A bitter mowing tale ... or?


May 6, 2010

I think it’s safe to say spring is here. I think it is, anyway. I’ve looked at a lot of forecasts and don’t see much chance for snow. But what do the weather liars, er, weather forecasters know?

Spring means many things to many people. To me, it means mowing. Anyone who knows me knows I live to mow. Really.

I don’t know why I love it so much, I just do. I think it goes back to my youth, driving the tractor for endless hours during the summer for my grandparents and others in western Kansas. Farm livin’ is the life for me.

Of course, mowing – even on my lawn tractor – really isn’t farming. But it’s close enough for me. I refer to my two areas of yard north of Vinland as the north 40 and the south 40, although they really aren’t 40 acres. How could I be that lucky? Well, I could since the place really is on 80 acres, but most of it is pasture land, with a smattering of crop land here and there.

But I don’t farm. I mow. And I don’t mind saying I mow well. I have the place in what I call “golf course” mode. It’s not just that it’s always mowed, with straight lines showing and cut in opposite directions from one mow to the next.

In the past several years, I’ve gone away from the weedeater look, with everything hacked all the way around the yard. Instead, I leave the grass to grow naturally around trees, fence lines, outbuildings and other selected areas. That’s the “rough” in my golf course lawn.

I think it looks good, really good. And, truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of weedeating, although those who have seen my yards over the decades might not believe that. I was good at that, too. I just prefer not to do it anymore.

Let’s just say I’ve matured.

At least, I have about that. I’m still stewing — with visions of immature paybacks — for what happened with my lawn tractor this year. I’m not going to go into specifics, because I’m still threatening legal action (you know, lawyer says keep your mouth shut), but on Sept. 27, which would have been my last mow of the season, the engine conked out. Really.

Granted, the mower had been through the hardest mowing season I’ve ever experienced last summer. You remember. It rained and rained and rained. It never got brutally hot. Usually my twice-weekly mowings come to an end in July and definitely by August. Not last year. I referred to July as June on steroids. It was that bad. August was no better.

But I wasn’t complaining. I love to mow. What I didn’t love was the engine quitting. What I didn’t love even more was the mower manufacturer who refused to stand by its product.

By the time I got the pickup ready to take the mower to town (another whole story itself) for Archer Carlson to look at, several days had passed. He called me with the bad news. The block was cracked and the engine was worthless.

Not to worry, I told Archer, it’s on warranty. Or so I thought. I had bought the mower two years earlier, from the same company that I’d had mowers I’d either walked behind or ridden since I was 10 or so. I believed in them.

That was until I called the warranty desk. Seems my warranty had run out – Sept. 27. Since I called after that, they chose not to honor the warranty. Go ahead and insert your favorite curse words here. I have – in my mind.

But I continued through the winter to try and get the situation resolved. Nothing. So I looked into several options for replacement. When push came to shove, what made the most sense was to replace the engine.

Archer did that, superbly of course, and I was back in the mowing business. Ahhhh. It felt good with the first mow and it has ever since. Of course, I do most of my best thinking on the mower and I’m not out of ideas for paybacks yet.

I don’t know if you’ve heard about the class action lawsuit that’s in the works against all the major mower manufacturers. The long and short of it is that anyone who has bought a mower since 1994, through April 12, 2010, is owed money because those companies overstated the horsepower of their engines. Some of those engines will also get extended warranties. Will I? I’m not holding my breath.

I’ve also wondered if I should stay out of that suit and file one of my own, claiming millions for pain and suffering. I think I’ve been pained and have suffered. My personal attorney, the one I’ve had on retainer since he was born, mind you, doesn’t think I have a prayer with that suit. He says a jury won’t understand my love for mowing. Idiots.

So I’ve backed off that idea for now. I’ve moved to another realm. You see, that new engine I bought and had Archer installed was purchased in March, well ahead of the April 12 deadline for the lawsuit. To my way of thinking, the manufacturer owes me twice. But will they? Probably not, but we’ll see. I’ll put my faith in the judicial system and see what happens.

Am I bitter? Not when I’m mowing. I’m all smiles.

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