September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Lawn mower man

By Jerry [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The first truly warm days of spring have come and the snow has finally gone, which means we can now see exactly how much junk has accumulated in our yards.

Yes, 'tis the lawn care season once again, a time when all across this great land of ours a huge armada of lawn mowers sails forth to do battle with that nefarious scourge known as grass.

Or so it would seem. The trouble is, we fertilize and water all that grass, which just encourages it to grow thicker and faster, which adds up to more mowing. It's about like funding both sides of a war, and we Americans would never do anything that foolish.

Mowing a lawn is an effort to force a tiny bit of order onto an inherently chaotic world. We all know in the end this effort will be futile. But as with so many things in life, it's not about the destination; it's about the journey.

Most houses nowadays have a deck or maybe a porch. The funny thing is, you never see anyone enjoying said decks or porches. It's as if we built a church to worship the outside and everyone is either too busy or too apathetic to attend.

Not me. I use our deck whenever possible, soaking up the sun like a marine iguana on the rocky shore of the Galapagos Islands, my reptilian brain slowly coming to life as the warmth seeps in. If you stop and think about it, we're all solar powered; I'm simply cutting out the middleman.

And there's no better time to sit on the deck and sun yourself than right after the lawn has been mowed.

Birds love the micro-environment I have created for them. Blackbirds stroll briskly across the fresh-cut grass, exuding a sense of purpose, which is remarkably similar to that of mall walkers. Robins do their two-step hip-hop, stopping now and again to "listen" for a worm. Talk about super-sensitive hearing!

Wild birds aren't the only fowl to foul my lawn; I also have eight chickens. My chickens are unique, of a species known locally as Your Stupid.

This moniker was bestowed upon them by my wife. I can't tell you how many times she has said something along the lines of, "Your stupid chickens are staring at me through the window!" or, "Your stupid chickens left a surprise for me on the sidewalk!"

I recently needed shoulder surgery and assumed I would be laid up for a while. I asked my wife if she would take care of the chickens for me.

"No problem!" she chirped cheerfully. "Where do you keep the shotgun?"

Almost nothing beats sitting on the deck and looking out across an emerald-green, freshly-manicured lawn. The birds are happily pecking through the "green chop", the sun is warm and all is right with the world. The aroma of fresh-cut grass and a feeling of accomplishment mingle in the air.

At such times, I may reward myself with a cold beer. I slurp the brew and think of a field of golden barley. A soft breeze riffles the ripe grain heads, creating a wave pattern that looks much like the swells of an ocean.

Or maybe I'll sip a single shot of bourbon. I taste the charred wood and am transported to a cool, damp oak forest that abounds with secret troves of morel mushrooms. This makes me think of fried mushrooms, forcing me to go inside to find something to eat.

While lounging on the deck I sometimes wonder about my great-grandfather Charlie, who homesteaded this farm. Did he ever relax in the cool shade at the east side of the house and sip something cold? Did he enjoy the simple tableau of the birds and the lawn and the sweeping vista of the prairie?

I think not. I would assume he was too busy just eking out a living from this farm. He probably didn't have time to create a lawn, let alone mow it and kick back to enjoy it.

At least that's what I thought until recently, when I stumbled across an old photo of this farm. Judging by the height of the trees, I would guess it was taken when the twentieth century was still quite young.

Next to the old house is a patch of closely-cropped grass. Maybe it was clipped short by sheep or horses, but it's a lawn nonetheless. And there, in front of the old house's east wall, sits a lone kitchen chair.

You have to look closely, but near a wooden-wheeled wagon that sits out in the yard there's a small, dark blob that closely resembles ... Of course! It has to be!

I'll have to check with my resident expert, but I think that small, dark blob is a relative of the birds that are known hereabouts as Your Stupid.

Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, S.D. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry's great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ ad salesman. Feel free to e-mail him at: [email protected][[In-content Ad]]


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