Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Whackin' the Weedwhacker

There are few tasks I hate more than weedwhacking. I would almost sooner spend a day vacuuming and ironing than a half hour with a weedwhacker (I said ALMOST – I haven’t completely lost my mind. Yet. )

I am convinced that every gas-powered weedwhacker on the market was designed by a 6’5” male who pumps iron for a hobby. And while electric weedwhackers are smaller and lighter, dragging a cord is not an option on a large piece of property with many fences and other obstacles like four footed furry friends who think anything moving around after mom must be worth getting tangled in.

Last year, I bought a gas powered weekwhacker called the FeatherLite. It was advertised as the lightest, easiest-to-use gas powered trimmer and shown being operated by a not-too-tall, not-too-muscular, middle aged woman. It was supposedly easy to start, easy to operate, and – well – “light as a feather”.

As the kids would say: NOT

I am 5’1”. The Monster is taller than I am. No adjusting of the “convenient adjustable handle” can turn it into a balanced, easy-to-use machine.

It took me several weeks of extreme frustration to even be able to get the thing started in less than an hour of hard pulling and without three trips to the hospital for dislocated shoulders (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit....but there were many times I gave up after 30 minutes of trying in vain to get it started).

Now you might say “She lives on a farm in a rural area – why does she need to weedwhack at all????” Valid question.

I have some of the nicest neighbours in the world. I know I could count on them in any emergency; they have wonderful, polite, well-behaved kids (yes, even the teens); they are thoughtful and kind; they share their eggs and flowers and produce with me; and they don’t object to my dogs or pigs or less-than-perfect property.

But they all seem to be obsessively keen gardners whose front yards (and back fields, in most cases!) are exceptionally well groomed. And I feel guilty if the part of my property immediately adjacent to theirs and visible to the road does not look at least moderately tidy. And so yesterday, as I watched the weeds wave gaily above the top of the lovely old stone wall between my house and my western neighbours, I decided it was time to bring out the Monster.

I was amazed that it only took me 6 pulls on choke, 6 pulls on half choke, wait five minutes, 6 more pulls of choke, and 3 more pulls on half choke to get the thing going. I whacked away down the length of the wall – a distance of about 75 feet. As I neared the end of it and started on the weeds fronting the property, my shoulder was aching, my back was beginning to do an involuntary imitation of Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” , my forearm was numb and my hand was a tingling, shaking mess of jello.

It was then I realized the string had broken for the umpteenth time and no amount of “gently tapping on the ground” would make more appear. I reluctantly stopped the machine, looked to see that there was, indeed, no more string sticking out, and tried in vain to remove the cap in order to reload. I twisted. I turned. I pushed. I pulled. There was no way this stubborn “easy line replacement” component was going to open.

Fortunately, just at that moment, the forecasted “intermittent showers” began. I put the Monster in the garage and went to work on other things, promising to find the instruction book and tackle it again later. Each time I thought about giving it another go, it would rain again. This morning, as I rolled out of bed groaning “Must weedwhack, Must weedwhack” a huge clap of thunder sounded overhead and the heavens opened.

There are times I just KNOW there is a god and She hears my prayers!

Now if She could only direct some short 97-pound weakling to design an efficient and easy to use gas weedwhacker.


Anonymous said...

Jean, I have a recommendation for you: get yourself a rechargeable electric weed whacker! I've been through the same agony -- the gas-powered monster and the trailing never-quite-long-enough cord. Then two years ago I purchased a cordless electric model and it's a marvel! You only get about 45 minutes of effective whacking between charges, but in my mind that's plenty for one session (plus it's entirely possible battery life may have improved on newer models). Either that or add a weed-eating goat, or maybe a couple of sheep, to your menagerie. :-D


Jean said...

Thanks, Deb. I'll have to look into those. I have a rechargeable electric lawn mower (for the small areas - I have a ride-on for most of the lawn), but it isn't very powerful at all and the battery is quite heavy and very short-lived, so I didn't consider the weed whackers at all. I will check into it.
Sheep would be nice. But more poop to scoop and doG knows there's enough of that around here already!