Here's the Scoop: Oct. 15, 2008

Government trimming
At this time of year, my normal obsession with keeping the grass cut and weeds whacked begins to fade. Oddly enough, I’m not terribly concerned about a lawn full of leaves.
This year, I am trying even harder than usual not to get too crazy as I prepare for my annual State of the Lawn address. There are several reasons for my newfound, laidback attitude. Despite the “bargain” gas prices we’ve been experiencing in the past weeks, I am still not happy when I can no longer fill the five-gallon gas can with the crumpled bills I find in the bottom of the washing machine. (P.S. – While I appreciate gas at “only” $3.32 per gallon, I really like it at $1.90.)
Despite the costs of operating the machinery to keep the lawn in shape, the real reason for my loss of interest this year is the equipment itself. The Old Wheel Horse has been the subject of this column more than once. I’m not sure of the vintage of this riding mower, but I think it has more candles on its cake than John McCain.
Just like most people do when they age, the Old Wheel Horse suffered a major droop recently when the mower deck dropped to the ground with a grinding thud. It’s certainly fixable (by others), but this mechanical failure is just one of about a dozen in need of repair. So, the Old Wheel Horse sits idly, waiting for some TLC. Or a sympathetic buyer.

Out of whack
Unfortunately, the much younger string trimmer has many operational issues of its own. The largest problem is that it doesn’t work. This was a highly-rated machine not that many years ago when I brought it home all shiny and new. It never really lived up to the advance billing and now has been donated to a “tinkerer” for enjoyment purposes. Chopping weeds will not be included.
So, looking ahead to spring (or Christmas!) there will definitely be a string trimmer on the shopping list. But not just any trimmer. I have been told by numerous sources that my trimming habits (anything that grows, pretty much) demand the type of trimmer that accepts blades. While I’m not good with sharp objects, I’ll take my chances in this department.
I’ve been casually checking the prices of these high-end trimmers and they rival 100 or so gallons of gas. Still, I think for the sake of my “taming the forest” goals, I need to make this upgrade.
Lawn tractors, of course, carry a much greater price tag. I do have a certain amount of sentiment for the Old Wheel Horse, but when I have to sort of lunge back and forth to coax the old tractor up small inclines, emotion comes to a screeching halt. I’m also spending a considerable amount on starting fluid at this point. Add this to the repair budget and the cost of a new tractor doesn’t look that bad.
Plus, I’m confident that by the time spring rolls around, the economy will have plunged to such a low level that “Lawn Care Bailouts” will be in full swing. If not, I may just have to settle for a couple of “Bale Outs” from those in need of hay.