Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our eBay Business - Standard/Chrome Postcards

Almost all the cards we sell through our eBay business are standard sized cards (about 3 1/2 X 5 1/2 inches).

The major sub-groups of these cards are standard/chromes, linens, white border, and early 2oth century.  I also treat real picture postcards (RPPC) as their own group.

This post is about the Chromes.

Standard/Chromes are postcards reproduced from a photograph, usually made using kodachrome or ektachrome 35mm film.  (I reckon).  They are glossy, and usually full color, with the color more or less reproduced faithfully.   The earliest standard/chrome I've seen dates from 1939 or so, and I believe it was a "Union Oil" card, the type sold at gas stations to try to get people to see  the USA with Philips 76 gasoline.   I've also seen them created in the 1980's and 90's, but the vast majority in the U.S.  are from the 1950s thru the end of the 1970s.

The picture above is a typical example of a standard/chrome postcard - it is Peterson's Cottages in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  

Most of the time postcards have no decipherable information that tells you the exact date they were created.  So I look for clues in the pictures to give me a rough idea - it's one of the fun things I like to do.  (yep, it's an exciting life).   The biggest clue in this picture is the car - you can see the front end.  I'm not sure what kind it is, but it looks powerful.  It looks very V8, with head room and leg room.  That dates it to late 60's to very early 70's to me, so I can guess the card dates from no earlier than the early 1970s or so.  If I was to just call this is a 40 year old card, I would not be far off, one way or another.   That means the children with the beach balls are middle aged now.   

Another simple way to semi-date a card is by any postmark it may have.  You know it was created before the date, but I've seen cards mailed 20-30 years after they were created, so you need to take other things into consideration.

You could google Peterson's Cottages in Falmouth to try to get some history on it, if you wanted. I did, just for fun, and found that these cottages were bought & operated by a Raymond Peterson, who also ran a painting business - sometime after WWII.   He sold them in 1968, no word on if the name changed or not.  He died last year.     I did not find anything online about the cottages in particular, but I also didn't look very hard.

If cottages no longer exist, or were renamed, or changed in some way, that might give you another clue to the age of the card.    

Mostly I do not go to extraordinary lengths to get an exact date on a card.   But I look at every single card closely, looking for card type, clothing styles, types of cars, even the way the caption is written on back - writers from 50-60 years ago or more tended to write in a passive voice much more than today's writers.  The language seems more stilted than what we're used to. 

Standard/Chrome cards are very common - but the are also among the best sellers.   And like this one of Peterson's Cottages, I frequently spend a lot of time staring at them, and wondering.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ulysses the cat

This is a neighborhood cat who decided to take up temporary residence on top of a storage/work shed on our property.  For no particular reason, I call him Ulysses.  I don't know who he belongs to, but he's a frequent visitor, and has been barked at by the Valdese Dog more than once.
Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our eBay Business: Postcards, Part 1

Orleans Apartment Hotel - Miami Beach, Florida.  With cool cars.

I think I'll have to have more than one post about postcards.   Consider this one the intro.  The next one will be about types of postcards I sell, and then there'll be something about pricing and expenses.  Unless I change my mind and decide to do it differently.

I've always liked postcards.  I've traveled a lot and bought them here and there, and held on to many of them, so I had something of an undisciplined collection going.  The picture above is an example of one I'm holding on to, mostly because I like it.   I stare at it and it makes me think. What kind of lives went on in those buildings?  What kind of car is that green and white two door?  What was it like to live in Miami Beach in the 1950s?  

Until we decided to start selling postcards, I really knew nothing about them.  I was surprised at how much there was to learn.

In Feb 2007, our eBay business was just kind of loping along.  We were looking for something sustainable and predictable, or at least something a bit more predictable than one of a kind collectibles and such.   I knew that people sold postcards on eBay, but I hadn't really paid much attention, but for some reason, I began to think we should give it a try - see how it worked.  So in the middle of Feb 2007, we bought a shoe box full of 400 postcards from a vendor down in Myra's Antiques, just off Main Street in Valdese, most of them sight unseen, and we were suddenly in the postcard business. 

