent pounding of rain we have been receiving has our property as wet as a spring day. It was rather disorienting to need to mow around certain areas where there was standing water. That is something that used to happen at the beginning of the mowing season. In my lifetime of living in this region, October was not a month where mowing thick grass needed to happen.

This is not the climate of my youth.

Meanwhile, this June-type of lawn growth is days away from meeting up with its first dose of snow for the coming season.

It’s a mixed-up world.

Someone posted in our neighborhood app asking people to be on the lookout for a pink-faced calf that ran off into the woods. I’m not sure if the pink face was natural or the result of some special effects. The calf had been tied in the yard for a “cownicorn” birthday party.

The drama didn’t last long, because they found the calf just a short time later. It may not be all that mixed up for this rural community, but it was unusual enough to contribute more strangeness to the already crazy thick growing grass in October.

I accept that nothing is actually static, so unusual occurrences are always unfolding, regardless of how we perceive and frame our world. It inspires me to strive for resilience in the face of whatever new mix-ups might be around the next corner.

It’s hard to imagine what to expect, other than the obvious fact something new will show up as being totally mixed up.

Unless it doesn’t. But then, would that just seem mixed up, too?

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Written by johnwhays

October 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

Tree Cleared

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We took full advantage of being home on Labor Day and put in some hard labor on one of our trails in the woods yesterday. Standard procedure on a day I intend to mow involves finding something to do for a few hours in the morning while the dew dries off the grass. In this instance, it was time to remove the big tree that still hung across one of our trails.

The project required a lot of preliminary trimming of several other trees that had tipped over on our neighbor’s property. There was quite a tangled mess of branches.

At one point, when I allowed the saw blade to get pinched, Cyndie took advantage of her super-human strength to free it. While I stood grumbling and contemplating what ingenious method I was going to employ to get enough leverage to force open the cut I had started, Cyndie volunteered to push up on the horizontal tree trunk.

I told her she was welcome to try, but that it was probably a couple of hundred pounds more than we could lift. Luckily, she had no clue how heavy it would be, so she had no sense that it wouldn’t be worth a try. I was sure it weighed more than I could lift, so I didn’t even make an attempt.

Cyndie pushed on the trunk and it shifted just enough that I was able to pull the saw free.

It seems to me that I could probably benefit from being a little less certain about what I think I already know.

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By noon we had the trail cleared and I was able to move on to mowing grass. I wish I could say that would be the last time I mowed the lawn this season, but I fully expect growth to continue throughout the month. Maybe, at the very least, the amount of time between mowings will expand so I don’t have to deal with it every seven days.

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Written by johnwhays

September 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

Impressive Specimen

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Last weekend, while I was up at the lake biking, Cyndie sent me a picture of a spider she was startled by in her garden. I don’t mind at all that I was not home to see it in person. The image alone revealed an impressive specimen of a black and yellow garden spider.

It’s about sixteen times bigger than spiders I’m not bothered by. I glanced toward the garden from the safe distance of my lawn tractor seat as I mowed around the perimeter, but didn’t spot the gargantuan arachnid. Thank goodness.

Despite the possibility of thunderstorms yesterday afternoon, I got out to finish the last of the mowing. Now I am ready to head back up to the lake for the weekend. Cyndie is due to return this afternoon, and as I understand it, the plan is that we will take Delilah with us. Maddie will still stop by to tend to the chickens while we are away.

Speaking of impressive specimens, this beautiful cumulonimbus cloud sprouted overhead just as I was preparing to start mowing.

Based on that beast and several others developing close by, I was prepared for my plan to be foiled soon after I started. Alas, that never happened. They moved off to the east and a fresh dose of dry air flowed in behind them.

The yard looks nicely manicured and gives the impression someone actually lives here. That is, until one approaches the overgrown paddocks in front of the barn.

