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He Maketh me to Drive in Circles in Green Pastures

August 30th, 2017

The New Adventures of Tractor Boy

I received a pleasant reminder tonight. You can’t enjoy living in Ocala unless you go outside.

For the last ten days or so, I’ve been living like a cockroach, shunning the light and sitting indoors, working on an endless stream of unexpected problems. I kept wanting to go out to the shop and enjoy it, but I put it off. Always busy or tired.

Tonight I got a little time to myself, and I went out to look things over. The other day I managed to get the garden tractor running, and I butchered the yard, but it wasn’t very relaxing. I was nervous about running into things, and I didn’t know how to run the machine, and then, of course, it started raining. Tonight was a little different.

The property has one side which is woods and another side which is pasture. The pasture is getting overgrown, and it makes me nervous. I don’t know anything about farming, but I know you don’t want three-foot-high grass and weeds in a pasture, and I don’t know how a bush hog will feel about cutting it when it gets too tall. There is also a small pasture behind the house, and it was getting tall, too.

I decided to mow the “road”(grass track) that runs from the house end of the property to the end of the pasture, down by the highway. After some confusion and false starts, I got the John Deere running and took off.

I don’t know if you’re supposed to mow foot-high grass with a garden tractor, but I was not ready to risk death on the farm tractor, and I figured I could get away with cutting a narrow swath. We have a twenty-foot-wide circular burn area in the big pasture, and I decided to mow around that, too, so I wouldn’t have to walk through a jungle to burn limbs.

When we bought this land, I thought mowing was one of the major down sides. Boy, was I wrong. It’s very relaxing, and it puts you in contact with the nature you paid for. I spend about two hours zipping around in my Rural King hat and my Gun Muffler ear protectors. I didn’t stop until it was too dark to mow safely. The tractor has headlights, and I actually used them.

It’s very satisfing, seeing a scary overgrowth of weeds and grass lie down in an orderly, sheared carpet of green. You can walk in mowed grass. You don’t have to worry as much about snakes and other critters surprising you. You can see where to put your foot when you walk. When you mow, you show that someone is in control and that he cares.

I learned a number of things. First of all, when you mow in a spiral, you want the grass to shoot out of the outer side of the tractor. You don’t want to shoot it into an area you’ll have to mow on your next pass. If you do that, you keep piling mown grass up in the center of your spiral, and the mower has to deal with it over and over. It kills your speed.

I also learned that evenings are the best time to mow. Either that or early in the morning. The sun is just too brutal in the middle of the day. You have to be stupid to mow at noon.

The mower gets things done a lot faster than I expected. It really cooks. I’m sure it would be even faster if the grass were lower.

I don’t plan to mow the whole pasture with a garden tractor, but I can clear the road, and that allows me to get to the far end and out the gate onto the swale by the highway. I’m responsible for that swale, so I need a path a garden tractor can handle. I do hope I don’t get pancaked by a semi while I’m mowing it.

It’s scary using the garden tractor. I have come to realize that it sounds disturbed even when you use it correctly, and that has helped. It’s hard to get used to the fact that it has no clutch. You just ram it into gear, whether it likes it or not. Also, you turn on the PTO without a clutch, while the engine is running. That feels wrong, but the manual says it’s right.

I’m nearly sure I dinged one blade when I mowed the front yard, but I have no way to get under the tractor to change it. I need a set of ramps, as I understand it.

I did everything I wanted to in the big pasture, but I left maybe three-quarters of an acre in the little pasture. It was just too dark and too late. I don’t want to drive into a hole or a stump I can’t see. I’m definitely an amateur, leaving it that way, but I can knock it off in half an hour tomorrow.

When I was a kid, my dad got a push mower and figured I would use it. It had powered front wheels, so really, you just steered it. We both lost interest, and I forgot all about it. I didn’t like it much. I was lazy, and it wasn’t fun to use. A tractor is different. It’s a pleasure to use. I thought people were nuts when they said they liked mowing, but now I get it. Mowing is fine. Pushing a heavy machine that takes two hours to finish half an acre is what’s not fun.

Maybe I shouldn’t mow the little pasture. I’m told I may be able to sell hay. You find someone who makes round bales, and he mows in exchange for part of the proceeds. I suppose the little pasture has some potential. Thing is, it makes a very nice extension to the back yard. I don’t think it’s worth it to give up foot access to it for a few dollars.

