Monday, May 11, 2009

The Reel Deal

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

Ahh, Spring.  The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, plants are blooming, and grass is growing - and growing, and growing, and growing.  Somehow, practically overnight I swear, my lawn became a hayfield.  Crap.  I have not even  taken the snow blower off my lawn tractor, let alone remove the tire chains, weights, and put the mower deck back on.  Plus, it is leaking transmission fluid.  What's a girl to do?  

I do not know about other girls, but this girl did what she does best.  Play dumb and pull the pity-me-I-am-just-a-poor-girl-whose-husband-is-deployed-overseas card to sucker some poor sap into doing the work for me.  No, not this time.  I thought I would try a different route.  I do not really feel like dealing with the mower right now, nor do I feel like reeking of gas, inhaling exhaust, and losing my hearing.  I bought a real reel mower.  You know, one of these?

The Scotts Classic 20".  Isn't she a beauty?  One mean, lean, green piece of people-powered machinery.  It was super easy to assemble, only taking 10 minutes.  I used the pity card a little bit and conned the sales associates into assembling it for me at the store.  I watched and timed them.  Online research stated it would take 30 minutes.  From cutting open the box to me taking it for a test drive on the grass outside the store was under 15.  It was the only model I could find with a cutting height range of 1 -3 inches.  It was the 3 inches that I really wanted.  Adjustment could not be simpler.  You just move the lever on each wheel to the height you want.  The Scotts Classic 20" gives you nine options.

I set the blades to high, gave everything a once over with WD-40 and commenced cutting - and cutting, and cutting, and cutting.  Did I tell you I have a half acre?  Yeah...  I know I mentioned my lawn had become a hayfield.  The grass was 8 inches long is some areas!  Not exactly the easiest to push through.  I managed, but not without getting a blister for my efforts.  It took two passes to get a good cut.  And at that I would not call it clean.  It is best likened to shaving with a safety razor for the first time.  Slow and steady, takes multiple passes, and still you miss strips.

One day later, half the lawn is mowed with less than stellar, but acceptable results and I have received one helluva workout.  It takes a long, long time.  It is not easy, but not torture either.  I suspect it would not have been as laborious or time consuming if the lawn had not been allowed to pasture.  That goat seems like a better idea every day!

From this:

To this:

It was a beautiful day and wonderful to be out enjoying it.  After months of hibernating inside under five layers of clothing I could use some sunshine - and exercise.  It was pleasant to come in smelling like sweat and fresh cut grass rather than gasoline and exhaust.  I even worked barefoot.  Not that I advocate operating machinery barefoot!  But, it is pretty hard to cut a toe off with a reel mower unless you stick them directly on the blade, which does not move unless you are pushing forward.  Being barefoot in the grass brought out the little kid in me. 

Another positive note is no fear of projectiles.  I have half a lawn full of pine cones, the other half littered with walnuts, and the entire thing blanketed with sticks.  Any one of these exiting a gas mower become missiles capable of impaling people, busting windows, and denting cars driving by.  Been there, done that.  You can even mow while laundry is hanging on the line to dry.  No cloud of dust and grass clippings!  No gas to buy, very little maintenance, and ease of storage make the reel mower something to consider.  If you have a small city lot, this is definitely the way to go.  Even if you have a half acre like me, do not rule it out.  It is doable, costs less than a gym membership, and may even inspire someone else to give it a reel real try.


Eco-friendly Mommy said...

Wow, you have a lot of lawn! A family member of mine down in Georgia has a lot of lawn to mow as well, and they use a riding mower. I admire you for using a manual mower! Don't know if I would have the patience, but it is definitely the green way to go!

Glenda said...

I prefer to use a reel mower, but I do cross-cut the yard to get as clean a cut as possible -- even then, it's not as cleanly cut as with using a gas-powered mower, but to not smell like exhaust and gasoline, I don't mind having blades of grass sticking up here and there ;-).

One thing I discovered with the reel mower is that it's worth the effort to walk thru the yard first and pick up sticks and anything else that might jam the reel mower's blades. It stinks to be trucking along and be brought up short because a stick had wedged itself in the blades!

I love our reel mower, but if I can't get the mowing done before the grass gets too high for the reel mower, hubby busts out the gas-powered mower to get things back under control.

Green Bean said...

We just did the post-cut cut on our lawn after winter. It's nowhere as big as yours but I still got quite a work out. Reel lawn mowers are the way to go!

Alison said...

now that is the work of a green super heroine! Our lawn is about 1/20 the size of yours, but we too love our reel mower.

greeen sheeep said...

Glenda - after two shots to the chest with the mower handle I decided to spend the next hour in pine cone purgatory. It was a mind-numbing sticky task, but I would rather have all that sap on my hands than gunking up the blades of my mower. And, it was nice not to be stopped short by one every 20 steps. Definitely worth the extra effort!

Lisa Sharp said...

We got an electric lawn mower because our yard is not good for a reel mower. I love how quite it is and the lack of exhaust. My husband doesn't feel nearly as bad now after mowing. It's great!!

Anonymous said...

We bought a push mower recently. I love it! But we luckily have a MUCH smaller lawn than you.

I love that not only is it better for the environment but it sounds better!

Jen said...

holy cow,huge lawn! I'm impressed with your reel mower dedication!

We have one as well, but we just live on a regular city lot and the front yard is all plants, so it's not much work at all.

Lawn mowers are one of those things that everyone has, but only uses occasionally. Why the heck don't we all get together with our neighbors and share them? It's like all power tooks-I heard somewhere that the average drill only gets used for a total of 9 hours in it's lifetime.

In any case, no emissions is the way to go.Nice work.


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