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Dixie Divas: The great chain saw debate
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To be honest, I was more than a mite worried. I was plenty worried.

My husband, raised not in the South or in the country, wanted a chain saw. The one farm accessory that has brought down many a man.

From an early age, I was taught respect for the chewing, sawing, respect-for-no-man power tool.

When Tink sets his heart and mind on something, he is like a crafty teenager wearing out a parent to get what he wants. He begins a steady, strategic assault that puts Gen. William T. Sherman to shame. He follows me from room to room and will not stop pleading his case.

“We have dead trees to cut down,” he said, pointedly. “Did you see that one next to the stream that died over the winter? Look at all the bushes growing out of control. I need a chain saw.”

“No,” I said, repeatedly. “It’s too dangerous.”

For more than a year, he campaigned. But I, like Gen. Robert E. Lee in the early days of the war, stood strong and long.

“Those things will kick back and attack you when you least expect it,” I said. Then I’d shake my head and walk away.

“I know to be careful,” he said.

He listed examples of his being careful, then I brought up the one example of not being careful that trumped all those. I looked at him sternly like the mother of a teenager and spoke just like she would speak.

“What about the bush hog?”

He paled. I had him and he knew it.

A few years ago, I bought a large bush hog zero-turn lawn mower from Kabe Cain who, with my brother-in-law, Rodney, helped me to pick out the right mower. If you’ve operated a zero turn, you know how great they are — can turn on a dime — but they take some initial getting used to. It takes a couple of times of running one before you have all the coordination down.

The first summer we were married, Tink decided he wanted to learn to run the bush hog, so he could cut grass.

Behind our house is a tricky embankment. Most of it has to be done with the Weed Eater because it’s so steep. I was cutting grass one day when Tink insisted on taking over. I showed him how to operate everything, then said, “Go over to the side yard where it’s level and practice where it’s safe.”

“Why didn’t you cut more of that embankment?” he asked.

A red flag flew to the top of the pole.

“Don’t dare go near that. I cut it as far down as I could. If you go too far, the mower will turn over.”

He nodded.

I walked up the steps to the back porch, put my hand on one of the French door knobs, then turned to look as he climbed on the mower. The greatest sense of worry and fear came over me. I knew something was going to happen, but I didn’t want to treat him like a child. So, I prayed and asked God to protect him.

I went down to the front pasture with a backpack to kill the thistle that is always the bane of my summers. Suddenly, I heard an explosion of sound and saw Mississippi, the cat, jump from the rock wall behind the house and race toward safety. Then, I heard nothing. And the sound of nothing with a big lawn mower is the loudest sound of all.

Tink disobeyed me. And the price of that disobedience was a tumble with the mower, down the hill and over the rock wall. God answered my prayer so, miraculously, he had no injuries.

He swallowed when I reminded him of that and said, “I learned my lesson.”

Then, he struck with a teenager’s smarts. “OK, then hire someone to do all that work.”

Ouch. He hit my frugal bone.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Sign up for her newsletter at Her column  appears Tuesdays and on

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