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master pollinator
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As most of you guys and gals know, I somehow managed to pick up four contracts mowing the sides of the road for area towns. This is a boom mower, so I mow WAY out in the ditch, and in case you did not know, America' dump is the American Highway network. You would not believe what I hit while mowing; so much so that I bring a note pad and write down the interesting things I hit. Today topped them all...

On top of one the biggest hills around, miles inland from the coast, and on a beef farm no less...I hit a BOAT ANCHOR!

Apparently some homeowner needed to prop up their mailbox, so they used a boat anchor. To get the grass the grows under the mailbox, I swoop under them and whack off the grass. Needless to say, I broke a few knives hitting that!

A couple of other interesting "hits" I have had was, a kids bike, a brand new chainsaw, an oxygen bottle, an harrow, way to much sheep fence, a woman's new apple orchard, and a telephone line that ended up being sucked right out of a woman's house...while she was on the phone no less. Surprisingly, she was pretty calm about it, but I have been yelled at, sworn at, flipped off, and screamed all...all from just making tall grass short.

But hitting the boat anchor tops them all.
 
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I also cut grass for a job. I use a 5 foot John Deere zero turn mower. I hit mostly rocks and the odd golf ball and tennis ball. Those balls can fly far! I have to say your story takes the prize for oddest thing every hit with a mower.
 
steward
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Our town uses a tractor with a rotary mower on a boom.  He must get paid by the hour because he crawls along and tries to mow within an inch of the ground.  It's fine when it's grass, but he mowed my "secret" blueberry patch to the ground.  The blueberries are only a foot tall and he managed to cut them to an inch or two.  Plus hitting every stump and rock within reach.  I'm glad I'm not paying to sharpen/replace those blades.  Oh wait....
 
gardener
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I'm missing a stihl pole pruning chainsaw. Let me know if you find it.
 
gardener & bricolagier
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wayne fajkus wrote:I'm missing a stihl pole pruning chainsaw. Let me know if you find it.


That would be a VERY long boom Travis is running to find your saw :)
 
pollinator
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

wayne fajkus wrote:I'm missing a stihl pole pruning chainsaw. Let me know if you find it.


That would be a VERY long boom Travis is running to find your saw :)



Maybe that's a magical ditch that Travis is mowing up there in mystical Maine.  Maybe it's where all missing tools, appliances, .....and possibly separated pairs of socks....nestle down after going missing from their owners.

Keep an eye out, Travis, for a DeWalt miter saw on your next sweep....or perhaps a nostalgic pair of wingtips that disappeared during one of the relocations of the past.... :-)  If they hadn't have already returned the Ruby Red slippers to the Judy Garland museum in Grand Rapids, MN, I'd have you pay special attention to flashes of the more sanguine tones in the ditch.....  ;o)
 
gardener
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I wasn't mowing, just walking, but I found a fishing boat down-rigger. We at least live surrounded by ocean! My son walks from several different bus-stops and he finds all sorts of interesting things in the ditch, but nothing as exciting as an anchor.
 
pollinator
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Travis Johnson wrote:a woman's new apple orchard


What, did she plant it directly on the side of the road? ("sounds like a great place to plant my new orchard! easy access!")
 
pollinator
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I once found a guy named Ian, in a ditch, not far from my demolition project.  After determining that he was ok,  we got some food, and I got a guy who was pretty good at loading drywall into a recycling bin. He was happy to sleep in the tool shed, until the job ended.
 
pollinator
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I used to make weekly site inspections on a section of freeway in LA. The segment I walked the most was through some very upscale neighborhoods. It was a bit mind blowing what we found out there. from car parts, to illegal dumping of all kinds, to drugs and firearms. My personal best finds were a crisp $100 bill and a slightly rusty 8" cast iron skillet. Typically the stuff we found was not longer usable, but those certainly were.
I kept the $100 bill until the next department meeting and showed my engineers why you need to be looking closely during site inspections. It literally pays to pay attention.
 
Travis Johnson
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Mike Jay wrote:Our town uses a tractor with a rotary mower on a boom.  He must get paid by the hour because he crawls along and tries to mow within an inch of the ground.  It's fine when it's grass, but he mowed my "secret" blueberry patch to the ground.  The blueberries are only a foot tall and he managed to cut them to an inch or two.  Plus hitting every stump and rock within reach.  I'm glad I'm not paying to sharpen/replace those blades.  Oh wait....



It looks like a mowed lawn when I get done too. It is kind of expected when you mow the sides of the road. It is kind of silly because I am not mowing for looks, I am mowing to keep the trees from growing back, but the public likes to think you are making a lawn. I even have to back up and mow the "mohawks" that I miss, the slivers of unmown grass between passes, just so that it looks nice.

