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.

*sigh*

I love the Steiner but I still hate mowing.

 

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Summer Heat

I’m not a big fan of summer. Here, where we have four distinct and wildly different seasons (Mud, Jungle, Perfect and Cold), it doesn’t even make it into my top two.

In the winter when temperatures dip down low I go outside and instantly wake up. The frigid air is bracing making certain I know I’m alive. I’m ready to explore and go and do and conquer the world! Or at least have a quick adventure before I go read a book during the extra long night.

In the summer I go outside and the heat feels nice.

For 37 seconds.

Then I melt into a puddle.

A puddle of lethargy and

apathy

and

despair

and

sweat

and

never

want

to

move

again.

But, there are things in the summer worth fighting the heat for. Beach visits, canoe trips and swimming pools (which not coincidentally are all things that involve water where one can cool off) and a few non-watery activities like picking these:

For a bucketful of wild black raspberries I’ll sweat and swat bugs for a long time. Well, at least twenty minutes.

I’m not a big fan of summer.

But, today the girls and I ate wild black raspberry pie with ice cream for a late, lazy, summer breakfast and summer seemed just fine.

 

Flying Through Summer

I’m flying through summer sort of like this Purple Martin. 

It might not be prudent to fly for too long without looking where you are headed but when there is so much going on around you how do you even have time to look ahead to the next week?

Tonight was the first night in the 16 days the kids have been off school that I’ve had a breather to look around and start picking up the house… and the garage… and the yard… and the trucks…

It was like an archaeological dig.

On top of the couch was the bag of dress clothes I wore to the funeral of a family friend this morning. Hiding under that was the miscellaneous items the kids dropped on their way in the door from the summer solstice party we were at yesterday. The garage was heaped with the camping things from earlier in the week. And under it all was a thick layer of capoeira debris from a solid week of workshops and events. Drum making materials mixed with extra instruments on the mantel, cord dying equipment still on the table, boxes of un-sold shirts by the stove and stinky workout clothes in all the corners. Feed for the new goslings can be found under the camping equipment in the garage. And if you dig deep enough in the truck you can still find the remains of the tools we brought north to build bunk beds at the family cabin. Buried beneath it all on the table was a mountain of papers the girls brought home on the last day of school.

The fridge is mostly devoid of food and the laundry, clean and dirty, is piled high. But the good times have been plentiful and now I’ll have some time to work on the mess we left in our wake…

 

… but first I have two weddings to celebrate…

 

Cornfields and Clouds

Cornfields and clouds.

The overpowering green, the heat and dripping humidity, the drone of the insects, the clouds’ promise of thunderstorms. – It’s not actually my favorite time of year. I prefer the cool changing colors of fall, the sharpness of winter’s cold and even the new surprises of spring. But, the sight of cornfield and clouds, is one of those images, smells, and sounds, or, in this case, all three that speak of home. Not “home” as in where I grew up or “home” as in where I live now but both and more. Even as I sweat, swat bugs and dream of the first snowfall, a view like this never fails to loosen a part of me.

A breath released that I didn’t know I was holding.

And I feel myself settle into my own skin just a bit further knowing that I am where I belong.

Sometimes John and I talk about moving, when I dream of longer, colder winters and he dreams of surfboards and mountains… …but I’m not sure I could ever truly settle in a place without these cornfields and clouds.

It’s Not Summer Until…

It’s not summer until the catalpa tree blooms.

At least, that’s what my mom told me.

Now, when asked, she doesn’t remember telling me that. Of course she figures since she said it, and since the catalpas do often bloom right around the first day of summer, that it must be true. (That’s my mother for you.)

Mom said, (even if she doesn’t remember) that it’s not the hot days, that getting out of school isn’t the key and that you’ll only know it’s really summer once the catalpas turn white.

As a girl I remember feeling the hot sun, and thinking it must finally be summer, then checking the trees and realizing it hadn’t started quite yet. It was never a disappointment, just a fact. If the catalpas weren’t flowering, it was just a warm spring.  Days of rolling down hills until dark, playing in the lake and catching fireflies were yet to come.

Then when they did bloom – now it was summer. Sometimes we would pick the flowers and string them into necklaces but for the most part I just remember that soft internal sigh, the feeling you get when things click into place and everything makes sense, at least for a time.

The catalpas were blooming.

Summer was back again and with it, no school, no shoes, just the joys of long summer days.

Today, my girls and I were helping out my grandparents for the day and saw the catalpas in full bloom. And even though my summers now come with more duties instead of less, and even though this summer is starting out even crazier and busier than normal, and even though I know the first day of summer isn’t actually until next week, and even though I now know that while my mom remembers braiding catalpa blooms into her horse’s mane and tail as the summery-est activity she can think of and she doesn’t remember imparting this wisdom to me that I have held close all my life…

Despite all of that.

I saw the catalpa trees in bloom today and while my grown-up life tried it’s hardest to throw it’s responsibilities in the way, I still felt the excitement that comes with the start of summer.

The catalpas are blooming!

Let summertime begin!


Well… the catalpas were blooming last week, I did mention this summer is starting off crazy right?

Do you ever wonder what sort of off-hand comment your kids will pick up and hold dear to their hearts forever? I started thinking about it,  and have decided I wouldn’t recommend it.  If you are anything like me, you make a lot of random comments that shouldn’t go down in history as family lore!

Except for the catalpa trees and summer but there is nothing random about that.  

That’s just a fact of life. 

Concert in the Park

Six thirty on a Friday night found us at our local park just as The Dang-Its started playing.Concert in the park

We sat in the sun, under the first blue sky in days, and pulled out our picnic supper.  The next few hours were spent just as lazy summer evenings should be; lounging on the grass with friends, cold drinks in hand watching the kids run circles around us.DSCN8817-(2sm)

Long past bedtime the band packed up and we drove our sleepy girls home under the last pink of the sunset.

Ahh , summer nights!

I’m linking up with Northwest Frame of Mind tonight and her 1 Day 1 World project. Click over to see what else was happening around the world in the six o’clock hour!