How many mows to reach the mowest mow?

Megadrought West. SLC in May has a new normal (30yr avg) of one 90 degree day: May 1st was 91 degrees.
Springtime at Coatsville already saw the window shades go up for summer, the day before we headed out to MT.
A week ago it had been driving snow, we arrive to 70 degrees that ramps up to the mid 80’s (July temperatures). The little creek that runs through the yard is dry, but there is still snow up on the mountains and through the forests, so maybe it will still come on. The grass is just greening up, the Willows are budding out and full of bumble bees (I’ve never seen/heard so many bumble bees), and Lilacs are just greening up.
The yard is thick with fallen branches, sticks, and twigs. E helps with the big branches, then I rake up the rest.
A close mow-down is an illusion of a nice lawn. Now I rake it again to get the hidden sticks out.
Just this back bit of yard turns out this mass of mess. I toss it over the slat fence into the corral for the cattle to crush to bits- the cattle are still a week out from their drive to our summer pasture.
With all the big detritus removed, it is time to thatch-mow. My old mower is fitted with a thatcher, which is a flat bar holding twin rake tine / springs. The rake tines will eventually break away, and I have two full sets and one remaining on the bar from a thatching years ago- so five tines altogether, and I’ll go through them all.
A mower blade creates lift and blows grass into the bagger, a thatching bar creates no lift and all the mulched dusty obliteration of leaves and dead grass makes a heavy mat. It is too heavy for the mower to lift and bag, so I rake it all, then drop the mower to its bottom pins and “vaccum” up another big lift of mulch.
Finally we arrive at a starting place.
Each section of yard gets its own dumping site; to keep the levels manageable, as well as keeping me from lugging time eating wagon loads all about.
Now water, air, and sunlight can reach the soil. I wanted to rent a plug aerator, but it is too big to fit in the truck without removing the shell, and also too heavy for me to get it out/back in.
The front yard is clear of sticks, and sun hammered- so just three mower steps of 1: short mow, 2: thatch mow, 3: vacuum mow with no raking before and between each mow. The green sward is the roll-off from the driveway, I left that alone on both sides of the drive to conserve my thatching tines.
The big south yard with a full buzz-cut, and a stripe of the “driveway”.
The prep work is now finished. Prep for what? Micro clover. I’m overseeding the front and south yard with a special white clover, bred for tiny leaves and short growth. Under the willows and on part of the north yard I spread a different (exponentially cheaper big-box store) white clover, the regular large form for filling in bare ground and blocking out weeds. A grass/clover mix withstands drought better than grass alone, and the clover traps nitrogen into the soil feeding the grass- while the grass gives the clover cover. I’m hoping this helps the yard survive the onslaught of giant thistles overwhelming the landscape, and the merciless new levels of heat and megadrought and spikes of flash drought. Before the days of sprinkler systems, grass/clover mix was common in yards. One of the older houses in our SLC sugarhood has an ancient mix still providing green all summer long- I overseeded my SLC yard with micro-clover this spring as well, though using a thatch rake instead of a mower.
Overburden of the front and south yard buries the wild carrot crop and stinging nettle along the dry creek and under a willow. The entire thatching project was a two-day push, with another half-day to string-trim and lay in the clover seed. Snow is coming.
Three tines down. Soon will be down to one.
The last tine gives out. Knowing it was about to fail, I only raked a path for two passes. I made it half way.
Just to show the big pile of detritus from back in the day when my dad had me put all the cleanup in one spot; it is in the center and nearly 10 feet tall. He planned to remove it with the tractor, but the creek stayed flowing for years and the little marsh opposite the pile would have sunk the tractor. It gets crushed down by the elements every year, and every year it gets more big branches: some British gardeners consider a big brush pile essential to a heathy wild yard, and ours houses wild rabbits.
This is the West section looking across the cleared out creek bed on the R, and showing another area for detritus spreading to the L made of sectioned logs of willow helping berm the creek at center, then mulched grass, sticks, and big branches.
I’ve been building this mulching area for a few years, and it serves double duty in choking down the wild carrot and other huge charismatic weeds that had laid in when the creek had split around the willows.
The creek was choked with leaves and branches, perfect time to clear it all out.
Cleared through the little cascades, with a shoreline of old roofing to block out the overburden of stinging nettle and bramble-rose.
Elizabeth recognizes the song of the Oriel. He is way up in the willows…we both found old Oriel nests while clearing the grounds- partly made with blue bailing twine from the days of my father’s herd.
The rain started after dark, and at 8am the snow began.
I hope this bit of weather is just perfect to set the overseeding. On to the inside projects…

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