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Sea of Grass

Sea of Grass was a 1936 Conrad Richter novel about the cattlemen vs. the homesteaders on prairie land referred to as a “sea of grass.”  Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Melvyn Douglas starred in the 1947 Elias Kazan film based on the novel.

seaofgrassEven though I saw this movie a long time ago, I think of it when the “yard” gets out of control. I put that word in quotation marks because when you live on a section of a farm, yard grass tends to run into general non-yard grass along the roadway, between the out buildings, and into other seemingly huge expanses green stuff between the house and the fence.

The plan is for the cattle to stay on the other side of the fence. We’ve talked about the getting several goats to help tend to the grass on this side of the fence. More trees, too, so that there are vast areas natural ground cover rather than the grass.

The problem with the grass, other than the fact there’s a lot of it, is that, say, on a Monday it looks pretty good. Then there’s a monsoon on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday, the grass is suddenly several feet high and that’s a chore even for the riding mower.

I’m generally a fan of prairie and am fascinated by the tenacity of the grass with it’s long root systems searching for moisture during dry periods. Mowing that grass is another thing. There’s an old Ford tractor (still runs) sitting in one of the out buildings and we’re really tempted to buy a bush hog for it so we can reduce a day-long mowing adventure down to a half-day adventure.

On the Christmas list!

On the Christmas list!

Frankly, I think the neighbors sneak over here at night and throw 10-10-10 fertilizer in all the yard and non-yard miniature prairie habitats so that when we get up in the morning still tired from mowing the day before, the grass looks again like it hasn’t been cut in weeks.

The neighbor on the other side of the fence who leased and then bought the majority of our old farm, suggests that we bale our into large rolls so he can put it in the barn to dry for his cattle. Interesting idea.

My wife mowed for two hours after dinner last night. I mowed for two hours this afternoon after the grass finally dried out enough from last night’s rain. Grass (not marijuana) doesn’t make for a very philosophical or celestial post. It’s more something to do while I’m cooling off from our sea of grass.

There’s more to mow, of course. While mowing, the yard seems about the size of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Kansas:


There used to be 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie in the U.S. Now, about 96% of it’s gone. Somebody obviously loaded up some of that 96% and brought it down to north Georgia during a night with no moon so I would have to cut it.

If you just bought yourself a brand new riding mower and then realized you don’t have a yard, feel free to bring it out to our place. We’ll even give you a free beer when you’re done unless you run over the shrubs or tear off a section of the back porch.


KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” a granny-vs-the-KKK novella set in the Jim Crow era of the Florida Panhandle. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99 cents today (9/10) and tomorrow (9/11).


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