Blog: Reflections from Rural Route 2


Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 04:30

Winter Weather

I knew it. I just KNEW it.

The nice weather in April with sunny days and highs in the 60s and 70s seemed like it was too good to be true. And it was. Now that it is May, we have had highs in the 40s with cold rain and snow and sleet.

Many people around here have planted their gardens. Not me. I wait until I am sure the ground is good and warmed up. The seeds won't do anything, anyway, until the ground is warm.

I can't complain about the rain, though. We desperately need the moisture. Last week we got about an inch all together. And so far this week we've gotten about three-tenths of an inch. Not a lot by some standards. Other parts of the country have had torrential rain and floods and tornadoes. We don't need that kind of weather.
Many of the garden centers around here had their hanging flower baskets out for sale in April. Now that the weather has turned so much colder and wetter, the flower baskets have vanished -- tucked inside, I would imagine, where they will stay safe from the cold.

I was tempted to buy some hanging baskets when the weather was so nice. I'd like one for the yard, one for the cemetery and two for the newspaper office. Randy and his friend who owns the machine shop made four flower hangers for me out of wrought iron. They are sort of like shepherd's hooks, but I can't really call them shepherd's hooks. The sheep would have to be awfully big for those hooks. So calling them flower hangers is sufficient. My hanging baskets are going to have to wait now until the weather warms up again.

One thing about cold, rainy weather -- the horses are always glad to see me at feeding time. Isabelle actually whinnies when she sees me coming out of the house and then comes tearing up to the fence at a dead gallop where she slides to a stop in the mud. Kajun, who is more than 20 years older than Isabelle, is more sedate. He only nickers. But he comes at a gallop as well.

And then there are the cats. My inside/outside kitties are always glad to see me when I come home in the afternoon. After being cooped up all winter, when I go downstairs to the get the horse feed in the morning, they want to go outside. But by afternoon, they are ready to come inside where they can lick their fur dry and then take a nap.

Come to think of it -- me too.

LeAnn R. Ralph


Monday, May 10, 2010, 05:43

What I am Learning from My Reel Mower

I am learning a lot from the reel mower we bought earlier this spring.

For instance, I never realized just how much orchard grass there is in the lawn. Orchard grass grows in big clumps that droop over, and the reel mower doesn't work very well to cut the orchard grass.

Our house is situated in an area that was farm field for many years, so I am not surprised that there is a lot of orchard grass in the lawn.

The reel mower does, however, cut regular grass, clover and dandelions quite well.

On the other hand, a few sprigs of June grass are starting to head out, and I can tell already that the June grass is going to be almost as much of a challenge as the orchard grass.

One thing about it, though -- the reel mower provides an excellent upper body workout. I spent an hour mowing behind the barn and around the garden Sunday evening. I ended up going over some of the orchard grass about six times to get it cut. If I were using a gasoline mower, the first time mowing in the spring behind the barn would take about an hour, too, though.

The reel mower doesn't necessarily cut as even as a gasoline mower, but much of that is because of the orchard grass, I think. Also, Randy and I have decided that our goal is to keep the grass from becoming shoulder high. We don't care that it might not be as smooth as a golf course.

What I really like about the reel mower is that I don't have to wear myself out trying to get it started. I just pull it out of the lean-to and start pushing. I also really like the fact that I don't have to worry about what might be hidden in the tall grass that could become a projectile (wire, wood, twigs) and I don't have to worry about twine string getting wound around the blade shaft. With a gasoline mower, there is always the risk of a hidden twine string getting caught in the mower. Then it's a matter of taking a knife and spending 10 minutes to get the twine string cut off the shaft.

Another excellent thing about the reel mower is I'm not using any gasoline -- only my own calories and my own muscle. Just think of the number of gallons of gasoline we could save in the is country if more people used reel mowers.

It also strikes me that the bigger and more mechanized the gasoline mowers became, the more it encouraged people to mow in places they probably would not mow otherwise. I have already decided there are certain places I am not going to try mowing with the reel mower.

If more people used reel mowers, I think the goat and sheep population would increase, too. I am thinking now that maybe my little mare Isabelle might like to pick the grass growing between the barn and the garden. The reel mower doesn't cut there very well at all. I'm sure Isabelle wouldn't mind a bit. . .

Saturday the weather was quite cold with a high of about 40 degrees, windy, and snow showers and sleet showers off and on during the day. The ground was too warm for the snow to accumulate, though.

LeAnn R. Ralph

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