As you may recall, the wife and I have moved out to the country (though we are not eating a lot of peaches).  For the previous 8 years we lived in places where we had no lawn.  Prior to that, we had a small 1.5 acre lawn in a subdivision, and the neighbor kid used his dad’s lawn mower to mow the lawn for us for $40 a pop.  I haven’t had to mow a lawn in nigh on 15 years.  When you live on 20+ acres, and the actual home + barn + shop are on a good 2-3 acres, a strategy of no mowing is not going to work.  Property requires maintenance after all.

As a kid, I always enjoyed mowing the lawn because we had a riding mower.  It was a cheap-o Craftsman from Sears that my dad picked up used.  Of course, that was back in the days when a riding lawn mower that had the oil changed and basic maintenance would last, well, some are probably still running today.  Mostly though, I was trusted with power equipment and made $20 dollars for taking care of the 1.5 acre lot our house was on, including the trim work with the weed whacker.  Back in those days $20 was, while not a substantial sum, it was real money for a 12-year-old in 1980mumble.

So going back to needing to mow the grass, I bought a Zero Turn Radius Cub Cadet.  It looks like a go-cart.  27hp engine and all kinds of other fancy shit as one might expect.  And there is a surprising number of videos online of how to upgrade it (including improving the springs on the seat) for more comfort.  It even has a cupholder for my beer.

Mowing the grass is probably never going to be as much fun as other activities, but this ZRT mower makes it more fun than a chore of this size has any right to be.  I am enough of a hillbilly to admit that I enjoy taking the thing out to the dirt area the horses used to use and doing power slides to spin it around.  And that I generally disregard the warnings about which hills are too steep to take it down.  The simple truth is that it makes mowing the grass pleasant.  I won’t say meditative.

It engages the brain enough to focus slightly and to feel present in one’s body, while also leaving enough time to ruminate, cogitate, and otherwise think deep thoughts.  Like, “Should I have rye or bourbon when I finish?” or “Should I use a v-cut or a guillotine on that My Father cigar I’ve been saving?”   It also allows for frivolous thoughts on the joy of work.

Now, I’m not claiming that work will set you free.  But doing a task that engages both the body and the mind, and has a concrete end result, (IE: the yard now looks good, not an overgrown mess) leaves one with a sense of accomplishment that has to be good for the mental health.  Some sunshine, some wind, and some nature all add to that. It creates a sense of justifiable pride.

Work creates a type of pride that is based on accomplishment and creating value.  Instead of being based on the resounding gong of ego.  Not to go all old-man-shaking-his-fist-at-clouds, but I think one of the most valuable lessons from growing up when, where, and in the environment I did, I learned the value of work.  Of sometimes needing to get things accomplished regardless of whether I wanted to.  And that getting things done can often provide a sense of well-being.

It makes me wonder if the prosperity and luxury of our country and the overweening precautionary principle have combined to mean kids do less work of this time, fewer chores, and that cripples them.  Makes them turn to dead end ideas.  The idea of taking care of yourself has become foreign and therefore frightening to whole lot of people.


Maybe all we need are more Zero Turn Radius mowers.