If you're ever in Valdese, you owe it to yourself to drop in.  Then head on over to Cornerstone Antiques, on the corner of Main Street & Roderet - they have a coffe shop as well.

Anyway, the cards were all standard sized (not the large "continentals"), and dated from the 1970s back to the very early 20th century.    Since I was interested in actually seeing if they were profitable, I found and modified an excel spreadsheet that allowed me to track all the income & expenses associated with those postcards.  It was extra work, but it told me what I needed to know.

This is what I found:  it took until August 2007, six full months, before we broke even on those postcards.     I did not consider this turn around to be very quick.  And while cards continued to sell out of that box for a long time afterwards, it was not a huge money maker.  I studied other postcard sellers, ones who had a lot more experience than me and began to emulate them to a degree.   I began to list more cards - a lot more.  I lowered my starting prices on almost everything, lowered my shipping & handling prices, if the cards didnt sell at auction I moved them to the eBay store.  I standardized & simplified the listings where I could.  Later I decided to keep the cards in our eBay store on a "Buy It Now" basis for an extended period before I did other things with them.  Sales volume increased dramatically.  And that's where we're at today. Most of our listings are postcards.

Advantages of postcards:   ease of storage, ease of packaging, very predictable shipping costs (both foreign and domestic), and I have a lot of fun with them.  It's nice to work with something you enjoy.

Disadvantages:  they are a usually a low price item, so it's hard to make a lot of money with them.   You have to figure out away to create a high volume of sales, without losing money.  One of the easiest things on earth to do is lose money trying to sell a low priced item on eBay. Postcards, bless their little standard/chrome hearts, provide just that opportunity, on a large scale.   You have to keep a sharp eye on expenses, or you'll think you're making money, but in reality, you aren't.  

Another disadvantage, is that they are not generally a high traffic item.  They all get looks, but something like an Empire Sofa or a Hoosier Cabinet will get hundreds of people on your site, while a postcard might get 10 or so during a 30 day period, sometimes more, frequently less.  I keep up with my site traffic reports, I can see that traffic to our eBay site is down a little from a year ago, and I look at my own records and can see that $$ are down from a year ago too. This despite the fact that we have a lot more items for sale than we did a year ago.  We need to figure out how to react to that.

Maybe it's the economy, stupid.

Frequently I can give an educated guess about a particular postcard - I know from experience that a particular card may sell, even if I've never had that card before.  But it is impossible to tell.  People collect these cards for lots of reasons, but the one that seems most common to me is pure sentiment.  It's something from their childhood, or a picture of a place they way it used to be.  So, even though I can make an educated guess sometimes, I can never predict.  

I almost always start my cards at auction, then move them to the store as buy-it-nows if they don't sell.  Most don't sell at auction.  Of those that do sell at auction, 90% or more only get one bid and go for the starting price.   However, occasionally one will take off.   Last year one of my cards sold for $64.00 - for no reason I could see except two people really wanted it.  I had another sell for over $30.00, and I started it at 99 cents.  Again, there was nothing special about it, just more than one person wanted it.    I've heard of (and seen) cards go for much higher than that, but it doesnt happen very often.  Anytime a card goes in the $20-30 range, consider it a very good postcard day.  Most days we just slug it out with lower prices and hopefully higher volume.

You have to have some sort of organization, when you're dealing with thousands of postcards. When one sells, you have to be able to find it, and you don't want to spend a couple of hours looking for it.  Postcards have all kinds of categories and sub-categories,  and sub-categories of sub-categories.  There are a hundred different ways of organizing them.   I deal mostly with USA views, soI organize them by states - if it's a hotel in Florida, I stick it in the Florida group.  If its a Hotel in California, it goes in the California group.  But not all of them lend themselves to that - there are art cards, artist signed cards, comics, cowboy/western motif, cards from other countries, RPPCs and dozens of others.  What ever eBay category I use in my listing, that is the corresponding group I'll physically store the card in.  It's just a logical (to me) way to organize them, and it makes a lot easier to find when they sell.  It is no fun when you can't find a card that someone has just bought and paid for, so keeping things organized really cuts down on problems like that.

