Towards the end of summer I was out with our little ride-on mower, mowing the perimeter of our property. I also was taking it down a couple of hills, trying to cut some cross paths here and there for fun. As I came across a hill, I was nearing our perimeter, and there was one of our neighbors on his much more powerful and solid, double rear wheeled tractor with a large pull-behind mower. I smiled and we both shut down our vastly different mowers so that we could have a conversation.
He introduced himself and said that he felt badly that I was struggling to mow, and so he had started up his tractor to help us out and had already started mowing the perimeter to assist me while I was out there with my piddly mower that would have gotten stuck in the dense pasture if I had ventured out too far into it!
Steve had mowed our property for years before we arrived, so it was all familiar territory to him – with its dips and steep hills. We talked for at least 30 minutes about everything from hunting to getting back to a time when our lives weren’t so connected and controlled by cell phones and social media…a time when neighbors were outside like we were right then – bumping into each other as they worked or recreated on their properties. We knew we had a lot in common from that point of view.
That day he generously offered to mow the property any time we needed some help. We had intended (and still do) to get a more substantial and safer walk-behind mower, but for the time being, mowing the pasture didn’t seem like a big priority, so I thanked him profusely and said that if he still wanted to help that day, I would greatly appreciate his mowing a couple of paths across the back of our property for the time being. He graciously complied, and we followed up with an evening delivery of homemade cookies to his door later that day!
After our visit with the Dougherty’s in Ohio, we came to the conclusion that mowing the property might not be such a bad idea after all. Allowing the pasture to go fallow for too long without animals would allow for some less desirable plants to try to take over. We knew it would be a while before we would have enough livestock to graze all of this land. Mowing would somewhat mimic the presence of animals to the best extent could at this stage – cutting the seed heads, putting down green manure, pressing the seeds into the soil by the weight of the tractor wheels. PLUS it had the added benefit of allowing us to see what lay beneath that lush growth – the lay of the land, the steepness of some of the hills (!), and the location of springs and seeps that we hope to develop as we build up the farm. We walked a bowl of homemade stew over to Steve one evening and told him we’d like to hire him, and he was over getting started before long!
Steve has been working hard, and Roy and I were excited to go out and explore the other day.
We found a great spring on the side of the hill below the house that can be developed to supply animals on the upper half of the back of the property, and another incredible spring near the grotto at the lower part of the property. We’ve pretty much identified springs and seeps in all 4 corners of the lot.
Soon the property will all be mowed, and we will anxiously await the greening up of the pastures next spring. And as an added plus, the kids are happy that they have almost endless hills for sledding this winter!
They say good neighbors are hard to come by, but we have been blessed by some true gems!