Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘trimmer

Making Decisions

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With everything around here growing at warp speed, now would be a really bad time to lose the services of our Stihl power trimmer. Isn’t there a law of probability about this?

While Cyndie was making headway against the grass jungle taking over the gazebo on Monday, the trimmer became “wobbly.” She discovered the main drive shaft tube had suffered a metal-fatigue fracture.

That’s not good.

I dropped it off for repair in the evening, but their backlog of work is running at two weeks. It’s scary to imagine not being able to trim for that many days.

Cyndie thinks we should buy another one, and I am hard pressed to argue. There have been many times when we both could be trimming at the same time.

Pondering this. Something about it doesn’t feel right. I’m driven to balance the logic of a cost-benefit analysis, a crystal ball vision of what our future is here, and that unsettling gut feeling about the expense. Then I need to deal with the fact there is no right or wrong answer in the end.

You know me and decision-making. It’s not my favorite thing to manage.

One thing that I’m glad that we weren’t relying on me to decide, yesterday we got the details from our neighbor about his plan for the hay-field. It makes total sense to me now.

While he was cutting on Monday night, he was listening to the weather forecast. The outlook for rain all day Thursday was holding strong, so he smartly stopped cutting any more than he thought he could get dried and baled by the end of today.

We received encouraging news from him about our fields. He said the grass is real thick underneath, likely due to the mowing we did all last summer. In addition, he clarified that the tall grass going to seed was not Foxtail, as Cyndie feared (which is not good for our horses’ mouths), but the premium horse hay staple, Timothy.

We still have a long way to go in our transition from suburbanites to Ag-wise country folk.

(Brings to mind my stuttering pause into the phone when I was asked what kind of cows were trampling our property a couple of weeks ago. Um, big ones?)

Amidst the angst of dealing with equipment failures, it is refreshing to learn some good news about the outcome of our efforts to improve the quality of what is growing in our hay-field and pastures.

Despite all the challenges that continue to arise (and decisions thus required), Wintervale continues to evolve in an encouraging way for us.

Hurrah!

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Battling Growth

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Sometimes it does feel a little like a battle against a siege of growing greenery. The lawn grass that I cut with the borrowed mower the other day now looks like I’ve neglected it for a couple of weeks. Now imagine what the areas that haven’t been cut at all look like.

The two pastures we refer to as “back” and “north,” are over two feet tall. I was just starting to mow the back pasture last Saturday when the sound from the brush cutter caused me to stop and check on the gear box. There’s some serious mowing left to be done back there still.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie laid down some pool noodles in the arena space to do an exercise with the horses. She said it didn’t work very well because the grass was too tall and it was hard to see the noodles. I decided to get that cut before resuming work with the brush cutter.

First, I needed to sharpen and adjust the blades on the reel mower for Cyndie so she could use it on the labyrinth. Seriously, there is nowhere that doesn’t need mowing right now, pretty much on an every-other-day basis.

We try to keep the arena grass as short as possible, usually mowing it with the rider. I ventured in there after dinner last night with the borrowed tractor and quickly discovered the grass had grown a lot longer than was noticeable from a distance.

It was so long and thick in places that I needed to make a first pass at a high setting, to enable mowing it a second time at the lowest one.

While I did laps on the rider, Cyndie worked the fence line with the power trimmer.

A couple of soldiers fighting the good fight for order and scenic well-being against the growing chaos and unwelcome infestations.

Seriously, it’s like landscape warfare.

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Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2017 at 6:00 am

Creepy Crawlies

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I was mowing the labyrinth yesterday when I had a series of episodes that made my skin crawl. Well, crawl more than usual for a day when I was sticky with sweat from summer’s heat and humidity, working outside with chainsaws and trimmers. There is always some dirt or plant matter pasted to the exposed skin of my arms. In the area I was working, there was also an ongoing battle with a multitude of insects that were taking great interest in my flesh.

DSCN2145e2Down in the corner of the grazing pasture, on the edge of the woods, I was cutting up the tree I dropped to the ground on Friday, soaked with sweat and covered with debris. It gets hard to know when it is a bug on my skin, or something else. The gloves I wore had loose cuffs, and more than once I pulled them off because I wasn’t sure if what just landed inside was alive or not.

I gained a new appreciation for the horse’s ability to twitch their muscles hard enough to dispatch flies. With both of my hands occupied on the chainsaw or trimmer, I was easy prey for the biting flies and mosquitoes. After a while, it becomes impossible to tell whether I am feeling something on me in a moment, or if it is simply residual sensation after whatever landed has flown away.

It was also a bit unnerving picking up freshly cut logs when I had seen millions of ants had been living inside the tree. Add to that, I am pretty sure that feeding the wood chipper and trimming the trail the day before put me in contact with poison ivy again. My skin was in a state of constant irritation.

It culminated in creepiness late in the process of using the trimmer in the labyrinth. It had been a long day, I was tired, and I really wanted to be done. I had already been forced to stop earlier to reload the supply of plastic line in the trimmer head, so the only remaining delay would be a need for another refueling.

shieldproIn my push to finish, I didn’t stop to use my toe to convince the little frog to move out of the way, I just cut up behind him, assuming the noise and motion would naturally drive him off like usually happens. For some ghastly reason, he turned and jumped into the lethal spinning line.

That stopped me. I shut off the engine and decided I would fill the gas tank anyway, setting my over-ear hearing protection with face shield on the ground. I topped off the fuel tank while swatting at things bugging my ears and trying to shake the heebie-geebies that frog had just caused.

When I resumed trimming, I continued to have the feeling like there was a bug flying around my right ear, and wanted to let go of the trimmer to wave it away, but I realized I had on my ear protection, so I figured I was feeling residual phantom sensations. Or was it just left-over creepy feelings from watching that frog?

DSCN2143eI had to check, stopping to pull off the head-gear. A bug flew out. Really. What are the odds of that? It’s not as far-fetched as what happened next. I tried again to resume my task, and in moments, my left ear felt weird. I figured I was just being paranoid at this point, but was also feeling jumpier by the minute, so I paused the trimmer again and whipped off the ear muffs. GAH! I did the squiggle-jump-flinch as a spider crawled out.

I gotta say, it felt extra-specially-good to finally step out of the shower last night, scrubbed as squeaky clean as physically possible.

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Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2014 at 8:40 am