Easy Orchard Mowing

This spring we upgraded our riding lawn mower and replaced our broken tractor all in one fell swoop with the purchase of a Steiner. I’m not exactly sure what it’s truly classified as but I like to describe it as the love child of a riding lawnmower and a tank.  The Steiner and I have been getting along fabulously. I’ve been using the blade to level a spot for the pool, moving dirt with the scoop bucket, towing my chicken and duck houses into new spots, all by myself, and mowing the paths through the orchard.

Of course all those things had to come with an occasional Diet Coke break!

Now, because of this fantastic plan we found, where you purposely don’t mow your orchard until July, (Best plan ever!) to help naturally (not to mention more easily) control nasty things like apple scab, today was the first day I was going to mow the whole orchard with it.

I started the day with confidence. The mowing deck is more than twice as wide as the old riding mower! It mows in reverse and the mowing deck is attached to the front so it can go under low hanging branches, I was going to be done with the job so quickly!

(Just in case you were wondering that was a bit of ironic foreshadowing and breaking out some cynical laughter here would be completely appropriate.)

But, I’m me… so I was starting the day without one of the two belts on the mower. But, in a rare case of foresight, I had two new belts waiting and the one I needed to replace wasn’t even the one that required taking the mowing deck off to put on.

I put my new belt on. Put the old belt on. Stepped back. Scratched my head. Swore. Took both belts off and put them back on the right way.

I was up and running!

The far side of the orchard where the earliest, least tasty and mushiest of our apples were ripe. I ate this one anyway. Sometimes it’s the principle of the matter.

I headed to the orchard, I mowed one, nice, wide, pass all the way to the far side of the property when the other belt blew.

That belt, was the belt that required taking the mowing deck off. I drove all the way back.

I took the mowing deck off. I got the belt in position. I put the mowing deck back on. I put both belts on.

I was ready to go!

I had to take all three dogs to their vet appointment.

After taking all three dogs to the vet the kids who had been playing with a friend quite nicely up until now decided that they were unsatisfied with everyone and everything in the world and that only swimming in the pool in the backyard would solve their issues. Like any mom worth her salt, I made a deal. Cleaning for pool time. I’ll be in the orchard, come get me in 30 when the rooms are clean and I’ll watch you in the pool.

I’d get so much mowed in 30 minutes, it was going to be fine.

(Cue laughter.)

I jumped on, headed down to the far end of the property and moments later there were children waving their arms. A smoke detector was going off and they smelled smoke!

Back to the house I went where there was no smoke but there was indeed a smoke detector going off. I stood on a chair and pushed the “hush” button. It didn’t hush.

I pushed it again.  It didn’t hush.

I repeated this process adding in frantic twisting motions to get the *&^% thing off the ceiling while four girls yelled “helpful” advice at me over the noise of the beeping.

Eventually the beeping and the “help” became too much. I abandoned finesse gave a yank and pulled both the smoke detector and the screw holding it onto the ceiling off. This caused it to stop beeping. I’m not sure why, my only guess is that it could sense that my next step was to smash it with a hammer so it decided to behave.  I gave it a serious eyeballing, just in case it didn’t get the message, and threw it on a shelf, sniffed around for smoke, checked to see that we did indeed own other smoke detectors that were not going off and went back to my mowing job.

Oddly enough I didn’t get much more mowed before it was “time” for the girls to swim in the pool.

Time to swim turned into time to take the friend home turned into time to make dinner…

Eventually I made it back on the Steiner and as the sun was setting I finished up mowing the orchard.

Mowing the orchard all at once.

Super easy.

So fast.


I love the Steiner but I still hate mowing.


O Lawnmower How I Hate Thee…

O lawnmower, how I hate thee. Let me count the ways…

  1. You are noisy, so noisy hearing protection is required. Sometimes the earmuffs that I leave over the steering wheel attract earwigs. I have so far always found them before putting them on my head. So far…
  2. You bounce and you vibrate the whole time I drive you. This makes me jiggle in unpleasant ways and reminds me that I have more jiggly parts than I’d like. Ride you long enough and even my non-jiggly bits start turning to jello and I slide off feeling like I’ve been living on a couch, eating potato chips my entire life.
  3. You cut crooked. I’ve tried to correct it, but you insist on cutting one side higher than the other. As a result even a freshly mowed area looks like a bad haircut.
  4. You run out of gas at the worst times. Is it because I run you at highest possible speeds at all times? Or because I never check before we set out? Whatever it is you’ve never run out of gas near the garage or a gas tank, nooooo always at the far end of the orchard. Always with the job almost done. You have terrible timing lawnmower. Terrible timing.
  5. You break. Your belts break and your doo-hickys fall off and the thing-gummy gets clogged and even when I fix them for you, a job I detest, they just go ahead and break again. Are you trying to tell me that zipties are not the fix for everything? How rude lawnmower, how rude.
  6. The important parts of you never break. You are the lawnmower that will not die. Do you even know how old you are? I have run you over sticks and stumps and small brush piles. Got you stuck on rocks and ditches but will you quit on a hot day and give me a break. Oh no, you will not!
  7. Your tire leaks. Slooowwwllly. So slowly as to not be worth patching. So quickly that it needs to be aired up almost every time you are used. No one likes a square tire lawnmower. No one.
  8. You don’t cut in reverse. You claim it’s for my safety. I say that’s total BS, you are just lazy. If you cut in reverse we’d be done so much faster.
  9. You don’t corner for beans. You are a lawnmower not a flatbed truck. Why do you have the turning radius of a school bus?
  10. But the thing I will never forgive you for is that because of you, I mow the lawn.

