Scenes from the backyard in autumn

A weird morning. My tummy was rumbly, but I had promised to accompany Jadzia on her field trip to Little Creek. So she and Ludi and I walked together to school. When I got there, the teacher said chaperones would have to ride separately, not on the bus. Oh well. I walked back home to get my minivan.

After arriving at Little Creek I waited about 20 minutes for the kids to arrive. As a children’s ministry teacher for many years, I know that it can take a while to get them all rounded up. Just as the bus from Vogt Elementary pulled into the lot, I got a call from the school — Ludi had thrown up. So with quick apologies to Jadzia and her teacher, I drove back to Ferguson to take Ludi home.

The rest of the morning went well. Jadzia and her class learned about groups of vertebrate animals: mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles and birds. They got to interact with real animals and do a lot of activities and games. It was a fun way to learn.

After the field trip was done, I headed home for lunch. The kids were in the backyard playing, Yoli told me. After spending some time upstairs, I was headed downstairs to do some work. As I looked out my bedroom window, there was Josie talking into the gutter extension pipe, making announcements to somebody. Across the yard, Joseph was standing at the old brick grill cooking a muddy concoction. I couldn’t resist.

I grabbed the camera and went to capture a few scenes from a lovely fall day in our backyard. Enjoy.

Building boxes

Today my dad came over to help me with a project I had hoped to do last year before a certain tornado changed all our plans.

We built a couple of boxes to be used for raised garden beds, out of lumber left over from our tornado repairs.

My always-handy dad also identified some problems with our basement door and proceeded to take it down and help me sort of shave the bottom of it.

It will be a few weeks until we actually use the boxes because we are going to have our yard re-graded and sodded first. So the garden will get a late start.

But it should be better than last year.

Lawnmowner wrestling

Since we moved into our house nearly six years ago, I have had a secondhand lawn mower that gets the job done. It is self-propelled with a front wheel drive, but that feature has been a bane. When it is turned off, the mower was exceedingly difficult to use — it wouldn’t even roll downhill by itself!

The self-propelling feature came to a halt almost two weeks ago when I got a wheel stuck under a bolt on a fence. It had been taking a lot of abuse over the years, and this was the end of the line.

I finished up the yard as best I could, fighting against the mower every inch of the way, since the front wheels would hardly turn. Once the yard was done, it was time for surgery.

I disassembled the front wheels and mounting brackets, which was not easy. The front wheels include attached plastic gears, which are driven by metal gears on the drive shaft. As it turned out, one of the tires’ plastic gears had been completely flattened. No wonder it’s not working, I thought.

I ordered replacement parts from Art’s Lawn Mower Shop in Black Jack, and today (a week later) I picked them up. Then it was off to Home Depot in search of a special wrench for split rings. They didn’t have it, but I did find it at Lowe’s.

Next it was time to reassemble everything. I ended up doing it twice for one of the wheels when I realized I probably should lubricate the pieces since it was all taken apart.

It took a while, but everything went back together. I had won … I hoped.

Topped off the gas tank, primed the pump, and pulled the starter. Waited a minute for the engine to warm up, then I pulled back on the lever to begin the self-propelling.

Only one wheel was turning. And slowly.

So, it turns out the battle was more of a draw. My hypothesis is the front wheel drive / transmission / whatever was also broken.

But there was good news — unlike before, the front wheels turn freely now when self-propulsion is disengaged. The mower will even roll downhill by itself. So at least I could cut the grass!

Lawn care

Beautiful weather left me with no excuse to avoid raking leaves today.

The girls offered their “help” which lasted for a while. Mostly they wanted me to make piles that they could play in.

Ludi was the best helper, probably, grabbing small handfuls and putting them into the yard waste bag. But she’s not quite tall enough to reach in, so she would have to pull the bag down.

Jadzia, on the other hand, could grab a nice big clump of leaves, and she was plenty tall. But she wasn’t all that interested in working.

(Josie offered moral support, and mostly just enjoyed being outside)

I finished the front yard, but the side yards and back yard remain. I also have 4 ornamental grasses that I need to trim for the winter.

And, as usual, the tree in the front yard is still loaded with leaves. It’s going to be a loooong fall.

Still hanging on up there

‘Twas a beautiful day … perhaps the last beautiful day of the year. I knew I had to take advantage of it, so I embarked on a mow-n’-rake. Took about two hours or so, but I got about 90% of the leaves. It felt good getting it accomplished.

But one look up into our trees afterward was almost enough to quash that feeling of joy. There are bags of leaves yet to fall.