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Good Fertilizer

I don’t take good care of my lawn, at least not as good as I should. I mow it when I have the time, and I have to confess that I’ve let it grow too tall plenty of times. I also never bother to water, fertilize, or seed it annually like some people, and I wouldn’t have the first clue how to aerate it. Then, on the other hand, I never mow it too short either, as I see many people butchering their lawns, especially in towns around here. When you mow it excessively short, the sun winds up baking the roots of the grass and turns your lawn into a patchy dead brown eyesore. That’s the one thing I can take pride in, is having one of the greenest lawns in the neighborhood, even if some of that green comes from weeds.

The size of your yard contributes significantly to its ease or difficulty of care. While some people have barely any property to speak of, but I have just under an acre to mow. It does take me some time to trim my grass as I only have a 22″ cut, 5hp, non-self-propelled push mower. It does have a mulching plug, so I get to feed pieces of the grass back to it, kind of like cannibalism. I did give some thought to getting a riding mower, but I just can’t bring myself to get one. I have a healthy distrust of the things because when I was in fifth grade, right at the end of the school year on memorial day weekend, our teacher flipped one over upside down on himself and had a heart attack and died.

When you have a lawn to care for, you quickly find many annoyances and problems keep cropping up. The mowing takes time, gas, and a lot of sweat. You also find out that most of the litter and trash from the other neighbors around you always tends to blow into and stay and play around in your yard. The benefits usually outweigh the problems you can have though. You can play almost any sport you wish in your beautiful yard, from football, to volleyball, to baseball, to soccer, to badminton, to horseshoes, and even croquet. It also serves as a great place for family get-togethers, barbecues, or overflow parking for any parties you might throw. But coming back to the problems, probably the worst one you can have would be, infestation.

I’d noticed the groundhog hole a few weeks prior, but wasn’t all that concerned. It was in a very inconspicuous spot, on the rear property line, obscured and shaded by some thin bushes and a smallish tree. I was skipping, well, more like plodding along, pushing the lawn mower and I approached the groundhog hole. Suddenly, he bolted straight out of the hole and came at me.

Now, the extent of my knowledge of groundhogs is not vast, nor is it anything to brag about. But I do know three things about groundhogs: they live/sleep underground, some people hunt, shoot and eat them, and that they are vicious, aggressive beasts who will attack without much warning if they feel threatened.

So, as he charged at me with murder, or at least a severe maiming, in his beady little eyes, I screamed. I should say ‘yelled in surprise’, because if I say ‘screamed’ it implies ‘like a little girl’. My scream was more of an “AAAAAAAH” than an “AAAIIIEEEEEE” type of scream. I panicked and took about the only course of action reflex would let me take, I pushed down on the handle of the running mower, tilting it up at an angle on its back wheels. Then, I heard something like:


I can only really theorize what happened from what I saw and heard.

I guess the groundhog maybe tried to rear up, either to meet the foe, or try to spin and pivot around quickly and run back to the relative safety of his underground burrow. The first strike must’ve cut most of his neck or maybe even decapitated him, but the second strike caught him under his jaw and went into his mushy brains where his neck used to be, and stopped short when it hit the skull. It took his head on a roundabout scraping journey on the inside wall of the mower deck, but the mulching plug space allowed the centrifugal force to fling the head off the blade and far into the yard. It launched it in a lazy arc, which the motion of I caught out of the corner of my eye. All together I’d estimate it flung the head 30 ft until it landed, bounced twice, and rolled maybe another 10 ft on top of that.

The mower, while almost having stalled, started up again, and went to work on the body. It must’ve spun and landed on its back as the blades came back to fling bits of stomach, bits of internal organs, and bone across my grass in a red mist that I turned my head back to witness. Then I let go of the mower, dropping it, still running for a few more seconds… I guess the throttle stuck or something, and it mangled the corpse a bit more before finally stalling out.

I tilted up and rolled back the mower to survey the damage. A spine, a couple dismembered limbs, and lots of red and bits of fur and bone smiled up at me. I almost threw up. I ran back up to my driveway, pulling the mower backwards, with it comically bouncing along behind me through the unmowed grass. I went and got a pair of disposable gloves from my kitchen and came back out and picked up the mower, placing it in the back of my truck, amazingly not smearing any groundhog blood all over me. I drove it up to the ‘Sharper Shop’, a lawnmower repair place just up the road from my house.

I unloaded the mower with a second set of gloves I’d brought along and then took them off once the mower was on the ground. Then I went inside, leaving my mower out by my truck.

“Hey, what can I do for you today?” asked Paul, as he came out from the back, drawn away from whatever he had been working on in the back, by the bell on the front door.

“I just ran over a groundhog” I confessed.

“Ha, Hey Dave! Come out here, you gotta hear this!” he called to the back.

Out wandered Dave also, and I related my tale much as I have here. Afterwards, we went out to survey the damage, and as they flipped over the mower to give it a look-see underneath, I apologized for not having hosed it down. They told me they could have it ready for me by Monday, and that they’d clean it up, sharpen the blade and make sure everything was alright with it.

“You might not want to sharpen the blade,” I told them, “Seems I’m pretty dangerous with that thing, who knows what I’d end up killing if I had a sharp blade?” Cue polite chuckles.

When I picked the mower up on Monday, it was my turn to laugh. There it was, cleaned up, good as new, with a couple of new ‘warning’ stickers on the mower deck to boot.

The End

Please note:  This story was originally published on the Mentally Incontinent Reader Stories section, here:, go to read comments if you so desire.