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Of lawn mowers and chainsaws

News ·Thursday April 14, 2016 @ 18:27 EDT (link)

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The house sits on seven acres, and requires new tools for maintenance, starting with a hose, which I bought two lengths of to connect with a valve so I don't have to go all the way around back to the hose bib to turn it on or off. We shopped around to pay someone to mow the first time, and got some good advice: get a zero-turn mower. I had been looking at John Deere, probably something in the X300 series, but after opening up to zero-turns (the lap bar steering turned me off them), I got a Toro SW5000, with a steering wheel instead of bars, and it's been excellent, even fun to drive. On advice I hunted around for ethanol-free gasoline, since ethanol can be hard on small engines, finding it almost an hour away at Harvest Land Co-op in Greenfield (there are other locations but not with ethanol-free gas).

The advantage with the steering wheel over the lap bars is that there's no learning curve; I hopped on and was driving it right away, and so was Honey (see pictures). Zero-turns are easy to make. I had the mulch kit pre-installed, and bought a cover so I could leave it outside, although I might put it away in the shed over winter. I bought it locally from The Mower Shop; I found the best price at a dealer online, but I figured I'd stop in to see if The Mower Shop could meet the price and knock off the tax, and they could and did, and the delivery experience was great too.

Speaking of which, a couple planned projects: bring power (sub-panel) over to the shed for a light or tools, and build a workbench. Trenching to bring cables across seems the most difficult, so overhead or at least above-ground (in flexible all-weather pipe) might be the way to go, and electrical work the most dangerous, but doable.

Another maintenance tool I've had to use is my old backpack sprayer, which I haven't used since our house in Duvall, and it's held up well (except I had to replace a bolt/nut in the pump-arm); I use it to spray RoundUp to kill all the plants that love to shoot up where plants shouldn't (driveway cracks, on the stones behind the house, path to the range, edge of the garden beds, and so forth).

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For other indoor and outdoor tools I've been buying DeWalt 20V/40V; they had a combo deal with hammer drill, impact driver, and a light in a hard case, that's been handy for assembly and such. The leaf blower has been great for keeping the driveway clear and when we had a couple trees come down over the path to the range out back during high winds, I added their chainsaw, which worked great for clearing things up (the 90-day return guarantee also helped persuade me to give it a try over gas, and not having to keep gas in it, or worry about how to mix it). Lowe's had a free battery rebate on a string trimmer, and what I needed was beyond my old corded one, so I added that too. I considered getting a pull-behind spreader for the lawn tractor, but assembled my old Earthway manual spreader and gave it a try and it did the trick.

I had to fix the front (electronic) gate keypad too; the internal battery holder had given up (under stress of previous battery corrosion? even though the current ones were good), so I removed it, swapped in a new one, and soldered it on (a recently acquired skill).