Reflections on Pushing The Lawnmower

I’ve been pushing a lawnmower most of my life. Even now, with three healthy and capable boys, who do their share of mowing, I’m still inclined to push the mower myself. Marlene will ask me why I’m mowing when we have three boys around. It’s really very simple.... I need the work. My job as a supervisor in a factory provides an income but no physical work to do. Some days I kind of like that but I don't feel right about it.

Here is a picture of my lawnmower. Isn’t she a beauty!

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My kids would like me to buy a John Deere riding mower. Actually, any riding lawnmower would suffice. The key word here is riding. It’s not gonna happen. I’ve never owned a riding mower. I refuse to buy one, at least any time soon. If I ever get old and feeble, maybe then I’ll buy one. But as long as I’m healthy ( or I have healthy boys around), we’re going to use a basic, no frills, push lawnmower just like the one in the picture.

Even that basic push mower is something of a compromise for me. I hate the noise it makes and that it uses gas and that it needs parts and maintenance. Perhaps I should get one of those old rotary push-it-by-hand mowers that don't have an engine. I’ve thought about it before. But I don't think it would mow the rough field around my garden up on my neighbor Don's property.

In any event, I've been thinking about pushing a mower as opposed to riding a mower since reading the following excerpt from the article Singing While You Save The Earth by Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth. I really like what Dr. Sleeth has to say here:

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“Many of us have built lives in which we have neither rest nor work. Our jobs do not stress our muscles and joints. Our rest is a series of events in which we give our minds over to machines such as televisions, computers, and DVD players. We use machines to chop vegetables, brush teeth, wash our dishes, and record our thoughts. But what is the cost of saving ourselves work?

All laborsaving devices use electricity or gasoline, cost money, produce heat, and make noise. Why do we love them so? What happens when we stop using a manual lawn mower? The non-motorized variety is inexpensive and quiet and uses no fossil fuels. The push mower requires us to exert energy; thus, we obtain exercise and become healthier. By its very nature, the manual mower dictates a reasonably sized lawn. What happens when we decide to save labor and purchase a gas-powered lawn mower? It spews out poisonous fumes, which we inhale. The mower is loud and damages our hearing; mowing our lawn requires little effort, and our muscles atrophy.

Reason, restraint, and the virtue of temperance disappear. Our lawns grow to a size associated with a few megalomaniac old-world monarchs. We laze, sleep, eat, and drink more. Finally, when we gain too much weight, we drive a two-ton vehicle to a health club where we can pay to work against the resistance of a machine. Why not just back up and push our own mower?”

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Oh, one more thing.... Just for the record, I want to make it clear that I hate those maniacal, screaming weed whackers. I do not own one and I refuse to buy one. Do you think I'm becoming a curmudgeon?

10 comments:

Kansas Milkmaid said...

Yes, you are becoming a curmudgeon. Whatever that means. I need to look it up. I have a weed whacker so you are stepping on toes here. (I am being ornery here. It is a joke. I have to spell that out since we don't have more than words here to convey our points)I used to use hand held clippers for trimming. We have seven acres and use a push mower for it. I wish we had a rider. Some one gave us one and I promptly killed it. I ran over a large pipe hidden in tall grass. Bye-bye crank shaft. Me and the rider and trees never got along the whole month we had it. I will leave the visual up to your imagination. I don't want to incriminate myself further. I also have looked into push mowers with no engines. I even talked to a landscaping friend about them. He suggested that I would like my children better with digits. I dropped the idea. I have been thinking about them again.

Scott Holtzman said...

"curmudgeon" ~ I'm working on 'crusty ole coot', but some may say I've got a year or two to go.

Though I'm a little "late in the game", I'd like to wish you welcome back as well. I found your comments about vehicles quite inspiring, so I post one of my own ~ our "new" car.

Perhaps if time allows, this October, the wife & I could pay you and yours that over due visit we spoke about.....things just got a whole lot busy here with "actionable agenda items" (see stuff to do) for Aug/Sept for us. So mabye October? Lord willing. Perhaps we could do some "horse trading", say some fresh roasted coffee for some garlic powder & heads? Something to think on. Glad to have you back on the boards. Kind Regards.

