The lawncare season

The first truly warm days of spring have arrived, and the snow has finally melted which means we can now see exactly how much junk has accumulated in our yards.     
‘Tis the lawncare season once again, a time when all across this great land of ours, a massive armada of lawn mowers sails forth to do battle with that nefarious scourge known as grass.     
We fertilize and water our lawns, which encourages the grass to grow thicker and faster, which adds up to more mowing. It's as if we’re funding both sides of a never-ending war.     
Mowing a lawn is an effort to force order onto an inherently chaotic world. 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 a porch. It’s odd that you never see anyone enjoying these decks or porches. It’s as if we built churches to worship the outdoors but everyone is too busy to attend.     
Not me. I use our deck whenever possible, soaking up the sun like a marine iguana on the rocky shores of the Galápagos Islands, my reptilian brain slowly coming to life as the warmth seeps in. If you stop to 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 microenvironment they think I’ve created just for them. Blackbirds stroll briskly across the fresh-cut grass, exuding a serious sense of purpose that reminds me of mall walkers. Robins do their two-step hip-hop, stopping to listen for worms. Talk about super-sensitive hearing.   
Songbirds aren't the only fowl to foul our lawn; we also have a few chickens. My chickens are of a species known at our house 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 kitchen window.” Or, “I stepped in something your stupid chickens left on the sidewalk.”     
When I needed shoulder surgery, I asked my wife to take care of the chickens for me.     
“No problem!” she chirped cheerfully. “Where do you keep the 12 gauge?”     
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 new grass and a feeling of accomplishment waft on a gentle breeze.    
At such times I may reward myself with a cold beer. I slurp the brew and think of a field of golden barley. The wind riffles the ripe grain heads, creating ripples that resemble ocean swells.    
Maybe I'll sip a shot of bourbon. The tang of charred oak transports me to a cool, damp forest that abounds with hidden 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 think about my great-grandfather Charlie Sveen, who homesteaded this farm. Did he also relax in the cool evening shade on 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 farmland?    
He was probably too busy with carving a farm from the barren prairie and eeking out a living. I doubt Charlie had the time to establish a lawn, mow it and enjoy it at his ease.     
At least that's what I thought until recently, when I stumbled across an old photo of our farm. Judging by the height of the trees, I would guess it was taken when the 20th century was quite young.     
Next to the house that Charlie built is a patch of closely cropped grass. Maybe it was clipped by sheep or horses, but it's a lawn nonetheless. And there, not far from the old house's east wall, rests a lone kitchen chair.     
You have to look closely, but next to a wooden wheeled wagon that sits in the middle of the farmstead is a small, dark blob that closely resembles ... of course! It has to be!     
I am pretty certain the blob in the photo is a bird that’s known hereabouts as a Your Stupid.
It’s extremely enjoyable to sit on the deck, especially now that I know the chickens and I are upholding a century-old tradition.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. 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 works full time for Dairy Star as a staff writer and ad salesman. Feel free to email him at


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