And the Farmer Laughed

I have about a half acre of property to take care of.  Of which to take care.     To f*#king mow.

See those whitish things in the picture?  They’re not weeds.  My neighbors keep asking me why I don’t do something about the weeds.  They’re afraid the weeds are going to blow over into their yard, infect their lawn.  They’ve never seen those before because they take so much better care of their lawns.

Neighbors, shut up.

Those aren’t weeds.  They’re seed plants.  Believe it or not, grass doesn’t only come from a blue and white bag that says “Scotts” at Home Depot.  Grass seeds also come from the grass plants.  These whitish things are nature’s way of planting more grass seeds.  The idea is NOT to cut your lawn to the height of your living room rug, as my neighbors all do because they think it looks great.  And don’t get me wrong, it does look great.  Now.

It’s early.  May.  It’s not hot yet.  It’s gonna get hot in about a month.  When it gets hot in about a month, the neighbors’ lawns will look like that living room rug, but a beige rug.  See, the blades of grass are equivalent to the roots, and vice versa.  If you cut your grass short, the roots think they only need to be short as well, so the roots don’t grow, which means they can’t drink as much water when they need it.  It’s like cutting your straw for your soda.  Once the soda level gets below the bottom of the straw, no more soda.

When you let your grass grow long, three things happen.

1. the roots grow deeper and are more capable of sucking up water when it gets really hot about a month from now.
2. seed plants grow so they can release more natural seeds to make your lawn even better.
3. nobody can see how much dog crap you haven’t picked up yet.

This is part of the farm behind my house.

One day I was outside cutting the grass, and the farmer drove by, smiled, and waved.  I introduced myself to be polite.  In his polite way, he laughed at me and the other homeowners and said, “I see you guys out here busting yourselves silly trying to grow the easiest thing there is to grow.  Grass.  It’s really not hard.  All you need is water.  Skip all those fancy chemicals and just water it.”

I pointed out the water restrictions, and he laughed at that too.  Unfortunately, I did not laugh when I got a ticket for $85 for watering on the wrong day.

73 thoughts on “And the Farmer Laughed

  1. It’s amazing what you learn when you stop taking care of things –
    let the grass grow, get seeds… keeping so many things in check, prevents the natural order. What a great backyard. Uh, weren’t you sending me directions or something??… : )

  2. 😆 😆 😆 that was really a great post… you have awaken some great memories in my mind… I never thought of grass the way you said, but it might be a good strategy… and grass grows from old roots too, not only from seeds…
    a fourth advantage would be that you have plenty of space where to lay in the grass or listen to the grass as the wind blows…
    what is also nice is that in that tall grass there are lots of other wild flowers and so many insects and birds… 🙂 You have an entire ecosystem behind your house, Rich, only your neighbours are too blind to see that beauty…. 😉

    • they’re too busy starving themselves to look “good” at the weekend parties that i don’t attend because only the people with little kids are invited. no little kids here.

      • 🙂 I am that kind of a soul that does not give a damn about what others think (unless it’s someone dear to me or someone I really respect).
        Doing things only to please the world is really a stupid sport… Nothing has ever closed the mouths of the neighbours… I remember how our neighbours could not stand my mom just because they were all married and she was a young widow with a child… she was treated like hell , especially by men, people really show their true character when it comes to lonely people…
        So what if you have no small children? So what if you don’t fit in their “profile”? They are the ones that loose the best, not you… 😉

  3. Oh, this is so funny. I am not laughing at you, but at the wonderful way to have presented a problem many people have. I put it at the top of the “keeping up with the Jones” list. Look at the neighbors, they are mowing again! My grass looks okay to me. So you gave me a good belly laugh and I thank you very much. There is so much to do in life that is important, and this isn’t one of them. Be careful of the fine though. Once I had to talk my way out of 200 parking fines.
    I did it, but luck had to have been on my side.

  4. great points, Rich, I know if I see ‘grass’ in the mulched area it’s considered a weed, guess it depends on perspective…let the wild things grow 🙂

  5. Grasses have always grown just fine on the prairies with no one watering them or picking up after the buffalo. Native flowers work well, too—nowhere near as fussy as the imported and overbred hybridized varieties.

    I may live in the suburbs, but I wish the yards could all be native plants.

  6. Lol. I think we no longer understand what natural means. Everything has to be trimmed to fit inside a boundary that isn’t normal. So we cut our grass super short and change other things. Farmer knows best. 🙂

  7. Any chance you also write for the Farmer’s Almanac 🙂
    I actually learned a thing or two here.. yeah, we have those water restriction things here too..I have no idea what my days are..

