Mowing Grass, Cutting Wood, and Other Wisdom From Helen and Scott Nearing

Methods of mowing grass and cutting wood without consuming fossil fuels were among the inquiries readers made of Helen and Scott Nearing in 1981.

| January/February 1981

  • 067 Scott Nearing
    Scott Nearing had advice for readers on effective means of cutting wood and mowing grass without using fossil fuels.

  • 067 Scott Nearing

The following are questions readers submitted to Helen and Scott Nearing in their regular column on homesteading.   

Q: I'd like to know how—in your efforts to avoid the use of unnecessary electrical and fossil-fueled machines—you manage to deal with two rather mundane chores: removing snow between your home and a plowed road, and mowing grass around the house. (I find the latter act to be necessary since an unmowed lawn attracts mosquitoes and, in the summer months, tall dry grass can present a fire hazard. It seems to me that a scythe and push mower could be used, but that would take a lot of time that could be spent on more pressing jobs.)  

Our new house is only 50 level feet from the town road, so it's easy to shovel a path by hand. And we have no lawn or meadows to bother with now, just woods behind the house and a view over the bay in front.

When we lived in our previous home, however, Scott worked out a way to cut his snow shoveling in half. We were situated atop an inclined road, a good 250 feet from the town highway. After snowstorms he simply shoveled this distance, by hand, in 20-foot units: clearing 20 feet, and then leaving 20 feet unshoveled. When going down the hill, the car would reach the unshoveled spaces with sufficient momentum to carry through the 20 feet of snow. And, once the trail was broken in that manner, the auto could get back up again without difficulty.

There were meadows and a small lawn around our old house. Scott scythed the high grass and considered it good morning exercise, and pushing a hand mower around the tiny handkerchief-sized lawn was no great chore for Helen.

Q: Do you use a chain saw for cutting wood, or have you found a crosscut adequate for the task? (I hate to own a fossil-fuel-burning tool if it isn't necessary! ) 

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