It’s Too Bad I Can’t Mow at Night

Okay, I am too busy to be playing the middle between two lawn junkies. One keeps his at a constant three inches, the other keeps his so short that I’m not certain actual blades of grass are growing. I think he may have literally hit dirt, and one good dust-nado will take out whatever green is left of his lawn.
I like to keep my crop of earth somewhere in the middle of Naked and Manicured, and by middle, I mean: if my grass is around five inches tall, I consider it a win.
This morning, while driving back from dumping Bubs unceremoniously upon his hallowed educational grounds and returning to the house where a hot shower before work and hopefully some magical coffee which someone-other-than-me had procured — and there isn’t such a Someone, but a girl can dream — awaited, I mulled my To Do list.
Crestfallen, I realized the first thing on the list was the lawn.
Thanks to recent rains and a lack of interest on my part, I may have had substantial grassy growth in need of maintenance.
I thunked upon it: “Work all day. Bubs’ tae know do. Work next day. Bubs’ tae kwon do. Work some more. Dishes. Good night, work some more? Really? Then Bubs’ whatever-else-Bubs-has. Oh, and laundry. Crap, and more work! Therefore, I can schedule the lawn for…eleven days from now…or…” I realized, “This morning …meaning, two hours — one-and-a-half if I don’t shower, and oh, that can not happen — in which to mow.”
Recap: before work at 11, I need to have scalped the acreage.
I ran the numbers twice more, looking for a loophole. I had none.
So I did what any good mom does: I panicked, opening the garage to release the Deere and quickly ride the plains. Whew! And an hour to spare!
But in my Atta-Girl moment, I realized I’d forgotten the ditch, the seemingly endless ditch, waving its four foot tall fingers nearly beneath my nose in a taunting gesture. I wanted to return the favor with a digit of my own, but I didn’t.
The ditches require the push mower; therefore, I pushed.
Did I mention the wind? Or the dust? Or the endless stream of truckers doing whatever-they-do-in-the-Out-There during daylight hours honking repeatedly as they passed their gigantic truck tire mere inches from my struggling hide?
Annoying! Weird! Dangerous! But oddly flattering.
But no, no, random honking in the Out There was too strange to be complimentary.
And so I grumbled as I dodged and mowed, finally –finally! — finishing the task.
With the mechanical beasts back in their housing, I darted into the house, ran to the bathroom, started the shower, and just as I was searching for the clock to tell me the time, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror.
Oh.
Okay. So that’s why I received random attention from speeding vehicles.
Not complimentary.
And back to weird.
Because in the mirror was a dirty, wild-eyed female Disney villain wearing sleep pants, a questionably presentable t-shirt, and fuzzy dusty green-tinted houseslippers.
Huh.
And the hair. In art, it might be called something between Medusa and “Foliage Waving from the Ocean Floor.” Hair should not look like that. I was matted.
Needless to say, ego in check, I crawled into the shower, made myself presentable and walked out the front door with my newly coiffed head held high. Because, hey, I may be That Neighbor now, but my ditches look really good.
Plus I got to work five minutes early.
Plus plus…I finally got coffee.

