That confounded grass
James Isaacs is a retired educator and full-time cattleman who lives near Magazine. He is one of the closest friends I have and a distant cousin. He told me once years ago that early spring is perhaps his favorite time of the year. The tender grass has just begun springing up, and his cows are in the pastures with their heads down, busy with the job they are bred to be doing. He loves to look out across his pastures and see the cows “mowing” the grass. It looks like money to him.
Grass is critical to those who raise livestock. Let the drought come along in the summertime, as it usually does, and the ranchers and cattlemen have to start feeding hay earlier than they had planned to, and they can just see the dollars flying away. Who can blame them? Grass is not actually free, but it is the most inexpensive feed source they have.
But one man’s delight is another man’s headache. Pam and I have a large yard, which is a great place for children to play. We have spent many pleasant hours as our kids were growing up, sitting in the porch swing and watching them play in our big front yard during the long evenings of summer. Today a substantial portion of our 18 grandchildren are still at an age at which a large yard is advantageous.
The problem is that yards have to be mowed. And especially this time of the year, they have to be mowed, and mowed, and mowed. One day it rains, and the next day the sun shines, and you can almost hear the grass growing. About the time you get one round of mowing finished, you have to start another one.
As long as my sons were at home, I threw the mowing off on them. But now my closest labor source is at Lamar, home to the Jones Brothers Yard Mowing Service. This enterprise involves three highly enthusiastic young men, ages 10 through 14. As far as I know, I am their only customer, but they get after it and get it done.
One might be tempted to ask at this point, Why don’t you just get a riding mower. Well, in the first place we can’t afford one, and in the second place I have no place to keep one, and in the third place I need the exercise I get with a push mower. But my lower back is dicey enough these days that I have to mow in spells, and the grass almost grows faster than I can mow it.
Another problem with using a riding mower is the nature of our yard. We carved our place out of a pasture 40 years ago. Between the stumps and the terraces remaining from when the pasture was cultivated decades ago and the soft areas caused by moles, it is not the best suited to a riding mower. A good friend of ours kindly brought his rider a few years ago just to help me out when I was getting behind on my mowing. After he was finished, he would say only that “it presented certain interesting problems.”
So, I just keep mowing, and calling the Jones Brothers. But I did visit a couple years ago in Georgia who had an old-fashioned dirt yard. I haven’t had the nerve to bring it up to my wife yet, but that might just be the answer.