We shall Overcome (Lawn Mowing)

It was supposed to rain today starting at noon.  Yesterday, I looked at my backyard and realized it was time for a mow, but I didn’t have the time.  I thought I‘d have to wait awhile as the forecast called for rain not only today but over the next 2 days. When noon appeared and my neighbor’s mow & blow crew were whizzing and mowing away in her yard, I decided I’d mow after all.

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Above:  Neighbor’s pristine lawn after the mow & blow folks were gone.

My mower, housed in the shed, hasn’t seen grass or weeds since last September.  That’s an entire 6 months of inactivity. I’ve learned that when a mower sits, it can get cranky and may not feel like doing much work. The gas in my gas can had also been sitting just as long.  Never-the-less, I decided to give it a go.

I assume you probably mow. How did you learn?  Did your daddy or your brother welcome you into the lawn mowing fold?  Or were you one of the lucky ones who was just born mowing?—If so, kudos!  Or maybe you don’t mow?  That’s okay too.

My father left when I was two, and my mother always hired her mowing out.  Thus, I learned to mow by necessity, the hard way.

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Above:  Side yard of the Kolstad Inn Bed & Breakfast (across the street from me) where they do their own mowing, raking, mulching, & edging.  Looks good to me!

My very first mow happened using my uncle’s reel mower.  I was 14, and had just begun to live with my aunt and uncle in Holland when my uncle asked me to mow.  I was willing, and the yard was not large.

I did what I thought was a good job, but apparently, my uncle watched me from an upstairs window, and when the task was complete told me I was slow and did not mow with much enthusiasm.  My feelings were hurt, but I didn’t say anything.  Maybe he didn’t know this was my first mow, unlike his children who had been mowing since they were toddlers.

If someone said what my uncle said to me now as an adult, I’d ask them, “Just exactly who do you know that mows with a lot of enthusiasm?”

My big-time experience mowing occurred as a single parent when I rented a small house and needed to mow the lawn.

For this, I located a secondhand lawnmower business and purchased a mower.  The patient shop owner showed me the various parts of my push mower, how to start the mower, where to put in the gas and the oil and so forth. I was on my way.  I was proud.  Too bad my uncle couldn’t see me mow now!  Later, even big-bellied with my second child, I still mowed.  Woo-hoo!

When my husband was living, most of the time he mowed.  He had less experience mowing than I did, but lawn-mowing for whatever reason, is usually delegated to the male of the house.  (I know one of my female neighbors in Austin wouldn’t know one end of a lawnmower from the other as her husband is the Big Cheese Grand Pooba Mower in their family.)

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Above: Bags of grass given to me by the owners of the Kolstad Inn for my compost pile.  Life is sweet!

After my husband became terminal, he still tried to mow, but couldn’t.  He was left panting for air from the excursion.  He told me then I should hire someone to mow and that there was ample money available for this.  He never knew the true cost of hiring someone to mow since we’d always done it ourselves.

I didn’t try to hire a lawn mowing service until after my husband passed.  We lived on 2/3rds acres and mowing the yard with a push mower sometimes took me all of a weekend in spring and summer.  Eventually, I wore out and called a mowing company for a bid.  Their proposal came in at $200 for the front yard and $200 for the back. They wanted me to sign a contract to pay $400 a visit to mow every two weeks for the spring and summer.

I was shocked.

Someone suggested I find a local kid to mow and I did, but even his price of $150. (front & back) seemed high, plus it was obvious he didn’t have the maturity necessary to do the job.   Thus, I continued to mow myself.

Back to the here & now.

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Above:  Meet Marilyn Push Mower.  She has a Briggs and Stratton engine and is willing to eat tall weeds.

Today, I pulled out my mower, shook the gas can, added gas, checked the oil, pressed the push button starter three times, and pulled the handle attached to the cord.  Silence. My lawnmower, indeed, was cranky.  I’d neglected her for six months, and she wasn’t talking to me.  Relationships require good communication, you know.

I pulled three more times.  Silence.  I pressed the push button starter again and decided to seduce “her” with a little love and a few incentives.

I waited a bit, then said, “Come on darling!” (Pulled the cord.)  “Come on baby!”  (Pulled the cord.) “Come on sweetheart, just this one time!” (Pulled the cord.)  “Come on cutie pie!” (Pulled the cord and vroooommmmmm, we were off!”

If your mower is female, try a little sweet talk, and she might respond.  (Of course, I also had to make all of these promises to her such as buying her a new spark plug, changing her oil, sharpening her blade, and washing her filter.  I thought buying her new wheels last year would be enough, but obviously not.  You know how women are.  Well, I do anyway since I am one.)

I could tell you more about my long and rocky relationship with mechanical garden and lawn tools, but you might not like it.

I once wrote three different weed-eater stories including one called “Weed-Eater Wet Dreams” and another about a weed-eater murder for submission to Stihl to win $200 worth of equipment.

While I thought my stories were funny, and yes, one was bit sexual (but then again I was newly widowed), Stihl was NOT amused.  Murder and weed-eater fantasies aren’t appropriate fare for Stihl’s public image.

I *think* the guy who won found a 40 year old Stihl product in the woods buried under the snow on top of a mountain and after some clean up, it still worked.  Show off!

 

 

7 thoughts on “We shall Overcome (Lawn Mowing)

  1. Sounds like you are an experienced mower and know what you are doing. I have to admit I’m a wimp in this department. Not a fan of whirring blades. Our Dad used to do all the mowing and had a beast of a mower that always required tinkering. When it thankfully gave up the ghost he bought a Swedish manual mower that required lot’s of energy to use and kept him fit. After he died my sister and I had a go at this but it was a killer machine, especially when the blades were blunt. Exhausting work despite the fact our garden is small. As we do not have the space to store a motor mower, we now have some retired men who do lawns as an extra job. They do the mowing, the edges and blowing and only charge $A20 a session and (usually) put the cuttings in our compost bins. They come every 2 to 3 weeks depending on the growth season. It sounds like the professional mowers in your area are really expensive and it is better doing this yourself, especially when you know how.

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  2. I was never a natural mower. Whilst I admire people who are, I have to admit it was a huge relief when I finally got rid of the lawn and took the mower to the local dump! I don’t miss our lawn, but I still find myself looking on with envy when I see a well tended one. (Ours wasn’t) I suspect yours is!

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    1. At some point, I plan to pull out the front lawn and replace it with plants, but it’s a slow process. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  3. Yes, I mowed my parents’ lawn as a kid and I still mow the lawn today. Difference is there’s almost no lawn left to mow, as I have dug up the bulk of it. I use a reel mower, as I can’t stand the noise of gas mowers. I hope your uncle had other redeeming qualities other than his high standards for lawn mowing!

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  4. I enjoyed your tale. I’m one of those toddler mowing prodigy types- and proud of it! I was operating both a pushmower, driving a John Deere lawn tractor and using power tools when I was in elementary school. I delved into car oil changes, brakes lines & pads, re-casing wheel bearings and engine over-hauls in high school for extra cash. Women are often mislead into thinking that they aren’t smart enough to tackle these sorts of things or make repairs. From either the stance of having to do it myself because there wasn’t any other alternative to wanting to do it myself, I encourage all women to become more involved in understanding machinery and mechanical things. If you’re afraid of getting your hands dirty – wear gloves! If you’re afraid of making a mess – practice patient & diligence and you’ll be rewarded. Give it a shot!

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