Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘mowing

October Realities

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There is a feast underway over the decaying roots of the tree we recently removed from the small paddock.

If any of those mushrooms are edible, I don’t think they interest the horses. Our horses chew wood, but not so much the squishy fungi that feed on wood.

We are enjoying a summery October so far. I tried mowing the grass one last time yesterday. That’s the second time this fall I hoped I was cutting for the last time.

It’s a pain because I want to cut the grass short in preparation for the coming snow season but then it keeps growing and gets so long it is hard to cut short again. I took extra time to avoid excessive clippings laying around and also cut at an odd angle to offer the turf a break from the natural ruts forming where the tractor repeatedly rolled throughout most of the cutting season.

It looks pretty good today. Now if the growth would just go dormant, that’d be just great.

Just to push the universe in that direction, I drained the oil from the engine after I was done mowing. I’d love it if I could also drain the gas and park the machine until next spring.

I was hoping to be fastidious about the oil change and was very pleased to be able to drain it while the oil was hot. With pan in place, I attached the extending hose to the not-very-reliable plastic drain apparatus and pulled the piece open. A little oil leaked onto the frame and then the extending hose came loose and dropped into the pan of hot oil.

While rushing to try getting the hose reattached, the entire plastic piece pulled off and oil got all over the frame and ran along the edge to drip almost beyond the pan below. That had me racing to wipe oil while adjusting the pan while inadvertently getting the rag in the primary stream of draining oil.

Fastidious, it was not.

It didn’t really wreck my mood because that had already been smashed by having gotten the rubber clipping deflector on the end of the deck caught against a fence post on an incline and wrenching it out of position. If I would have simply stopped to get off and reposition the tractor, calamity could have been averted. But, no, I forged ahead and suffered the consequences of my bullheadedness.

Maybe all the bullheadedness of so many people refusing to accept reality is rubbing off on me.

I’m going to be able to clean up spilled oil, I’ll figure out a way to fix the clippings deflector, and I will strive to be open-minded about the possibility our grass will continue growing in October 2021.

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Getting Bolder

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Even though the number of trees around us that are starting to show some colors of autumn is few, a couple took a jump yesterday toward premium brilliance. Those spots of bold color are particularly eye-catching.

That dot of redness stands out distinctly against the green around it. When this happens, I imagine what that tree would look like if all the leaves changed to the same degree at the same time.

Around the corner from that area is a maple tree turning orange.

I hope this is an indication of fall color intensity we can look forward to seeing more of as the month progresses.

I heard that the ever-changing sunrise and sunset times are moving 3-minutes per day about now. That’s a loss of 21-minutes of daylight this week. Could less sunlight mean slower grass growth finally?

I’m ready to be done mowing for the season. I suspect we still have a ways to go until I can park the mower for the winter.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2021 at 6:00 am

Equine Companions

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The best part of mowing yesterday after getting home from the day-job, besides the fact there was a pleasant breeze that kept the temperature from feeling uncomfortably hot, was seeing the horses choose to come over the hill toward the road to graze near where I was working.

I had started the project by cutting the longest grass around the perimeter of the paddock fence and the horses hung around calmly, as opposed to getting riled up by the noisy tractor and running off. I took it as a good sign they were growing ever more comfortable with us and their surroundings.

When I moved on to the area by the road and the horses followed me up there, it was even more affirming. I think maybe the horses were enjoying the smell of fresh-cut grass.

I enjoy that the horses are behaving more and more like our companions as we move into our fifth month of them living with us.

That might be tested come Monday when the vet shows up for an appointment to file their teeth.

Maybe they will understand that we are doing it for their own good, but who ever likes having their teeth worked on? They have shown significant difficulty eating the pellets of their morning and afternoon feed, so we are hoping a little dental treatment will make chewing a little easier for them.

If we get that issue taken care of, all that is left to do for them is get a farrier to show up for their next hoof trimming appointment.

It’s what you do for equine companions.