Ok, enough of this.  

My son is coming for a visit, so I may or may not post anything tomorrow.   If I don't, it'll probably be Wednesday or Thursday before I post my next one.  The next one will be about different types of postcards I deal with, with pictures.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Our eBay Business: - Consignments

Our first major consignment sale was a 19th century empire sofa, very similar to the one pictured above.  This was back in late 2006, when we still had our store on Main Street in Valdese.   A woman walked into the store and asked if we'd be interested in purchasing an empire sofa.  She wanted $300 for it.   Now, I had never heard of an empire sofa at the time, tho I think Patti Anne had (being a girl and all), and $300 was a lot of money for us to spend on a single item of  inventory.  So we offered to try to sell it for her on consignment, gave her our rates & terms & she agreed.   A couple of days later we went out to her house, took a bunch of pictures of it, then very shortly had it written up and posted as a 7 day auction, buyer pick-up, 'cause we knew nothing about shipping things freight.   She kept it at the house, and we assured her we would not give out her contact info until we had the money.   It worked like a charm.  The sofa sold for $600 I think, the buyer paid immediately and we took $120 + expenses (listing fees, final value fees & paypal fees).  Everybody was happy - the buyer got a very nice piece of antique furniture at an unbelievably excellent price, the customer got more than $400, over $100 more than she wanted, and we got $120 for selling a piece of inventory we didn't have to buy, transport and keep in a mildewy, moldy little hovel of a store. 

That was pretty good.   

Most  consignments don't work like that, and I have since developed a love/hate attitude toward them.   At one point, we probably had close to 100 items (maybe more) on consignment with various customers, now a bit less.   We have to track every expense associated with a consignment item - listing fees, final value fees, PayPal fees & our commission .  We don't have any special software to do this, just have a simple excel spreadsheet that I created and developed myself.   I created formulas to do the math, but I have to do a fair amount of input, record the listing fee when I list an item, search sites to figure out the final value fee, and logon to PayPal and search it to find their fee.  The spreadsheets (one for each customer) have a line for each item.  Consignments create double or triple the work per item, at least.  

I doubt any customers understand the amount of extra work consignments create - and really, why should they care?  It's just part of what we take on when we agree to sell an item for them.

Customers understand and accept our commission rates with no problem.  But very few are prepared for the amount eBay charges, no matter how much we tell them.  Us telling them is one thing, them seeing it on the statement I provide with their check is quite another.  I look at it and shake my head, so I can just image what they are thinking - those charges are profit they don't get.

We have formal contracts, but we haven't used them in awhile.  If we enter into an arrangement with someone we don't know, we'd print off the contract,  go over the charges, our responsibilities, answer all their questions, and they'd sign two copies, one for them and one for us, or we would go no further.   However, we have consignors we know quite well, and with them, it's just a verbal agreement.   Our commission plus expenses involved in listing and selling. 

Some customers are very particular about what things sell for, which can put us as sellers at a disadvantage.  Other customers just give us a general "whatever you can get for it" type instructions.  

Consignments put you in contact with people - the consignors are your customer, you are working to sell their item & get them the best price you can.  I find that you also end up negotiating with them sometimes, managing their expectations, especially about starting price and the types of things they want you to sell.  We've returned  more than one item without even listing it because we felt the odds of it selling were very poor.   There are times when we've not accepted an item to list.  If you are a people person, then this is no problem.  If you're like me, and aren't really a people person, and just want everybody to get along and be happy and be at peace with the world, well, you let Patti Anne do this part.