But I do not use a rotary mower, I use a flail which is really nice. It throws the debris to the ground, and does not fling it. I do break knives once and awhile, but they are only $1 a piece so not really a lot of money. They are also easy to change. After running this one all summer, I can say that I am a HUGE fan of flail mowers and will never buy a bushog again. I really, really, really like the flail mower, and that is after mowing 34 acres per day for the last two months; 200 miles of road ditch. If there was a downside to flail mowers, I am pretty sure I would have found it by now.

But mowing the sides of the road is like grading roads; everyone thinks they can do a better job then you, but no one can actually do it, they just complain.
 
Travis Johnson
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Tereza Okava wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:a woman's new apple orchard


What, did she plant it directly on the side of the road? ("sounds like a great place to plant my new orchard! easy access!")



She was pretty dumb. I mowed most of her apple orchard in the first pass, meaning she not only planted them close to the road, she planted them within 6 feet of the hot top!


There was a lot of yelling and screaming, but thankfully I have a big, noisy tractor, and ear plugs, so that did not phase me much, but when she would not stop with the yapping, I stopped and interviewed her. I asked her why she planted trees on land she did not own? Here in Maine, the right of way is 66 feet wide, or 33 feet out from the center line of the road. That was when I got flipped off.

I had a guy yesterday who was mad because I mowed a "tree" near his house. I guess a popil tree an inch in diameter is prized now. (Popil are worthless here). I was mowing the opposite side of the road by then, so he stood there, then put his hands on his lips, then looked at me with disgust, then looked at the tree. Then he started taking pictures of the tree, then was texting them to someone and on and on this went. So I asked him if he had a problem.

He did.

I got out my tape an showed him, he was complaining about a tree that belonged to the town, who was paying me to mow down thair trees. It is the equivilent of getting mad at loggers who are cutting wood on your neighbors land who want it logged. It is pretty simple math, I have a 6 foot mower, and I make 3 passes, with a 12 foot travel lane, and 18 foot of mowing, that is 30 feet from the center of the road; 3 feet shy of the right of way!

But he would just would not shut up...

Now most of the time having brain cancer sucks, but 1% of the time, you can give some perspective to idiots. So I informed him that it must be nice to have the sole problem of having a tree mowed down when I had inoperable brain cancer, and have four daughters and a wife. I should have shut up at that point, but ironically my cancer medication makes me really aggressive, so I kept going. I informed him that it was ironic that I had brain cancer, but he was the one who was brain dead. Then I got on my tractor to do some more mowing.
 
Dale Hodgins
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In the many cases I just don't see the value in roadside mowing. Every couple years to make sure it doesn't come up in trees seems sufficient. But I've seen places where it looks like they're trying to have a lawn.

They used to mow near my dad's place, because it was believed that roadsides acted as a seed bank for troublesome weeds. When left alone they become like little hedgerows, with much greater diversity than the sprayed fields beyond.

Areas that get a lot of litter in the form of plastic debris, sometimes get mowed so that thousands of pieces of plastic turn into millions.

Sometimes people are sentenced to public service and they are seen cleaning up the roads. It makes sense to do this immediately before mowing. They could be given a sickle in order to clear around boat anchors and rocks that might damage other equipment. Of course if they are out there because of knife fighting, a garbage bag might be a more appropriate tool. A sling blade or Kaiser knife  works very nicely no matter what you're trying to chop.☺
 
pollinator
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Make my day!   <g>
 
wayne fajkus
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My pole pruner was found!
 
Dale Hodgins
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 I use a long reach cordless electric hedge cutter as a sickle bar mower, on my own roadside. Not nearly fast enough for commercial use, but I'm able to walk along at a slow pace cutting grass weeds and little trees up to 3/4 inch diameter. Vastly better than a string trimmer and stuff doesn't go flying anywhere. It bounces off of rocks and other obstacles, without damage because of the guard teeth.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:In the many cases I just don't see the value in roadside mowing. Every couple years to make sure it doesn't come up in trees seems sufficient. But I've seen places where it looks like they're trying to have a lawn.



I can kind of see it's usefulness around intersections. We've got one where you literally cannot see cars coming from the right when you're in the drivers seat. When they mow it twice a year, you can actually see! So, having the vegetation mowed within 30 feet of intersections seems like a good idea for visibility. If homeowners want their driveway to have better visibility, they can always clear out the vegetation around it by themselves, and save the county a lot of money!
 
Travis Johnson
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Mowing the sides of the road has many benefits, especially here in Maine, because we are the most heavily forested state in the nation. That means if we did not mow, trees would grow up and cause a huge problem. Getting rid of those trees with a mower, where it is very fast to do, is the best approach, but has to be done when they are small. That is because doing it with a chainsaw and brush chipper is very slow, and very expensive. Doing so with an excavator mulcher is even more expensive!

