The Things we Find: an early version?

Since moving here, we haven’t really gone into the basements much.  In fact, it’s something I try to avoid.  I don’t even want to think about trying to clean things up there!  Especially the New Part basement.  You’d think it would be the other way around, since the stairs to the Old Part basement are so steep, with such narrow treads, it’s actually safer to go down them backwards, like onboard a ship, and the ceiling – the floors of the original log part of the house – is so much lower.  It is, however, much… emptier.  And cleaner.  We can actually get to where we need to – the well pump, the sump pump, the septic pump, the hot water tank, the furnaces.  These are all things we actually need to go down and check, too.

The New Part basement… not so much.

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So that’s what’s under there.

The outside cats have a number of places they use to keep warm, as winter creeps its way in.  The kittens have basically moved into the sun room, and there is a path worn into the grass between the house, and the storage house, from little kitty paws.  There is a gap they squeeze through to get into what used to be a full basement, but is now basically a crawlspace.  There are other areas, both in the inner and outer yards, they use, but those two seem to be the most used areas.

The cat kibble we provide for them is pretty straightforward.  No matter the temperature, they can eat the kibble.

Water is a different issue.  It’s already freezing very quickly.

With that in mind, I did some research for what we can do to keep the water from freezing, and found some ideas that utilize cinder blocks or cookie tins and a light bulb.  We’ve got plenty of cinder blocks around, though most are being used to prop things up, so when I did my rounds this morning, I went specifically looking for cinder blocks that I might be able to salvage.

I found other things, too.

A window at the back of the storage house had fallen out.  Which means I could see inside – something I haven’t done since I used to play under there as a child.

Yes.  In the photos below, you are seeing parts of my childhood. 😀

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Not sure how to fix this…

While out and about this morning, the kittens were out in full force.  Including Doom Guy, who can’t seem to figure out that, if he wants me to pick him up, he has to be in FRONT of me, not behind…

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I’m going to have little puncture marks, all up the back of my legs, thanks to him. 😀

Yesterday, I was able to clean up the platform to the clothes line.  The line itself needs a bit of maintenance before we can use it.  A bit more, if we want to set up three lines again, instead of the one that’s left now.

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Whoever rebuilt this platform did a good job of it.

The original platform doubled as a dog house.  On the side, where the mock orange is growing now, there was an opening, and we kept it filled with straw for the dogs.  I even remember being able to crawl into it, myself, for some canine snuggles!

The cats can squeeze under the stairs.  At least, the smaller ones, can.  I don’t think Rolando Moon could fit through there.  Nor the skunk.

Of the stuff that was on the platform, I’ve only kept the bin, as a potential shelter for the cats in the winter, and a piece of eaves trough that I am wanting to re-purpose, but doens’t fit anywhere else right now.

I noticed, however, that there is stuff underneath, so I used my phone’s camera to see what it is.

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???

Why is any of that, there?

Who thought it was a good idea to shove it under there?

The only way for any of this to be there is by pushing it through the opening under the step.

How am I supposed to clean that up?

The Re-Farmer

How long had this been here?

While walking through the yard with my brother and nephew, we reached the garage, and my nephew noticed this.

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Best guess, it’s been hanging there since this side of the garage itself was painted.

I have no idea when this side section was added to the garage, since it happened during my years living in another province.  I don’t even know which time I lived out of province it got added on!  Suffice to say, probably a couple of decades.

Yeah.  It’s still there.  At this point, it’s just entertaining. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove fence line, more progress, part two

After working my way through the first section, I realized the stuff I’d cleared away had hidden quite a bit.  So here are some before photos of the next section. (click on them to see them better)

The little spruces were far enough from the fence that I found myself wondering, should I take them out, or should I just prune them clear of the fence?  When I’m in that situation, I try to think ahead 10, 20 or more years.  What will they be like if I leave them?

This was made easy today, by looking at the large spruce that’s already there, even closer to the fence.

What tree, you might be asking?

This one.  In the during and after photos.

Yup, those little spruces were completely hiding a huge spruce, right at the fence.

Also, another little spruce that grew under the fence line and even wound its way back and forth around them.

Reaching that big spruce was my goal for the day.  If all goes well, the next time I work here, I should reach the gate.

In that after photo, note the red Christmas light bulb.  Look for it in these next photos.

The first of these three photos was taken from outside the fence line, where I went to clear some of the trees growing there.  There are many more, closer to the ditch, that need to be cleared, but those will wait for now.

If you look closely, you can see that red Christmas light bulb in the first and third photos.

Did you notice something else in the after photos?  Take another look at the top fence wire.  What you can see of it, anyhow.

I found a temporary fix for the broken wire.

