Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Mowing grass: The gender divide
Men have a slim hold on this farm chore
Some versions of retirement, or even the afterlife, in agriculture might involve riding a nice new lawnmower over a gleaming yard of bluegrass stretching forever amid a well-tended farmstead.
On working farms, you would think that mowing grass would be seen as counterproductive. Clipping grass isn’t producing any grain or forage. And doesn’t it seem like drudgery to drive back and forth on three acres without harvesting anything?
But, after driving up and down country roads all these years I’ve gotten the impression that some folks’ idea of fun and relaxation is mounting the mower and going for a long ride.
And it’s the men who are having most of the fun, though it’s something of a competitive sport. In a recent Agriculture.com poll, 53% percent of respondents said that it was the male on the farm who mows the grass most of the time. Women are doing the mowing 34% of the time, and the job gets farmed out to the kids in 13% of cases.
A friend of mine, who grew up on a farm and owns one now, is a little surprised by the results, “The men in my family never touch a lawnmower,” she said.
That’s the case in another neck of the woods. “Around here it's the adult women that mow the grass and they know how to go FAST!,” one poll respondent commented.
For some women, mowing apparently is a welcomed escape. “It’s that time I put my iPod in my ears and forget everything,” said one farm woman. “I guess it sounds crazy, but mowing for me is like going to the spa. I love it.”
For others, tending this chore pivots on the quality of the machine. “I refuse to mow the lawn because I hate the mower that much,” one woman complained. (She’s lobbying for a certain popular brand and model.)
The lawn of the future, though, may be one that needs no one to mow, said an Indiana farmer in response to the poll.
“[Our] lawn is native grasses, forbs, clover, and timothy. No mower, no mower gas, no mower maintenance, no fertilizer, no herbicides, and no time spent cutting grass!”
Posted by John Walter at 12:28 PM