Civil War Lawn-Mowing Reenactment


A new favorite American pastime is reenacting time that has passed – particularly the Civil War.  My latest epiphany, Civil War Lawn-Mowing Reenactment, turns our fondness for gory battles into cheap labor that I’m all-too-happy to exploit.

The epiphany occurred after watching the neighbors loading up the minivan for a trip to Gettysburg.

The dad, adorned in a federal uniform, carried with him a string of sausages.  It was wrapped twice around his body and once around his neck.  “It’s supposed to be my large intestine,” he said.  “I get blown up by a cannon ball.”
“And my brain gets splattered!” said his daughter, a cute-as-a-button little six-year old . She pulled off a wig that revealed some sort of rubbery brain toupe.

“Nice brain, Lexy!” I patted the exposed grey matter.  Her left arm jerked, very much in character.
“We just love these re-enactments,” the husband said.  “Experiencing the horrors of war makes for terrific bonding.”

I could see the appeal, but I couldn’t help but wonder how this passion for the history and mass carnage could be exploited for my own personal gain?  One epiphany later, I had my answer:  Civil War-Era Lawn Mowing Reenactments.

According to my research, John Ferrabee was one of the early inventors and manufacturer of the lawn mower, producing them right around 1860.  As I traced his descendants through history, I discovered that, ironically, two of them lived down the street.

I knocked on their door, and asked if they had a Ferrabee lawn mower.  “I’d like to buy it,” I said.

“Thank God!” the wife shouted.  “That thing is a relic and ridiculously loud.”
“Runs fine!” shouted back her miserly husband.

Fortunately, the tightwad was more enamored with my fifty-dollar purchase offer than the mower’s historical significance.  I had the mower, and the epiphany was underway.

Death and Destruction for the Whole Family!

I brought the mower home, and then posted on Facebook that I would be hosting a Civil War period lawn mowing reenactment.  Sure enough, hundreds showed up on the scheduled date. I wheeled out the Ferrabee, and mowing ensued.

The mowing was proceeding splendidly until, wouldn’t you know it, a dispute broke out between the North and the South.

The South argued that the North was mowing on their section of the lawn. In return, the North disputed the South’s territory, in addition to the reenactment slaves they were making mow the lawn.

War was declared, but instead of shooting guns, they used the Ferrabee to maim and injure.  Fortunately, they turned the mower off before running it over each other’s legs.

The lawn was soon strewn with Civil War lawn mowing casualties.  Rows and rows of sausages jettisoned from re-enacters mid-sections, and little Lexy’s faux brain had splattered against my mailbox.

Everyone was having so much fun killing and dying that they completely forgot about the lawn.  They left after everyone was good and dead, leaving behind sausage casings and fake brains.

In the end, the lawn never got mowed, and I spent the entire weekend pushing that Ferrabee through overgrown grass.  It served as further proof the war may be hell, but reenacted war is one serious pain in the ass.

Photo by Graham Milldrum

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  1. You made me laugh on a Monday morning. Thanks!

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