Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mow Yer Lawn, Sir?

This is one of those posts I really want to write, but have no idea where or how to begin. I saw this rig parked across the street. It is a mobile lawn service. I am not kidding. KW rig, two axle trailer to haul the mowers. Here I am beginning to get an inkling as to why it costs so much to get a lawn mowed. (Disclaimer: we do our own, so just saying.)

In the bottom picture you see how the neighbor's lawn was mowed when I was a kid. He paid me a quarter to mow the lawn. It was hot, sweaty work. I was thirteen.

Today's thirteen-year-old boy sits in the comfort of his AC'd house and plays his video games, or chats on the whazzis via text messaging, while Dad is out with the KW earning bucks to provide all that. I guess I could be right-- I never see any kids out and about, and certainly not with lawn mowers.

Now Dad has not only to support this idler and his lifestyle, Dad has to feed the KW, and the last I looked diesel was less than three cents under four bucks; and the KW runs while Dad works!
Trust me, you aren't going to get that lawn mowed for a quarter. (My next-door neighbor pays such a service fifty-five bucks a pop.)

Now one might conclude that the household income is sufficiently high that the master or matron of the house cannot afford to take the time to mow himself/herself. And certainly those teenage kids aren't going to do it. They have electronics to play. So money well spent. Or I was born sixty years too soon. I'm really trying to work up a rant here, but no one is going to appreciate it anyway.

I'll stop now.

No joke. I own this mower. It still cuts. Still not easy.


John Cowart said...

Hi Vanilla,

I use the same kind of mower as the one in your last photo.

As I do yardwork, I sing that old hymn, "I Come To The Garden Alone... Have to; Can't Get My Kids To Mow".

Unfortunately, I can't sing that anymore. I'm beginning to get old and decrepit, so occasionally one of them comes over with a riding mower and in 45 minutes does a job that takes me four hours.

Your post touched a nerve.

John Cowart

vanilla said...

John, my hat's off to a guy who can still use a people-powered reel-type mower! As much as we would like to retain our independence as we age, I have to say you are blessed to have children who care enough to help the oldster from time to time.

Anonymous said...

As a teenager, I mowed lawns in my neighborhood for cash. The lots were maybe 1/8 acre; I charged $5. This was in the early 1980s I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator site and it said that's worth $11 today.

Where I live now, the few who hire the mowing done pay services like your Hustlin' Hoosier. I'm not sure I understand why when there are a few able-bodied young men in the neighborhood whose dads own power push mowers. Like my two sons.

Secondary Roads said...

I had a reel-type mower that I loved. It was the smoothest running mower of that type I had ever seen. Eventually, I decided it might work better if it was sharpened. I paid an expert with the right equipment to do just that. The mower was useless after he finished. I could barely push it when cutting nothing. I threw it away. :(

Lin said...

Okay, I can give you the other side of the story:

People today would rather throw $50 to have someone "pimp" their lawn than to do it themselves. Time is a premium and those sorts of chores are just easier handled with some cash out the door. That money buys them some badly needed free time.

Now, for $50, you get your yard mowed, trimmed, edged, and swept (or blown). And it is done within minutes. Teenagers a) don't lug all that edging, blowing, trimming equipment with them b) take a LOT longer because there is only one of them and c)don't want these jobs because homeowners are so darn picky about the work and the schedule that it isn't worth the $50.

We've experienced it first hand and I actually discourage Colin from taking those jobs. Those homeowners think that $50 for all that pimping is like free money for those kids--which it is not. If you figure out how much time it takes for a kid to do all that versus a professional company (your truck) it doesn't amount to much money per hour.

Does that make sense? It's like the asian nail places--you can get them done there cheap and fast. These services do the same thing and homeowners love it. Cheap and fast--it's the American way!

vanilla said...

Jim, I think $11 today would be a fair price, perhaps as much as $25 for a lawn the size of ours (third acre). But I didn't get the fifty and more, until Lin explained it to me in her comment. Also, according to the LSI calculator, my quarter in '47 was equivalent to $2.53 today. Someone was taking advantage of someone.

Chuck, guess the adjustment doohickey didn't work for you. Oh, well. Your tractor looks a lot more fun anyway!

Lin, you have made many things quite clear. One thing being that my career provided a sadly small remuneration -- I could never afford to pay that kind of money. You are right, though, about the efficiency of a professional lawn service. Next-door neighbor's yard was done last evening in twenty minutes, trimmed, edged, swept; just as you say. Takes BBBH and I an hour to do ours, same size yard. Of course, we don't have a 'blower' and have to use a broom to tidy up. So, fast,yes; cheap, not so much, on my income. (BBBH will be so upset with me if she reads this. She hates it when I "poor mouth" as she calls it. Says I could so afford it, I'm just too tight to pay it.)

Sharkbytes said...

I'd never be able to mow our mess with a push mower, but I hear ya' - i never got paid to mow the lawn. that was just part of my job. but i did get paid 25cents an hour to tear down a corncrib

vanilla said...

Shark, just part of the expected performance at home for me, too. The twenty-five cents was a result of my entrepreneurial ventures.