Ah, May Day: the First of Mowing Season

So for a second year in a row, I decided against hiring a flock of goats to bring the house’s frontal expanse into order.
(Mostly because there’s no fence to hold them in; how do I know they wouldn’t literally find a greener pasture across the street, thus abandoning me for the friendly cow family luring the stupid Caprine family over for fresher grub? Then all the rental money would be gone…my grass would still be thigh-high, and suddenly my willy-nilly, ineffective lawn-eating team would end a year later with a new breed of cow-goat baby. Things just get out of hand when I try to incorporate livestock in my prairie world.)
It would have been so much simpler, yet my ineptitude with the ranching ability leaves me breathless. As it would a flock of goats. Thus, I’m considering myself a humanitarian by not involving fauna in my lawn fight.
Because it IS a fight. The grass grows, the mower blows — in the euphemistic way, I’m sad to proclaim — and still I must either cut the stuff…or move…and I hate packing.
OF COURSE the John Deere is ineffective. Because EVERY SPRING it has turned up its wheels and snubbed its hoodless, non-headlight-lit, battered face — really, it’s an ugly beast, even for a ten-year-old, lived-through-a-tornado mower — and pretended to be dead. The annual death ritual of this machine is more reliable than that rodent Phil “predicting” spring.
(Sorry, that sounded a bit cynical. It’s been a hard day.)
After futile attempts at resuscitation, including the infusion of three heavy gallons of gasoline, I had to concede that the Greene had “bit it” and borrow a mower yet again — fourth year in a row? fifth? — from my favorite dad-in-law, who is ever at  my rescue.
Thank God for generosity and kindness and knowing that girls can do anything, as long as you show them — yearly — how to reverse the trajectory in order to avoid ditches and hills that make me queasy and still not kill the mower.
Those are the essentials.
Fortunately, I had all three of those things.
And for two days, with Sam’s ears a-floppin’ and his claws a-diggin’ trenches into my legs for purchase, we mowed the afternoon hours away. Sure, we swore, we got a tiny bit stuck — no one saw; there were no witnesses — and we bogged down a few times, because the prairie endured torrential April rains that brought May weeds, the kind that grow in protective clumps that require scything and baling, but the lawn tractor would have to do — who needed a dumb ol’ goat? — because Sam looked so cute.
That’s right, I blame my aged, tiny, sweetest-ever dog for the continual backing up, moving forward, backing up, moving forward action required to bring the grass down, severing the stems to a minimal height amongst mounds of shorn trimmings.
How can one scythe, though necessity begs for it, when one has a pooch upon her lap?
She can’t.
Thus, we mowed. Sam’s ears flapped, I swore only a little, and we enjoyed the full throttle action that only Dad’s mower has, as the dead John Deere has no horse, no power, and no speed even if it’s upright and breathing. I really should bury the thing, but man, that sounds like so much work.
As an extra “Atta-Girl” Bonus today, I also gardened. I planted the remains of several unknown vegetable species that once stood proudly within my baby greenhouse, but now look severed somehow, as nine baby chicks found their wings, flew to heights I did not know they could reach, and ate every green leaf of every plant they flapped into.
And then the snake came, for the second time this year.
To sum up:
Lawn: 1, Sam and I, zero; except in the cuteness factor, because in the ability to look adorable, we totally dominated over the lawn. (In fact, the yard looks like a verdant 3-acre expanse of Super Cuts flooring; hundreds of clumps of rolling bits of clippings moving with the winds; unsightly, true, but no longer attached to the parent plant, which is all that matters right this moment.)
Chickens: 9. The odds weren’t ever in my favor. (Geek literary reference there, sorry.) Yeah, they won, but someday I might have leafy greens again, given enough Miracle Gro, and by golly, as soon as I recognize something, I’m pulling out the Labeler and going to town with defining nomenclature: Tomatoes, Brussel Sprouts; Bell Pepper (though frankly, they kind of all look alike at the beginning to me; might have to wait for actual food before I label anything properly)
Snakes: 2. BUT. I did NOT lose to the snakes. It so serendipitous-ly, serpentine-ly, happened that at the exact moment I was through with my current task, a snake slithered by on his way to den for the evening. Twice. And both times, after the initial appearance, it so happened that within fractions of a second later, I needed to make for the inside of the house as though I were on fire and only the interior side of the front door could save me.  All serendipity; the fates at work. Planets aligning, and all that crap.
Goats: However many it would take to shear. But I did consider that if I had the goats do the initial job, I could get a miniature donkey for summer maintenance. (They’re so cute!) But it was a brief, rambling thought that didn’t last long once I remembered I have a Killer Scout the Moose Dog that takes down any living thing deemed valuable to me. (Sad but alas, ’tis true.)
Heroes: 1. Total Dad Hero today. Plus I housed the mighty machine within the bowels of the garage because of even more impending rain. AND filled it with gas. Go, me. Good daughter.
Back Fat: 1…hundred pounds…of new rolls I didn’t remember from last season’s lawn season. Brownies were tasty this winter; now the tractor will have to wiggle them off. It’s a movable Tan ‘N Tone, isn’t it, this riding mower?

So maybe I didn’t score well, but the lawn is cut, the neighbors might concede that it looks better and thus not be ashamed to share a fence any longer, and hey, I still have my cute pup.
I win.

 

Ah, the First Day of Lawn Season

The first day I had available to work in the yard for the first time in the first day of the Spring season: ninety-five degrees with thirty mile-per-hour wind gusts.
Did I let that stop me? But should I have?
Plus, my Wyoming Woodsmen are visiting this weekend. People shouldn’t see my yard the way it was.
Ergo.
End result: after four and one half arduous hours, I can proudly show off this one tiny quadrant of flower bed, as it’s the only part photo-worthy.
Day Two of Spring brought three hours of push-mowing, as the tractor is down for the time. I learned how to service my push mower — quite proud of that — and got her going, then ran her horizontally for-seeming-ever, thought I’d mowed for miles; all the while I thought of “Cool Hand Luke,” moving the hole from one side to the other and back again.
“Luke did it,” I coached myself. “He wouldn’t let a manic Pekingese running across his hard work bother him; he wouldn’t worry about the tornadic wind gusts; he wouldn’t worry that he’s lost feeling in his toes and stopped sweating a half hour ago! Mow, woman, mow!”
Halfway across my industrious efforts, I wondered, “Did Newman have a stunt guy dig that hole? Yes. And even if he didn’t, was he in better condition than I’ve ever been in my life? Yes. And do I have Newman’s icy blue eyes with which to wheedle another schmuck into doing this laborious task? No.”
And at that moment, I released the mower to the wild. “You’re free! Run! Go, Mr Mower!”
He sat idly staring at me with his giant back wheels as though he wasn’t the one to give in.
The Pekignese peed on it.
I went for a beer.
And Advil.
This morning, I considered burning the lawn.