Dear sweet Deere

About one year ago, Crystal and I had a knock-down, drag-out via cell phone regarding
the purchase of a new riding lawnmower. To set the stage, however, I think I should
jump back even further.

Since moving to the Portland area in 2001, we have lived in (this is fun): Beaverton
for six months, Scappoose for a year and a half, Sherwood for two years and downtown
(east side) Portland for 10 months. Though we enjoyed our stint as urbanites, the
simple life drew us out – west of Newberg – where we purchased some land on which
sits a 50+ year old house that has been our home since November of 2005. While
I realize two and a half acres is not a great deal of land to a real farmer,
having grown up in the ‘burbs, it seems like a lot to me.

One of the perks of having so much land is that our neighbors’ homes are far enough
away that I can yell at our dog, Katie, without disturbing them. I can even take practice
golf shots from the backyard without fear of hurting anything (aside from my pride).
There is plenty of space to mess around on two wheels. And soon I will be making
some calls to start us on the path to viticulture.

However, while having so much land has a great deal of benefits; it doesn’t come without
a cost. A multi-faceted cost, actually, with layers, levels and forms of
payment that will no doubt be recompensed continually for as long as we
call this home. Perhaps the most obvious and visible cost being the need to maintain
two acres of grassy field.

I’m certainly not complaining about the costs. Without hesitation I can say that we
both feel very blessed to own property in such a wonderful place with such amazing
views that stop me in my tracks almost daily. However, caring for the land can
be a tedious and time consuming exercise. As such, I do all I can to reduce the
time, energy and money required to keep it up.

Our first step was to acquire a riding lawnmower. Fortunately, we found out that my
wife, Crystal’s Grandparents had a riding mower that they were no longer using. Unfortunately,
that mower only lasted for a few hours before its engine gave up the ghost. How
thankful we were, then, when we discovered that one of our neighbors, a family we
know from church,
had rebuilt a mower and was selling it. Once again, however, my mechanical ineptitude
shone through as the mower was apparently burning most of its oil and seized up on
its second use. At that point my frustration with used lawn mowers grew to an unrecoverable
level. I was done.

Immediately I began a search for a new mowing implement. I considered Zero
Turn Radius
(ZTR) mowers, compact
with mid-mount mower decks, and even fully-automated robotic mowers.
Ultimately, however, all my research and analysis led me to an old farm favorite:
John Deere. While the Deere may be more expensive than other brands, they have an
impeccable reputation and a huge variety of equipment for every need. Once I discovered
the top rated X304 with
four-wheel steering and a reasonable price point, I was sold. Now all that
was left was to convince Crystal that such a purchase was both feasible and prudent
– which is where this post started – with a very lively cell phone discussion as I
sat in the parking lot of our local John Deere dealership.

Me: “I found the perfect mower for us, and…”
Crystal: “No.”
Me: “it is not the most expensive one…”
Crystal: “No.”
Me: “but has all the features we need, including four-wheel steering…”
Crystal: “No.”
Me: “which will cut down mowing time a lot.”
Crystal: “No.”
Me: “I really think you’ll like it, and it’s affordable!”
Crystal: “How much?”
Me: “$3500”
Crystal: “No.”

Convinced that her negative responses were based on a misguided belief that that day
was, in fact, “opposite day”, I headed in to initiate negotiations, and walked out
the door the proud owner of a brand new lawn tractor.

John Deere X304

And that brings us to the real reason for writing this
post (took a while getting there, I know.) As part of my purchase I included John
Deere’s “Maintenance Plan Plus” – a $500 (MSRP) investment in my new mower’s health,
which includes two at-home
services, a third year of extended warranty protection, and free transportation
for all warranty services. Honestly, the extra year of warranty coverage and free
transportation didn’t carry much weight for me, but getting that in addition
to two at-home services is clearly a great deal.

Almost a year after our purchase, we recently had the first of two at-home services
performed. Here’s what they did: 

It was wonderful. I didn’t have to take any time off work to haul the mower to the
dealer. In fact, I wasn’t even home when they came – Crystal is home with Cora so
I had her show them to the mower. After that, they drove it up into their truck, performed
the service, and returned the mower to our shop. All without leaving our driveway.
The value of having these services done for us, without any effort required on our
part is immeasurable.

We both really enjoy our John Deere mower. It does an excellent job of tackling our
over-grown field, is easy to drive, has plenty of power, and always fires right up.
But my favorite part is knowing that someone else is going to maintain it. Now if
only I could get them to maintain our cars, as well.

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