Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘power trimmer

Getting Orange

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Things are growing more orange around here. Yesterday at breakfast, Cyndie called me to come look at the difference in color of our eggs, compared to the ones purchased at the grocery store. Looks like the free-range diet of our three chickens is producing deep color in the yolks, seen on the right, below.

We spent the Labor Day holiday doing a lot of work, for a day off. Starting with a couple of hours cleaning out the compost area, using the loader bucket on the diesel tractor. There’s now plenty of room to store a winter’s worth of manure, just in case winter gets around to showing up.

Then we split up and Cyndie used the power trimmer in the labyrinth, while I entered a race against time to get the hayfield mowed before it rained.

Looking back toward the horses, I spotted another splash of orange color erupting from the green of our tree line.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like September.

At the end of a long day’s effort, we put our tools away and headed for the house under the drops of a perfect late-summer rain shower.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Trusting Intuition

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Yesterday, I wrenched success from the jaws of failure after I reacted thoughtfully and purposefully to the engine failure of our lawn tractor in the middle of mowing the hill of our back yard. With barely a minute of pause to simply sit and contemplate the predicament, I decided to spring into action. I was racing the weather.

After a quick test to see if I could push the tractor uphill, I went to get the ATV and a nylon tow rope. It was possible that the mower was just low on gas, but it was way too soon to have used the entire tank, based on previous experience. I was concerned that maybe the engine was working harder than usual and burning more fuel. That deserved attention.

There was evidence to support this possibility. You see, I was in a hurry to beat the coming rain, so I started early enough in the day that the dew had not dried off the grass. There were sticky wads of wet cuttings littering the lanes where the mower had already passed. It was likely the bottom of the deck had become caked with dirt and grass that was severely hampering the efficiency of the whole operation.

Despite the time pressure of impending precipitation, I disconnected the deck to pull it out and flip it over to clear the debris. Working quickly, I did a perfectly imperfect job of sufficiently completing that task. With the deck out, I wanted to grease the three spindles, but remembered I hadn’t reloaded the grease gun last time it sputtered out on me.

What better time than right then. Usually, for this kind of task that I rarely deal with, I struggle to recall how I did it last time, and make six mistakes before figuring out the simple technique. Yesterday, my intuition was strong, and I got it right, first try.

About then, Cyndie arrived to report the line on the power trimmer had run out. I popped off the spool for her, grabbed some remaining lengths of nylon line I’d been wanting to use up, and wound both the upper and lower spools without my usual mistake of starting with the wrong one first.

Since I had the nozzle on the compressor hose to blow off the mower deck, I also blew off the business end of the trimmer for Cyndie and sent her on her way before finishing the task of remounting the deck under the tractor.

We were both back to work after minimal delay and the lawn tractor worked like almost new.

Honestly, the smooth sailing I experienced was in sharp contrast to the norm of multiple struggles to make minimal progress. Tasks certainly do get incrementally easier with repetition.

Despite the unplanned delay right in the middle of mowing, I squeaked out finishing the entire job just as the first drops of rain arrived.

Now, if only this run of success will carry on into figuring out why the pond pump doesn’t turn on again after Cyndie shut it off to clean the intake filter.

Come on intuition, stay with me…

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

Partial Trim

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The weather yesterday after work wasn’t conducive to getting a lot of mowing done with the tractor, as storms bobbed along in the thick atmosphere and brought frequent rain showers to the region. As a result, I opted to get out the trimmer to clean up some fence line because that tool is quick to start and easy to maneuver if/when precipitation arrives.

I barely made it through one tank of gas when rain clouds interrupted my progress, which left the back pasture fence line only half done.

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Getting caught up with all the mowing and trimming that needs to happen will occur in small steps this week, between occasional showers and thunderstorms. My plan is to take advantage of short blocks of time by doing a little bit of work whenever I can fit it in.

Oh, and to also stay home all weekend to maximize my availability for getting things done.

Even if it is only partial progress, it is better than none at all.

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Written by johnwhays

July 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Growing Hope

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Our hope is growing for the maple tree we transplanted to the center of the labyrinth. If you are keeping score, this is the 4th time we have tried to move a maple sapling from beneath one of the character-filled old giants lining the driving path along the back pasture fence line.

This tree is currently holding its leaves longer into the summer than any of the previous attempts did. Between our extra effort and the favorable weather conditions this year, I’m finally allowing myself to hope this one will take, maybe even flourish!

