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We’ve promised a lot of follow-ups on the projects from the winter – but it’s always easier to write about things that are more recent. So here’s a quick update for the spring.

Time to mow the lawn:

While we have a large garden, pasture and woods on our property – we still have no shortage of manicured lawn. That will likely change as we increase the footprint of the “farm,” but it will always be a sizable amount. So, cutting our grass is a time-consuming endeavor – made increasingly complicated by the constant upkeep of the lawn tractor. We bought a used one three years ago with a 42-inch cut and a few hundred hours on it for a 1/5 of what they cost new. A decision I’m mostly happy with. Many parts are cheap online, so upkeep has been more a matter of sweat equity than dollar bills.

This winter I did a deep dive into annual maintenance – replacing all the filters, gaskets, fluids and cleaning the carb. I changed some lines and all the plugs as well and it purrs like a kitten now. It’s stopped burning/losing oil and it feels more powerful. So, this weekend… the seat promptly fell off and the mower deck was shorn from its support arm – rendering it F#*&ing useless.

Our terrain is to blame for both of the issues. It was made for larger residential lots – not old farm property. The machine is just punished every time we take it out on our rocky soil, 60-degree grades and constant divots caused by groundhogs. I was able to fix the seat and finish mowing… but something didn’t look right. I quickly noticed that half the deck was lower than the other.

There are many parts of the yard that can only be cut when going downhill. You ride to the top on the more gradual grade and then make the sign-of-the-cross, white-knuckle the wheel and go down the other side.  While careening down one of these hills in front of the driveway I clipped a pile of gravel left over from the winter’s plowing and it damaged the deck. It looks like the weld was a little compromised by rust already, so it’s not shocking. But it is frustrating. I enjoy repairing lawn equipment but it’s getting to take up too much time. And, it’s getting more costly and I don’t want to buy a new lawnmower.

So – my plan is to do an ISO on our local Buy, Sell, Trade group for a guy with welder and see if he can repair it on the cheap.


In the meantime…

Down about busting the lawn mower, Kate lifted my spirits by pointing out it was only 5:30 and there was still time to bust up the garden. Tilling the garden for the first time is always one of my favorite parts of spring and we did things a little different last year so I was eager to see the result.

In the fall, I turned over the garden when we closed the gate for the final time. Something I have not done before. I’ve read varying opinions on whether it’s good or bad (and I have my own), but some of our decisions, unfortunately, have to be made with our time constraints in mind. The garden this spring was far less overgrown than seasons past and the ground was looser. It turned over much easier (and faster) and now we’ll be able to get started on a few things this week. We have beautiful soil by the way – which I’ve likely said before. It’s a healthy loam with a PH that has allowed us to grow a pretty wide variety of crops. I tested it last year and will again this year. It wasn’t perfect last year (more on that later) but we haven’t been disappointed. The previous owners dumped manure there when they farmed and used it as their garden for 30 years after they stopped farming.

The frost marker in SW Wisconsin is May 15, but we never wait that long. We can cover the bigger plants and plant the slow germinators first – covering the rows if temps threaten to drop too low. Soil temp, not just frost is a consideration, but local farmers have their disc harrows out so I think we’re good. We’ve had some unseasonably warm temperatures and a decent amount of sun.

Here’s to another growing season!