Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘mowing grass

Another First

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It’s been a while since we tried something for the first time at Wintervale, so I guess we were due. Last night we started the 21-day incubation period toward hatching our own chicks. I never had this one on my list of things I wanted to try.

We have set our expectations low, but are striving to meet the specific parameters laid out [hee… laid] in the instructions as closely as possible to improve our odds. Since we weren’t planning ahead for this, some of the eggs spent time in refrigeration, which isn’t recommended.

If any of them hatch, we’ll have even more appreciation for what Rock contributed in his short time with us.

Candling to see if they are viable is scheduled to occur in seven days.

Yesterday, Cyndie gave the horses a new first by opening the gate to the front hayfield for them to explore. The four of them have already chomped the back pasture grass down so much we need to give it a rest.

Looking at how crazy-fast the lawn grass is growing around here during the latest series of rainy days, I expect regrowth in the back pasture shouldn’t take long. The first lawn mowing of the season is definitely imminent, pending the next dry, sunny day.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

Dust Bathing

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While I was busy sprucing up the property, the chickens were sprucing up themselves with a rousing dust bath yesterday afternoon. Apparently, two of them had simultaneous interest in the exact same spot of sandy ground. If it hadn’t been for their two different colors, I wouldn’t have been able to tell where one left off and the other started.

The three of them were pretty cute in their companionship earlier in the day when I was turning the piles of compost. They would climb up on the pile I was working on, startling a little bit each time I tossed another scoop on the heap. Not intending to alarm them, I would switch to a different pile to work, after which they would migrate over to help me on that pile.

After a few hours of compost management, I pulled out the Grizzly with our towable grader/rake and did some laps in the round pen to disrupt the uninvited weedy grasses that love taking root in the sand. Maybe the chickens will take a liking to the newly raked sand over there.

Finally, I cranked up the lawn tractor to mow the yard and all the nooks and crannies from the house to the road.

I feel ready to return to the day-job. The next big task demanding attention is the labyrinth. With Cyndie reduced to one working arm, that garden has been mostly neglected. It is something I can probably do after work one of these nights, if I have any energy for the project. The grass and weeds have gotten tall and thick, so it won’t be a quick and easy job.

When that is completed, I need to get after the north pasture, where Cyndie has already removed the fence webbing. I want to pull the T-posts that remain standing and then knock down the shoulder-high growth with our brush cutter. That will be an adventure in mowing what you can’t see.

Sure hope the chickens stay out of that field.

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Daylong Soaking

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In the hours that I had dreamed my friends and I would be enjoying the surrounding countryside from our bicycles, the atmosphere was crying cold tears. It was a cruel follow-up to the flash flooding we endured two days prior.

It rained and rained here yesterday. Sometimes waves of serious drops fell for a few minutes, but before and after them came a steady drool of H2O that mercilessly soaked an already over-saturated landscape.

Cyndie’s mud-swamped garden became more of a fountain of running water, moving her to proclaim the location a loss for her flowering vision.

We will contemplate a different spot for her dozens of perennial beauties, somewhere as eye-catching as that bend in the driveway, but not so directly in the line of drainage.

The afternoon lent itself to some serious power-lounging around the fireplace. I closed my eyes and happily entered dreamland on the couch, then woke up to do some virtual shopping and curious research on lawn tractors. I have found multiple ways to nurse along the used Craftsman tractor that we acquired with the purchase of this property four mowing seasons ago. I think it’s had enough.

I think the engine blew a gasket last Friday. Diagnosis and repair of this malady deserves someone more learned than me, and the time constraints I am facing. The grass cutting was only partially completed when the engine revved and the white smoke billowed. Growth is happening at maximum speed this time of year.

We’re gonna need a new mower fast. There is no shortage of water providing thirsty blades of grass with all they care to drink. The front end of our property needs mowing almost before I’ve finished the last rows at the back.

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More Mowing

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DSCN3969eDoes it look like the labyrinth was in need of being mowed?

I can assure you, it definitely needed it. I worked long and hard to conquer the task, but remained cool and comfortable the whole time in the September sunshine.

I looked up at the world around me when I finished and discovered that the leaves of some of our trees had changed color in just the span of the day.

I expect it will take a couple of frosty nights to finally get the grass to take a break for the season, but trees have begun their shutdown. The autumnal equinox is just days away.

I’m lovin’ it.

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Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2015 at 6:00 am

Barely Here

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Compared to my time on the ranch when Cyndie was working and I was home every day, it now feels like I am barely here. Not only have my days transitioned back to spending over 2-hours a day in a commute, but there has been a somewhat traumatic shift of attention from the tasks on our property, to the demands of industrial manufacturing and customer requests. Oh, how I love to please a customer, to a fault.

Today, the day before our national holiday celebrating independence from all countries that boasted claim on this land, most businesses have closed. I am home, have slept in a little bit, and will soon be getting after the perpetual summer task of mowing grass.

