What Will The Neighbors Think?

zfescue1This time of year–springtime in Kentucky–the grass is getting tall.

When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time walking through the fields on my daddy’s farm.  In reality I was only a few hundred yards from the country road, but there were not many houses nearby.  I had good parents who loved me more than life itself, but I bet modern social workers  would be apoplectic if they found out how small I was when I went running alone through those fields. 

I was out of sight of the house, but I never went so far that I couldn’t hear my mama holler from the back door that supper was ready. I knew better than to go too far. 

On Daddy’s farm the pastures were surrounded on three sides by woods, so most of the farm was made up of meadows–tall grass spread across rolling hills.

I was little for my age, so in May the grass had seed heads, and was every bit as tall as I was.  I spent lazy evenings wading through that high fescue in the rich, golden light that spread across the fields before the sun went down. In a good year the grass was so thick that if you weren’t careful, you’d tangle your feet in it and trip.

In a bad year–one without rain–it was thin and sparse.zchicory

But for today we will focus on the good years.

Daddy usually made good hay, but even in a good year it was never perfect.  There were always weeds.

And in a good year, for a little girl, those weeds mixed in with the fescue made things better. There were daisies nodding in the sun, and Passionflower blooms hugging the ground.  Soft-as-silk foxtail seed heads at the edges of the field danced with the slightest breeze, tiny yellow and blue flowers peeked out of the shortest grass, and the tall, tan stalks of broom sage dotted the hillsides and added texture to the whole arrangement.

Bees buzzed from bloom to bloom and red wing blackbirds perched on stalks of last year’s milkweed, singing to me as I passed by. Doves hooo-OOOO’d and quail called out “Bob-WHITE?” from the edge of the woods at the top of the hill.

I loved the farm, and I loved the grass when it was tall.  I also loved the smell of fresh-cut hay that would follow in early June, when the grass was cut. But in the springtime, I was an explorer, blazing new trails through the grassy meadows, finding the small treasures nobozwildflower2dy else would see because they never took the time to look.

Back then, there was not necessarily a fence, but there was a definite, distinct line between “the field” and “the yard.”

Daddy mowed the fields twice a year with the tractor and a mowing machine.  He mowed the yard twice a week with a push mower.     

The field was wild and wooly. The yard was nice and short.  It was genteel.  It was neat.

It was a measure of the responsible person in residence on that property.

You could always tell when something was wrong in a neighbor’s life because all of a sudden their yard would be all grown up and unkempt. Other neighbors might step in to mow the grass and help keep up the besieged neighbor’s property dZcolumbine1uring a time of distress.

Some unfortunate houses had yards that were hardly ever mowed. The bushes were never trimmed and the weeds grew waist high in front of the door.

Those people had problems and everybody knew it.

Sometimes those houses were rentals.  Other times the people were just so poor that they could barely afford to buy food.  Forget power equipment and the gas to run it.

Or let’s just get down to the ugly reality.  Sometimes they were drug addicts or stayed passed-out drunk all day and night.  Often, the kids from those houses got on the bus in dirty, torn clothes, with dirt smeared on their faces and no money for lunch.

We didn’t know about clinical depression then.  Kentucky country folk are about as compassionate as any people on earth, but  those old timers didn’t generally make a lot of excuses for anybody who wouldn’t try and sometimes that was the case.  The bottom line was that if the yard and the house looked like hell all the time, it was usually a sign that something was wrong, and the neighbors didn’t have any big words to label it. 

Those people’s lives were just not working.

By zbirdfeeder1strict financial standards my family would have been counted among the poor, but growing up on a farm meant I had plenty to eat.  My folks made sure my face was washed and my clothes were clean.

And our yard?  Our yard was always neat.

Flash forward past high school and college to the year 2000. 

That’s when Steve and I bought this 160-year-old house and started a restoration project. We got ourselves a mortgage, threw every dime we had at this money pit of an old house, and moved in when the house was a shell.  We had a yard that was a whopping acre-and-a half, and the only power equipment we owned was a chainsaw and…drum roll please…a push mower.  A small one.ziris4

In case any of you have never mowed a yard, let me simplify by saying….that’s not enough equipment for a yard that size.

