Came up for a lawn maintenance trip around 4:30. Upper 80s and sunny, but at least it isn’t humid. Grass is knee high in areas I cut earlier this year, and waist high everywhere else. I brought the mulching blades for the new mower; this will be a good test for them. I hopped on the green ATV and did a quick perimeter check for any storm damage from the weekend. Nothing new by us, but the Illinois neighbors have a sizeable tree branch down in their front yard. Not that anyone’s been there to notice. I started down the smaller marsh trail loop, once again overgrown, and noticed what looked like a giant ant hill. I slowed down as I approached it to get a better look and was only a few feet from it when it got up and flew away. Turkey. Big one. Scared the hell out of me. Didn’t look like it had a nest or anything there; I think it was just trying to stay cool. It eyeballed me from twenty feet away for a while before strutting off into the woods. I don’t ever remember seeing as many turkeys around up here as I have in the last year.
I headed back to the pole barn, pulled the mower deck out, and tried to remove the old blades. Only one of the three retaining bolts would loosen up even though I had just removed, cleaned, and properly torqued them last month. After trying to chain a pair of wrenches only to get hit in the face when one went flying, I decided to seek out some better tools. No one was home by Peter, so I pulled in by Danny. He gave me an air impact gun and some sockets to try. I was able to get one of the blades free, but the other wouldn’t budge. Danny’s socket was starting to mushroom out, so I stopped and dropped everything back off. He had left, but his wife told me she saw Peter drive by not long ago. I headed back to the pole barn, dragged the mower deck onto the small flatbed trailer, and hauled it with the blue ATV over to Peter’s. We finally got the last bolt free thanks to his two-foot breaker bar. I thanked him, promised him a beer, and headed back, but not before coating all three blade bolts with a fair amount of anti-sieze compound.
Back at the pole barn, I installed the new blades and tightened them snugly, not even bothering with torque values. The thought occurred to me that when I put them on last time, the bolts were coated with penetrating oil. I just learned a painful and frustrating lesson in the difference between dry torque and wet torque.
It was 6:15 by the time I was able to start cutting. Thankfully, the wider deck, bigger motor, and mulching blades combined to drastically cut down the time it takes to mow the yard. By 9:00, I had everything cut but the marsh trails and around the south garden and sandpit area. The mower deck didn’t bog down once, not even when I was in waist-high grass with embedded leaves. It should be much easier to keep this place looking nice during the summer months now.
Dropped off some new pillows and clean laundry in my trailer and grabbed the media center PC and the laptop from the pole barn to clean up and update back home. Left a much nicer yard behind me around 9:30.