In a recent column I explained how my wife became the proud owner-operator of our first riding mower. That was many years ago, but I still get emotional when I visualize her taking that little 30-inch Snapper on its debut outing. The morning sun illuminated a perfectly blue sky as she tenderly manicured our lawn, carefully trimming patches of grass and weeds to a precise height of 1.75 inches. It was a touching moment to know my days of walking behind a push mower had come to an end.
Jane says she doesn’t mind mowing our lawn and I’m not about to question her sincerity. I think it bothers her less to cut the grass than to look at the shredded pinecones which are my trademark. Her commitment to picking up pinecones and sticks is much stronger than mine. My inclination is to mulch everything, even litter if it’s biodegradable and in the back yard. This approach is based on my commitment to the environmental benefits of mulching, something I am extremely passionate about.
My wife has taken good care of our lawn for years and I’m grateful. Recently, however, I’ve discovered something she’s never mentioned and to which I’ve been oblivious. I was unexpectedly exposed to the joys of mowing. Jane had not told me how much fun it can be.
Our Snapper was in a rehab program at Russ Bowden’s Home for Wayward Mowers, so I borrowed my brother’s John Deere. His knee was hurting from a fall, so I cut the grass at the farm before taking his mower to our house. I sheared about six acres in a single day, five more than my old record.
During those few hours of mowing, I found that zipping around on a zero-turn machine is more sport than work. It combines the thrills and skills of driving a go-cart with riding a horse in a barrel race. One minute I was flying down the straightaway with the wind in my face. The next moment I was spinning around a tree, seeing how close I could get without knocking my hat off.
The joys of mowing have been kept somewhat of a secret by my wife and many others. Their reasons may be valid, but it seems to me that everyone should be invited to the party. That’s why I’ve decided to organize the first ever Southeastern Lawnmower Rodeo. Lawnmower racing has been around for a while, but this takes it a step further where grass is cut in a supervised competition. Fortunately, we have a big yard so the event can be conveniently held right here on U.S. Highway 41 in Dooly County.
Rather than have hundreds of mowers show up the same day, I plan to conduct preliminary individual trials. The careful assessment of each entrant will determine eligibility for the post season clipoffs. A nominal processing fee of ten dollars is required but may be waived for hardship cases. An eight-hour period will be allowed to complete the mowing of our yard between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Judging will be based on overall lawn appearance, time expended, adherence to safety protocols, and other factors as may later be determined. There are no limitations as to how many trial runs an entrant may make. Each ten-dollar fee assures you that only your best score will be used in the rankings.
Trial runs will be limited to one per week during the summer, or two if the grass is growing especially fast. After they are concluded, we’ll narrow the field to the top 40 and schedule group competitions in four divisions of ten each with a wild card possibility.
Grand prize will be a free subscription to joinerscorner.com, 5000 points, and a tee-shirt that says, “I’M A WINNER!” All prizes for top ten finishers are guaranteed to be of inconsequential value.
It may take some time to work out the official rules of the competition. Meanwhile, unscored practice runs can be made through the end of September. No fee is required, and these won’t affect rankings in any way. Just let me know when you can mow.
Mowing can be great fun, but it took years for me to find that out. That’s why I’m dedicating my efforts and offering our yard toward promoting the rodeo. So, call now to reserve a practice time while choice slots are available. Our phone lines are open and the grass is growing. The joys of mowing await.