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The worst part of mowing is trimming around the sour grapes

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Mark Rutledge


By Mark Rutledge

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Since we moved back to Tennessee three years ago, I have engaged heavily in my father’s favorite summertime activity: grass mowing. It’s a passion he did not pass on to his older son.

The five acres he did pass down to me was a hayfield before I came home to claim it. Now it’s my lawn. Knowing how I hated to mow growing up, Dad must be having a good laugh up there in heaven.

For many years, Mom and Dad allowed a nearby farmer to harvest hay from the field, which made perfect sense. As much as Dad loved mowing, he had all he could handle in other areas of the farm. Besides, his older son was no longer around to help.

I say “older” because his younger son, my brother, Jeff, was spared the level of mowing misery that I experienced. Jeff would say that’s easy for me to say, and he would be right. It is easy to say. The mowing, however, was hard.

I was 10 when I started mowing, which included using a push mower on the most treacherous of hills. I spent the next several years longing for the day when Jeff would turn 10 and assume those duties.

When the day finally arrived, my little brother was instructed to mow only the flat areas and to leave the more dangerous spots for me. I came to realize that my brother was considered the spare mower to be fully utilized only in the event that the primary mower might slip and sever a critical limb.

It was about that same time, incidentally, when my father’s long-dormant passion for mowing sprang forth like an April dandelion. He and Mom would spend their early years of retirement mowing the farm as if it were on the PGA Tour.

The neighbor kept harvesting the hayfield, however, right up until I ended the arrangement two years ago, thinking I was about to build a house. Not a brilliant move on my part.

But the house is there now, and I’m sowing grass on the acre that was disturbed by the construction project. I’m better at mowing grass, it would appear, than at growing it.

Like so many other tasks related to the construction project, I sowed the new grass by the seat of my pants. Scattering seed is easy. The difficult, and sneezy, part is covering it with straw.

A very critical step — which I learned seven sacks of seed and about 52 bales of straw too late — is raking the seed into the soft dirt before the area is covered with straw.


Maybe it was subconscious sabotage for 1 of the 5 acres I will be mowing for the rest of my life.

How do you like them apples, Dad?

Brother Jeff is back on the farm, too. I should say that he absolutely does his share of mowing. And, I would be remiss if I did not mention that my wife, Sharon, knows her way around the controls of a commercial mowing machine.

Jeff, however, has started growing grapes on his portion, which does cut down on the area that requires mowing. I’m thinking about leasing out 4 of my acres to Jeff for his vineyard.

How do you like them grapes, Dad?

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge columns.