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Once I cleared this area of the fence line, I found that when I pulled on the end with the loop in it (on the left of the above photo), it could almost touch the broken end (on the right in the photo, now with its own loop).  I don’t know when I’ll be able to fix it properly, but I didn’t want to leave it broken and hanging, either.  So I went to the garage and grabbed some zip ties, created a new loop on the broken wire end, and joined them by linking 4 zip ties loosely together.  Once they were all linked, I tightened all the zip ties as much as I could, then trimmed the ends with the pruning shears.  Now, the top line that was broken is tighter than the middle line, which got stretched when the tree fell on it, but didn’t break.  🙂

While making my way to the garage, I found this.

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Another bench, made out of logs with a board across the top.  I’ve gone through here a few times, but had to practically step on it before I saw it!  I tried to pick it up, to see if it was usable, but it is so rotten, it started to fall apart, so I left it for now.  It will be cleared out when we get to taking out all the deadwood and continuing to clean up the spruce grove, next year.  Though on this end, it’s not really a spruce grove any more.  Closer to the garage, and the south fence line, it’s more poplar, elms and oak.  The elms and oak are in rows, so those were planted deliberately.  The poplar looks to have sown itself.  There are even what might be some apple trees in here.

Once I’ve cleared the East fence line to the gate, I will work my way down the south fence line, along the driveway, just enough to clear it.  There are poplars growing right at the wires, and while the south fence line has good posts, just like the East line does, many of them are falling over.   Especially right next to the garage.  It is along this fence line that the power cord from the garage runs.  We might not get to straightening them out this year, but if there’s going to be electrical cord supported by this fence, I want it to be able to stay upright!

We shall see how far along there we will be able to get, before the weather turns.

Looking ahead to the future, I hope to have a number of seating areas scattered about – with seats made of materials that won’t rot or degrade as quickly as the wooden benches I’ve been finding.  The goal is to clear this area enough to give it a park-like feel, plus I want to be able to see through the trees from the house to the driveway.  At the same time, I do want to leave some of the undergrowth, too.  Dogwood.  Wild roses.  False spirea. Junipers.  I look forward to planting shade loving plants and flowers in areas where they can naturalize, and ground cover that can be walked on.  Over time, I want this yard, including the spruce and maple groves, to be a sanctuary, not only for us humans, but to shelter some of the native wildlife, and to provide food and shelter for native pollinators as well.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove fence line, part 2

I’ve got some before photos, and some taken during the clean up.  By this point, I had pretty much stopped with the pruning shears, except to clear things that were in the way.

These three before pictures were taken in an area just before there a tree had fallen on the fence.  I wanted to at least clear that area, as my goal for the day.

One thing that was noticeable is that, over the years, there was some maintenance done around here.  Despite the weird tops of some of the fence posts, they are all good posts, and still straight.  There is a bit of wiggle on them, but that could be attributed to how dry it has been.  The fence wire itself would also have been good, if trees hadn’t fallen on it!

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I didn’t want to go too far into the grove, but this tree top had to go.  It was in the way of clearing things out.  The stump of the tree can be seen where I’d cleared previously, near the open, mossy area.

I also went outside the fence to move away the top of the tree that fell on the fence.

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This is what my older brother had cut, to get it off the fence itself, shortly after we moved out here.  For now, I’m just leaving this here.  It will need to be cut down a bit before being hauled away, due to its size.

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Here’s where it had fallen on the fence.  I took a closer look at that ant hill, and there’s no sign of ants left in it.  It has been abandoned.  Which is good, because I had to cut some small trees out of it!

Then I made some discoveries.

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In the next section of fence, I found the end of a string of Christmas lights.

Notice the wire it is wrapped around.  If you follow it up, you can see it end in a loop.

In this next photo, you can see where it should be.

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This is where two lengths of barbed wire were joined together, but when the tree fell on the fence, on end broke off.

Once the fence line is clear, I will be repairing this.  I even found a tool for tightening fence wire that I can use; one of the few useful things that didn’t disappear while this place was empty!

I started unwinding the Christmas lights and found…

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… the fallen tree had also unplugged the string of lights.

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This is where it had been plugged into.  This string of lights reaches to the outlet box and still works.  I will leave it for now.  Eventually, I want to replace them with LED lights.

After this, it was time to climb back through the fence and start clearing on the inside, which will be in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Looking around and finding… things

While doing my evening walk around the yard, I decided to go into the storage house and look around a bit.

When my parents first got the house and had it moved into our yard, it was intended to be here only temporarily.  As the different sections of the farm were to go to each of the boys, they thought that the house would eventually be moved to one of these sections, placed over a basement instead of on cinder blocks, and one of my brothers would be living in it.

That never happened.

We did, however, use the place.  I spent many hours playing in here, holding sleepovers with my friends on the second floor.  The younger of my brothers held parties in it.

Somehow, in all that time, I never really noticed this.