In related news my lawnmower dislikes being left outside in November with no gas and is now waaay out in the orchard with a dead battery and a flat tire. And though I removed the mouse nest and gave it some fuel, it still refuses to run properly. Ungrateful beast, it better shape up before the snow flies! 

 (Yes I know, most of these things are my fault. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have left the lawn mower outside. Yes, I still hate it anyway.)

Lawnmower Limbo

There are no winners in Riding Lawnmower Limbo.
In fact, Riding Lawnmower Limbo isn’t a thing.

No matter how tempting it looks, don’t do it.
When the branches start taunting you, trying to convince you that you can do the whole thing without ever stopping, backing up or getting off, don’t believe them.

The ducks and geese can organize their own orchard limbo. They'll probably do fine so long as they don't learn how to use the lawnmower...

The ducks and geese can organize their own orchard limbo. They’ll probably do fine so long as they don’t learn how to use the lawnmower…

You know why?

Because if you are mowing an area at high speeds (There are totally winners at high speed lawn mowing just so long as you have the reflexes to miss the dead cat!) and you start doing the lawnmower limbo, you will lose. You will lose your sunglasses and your ear muffs and a bunch of skin off your back and the only thing you will gain is a lump on your head for your efforts.
Because it’s the limbo.
And, as everyone knows, when you successfully limbo once, the bar just gets lower and lower and lower – until you bleed.

True story.

Apparently branches make me competitive. I went under this one, you know, the one the dog is walking around...

Apparently branches make me competitive. I went under this one, you know, the one the dog is walking around…

There is no such thing as Riding Lawnmower Limbo.

But if there were, I would totally be a star.

A high speed, bleeding, bruised star…but still a star!

Lawnmower Fix

Today I fixed my lawnmower with two tiny pony tail holders.

This either makes me brilliant (for obvious reasons) or completely ridiculous (because the workshop is full of tools and supplies that likely contain the appropriate items for a normal fix) depending on your point of view.lawnmower fix

I’m going with brilliant.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

hollyhocks and barnThere is something about yellow hollyhocks that always speaks of nostalgia to me.

Perhaps it’s the flower, perhaps it’s the color, perhaps it’s the memory of feeding the seeds from my grandpas flowers to his chickens.

Whatever it is, the sight of my own hollyhocks blooming in front of the barn had me jumping off the lawnmower for a quick photo break.

Not that I needed much convincing.

Hollyhocks give me warm fuzzy feelings.

Lawns care just make me grumpy.

A Bad Day for the Lawnmower

It was the first mowing of the lawn and, in case you are unaware, I hate mowing the lawn.

After John did the requisite lawnmower maintenance,  (gas, oil, reattaching loose parts, and mouse nest removal) I went to work on the lawn.

I cruised around contemplating if I could not mow the lawn anymore because we might be moving this summer. Failing to come up with a legitimate reason to justify that line of thought I continued unhappily driving in circles.

Until I hit a fence post. (Which, in my defense, was lying flat on the ground under the grass – at least until I mowed over it.)

Then I stopped.

And swore.

And wondered why my list of things I’ve run over includes, wheelbarrows, tractor chains, logs,  dog toys, golf balls, giant holes (that’s really more of a fall into) and now fence posts, (but not dead cats so that’s something).

Then I wondered if in any other household someone with as terrible a record as mine would still be the preferred lawnmower – darn colorblind husband.fence post meets lawnmower blade

So, I removed the offending fence post, got back on and went back to work contemplating ways to avoid mowing.

Suddenly a six inch long, wiggly, black, object flew up in the air and landed on my lap.

After the initial shock, realization settled in.

I stopped.

And swore.

And wondered why I have never replaced my lawn with AstroTurf.

And bemoaned the fact that my least favorite chore now needs to happen on a weekly basis.

And mentally grumbled about a trip to the hardware store.

But then I realized that with one sleeping kid, one about to get on the bus to come home from school, two days of rain in the forecast and a shredded belt,  I had no time to make it to the hardware store. No time to mow any more lawn before the rains came and therefore no point in even attempting the lawn mower fix this afternoon.

It was a bad day for the lawnmower… a bad day for a lawnmower…but, I got to quit mowing for the afternoon.

And, no matter the condition of the lawnmower or how poorly the rest of the day went, I always consider not mowing the lawn to be a positive state of being.

Written in response to Prompts for the Promptless Episode 12 – Silver Linings hosted by Rarasaur.

