Do you enjoy mowing? I don’t. Or rather I have to say I don’t like just mowing the lawn. It’s boring. Like vacuuming. I know, I know. Some people love vacuuming. I have a good friend who loves it. “The satisfaction of a clean house”. More power to the vacuum lovers I say. Mowing, like vacuuming is tedious to me. You just finish and it needs it again three days later. Seriously?
Lately, because I am running such a small flock and they’re not keeping up with keeping the pastures down, I’m needing to mow fields. Now, we’re in a whole other realm!
I don’t own a tractor or even a riding mower. I’m not into mechanical stuff. I use a hand saw for pruning, a pair of hand shears for trimming and yes, I even own a reel mower. Even though I don’t like mowing, I love that thing. It reminds me of mowing the lawn when I was a kid. It was the only mower we had. I clippity-clopped my way through our suburban back yard, happily barefoot and covered in grass clippings. If it was good enough then it’s good enough now. Did I mention I have 20 acres?
Enter my next door neighbor whose property lives adjacent to mine. This year, rather than tackling his rather extensive holding himself, he’s hired a local landscaping crew to keep it neat and tidy. He’s retired from throwing pots, as in clay. Not mowing gives him more time to volunteer at the library, give rides to seniors in need and meet up with fellow bird watchers for outings all over Maine! He has a pretty awesome riding mower (actually, it’s a beast), and has graciously offered usage of it “any time I want.” “It will be good to keep it in use” he suggests. It’s August, the girls are starting to disappear in the fields. “I want”.
Riding around on the mower, knocking back knee high grass, weeds, I think I even took on a few saplings, was totally empowering! I tamed fields, opened up paths and vistas! It was awesome! I can’t wait to let the girls out in the morning to see their reaction! There’ll probably be conversations like “oh wow, look, we can go way back near the apple trees now, there’s probably some primo grass back there”!
Part of my property includes an old gravel pit. Maine is famous for it’s granite quarries and stone. This carved out indention runs along the edge of the pastures. Evidence of “harvesting” the gravel still exists and I keep open the path used to bring the stone out. It leads way back on the property to where the 10 acres of forest begins, and is my favorite place. Lined with blackberries, wild Maine apple trees, and blueberries, I completely disappear when I wander through it’s magical space. I love sharing it with the ewes and does, they nibble as we wend our way along, exploring and enjoying a cool respite away from the summer sun. I have imagined a tiny cottage back there, with a screen porch.
Mowing. Maybe it’s a matter of perspective, at least the kind of mowing that opens up possibilities for exploring. I have to say, I do like when I’m done and am able to walk back through the pastures without having to plow my way through. Secretly, I always did want to ride in one of those massive harvesters the big farms use. Maybe I’ll compromise and settle for my own riding mower some day. Or maybe I’ll grow the flock again instead. I do miss lambs in spring.
Dyan Redick is an artisan cheesemaker, writer, and fiber artist is coastal Maine where she operates Bittersweet Heritage Farm, a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, and fiber from her Romney flock. Follow Dyan on Instagram, visit her mymainefarmgirl.com site and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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