  8. Funny timing of this post… just today I was facing the reality of my pathetic lawn. I picked up dog poop and made a commitment to take better care of my lawn. It’s not really my area of expertise 😉

  9. i’m always celebrating the plants overtaking our house and yard with “these sure must be native here!” – wildflowers tree-thingys, mulberries…and yes many complaints about not “taming” and shaping/forming/editing/what-not these things so happy to be there!
    enjoyed this

  10. A weed is only a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to grow. I left my (tiny) backyard alone for a few years and I have some wonderful trees and flowers that sowed themselves – with a little help from the magpies, cockatoos, pigeons, blackbirds, galahs and various other varieties of birds. The insects helped too. And we’re all very happy with our garden.

  11. I must add my 2 cents here. i know big surprise. i used to be one of those ‘dorks’ as you so lovingly call them. then our yard went to hell (big surprise) and dear old husband asks “what? what did I do?” The answer is painfully obvious…cut the grass too short!!! Now, as you may have gleaned from previous conversations, I have ‘My Fantasia” to bring my lawn back to its glory. And what does the husband say when he returns home from a long day’s journey into commuter hell? “Hey Hon, I thought Wayne mowed today! Why is the grass so high?” Need I say more? My lawn has never looked better!
    Great post Rich…so true and i FREAKIN’ LOVE FARMERS!

    • i cut every two weeks. it doesn’t have that smooth carpet look, but i don’t care. when the rain stops for two weeks and it’s 95 outside, my longer grass will create shade to protect its own roots. most of my neighbors cut theirs every friday afternoon or saturday morning at too early a time. last week, one immediate neighbor woke me up cutting his at 8:30am. later in the day, i was cutting mine at about 1pm while he and his family were trying to have lunch outside. i saw him giving me some unhappy glaring looks, and i tried hard not to laugh.

      • i can do that. he’s out there working like a dog while his anorexic-looking starving herself wife sits by the pool and does little except enjoy the fruits of being about 50 and snagging a husband about 35 who works like a dog.

      • the wife is actually very nice. except she’s about a size zero, needs to eat something. i believe in having some meat on your bones. never know if you’re going to get stuck somewhere, accident, car in a ditch, nobody finds you, no food for a week. meat on your bones is also protection if you fall or something hits you.

      • LOL…yes, either that or if you are not alone…you can offer you companion a snack when the time comes! Always bear that in mind when choosing a traveling companion….don’t pick the skinny ones.

      • That piece was so charming. When I see American films and read about America, I don’t always know just how near to real life it is. When I read pieces like that, I feel as if I am getting this wonderful, true picture.

      • i guess being in america, i don’t really know what other people think about when they look at us. i always think it’s not good. my kid wants to finish college and move to london.

      • No, I think folks are really interested in what real Americans are thinking and doing. Also, it is funny because as your child wants to move to London, there are a few kids in my son’s drama class who want to move to New York. I think sometimes it is just a case of the grass seeming greener on the other side of the fence.

      • grass greener, clearly yes. i also wonder to what degree people in other countries can look at america but separate the government from the american people. i think sometimes the u.s. government acts like worldwide bullies, and i have to hope people around the world will realize that the people are different.

      • I think that is why the worldwide web is so important, it allows the rest of the world to see the real American. I also think that is why posts about everyday life work so well – at last we can get the honesty and I love it. When I was growing up we saw so much American television and films but it was pure propaganda of The American Dream – it was all Doris Day films and John Wayne westerns. So the real American person didn’t get a look in.

  12. Someone once said weeds are only plants growing in the wrong place… but what you have is a wildflower garden, isn’t it? A haven for insects and little creatures, you have biodiversity!!

    • yes, tickets for watering on the wrong day. only town in the state that does it. when i got the ticket, it was $85. there was a kid next to me in court with a ticket for running a red light on a suspended license. his ticket was $85.

      i complained to someone about that, the fines being equal for watering and the driving issue. they solved that. now the ticket for watering on the wrong day is $250.

  13. I’ve been reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Polland and just got done with a chapter on grass. It’s amazing how much variety there is. He was explaining just this, only you made it clearer.

    And if you were to say, “It’s not hot yet” in southeast Texas, you’d be lying your asss off. heheh.

  14. A great little snapshot of neighborhood politics, thank you. I sometimes miss my “farm” days, No water restrictions here in my rainy city, but that does not stop quite a few of my neighbors from NOT watering in the summer anyway. Maybe I am picky but I hate seeing all those dead, patchy lawns and every fall when they green up again, they look weaker and full of more weeds than the year before. 3 days a week, 15-20 minutes, 1 sprinkler, do it. I so love putting my bare feet into a cool, green, shaggy lawn.

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