“I used to cut the tall grass and weeds around our roadside culverts with a string trimmer, but that came to an end when I fell after tripping on a pile of grass and darn near broke my neck,” says retired Minnesota farmer Al Hernke. “I got a real scolding from several people, so I didn’t trim for 6 weeks, and the grass and weeds took off. That really irritated me, and when nobody offered to cut them, I came up with my culvert mower idea.”
Hernke uses a 20-in. push mower mounted on a small two-wheeled cart. The cart had a 4-ft. long reach made of 2-in. tube steel that he extended to 8 ft. so he can push the small mower up and around culverts with his 6-ft. zero-turn.
The mower is attached to the cart with a box frame that Hernke made from 1 1/2-in. angle iron. A swivel near the carry wheels lets the mower ride up and over obstructions. The cart reach attaches to a ball hitch on the front of his mower. To move from one location to another, he raises the small mower, secures it with a chain, and tows the cart behind his zero-turn.
“One little wrinkle I hadn’t thought of when building the cart was that push mowers have a safety handle that has to be held tight for the engine to run,” Hernke says. “To solve that problem, I shortened the push handle and safety bar by two feet and laid it flat. When I start the mower, I slide two zip ties across the safety bar to hold it tight to the main handle so the engine runs. It works slick as a whistle.”
Hernke says the whole setup cost him about $200, most of which was for the 3.5-hp. push mower and the hardware to bolt the frame together.
“I used to weld all sorts of things, but now I’ve got a pacemaker and the doctor told me I can’t use a welder anymore because it interferes with the pacemaker operation.”
Hernke uses his zero-turn and small mower almost daily during mowing season on nearly 6 miles of ditches, which always look like parkland next to the growing crops. “We’ve kept them mowed clean for years and I’ll keep it up as long as I can,” Hernke says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Al Hernke, Cannon Falls, Minn.