Host: Blina Station
Written by Connie Gray – Manager, Blina.
Over the 2014 wet season, my trusty old ride-on lawn mower spontaneously combusted . . . literally spontaneously combusted. She was a Greenfield and she looked about 100 years old . . . I swear this thing was the first ever ride on mower invented . . . although in all honesty I think she was only about 20. She’d had a tough old life and and seemed hell bent on destroying anyone who dared accept the challenge to ride time on her. We called her the yellow devil, she came with the territory, and she was my frienemy.
I must admit, I was often a little more frightened of jumping on the yellow devil, than I was of jumping on a lively young horse. She had the same sort of temperament, a tad unpredictable, and at times could be spooky. She took a fair bit of preparation . . . about five litres of rimula, a towel to stop your bum getting pinched by the busted old seat, a set of jumper leads in case she decided to stall, a screwdriver to start her, as Matt had accidently broken the key in one of the many faceoffs . . . it needed to be an insulated screwdriver, as to stop her, you had to pull the spark plug out and risk electrocution.
And all the while I would have that ‘Hoo-rang Colt’ song by Martin Oakes running through my head.
Sometimes, if you left her running, and hopped off – she would take fright and shoot off at top speed (the speed of a thousand turtles) and I would sprint across the lawn and do a flying leap (usually leaving a Haviana behind) in an attempt to pull the wretched thing’s head around before she shot underneath the quarters and decapitated me.
In the event that the yellow devil didn’t bolt and attempt to chop off my toes when I was getting on, she would produce an excessive amount of smoke, which made it impossible to stay in one place for an extended amount of time, without being asphyxiated by the grey cloud that would billow out of goodness knows where. She would spit oil all over my feet ( I would try to draw a positive on this and treat it like sun-tan oil to protect the tops of my feet . . . or in the event that I had boots on . . . she was just trying to oil my boots!!)
As you can imagine, mowing the lawn was quite an ordeal and she would quite often just give up the ghost and break down for no reason in the middle of the lawn, usually just before smoko. I would get off swearing and carrying on, attempt to cast some sort of black magic spell or promise my first born child to appease the devil that lived inside that bloody engine to please pleaaaase start and “it’s bloody 40 degrees and I’ve only got today to finish the lawns.” It was a regular occurrence to see me swearing and muttering and pushing the yellow devil in to the shed for Robbo or Matt to deal with.
I was really in two minds about the yellow devil, on one hand – she was the bane of my life and a royal pain in my backside, but on the other hand – so long as I could nurse her along . . . I wouldn’t have to push mow the acres of lawn that seem to grow exponentially during the wet season.
The day she died, she was actually having a good run – she wasn’t shying at trees or randomly bolting in fright, she had a nice soft feel and was poking along at a gentle pace, with minimal coughs and explosions of smoke. So I got off and decided to have a drink of water – I thought better of turning her off and I parked her against the bauhinia tree – just in case she got any ideas . . . I jumped off to have a drink of water and looked over my shoulder to admire her . . . and HOLY SUFFERING MOSES she was on fire!!!
I ran to get the hose (which I had for once – rolled up) turned the tap on and tried to exhume the flames with the meagre dribble of water . . . until I remembered she ran on unleaded fuel!!! At which point, I ran off, jumped in the car and screamed up the hill to fetch Matt as he would surely save my mighty steed . . . Matt just sauntered down there, made an assessment as to her survival rate, lit a cigarette and watched it burn . . . just to make sure she didn’t burn the Gen–Shed down . . . cool as you like. I was devastated!! As a result, I spent a horrible, sad wet season mowing the lawns by hand.
But all’s well that ends well . . . the Yellow Devil takes her pride of place on top of the old land cruiser at the dump . . . and I now mow the lawns on my brand new John Deer Ride On!!