But as I said earlier, the public thinks we are mowing grass, and that is just not the case. We mow grass too, but getting rid of trees while they are small enough to do with a mower, is the biggest reason.

By mowing the roads, you can not only see other cars at intersections, but also see down the road when coming out of any driveway. You can also see any wildlife in the ditch, and thus a lot of wildlife (deer and moose) collisions are avoided because drivers can see them before they are in the travel lane, and can slow down or stop.

But another huge reason is the amount of salt put down on the roadway. If a road is shaded by trees, the snow and ice does not melt, so there are far more accidents for drivers, and putting downs tons more salt to rid the road of snow and ice is very expensive. Sun on a road makes a huge difference. It might be 20 degrees outside, but if it is sunny, the sun will help melt the snow on a road, and it can be pushed off with a snowplow.

But mowing the roads also keeps trees from growing up under powerlines, and shorting out the electricity. Today, the elderly and others rely on machines to keep them breathing, and warm in the winter, so as a town, that is important for certain citizens.

So really all this adds up to an important job, saving soil contamination from excess salt, saving wildlife, keeping the power on, and saving lives from accidents with wildlife and other drivers. And it is cheap. Towns pay me $55 an hour, and I can do about a mile of road in that time (both sides), and I will use 1.5 gallons of diesel fuel doing it. That is not a lot of money considering all the benefits.
 
pollinator
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I used to think that roadside mowing was done too often... then I bought land with logging roads that I wanted to keep open with a brush hog.

Holy buttweasels, did those alders ever grow fast... I get it now, better a bit too often than not often enough!
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have never had butt weasels. If it happens,  I will get them declawed.
 
Travis Johnson
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Butt Weasels are the worst. I would mow them off as well, but it is hard to articulate the mower to get them.

I do pretty good mowing phone lines and sucking them right out of a woman's home though.
 
Travis Johnson
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Dillon Nichols wrote:I used to think that roadside mowing was done too often... then I bought land with logging roads that I wanted to keep open with a brush hog.

Holy buttweasels, did those alders ever grow fast... I get it now, better a bit too often than not often enough!



After I am done logging, I like to go back and bulldoze my major logging roads so that they are free of stumps, rocks and hills and hummocks, but I have given up trying to maintain them. Like you said, it is just too much. I lost my bushog this year, and if I do not get it replaced, I am in a world of hurt. I really need to beat back some trees next year or they will be too big. This is in my gravel pit and around my fields...

I like to hike out through my woodlot, and actually did a whole "access road plan" for my farm, so that I could get the most access to my woodlot, without having excess roads. (Roads can take up valuable acreage and yet do not grow trees or crops, but a nessasary evil). It may be something to consider. i probably went overboard on it, but the mental exercise of figruing out where to put roads was well worth it, and there is nothing wrong with documentation.

I do have some roads that I intent tobe "heavy haul roads", roads with gravel and that can take a tractor trailer truck 4 seasons, but most roads are just paths through the woods that my tractor can navigate. The Dept of Transportation goes by "classes" and that is what I did too. The DOT goes from class one (interstate) to class five (a trail through the woods shut down from traffic and never maintained), so I just added to that in my access road plan. As I said, some of my roads would be class 4 roads as the DOT defines them, but I have class 7 and 8 roads too, trails an atv might be able to navigate. Every year I try and extend my road system a little bit more. Most of the time this is for my heavy haul roads, but a bulldozer rental is available to everyone, and can make access to their farms pretty simple and inexpensive. A decent sized bulldozer is only $450 per day including delivery fee.

This is a Class Seven road on my farm; no gravel, but in dry weather I can drive my SUV up the trail due to stumps, rocks, and hummocks being removed. Culverts are also installed. I have plans to turn it into a class five road (gravel) so I can put an off grid cabin on top of a high hill, but its a project that has little priority now.



DSCN4191.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCN4191.JPG]
A Class Seven Trail through my woodlot
 
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Wow - I’ve hit a few things mowing in my day...but a boat anchor is something I’ve never encountered!  This has been a hilariously enjoyable thread to read this Sunday morning.  🤣
 
pollinator
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In Washington state it is called vegetation control.  When the right of way is narrow they mow back from the ditch 3 feet and then up 10 feet.  Sort of like plowing snow back there in Maine. I spent 9 years in Fort Kent and Madawaska.
 
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Stuff here grows so fast that if the sides weren't cleared most roads would be impossible or at least unsafe. Big fire risk here too. An anchor. Still laughing at that.
 
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