Mowing is just another chore

Susan Manzke
Susan, covered in grass clippings.

I can't help but think about my husband when I'm using his zero-turn lawnmower. He loved that machine and enjoyed running it over all the grass on the farm. Often, he'd be in his mowing zone and forget he had to put gas in the engine. Good thing we had cell phones so he could call me for help.

When Bob’s name came on caller ID on my phone, I knew either he was out of gas or stuck somewhere.

Up until this past week, a muddy section had stopped me from mowing part of our lane. Finally, it had dried up. I hurried to get the mower so I could cut past an area where the grass had grown unhindered.

Rain was predicted. That dry lane wouldn’t be dry much longer. I hurried to get the mower going, making sure the gas tank was full—calling home for help from Bob wouldn't work for me.

Before I started mowing, heading for very heavy grass, I sent daughter Rebecca an instant message to say I was going down the lane. At least, if I lost my way in the tall grass, or got stuck in a hidden muddy spot someone would know where to search for me.

The back of the lane hadn't been cut all summer. A mud-lake had crept across the lane, stopping the mower before it could buzz through. Our cart couldn’t get across that spot either. Russell had tested that out, getting stuck in the mud, “in honor of Dad,” Russ said with a laugh. Lucky for him and his son, five-year-old Harrison, they were able to get out of their predicament.

Today was my first chance to make a run at that grass. I set off wearing a bright orange sweatshirt, even though temps were in the 80s. It was my way of warding off biting insects and keeping the sun from burning my skin. And being blaze orange, if a search party was needed, I would be easily spotted—it was the kind of outfit I used to wear when driving the tractor when Bob and I were baling hay, covered from head to toe.

As I started on this adventure, I texted my daughter, Rebecca. “I’m heading down the lane.”

Good thing I knew the area. Someone who wasn’t familiar might have gone off the path. A cornfield defined most of the lane, but some spots made travel tricky.

Snapped from the seat on the mower before cutting the lane.

The ‘sticky’ spots I expected, but anything could be under that high grass, even a fawn.

I moved along at a snail’s pace. That was the only way to mow—I was pleasantly surprised that I could actually cut this tall grass.

The last fifty feet the grass grew even higher. I almost stalled the mower with a clump of heavy growth. Somehow, I kept going.

It took over an hour to make one round trip. When I pulled back into the driveway, I texted Rebecca, “Home again.”

But that wasn’t the end of it. The lane needed a second swipe with the mower.

I topped off the gas tank. That way I wouldn’t be walking home for a can of gas.

The second trip over the lane didn’t take so long. Good thing. By this time the biting flies were out. Though my clothing protected me, they went for my face and hands—I had forgotten to wear gloves.

The lane after one pass with the lawnmower.

Now, the family can use the lane again...well, they can after the rain-filled section dries up.

I don’t enjoy mowing as much as my husband did. For Bob it was fun. For me, it’s a chore. I’m thankful when it is finished. Too bad at that point, it’s time to start at the beginning.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;; and find recordings of old columns on