There are still a few more weeks to go before I need to start mowing, but since it has been raining too much to do any planting, I took the opportunity to service the six-foot rotary mower (also known as a bush hog) yesterday so that I would be ready when mowing season begins. I greased the universal joints on the drive shaft, topped off the gear box oil, made sure that all of the nuts and bolts were tight and checked the blades, which didn't need to be sharpened (unlike lawn mower blades, bush hog blades work best when they are rather dull).
While I was servicing the mower, I got to thinking about how I dread the early part of mowing season because it happens to correspond with the height of deer fawn season. As their mothers graze, fawns hide nearby, lying silent and still in the tall grass. Because there are a lot of deer on our hill, there are a lot of fawns.
When I first started farming about ten years ago, one time in early June I was mowing a very tall pasture when I suddenly heard a loud squealing sound coming from the bush hog. The high-pitched squeal sounded like a mechanical problem, so I quickly raised the mower, shut down power to it and idled the tractor while looking over my shoulder. What I saw, much to my dismay, was a tiny little fawn go tumbling out from underneath the mower, as the tractor rolled forward before stopping. "Oh, fuck," I thought, "fuck. Fuck. Fuck." The squealing had been the fawn screaming as it was torn and battered by the heavy mower blades rotating at 540 rpm.