It’s spring: let’s play kvetch |

It’s spring: let’s play kvetch

Springtime is here at Clear Creek Ranch. The grass is green, the sky is blue, and apple blossom fragrance fills the air. Not to mention tons of pollen and millions of ravenous mosquitoes. Oh, how I hate spring …

Now don’t get me wrong. All that outdoor, gardenly stuff is nice, unless you are personally required to trim, water, feed, weed, and mow it incessantly for the next six months.

To be fair, I do enjoy the flowers. The daffodils, in all their vibrant varieties, are fading now, as is the yellow forsythia, but our tulip and iris collections are just beginning to unfold. For a while, everything will look wonderful before it withers and turns brown under the broiling summer sun.

Tomorrow I will be wielding a weed whacker in the overgrown pasture below our rustic “bed-and-breakfast” cabins, trying to return the alien crop circles to recognizable form. If future guests get close enough to notice the grass is mowed rather than bent, I have a story about “mysterious lawn care professionals from outer space.”

None of the neighbors has complained about my 12-foot-high, 200-foot-long NH 2020 sign. Rather than do the usual paint-and-plywood deal, I created an all-natural topiary version in the hedges that live in the driveway. With the new growth of spring, and some winter storm damage, it has become illegible. Time to break out the pruning shears and make the appropriate cuts. If only politicians could define and act upon issues as quickly.

The big job is the lawn. I don’t mind the grass mowing so much now that I can sit down during the process. Yes, I got one of those “toy” tractors from the John Deere Co. I wanted to get a real one: 450 horsepower, four-wheel drive, 18 speeds. A monster tractor with a monster price – $20,000 MORE than we paid for all of Clear Creek Ranch way back when.

I had to settle for a dinky tractor, but it is still a John Deere. I made sure it had maximum horsepower and all the biggest attachments, winches, buckets and post hole diggers. I can mow a 48-inch-wide swath through the pasture and do 360s in any direction – provided I’m on level ground.

Have I mentioned the ranch resembles a 10-acre washboard on a 30-degree slant? My longest swath to date: 11 feet. Longest time between encounters with partially submerged boulders: three minutes. Most tip-overs in a single day: five. Labor saved: zero.

Still I love it. My biggest problem is missing important phone calls. I tried taking a phone with me, but the mower blades kept chopping up the cord, so my wife takes messages.

Some of her early efforts: “He’s out on the lawn, sitting on the John.” Or, “He was straddling the Deere when last I saw him.” Or, after the time I tipped the tractor over in a ditch and spent all evening and most of the next morning crawling in muck trying to pull it out with the winch, “He’s been out winching since last night. He’s lying in a roadside ditch as we speak.”

I was very close to ordering a John Deere answering machine in trademark green-and-yellow, but instead I’m saving up for their 400-bushel vacuum attachment for leaf gathering, shredding and mulching.

I won’t need it until the fall when all the biomass I’ve been pampering turns brown and hits the ground rotting.

Fall … now there is a season worth hating.

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at

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