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Monday, September 21, 2015


justin bush-hogs the donkey meadow
This evening it rained after dark. Perfect timing at the end of a week of people working in the hay all over this region of the mountains. It was an ideal week for putting up the hay. It cuts so much easier when it is dry. It rakes better and bales better. Keeps better through the winter. Justin brought his step-dad's tractor and bush-hog today to bush-hog the two donkey meadows, mow down all the wildflower growth. I did not have it bush-hogged earlier for wanting to see the meadow flower through the whole season, from the spring flowers to the autumn flowers. The meadow was a flower garden all year. Last winter's hay spread wildflower seeds all over the meadow. Donkey droppings are loaded with wildflower seeds too. I won't let it go so far next year. It's impractical for grazing donkeys. They need as much to eat as they can find in two acres. Bush-hogging the meadow chops down all the big stems from beautiful purple asters, ironweed, queen anne's lace pods and stems, goldenrod, takes it down to the grass that is growing under all the taller growth. Dry from a few weeks of no rain, the growth was easy to mow with the bush-hog.
The bush-hog is a big, powerful lawnmower. A blade turns under it like the blade under a lawnmower, just bigger and heavier steel. It runs off the pto (power take-off) shaft that turns behind the differential housing. It runs balers and mowers too. It is not something you want to get a shirt sleeve caught on. It doesn't stop. Tractors and their working equipment are mortally dangerous. They require knowledgeable attention. Sometimes, no matter how well you know them or how much skill you have with one, the least lapse of attention can be fatal, the unexpected happens by surprise. I had two incidents on a tractor. I said there will not be a third and stopped working with one. It was time to leave the farm, anyway. I survived both incidents by miracle. Old man Tom Pruitt would not ever drive a tractor. He knew too many people in his lifetime who died by tractor. Doc Watson's son, Merle, died of a tractor incident. Tractors are unforgiving. They are powerful beasts made of heavy steel, heavy flywheels, wheels so heavy it takes more than one man to stand one upright to put one on a tractor. The tires are filled with fluid, not air. Tractors are brutes.
Dry in the late afternoon, the growth mowed easily and chopped up nicely, exposing the grass the donkeys like. The meadow is wet in the early mornings from the dew. Jenny comes to me for morning carrots, her face wet and legs wet after grazing in the wet jungle of wildflowers. Justin mowed the meadow the donkeys were grazing in first. Before he was done, they were running and playing on their new grazing ground, dancing, having a lively time, a donkey celebration. The rain is a good rain for dry ground, steady, not hard. The damp ground will give a boost to the grass in the meadow, keep it growing in this end of its growing cycle. Timing just right. The grass will be perked up in the morning, easily accessible to grazing donkeys. The shredded stems and leaves will be topsoil by this time next year. Justin mowed the places where the donkeys cross the creek to help them be better able to see where they put their feet. It is a good time to have the meadow mowed with Jenny's baby on its way. I want to be able to find Jenny's baby. In a jungle so deep I could only see the donkeys in it by their ears, Jenny could hide anywhere. I'm all for her having good hiding places, but she has plenty among the rhododendron. I want Jenny's baby to have meadow to romp in. The donkey celebration tells me they like their meadow mowed.
finishing the last of it
I was glad to see the field the hay came from. I saw all around the mowed meadow the wildflowers that have seeded the donkey meadow. Transferring seeds from one meadow to another. Anybody wants wildflower seeds, come get a bucket of donkey droppings, throw them out on the ground and you'll have wildflowers galore. Finished bush-hogging, Justin drove the tractor to the place by my mailbox where he parked his truck with the trailer behind for the tractor. He drove the tractor onto the trailer, strapped and chained everything down for the drive to step-dad's house. I drove out to Justin's house in Glade Creek where we watched the end of the race, a good, clean finish. Crystal and Vada arrived home from a round trip to Maryland with Crystal's mother and dad to see grandma. Vada was wired from being in the car for so many hours and "on good behavior" at great grandma's house. She showed me some new fart putty she had that isn't so gommy. She gave me a big sheet of yellow paper with blue paint on it she had done at pre-school. I loved it and she was happy I loved it. She told me I could take it. I said I would hang it on my wall at home.
loading the tractor


  1. I didn't know tractor tires were filled with fluid.

    My favorite memory of my dad is when he drove a tractor to pick me up in a snow storm. I had spent the night with a friend and a surprise snow storm blew in. The drive home, just the two of us on the tractor, is something I hope I never forget. The snow falling, all else was white and perfectly still. We were the only thing moving on the country road. It felt safe on the tractor with my dad.

    Glad you got to enjoy the wildflowers and glad the donkeys can now kick-up their heels in the meadow.

    1. Beautiful memory, Sabra. Where was the farm you grew up on?