Like most Americans, I find it very relaxing on occasion to take time away from my regular work to do something at which I’m not really competent.
That’s why I haven’t been in the office too much lately, and why I have been out in the back meadow on a tractor.
This is an annual ritual. After it starts to frost regularly each year, I begin bush-hogging the place. A bush hog, for those of you from New York, Los Angeles, or Jupiter, is the term used for a large mower pulled behind a farm tractor. With it, you can rid your property of brush and weeds up to the thickness of your forearm.
Like most farm equipment, they’re not especially safe, so you can also rid your place of your forearms and other appendages if you’re not careful, but that’s another story altogether.
Generally speaking, bush hogs are used to keep pastures clear of brush, but here at Exclamation Pointe, I’ve liberated all the open ground from actually doing anything that benefits society.
What I keep the fields clear for is to produce more wildflowers. After the frost, when all the flowers have done their thing and gone to seed, I clean away all the new sprouts of scrub oak, sassafras, and persimmon lest they become trees. In the process, this scatters the flower seeds and mulches the earth.
I think that it’s truly a shame that everyone doesn’t have a little spot of ground that they can use for their own senseless passions. It gives me a warm glow inside to know that all the neighboring ranchers must surely think that I’ve lost my mind insofar as many of the species that I’m trying to encourage are the same ones that they spend their time and dollars trying to eradicate.
Take, for example, Prickly Pear Cactus, which makes a gorgeous, lush yellow and red flower. To me, the fact that it’s also covered with blood-thirsty spikes and spines that can actually deflate a truck tire, only adds to the charm. I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face when he first saw the huge bed of them that I’d planted in the front yard. It was easy to tell that the sight of his own flesh and blood cultivating and fertilizing a noxious weed that he’d spent the last forty years laboriously ripping out of the ground with a short-handled pick was a truth that he was not really ready to accept.
Besides the opportunity it presents to annoy people, bush-hogging gives me a chance to be outdoors when the weather is really nice doing something that at least FEELS productive where there’s no heavy lifting involved.
There’s a story that’s often told locally (as though it were the truth) about the city fellow who, on being told that he needs to get a bush hog to clean up his new property, confidently asks what sort of fence you need to keep a bush-hog in.
Well, anyway, as I say, everyone should have a little piece of ground on which to express themselves. There’s something satisfying about having a place where things get done precisely the way you want them.