Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘mowing

Beating Heat

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Although Arabian horses were bred to perform under harsh desert conditions, the humidity that we get with our high heat is enough to make all species a little irritated. In the summer, we offer our horses a warm dusty breeze that moves enough air to toss their manes and chase off some flies.

It actually seems like little comfort, blowing hot, humid air, but Legacy has taken a particular liking to it.

Delilah prefers to lay on the cool tile in the house. Her fur coat doesn’t allow for wind to be much help. Luckily, she is a big fan of sprayed water from the hose, so we can shrink her coat dramatically by getting her wet.

We are arriving upon my last weekend before the annual June biking and camping week. I will be looking for a way to spend some time on the bike seat without putting myself at risk of heat stroke. It would be really helpful if I could rig up a mount on my tractor instead, so I could sit on my bike seat while mowing the lawn.

Speaking of mowing, I will be picking up the old Craftsman rider from the shop this morning. Now I can return the borrowed John Deere and get back to my own rig. I’ll be able to find out if it runs well under intense heat, that’s for sure.

The summer heat has brought out the lightning bugs. With the strawberry moon glowing brilliantly last night, the neon green flashes dancing above the tall grasses made for a glorious nighttime walk with Delilah as I rolled the trash and recycling bins down to the road.

George has come back for the weekend while he is serving his farrier clients in the region. I tended to the horses while he trimmed our herd after dinner. Cayenne is making good progress. He removed her shoes and left her bare foot again.

It may be hot, but things here are actually running pretty cool.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2017 at 6:00 am

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

Candle, Burning

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Ends, both.

I’m gaining some sense of what life is like for a lot of the farmers around here. Most of them whom we have come to know have non-farming jobs in addition to the crop and livestock work they do.

My day-job has gotten so intense, I’m puttin’ in hours today, even though it’s Friday, a day I don’t usually go in. At the same time, our ranch work is peaking, with the unbelievable spring growth about doubling the size of green things every two days.

The second I got home on Wednesday, I hopped on the borrowed John Deere lawn tractor and struggled till dusk to knock down the too long and too thick grass that hadn’t been cut since the old Craftsman engine popped a gasket two weeks ago.

Yesterday, same routine, different tractor. I walked in the door from work, stripped off the clean clothes and donned the grubs to crank up the brush cutter on the diesel. It was dry enough to cut the hay-field. Not for hay, but for the sake of mowing down weeds before they can mature.

We plan to mow that field short all summer long, hoping to give the grass a better chance at beating out the weeds. It’s a simple method that we have chosen in place of applying chemical weed killers. Just requires a little more patience, and an alternate source of hay bales for a year. We think we have both.

What I don’t have is, enough sleep.

Luckily, I’ve got incredible support from Cyndie, the energizer bunny. She is doubling her efforts to tend to the trimming up and down fence lines, while caring for all the animals, maintaining the labyrinth, buying supplies, Avenging poison ivy, watering and feeding our transplanted maple tree, and keeping me indescribably well fed.

Speaking of caring for our animals, I caught a picture of her the other day, giving Legacy a massage. That was about the same time I spotted the chickens hanging out on the bottom board of the paddock fence.

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That’s all I have time for. There’s work to be done!

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Written by johnwhays

June 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

Goal Achieved

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I was wearing a short-sleeve tee-shirt and mowing grass in the warm afternoon sunshine on November 1st. Whaaaaat?

It’s for real. Of course, I also then went inside and watched some baseball on television afterward. It’s like a summer with no end. Something tells me it might make winter’s inevitable arrival come on with an abrupt switch when it finally hits.img_ip1764e

So, my main motivation to get out on the lawn tractor was to test out my latest landscaping efforts and see how navigable the path around the southern fence lines is.

It worked! Not flawlessly, but it did work. I have wanted to accomplish this goal for a long time, so this was very satisfying.

There are two spots in particular where I needed to get off the tractor to lift it over a too-steep hazard where there are runoff trenches across the path. If I want to be able to drive across these, I’m going to need to modify them to create much more gradual sloping edges.

That can be done, but it’s not imperative that it happen right away. I’m kinda hoping our grass will stop growing and the snow season will arrive soon enough that I won’t need to be driving around there again until next spring.

img_ip1772eAfter I completed a return trip along that fence line, I turned the corner and was headed toward the labyrinth garden. There, I discovered two deer casually grazing the variety of growing treats within. They looked up at me with mild curiosity, surveying my approach. It surprised me a bit that they didn’t act alarmed or run off.

So I just kept rolling toward them, pulling out my phone to see if I could capture them in a picture to share with Cyndie.