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Written by johnwhays

August 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

It Seems

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It seems to me today that I can’t add anything that you don’t already know. What would be the point of describing how oppressive the hatch of mosquitoes has been since the last long ago rainfall? Despite how fast the grass around here grew after that last dosage of water from the sky, I ended up deciding not to cut it, because the days have been nothing but hot and dry ever since. I didn’t want to stress the grass at a time it was again enduring another stretch of hot, dry weather.

Maybe we’ll get another batch of moisture on Friday, but I can only imagine what that will do for the mosquito population. I’m thinking about mowing this afternoon when I get home from work.

As I turned the last corner onto our street coming home from work yesterday, I was passed by a farm tractor coming from the opposite direction. Then another and another. Ten, then twenty, maybe thirty in a row. Every variety of manufacturers, some with a single passenger beside or behind the driver looking almost board, many with flags attached. A few had cute canvas canopies over the top for shade.

I guess that was something you didn’t know about. I certainly didn’t know anything about it. Some sort of parade out in the wide-open countryside on a Wednesday afternoon when few people might be around to notice. I didn’t see any signs to convey a message. Maybe they were headed somewhere to congregate and make a point. Protest at the steps of the county courthouse over the lack of rain?

My positive momentum is fatigued due to the constant waves of angst flowing from Afghanistan / Taliban / Wildfires / Earthquake / Tropical Storms / Delta Variant / Mask Mandates / Booster Shots / Political Blame / Shouting Matches / Criminal Trials / Sick Pets and every other challenge to peace and harmony that is vibrating so strong these days.

A certain feeling of guilt over the blissful beauty of our immediate surroundings needs to be processed before getting on with the beaming of healthy love out into the universe from the heart.

When I walked up to the paddock gate Tuesday evening to see the fallen snag first hand, Light responded to my presence instantly by purposely crossing the length of the small paddock toward me to make a brief connection. She inhaled my scent, paused, and looked around. I extended a hand to offer a scratch but she had stopped out of my reach. She breathed in again with her nose on my hand, then slowly moved on to join the rest of her herd near the overhang.

You probably didn’t know about that exchange, either.

Seems to me, the old adage about writing what I know tends to work out even when I don’t realize there is anything new about which to write.

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Written by johnwhays

August 19, 2021 at 6:00 am

Rewarding Accomplishments

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On a weekend when we squeezed in two evening trips to the Cities for wonderful social occasions and a surprise visit from sister, Judy, and husband, Scott, Cyndie and I also knocked off mowing and trimming the entire labyrinth of some tall growth. Our growing ground cover has made efficient use of the rain we received last week. The lawn grass is so long already, I need to mow again less than a week after I just finished the whole property.

I took a panoramic photo into the sun to show the freshly coifed labyrinth with the adjacent gazebo and its barely alive vines for a roof cover.

We also made short work yesterday of an inspiration I had to open up a new footpath through an untraveled section of our woods. Untraveled by us, that is. We chose to route it primarily along an obvious path traversed by deer often enough that our eyes were able to discern where they have been walking.

Of course, being deer, they seem to magically navigate through downed or low-hanging branches that entangle us. A bit of pruning and sawing provided quick reward and suddenly we had a whole new shortcut between two existing trails.

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We were so pleased with it, we sauntered back and forth along the new route multiple times, just to enjoy the experience.

It was very rewarding to get two projects off the to-do list, even though one of them had just been spontaneously added the day before. Accomplished, nonetheless.

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Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Fawns Visit

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Yesterday morning, first thing, Cyndie reported seeing a momma deer and two fawns out our bedroom window. I was just commenting the other day that there was no sign of any nibbling of our hostas back there this summer. I didn’t check yet to see if that still holds true.

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After work yesterday, I was busy mowing the opposite side of our property. After just one downpour of rain over the weekend, our grass responded with a burst of growth. There was nothing strategic about my mowing methods this time. I cut everything possible in the time before dinner was served.

I heard a meteorologist’s analysis that the one occasion of heavy rain on Saturday was not sufficient to break the overall drought our region is suffering. He said that would require getting rain in similar amounts at least once a week for multiple weeks. The long-range forecast doesn’t bode well for that happening.