For the first two years we lived here, we mowed one small section of the yard each week. We couldn’t keep up.

Our yard looked like a redneck agricultural experiment gone bad, complete with old appliances, two toilets, and three bathtubs (hey, two of them were clawfoot tubs—that’s classy) alongside the lumber, stacks of bricks and piles of pipe and siding lying in the overgrown yard.

One summer we went away for a week to a Search & Rescue conference and left Steve’s dad with a key and instructions to feed the animals. 

Our house sits about a hundred yards from the road, up on a gentle slope.

We came home after the conference, slowed down to turn into the driveway, and Steve said, “OMG!” and started laughing.  I lifted my head and looked at the yard.  Steve’s dad had used our push mower to mow a ginormous smiley face into the thigh-high fescue in the sloping front yard.

Even so, everybody knew we had just moved in “not too long ago” and we were working on the house.  That was our excuse.

Flash forward to now. 

We’re still working on the hozwildflower3use, but now I own a 26 horsepower riding mower with a 54” deck.  I can mow an acre and a half in about two hours. 

I have a top-of-the-line string trimmer, a tiller, and a high-end push mower plus we still have my trusty workhorse chainsaw.  In one long, hard summer day a week, given decent weather, by golly I can beat nature back and make my yard look like a golf course.

I can.

Can is the operative word here.

My dad’s yard was never a mess.  Never. Neither was my grandfather’s.  Somewhere in my upbringing I developed the ingrained belief that people ought to keep their houses and yards neat, and if they don’t, something’s wrong.

Ahem.

Honestly, what my neighbors think of me has never been particularly  high on my list of things to worry about, but I do try to be considerate.

 I don’t play my music loud.  I don’t run the string trimmer at five in the morning on a Sunday.  I don’t have wild parties or leave stacks of beer bottles on the lawn. The police do not make regular stops here—at least not with their lights flashing. I try not to bother people. 

ZIris 1But for a few years, an idea has been relentlessly present in the back of my mind.

I first saw this idea implemented when I was in graduate school for horticulture, and it pinged something deep inside me.  Since then it’s been calling to me and I haven’t been able to let it go.  I’ve wanted to try it, but I’ve been afraid.  Because of that whole “nice people keep their yards neat” thing.

This year I gave into the idea.  Two weeks ago I mowed my yard for the first time this year.

But I didn’t mow all of it.

In the back yard, right smack in the middle, I left a meadow.

Yes, a meadow. Complete with tall grass and the requisite weeds.zmeadow3

That’s part of my meadow in the picture on the right.  It’s small.  Only about 50 feet long by 25 feet deep, but it takes up a big chunk of my back yard, and the grass, now,  is almost up to my hips. It’s chock full of daisies and Snow-On-The Mountain and a few wildflowers and a whole bunch of weeds. Bumblebees bumble through it.  Rabbits jump and play in the high grass, and in the morning the dew shimmers on the tall stems as they nod in the gentle breeze.

And since the day I mowed and left my meadow, a thought has been relentlessly niggling at me.

What will the neighbors think?

I know the “you should keep your yard neat” idea is still strong because one time a few years back…this was after I had purchased all that nice outdoor power equipment…a neighbor noticed my yard was  taller than normazturtle1l.

  I’d actually let it grow up because there were two rabbit nests in the front yard, and I was waiting for the baby bunnies to leave the nest and be okay before I mowed.  But he didn’t know that, and without so much as a by-your-leave, he brought his trailer over, unloaded his big zero-turn mower and proceeded to mow my lawn. 

It was a nice gesture.  He thought he was helping us.

I had to run out and stop him before he got to the rabbit nests.  But the message was clear…just like when I was little.

If you don’t take care of your yard, something is wrong with you.

There is farmland all around me.  I could crawl under the fence and walk in the field behind my house if I wanted.  There’s broom sage back there.  And a pond.zdaisy1

But it’s not mine.

That stuff across the fence is not my meadow.

As I type this, I sit at my kitchen table where I work and write, and this picture, below, is the view I see. I look out the window at the tall grass and my soul feels such deep peace.