I guess you could say we have an impressive specimen of tall grass going to seed out there.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

Round Bales

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We have a new look to our property lately. After weeks of our mowed hay fields getting wet, the neighbors who rented our fields arranged to have a beef farmer make some round bales out of it. That’s a first for us. It gives the place a different appearance.

Square bales like the ones we used must be picked up right away and moved under cover to keep them dry, but the round bales can be left out in the field. Beef cows are much less picky about what they eat compared to horses, so these bales of old grass that laid in the field for an extended time will still find use as feed.

I snapped that photo from the seat of our lawn tractor while mowing. I installed new blades after work yesterday and tackled two-thirds of the grass before the day started to fade. It’s amazing how hyper-sensitive I can suddenly (temporarily) be about mowing over any potential hazards like sticks, stones, and pine cones in the yard with new blades.

I know from experience that such intense concern does not last. After several accidental incidents of mowing over something I regret, I start to lose my inhibitions and trend increasingly toward reckless abandon. I’m pretty hard on mower blades.

I used to be pretty concerned about hay bales, too.

Not so much anymore.

I kind of like the way the round bales look in our fields. Gives an appearance of at least some level of functional progress. I’m not sure it entirely offsets the derelict impression the paddocks evoke, with the tall grass going to seed like never before, but the bales are a welcome sign of activity in our fields.

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Written by johnwhays

July 31, 2019 at 6:00 am

Beyond Mowing

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The time of mowing is upon us in multiple ways. Beyond the usual routine of cutting our lawn grass, the big tractors are finally hitting the local fields to cut hay. The neighbors who are renting our fields knocked down the tall grass in opposite corners of our property recently, leaving a very noticeable line of uncut growth along the fenceline that Cyndie tackled with our power trimmer.

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Despite all the mowing going on, Cyndie continues to pull off a heroic amount of raspberry picking which naturally led to canning jam. Since she was going to be in that canning mode, she also made a trip to a local strawberry grower to pick a bulk of that jam favorite, as well as a stop at the grocery store for a couple of bags of cherries.

Even though canning jam deserves to be a single focus task, Cyndie chose to merge it with preparations to drive to Northfield, MN, for a mini-reunion with visiting Hays relatives. There, we uncovered a treasure trove in my sister Mary’s files of family newsletters from the days before the internet took over communication.

I don’t remember writing all those annual reports detailing our children’s school years, but reading back over those missives now gives me the impression I have been writing the equivalent of this daily blog for longer than just the ten years I’ve been posting here on Relative Something. In fact, the old family newsletter was called, “Relatively Speakin’.”

Seems to be a certain congruency there, no?

Who knows what lies ahead for this relative crew? It won’t surprise me if it ends up involving less mowing, but I doubt I will ever stop writing about whatever is happening in all of our lives.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

Look Closer

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Just as soon as I go spouting off about there being few raspberries on our bushes, I discover that I was wrong. While mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon, I noticed the potential bounty that Cyndie was referring to the other day. Closer inspection revealed a good number of future berry blossoms developing on bushes in a variety of locations around the yard.

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The fruit might be ripening later than usual, but it does appear that there could eventually be a similar yield to last year’s big volume. That would be a real treat.

I rushed home from work yesterday to mow in order to be free to head to the lake this afternoon for the annual weekend of 4th of July games at Wildwood.

As I mowed past the fence-post where our rain gauge is mounted, I noticed an inch of water collected there. Our yard is an interesting mix of spots that are very wet and spots that look like they are starting to get too dry. Why is it always one or the other extreme around here?

Delilah will stay home this weekend with Maddie, who is caring for our animals while we are gone. There will be a full house up at the lake, and plenty of neighbors will bring their dogs, so we are going to simplify our visit by leaving Delilah behind.

I hope there won’t be too many fireworks popping off while we are away, so Maddie won’t have to endure the endless barking that Delilah does in response to the sounds. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the dog will behave like a little angel when someone other than us is taking care of her.

That kind of thing has been known to happen… However, I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation.

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Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2019 at 6:00 am