Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making technology work for me!

Bobbi called from work yesterday reminding me that we were scheduled for some poopy weather later in the week and it would be kind of awesome if we got the back yard of Roseholme Cottage all raked and bagged before the next deluge.

I surveyed the situation. Roseholme is equipped with two rakes, and both are of the kind that fold up to grab the leaves when a sliding collar on the handle is manipulated. Unfortunately, one of them broke its gimmick, and without the gimmick they're fairly mediocre in the actual raking department. Apparently these rakes were sold between commercials for Snuggies and the Pocket Fisherman and are rather emphatically Not Available In Stores.

I was already planning to stop by Lowe's to get a bitty little Allen key for the setscrews on my flashlight, so I figured I'd pick up a rake while I was there; an ordinary, non-folding one, granted, but perhaps one that was more optimized for the actual raking part of the operation.

Once I got to the Palace of Hardware, I realized that transporting one of the budget rakes from the seasonal displays out front would require dropping the top on the Zed Drei. Maybe they had something more portable in the lawn & garden tool section. A bonsai rake, or perhaps a take-down titanium and carbon fiber travel model for people who like to go rake their parents' leaves every Thanksgiving? A folding rake that stows easily in your studio loft after you've... I don't know, raked the balcony?

I walked back to the gardening department and discovered something even better. Now, I've never paid much attention to leaf blowers, since they just blow stuff noisily around and you still have to scoop it up yourself at the end. But while I've not been paying attention, they've been adding a leaf-vac/mulcher function to all but the smallest and cheapest models. Lowe's had the next unit down from this one on sale for $49.99. That was less than the flashlight in my pocket!

I don't mind the actual raking part of the operation. It's relaxing and contemplative and if you're a total history dork you can maneuver piles and lines of leaves around on the ground and re-fight Waterloo or Little Bighorn as you rake, but the part where you have to get the leaves from the pile into the bag is made of pure drudgery, and last night's work in the back yard was a revelation.

This thing really sucks!
.

17 comments:

Jim said...

Blows, too. The one here probably spends most of its time on non-leaf chores. Cleans vehicle interiors, woodworking tools, shop floor, moves light snow from walks and decks, clears gutters, and I don't know what all.

Anonymous said...

Yep. After years of hating them, I received on shop-vac, where the power head detaches and becomes a blow.

Very happy with it. And it's electric which means it's a lot quieter and not as stinky as the gas models.

Hadn't seen the leaf sucker model

Anonymous said...

Lowes....if only they sold firearms...

Nathan said...

Me, I like to refight the Battle of Gettysburg. But that's just the way I roll.

(If I let Longstreet flank the Union left on the second day, Lee wins every time.)

On the other hand, these days I just run the tractor over the offending leaves and bag 'em. Not as much fun but much easier on the knees and back.

Firehand said...

I am officially a big fan of the grasscatcher method.

aczarnowski said...

Keep us in the loop when you start shopping chainsaws. ;)

Bubblehead Les. said...

Been using one for years. I like the idea that it also mulches the leaves down, so I can add them to Compost Pile. I also use an Electric Model, which, since the Anointed One says we need to go "Green" means more of the Addictive Fossil Fuel Money goes in the tank of my 4x4 Earth Fracker.

Still trying to figure out how I can attach a Solar Panel to it and cut the cord, though. Perhaps I can get a Loan from the Dept. of Energy and develop one. You think I might be able to get, oh, I don't know, about $600 Million or so to bring it to market? I could hire Bobbie as an "Engineering Consultant" for $3 Million a year, too.

ChrisJ said...

It's MegaMaid Sir! She's gone from...
well, never mind. The wife and I just bought a leafsucker a couple of months ago. Beats the pants off of raking and bagging!

Anonymous said...

When you get your deluge, be sure to think of us down here in Texas, the land of the no-more-rain-ever-until-the-Apocalypse.

jf

Armed Texan said...

I like that you bought the coal powered model. On the other hand, the smell of half-burnt hydrocarbons fused with aerosolized two-cycle oil can be quite soothing.

In any case, quite the (enjoyable) build up for a four word punch line.

staghounds said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnqtGjHJjs8

DirtCrashr said...

I have the fold-up kind that does the balcony...

Sigman said...

FWIW, if its for a Surefire flashlight, the driver bit is a T6 Torx. The Palace of Hardware doesn't have them, but True Value (at least in Knoxville) does (go figure). The Shack of Radios also has a set that works but they're too small for a Brownells screwdriver handle.

DaddyBear said...

I finally broke down and got one last fall. After seeing how easy it was, the daughter now volunteers to get the leaves. So it's a win win.

Will said...

Guess I've got one that only blows worth a damn. I've tried it on suck, and it can't even pick up little bitty leaves, let alone the armor plate ones that the Magnolias drop. Even hand-feeding it, it doesn't munch very well. Figured the thing was just a marketing ploy.

Anonymous said...

Anybody have any experience usin' one of these things on pine needles? I need to clear a couple of acres twice a year, and I just rake up the suckers and drag 'em over and dump the things in a gully. After all these years, the needles and slash are about thick enough that I could probably drive over them in the ol' '70 Bronco. The idea of just turnin' them into dust really appeals to me.

Rob J

Justthisguy said...

My Dad had a really nice electric (hence, quiet) one of those which he bought from Sears, Roebuck, back around 1980 or so. It had a nice bag to hold the leaves. I do hope that yours is electric. Two-stroke motors are for model airplanes and motorcycles. Oh God I miss my RD400!