Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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Keep Your Lawn Short Or


So we moved onto an old farm.  Six generation of families have lived here before us.  Six generations of buying tools and loosing them to the outdoors.  Working on a tractor you get done and the crow bar was left on the side.  As you read on I know I am not going to look good.  But in the interest of true life I've decided to be fourth coming about some of the more boneheaded things I've done while mowing and tilling.  

I have no one to blame but myself, yet I don't.  You know the part about making mistakes and not repeating them.  All that goes out the window when I talk about sitting on the mower or the tractor.

At least with tilling I have a very good excuse. I mean the stuff is underground, at least 99.9 precent has been anyway.  When I hit something with the tiller I stop, dig it up and place it in my "stuff I've tilled" pile.  It is just like my "stuff I've mowed" pile but it's a much smaller pile defying all logic. Although the area I till is greater than the area I mow I somehow seem to do more damage with the five foot mower deck than the six foot tiller.  Actually, I do more damage to the five foot mower deck.

Yet of all the things I've run over I do not think I'm actually all that responsible, completely. really.  I mean, I am driving the mower each time and I can honestly say I have never run over anything on purpose.  I mean who purposely hits an iron cap to the clean-out pipe?  And then its plastic replacement.

The land around our house has a lot of stone out-croppings.  I've taken a sledge hammer to the ones that where deceptively low or I guess their deceptively high.  You only have to hit a rock once to remember where it was.  But, then again there was three acres of lawn. 

I've estimated that I've spent eight hours on my back untwisting things stuck in the mower blades.  Things that other people have left on the ground or have not put away, well mostly others.   I've spent six hours replacing blades and five hours replacing belts.  The mower itself has only 233 total hours of run time.  I know the numbers are not in my favor but what can I say.  I try not to cut the lawn but sometimes we can't find the barn and I don't have a choice.

So I begrudgingly get on the mower and start mowing around the gardens, orchards, water tanks, trellises and out-buildings.  While this is happening I'm looking up front to see if there is anything in the way.  Grant it I'm looking for chickens, rabbits, frogs, cats, stones, boulders, wood or any of the myriad of other things in the grass.  I can be candid and say I’ve never run over a chicken, baby rabbit or any living creater.  So in the interest of full discloser below is a list of things that I've found with the lawn mower;

metal wire 3/8th inch 59 ft long with tensioner;

Three strand electric fence 60 ft long

6 ft wide black landscape fabric 10 ft; long 

Chicken wire - 6 feet by 10 feet I was quick on stopping the PTO that time.

1 light post; 1 garden hose 25 ft long

Various wood planks, pallet edges and boulders

Steel drain pipe cap; plastic drain pipe cap (different years though)

Black walnuts, ok, they are on purpose how else can you get the meat out of them?

Does top soil count?

Tilling the ground has its own perils but I can't take credit for any of it with the exception of the chicken wire.  When we put our first garden in I encased it in chicken wire.  I buried about a foot and had five feet sticking out of the ground.  It works great for keeping the critters out and protecting the vegetables.  We had the fence up for three years.  Each end was open so I could get the tiller in and closed once we were done.  

One fall day I was preparing the bed for its winter cover and got too close to the side of the fence.  Before I knew it the tiller got a piece of the fence and the fence starting coming at me like a rocket.  Before I could kill the PTO, the tiller tines had wrapped about fifty feet of the fence around themselves.  As it was wrapping around the tines the fence was compacting.  Six feet by five feet compressed into about three inches wide.  Getting that out took about five hours but knock on wood it was the first and only time.

So, I make mistakes but I really try not to run over things, especially those that wrap around the blades and spindles.  Getting them out is not easy and serves to be the greatest motivator when avoiding trouble.  My advice to all, keep your lawns short.

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