"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Up to the task

Those who have been following my blog for a few years will recall when we purchased an old (seriously ancient) ride on lawnmower.
The cheaper ride on lawnmower we found on
Gumtree back in 2011
It was a very basic lawnmower, and, at ZAR1 500.00, it was all that we could afford at the time.

And it had it's problems.

Firstly, we battled to find a small but powerful battery to run the dang thing.

Havig finally source the battery, we discovered that the alternator was faulty, and it didn't charge the battery whilst it was working.  Plus it kept overheating - 1 hour of mowing, resulted in 1 hour of cooling off / recharging battery time.

Finally, the belt which drove the blades kept falling off - even after RMan "adapted" it to try and rectify the problem.

Spares, for an old ride-on mower, were unavailable.  Isn't that always the case...

It sat, covered with a tarpaulin, below our bedroom window providing a home for various generations of field mice who liked it's postition close to a food source - the duck enclosure and alpaca stables are nearby.  I forget how many times RMan tried to get the mower going again - and having to rewire it again, and again, due to mouse damage.

So, the old lawnmower was given to a very happy youngster who loves motors of any kind, and, with his superior knowledge and time to tinker, he got it working again. But, not to mow lawn, merely to ride on - I can't see anyone being able to fix the blade belt problem.  The youngster, having removed the blades competely, is going to use it to toddle round his father's expansive property - recycling at it's best lol  But - Yay! - no waste, and no landfill material.

So, for the past 2 years RMan has been walking behind his old heavy, petrol driven push mower - a full 8 hour day it took him to mow the grass area in front of our house.

In the heat of the summer sun.

Not fun.

Addmittedly, the excitement of mowing happened rarely - and it was a chore which took him away from other more interesting / necessary farm work.

But - long grass = ticks.  Long grass = hiding space for snakes.  Long grass = cover for mice to run around.  Long grass = other predators as well.

Such as:

The furthest pomegranate
tree down near the dam
Rooikat droppings.  We kept
removing them and they kept
reappearing - obviously
the rooikat was marking
it's territory 
Rooikat used the cover the long grass provided to skulk round at night.  We found evidence of their presence in a pile of droppings which kept being (re)deposited under the furthest pomegranate tree.  No wonder Miranda kept staring in that direction every night.

Something had to be done.

Again, I scoured Gumtree in search of a ride on mower.  For months and months.

I wrote to lawnmower places asking about 2nd hand units.

Nada reply!


...the only machines available were too far from us, and too bloody expensive.   And, too far to take back - if something went wrong.

Fianlly, in desparation, I suggested to RMan that we should stop in at the local John Deere outlet whilst we were in town for our weekly shop.

My, oh, my, they have some lovely shiny, sparkling new mowers on their showroom floor.  All with lovely shiny, sparkling new prices.

I nudged RMan and whispered - "Ask them if they have any 2nd hand models".  Which he duly did.

Guess what?

They had just traded in a smaller model for a bigger new model, and the old one was sitting in the back of the workshop.


The price was right (less than half the cost of a new machine), they would give it a full service and a going over, and would then bring it out to our smallholding to give us a demo.

Which, 2 weeks later, they duly did.

And, for their effort, they made a sale :)
The grass was in desparate need of a mow...
And not a moment too soon either.  As you can see in the pic above, the grass was pretty high.
A bit of rust on the blade guard is the only evidence
that it is a 2nd hand machine.
Apart from a bit of rust on the blade guard, the rest of it looks in good condition and the motor looks brand new.

And we get a guarantee from the John Deere agent :)  Spares will not be a problem either :)

But, one of the features that makes RMan a little happier - he will not dehydrate during the 2-odd hours it will take him in the hot summer months when he is mowing because...
Now that is what I call a perfect machine
for RMan :)
... he has a handy bottle holder in a perfect position.  Trust John Deere to think of everything :)


Dawn McHugh said...

I ride on mower was on Martin's first t buy list when we moved and within a few weeks he managed to get one at a good price on ebay, he then went on and got a little kubuto tractor with a topper for cutting the fields again off ebay, he has bought a couple of attachments for the kubuto over the months when he sees them for sale second hand his latest being a set of forks so he now can use it like a fork lift. :-)

Dani said...

Dawn - We believe that buying 2nd hand is the route to go. Not only because it is cheaper, but also because it prevents perfectly good items from being discarded / growing rusty / going to landfill.

With our 2.2 hA of land we don't need major fancy equipment - merely wthat which assists us to fulfill our tasks for the sake of our, and our animals, health and safety.

Your kubuto sounds wonderful - with all the attachments you are able to fit on it ;)

Sue said...

I had to Google rooikat--we don't have those here in the States.
It's so interesting learning about what other people have for critters.
So happy you found a ride on mower---I couldn't imagine push mowing such a large area. Congrats! Patience always wins

Mum said...

Well done - happiness all round.

kymber said...

Dani - say it with me - SCORE! that is an awesome investment and yes - second hand is always the way to go! congrats to you and RMan!!! sending much love, as always, and still raindancing for you!

your friend,

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

We are currently looking for a second hand ride on mower. Our trusty old ( and I mean OLD) one gave up the ghost last week. David has been mending it for years now, but this time it looks terminal. Hope we find something we can afford soon. Yours is a great buy.

Dani said...

Sue - Sorry - I did mention the rooikat before, and gave a link. I forgot to give the link this time.

Patience - yeah, that's been a learning curve for my impatient character lol

Dani said...

Mum - Great happiness - s'funny what brings pleasure lol

Dani said...

kymber - I did say it with you - and had a good chuickle. You always make me smile :)

Dani said...

FiD - I can't believe what we managed to get. Hope you manage to find one too - soon :)

Leigh said...

Oh my, I can so relate to any equipment tale of woe. We don't have a lot to mow, but it is a job. Our old push mower has done a great job but has so many problems that I can no longer start it and keep it running, so Dan has to do that chore. It would be easier with a riding mower.

Dani said...

Leigh - I think old farm equipment is the boon, and the bane, of all smallholders. Not being a big enough establishment to have all the (2nd hand) bells and whistles, but needing some assistance to perform the daily tasks.

I, too, am looking forward now to being able to do the mowing for RMan next summer - but I won't be needing the bottle holder lol

Quinn said...

Glad you found a great deal on a machine you really need!
A friend's husband is the John Deere dealer in my area, and she suggested I call him anytime to let him know if I'm looking for a traded-in machine, so he can let me know when they get something in. I don't need to mow, but something like a Gator could be pretty useful here. But I can get along without one, so I don't think it will ever make it to my budget!

Dani said...

Quinn - I guess your goats keep your grass nicely "mowed" :)

In place of a JD "Gator" (where half the cost is paying for the brand name) why not see if you can't find a 2nd hand quadbike?