November 4, 2018

2018 Leaf Project Phase I

I knew with a look like that from Stella I was going to have to get in gear and get the leaves taken care of before the rains showed up early this afternoon IF that forecast was accurate. The wind and rain would only leave more leaves in the yard than what was there, plus another 2-3 days of rain, this 2018 Leaf Project was turning into something around the middle of November.

She kept the pressure on and wasn't going to move after her walk until I told her my plan of "Mowing" the leaves this year instead of "Raking" them and then burning them. That always took 3 to 4 hours and I'd end up pretty sore as I would load up on Motrin as a vitamin supplement for the day.

For their own nap times and for my sanity, I put both hounds in the bedroom as if I were leaving the house. With rain on the way I didn't have time to hound sit while I worked. A few weeks ago I tried this mowing method for the first time in the 21 years I lived here. I have no idea what took so long to figure out something so simple. Luckily there wasn't any wind yet since it was just after the hounds walk. Here is what I had to get rid of.

I know with the amount of leaves on the trees right now this will not be a one time operation. That is the reason I call this Phase I. Over the years I have raked and burned them most of the time. One year I bought that large leaf blower that also had the option to vacuum the leaves into a small bag that had to be emptied about a million times. Plus that bag was small because when it was filled with leaves it was quite heavy to carry with just a shoulder strap. I did not even finish 'vacuuming' the yard that year before I went back to raking and burning.

I started with my small leaf blower powered by a lithium battery, easy to handle and no long electrical cord to mess with. I blew all the leaves away from the house to the yard, making it much easier to mow and mulch that first path along the edge of the river rock.

Same process in front. I was hoping I could get the whole yard finished before the winds picked up from the SW bringing that thunderstorm my way. I am thinking about tearing out that river rock in back and installing Cyprus mulch that I have in the front. I'll add some plants or shrubs in the back and front next spring.

Using the same technique I used a few weeks ago I would push the mower in the direction the camera is facing in the photo photo, THEN pull the mower backwards over the same path I had just mowed. I would be walking forward pulling the mower backward behind me. I had to come back the same path because there were too many leaves and that return path would pickup what little mulch leaves were left. "No leaf left behind" is a problem I have always had even when raking them.

In 20 minutes my backyard looked like this:

I started at the top of the front yard blowing the mowed leaves downhill towards the highway. Same process of pushing the mower with the blower facing the highway, THEN pulling the mower backwards along the same path. Of course by the time I finished a few leaves had blown into the yard from the driveway.

This only took me 36 minutes.

My OCD was maxed out today as you notice that I didn't stop at the edge of the yard and highway shoulder. I continued to mow/mulch leaves on the shoulder blowing them to the highway. That is almost crazy when you think about it.  LOL

I left the north side yard for last. The goal was to blow the leaves toward the fence but just past that bush there is a step incline so I had to mow that from the top blowing the leaves toward the bush. I started in the back pushing the mower along the side of the house, THEN pulling the mower back along the same path.

At now time did I walk backwards when I pulled the mowing in the yard ... I always turned and walked forward pulling the mower backwards behind me. One year I left all the leaves on the ground in this side yard and it did what I thought it might do ... it killed all the grass that was under the leaves.

It surprised me that the side yard only took 10 minutes.

Total time 66 minutes instead of 3-4 hours of raking and burning leaves, with a 22" mower.

I admit by the time I started the top of that north side yard I was exhausted. I wanted to take a short break but couldn't stop because I could see gray clouds in the western sky and the wind was picking up behind those trees out in the field. Of course my Garmin VivoSport needed it's battery charged soon after I started so I could not record my maximum heart rate during all of this exercise but I think the Sacramento State Hornets ball cap tells the story.

While I was putting the mower, leaf blower and edger back into the shed, the trees in back were starting to make noise telling me the winds were getting stronger. If you look close enough you can see all the yellow leaves blowing off those trees.

