Monday, August 20, 2018

Lawn Mowing, Cicadas And Big-City Nature

     Tamara's battery-powered lawnmower makes pretty short work of our yard.   Faced with the size vs. torque vs. efficiency of DC motors, the maker opted for two small blades with their own motors instead of a single big one.  The resulting swath is wider than any non-riding motor I have operated* and it doesn't mind the occasional overlooked stick.

     Yesterday, I manged to mow all of the front yard and most of the back before my clothing was soaked through from perspiration.  The humidity way way down -- almost fifty percent when I began -- and that made the mid-eighties heat easier to take.  I even cleared away another two feet of the yard-wide "jungle" between the garage and the fence!  Might have a path all the way to the gate yet this year.  I've been trying to clear a few feet every weekend and give it a shot of weedkiller.  There actually stepping stones and gravel all the way, but possibly no barrier cloth underneath. 

     The cicadas have been very vocal this summer and they're starting to hum in unison between the louder cries.  This may indicate those crazy kids are starting to get together.  One has decided the screen of our kitchen window overlooking the back yard is a great place to spend the night, and has been parking itself there a little after sundown.  The day's singing has ended by then, so we don't mind it.  It's a nice green-and-black cicada; Tam tried to photograph it through the window last night, but no dice.  

     There was a chipmunk camping out in the old chimenea for awhile but the neighborhood cats may have got him.  The chipmunk population is well-controlled by our feral cat population -- the rabbits may be a little ahead this year and adult squirrels are a bit large and aggressive for most cats, but they do well against the smaller rodents.  Our possums are pretty stable; there's one or two working the back yards, raiding cat food and eating ticks. The neighborhood raccoon colony remains well-behaved.  Maybe that should be "is well-behaved again," since earlier this year, one claimed our neighbor's garage and refused to be convinced it was a bad idea.  That one got relocated and the rest of them have kept to the storm drains, taking to the trees during rain.  I'm not sure what they eat, other than cat food left out for the feral cats; they're good about staying out of garbage cans.  Raptors remain the biggest predators commonly seen, though coyotes and foxes are occasionally spotted.  We've got a lot of wildlife, for deep inside a large city.
* When I was growing up, my Dad found, after giving up on an enormous (and kind of scary) semi-pro mower that came with the house, a riding mower that hinged in the middle to steer!  The mower deck was underneath, three blades that covered more than three feet per pass.  It was about as kid-safe as lawnmower could be, and so he gave lawn mowing chores to my sister, me and our little brother in turn, as we each were old enough to operate the thing.  That still left the bombshelter/stormshelter "hill" in the back yard, which was too steep for a riding mower and dangerous to mow with a powered push mower.  My Mom spent many summers experimenting with low-growing ground cover, hoping to avoid anyone having to mow it, and eventually settled on crown vetch.


Ken said...

Back in the '70s we had a Sunbeam two-motor electric mower. It worked pretty well and was nearly impossible to stall. It was AC rather than battery, so the 100' extension took some managing, but the mower had a "flip-over" handle with little steel sliding tabs to lock the handle in place, so turn rows were easy to deal with.

Merle said...

Sounds like you have quite a menagerie in your neighborhood!