I mowed all the way around it, and if you look at the pictures, you can see that there are areas of groomed yard surrounding it.  There are definite edges—the point where I mow meets the point where I don’t.  The yard meets the field.  All in my little acre and a half.

I’m hoping that, come summzmeadow2er, lightning bugs will find refuge in the tall grass.  When the rainy weather is past, I hope to sit around the fire pit and hear crickets and frogs chirping in my meadow.

I hope garden spiders string webs between the strands of fescue.

And I really, really hope the neighbors don’t call the DEA.

 

What about you, Bandits and Buddies?

Do you have a yard?zfescue2

Do you keep it neat, or do you let it get wooly?

If you normally keep it neat, have you ever let it grow up for any reason?

In your area, is a messy yard a signal that something’s wrong?

Do the neighbors pitch in to help with the yard if someone falls on hard times?

Do you own any outdoor power equipment?

If so, how long does it take you to mow, trim, and edge?  

If you own fields, do you have fences or do you just “stop mowing” to define your lawn?

Or do you live in an area where you don’t have to mow at all?

Have you ever considered letting part of your yard turn wild–into your region’s equivalent of a “meadow”?

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Comments

43 thoughts on “What Will The Neighbors Think?

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    is he staying lol

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    We live in suburbia and everybody mows their grass…. no people don’t help if they see the grass a bit long…. we have power mower, whipper snipper (strimmer) lawn edger along with one or two more tools….. DH does the lawn and could take him more that 3 hours if he does the edges as well…. we have gardens that are separated from the grass with concrete mower strips and the garden look after themselves …. just have tp prune every now and then. they are mulched to stop any weeds and helps in the hot weather to keep the soil from drying out

    • 2.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Barb it’s a good thing that we don’t live in the suburbs. There would be no way the neighbors would put up with our yard. Sometimes if I’m traveling it gets really tall–even the parts that are not meadow.

      Your concrete strips sound really nice for planting beds. A lot of the work in the spring is edging the beds here. Very difficult to keep the grass out of them. The concrete strips sound lovely.

  3. 3
    Helen Sibbritt says:

    Looks like he is Barbara

    Cassondra

    I so love your posts I wish I could be there with you it seems so relaxing. We have a fairly small yard but I do like it kept neat and tidy Hubby and I used to get out there and do the yard together but when he got sick this all fell on me but I used to love mowing the lawn until it got too much for me as well so now we pay someone to come and do it each fortnight and Alex keeps it neat and tidy although some of the trees really need to be trimmed as for power equipment we don’t have any now we always had a petrol lawnmower and a line trimmer but that is all and now we don’t even have them. I guess I don’t think much about a messy yard I tend to just think the people who live there are either too busy or can’t be bothered, but I do love your meadow.

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 3.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Helen, I feel like such a radical. Out here in farm country it’s just not done. And the truth is, I think in the suburbs or cities, often people just ARE too busy. And nowadays all that reasoning has changed so even people in the country have jobs in town and leave every morning.

      Not so many farmers or farm laborers around as there were when I was a child. Back then everybody around did some sort of farm work or they taught school. I think the old “something is wrong with those people” is probably dying off a bit, and it should. But I still feel guilty about it–it’s the way I grew up, yaknow?

      But I just have to get over it I guess beucase I’m liking my meadow. *grin*

  4. 4
    Anna Sugden says:

    Lovely post, Cassondra! Our garden is a decent size – for an English country garden – and is exactly that. We have a lawn, which is kept mowed, but we also have flower beds and trees and vegetable beds and fruit plants, all mingled in together. Strawberries in amongst the roses, peas growing alongside dahlias and aquilegias, honeysuckle intertwined with blackberries and raspberries. Our bee and butterfly plants grow alongside our corn.

    We set out to have something that was pretty and practical, with the objective of being able to take something edible from it every day (even if that was only herbs). Now, five years on, it’s wonderful and just how we wanted it.

    Do the neighbours approve? Well, it’s behind a wall and fence, so they don’t see it, but we have had two neghbours copy us!

