Don’t delay mowing for the bees

Or summer ends up being a lot with an unsightly view, worries about how to deal with it and vegetation impervious to mowers

Last spring, I delayed mowing my spare lot to let bees feed on dandelions until other blossoms became available to them.

The result has been a summer when I haven’t been able to enjoy even looking at the lot, and have stayed awake seeking ways to deal with what soon became a mass of vegetation impenetrable to mower, dogs, and me.

The dogs have been without that area to romp, explore, and “go” on.

Grass entangles my feet so that I risk falling when I make my way to the currant and gooseberry bushes in the far corner.

The sight depresses me.

As for  mowing it, a swath more than six inches wide stalled the motor.

I’d have to wait days for the clippings to dry, and rake them clear before mowing another six inch swath. That’s slow going. Mechanics warned me I was damaging my mower.

Could I bring in a couple of goats? This bunted against the regional district’s bylaw prohibiting farm animals in my subdivision.

Nonetheless, I asked for permission and got it.

No doubt the bylaw officer knew – I didn’t – that goats are scarce in Thornhill.

Even last year’s Fall Fair couldn’t round up a single goat to participate in their petting zoo.

I did locate two pygmy kids being weaned, but were so young the owner still wasn’t allowing them to wander in her own yard.

Another person had goats but hand feeds them.

If I have to pull my grass to feed it to goats, I’ll skip goats as middlemen.

I lowered my sights to sheep. But by then my research had told me both goats and sheep prefer almost anything to grass.

That includes poisonous and noxious weeds, fruit tree leaves, flower beds… One person warned me sheep would balance on my wooden fence to strip leaves from my cherry trees but skirt the grass.

Horses looked like the best bet – they eat only grass, and their hooves cultivate the soil leading to a more vigorous grass crop.

Trouble is, a horse could destroy my fence leading to a more expensive problem, one that would require immediate repair.

Throughout, I consulted with neighbours, all of whom told me a weed whacker was the only tool that could deal with my problem.

“A day of weed whacking should do it,” one said, though the operator would end up with numb hands.

Day by day the lot became more unsightly.

Last week a heavy rain lodged the tall grass lower than an army recruit crawling on his belly.

Then reprieve. Friday a friend suggested Master Sweeper with their ride-on mower. The name alone inspired hope and confidence.

I phoned. Their rate was $60 per hour for a truck, a man, and the mower.

I thought, “Maybe two hours, tops.” We made an appointment for early Monday morning.

In preparation, I cleared a 24 inch barrier around two short trees and the lot’s buried fibreglass septic tank.

I also sawed off two bare pine tree limbs at a height to poke a person in the eye.

Before noon Monday, a truck trailering a mower appeared.

Two sunburned young women stepped from the truck, gazed at my field, clapped their hands to their heads, and muttered to each other.

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“We’ll return tomorrow morning to weed whack everything. That may take all day. Only then can we mow.”

I said, “No deal.”

Let fall weather kill my grass. Snow will hide it. Next spring I will haul out the mower the second snow goes and put up a sign that tells the only two bees who came by this year to check out the dandelions next door.