Sunday, November 6, 2011

A “reel” project: Mowing tall, wet grass with a push mower (May 11, 2008)

Current mood:accomplished
Earlier tonight, I finished mowing the grass for the first time this year. It was tall. As in knee-high. Many of my neighbors have mowed theirs four or five times already.

More to prove to myself that it could be done than for any other reason, I used my reel mower. Yeah, it was tough. The term "plowing salad" crossed my mind. The grass was wet as well as tall. It rained heavily overnight and drizzled all morning, and even though I waited until 6 p.m. to start, there was no way it was going to dry out. Tomorrow's forecast also called for rain. So I chugged away.

Why use the reel? After all, I do have a fully operational power mower. Well, as I said, I wanted to see if it could be done at all. Not all of it was knee high. In some places I could zing right along. Where it was tall and thick, though, there was no denying that it was brutally difficult. Many places I measured progress an inch at a time.

Chunf. Pull back. Kick the blade backwards to dislodge a mound of grass. Step back, lean in, and … Chunf. Repeat. One after another, every two seconds if it didn't jam, every ten if it did. Three and a half hours. Many water breaks. No potty breaks. No need: I was sweating it out. It was more work than a couple of my recent bike rides into the city, probably comparable to doing 1,000 push-ups over three hours' time.

So it can be done. Tall, wet grass, done with a reel mower. As with my recent bike rides, all I really needed afterward was a shower. I'm a bit drained, but I feel pretty good. Nothing sore or strained, not even a blister. Much of the time I wasn't even breathing all that heavily, only a moderately aerobic pace.

What was really nice about it was the silence. I listened to the birds while I worked. After a while, I put the radio on. I wasn't moving that far so only moved it twice in three hours.

Do I recommend this for everyone? No, not everyone. A good many people would not have the physical stamina. Many would be taking their life in their hands, just like shoveling snow in the winter. But if you can, shouldn't you try?

Still: Why? Well, there is that matter of the annoying rising cost of gasoline (boo hoo). But even there, is that all that big a deal? After all, how much gas does a lawn mower use? Maybe five gallons all summer? True, all that work could hardly be justified simply on fuel savings.

Nor can I justify it on time. Well, this time, maybe there would not have been much time savings. With it being that wet, I would have been un-clogging the power mower's chute every half minute. Doing it this way, though, defined a baseline. It cannot possibly take that long next time, if the grass is dry and a reasonable height.

So maybe it's just a statement, me telling the world that if I can chow my way through 14-inch-tall, wet grass with a reel mower, then anything is possible. Or maybe I'm simply nuts.

I couldn't get close enough to this to mow it because of the gas shutoff pipe.

Unmowed and mowed sections in the lot near church sign.

Unmowed and mowed sections in the lot, by stop sign. There are a couple of small green marker flags behind the church sign.


bus15237 said...

If I can chow my way through 14-inch-tall, wet grass with a reel mower, then anything is possible. Or maybe I'm simply nuts.

bus15237 said...

Comments on the original 2008 post:

Stuart Strickland
Follow-up: It's been about 80 hours since I mowed the yard. I'd quit more because of darkness than completion, so went back over it. Other than a few missed spots, the grass had popped back up from being merely knocked over in many other spots. Together, those were easy to hit. The whole yard, including the lot below, took maybe an hour, though I wasn't keeping close track.

Next time, I'll give it a whole week to grow and see how long it takes to do. We're getting a lot of rain, frequency more than quantity, so it's growing quickly.