    • 4.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Anna, that’s’ the best way to garden in my opinion. People think it’s a new idea, but it’s not. Old English country gardens are just as you say, and I think that’s ideal. So glad there is a return to that philosophy–or perhaps it’s remained so in your country. That way of gardening is what I remember from my summer there–just as you’ve described it–practical and beautiful.

      A separate veggie/edibles garden is really not the thing, but that’s what we’ve all done here for so long, it’s difficult to break the mold. One thing most English gardens have that I saw is…a fence….and few properties in the American countryside have that. We have cattle fencing of course, but that doesn’t block the view–it’s not really a vertical “wall” to add a nice boundary and keep things contained visually. If you ever decide to post pics of your garden, I’d love to see how you combine your plants. The few I’ve seen of your cats in the garden have been lovely.

  5. 5
    Connie Fischer says:

    Reading your blog this morning is like balm to my soul. It took me back to so many memories of my childhood and to the huge home and yard my husband and I had for so many years. We also had the acre and a half that we battled each week. We lived on a cul-de-sac an were surrounded by water. Hubby (thankfully) never wanted me to use the riding mower and he swore I would end up in the creek. (Sometimes, Ladies, it’s OK to let the men be MCP’s because it can save us a lot of work!) However, I was the one who spent all day Sunday raking leaves and picking up fallen branches. While it was exhausting work, it certainly helped to keep me fit. Fast forward to today and we live in a condo in beautiful Florida surrounded by gorgeous flowers and shrubs. It’s a good thing your blog was so calming because I just about to go out and choke the yard guy for his incessant hedge trimming! Arrgh! The noise was taking the top of my head off. “Thanks for the memories!” :-)

    • 5.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      LOL Connie about the hedge guy. I hope he quiets down soon. If he started much before you posted, that’s pretty early in the morning to be making all that noise!

      I love the gardens in Florida–don’t like the heat in the winter but the sand and the palms and shrubs are so different than they are up here. It’s a nice change. I admit that I would miss this kind of country if I ever moved to the tropics. I’m enjoying my meadow. You should come and take a stroll through it! It would be a short stroll, but we could sit on the deck with a glass of wine and stare at it afterward. You know–prolong the experience. *grin*

  6. 6
    Teresa Hughes says:

    I have a good sized yard but no field. I actually have someone who moves for me every few weeks. He does a great job and usually makes my neighbor’s yard look bad because he does such a great job. I am usually wonering why my neighbor hasn’t mowed. I don’t have any large equipment so if I need anything I borrow it from my neighbor. I have paid to have their yard mowed before as a gift (new baby, no time to mow). I’m not really one to worry about what others think however my grandma would throw a fit if I didn’t keep my yard up.

    • 6.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Teresa, the lady who lived next door when we moved here (she has now passed away and is missed) kept her yard so incredibly neat! Nary a blade of grass was ever too long. No stragglers around the trees or shrubs. In fact, I think the trees and shrubs bothered her. They took away from the perfect “neat” appearance of the yard.

      We gave her fits with the random way I took care of the yard. My grandfather would have looked at my yard and said, “Need to mow yer yard don’t ya?”

      A couple of times we’ve had neighbors stop by and say, “You havin’ trouble with yer mower? Need me to haul it to the shop fer ya?”

      Snork. Yeah. I’m having trouble all right. The trouble is I can’t get time to mow! Ha!

  7. 7
    Caren Crane says:

    Cassondra, we have had a cool, wet, very rainy spring here in Raleigh. I have to say, the Piedmont really shows off in springtime! The grass is green and lush, the weeds are thigh high, the flowers and trees are bursting into bloom. The birds and rabbits are simply beside themselves. I have even heard a twitter-pated barred owl carrying on every night for the past week!

    All that cool, rainy weather means our yard has been out of control. As noted, thigh-high weeds! Every year we have to take our riding mower (currently a rather domesticated, suburban John Deere) to the mower & saw place to be brought back to life and have the blades sharpened. That usually takes weeks. This year, the mower hasn’t even made it to the shop yet! So my husband – bless his heart – has been push-mowing our 1.1 acres. It takes about 6 hours, sometimes more, to push mow all that. And that’s leaving the clippings laying on the ground, too. It we try to bag and mulch the clippings, add another 1-1/2 hrs. It’s madness!