Hay could get me a tax exemption next year, so letting the big pasture grow is probably a good move.

I look forward to the cooler months. I moved at the worst possible time. It’s boiling hot during the day. Mid-90’s. A month from now, I should start to see some relief. I was here in March, and it was wonderful. There will be cold days, but let’s be serious. Forty degrees is not cold. I lived in New York and Kentucky, and I know what it’s like to have two weeks of temperatures at or below zero, with thick snow everywhere. Northern Florida cold is a joke. It will be uncomfortable some times, but come on. While I’m complaining about forty degrees, people up north will be wondering which six-foot-deep pile of snow is their car.

I should have posted some photos. No one would have been impressed, though. Because the grass was so high, it was not an elegant cut. This was not maintenance mowing. This was desperation mowing, to get the height reduced at all costs before it was too late. If I want to make it pretty, I’ll have to wait until next time.

Anyway, I’m glad I got to mow a little. I feel that God used this to remind me that things are going to be okay here. If I sit in the house and look at the computer all day, life will be depressing and empty, but if I take advantage of the things that drew me here in the first place, I’ll enjoy myself. Moving here and sitting in the house is like moving to Miami and staying on shore. The only thing Miami has going for it is the ocean, and if you don’t make use of it, all you have is a rude, sweaty city with terrible traffic, high prices, and no culture.

Pray I don’t destroy my machinery while I’m learning to use it.

By the way, I checked, and they do make gun racks for golf carts. Does my golf cart really need a gun rack? Who cares? That’s not the point. Gun racks are fun, and they make a statement. That statement is, “I am all about conservative overkill.” I almost feel like getting a Confederate flag, just to make it worse. But that would be disingenuous. I gave up on the stars and bars years ago, because of slavery.

In any case, it will be good to have a .22 or the 16-gauge with me out there. We have rattlesnakes, possums, coons, and coyotes. I don’t want to kill possums. They’re harmless, obsequious creatures. But it looks like one is pooping on my front walk regularly. Coons…I hate. The first time you pick up trash after a coon, all your thoughts of cuteness and charm will evaporate. As for rattlesnakes, they should all be killed. Let the greenies whine. Rattlesnakes do horrible things to people. Google and see what a snake bite looks like after the poison has done its work.

Maybe I’ll get to shoot a little soon. This place is perfect for practicing with the .17 HMR and scope.

That’s all for tonight. Time to shower and look forward to another day.

6 Responses to “He Maketh me to Drive in Circles in Green Pastures”

  1. Heather P Says:

    Opossums are creepy as heck! They look like some type of prehistoric overgrown rat! I hate them! Something I didn’t know until this week was that the flooding of from the hurricane will flood rattler’s out of their nests. Well that gave me nightmares!

  2. Mike Says:

    My wonderful wife loves to cut grass, she has her own zero turn mower(that I happily maintain). She says its therapy and also prayer time. For me its a chore. Not a bad one but still a chore. I’ve never lived in Florida but here if we miss cutting it weekly by just a few days it turns into a real pain. I break out my old bush hog front deck zero turn to knock it down for her to finish cut. This year has been wet and since we both still have pubic jobs the timing has been such that we have been behind constantly with the yard work. I hired a yard guy to cut it twice, taking away prayer time and upsetting the wife. I use car ramps and a engine hoist to service the mowers. I wish I’d installed a rail overhead for a chain hoist but I get buy with the engine hoist. Never trust a strap, use chain and jack stands while under the deck. Glad you’re getting out some, the light is good!

  3. Lee Says:

    3′ high grass will not faze the brush hog if you have a decent size tractor.

    Here’s the advice my dad gave me before turning me loose on one: be careful when you’re around trees, and very careful about overhanging limbs. You can get raked off the tractor in a heartbeat, and if you do, you’re going under the brush hog.

    Rural life is better than city life in a lot of ways, but it’s not safer; it’s more dangerous. And you’re a lot farther from help.

    Be careful and have fun.
    Lee

  4. lauraw Says:

    Will a couple beehives get you a tax exemption? That’s a great hobby. Not that you need another one.

  5. Steve H. Says:

    I have been considering getting beehives. But I don’t want to be a beekeeper. I’m wondering if a beekeeper would put a few hives here to get me an exemption and give me a percentage of his profits.

  6. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Lot’s of beekeepers do just that.
    Symbiotic relationship.
    Farmers want the bees, keepers want the honey.