I've just scratched the surface here.  If you delve into selling on consignment, just accept that you've taken on extra responsibilities.   Not only must you satisfy your customer (the buyer), but to also must satisfy your customer (the consignor).   Although it is your business, it's sort of like you're working for someone else, who may or may not take a very active interest in how you market their items.  You've given up just the tiniest bit of control over your life. 

Thanks again for reading.  I know I ramble, but tough. 

I think my next post will be about postcards, since that is what we sell most.  That may turn into several posts, I'll have to see.  I love postcards.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our eBay Business - Introduction Part 2

The first thing we ever sold on eBay was a set of 3 birdhouses.  They all went to the same person, living in a small town in Iowa just south its border with Minnesota.  I remember looking to see where the town was, because I had never heard of it.   We packaged them as carefully as we knew how, took it down to the post office and sent it off.   We lost money on the deal, because we did not charge enough for shipping.   That was August 2006, and that was our introduction to selling on eBay.

We've come aways since then.  Shipping costs are no longer the mystery they once were.   And the business has grown from where we only sold something every now and then, to a point where we reasonably expect to sell something every day.  Some days a lot, some days a little, but it's a rare day that we don't package something up & grab the dog and head to the post office. In 2006, that wasn't the case at all.

I suppose some people get rich selling things on eBay.   I don't think we ever had a goal of getting rich via eBay.   In order to get rich, you have to work really hard, and take a lot of calculated risks.  If we wanted to be wealthy, or even well off, we would not be living in Valdese, North Carolina, listing postcards and cabinet photos.  We'd have to live in Charlotte or Asheville at the least, and dress up nice every morning and head out to do whatever.  We've both done that, for years and years.  I for one much prefer sitting out on the porch on a warm afternoon such as today, with Patti Anne & Pickles the Dog, just talking and listening to the birds, and watching the drug deals next door.   

Now this is not to say we don't work.  I'll let you know right now, we are very poorly paid for the amount of hours we put in, and I'll touch on that in more detail later. But, it has it's rewards.  Our schedule is our own, and it really helps with the bills.

We've never had anything like a guaranteed income from eBay.  There have been a few months when we've lost money - our expenses exceeded the income we brought in.   The vast majority of months we have made money, eBay has been profitable for us.   But the amount of money we make each month is very unpredictable.  

These articles will not be a series of "how to's".   There are many books that'll tell you the ins and outs of getting started on eBay.  These articles are  just going to be about our experiences, things we've learned along the way.  

Ok, it's time to bring this rambling quasi-intro part 2 to a close.   I didn't intend to do a part 2, quasi or otherwise, and if you've read this far, my apologies for subjecting you to it.   

Next Post:  Consignments

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our eBay Business - Introduction

I've decided to write a few articles about the little eBay business Patti Anne & I have going.  eBay provides that little extra that helps us keep from having to work.  I'll try to keep these posts relatively short, because I know about attention spans.

We set up our eBay sellers account & a PayPal account in the summer of 2006.   I had just dropped out of the work force (voluntarily) we'd moved to North Carolina, and had found a location for a little store on Main Street in Valdese.   It seemed like a good idea to have an online presence as well, and eBay is well known and well established, so we went that route.

The store on Main Street no longer exists - literally.  They condemned all of Mrs. Powell's buildings, which is too bad, because it was a great little mold filled place.  We were out of there long before that happened though.  The eBay business, however, is alive and kicking, and has definitely evolved.  

Originally we had wanted a "consignment" business, where people would bring inventory to us and we'd sell it for a percentage of the selling price.    Well that never quite got off the ground, but the word "consignment" is still in the title of our eBay store, reflecting our initial goals.   Although we did some consignment at our Main Street store, and we continue to do a bit of consignment through eBay, we've had to purchase outright the vast majority of the inventory we sell.   With some very notable exceptions here or there, consignment has been a small part of our business.

