Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘mowing

Inspiring Start

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Cyndie snapped a shot of the morning sky yesterday, shortly after the sun broke the horizon. It provided inspiration for our continued efforts to accomplish the most possible while weather was favorable and our energy held out.

With the temperature climbing as fast as the sun, I hopped on the diesel tractor to mow with the brush cutter. Knocking down the tall grass along the hay-field and back pasture fence lines was a minor goal that made it convenient to achieve a major goal.

I haven’t cut the drainage ditch along our southern border all summer, so it was seriously overgrown. It’s a chore that requires enough days without rain for the ditch to completely dry out. Yesterday was perfect.

It is late enough in the summer that I’m hoping I won’t need to bother with it again before winter. It’s a great feeling to have the ditch looking ready for whatever nature dishes out, be it heavy rain this fall or spring runoff next year.

While I was out there, I also mowed around the gazebo and along the alleyway between the paddocks and the arena. I parked the tractor and got back inside half way through the first quarter of the Vikings/Packers football game. Too bad those few hours ended without a victory, despite the last chance to kick for a win.

Cyndie came in a short time later, after using the power trimmer to cut the grass beneath the fence.

Little did we know what inspiration yet lie ahead for us.

With Jackie registering her intent to move out, Cyndie opened up interviews for new candidates to do some house & animal sitting for times we would like to get away. Two appointments were scheduled for the afternoon.

In a blink, it seems we are back to having options for coverage that will allow us occasional weekends away from our paradise. Good thing we are refining our landscape management skills to get a month’s worth of work done in one weekend.

That’s what it will take if we continue to be away as many times as Cyndie shows planned in her calendar.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

A Narration

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One of our trails that DOESN’T need mowing.

While Cyndie was in the cities providing training for others this week, I was occupied with my usual duties at the day-job. Yesterday’s commute home was smoother than usual for me, probably related to the fact I’d left an hour early to get home and mow the lawn.

We are headed out-of-town again this weekend, only this time we will be visiting George and Anneliese in Princeton on the occasion of their matrimony. Have guitar, will travel.

That means I need to get the weekend projects done in advance.

The lawn was an interesting combination of shriveled brown remnants of grass and a thick green carpet of maturing crabgrass. More often that desirable, it was also a wicked source of dusty dirt sent airborne in an exploding cloud by the three spinning mower blades.

The weed growth sprouting from cracks in the old asphalt of the driveway had started to get annoyingly tall, so I even made a few passes down the middle of the pavement with the deck set as low as it would go.

At the same time, I had an insight that the miniature berms we built up around the uphill portions of the paddock fence line, do not need to be completely ignored by the tractor. With the deck lifted to the highest setting, I steered one wheel up on the high point of the ridge and rode along the length of it.

Whaalaa. It no longer looks entirely neglected. We usually use the power trimmer to cut those ridges, but over a long enough interval that the grass gets outrageously tall and looks absolutely neglected. Why didn’t I think of this before?

When all of our grass had been cut, I parked the tractor outside to be cleaned. A little compressed air did wonders on the layer of dusty dirt that was clinging to every surface. I blew it all airborne, one last time, where most of it had a final chance to end up clinging to my clothes and skin.

When I came in the house, Pequenita was so happy to see me, I thought she might give me a tongue bath.

It took a shower to scrub off the grimy silt that had coated my pores.

Cyndie arrived home with another glowing report of amazing experiences from her day. She was so amped up, especially for someone as fatigued as she was, her narration was delivered at top speed. It was cute.

Today, only two sessions to go for her, then we hit the road.

We are really looking forward to seeing George and Anneliese again, and we are excited to see their newly built home.

Walker Farms, here we come!

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

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Now Ten

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I didn’t hear anything from Cyndie yesterday, before she headed to the lake with Melissa and her girls, so I’m guessing there was no sign of what happened to our two missing chickens. Now there are ten.

Before Cyndie left, she was very industrious and constructed quite a netted courtyard around the coop for the chickens, so they weren’t confined to quarters all day after all.

The second I got home from work yesterday, I hopped on the lawn tractor to mow all our grass, so I didn’t even chat with Jackie for more than a brief moment to make a plan for Delilah. From the looks of things, I’m guessing she probably assisted in the installation of the coop fencing.

While I was mowing, she headed off to her night job at a local pub/eatery until closing time, so it was just me tending to all the animals, getting them tucked in for the night.

It was a gorgeous August night. It feels a little like nature is at a plateau lately. Even while putting conscious effort into focusing on the immediate moment, there is an unmistakable hint of summer’s end teasing of what comes next.

While walking one of our trails through the woods, I noticed the view through the trees is already opening up beneath the canopy. The late summer shade of our forest has brought an end to many of the lower plants that had started out strong in the early season sun.

That shade provides valuable air conditioning which takes the edge off days like yesterday, when the heat index was climbing into the 90s. It felt a lot hotter while I was commuting through the cities on the steamy pavement than it did when I finally arrived home.

Ahhhh. Living in the country. Huzzah!

