She Who Mows


This was my yard when I came back from Texas.
Late in the winter, I bought a (gently) used Craftsman self-propelled battery-operated mower as well as a battery-operated Black & Decker trimmer. I haven’t mowed since I was 12, and I have never weedeated. For the past two summers, since I moved here, I have relied on neighbor teenage girls to mow and trim my (vast) yard. It takes the two of them 20 hours to do it. Expensive. But I was busy learning to do so many other things by myself. It was a bit overwhelming. This year, I decided it was time, and I was ready, to take over the yard work.
And trimming.
I come from a sheltered middle class background. Women did not mow in my childhood experience. Often, in fact, even men didn’t mow. There were lawn services for that. I never saw my mother mow. I mowed some one summer when I was 12. I think my dad decided I was more trouble than I was worth, because that was the end of that. After I was married, I never mowed. I never even thought about it. Women don’t mow!
Though occasionally I drove by somewhere and saw a woman mowing and felt a mixture of pity and awe.
Gradually, especially over the past couple of years, that pity completely disappeared, leaving only awe. I want to do that! How can I? I can’t pull start anything. But I want to make my own yard pretty, any time I want, and I don’t want to pay someone else to do it. I got my new (to me) mower, and my new weedeater–both battery-operated and requiring no pull-start, and got ready.

The yard was completely out of control by the time I got back from Texas. It was time to start mowing at least a week earlier, but I was busy with the art and cooking retreat and then I had an unexpected trip. By the time I got back, the yard was crazy and I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. Time to get started.

And it took me a couple of hours to just do the part of the yard around the house and the sides–which is just a small part of what I need to mow and trim–but I did it. And I felt awesome. And limp. And sweating like a pig. But I loved it! It is such good exercise, for my arms and my thighs, especially when pushing uphill (and it is NOT self-propelled uphill).
Because I’m planning to fence in some of the larger areas where a riding mower would come in handy, I’m not planning to get a riding mower. Where I’m using the push mower, only a push mower could be used.

Mowing and trimming feels weirdly addictive. Like a drug. This is my exercise program this summer.

And I’m excited. It feels AMAZING.
We’re not in the suburbs anymore, Toto.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on May 8, 2014  

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14 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 5-8

    When I was growing up my parents believed in child labor, without regard to gender. I mowed our yard on a riding mower, from age 10 until 16. It was 3 acres and took most of the day. My brother took over . . . and after a number of broken windows was relieved of the duty. :?

    I do wonder if the heat will make you change your mind later in the summer . . .

  2. 5-8

    WOW! A riding mower. What luxury GA in GA. I mowed our lawn when I was a kid with a gas mower and learned to pull that cord with the best of them. When you are the oldest you wind up doing a lot of child labor whether you are a girl or not.

    Actually it IS kind of satisfying to see the cleanly mowed strips appear. I liked that a lot better than endless baskets of clothes to be washed and folded year round. To this day I hate doing laundry.

  3. 5-8

    :wave: Well I glad you are learning how to mow..I come from a diary family in Kansas. And learn very early in life how to do all this farm stuff. I dont unstand women who dont do stuff for there self..even if you have a man most women cant depend on him to do much…an yes I have one ..I LOVE you website..and love the recipe thing ..wish I was liveing close so I could come to your retreats…I could help out…love all the animals..THANK YOU

  4. 5-8

    I am the younger sister and was the one who worked with Dad on all the projects. When I was 11 I started to mow, the mower was electric with a cord. I hit the cord 3 times the first time I mowed and spliced the cord back together on my own. I did not enjoy mowing, but I liked how nice the yard looked freshly mowed. :pinkbunny:

  5. 5-8

    I don’t blame you for learning to mow, 20 hours must be crazy expensive. I pay $60 per visit for mowing/trimming that takes about 90 minutes.

    Like someone else said, my parents firmly believed in child labor. My dad (bless him) thought there wasn’t anything I (a female) couldn’t do. This included mowing the grass.

    Looking back on it, I am guessing it was about two acres. It took me about 6 hours with a push mower. I hated it so much.

    No joke, the first time the grass needed mowed after I moved out, my dad got a huge riding mower.

    Where I grew up, everyone did their own grass. I didn’t know anyone that had a lawn service (I seriously doubt the existence of such a thing where I lived) and couldn’t wrap my head around paying for it.

    We have a lawn guy now and my family cannot get over it and constantly tease us about it.

  6. 5-8

    A lot of work indeed, time to have a glass of wine or a cold brew and sit on the porch and admire what you have done.
    I used to use a hand mower, but my legs are not good enough any more, I do use a weed eater, that takes me about an hour and a half,I wish there was a riding weed eater — thank goodness for the tractors, we couldnt keep up the lawns with out them.

  7. 5-8

    Your yard is looking beautiful. Congratulations!! I’m an old lady, and have 2 acres just around the house to mow. I use both a riding mower and a self propelled push mower, and I could fill a small landfill with all of the weed eaters I’ve used up!! I don’t like mowing the orchard: circling close around the trees, dodging low branches, watching out for bees. My tiller is a 1953 huge monster that refuses to die so I can buy a new, smaller model. It vibrates horribly, is difficult to manage, and I’d gladly give it away, but no one who has used it would even take money to take that monster off my hands.

  8. 5-8

    Oh, honey, I fear that your outlook may change before the summer is over. I don’t mind mowing with the riding mower, but don’t point me toward a push mower. I’ve done enough of that in my lifetime. Grew up with a 2 acre yard.

  9. 5-8

    The yard looks beautiful! I love to mow but these days I use a riding mower. I do hope you can fence some more and use it to feed those animals. I need to check into the battery powered trimmers. My “easy-start” Echo isn’t so easy! I would like to meet who comes up with the ad campaigns for these things.

  10. 5-8

    I was the mower in the family when I turned 12. Dad decided it was my chore. That and washing the dogs…every other week. When I turned 14 my Mom decided that she would add washing the cars, inside and out to that chore list, along with dishes, dusting, vacuuming and ironing! I also babysat for the neighbors. The best thing about all this is that when it was time to wash a car, she would hand me the keys so I could back it out of the garage and then when I was done put it back. The only thing she EVER said to me was, “BE careful!” She was a cool Mom!

  11. 5-8

    You did good, Suzanne! But like someone else mentioned, it may not be so much fun later in the summer – you think you were sweating like a pig, wait until the humidity picks up…UGH! I do hope you continue to enjoy it though.

  12. 5-8

    Yay for you! You have mastered two good yard tools. Eventually I hope you will get a rider. Ours has a 53 inch deck which really cuts down on the time it takes to keep our place looking spiffy. Another good piece of equipment is our push weed whacker (a weed whip on wheels). It makes quick work of cleaning up fence lines. We use the push mower and regular weed whip too for smaller areas. As we are getting older we figure we need all the help we can get. Each spring we have a landscaper come to prune, edge, and mulch. He is worth every penny. We want our place to look nice, but we don’t want to be a slave to it. We’d rather spend the time we save doing things together, or with our animals, or in the garden.
    As for you and now…Well done!

  13. 5-9

    Suzanne, once again you have overcome!! You go, yard girl!!!

  14. 5-9

    I grew up in SC and we had 13 acres. I was driving the tractor at 6. I would mow the lawn and bushhog the field in high school. Now they have those fancy lawn mowers and I have lawn service.

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