    While the DH mowed last Saturday, I got out my BIG hedge trimmer and pared down the gardenia, the camellias, the hydrangeas and the world’s largest variegated gold dust plants – shrubs that could easily be trees. After all that trimming (and there’s lots more to go), I was faced with the piles of leaves and limbs that needed to be hauled to the burn pile. I loved cutting stuff down, but hate the Stygian trips to the burn pile!

    Suddenly, a young man we know (he’s 25) posted on Facebook that he was desperate for yard work or grunt work of any type so he can raise money to buy a motorcycle to use to get to work. I called him and he came over last Sunday to help us. I worked that poor boy to death! He didn’t bother with the wheel barrow, but got our huge wheeled outside garbage can to use for the trips. He also helped me dig up and transplant a Japanese maple that had sprung up in one of my flower beds and he got the bulk of the work done on the landscaped area in the front yard,

    Our yard went from looking like it needed to be condemned to looking practically respectable in 2 days! Of course, in another week it will look shabby again – at least the grass will. It’s an endless job! But when the yard looks nice, it seems worth it. I may even get around to planting some flowers in my planters this year! :D

    • 7.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      OMGOSH Caren!

      Do you think that young man would come over here? I could keep him busy for a WEEK! He’d be well on his way to the motorcycle.

      Of course, he’d have to sleep on the floor with the cats at night. That might not be the best arrangement.

      I need somebody like that. Unfortunately I’m so picky about “don’t cut that down that’s a FLOWER! Yes it looks like a weed but it’s a FLOWER!” that I’d be awful. Mowing costs have gone through the roof here. It would cost me $75-100 each time I have my yard mowed if I hired it done, and that’s not even trimming. Hmmm…maybe I should mow lawns for a living….hmmmm..

  8. 8
    Joan Kayse says:

    A meadow. In the middle of a yard.

    Brilliant!

    Girl….you have such a gift of getting to the heart of any matter.

    I have a large corner lot in suburbia. I used to use a self propelled lawn mower but gave it up 15 years ago. Now reliable lawnboy “Vince” comes each week and trims it all up nice a pretty…accents my newly trimmed landscape so well.

    But a meadow? I LOVE meadows….we used to have a lot of them in and around this part of town but developers are slowly hacking them away. I am in pure mourning for a plan to build a branch of a mega church in a beautiful one that backs up to a hill of trees….

    As to grown up grass. Around here many times it’s a sign of foreclosure. A little “umph” in the neighborhood.

    • 8.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Joanie said:

      As to grown up grass. Around here many times it’s a sign of foreclosure. A little “umph” in the neighborhood.

      See there Joanie, that’s just it. Around here people think something’s really WRONG if the yard isn’t kept up. You get a break in the springtime, especially if it’s been a rainy year like this one, because everybody figures you “just haven’t gotten started for the season yet.” But by June, you better have your yard at least mowed and looking respectable.

      Hmmm…Maybe I should start, “The Meadow Movement”.

      Incidentally the mailman just brought me a package–to the back door– and he turned around and I saw him pause. His mouth twitched a little as his gaze lingered on my meadow.

      “It’s for the bees,” I said.

      “Ahhhh…” That explained it well enough I guess. He was okay with that.

      And that’s the point after all. Country folk are practical. If you do something out of the ordinary, there better be a purpose.

      And “it gives my heart peace” is just not an acceptable purpose.

      *heavy sigh*

    • 8.2
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Joanie, I meant to say I am saddened by the loss of your meadow to the mega church with what will surely be it’s mega asphalt parking lot.

      In my (admittedly unpopular) opinion, the world does not need another mega-church.

      But we definitely need more meadows.