I’m counting our blessings that we have so few areas where the stress of dryness is obvious. Most trees and shrubs are looking close to normal. Grassy areas that get some shade look downright healthy.

Maybe the deer don’t need the hostas if there are enough other choices for grazing. They were probably just visiting to be social.

Delilah failed to detect them, so they weren’t driven away by loud, ferocious barking. She is a little under the weather and threw up the full contents of her stomach yesterday. Cyndie said it appeared a couple of days-worth of food wasn’t getting processed and came back up.

When that happened other times, we immediately discarded the rest of whatever can of food she was being served and start a fresh one. Since it always did the trick the other times, we are returning to that solution for now.

Meanwhile, she is doing some grazing of her own, chomping on grass when she is out on a walk.

Good thing it got tall after the last blast of rain.

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Written by johnwhays

August 11, 2021 at 6:00 am

Mentally Preparing

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Today is my last workday before I leave for my bike trip and it is obvious to me that I will not have all my work done before I go. When you can’t change something, acceptance becomes an attractive option. There will be plenty to do when I return.

Yesterday after work, I did some of the dustiest mowing in my life. The dryness resulted in clouds of soil dust covering me and the tractor. Much sneezing ensued, but I am very happy to have that task checked off my list.

I’m mentally preparing myself for being away from our animals in the coming days by thoroughly appreciating every moment with them before I go. As I mowed along the perimeter of the back pasture, the horses came over very intentionally to graze near the fence as I passed.

We are definitely developing a bond with them.

The area around the chicken coop has been receiving increasing pressure from the raccoons during the nights. We’ve reached the point where we might have to give up on this idea of coexisting with the masked bandits.

Both groups of chicks continue to grow so much every day it seems like the Rockettes will never catch up to the older Buffalo gals.

It’ll be Cyndie’s decision if she decides to try merging them while I am away, but I’m guessing that will be unlikely.

She may be too busy trying to keep up with the produce coming from the garden. Salads have been locally sourced lately.

Those peas are so prolific we almost have more than we know what to do with already.

The lettuce is superb. What a treat!

Meanwhile, my mind is trying to run through all the things I need to gather for successfully tent camping and biking for days in a row. It’s not like I haven’t done this trip before, but it has been an extra year since the last one.

The clock is ticking on my days of planning. Tomorrow, Cyndie will drive me to Hastings and drop me, my bike, and camping gear off and I’ll consider myself on vacation.

It’s a green vacation, too. All these people riding bikes for days instead of driving their cars.

We haven’t had any measurable rain for weeks. What are the odds that will change while we are on the road?

I need to mentally prepare for the possibility.

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Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2021 at 6:00 am

Strong One

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We all have different strengths, don’t we? Yes. Yes, we do. But I am not sure about the comparison of muscle strength between my precious wife and me. This occurred to me yesterday after I got our lawn tractor stuck and needed to go get Cyndie to help.

Despite the more than three inches of rain that had fallen the previous 24-hours to thankfully soak our parched land, I was attempting to mow before things began to adequately dry. I was literally cutting between the trailing scattered showers.

Mow the front yard until rain started falling, park the mower in the garage.

Mow by the barn until it started raining again, park the mower back in the garage.

When I tried traversing the recently re-landscaped dip where Cyndie and I had rolled up the sod to dig out accumulated dirt, the tractor became hopelessly wedged in the muddy turf. I was stuck.

I was also in a hurry because a few drops were starting to fall again. I hiked around behind the barn, past the empty chicken coop, around the back pasture to the labyrinth where Cyndie was rearranging sunken stones and pulling weeds. She happily obliged my request for assistance.

Then, the woman who asks me to use my superior strength to open jars for her in the kitchen proceeds to pick up the back end of the tractor and move it over so my push from the front can roll it around the rocks bordering her perennial garden.

In my whiny sad voice, “Honey, can you come lift the tractor out of the mud for me so I can keep mowing in the rain?”

I know who the strong one is around here.

I’m pretty sure she lets me open jars just to prevent my ego from starving to death.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2021 at 7:00 am

Last Cut

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I know this cat named Pequenita who is highly skilled at showing up for scratches at the precise time that I want to use both of my hands to type on my laptop computer. She seems to know that I can’t resist her demands for attention.

