September 14, 2022

Investing in a ‘self-propelled life-assurance policy’

            Not once but twice, I thought, “Oh, no. I’m about to die.”

            I had been mowing on a slope when my tractor tipped at a precarious angle. Once should have been warning enough. But on the second “oops,” I drove the diesel machine straight to the farmhouse. This was in the days before I toted a cell phone or used Google.

            Once inside, I shuffled the stack of literature in the corner of the kitchen counter. Picking up the DR Brush brochure, I dialed—on the wall phone—the 1-800 number and placed an order for a walk-behind rotary mower.

The powerful engine—with positive traction for the slopes—can chew up small saplings and waist-high grass without strain or tipping over. That meant that if I tripped and turned loose of the handle, the machine killed itself and not me. In a few days, a crate arrived at The Hartwell Sun’s warehouse.

That was my first DR Brush. Now, I’m on a second mower with a more powerful 17.5-horsepower engine. And if you put it in jack-rabbit gear, you best hop into your running shoes. The bad boy will take you on a trot. When I feel frisky, I “get in my steps” in high gear. On flat ground, of course.

Lately, my mowing doesn’t end. With all the rain, I simply start over again. I believe that if you stare at the grass for five minutes, you can see it inching skyward. Sunday, my “ox was in the ditch,” chest-deep in grass and weeds. After church, I spent time on the tractor and zero-turn mower.

Just when I thought that I could embrace the balance of the “day of rest,” I remembered the wilted sunflower patch. We plant sunflowers in stages, so that the bright yellow blossoms are stretched out over three months. Friends and strangers stop by to pick a few and take photos. It’s fun to witness and listen to the oohs and aahs.

Sunday, the second and third plantings were a drooping brown bunch. Next to them are two rain-enhanced green patches racing—against the first frost—to show their colors. My “ox” was still in the ditch.

And since the dead patch was inside a board fence, I couldn’t get my tractor in without driving over the almost-ready sunflowers. Poor planning on my part. Also, I didn’t want to risk over-challenging my zero-turn mower on the thick sunflower and invasive pigweed stalks.

Pigweed. Don’t get me started.

There was only one thing to do—crank up my DR Brush.

If I had been a Cool Hand Luke-type convict, with a sling blade, the task would have taken an afternoon rather than just 30 minutes. All I had to do was shove the DR Brush into first gear and trudge along, guiding it up and down the waist-to-shoulder-high rows.

Chomp, chomp, chomp.

By the end of the second pass, Mother Nature opened her bird cage, and hundreds of small birds, goldfinches and such, started picnicking on the sunflower seeds being flung about. The machine was doing the work, giving me time to enjoy the happy winged visitors.

Farms are one of the most dangerous places to work. You can’t be too careful around the equipment. I still get chill bumps thinking about the two times my tractor almost turned over on me.

That’s why I consider my DR Brush a good investment in a “self-propelled life-

assurance policy.”