Physically demanding job keeps Tassie Hooper on her toes

Fifteen years ago, Tassie Hooper started mowing lawns to bring in some extra income. Little did she know it would turn into a career. (Photo by TAMMY DOWNS)

By Tammy Downs
Burns Times-Herald

When you are a stay-at- home mom with small children and you realize that you need more income to help your family, what can you do?

That is the dilemma local resident Tassie Hooper found herself in 15 years ago. She racked her brain trying to come up with different ideas and decided, “I can mow lawns for extra money.” So she went down to the local Sentry supermarket and hung up a simple “Mow Lawns — Fair Price” sign.

What started out as earning extra income has turned into a full-time career that, 15 years later, keeps Hooper busier than she wants some days. She makes herself take two days off a week so that she can have a break, or, she said, she would be run into the ground.

Hooper was born in Burns but was raised near Philomath. When she was 13 years old she set the national record for the fastest running time in the 5,000-meters for 13-year-old girls. That title was not broken for almost 10 years.

She returned to Harney County 23 years ago with her husband, Dave.

Hooper attended college and was three and one-half years into receiving her accounting degree when she realized that it was not the career path that she wanted to follow, so she quit.

She said when she started mowing lawns her business started out slowly and then gradually got busier and busier as word of mouth spread. Hooper has never had to advertise again, just the one sign started it all.

She said this job is very physically demanding and when she first started out she was doing all the jobs  using only a push mower.

Hooper said one day she thought, “I can’t do this anymore.” She was just too physically exhausted and sore.

She thought, “I need a job where I can sit down.” And then it came to her,  “I need a riding lawn mower.” Now she gets to sit down and work and be outside.

Her job is still extremely physical, though. Hooper said it’s seasonally varied, and different muscles are sore throughout the year depending on what she is doing.

Currently, Hooper has about 40 lawns that she takes care of — her schedule is very full.

Some of her clients are businesses and others are residential. She said she has some of the neatest, greatest clients; and some of her clients have been with her since her business began.

Hooper said the best thing about her job is that she gets to decide who to work for. She gets to be picky and as she put it, “If someone’s a stinker, I don’t have to work for them.” She does add that she very much enjoys the people she does work for.

There really isn’t anything that she doesn’t like about her job. Hooper said she has a lot of freedom and she enjoys taking care of yards. She gets enjoyment out of seeing what she has accomplished.

During the winter months she can slow down a little bit, but not completely. She still shovels snow by hand, with a snow shovel, as well as with her four wheeler.

She said she is usually in full swing mowing lawns by April 15. This year has been a little bit later because of the weather. Hooper said in the summer it is a necessity for her to get out early in the mornings to beat the heat.

She said things are always changing, and she picks things up as she goes. She has learned to be professional.

Hooper said when people are grateful, it makes you want to do a good job.

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