Everywhere around us, it seems the farmers are cutting hay. The weather clearly dictates activity, and when a window of dry weather arrives, people all jump into action. Except for us. We currently rely on our neighbor, and he is traveling to visit family for the holiday. Our next chance will be next week, about the time the next batch of precipitation is predicted to arrive.

Tough times for my wee little brain. I mentally strive to get things to go just right, but weather, and day-jobs, and circumstances have a way of going any old direction they please.

Guess there’s a lesson in there for me. Just maybe, I’ll relax and let it soak in today, while I have a chance to be home, mowing and poking along at our country pace. While I’m here, I want to be thoroughly here…

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Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2015 at 7:09 am

Water Falling

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IMG_iP0788eI got the pump installed in our pond yesterday. It took me a while to get the pump to run because the garage outlets were all dead. I was stumped at first, because the circuit breaker in the basement was on and appeared normal. Eventually, I remembered there is a ground-fault interrupt outlet behind one of our shelves. Resetting that did the trick.

It was a wild morning, because Cyndie came back in the door shortly after leaving for work, and reported she had a flat tire. She switched and took the truck to work, because I had already scheduled an appointment to get the oil changed in my car.

Our local auto repair shop is great. When I stepped up to pay for the service to my car, he suggested I go get Cyndie’s car and come right back so they could fix the tire. I could pay for mine when I returned.

IMG_iP0784eI put air in her tire so I could drive it and got it to the shop without any complications. They found the leak and plugged it without charging a penny.

In the afternoon, I did some more mowing, because the grass is really starting to take off and grow. The back yard almost looks to be in mid-summer form. It’s the trees that reveal we are still more spring than summer around here right now.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2015 at 6:00 am

Latest News

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Lest anyone be oblivious to the special significance of this day, let me make it known that June 4th happens to be Cyndie’s birthday! I can’t think of anything more appropriate to give her this year than a new riding saddle. It’s a complicated purchase, so I already told her my idea and she will begin the process of getting the horses measured to see if it will be possible to get one saddle that will fit more than one of our horses.

She has received a few tips on recommended retailers, so we will be visiting a couple of them as soon as we have the measurements. Looks like I better stop dragging my feet about getting the trails in order around here. There are still downed trees in two places obstructing our main perimeter trail through the woods. Just as important, I need to increase the height of clearance throughout all the trails, to make it safe for someone traveling on horseback.

Cyndie reported that the vet said we can start increasing the time we allow the horses to graze freely by a half-hour every other day, up to a max of about 5 hours per day. That’s great news. The horses received good reviews and were given whatever shots were due this time of year. In about a week they will have their feet checked and hooves trimmed by our farrier, neighbor George Walker.

Speaking of George, I stopped by to check on him on my way home from work yesterday, and discovered he was out cutting hay using three of his horses to pull a rig with a sickle bar mower. What a beautiful sight. I pulled over and he gave the horses a break while we chatted about things like the weather, his hay-field, if it was going to rain, how much hay he should cut in case it was going to rain, and whether or not it might rain.IMG_3884e

Obviously, the biggest trick to cutting and baling hay is finding enough consecutive dry days to pull it off during the months of May and June when things are growing the fastest.

After that visit, I headed home to do some cutting of my own: I mowed our lawn. The grass was so thick, it looked like I had created windrows for baling!

If you can decipher it in this picture, the pine trees that suffered so much from dryness last fall, followed by the extremely harsh winter, are sprouting new growth, except for one. The one on the left that looks the most rust-colored is the one that tipped over last year. It didn’t survive. Next time I have the chainsaw out down there, he will get cut down.

We are looking forward to seeing the new growth pop open soon, to bring the trees a healthier glow. As you can tell by the image, everything else around them is bursting with green life.

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Written by johnwhays

June 4, 2014 at 6:00 am

Risking Exposure

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Photos don’t do justice for how much better it looks around the paddock after I mowed yesterday. This is the same spot that irked the horses last time I mowed it. Once again, they were watching me closely, sending signals of shock and indignation over seeing tall grass (and mostly dandelions) go to waste when they would gladly take care of it themselves.

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After

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After I cut that area with the lawn tractor, I mowed down the grass in front of the other paddock using my Stihl gas-powered trimmer. I’m not sure that was a good choice. The section nearest the paved driveway was mostly weeds, and everything is pretty wet, so the pulverized plant matter gets sprayed all over me. If there was any poison ivy in there, I’m thinking that was a good way to give myself a lot of exposure.

I’ve been hoping my skin might get desensitized if I keep experiencing regular exposure, and with Delilah likely brushing past the plants in her daily explorations and my inability to be careful about handling her, I assume that has been happening. I haven’t had a verifiable breakout since the first time it happened earlier this spring.

