Wednesday, October 12, 2011

LogWalls orchard -- the beginning

I never thought I would say the four words “We bought a tractor.” But we moved from the city to a log home on an orchard/farm last October. So there we were, with all of this land (6+ acres) and only a push mower. We knew we would need a riding mower. You know the kind -- a thousand dollars to be used for an hour on the weekends.  Ha!

Like any good consumers, we made a list of the “wants” for the product and began from there.  My husband asked me what I thought it should include. “It should cut the lawn.” 

"Oh you poor girl," says he. "Obviously, you are out of your league here," he says.  This is his list:
1. Comfortable seat w/ cupholder
2. Enclosed cockpit with A/C – the summer will get really hot
3. Stereo, or at least a power supply for iPod
4. A quiet engine so as to hear iPod
5. Front plow, to shovel the driveway
6. Power steering
7. A 38-42” deck (that’s lawn mower speak for cutting circumference the blade)
8. A service plan, bumper to bumper
We decided we should get the lawn mower immediately, it being October, while the prices were lower. I mean, how much demand is there for a lawn mower right before winter?  It’s fricken 30 degrees outside, nobody is cutting their lawns. The dealers would be begging for our business. We figured we would need to budget maybe, at most $1,250.  So we would went out to find this cute little riding mower to add to our homestead.
First stop Sears. Next, Lowest. Next, Home Depot.  We saw several that had the basics and hubby was sure he could get some aftermarket add-ons to make one of them useable.  But Clem from Wisconsin gave a review that said something along of the lines of: “this dog wont hunt.”  So the quest continued. Suddenly it hit us.  Who sells the best lawn mower ever?  John Deere!  We've seen their hats everywhere and there is a John Deere store in the city -- actually more like a big town, by our standards, but a place with stores not too far from us. A Way bigger community than the tiny town we'd moved to in rural, pastural PA. Our town has an ACE Hardware store and that is all.
My husband walked into the John Deere dealership, knowing what he needed, sure of himself, a veteran of many excellent car deals. He went up to the first salesman he saw, ready to negotiate.  He began reciting his list of requirements.  Chris listened, then asked how much do we plan on cutting and what type of terrain will we be mowing. Um. Hubby figured he was using these questions as some odd sales tactic – Because what does size and terrain have to do with buying a mower?  I gave Chris the answers anyway. Husband added in that we have a pretty good electric push mower in current use -- so Chris wouldn’t think that we HAD to buy a riding lawn mower that very day.  Also, the push mower was ELECTRIC and therefor environmentally friendly AND quiet.  Then hubby hit Chris with a firm, “Oh, and I don’t want to pay more than $1,200 – delivered.”  Master negotiator. 

Chris excused himself for a moment to confer with some of the other sales people in a huddle.  One of them popped his head up to look at us and then returned to the huddle. We thought there might have been some chuckling, but dismissed this as unlikely, given their need to sell us our lawn mower. Eventually Chris returned.  But the husband had already set his gaze upon the shiney LA series mowers.  They start at about $4K with none of the add-ons he was looking for, but he was feeling confident about negotiating the add-ons into the deal.  The one he was looking at was the base model and he assured me they would have the upgraded models out on the lot.  Chris stepped up beside hubby and said the series he was looking at was a great starter model, and good for cutting about an acre of flat land.
About 20 minutes later we were eyeing the TRACTOR – not lawn mower – that Chris recommended for 6+ acres of hills and scrub grass that sometimes gets pretty soggy. Turns out, the LA series wouldn’t cut the mustard -- or that much grass.  Or as Clem from Wisconsin said, “that dog won’t hunt.”  So about a half hour later we were the proud owners of a John Deere tractor that's only a little smaller than my car and cost just a little less.  You do NOT want to know the MPG! As a Prius owner, I nearly cried when I found that out. And it has few of the features on it that hubby wanted, except that deck needed to be a whopping 52 inches. He WAS able to buy -- for a goodly additional sum -- an attachment to plug in an iPod. However, it is not quiet, or in any way enclosed or air-conditioned. But I did get my requirement met -- it will cut a whole lot of lawn pretty quickly and on a single tank of gas.
To put the final nail in this lawn mower buying odyssey, right before we left John Deere, my husband asked Chris “Is there a class I can take to learn how to use this monster?" Chris stared blankly at him until I pulled him out of the store. And yet I never did need to call 911 due to a tractor roll-over incident. It took some time, but both of us can now drive the tractor -- though we haven't finished paying for it yet.

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