Today, we head to Edina for the weekend to participate in Friswold family activities surrounding a graveside memorial service for Fred on Saturday. Please keep Cyndie and her family in your hearts and beam your love when you think of them.

In preparation for being away from home for the weekend, I jumped on the lawn tractor as soon as I got home from work yesterday afternoon to tackle the project of cutting the grass shorter than normal for the late-season mowing session. The short cut left a lot of grass clippings behind that I am going to need to sweep up.

In addition to the excessive clippings, the early cold snap and noticeably shorter daylight hours brought on dew that had me cutting some wet grass before I was through. The amount of grass stuck to the bottom of the mower deck was epic. I disconnected the mower from the tractor and struggled mightily to lift the deck for cleaning. It weighed a ton!

The whole project was a little too much for the short time I had available, so the finishing touches will come later. I still may end up needing to cut some areas another time before winter, but I’m hoping most of the mowing is now done for the season.

I’m at that point of wanting to use up the last of the gas in the mower before parking that tractor for the winter.

When I was cutting down by the labyrinth, I had to work around a couple of rocks that had tumbled from one of my recent precarious balance installations.

It’s all good fun until you neglect to pick up the fallen rocks. Those two have returned to ground level and interfered with grass cutting in the vicinity. Far be it from me to stop and get off the tractor to move them. I just forged ahead, cutting around the obstacles to keep going uninterrupted.

During our work down at the labyrinth last week, I took a picture of the center boulders and the miscellaneous additions scattered around them.

It wasn’t getting much attention during our sessions of adding rocks to the path borders, but it is the center point destination of the journey inward, after all.

The future star of the labyrinth garden, that maple tree we transplanted to the middle, will someday, long after I’m gone, tower over the paths.

Maybe by that time, the shade it will provide can dissuade the grass from growing so fast beneath its branches.

I will be happy if we’ve already made the last cut of labyrinth grass for the season. We will be making tracks in snow down there again before too long.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2020 at 6:00 am

Paddocks Reclaimed

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Mission accomplished on Sunday in my effort to reclaim the paddocks from the unchecked growth of grasses and weeds, some of which had risen to over a meter tall since the beginning of this year’s growing season.

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I got in there with the big diesel tractor pulling the brush cutter and successfully avoided destroying any fences while maneuvering in the confined spaces.

Before the cutting started in earnest, Cyndie and I made a pass through, digging up “sour dock” weeds (that’s the local name for Rumex Crispus or some variation thereof) in hope of reducing their propagation.

We used to get sour dock mixed in bales of hay we bought for our horses and they were not fond of it. Ever since, we’ve framed it as an undesirable weed, despite evidence there are some medicinal and edible features to it.

Then it was off to the mowing races.

It’s always a little unnerving to be mowing blindly over such thick and tall growth, not knowing if I might run over a misplaced tool or any variety of wild critters that may have made themselves a home there. As it was, while walking through the higher-than-my-waist jungle of growth I figured I was wandering in a snake pit, much to my discomfort.

Luckily, no snakes were encountered over the entire duration of this project. A lot of toads and a couple of field mice were about the extent of sightings.

At one point in my hunt for stalks of sour dock hiding among the tall grasses, I came upon a bird’s nest with a lone egg in it. With a total absence of any upset flyers winging their way overhead, I concluded this poor egg had been abandoned.

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Now there is a blanket of cuttings covering the ground in the paddocks. That’s enough for hundreds of nests.

I noticed the three hens wandering around in there right after I finished mowing, picking at the wealth of opportunity, but I don’t think they will make a dent in cleaning up all the deadfall.

We’ll simply leave it to dry up and break down where it lays.

Maybe that covering will slow new growth so I won’t have to mow it more than one more time by the end of the summer. I don’t enjoy operating the diesel tractor so close to fences, especially inside the corners.

The paddocks almost look like we have horses again!

That’s so much better an impression than the neglect all that wild growth has been emanating.

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Written by johnwhays

July 14, 2020 at 6:00 am