Four years ago my wife and I moved our family into a custom-built acreage home that had been years in the works. Before we moved, throughout the lengthy dreaming and planning phases, I looked forward to a particular moment when I knew I would feel I’d truly arrived as a rural landowner.
You see, at that time, our future estate was just a few acres of raw land that required mowing periodically, like once or twice each summer. All we had for this task was a 30-year-old, 12.5 horsepower riding mower with a meagre 38-inch cutting span – a tired old unit that I would haul out to the property and wrangle around the overgrown slopes and bumps. It was tough slogging but I packed a lunch and water and made the best of it. I was lucky if I could get half the place done in a day.
After the house was completed and we moved in, I continued with the mowing ritual – minus the hauling – dreaming of the day when I would possess a machine that could handle the terrain without requiring the operator to rock, lean, push and engage in on-the-fly reassembly.
By the way, this is not to disparage our old John Deere mower, which was an indestructible workhorse that punched above its weight. It was a free hand-me-down from family that I was glad to have, but to borrow the parlance we employed years ago when I worked in the Sears hardware section, it just didn’t have the jeezles to do the job.
So anyway, during those years of butting heads with our treacherous topography, I would sometimes succumb to temptation and spend time on the internet salivating over the latest in turf toasting technology. As time went on I honed in on a particular style of mower known as the zero-turn – distinguishable by its two-handle steering controls and known for being twice as fast as a regular mower due to its ability to turn on the spot and mow at high speed. There was even one particular brand that set my heart to pounding more than the others – the Country Clipper.
Look Ma, one hand!
What makes the Country Clipper special is that it’s a zero-turn mower with just a single joystick control that does the job of the usual two handles, leaving one hand free for activities such as shoving low-hanging branches out of the way, hoisting a cool beverage, fist pumping for no particular reason, executing cool guy pointing moves (even if no one else is around) and mock conducting imagined symphonies.
Whenever I envisioned myself traversing our property on one of these bad boys, I had a refreshing drink in my free hand and was decked out in a track suit – I figured powder blue. Perhaps there was visible chest hair and large medalions – that part was less clear.
Anyway, after years of envisioning and diligently saving, this spring we were finally in a position to shell out the substantial dollars for such a machine. When I got the behemoth home and eased it off our trailer, I could practically hear a fanfare of trumpets and a chorus of angels.
Once I had all four wheels on the ground, I dismounted and stepped back, drinking in the sight of the muscular predator– a 24-horse, 700-pound specimen of grass-gobbling fury.
I couldn’t resist doing a few passes right away, but it was a few days later that I actually made my official inaugural run, having donned a grey hoodie and matching sweat pants (the closest thing I own to a track suit) and set off with a big-ass grin on my face and a huge Slurpee in my free hand.
Apart from the bits of airborne grass and leaves that settled into my refreshing beverage, it was glorious. A mere six minutes into the venture I was finished the ditch. Just seven minutes later, I was done the main section of the front lawn. And on it went. Section after section of yard fell in record time. In the end, I was done in 2.5 hours, a job that I couldn’t complete in an entire weekend with the other machine ... and I’d reached every knobby nook and cranny.
After that successful maiden voyage, there was only one step left in my transition from wannabe acreage owner to full patch status: a nickname for the machine. Over the course of the following days and weeks I came up with a few ideas but, even months later, I still haven’t officially christened the beast.
That’s where I'm hoping the wisdom of online commenting can help out. Please review the following nickname options and leave a comment stating your preference.
- The Turfinator
- Grass Gobbler
- Sod Sucker
- The Red Baron
- The Clipper