The list of excuses for why I've been scarce around here this fall is about as long as our average winter, but suffice to say we've been busy. Mostly cow and horse stuff, but also trying to clean the place up a little before the snow came to stay. For a person who isn't all that fond of yard work, I seem to have an annoying habit of ending up with a lot of it. Which wouldn't be so bad if I also had a tendency to acquire the proper equipment for doing said yard work. Alas, not so, until recently.
My yard woes started in South Dakota, when I married a man who lived on twenty acres out in the countryside. The lawn itself was at least an acre. Then there was another three acres surrounding it that grew up in waist high grass and six foot tall kochia weeds if left untended. Now, I'm not over and above letting things go, but in the eastern South Dakota humidity mosquitoes can breed in the dew on tall grass, and let's not even talk about the ticks. Keeping a decent yard turned out to be an act of survival.
Luckily, I had a self-propelled lawn mower. And no, that doesn't mean I propelled it myself. The first time my brand new husband dragged this thing out of the weeds behind the shop, I was dubious at best. The Mows-All was built sometime in early years of the industrial revolution, and consisted of what looked like a motorcycle engine mounted on a flat platform that sat a good foot off the ground with the fully exposed blade whirling beneath. It had a drive chain hooked to the rear wheels, but no throttle to speak of. We had 'Go' and we had 'Stop'. And when you stuck it in 'Go' you'd better have a good hold, because it would jerk you off your feet.
One thing I will say for the Mows-All, it performed as advertised. It could—and did—chew through anything. Dense grass, kochia with stems the size of your thumb, medium-sized trees, hoses, stray fence posts and random pieces of old farm equipment. Didn't matter if you saw them coming, at the rate of speed we were usually traveling you couldn't stop or turn the thing in time to avoid 'em anyway. As my husband pointed out, though, it did eliminate a lot of clutter around the yard, and what with manhandling it all summer I saved a fortune in gym memberships.
Flash forward to this past spring. We bought a rental property in town, and just our luck it sits on three full lots of mostly grass. Oh, goody. Yard work. We immediately started shopping for a riding mower and decided this time, we'd go top of the line. It was wonderful. Not least because our own house sits in my mother's back yard, which is slightly smaller than a state park with equally as many trees.
Come fall, we zipped back to the John Deere dealership and picked up a leaf blower attachment, which was equally amazing, although it did strike me as odd that I, who believes dim lighting is the key to keeping a house looking livable, was out vacuuming the lawn. I was determined to do as little actual raking as possible, so I cut as close around the trees as I could. This worked fine as long as I was circling counter-clockwise, but then I swapped directions, which put the leaf blower on the side toward the tree.
In case you've never seen one, a tractor-mounted leaf blower is basically a large hose that hooks on where the grass shoots out down on the bottom of the mower and curves up and around to dump the stuff into a bin behind where the driver sits. The hose comes apart so you can easily clear any blockages, such as a big ol' dog bone that got stuck in there sideways. Unfortunately, it also comes apart if you hook it on something.
Say, a tree branch.
The hose came undone at a point just behind my right shoulder and tipped toward me, shooting dry leaf mulch straight at the back of my head, down both the front and back of my shirt, even down the back of my pants. Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like the sensation of shredded leaf bits and pine needles forcibly injected into your butt crack.
I bailed off the mower, pawing at my clothes, but I couldn't shake any of it loose. Luckily, I live in the middle of nowhere and the rest of the family was out and about. But just in case the Google Earth satellite happened to be passing over, taking snapshots for all the world to see, now you know why I was dancing around the backyard in my underwear.