We will sell pretty much anything, but we've learned over time that packaging, shipping and storage of inventory are major concerns.   We've gravitated toward items easy to package, easy to store, and that have very predictable shipping costs.   And in the last 2 1/2 years or so, even though we still keep ourselves open to selling "pretty much anything", we really have started specializing.   The vast majority of our listings (just over 2000 at this writing, but it fluctuates) are postcards and photographic images.  And even within postcards and photographic images, we are finding that we're specializing somewhat.

So, I'm going to post a series of articles about our experience.  I will touch on Consignments,  "Collectibles" (which I define as anything that's not really useful and you don't really need, but you want anyway), Postcards, Photos, the cost of doing business, Customer Service, and Human Nature.  Human nature may or may not have it's own post - I hate to be pinned down on this stuff.  And if I think of anything else, I'll include that as well.  Oh and I'll try to have pictures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's thought: Authors of Fiction, by A Valdese Blogger

I have a lot of respect for a good fiction author.  Here are my thoughts.   I may not be the first one to think of this, and it's not the first time I've thought of it.  I thought of this idea years and years ago, back when I thought such things.

So I am plagiarising myself.   If I'm plagiarising anyone else, then I've completely forgotten about the original plagiarism.

Anyway.  My thoughts:

Authors of fiction are separated from poets only by beat and cadence.   Authors of fiction are separated from painters only by paint and canvas.

End of My thoughts.

You could take those two lines and make them into a poem if you want.  2 stanzas, 3 lines each, if you please. 

Adding up the miles

Today we ran into "Lucky" the Basset hound who could give Pickles the Dog barking lessons, and Ena the Pug. 

Any, 3.5 miles today.

April Dog Walking totals:  58.2 miles.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Time in Kentucky

I took a weekend trip back to my tribal home in eastern Kentucky - my father has been ill and I thought I'd run down and pay a visit.  The picture above is somewhere in Tennessee, I believe just before Kingsport.  I had stopped to fill up the car & stretch my legs (mostly to stretch) and figured I needed to take some sort of odd picture to post in this here blog.

In Kentucky, the redbuds are in full bloom.  The dogwoods are just starting, and many of the trees do not yet have leaves.  Springtime there is about 3 weeks to a month behind springtime here in North Carolina.  I find stuff like that interesting.

Here's something else I find interesing - the perceived length of daylight.  Kentucky and North Carolina are in the same time zone.  Kentucky is further west and further north.  Just based on east/west, the sun should set later in Kentucky than in NC, but NC should get more morning sun. However, there is the north/south issue, and at some point there is more sunlight in the nothern lattitudes than in the Southern - both morning and night.  When I was in Germany, I thought some days in the late sring would never end.   Also, in the part of eastern Kentucky I was going to, you have a lot of hills - a road, a creek and steep hills is much of what Knott County is.  That artificially makes the sun appear to set earlier than it otherwise would.

So, how do they know?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A quick note about Opera

I like to use the Opera browser for dropping & writing these blogs.  It's seems fast & simple and does what I need it to do without a lot of cranking in the background.  (Thanks Ms. O.D.)

However, I've noticed a drawback here and there.    And the latest one is this.  In the last couple of days I've written and sent a couple of emails while using Opera - I didn't think about it, I just happened to be on it when I decided to write them.  One was using Hotmail & another using Yahoo mail.  In both cases, most (if not all) the formatting was lost.   That is irritating.

A Postcard From Vietnam

I am a member of Postcrossing, and I received my very first postcard from Vietnam.   The caption on back is in several languages.  The English is: "Reaping of water caltrops".  

I did not know what a water caltrop was, so I had to look it up.   It's obviously a water plant, with a stem that can be 12-15 feet long with roots anchored in the mud, and produces a fruit shaped roughly like a head of a bull.  Inside this fruit is a large seed which can be roasted & eaten.  It's cultivated in parts of Asia and Africa.   However, in places like the Eastern US and Australia, it's apparently considered a weed - and a nasty one at that.    