  9. 9
    catslady says:

    I think lives are so much busier now with jobs and we are hooked on our inside toys – computers, games, etc. We keep our front yard very nice but not so much the back yard. We have a layered hill next to a small woods and if you don’t spend all your time out there, the wild takes over. The first years my husband and I worked and if it rained on the weekend it didn’t get done. I was in charge of all our hedges and bushes, etc. and I did keep up for a while but once the kids came…and then I started caring for feral/strays so I pretty much gave them my covered porch and I tried not to bother them outside too often. Then I got a couple bad bouts of poison ivy – the last time I had it for 3 months from forehead to waist. All excuses I know but I really don’t mind the wild look in the back although when we moved in most of our neighbors were already retired and spend all day out there doing their yards. I have one neighbor who will start at 7 in the morning with his weedwackers and leaf blowers and lawn mower and always woke my kids up and since I’m a night owl…

    • 9.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Haha! Catslady, perhaps you can join me in “The Meadow Movement”!

      Hooray for wooly back yards!

      And that’s just the thing–Steve and I bought more yard than we were able to afford/manage because I so wanted space around me. When you have kids or any kind of other life issue, the yard just has to fall by the wayside.

      I honestly don’t know how my parents and grandparents managed to NEVER let the yard go. I think it HAS to be that farmers are always busy, but they can set their own priorities for how the work gets done. The yard was a priority where I grew up.

      WE are far busier nowadays than people were back when I was a kid. But in this area, expectations haven’t really shifted to match that. No wonder the lawn care business is booming!

  10. 10

    Cassondra, what a beautiful piece. It was like a Wordsworth poem. I love it when you talk about growing up on the farm. Oh, dear, you also roused my guilty conscience. I live in a VERY suburban area and most of the yards in the area look like they’re mowed with nail clippers. Not mine! And I was out looking at my front garden bed yesterday thinking I needed to put a good few hours into trying to turn it from chaos into something that won’t upset the neighbours. I don’t think I’m meant to have a yard!

    • 10.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Anna, I am feeling guilty too, but at the same time, the truth is that while I like the lovely manicured look, I actually prefer things a little more wild.

      I bet the birds and wildlife prefer your slightly chaotic yard to those nail-clippered ones!

  11. 11

    Hey Cassondra!

    Loved all the pictures. Makes me miss my parents place with all their flowers.

    Down here, most summers we just try to keep the grass green and growing. No meadows, but in the spring there are areas full of bluebonnets and Indian brush (bright red flowers)

    My new crepe myrtle bush is thriving in the back yard and thanks to the cooler temperatures the roses are blooming like crazy.

    As for the yard and bushes, we do have a team to come cut and trim on a weekly basis, except when it’s too dry…then we try to let it grow just a little higher and save the cutting for every other week.

    • 11.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Suz, we have some of the Indian brush (we call it Indian Paintbrush) but not much. I want some of that in my meadow. Summers are why I wouldn’t do well down where you live. The dried-out yards would make me crazy. Some years it’s like that up here and I don’t do well. I need my green!

  12. 12
    Becke says:

    Cassandra,
    I completely understand. I ran the family cattle ranch, a half-section(one mile by a half mile) My husband weed whacked the entire i/2 mile of fence line along the road. The rolling hills in MO are beautiful in the spring especially with our calf crop of black baldies.

    Living that life has pros and cons. We now have a garden area neatly trimmed and also a natural area. Jim whacks it about twice a year to keep down the mosquitos.

    I guess like you, we’re half and half.

    • 12.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Hi Becke,

      Now I feel like a slacker for whining. Y’all have a MUCH bigger area to take care of than I do.

      I betthe wildlife loves it that you’re leaving some of it rough now.

      • 12.1.1
        Becke says:

        Your pictures look fab. Far from slacker.

        On the ranch we had 40 acres of woods. 300 acres of pastures. The extension asked us not to cut the grass along the fence rows to promote wildlife. We had quail, rabbits, coyotes, skunks, coons, deer, you name it.

        Operative word is had. The new owners let the farm run down. We don’t visit. It would just make us sad.

        • 12.1.1.1
          Cassondra Murray says:

          Aw, Becke that would break my heart to see something run down after I’d put so much love into it.

