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Rain. Now with added thunder.

It's been wet here in the Woods of late. Pretty much constantly wet, or so it seems. There were seven consecutive rain-free days at the beginning of May. I was in Portland, OR for six of them. Since then, the pattern has mostly been rain, rain, rain, rain, no rain, rain, rain, no rain, no rain, rain, rain, rain.

This weather pattern has wreaked havoc on my usual practice of small engine abuse, aka mowing the lawn. The taller the grass grows, the longer it needs to dry enough to be mowed. The longer it goes without mowing, the greater the small engine abuse and the more Toad Woods looks like it ought to be renamed "Abandoned Woods."

Last Sunday, I had Plans to mow down at least some of the meadows the various parts of the land formerly known as "lawn" and "yard" had become. Only I was then reminded of the Boskone and NESFA meetings that afternoon and lost the window of opportunity. Only it wasn't really an opportunity -- it rained Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, much as I thought Saturday was due to be rain-free.

The week that followed was more of the same: rain, rain, no rain, rain, and rain. Saturday was dry this time around, and Sunday was, too. At last.

I wrestled the lawnmower out of its hiding place in the garage. All those trips to Michigan last year mean the garage is piled high with curiosities from 22 Grand Blvd. None of it's worth anything beyond the memories, but, oh, those memories. Memories and the knowledge that it came from The Basement, The Workshop, or The Garage.

The lawnmower was new last year. The darned thing doesn't have a primer button; it's supposed to start with ease without one. Famous last words and false promises. I pulled that cord well over 50 times over the next 90 minutes, probably closer to 100 -- trying, trying, and trying, then walking away for 15-30 minutes before trying another 20 times or so. During the breaks, I Googled my way to next to nothing in the way of useful information. No, the gas wasn't fresh. That may have been the problem, much as it never was with the previous mower using gas from the season before. (Hey, I said I abuse small engines.) Sheer perseverance and one promising cough'n'sputter after the first 30 pulls kept me going.

The mower eventually resigned itself to its fate. Vroom-rumble-vroom and we were off.

I made it about 40 feet before the first grass clog killed the engine. The green stuff was still darned damp down at its base and using the mower as a self-mulcher is tricky when the grass is that tall.

I cleared the clog and resumed mowing. Made it, oh, another 30-40 feet. Another clog. Returned to the garage in search of the mower bag, a device I've never used on any mower, a device I never expected to use. But my-oh-my, did it ever do the trick yesterday. I emptied it every 150 feet or so. The process was super E-Z, just as the bag promised. There's even a clear spot in the top, so I could see how full it was and stop before the mower clogged.

The clear area across the front of the house is once again a lawn rather than a meadow. I left one foxglove and a patch of daisies that were too well-established and pretty to mow down. Everything else went. I started in on the far side of the garage as the sun was setting, but gave that up when the mower ran out of gas. Good intentions failed to get me out and mowing again before the rain started falling today. Heavy rain, lots of it, with thunder rumbles throughout. Rain is forecast again for tomorrow, but then there are supposed to be four (count 'em, *4*) rain-free days in a row. Yowser.

I'll believe it when I see it. And I'll decide then whether to limit my mowing to the flat area of the side yard, leaving the hillside as a meadow from here on, or whether to tackle that, too.

Onward. For all this rain, you'd think I'd have made more progress on things indoors.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 17th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
IIRC, at an autoparts store you can buy a spraycan of extra volatile stuff you can give a squirt or two into the carburetor (or perhaps just the air intake) that will fire easier and warm up the cylinder so it will start more easily. I think. As I recall. Your mileage may vary. Offer not good where prohibited.
Jun. 18th, 2013 01:29 am (UTC)
'Starting fluid', they call it these days. Used to be called ether, back when it was actually ether. Very handy tool for people who fight with internal combustion engines.

And yes: if the gas is bad, it will run like hell if it runs at all. When you put it away for the winter, at the barest minimum, you want to completely run it out of gas, but really, the other product you want from the auto parts store is called 'sta-bil'. Follow directions on can. Use that in the fall when you pack it away, and when you go to start it in the spring, it'll be much easier.

Or else learn how to rebuild the carburetor, which is also fun. But $5 worth of sta-bil is easier.
Jun. 18th, 2013 04:13 am (UTC)
Many thanks. I'll find an auto parts store before fall.
Jun. 17th, 2013 11:30 pm (UTC)
Goats don't need starting and you can always eat them in the fall. Just saying.
Jun. 18th, 2013 04:31 am (UTC)
"Just saying." Riiiiighttttt....

"Giving them too much lush green food can cause them to bloat and this can kill them if not treated." -- Step 7 of How to Care for a Goat: 7 Steps. As if the first 6 steps didn't already scare me off.

If I had the money, I could pay a lawn service provider for an entire season for what it cost to rent goats (and the fencing and a goatherd) for a single "mowing." At least, that was the case when I read about goatscaping rentals a couple of years back.

Still, your suggestion brought a smile to my face and sent me looking at pictures of baby goats in the process of finding out how much they cost just to buy. My dad had a goat when he was a kid.
Jun. 18th, 2013 05:39 pm (UTC)
Then I guess mentioning sheep doesn't make sense either. Bah... Think of all that wool you are missing out on.
Jun. 17th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)
I bet your muscles are glad for the rain break - I winced just reading this description! Glad the mower bag did the trick.
Jun. 18th, 2013 04:14 am (UTC)
You're right. I was moving rather stiffly last night and earlier today.
Jun. 18th, 2013 03:44 am (UTC)
I am having exactly the same problem on a much smaller scale, complicated slightly by the fact that we have an electric mower, so I really don't want to mow very wet grass. What puzzles me is that apparently a gas mower doesn't make mowing wet grass that much easier, though I assume doing so is not dangerous; and yet every single time it stopped raining for ten minutes in the past few weeks, the sound of gas-powered lawn mowers arose all over my neighborhood.

I have managed the front yard and some of the back, including some pathways through the meadow. There's one piece that is full of dame's rocket and milkweed that I really don't want to mow. I want the milkweed to bloom. On the other side there's more dame's rocket, Shasta daisies, spiderwort, and daisy fleabane all about to go nuts if there is ever enough sun for long enough. It will have to come down eventually. I am thinking of taking the mower to the hardware store to get the blades sharpened first, though.

I wish you luck with your jungle.

Jun. 18th, 2013 04:17 am (UTC)
Your back meadow sounds beautiful. I wouldn't want to mow it, either.

I was looking at the side hill on my way to and from the mailbox today. If I mow it at all, I'm going to mow around all the ferns. They're low to the ground, pretty, and spreading. Such behavior is to be encouraged.
Jun. 18th, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC)
You have a foxglove that just popped up? What an extraordinary thing!

K. [wishes for daisies, in vain]
Jun. 22nd, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
The foxglove just popped up in the middle of the lawn, but there are other foxgloves at the edge of the house about 25 feet away, and more near the concrete area of the driveway about 40 feet away. I reckon it's an offspring of them...well, except for the part about it being a biennial. I mowed that part of the lawn several times last summer, so perhaps it's an extraordinary thing afterall!
Jun. 18th, 2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
There has been entirely too much rain. Everyone I know with a yard to mow has been complaining about it being too wet to cut the grass. Yesterday it even hailed (albeit small stuff and not for very long).

I am enjoying hearing about everyone's gardens, not having any of our own around the apartment complex. Greenery is good for the soul. :-)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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