Friday, April 26, 2013


While checking out the garden yesterday we realized that the rye cover crop was starting to develop seed pods, which, as I understand it, means its ready to be cut. After work today I headed out to hook up to the mower so I could cut it. My plans were delayed, however, when I discovered that one of the tires on the RTV was flat. I aired it up, then pulled the RTV into the driveway and started trying to find the leak. After checking the tire completely by spraying water on it, the only leak I could find was around the rim. Since it seemed like a slow leak I decided to go ahead and mow as planned.

One of the problems I've found with using the mower for tall vegetation is that the pulling vehicle tends to mash them down, resulting in the mower not cutting everything. I didn't want this to happen with the rye, so I decided to try out its offset capabilities. I had wanted to offset it to the left, but found that doing so required removing the pull bar and flipping it over. Rather than do this I decided to just offset it to the right, which turned out to be better anyway, as it was easier for me to look over my right shoulder to keep an eye on it.

With the mower set to its lowest position, the rye was mowed down to a just a few inches tall. I only had a couple of problems. The first problem was with trying to reset for another pass. Initially I tried just backing up so I could make another pass, but I found that backing an offset mower isn't as easy as one that is straight behind the pull vehicle. I finally settled on just making a loop around the rest of the garden, but had to be very careful since the ground was uneven, which is a problem with the mower is lowered. The other problem I had was due to the location of the onion bed. We had planted the onions in one corner of the area that had been sown with rye. This resulted in an offset that I had to mow around, which was a bit tricky. I mowed as much as I could, then ended up just pulling the rest, right around the edge and around the onion bed.

Once I finished mowing the rye I set the mower back in its normal mowing configuration, and raised it back up so I could mow around the garden. I had been noticing some rough sounding noises when engaging or disengaging the blades, and that seemed to be getting worse. After mowing for a bit I decided to check out the blades, to see if I could identify the source of the noise. It appears to me that the problem is simply that the bolts holding them in place have worked loose, resulting in a little bit of play in the blades. When they are rotating at full speed the centrifugal force keeps them level, but when they are spinning up, or down, they are able to move a little, which is what I think is causing the noise. That should be easy enough to solve. The bigger problem I found, though, is that the blades are in terrible condition. I knew they likely needed to be sharpened, but never expected to find them nicked so badly. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, since I've cleared a lot of land with the mower, and have gotten it into rocks a few times. It looks like I probably need to pick up new set of blades. I've had the mower a year, so hopefully this next set of blades will last longer, if I'm not mowing in rough areas as much.

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