They’re there, but the natural concealment of their coloring is very noticeable, because they are mostly not!

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Written by johnwhays

November 2, 2016 at 6:00 am

Shaping Terrain

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dscn5371eDespite the sprinkling rain that pestered most of the day yesterday, I decided to try moving some dirt and turf from the drainage ditch along our southern property line to the adjacent sloped path.

When the new fence was installed and the drainage ditch improved, there wasn’t much width remaining beside a little bend in the fence. It was an impediment to being able to use the tractor to mow that section of path around the outside of the hay-field fence.

Originally, I envisioned using the loader on the tractor to dig out the sediment that has been accumulating in the ditch, but it hasn’t been dry enough to do that for months.

Since I was already working along that fence line this weekend, I decided to see what I could accomplish using a shovel to dig it out by hand. It was a little messy, and a bit tedious, but it was probably a better method for then using the material removed to improve the path.

Using blocks of dirt and turf that I could barely lift with the shovel, I built up the low side until it was wide enough to fit at least the lawn tractor, for now. Might be dicey fitting the diesel around that bend.

The strip around the fence only received infrequent attention and would grow tall and thick, so I had been mowing navigable portions with the brush cutter. Now that I will be able to drive the lawn tractor around, it will be convenient enough that I can keep it cut short all the time.

Well, as short at the rest of the lawn, which all grows so fast that short is a relative term.

With that little narrow bend of path fixed, there was only one other barrier remaining to allow driving the full circumference of our horse-fenced fields. Back in the corner by the woods there is an old ravine that was created by years of water runoff. Previous owners had dumped a lot of old broken up concrete in it to slow the erosion.

We have created a better defined intentional swale a short distance above that directing the bulk of energized flow into the main drainage ditch. It crossed my mind to fill in the ravine, but some water still wants to follow the ease of that natural route and I’d rather not fight it.dscn5373e

Simple solution: a bridge. For now, nothing fancy. I used a few left over fence posts and then broke down and actually purchased additional lumber to make it wide enough to drive across.

I placed them across the washout yesterday in the rain, leaving the task of cutting a notch in the dirt on each side to level them for today.

Then I will be driving to the airport to pick up George and Anneliese. I’ve come to the end of my solo weekend on the ranch. They are going to return the favor of airport transport after midnight tonight when Cyndie arrives home from Guatemala, so I can get some sleep before the start of my work week.

I’m looking forward to having everyone home again.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2016 at 9:15 am

Uncharacteristic Wetness

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Over and over, day after day, waves of precipitation have been dumping rain on top of the rain from the day before. Even though we might get a couple of dry days every so often between the waves, it hasn’t been enough time for the ground to drain.

This isn’t the kind of weather we usually get at this time of year. In my lifetime, the middle of summer would be when lawns started to turn brown and required watering. As fall arrived, the creek beds and swamps would all be dry.

That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore. Last year, I was surprised that I had to keep mowing the lawn just as frequently in the fall as I did in the spring. Now it is happening again, although this year it is even worse. I can’t keep up with mowing the fast-growing grass because the rain has been too persistent.

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The wetness this year has led to the dermatitis our horses are dealing with, and yesterday I noticed the excessive moisture is starting to show up on the house and garage. The step to the front door of our house stayed wet along the seam and was showing signs of moss growth. The stones along the base of the garage are turning green with algae.

It feels like the climate is changing.

I wonder if anyone is looking into the possibility.

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Written by johnwhays

September 10, 2016 at 6:00 am

Very Wet

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DSCN5081eYesterday was a beautiful day and we spent the middle hours of it in moderate traffic driving home from the lake. I don’t know why it didn’t bother me more to have driven up to that beautiful place and then experience most of the time confined indoors due to incredibly wet weather. When it finally turned nice, we were packing up and driving home.

For some reason, I didn’t mind one bit.

Just like that, we were home and it was back to the regular routine. I finished the day mowing our grass. The ground was completely saturated in many areas, surprisingly so in the back yard, to the point that the mower left muddy tire tracks in its wake. There is standing water in multiple places, which I needed to navigate around instead of cutting.

I’m looking forward to the few days of dry weather being forecast for the beginning of this week.

The signal booster I ordered last week is scheduled to arrive Wednesday. Getting it installed and calibrated will become my primary objective on Friday if the weather permits.

If it works as intended, it should significantly reduce the time it takes for me to load photos and program my daily posts. I’m hoping to convert the precious freed up minutes into added sleep time.

Getting more sleep will be a welcome change to my daily routine. I’m hoping my posts will begin to reflect it with a little bit less sleep-typing going on during the processsssssss.

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Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2016 at 6:00 am