Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Spring and Broken Lawnmowers

I got back from an amazing trip to Sitka and a fun visit with Sarah in Kettle Falls and felt overwhelmed at the tasks that needed to get done at our homestead.  While I was in Alaska Spring sprang in Kettle Falls.  All the trees leafed out.  The daffodils gave way to colorful tulips and the grass grew about 6 inches.
Daffodils!  They were my wedding flower!  I'm so happy they're here in our garden!

Tulips mean spring, right?
Now since about March I told Jason that we should get a lawnmower and he kept insisting that we should just call our lawn area "The Meadow" and let the grass grow.  Even though we fenced in a 100' X 50' area for our garden, there is still a LOT of lawn left.  I have never really had a lawn before and felt strongly that we should have some area that would be called lawn and would not have tall plants on it.  So I started looking at lawn mowers.  I really believe in limiting fossil fuel consumption so my first thought was to buy a reel mower-powered just by my legs and arms.  We ended up buying THIS one and with a little help from my friend Sarah I used it to mow our lawn.  Now I thought that I was in decent shape, but pushing this lawn mower is a lot of hard work.  It also fell out of allignment pretty quickly (our lawn isn't flat) and not all of the blades would cut, which meant that I had to cut each row 2 or 3 times to get all of the grass cut.  It tooke me 3 days, working about 4 hours each day, to get the lawn mowed.  I thought that the next time would be easier because I wouldn't let the grass get so tall.  So a few days after finishing I took the lawn mower out again.  On my first pass I ran over a rock and bent one of the blades. It was barely working after that I got frustrated and decided to quit. 

A few days later Jason and I decided to rent a lawnmower from our local rental place in Colville.  At $10/hour, it would help us figure out what we liked and/or wanted.  And in the intervening days our grass was once again about 6 inches tall.  I got the lawnmower home and started mowing.  It was self propelled and I was LOVING it!  It cut the grass short; it wasn't hard to push; and, I didn't have to stop every 5 miunutes to catch my breath.  About 10 minutes into mowing, the machine just stopped.  I checked the grass bag and it was stuffed full.  I emptied the bag into our compost bin, turned the mower over to clean it out, and decided to leave off the bag and just let the grass collect where it was cut.  When I started the mower up again, it almost immediately turned off.  Without the bag, the grass didn't have anywhere to go and it was just getting caught in the machinery.  I cleaned up the bottom of the the mower again and reattached the bag.  Every 5-10 minutes I had to stop to empty the bag.  It was annoying but I was trying to think of all the good nitrogen for the compost.  About 1/3 done with the lawn, the mower died and refused to start again.  I called the rental company and tried to troubleshoot over the phone.  In the end when I brought the mower back, they told me that the grass had clogged the machinery and would need to be cleaned out.  After breaking two lawnmowers, I decided that maybe Jason is right, maybe we will just have a meadow and not a lawn. 
Can you see where the lawnmower quit working?

Another edge where the lawnmower stopped working
So I guess this is our "meadow," with the garden in the background.

Does anyone know how to turn bluegrass into something low growing that wouldn't need to be mowed?  Next year we plan on having chicken tractors, maybe I can plant some sort of low growing plant after the chickens have scratched up all the grass.  Any ideas? 

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