It’s funny how much I want certain things to grow, while at the same time wishing others wouldn’t. It would be just great if the weeds currently sprouting in the hay-field would just take the rest of the summer off. I’d love it if the tree-climbing vines would cease and desist. And the poison ivy that is thriving here could make me very happy if it would just shrivel up and die.

Maybe I should try to transplant the things I don’t want. I could do a mediocre job and watch them wilt away.

Do plants fall for reverse psychology?

The growth along the fence lines has been neglected for too long and has become both a nuisance and an eyesore. Cyndie, back when she had the use of both arms, was doing a heroic job of landscape maintenance using the Stihl power trimmer. In her absence, the fence lines have been ignored, as I’ve been putting my focus on the lawn and the main part of the fields.

As it is, I haven’t even kept up with the fields. There is still one section of pasture that I haven’t cut all summer, and it has gotten about as overgrown as possible.

Even though I am behind on the mowing, it occurred to me last night that we shouldn’t feel too bad about the state of things. Over the last two weekends, we have given up over 4 days to entertainment activities which borrowed entirely from time I would have been tackling chores on the property.

It appears that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to interfering with my ability to get things done. I better review Wintervale’s time-off policy and see if there has been a violation of the guidelines.

Now, if I could only figure out where the HR department is around here…

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Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2017 at 6:00 am

Flirting Disaster

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You’d think I would know better. Well, I hope you would. I think I should know better, …than to take ill-advised risks around the poison ivy on our property.

On Saturday, I knew the time to put a large effort into work around the property was limited. I would need to have a couple hours to clean up and drive to my high school reunion, so I wanted to avoid wasting any time. I held myself to a tight schedule and moved from one thing to the next based on time, not on completing the job.

I figured getting multiple things partially done was the best goal for the day.

After moving some compost, I grabbed the power trimmer and headed up to the north pasture to put some finishing touches on that bad haircut of a mowing job. Mostly, I needed to knock down the grass around each of the many evergreen trees.

It was hot, and I was lathered in a soaking sweat before I even started. As the spinning nylon line shredded every growing thing in its path, the plant shrapnel started to stick to my exposed skin.

Can you see where this is headed?

Oh yeah, I came upon poison ivy mixed in with the grass under the trees. A smarter person might have stopped right there and taken precautions.

My neck began to itch, and I knew it was too soon to be a reaction to poison ivy, but it got my attention. Just sweat alone is a trigger to scratch, but the addition of innocuous debris would cause an itch. Still, I was hesitant about reaching up to touch it, lest I rub a possible exposure into my sweating pores.

Since I was already covered and sweating, I decided to just forge ahead and be as careful as possible. When it was time to stop, I carefully made my way inside, peeled off the soaked work clothes and scrubbed in the shower with oil-busting soaps.

By last night it was apparent disaster had not been averted. Arms and neck are showing signs of what I would classify as a significant reaction.

Why didn’t I stop as soon as I realized the situation I was in? I wish I knew.

Maybe I’m trying to teach myself a lesson. I’ll let you know if, as the rash runs its course for the next couple of weeks or so, I experience any insight from this disaster with which it appears I’ve done way too much flirting.

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 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

Cutting Grass

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Sure, I spent most of Friday mowing the hay-field, and then Saturday I mowed the lawn, but those two projects were easy compared to the work involved in cutting the overgrown grass in the labyrinth on Sunday. The growth since Cyndie last mowed was as thick as it was long. Seriously, I wondered if maybe she had skipped parts of it, because it was hard to imagine that much growth in such a short time.DSCN5013e

I paused for a photo when there was just a small strip left, just like we had done out on the hay-field.

Because it was so long, I was using our power trimmer to do the cutting. When possible, we use a reel mower that just fits between the rocks. At the rate things grow around here, I’m thinking we should keep our eyes out for reel mower with an engine to see if we can find one that would still fit the narrow path.

We would like to keep the grass cut putting-green short.

In a surprising shift from my previous mindset of being small-gas-engine-averse, we have had enough luck with the power equipment we have acquired thus far, that I am much more willing to consider the idea now.

There are just too many acres to manage and too many tasks that need to get done, to rely too heavily on human-power (even if it’s still my preference).

It helps that I have grown accustomed to wearing hearing protection, which takes the edge off.

That said, I still refuse to use a blower to clear leaves or clean sidewalks and driveways. Ain’t gonna happen.

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Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2016 at 6:00 am