I liked this prompt ,it is why I blog, to find the silver linings – well, that and to not become a ferret .

What Happens in May

What happens in May is that the lawnmower breaks.

Last May I wrote about the difficulties in fixing a lawn mower with help.  (You can read all about it here: New Respect)

This year the lawnmower had difficulties beyond my paltry mechanical skills so I laughed and took pictures while the girls helped John.

That was fun until he looked at me with this smile on his face and said something to the effect of…

….”If you don’t put your camera down and get YOUR girls out of here I’m going to feed them to the pigs, throw the lawn mower in the neighbors pond and run away to Acapulco.”

So the girls and I left him to his work and did the only other thing to do when the lawnmower is broken, we made dandelion crowns. Because when your grass has grown tall enough that you can lose a Great Dane in the yard (Really, it was that tall!) the dandelions have nice long stems for braiding!The lawn mower was back in service today and we finished mowing the lawn for the first time this afternoon!

Chatter Box

This was this mornings sunrise:

At the time I took that picture Ivy had already been talking for an hour.

Then we drove to Cabela’s in Indiana, and she talked the whole way…

We met Uncle Jim who gave Storm’s progress so far a thumbs up and John and I new instructions on her care, and Ivy kept talking…

We headed into Cabela’s where it’s impossible to lose her becuase even when she is a bit of a brat and hides, she can’t resist talking, so her hiding place only lasts for about 30 seconds…

We got back in the car for the three hour drive home, and she kept talking…

Clara took her third nap of the day, and Ivy kept talking…

Once we got home we repacked and headed out to enjoy the rest of the day, running for John and I and swing sets and slides for the girls, Ivy kept talking, but this time to other kids… I love other kids!

We drove back home, and Ivy kept talking…

I tried to run away from the chatter by mowing the lawn, (desperate times, call for desperate measures!) Ivy followed me.

Just as I was starting up the lawn mower she and her half eaten apple (thank you Uncle Jim and Callie) climbed up in my lap. So I stuffed my ear muffs on her head and off we went mowing the lawn, and Ivy kept talking. Fortunately for my sanity it was a brief attempt at talking, between the ear protection and the noise of the lawn mower she gave up and just sat on my lap munching away on her apple. Pretty soon I felt her start to slide off my lap, and I realized that when she stopped talking for the first time all day, she had finally let herself fall asleep. There Ivy was, sound asleep in my lap, ear muffs on, apple core clutched tight in one fist that was curled up under her chin like it was her favorite stuffed animal.

Confessions Of A Lawn Hater

It has been two weeks since I mowed the lawn.

Today while mowing the lawn I found a dead cat.

If that bothers you please stop reading I doubt this story is going to get any better.

Fortunately years of mowing at high speeds with minimal before mowing lawn pick-up have honed my swerving skills and I was able to stop next to the cat. It took me a good thirty seconds of staring to identify the flattish, orangeish, hairyish, splotch in my yard. Without the ear and tail I might have been stumped. So I probably don’t need to say this wasn’t a freshly dead cat.  The good news is that if you find a dead cat it gives you plenty to ponder while you finish mowing your lawn.

There are questions with probable answers:

-Where did it come from? I’m guessing the neighbors barn cat or a feral cat, there are lots of both around.

-Why is it in MY yard? Well cats do come through the yard occasionally although the dogs really dislike that and so it’s not real common.

-If John had been mowing would he have run it over? Probably, he is color blind and runs everything over with the lawnmower, a classic case of if I do it really badly I won’t have to do it anymore.

Questions that I can only guess at the answers:

-Did something kill that cat?

-Does that explain why I also lost three ducks while we were on vacation?

-Do things that eat ducks not eat cats?

-What is wrong with my dogs, that they haven’t noticed it?

-Thank goodness my dogs haven’t noticed it!

-Can I convince John that dead cat removal is a mans job?

And questions that might indicate I spent too much time in the sun:

-Would running over a dead cat be better than running over a pile of chain?

-Would I have to extract dead cat from the mower deck if I did that?

-Would that require taking off the deck?

-Does my Dad’s knowledge of lawnmower fixes include dead cat damage?

-Would anyone help me if that was my problem or would they just laugh?

And the biggest question of all:

-Why am I mowing a patch of lawn that we use so infrequently that it can have a very decomposed cat in it without anyone noticing?

New Respect Part II

If you remember a post awhile back called New Respect you’ll remember I was having a bit of trouble with my lawnmower. The reason I was re-attaching the cutting deck that day was that it had broken and my Dad had fixed it for us. When I got the lawnmower back up and running Dad cautioned me that because of the way he had fixed it I should be extra careful not to run over stumps or rocks.

So I didn’t. I ran over tractor tire chains… Turns out that’s just as bad as stumps and rocks.

Tonight we again unloaded a freshly fixed up lawnmower deck back from my Dad, (thanks Dad!) and needed to put it on the lawnmower.

Tonight the girls were already sleeping.

Tonight John was home.

Tonight it was back in the barn in 10 minutes.

He probably would have done it in five minutes had I not been helping!