Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Purposeful Mower

It's July, hot, and we're currently enjoying the in between phase of farm life. There's not a lot of haste in the farmer's steps, except when hay is down and the rain is coming. This new pace is refreshing, but idle hands drive the farmers in our operation crazy.

Thus, the mowing begins.

At first, I didn't understand what the whole deal was with mowing roadsides. Sure, cosmetically, the edge of the fields look better, and there's that whole weed control aspect of it, but seriously? Do we need to have three mowers going at once.

Answer: yes.

As a newbie field observer in all things farming, it has taken the crossing of my love of running, the fact that I live on a farm, a treadmill on the fritz, and an unfortunate run-in with a dead skunk this morning to make me realize the multifaceted resoning behind mowing roadsides.

Reason #1: Weed control. This is somewhat obvious, probably. Just like mowing our own lawn and completing the string trimming, it helps keep the weeds out of the edge of the fields. Weedy soybean fields are not only unsightly to a farmer's keen eye, but are also not great for production. I wish we would have followed this set of rules with our garden, but there's always next year!

Reason #2: Cosmetic appeal. Farmers may have the stereotype of "gettin' down and dirty," but the farmers around here not only wear collared shirts as they grease the zerts (seriously, that's a part of the combine. . .I think), but pride themselves on keeping the fields well groomed. I guess coffee shop talk about who has the nicest looking place is like junior high peer pressure.

Reason #3: Safety. This is where I come in. This morning, as I enjoyed my five miler (if that is really possible in July) on our gravel road and the blacktop, I met up with an early morning "commuter." I eased over to the side of the blacktop, but only as far as the waist high weeds would let me. Not wanting to fall into the camoflauged ditch or get poison ivy, I only went as far as the pea gravel on the edge of the blacktop. Thankfully, the driver scooted over as well, and I was happily not knocked off pace, but I found myself wondering why the heck the neighboring farmers hadn't gotten out and mowed their roadsides. My pace quickened also as I met up with my cousin's golden lab, busting out of the now neck high weeds on her way home from her morning tour of the neighborhood. If the weeds would have been mowed, I could have been completely out of harms way and wouldn't have nearly screamed when I saw Gunnar. Seriously, get in your air conditioned cab and mow the dang roadsides.

And finally, Reason #4: Roadside Treasures: I wish you could hear the sarcasm in my voice as I say the word, treasures. As I traveled down the serene road, wishing I had a camera to take a picture of the sun rising, I was met with not only a dead skunk (and its smell), roughly half a dozen water bottles, beer cans, a container of spinach salad (seriously), and a dead coyote pup hidden in the tall grass (almost causing scream #2). However, all of these treasures were found on the unmowed roadsides, whereas the mowed ones just made me realize more and more how necessary this chore is. I guess seeing a patch of tall weeds makes a traveler think that the road is his or her trash can. As far as the road kill goes, I just wish I would have had some time to mentally prepare for seeing the critters. . . bugged eyes on a dead animal at 6AM is not fun.

Regardless, my smarty pants approach to farming and its activities is once again thwarted. A seemingly unneccessary chore that takes Joe away for the entire day, makes Dad use the mower we call the "Man Killer," and leaves all of them sweaty and nasty at the end of the day is absolutely necessary. Now if I could just get the men to think that the artwork I need to hang in my bedroom is as necessary as keeping up with the mowing!


  1. I completely agree with you on reason #1. If the roadside weeds are not taken care of, they can spread to farmers' fields. (Thistles in particular) I know in these economic times a lot of counties and states are cutting back on the amount of mowing they do in order to save money. So I'm glad to see you are taking care of the roadsides near you.
    a Latte with Ott, A

  2. Great post! We were just talking about how farmers (including my farmer) are obsessed with straight rows!

    Two Maids a Milking\

  3. Yeah, hubby's been spending a lot of quality time with the mower and weed eater recently!