Lately, we have been confining Delilah to being leashed, so her forays into poison ivy territory have been reduced. Based on that, I should be able to determine whether my reckless exposure to the spray from the trimmer involved any PI or not. You’d think I would’ve developed some skill at identifying the culprit so I could avoid cutting it, but that hasn’t been something I’ve ever felt confident about.

I tend to assume it is everywhere until proven otherwise. In this latest case, time will tell.

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Horse Mischief

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IMG_iP0584eLest you think my incessant blathering about the muddy mess we are suffering is excessive, I offer a couple of images as evidence of the saturation in which we are wallowing. After a few days without additional rain, and even some sunshine yesterday, we are enjoying some long-awaited progress in drying of the intermediate areas, but the wettest sections continue to hold standing water.

Those areas remain a magnet for Delilah, who rushes to sink her feet into the muckiest of muck when we arrive to feed the horses each morning, rendering her abolished from the house until we can get her washed. I think she measures the quality of her days by how many baths she gets in the kiddie pool stationed by our front door.IMG_iP0590e

I lied in my post yesterday when I wrote that I wouldn’t get any mowing done since I would be biking and barbecuing. We had a fantastic ride in beautiful weather, and then dove into eating everything in reach as fast as it arrived to the table. It was a wonderful time that I enjoyed thoroughly, and I arrived home in time to help Cyndie get the horses fed and then do some mowing.

My main objective was to cut the back yard, but after feeding the horses, I noticed the jungle of growth on the uphill side of the big paddock behind the barn. It was twice as bad as the yard, so I decided to give that first attention before moving on.

The horses took great interest in my actions. Instead of moving away from the loud noise of high RPM tractor engine and mower, they came right up to the fence to witness the horror. I got the impression they were galled at the audacity of my cutting down the green growth right before their eyes. I guess I could have taken a moment to convey the reason we have been unable to give them access to this area outside their fence, but something tells me they wouldn’t have bought it. The growth was fresh, green, tall, and surely rich with sugars that would give them the rush they seek.

My drain hose from the trough that sits beneath the downspout on the barn was strung across that area I was mowing, and I flipped it toward the fence, out of the way after I had made the first pass. This morning, when I showed up to feed the horses, I immediately spotted that garden hose pulled way into the paddock!

Had I tossed it too close to their fence yesterday? No. When I started pulling it back out of there, I quickly discovered that it had been pulled in from the other end; the end that had been attached to the trough. How did they get a hold of that!? Lo and behold, the trough itself had been dislodged from its position. Someone had been up to some mischief overnight.

Message received. I think they were clearly letting me know how they felt about my decision to mow that area right before their eyes, at a time when we are firmly limiting their minutes of grazing on the new spring fast-growing grass.

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Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2014 at 9:35 am

Field Work

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Even though it rained a bit yesterday morning, the rest of the day turned out sunny, warm, and breezy. I think we even made some small additional progress toward the ground drying out. I may be rushing things a bit, but we are driven to try to get the earliest start possible on preparing and improving our fields for hay and grazing, so I worked tenaciously to get out and do some cutting while the weather was good. We want to cut off weeds right away and give the grasses a head start toward dominating.

That meant I needed to finally complete the project I started months ago, of cleaning the bottom of the mower deck. I pulled it out into the sunshine, where I was unfortunately better able to see how much had been missed of the portions I already scraped. I sprayed it all down with a potion to inhibit grass from sticking and then mounted it beneath the lawn tractor. I was ready to mow.

The growth in this field was just a bit more than suits this mower, but it performed heroically. The two fields we want to use for grazing this summer have been left to grow wild for some time. When we got here they were 3 or 4 feet high with grasses, weeds and volunteer trees. For the past two years, I have knocked them down in the fall using the brush cutter pulled behind the diesel tractor, but I was hesitant to make a real close cut. Part of the reason is the sticks and branches that lie tangled and hidden in the grass, and part is because the terrain is pretty rough in spots.

I settled on using the lawn tractor because the ground is still too soft to drive the big tractor on without the tires cutting deep ruts. It seemed dry enough to support the lawn tractor without the wheels causing damage, and we’ve tried to pick the obvious sticks out, so it was time to see if the lawn tractor could navigate the bumps and heavy growth.

IMG_3663eAfter a tentative start worked okay, we went all in and cut a pretty big section. That area also included a bald spot where we had burned a couple of brush piles, so while Cyndie finished the mowing, I got the Grizzly out and dragged a rake over the dirt/mud. Then we hooked up a seed spreader to the lawn tractor and laid down some pasture grass seed.

I looks mighty fine out there after just a few hours of work, but one thing leads to another, and now it’s time to figure out how to fence that area to contain the grazing horses we are working so hard to accommodate.

It is pretty clear from their behavior, they would like that to happen very soon.

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Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2014 at 6:00 am