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No, Kan Haz Mow Nao!

So I asked Miss E this morning if she would like to try mowing...
Because, of course she wanted to.
She told Weatherdude she was going to mow and there was an immediate "she's too young" reaction from her father. Right. So I said "let's just see if she can keep the blades running" and "I have no intention of leaving her outside mowing without adult supervision on her first try." Yeah. She can keep the blades running. I gave her instructions to mow in a straight line where possible, but I must admit I didn't mention overlapping straight lines. She mows likes she vacuums. We'll work on coverage as a concept, using spatial geometry (which she has) to break up an area into some sort of pattern that has full coverage with least effort.

Thirty minutes later, we had a lawn looking like this:

Weatherdude calls it a "random walk on the lawn."

There were times when she resembled one of those cartoons where you see someone going one way and then see them going the other way. The way I see it, this is independence, this is self-reliance, this is "I can do it all by myself." And this is, most importantly, "I can do what a boy can do, I can do anything I want to." Pretty much. And I'd like to see more boys doing this, frankly (Weatherdude does it too!):

Eventually, she disappeared on us, downhill through the trees (ack!) and into the back area (which I'd mowed on Friday). She thought she was done. Yeah, gotta talk to you about how to vacuum, too. We sent her back round to the front and she cleaned up a number of spots before calling it quits. She hauled the wheel around so much I wasn't surprised. Straight rows are much easier on the arms. The tractor sort of runs itself in a straight line. But that's for the next lesson.

Frog Out



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 13th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
A human Roomba.
May. 13th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
Isn't the point of the roomba that it will eventually vacuum everywhere? I need a lawn roomba, clearly. :D
May. 14th, 2012 12:21 am (UTC)
this brought me such joy! thank you for sharing! (and for giving E room to learn on her own :).
May. 14th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
My plan is that by the time she gets behind the wheel of a car (in 3 years, ack!), she will have lots of experience. She still has trouble with the brake (which requires strength and length). The tractor stops if you don't push the accelerator, but you have to have the brake on to start it or to put the parking brake on. And you have to push the brake pedal to take the parking brake off. Once she can do that, she'll be able to start the tractor herself. Which could be interesting. We have 10 acres here and lots of things to run into. So is this a safe or unsafe place to learn?

It was a lot of fun to watch her go.
May. 18th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
Probably a less safe place to learn than a perfectly level suburban lawn. Of course you'll tell her to avoid the slopes, or to only mow slopes directly up-and-down, but the problem is the weird little dips and trenches that aren't easily seen.

I found mowing the field harrowing when I felt myself unexpectedly tipping over sideways. But once I learned to turn the wheels downhill and just go with it (whee! a hidden slope!), it's not so bad. But instinct says to stop or turn uphill, so safe technique must be learned. Maybe force her to practice on baby slopes until she gets the concept.

But once she's good at mowing, think of all the fun to be had! Back when I had free time on the farm, I'd have fun mowing giant messages into the field that could be read from space (or our 2nd story windows). I didn't have the patience to mow the entire field at one time, anyway, so this amused me over the course of days.
May. 18th, 2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
our 5 acre field is harrowing as well, especially when the grass gets taller. My father set the grass on fire when he mowed it the first year we were here. But beside that, there's an old raised road across it with occasional metal poles still. If you cross that, you can end up in a ditch on the other side. Nowadays, we try to convince the neighbor (i.e. the late Matt's boss) to hay it at least once a year.

Otherwise, the property is free of most holes and hills and has gentle slopes for her to learn on and some big, wide open areas.

I agree with you about turning into the downward slope. It's almost counter-intuitive and scary.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )