Bush Hogging, Baby

Don’t take this the wrong way, but I love old men. I love them. They aren’t dramatic. They are typically mellow, retired, experienced in fixing anything that could possibly break, and generous with their time and resources. Old ladies are nice, too, but usually they are off getting their hair done or taking a really long time to get ready to go anywhere. For my general purposes, I’ll take an old man over an old lady any day.

The other day  I was scouring around to find someone with a tractor who could tame my very, very large yard. I decided to try the Facebook channels to see who might know the cheapest, fastest tractor owning fella. My pig-owning friend, I think we called her Fribby, suggested I get in touch with her step grandfather in law. Draw up that family tree if you get bored.

I was uncomfortable with this arrangement. (1) I roped Fribby into the whole pig kissing incident and still haven’t lived down what happened in that media center last Christmas. (2) Fribby has helped me out with far more than I have helped her. (3) This guy wasn’t really in it for pay so much and the favor seemed too large to ask. She assured me that he liked to drive tractors, was super nice, and would accept some gas money.

So Mr. B showed up on Monday with a little tractor dog named Sparky. He brought his tractor mowing rig with him and his walk-behind bush hog. That was my job. Walk behind it and hog the bushes.

Or something like that.

All of this would be much, MUCH more interesting if I had taken a photo of where I was mowing or a video of it happening. It was like an action adventure movie without a plot or any interesting actors. The brush was 7 feet tall. It was like walking into a jungle. Worst.job.ever.

My observations can be summed up in a few short paragraphs:

(1) There is a reason God chose frogs as one of the plagues. Frogs are horrifying and slimy and terrible in every way. They can jump any direction, utterly randomly, and spring up to 15 feet. I saw it. It’s true. They can be the size of a human head and spotted or small and slimy and the color of bones. Really. Truly. Awful.

(2) Fire ant beds are quite plentiful in overgrown jungles in Florida. The beauty of that is, you can’t see them until you’ve already mowed over them and made them super, DUPER irate. I learned to spring like a pole vaulter while ripping off my shoes in mid-air and frantically swiping ants away before I ever hit the ground again. Pretty sure I looked like a drunk monkey with a lawn mower. Surprisingly, I only sustained about 5 real bites (as opposed to the fake kind, you know). Amazing, considering that I planted my foot in at least eight very angry ant colonies.

(3) I wrote a sequel to Children of the Corn in my head as I mowed. The main antagonists were mutant ants wielding lawn equipment. Very exciting stuff. There was a little sidebar romance, too, but I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you decide to buy the book someday.

Some old guys have bush hogs. Some old guys have a flimsy fly swatter and a heap of determination.

Whatever you have, swing it with all you got and never, EVER stop moving.


Last Tuesday was my youngest baby’s first day of Kindergarten. Several times in the last couple of weeks I have grown misty-eyed over this fact, but I have not and will not cry. I decided it would do me no good and likely do me all kinds of harm. I was born, rather unfortunately, an ugly crier. When I tell people this, many of them say, “Hey! Me too!” I’ve heard that before. You may THINK you are an ugly crier, but the world is a relative place and compared to my ugly cry, you are radiant. Trust me.

We are in a new place, at a new school, trying to make new friends. I can’t afford that kind of ugly.

So I didn’t cry.

Instead, I cleaned. I scheduled myself to clean for my older friend, Mr. J., which last Tuesday was both necessary and very helpful. Upon arriving, I unloaded my stuff and chatted with him for a few minutes about life and the joys of nursing calves and hard water. Then I settled into my normal routine, which always begins in the hall bathroom. The fist thing I always do is open the shower door to survey the hard water damage of the last two weeks. From first sight, I know what I’m up against. This day was different. This day had a pink striped towel hanging over the shower door. When the door swung open, I could see through the frosted glass–lurking under the cover of this damp towel–the largest, most evil spider my eyes have ever seen in a non-Discovery Channel setting. This was a real spider…up in my real grill.

It was horrifying.

I didn’t scream or slam the door.
Too dangerous.
But I did bolt, sort of cat burglarlike.
I was going to get Mr. J.
But wait–he’s 90. And he has a couple of broken vertebrae in his back right now. I can’t ask him for help on this.

But I have to, I thought to myself.

I had to.

The next few minutes were a bit like a medicinally induced weird dream. There I was, cowering in a 70-year-old bathroom while a 90-year-old man danced around in his shower doing a smack-smackety-smackdown with a hairy spider. He was armed with only a flimsy fly swatter and his courage.

At the end of it all, I said a sheepish thank you and went back to cleaning.

As I wiped down the shower, I thought to myself that I could do it if I had to. Next time.

To test my courage, I volunteered to use a walk behind bush hogger on a fenced in horse paddock that had grown wilder than the Montana back country. The plants and small trees were 7 feet tall.

That was yesterday.

When I get off the meds and can use my arms again, I’ll write about that one.

I’m not on meds. That part was a joke.

The rest of it wasn’t so amusing.