          I remember the programs when I was in high school that tried to get farmers to not clean their fence rows, and stop clearing every bit of undergrowth at the edges of the woods. It was a hard sell back then. I almost blogged about fencerows today so I may do that in the future. :0)

  13. 13
    Pat Cochran says:

    We do have a yard, which is usually neat
    but has occasionally gone “native” on us.
    Two dear neighbors stepped up and did
    mow the lawn when Honey was in the
    hospital. (I put my baking hat on when
    we finally got back and each received a
    cake as a thank-you!) We now have a
    yardman to do the lawn. He has a system
    he rides ” upright” upon, it takes him 30-35
    minutes to do both front and back yards.
    Have only not mowed the lawn once, it
    was for an Easter Egg Hunt when the
    children were young!

  14. 14
    Cassondra Murray says:

    Pat, glad I’m not the only one who’s lost control of her yard before!

    Nature tries hard to take it back, no matter what we do.

    I’ve seen those upright riders at trade shows. They’re really neat.

  15. 15

    Cassondra, what a lovely post! I’ve always lived in towns, so mowed yards were the norm. Yes, people did (and would now) assume there was a problem if we just totally let the yard go.

    Your meadow sounds beautiful, but there’s no way for us to have one, alas. In town, a “natural” area just means it has ground plants and/or pine needles or mulch over it so that mowing isn’t necessary.

    • 15.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Nancy, it’s much harder to have a meadow in town I think. Your back yard would make a lovely shade garden though.

  16. 16
    Mozette says:

    Do you have a yard?

    As small as my back yard is, it is my little bit of heaven. However, my back neighbours seem to think that gardening is a massive chore and they don’t care for their yards so weeds invade…. ggrrrrr! …. I hate weeds!

    Do you keep it neat, or do you let it get wooly?

    My yard is nice and neat. All my plants are in nice pots – massive, large, small, tiny and otherwise – I have plaques sitting everywhere waiting for the Body Corporate to fix the fences so I can hang them up properly. And I even have a large half pot to hang off the fence one day so I can grow a lovely plant which spills over its edges, but it’s too heavy and will break the rotting fences (that’s how bad my fences are and what I can’t do about them… zip).

    If you normally keep it neat, have you ever let it grow up for any reason?

    I normally keep it neat and tidy. The only reason why I haven’t is because I’ve gone on holidays, given the side gate key to my neighbours to mow the lawn and they didn’t… oh well, can’t win them all. I did say for them to feel free to eat the herbs (which needed to be eaten).

    In your area, is a messy yard a signal that something’s wrong?

    Most definitely. It normally means nobody’s home or the place is empty for a long period of time. Or somebody has passed away or very sick. I normally offer to help out and keep their yard clipped; most times they decline. I once had neighbours who let the grass grow, left their laundry out for 2 weeks (and thus letting it all fall on the ground when the clothes pins rotted) and when it came to mowing the lawn, it wrecked the blades on the mower because the underwire in the woman’s bra got caught from the overly long grass… they hadn’t checked around the clothes line to see if any of their laundry had been hiding in the grass. The caretaker was not pleased as he had to pay for new blades on the lawnmower and the unit complex didn’t have access to one for 2 weeks.

    Do the neighbors pitch in to help with the yard if someone falls on hard times?

    No. Not unless other neighbours like that person and are good friends with them. It’s a matter of knowing them well, knowing if they mind having others in their yard. Quite a few people keep to themselves; and personally, I keep my yard under lock and key – along with all my gardening gear.

    Do you own any outdoor power equipment?

    I own a push-reel mower and mostly manual equipment like pruners and secateurs. Living so close to others makes me mindful of noise; so I keep my gardening as quiet as I can.

    If so, how long does it take you to mow, trim, and edge?

    About 3 hours… if I had power tools, it would take only an hour. But seeing I have to do everything manually, it takes longer. I don’t mind though, as it’s good exercise and keeps me fit.

    If you own fields, do you have fences or do you just “stop mowing” to define your lawn?

    No fields here… just a little lawn and some council sewage and storm lids. :P

    Or do you live in an area where you don’t have to mow at all?

    Have you ever considered letting part of your yard turn wild–into your region’s equivalent of a “meadow”?