It’s a real blessing. But you do have to keep an eye on your chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

Another Cut

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I’ve written about our frustration over waiting for our hay-field to get cut before the weeds had a chance to go to seed. Now that those fields have been cropped clean, my attention turned to knocking down the weeds and troublesome invasive plants growing rampant on the other side of our driveway.

When I finished mowing, I took a picture.

A day later, Cyndie showed me a photo album our friend Melissa shared with pictures from her visit, days earlier. I couldn’t resist grabbing Mel’s gorgeous image from a similar vantage point, taken before I had mowed.

It causes me a little regret, because the visual of the before/after doesn’t necessarily look like an improvement. There are a few butterflies that aren’t very happy with me, as well. I’m hoping they will find their way over to Cyndie’s other gardens where she has offerings that are desirable to both us and them.

As much as we love the natural look of our uncut field on the north side of our driveway, it contains problem plants that we don’t want migrating across to the hay-field we have been working to improve for years.

One future possibility we are considering is doing a prairie restoration. That process starts with a prescribed burn, which makes it a production that we can’t accomplish all on our own and will need a fair amount of planning and follow through to bring to fruition.

It doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it is involved enough that it won’t just occur on a whim.

Until then, we will continue to periodically cut down the growth as a way of controlling the weeds from completely taking over.

Sorry, butterflies.

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2018 at 10:02 am

Overload Warning

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Cyndie and I finally got around to accomplishing a dinner date we had talked about way back at the beginning of the month, around the time of her birthday. Now my birthday has come and gone, and last night we made it down to our nearby fine dining destination restaurant, Shady Grove, to celebrate.

Despite my usual habit of choosing fish, I found myself entranced by a choice of the bison ribeye, instead. I wasn’t disappointed.

It being a special occasion, we allowed for a little indulgence after the meal.

Warning! Warning! Sugar overload ahead!

Chocolate, caramel, sea salt —chilled. I had two bites more than I deserved, and we brought a third of it home. I think I can hear it calling out to be eaten for breakfast this morning.

Who am I to argue?

Yesterday, I enjoyed a perfect execution of a plan to finish mowing the lawn in the narrow window of time between work and our dinner reservation. That makes up for the last time I had high hopes of squeaking in the mowing, when the spring broke just before I left for a week of vacation.

Despite the consecutive days of rain that fell at home while I was away, Cyndie enlisted the help of Mary and Tim, my sister and brother-in-law, to finally knock down the crop of lawn grass in the days before I got home. Picking up where they left off, starting late Wednesday after work and finishing last night, I completed the whole property again, with the exception of the arena space.

Today, we head for the lake for the weekend, leaving Jackie to care for animals at home. With the Independence Day holiday landing in the middle of the following week, the annual Wildwood 4th-of-July games have been moved ahead to this weekend.

It’ll be Bats vs. Mice in a no-holds-barred battle of strength, cunning, stamina, and good humor in the field beside the lodge.

To heck with the sugar overload, I’m gonna have dessert for breakfast this morning. I’ll use the rush to get mentally prepared for the weekend events looming on our horizon.

Warning! Warning! Hyperactive blissed-out old man ahead.

Bring on the shoe kick!

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

No Mow

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I leave for vacation today whether I am ready, or not. I’ve got it covered well enough… I’m sort of ready.

Yesterday was my final day of work before departure, and I tried in vain to get everything completed to my satisfaction. I had hoped to leave early enough to fit in one last cutting of the lawn when I got home. I didn’t hit either target. I didn’t get all the work done before I had to go, and I left work later than I wanted.

As a consolation prize, I was going to get the mowing completed so I wouldn’t have anything that demanded my attention this morning except for finding and packing everything I want to have for the Tour of Minnesota bike trip.

It should come as no surprise that I couldn’t get the mowing done, either.

After a mere 2 or 3 minutes into the job, the power to the mower stopped abruptly. I thought it was possibly the seat interlock, but nothing I did re-enabled the PTO to engage. Then I spotted the belt was completely loose from the engine pulley.

Closer inspection revealed the idler spring had broken.

Really? After 12 hours of operation? This is how new products get a bad review.

I couldn’t find a replacement spring in stock anywhere near us. Everyone was happy to order one for me, but that wouldn’t solve my problem. The grass is long, now. I’m leaving home today for a week of vacation.

I thought maybe I could steal a spring from the old mower, but it didn’t have one matching the size I needed. The mowing did not happen. Unless I get lucky and find one in stock this morning at the one place I couldn’t check last night (because they had already closed for the day), this will be another thing I am leaving behind for others to deal with while I’m gone.

So, I’m sort of ready to leave my responsibilities behind for a week, and I’m sort of packed.

I would venture to say this is the least prepared I’ve been of all of these bike trips I have done over the years. I wish I could say that previous experience allows me to prepare less, but I don’t believe that is the case.

Right now, it feels like previous experience is informing me that I will soon be missing the comforts of home.

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Why don’t I ever take a vacation where I just stay home and relax for a week?

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

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