By the time I came back outside with a new dry shirt and sweatshirt on, with Heidi and Stella the yards were getting a new supply of leave coming off the trees with the increased winds.

By the time the thunderstorms are over tonight I have no doubt that my front and backyard will be just as covered as they were before I mowed them. Yet, I will have half the amount of leaves to mow after it drys out.

Checking the app Weather Bug, the 100 mile line of thunderstorms were heading our way from the west with the radar showing them at the Indiana / Illinois state line.

During all of this activity I had forgotten we had changed time last night. The computers and my Garmin VS3 changed automatically. Heidi started barking, then Stella was following with a howl, back and forth nonstop because they were hungry. It might have said 10:42am on my Garmin but to them it was 11:42am and I was late with their lunch. With each bark Heidi's front feet would hop in the air thus the reason for that movement of her left year.

I stopped everything and fed them. I'm happy when they are happy. Speaking of the time change that is not all that changed in the last 24 hours. You probably guessed since I was even outside mowing it had to have been warmer than the 29° yesterday morning about the same time of day. It was not only warmer but much warmer. As Stella and I started the walk before the Leaf Project ... it was 50°.

I noticed right off the bat that all of that energy I saw from Stella yesterday had disappeared today. She was looking like I felt after only one cup of coffee but she showed now signs of soreness or limping due to all her activity yesterday.

She had a run to catch up to me but that was the only time she was moving faster than a walk this morning. She did not even do any trotting today.

I normally don't like the time change but since I am retired it really makes no difference. There is a slight adjustment though when you catch yourself looking at the time and saying to yourself "it is really an hour later".

I think you can tell that Stella was pretty relaxed this morning compared to running all over the yard yesterday with her nose to the ground.

At this point of the walk yesterday she was barely seen thought a 200mm zoom lens and running away ... today she is turned looking to see if I am ever going to get to the final turn of the walk.

It felt pretty warm in a Columbia fleece jacket which is also my liner to the winter jacket.

By this point of the walk I was telling her to come on ... I already knew I was going to get these leaves out of the yard as soon as the walk was over.

Stella has only been over the the neighbors one time in four months. In this woods behind my neighbors house lives the largest cat you would ever see. It is so large, when I first saw it I didn't know what kind of animal it was. The neighbor feeds it but it always stays outside even during the cold winter months. It cannot be caught and the original owner told me it always ran away when they tried to keep it inside when there was bad weather.

"Come on Stella, a little faster"

At least it's a start ... she is finally in the backyard.

Caught in the middle of the full body shake.

She showed no signs of wanting to stay outside with me while I mowed the leaves. She likes to sleep after these morning walks. That's why I didn't mind putting her in the bedroom with Heidi, while I was outside. If I don't shut them in the bedroom she 'counter surfs' the kitchen for any kind of food or fruit, to whatever else is around.

It is tempting to go out and take a few more yard photos just to show you what the winds have done to my clean yard in the two hours since I finished Phase I. I can feel the temperature dropping also. I have no urge to watch any NFL football today and tonight. I feel a siesta is waiting right around the corner, then some book reading.

Actually it is pretty disappointing to see how many leaves are already blown back into the yard.  LOL I predict it will take 3 Phases to complete the 2018 Leaf Project.

This retirement living is rough in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana.


  1. Great you were able to get Phase I of the leaf project accomplished while the weather cooperated. Terrific idea to mow them down.

    1. Much better than burning them, although I have a huge pile of tree limbs to burn this fall.

  2. Maybe it's crazy, but my leaf strategy is very similar to yours, except when I mow the front part of my yard, it all goes out into the street in my neighborhood. LOL

    1. That sounds like a great plan. So I should not feel guilty blowing leaves into the highway ?? LOL

  3. How neat that you came up with a new method to deal with the leaves. I bet that you will save a lot of time overall. Nothing wrong with getting a workout at the same time:)

    1. Getting that workout is why I still mow the yard myself and a small 22" mower fits in my narrow carport shed, level with all tires on the floor.