    No… not with the mosquitoes, bugs and fire ants we have around Queensland. We are not encouraged to allow our gardens to do this.

    • 16.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Mozette, how interesting!

      I was hoping someone would chime in who has different bug issues and such.

      I know that in some areas here in the states, if you have a Homeowner’s Association in your neighborhood, you wouldn’t be allowed to do this at all! It’s one reason I don’t ever want to live in that type of development. I understand their reasoning, but I have my own ideas about how I want things, so I just avoid the fight.

      Any more urban area (which sounds like you and Nancy) is much more difficult to try off-the grid type things.

  17. 17

    What a wonderful post, Cassondra! And kudos to you for your meadow. What is balm for your soul is good for every living thing around you.

    My Mom lives in a subdivision and when Dad was alive the yard was kept with military precision. Good Lord, that man could mow a lawn and trim a hedge to the nth degree! The only thing he wasn’t allowed to touch was the camellia bush in front of the house. My Mom planted it when we first moved into the house. It was a stick with a few branches on it. Now, over forty years later, ‘Bubba’ as we call him is a HUGE camellia tree nearly as tall as the house and more than twelve feet wide. In full bloom you cannot get your hand between the bright pink flowers.

    My niece and nephew do a pretty good job of keeping Mom’s yard in shape, but if it starts to look unkempt she gets out there and tries to mow it herself. I say tries because her next door neighbor, who went to high school with me, goes nuts when he sees her pushing that mower. He goes over as soon as he sees her and takes care of the job for her. Thanks, Warren, dude, I owe you!

    I own just under five acres. The two acre pasture has a barbed wire fence around it, but my horse passed away fifteen years ago so I have let the pasture go back to nature. It really is lovely and I often see deer and wild turkeys there. I tree to keep the rest of the place cut back enough to look civilized but only just. I prefer the unschooled look. There’s always a surprise awaiting you if you look carefully. Today I was walking down the path from my car and a young king snake slithered across the path in front of me. Way cool and I called the dogs away with me so they wouldn’t hurt him.

    • 17.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Louisa, how COOL that you know enough about snakes to recognize the good ones–the ones we want to have around!

      Like you, if we can help it, we don’t let our dogs chase and kill anything. Partly because they ‘re working dogs and they don’t need to develop those bad behaviors, but even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t tolerate it. I love having the wildlife around, and I just don’t think my domesticated animals should not be allowed to do that.

      Your property sounds wonderful, and you’re so right. There are always more surprises in a wooly yard. Of course, some people don’t enjoy some surprises like snakes, but as long as they aren’t poisonous, I’ll take them along with everything else.

  18. 18
    Jeanne Adams says:

    Ahhh, a Cassondra post! I can almost smell the gorgeous smell of cut hay, and hear the buzz of the bees. Sigh.

    Love the way you do that.

    I’m a mow-the-yard gal too, as in, if you don’t people will worry that all’s not well within. Grins. Problem for me is that I’m on a a writing binge within, my DH has asthma and shouldn’t mow, and our twelve-year-old is just now taking an interest in earning money. Hahaha! I literally just bought a mower for the Eldest Son to begin making a bit of pocket change.

    The only problem being that it’s rained every day that he doesn’t have baseball practice. We got the front mowed and trimmed – thank heavens! – but the back looks like it needs to be cut for hay! ha!

    Love the post Cassondra!

    • 18.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Haha!

      Interesting new phase of life–having the oldest boy be ready to start mowing. So glad you’re doing that too. I think every kid should have to do a bit of manual labor of some sort. Helps them appreciate the folks who do that for a living.

  19. 19
    Mary Preston says:

    I do have a yard. My neighbours put me to shame. Their lawns look like bowling greens & mine looks like NOT a bowling green.

    It’s my son’s responsibility. So, his best job keeps me happy enough.

    • 19.1
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Mary I think that’s an EXCELLENT way to approach it.

      And my neighbors put me to shame for certain.

      I’m guessing that’s not going to change until I can find somebody to mow who will pay as much attention to the rabbit nests as I do.

      And another hankie wave for kids who do chores like mowing when they’re young.