~Scott

The Settler said...

I count my riding mower as the single worst investment I've made since we moved onto the place. The lawn area on the property is huge and I didn't see having the time to mow it all with a pusher. But after reading your post I'm considering re-fencing and going to a smaller suburban size lawn and giving all that grass to some animals who can better appreciate and manage it.

Dave Taylor said...

I despise the machines too,but goats can be just as much trouble which we have considered in place of mowers and weedeaters. All it takes though is one beligerant goat to get out of a fence or pen and there goes the garden,fruit bushes and fruit trees. I like my fruit too much to risk it so the cursed machines stay. Oh yes, the log dogs are on their way! Have you ever sythed/cut your whole property? was it fun or too much trouble? I have thought of trying it also. Dave

Anonymous said...

While I will agree that lawnmowers and weed whackers are noisy, un-environmentally-friendly, and unpleasant, the alternative (unless you're lucky enough to find an old rotary) is an eyesore front yard and neighbours complaining about having to look at it. The upside is that there really is no muscle atrophy involved in using one, because they're so unbelievably heavy that the operator gets some decent exercise pushing it around.

N said...

The Amish by us mostly use the old manual push mowers. Their lawns are generally the nicest lawns you have ever seen( something like golf greens). There are two secrets to the manual mower: you must mow often like 1-2 time a week and you must keep those blades SHARP.

The BadgerMum said...

We have an reel type push mower (a fairly new one that we bought from eBay - they are still being made and not too hard to find) that one of our sons uses to maintain the lawn area right around the house, and we also have power mowers the oldest son and my husband use for the rest of the yard, but we're looking into getting a scythe for those areas as we intend to plant them in alfalfa for hay.

We have dairy goats and they are wonderful for keeping the weeds down - they love poison ivy! - but they don't eat grass unless they're starving, so don't buy goats hoping to use them for a lawnmower.
;-)

Herrick Kimball said...

KansasMM-
You MOW seven acres with a motorized pusher mower??!

Scott-
I'm open to "horse tradin'" any time whether you ever get here for a visit or not. But October might be a good time for you to stop by if you like. Let me know what's a good day for you when we get closer to then.

James-
I know a couple guys who spend hours and hours mowing 5 and 6 acre lawns. They complain that it takes so long. I ask them why they do it. They say it looks nice. Well, it DOES look nice but a small lawn can look nice too.

Dave Taylor-
I told James a special something was on its way from you but I didn't tell him what it was. I'll contact you by e-mail to work out the details of our trade. As for scything my whole property, no, I have not done that. I guess the old timers were so good with a scythe that they could easily mow a lawn. I'm not good with one. But I get better everytime I use it. For now I scythe because I love everything about it- the physical aspects, the craft aspects, and, for lack of better wording, the down-to-earth agrarian thrill that comes with slicing through tall grass with a sharp blade. It is, in my opinion, better than, say, golf.

Anonymous-
I admit to having an eyesore front yard, especially now that I've been pulling my chicken "tractor" around it for the past few weeks. But the neighbor thing is not an issue around here. I could raise hogs in my front yard and the neighbors might raise an eyebrow at it but I don't think they would complain. That's the beauty of living on a quiet road with no close nieghbors. I agree that there is no muscle atrophy with a motorized push mover. They are a good workout . But the riders, at least for my homestead, are not something I'm inclined to accept.

nicolas-
Yes, you are right about the rotary push mowers and short grass. My dad bought one when I was a kid in the suburbs and I can remember how hard it was to push it through too-tall grass.

Badgermum-
I never knew that about goats. I believe your husband and son will love learning to use a good european-style scythe.

ksmilkmaid said...

Herrick: Our cows take up about four acres the buildings and such take up about two. We push mow an acre. And I am still overweight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am still intrigued by reel mowers though. This post may get me investigating them again. Digitless kids might keep the mess on the inside of the house down. It might also give me practice on stitching wounds. :D

The Bradshaws said...

Herrick,

Our 11yo son bought a reel mower this weekend at a thrift shop! The yard area is too large to use it exclusively, but hopefully he'll use it at least for a good bit of the trimming.

Mary Susan