It's an interesting card, my first from Vietnam.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cell Phone Service in Valdese

Today we don't seem to have cell phone service.  Last night storms blew through the area, nothing too terrible for us, just heavy rain, thunder and lightening.  No nasty tornadoes like in Tennessee.  It seems that it did damage the communications tower closest to us, however.  So early this evening we (and when I saw we, I include the dog) drove out to Connelly Springs, where the communication tower is working beautifully, and assured ourselves that our cell phones were not the problem.    Supposedly we shouldn't have to do something like that, we should just be able to turn the phones off and back on & it should grab a signal from the closest functioning tower.  But that wasn't working.   Just goes to show ya.
It was interesting driving through Valdese at sunset on a Saturday.   Valdese the town is a pretty laid back place, all in all.  Main street however, is just that, main street - Rt. 70 is a major state road going to Hickory and points east, and probably heads into Asheville and points west.  There is a lot of traffic, and I would not call Rt. 70 a laid back road.   But on this Saturday afternoon it was, at least in Valdese.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The House On Montgomery Creek, Knott County, Kentucky

           Pictures of my grandparents place - my mother's parents.  My grandpa's name was Noah (pronounced No-ee), my grandma's Lurainne (pronounced Lou-rainy).  Her friends called her "Rainy" sometimes.
The b&w & color photo of the house were taken from slightly different positions, and perhaps 20 years apart.  I took the color pictures as a teenager, I don't know who took the b&w one.  The scene is very similar.  In the color pictures, the corn, the corn my grandparents grew, (among a thousand other things) is much higher.   I learned early that it didn't pay to run through a corn field on a hot day.  The stalks are sharp.  They cut.  The sweat stings.  It hurts.  Don't do it.
In the third picture there is a road, a creek, and a bridge.   The road came down the hill from the main road, which was something less than a two lane county road which can seem pretty precarious at times, especially when you're used to modern roads.  This main road is located behind the 'photographer' (me).  The dirt road that went past my grandparents just went up into the hollow, back into the hills, to other houses.    The creek is the famous Montgomery Creek. The bridge was built by my grandfather.  During the spring rains, it floods, and I have seen water rushing down the creek lapping at the bottom of that bridge.  It's unbelievable.   The people on the bridges are part of my family.
The last picture is the road heading by my grandparents place, going back into the hills.  There is also a footpath next to it - not everybody had a car.  I don't think my grandparents ever owned an automobile.  To the right is the house, then a little behind that is the coal house, and the smoke house.  When I was young, the house was heated with coal fire places - I still have a fondness for that smell.   And I was always amazed at how you could be very warm on the side facing the fire, and cold as ice on the side away from the fire.   Anyway, they literally kept tons of coal, very abundant back there in Eastern Kentucky.
There was no indoor plumbing either, and I thought nothing of it.  I've been in my share of outhouses.  On hot summer days, I'd check the area to make sure there were no snakes curled up in a corner somewhere.  I just did my best to ignore the flying stinging insects, hoping what the older people said was true, if you don't bother them they won't bother you.  I had my doubts. In the winter I didnt worry so much, cause the snakes went away.
The place was located in what was known as "bottom land" - land that was more or less level, near the creek.  It was the best type of land to have.   I spent a fair amount of time there as a child.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Miss Zippy the Pinhead

I don't think Zippy is the most popular comic strip in the world.  But for years I'd read it and either chuckle or guffaw, depending on the situation.   Since I've been in North Carolina tho, I've had to do without Zippy the Pinhead.  

This particular strip, from several years ago is chuckle-worthy, and leaves me thinking, why shouldn't we have gone to war with New Jersey?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Connecticut Yankee, Bejabbers, Part 2

It was a weird book.  A book with a tremendous amount of humor in it, but also a book full of torture, unspeakable brutalities and random death.  And an ending which has our protagonist & his small army surrounded & imprisoned by the decaying corpses of 25,000 knights is an ending that is something less than happy. 

But what the heck did it mean?

A factory supervisor in 19th Hartford Connecticut gets hit on the head and wakes up in 6th century England, is captured by a knight and marched off to Camelot where he is sentenced to death.   He saves himself because he knew the exact date and time of a total eclipse of the sun, and made everyone think he had magical powers and caused it.  This is an amazing thing, first because he knew the date, and second because he was able to account for the date differences caused due to the use of the Gregorian Calendar in the 19th century, and a non-Gregorian calendar in the 6th century (Julian?).  When he Gregorian calendar was established in the 17th century, they basically skipped ahead 2 weeks in order to get human time back in sync with the seasons.  1,100 years earlier, how far out of sync was human time with the seasons?  I don't know, but probably not quite two weeks.  Our protagonist knew that somehow, and figured it out.

But I'm being picky here.

What did the book mean?

He became powerful, and set about slowly but surely "civilizing" 6th century England.  By civilizing, I mean turning it into 19th century New England.   He managed to create a patent office, newspapers,  electricity, trains, a telephone system, bicycles, a public school system (in the sense of USA public schools) and advertising.  His goal was to dismantle the monarchy, nobility, knight-errantry, and the established state church.   In the end the civilization he created was destroyed, along with most of the knights, due to the Arthur/Guinevere/Sir Lancelot triangle, and greatly exacerbated by an interdict from Rome.   Our protagonist is surrounded by mouldering corpses, and Merlin, who's reputation was destroyed,  gets the last laugh, by putting a spell on our hero causing him to sleep for the next 13 centuries.  

So, in a word, he failed, and failed miserably.   Failed totally.

Maybe it means you shouldn't try to impose modern technology on a primitive society.   But that is pretty simplistic.  

It was interesting to read.  A paradox of a book.  Very satirical, in it's own way.  Very funny, very sad.

Maybe it's just the work of a moody author.

I'm not sure what I'll read next.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's April!!

The day before yesterday I did something that I am loathe to do.  I mowed the grass.  It wasn't even April and I mowed the grass.  I'm disgusted with myself.

We don't really have a yard, we have a field.  Mowing is not something to be taken lightly, not something that can be done on a whim, knocked out in nothing flat.   It has to be done with a riding mower (the trusty old John Deere), and you're gonna be out there the better part of the afternoon. And our property is not flat - in fact there are places where it is quite steep, but yet there is grass to be mowed.  I refuse to buy a push mower, and weed eaters long ago got the best of me.   So, there are places where I am extremely careful, not wanting to find out how heavy a John Deere riding lawn mower might actually be.  

I subscribe to several schools of thought on mowing grass.  

The first is "Never mow grass before sometime in April" school of thought.

The second is the "When it looks like it needs to be mowed, wait another week" school of thought. Events may force the issue, and that's what happened this time.

The third is the "If you miss it this time, you'll get it next time" school of thought.   I never see any reason to alter this.

The fourth is "Never use anything like weed & feed" school of thought.  This is because if you kill all the weeds, you may not have any green left.   Besides, I'd have to buy tons of the stuff, and that aint gonna happen.  I set my mower blade setting pretty high for the same reason - it hides the weeds, and I find I don't mow any more often than the people who cut it down to the ground.

So, it had been raining all week & the grass loved it.  It was to the point where it needed to be mowed, and my tendency is to wait another week after that. That would have put it well into April, and let me keep my self-esteem. BUT, more rain was predicted.  That was the problem. Monday was a beautiful day, warm, dry-ish (for North Carolina), and rain was predicted for later in the week.  

I cannot mow when it rains. If the grass gets way too high, and way too wet, it'll never dry out and is a pain to mow.  I was afraid this would happen, so I mowed.

I broke my first two rules.  

The mowing season has begun, an I really don't like to mow grass.