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An outlet mounted this high up is odd enough, but to mount one in between two windows like this?  How very strange.

These windows are in the kitchen of the old house.

I glanced in the cupboards and drawers.  In one cupboard, I found an old text book.

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“Biology Investigations” seems an appropriate title, when looking down.

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The dead critter is one thing (rat? squirrel?).  Then there’s that mystery pile of whatever, that looks like it might be a nest of some kind.

Getting this place cleaned up might need a haz mat team!

The Re-Farmer

Spruce Grove Finds

Empty beer cans are not the only interesting things I’ve been finding in the spruce grove!

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I’ve found a few different seating arrangements that use logs as the supports.

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I’m at a loss as to why these bricks and… a can? are here.  That they have been here long enough to grow moss on them likely means probably no one alive has any idea, anymore!

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The remains a of a wasps nest still hang from a branch.

The dark grey section underneath is actually a sort of ball, hanging down from the rest of the nest above.

Wasp nests are amazing structures!

The Re-Farmer

 

Cats, kits and the things we find

It was a hot one today, so no progress on pruning and clearing the spruce grove today.  My daughter was able to get some of what I cut away yesterday, hauled out, before it got too hot.   It’s 7:30pm as I write this, and we’re still at 30C, and we’re supposed to hit the 30s again, tomorrow.  So it was a good day to be inside!

It’s probably for the best.  After driving my younger daughter to work, I was thinking of getting more work done on the grove while it was still cooler.  In the end, I found I had to painkiller up and lie down for a while.  My body was reminding me not to overdo things again.

Getting old sucks, sometimes! 😀

This evening, Beep Beep and her kittens were out while I did a walk around the yard.  I did a bit of watering, including the grape vine, though I harvested most of the grapes, yesterday evening.  Some bunches weren’t ripe yet, but I could also see that something – likely a bird – has been eating them, so I want to leave some behind.  I don’t want to take away some creature’s food source.

The kittens wouldn’t let me come near them, even when the tuxedo deigned to play with the end of a stick I was wiggling for him.  When I headed towards the storage house, they ran ahead of me and hid in the lilacs.  When I got near the stairs, I could see a sparkly cat toy I’d brought out for them some time ago, and went to get it.

Which is when I noticed something in the dead leaves and grass.

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I wonder how many years it had been there? 😀

I sat on the stairs for a while, eating some of the grapes that had ripened since yesterday.  The tuxedo was watching me from the lilacs, so I tossed over the cat toy, which he immediately pounced on.

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He’s pretty much right on top of where I found the shot glass.

Then there was Beep Beep.

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No birds use this bird bath.  I wonder why?

If you look under the grape leaves, you can see the black fur of the tuxedo kitten, sitting on the tire planter.

You know, growing up here, I never imagined I would ever someday be sitting on the steps, eating fresh grapes off the vine.  I never imagined there would ever be grapes that could grow here!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: west yard trees – FINISHED!

Yes!!!

It is finally done!

The maple grove/west yard trees are now finally cleared, trimmed and cleaned up.  After this, there will just be the basic maintenance to be taken care of in this area for the rest of the year.  Aside from maybe trimming the tall stumps, if we get a full size chainsaw before winter.

What a difference!

When I headed out today, the first priority was to clean up the branches and trees from last time.  In the process, I went digging around for downed branches under the last bit of trees I needed to work on, grabbed what I thought was a branch and found…

… metal.

This is what I dragged out.

I haven’t the foggiest clue what it is.

It went on the junk pile by the old garden shed.

Once I did that, I broke out the weed trimmer and went to town in all the areas I’ve been working on that hadn’t been trimmed yet.

Oh, my, does it ever look awesome!!!  (click on the pictures)

While I was using the weed trimmer, I kept having to stop and pull more branches out of the dead leaves, as I found them with the line on the trimmer.  My daughters cleaned away what they could find.  I had been taking what I cleared out of the last section (photos below) to the pile out of the yard, but by the end of the day, I was getting too tired to do both.  It was quite pleasant to work among the trees, but once I got out of the yard with the wheel barrow, or dragging a tree or two, it was like walking into a wall of heat.  So I started leaving things to the side, then the girls did a fantastic job of cleaning it all away, later.

While I wasn’t going to work on the rest of the fence line, I did go in with the weed trimmer.  I took the before picture when I last worked in the area a few days ago.

There was just the last bit to work on, over by the power pole (see below).  I went into it with the weed trimmer as much as I could, but there was a section by the gooseberry bush I couldn’t reach, because I kept getting stabbed by low hanging and dead branches!

This side will probably need to be thinned down more, but I will wait and see how the remaining trees do over the next year or two.  If the maples do well, I might trim the elms to give them more room to grow, because maples can get so huge.  If the elms do well, I may trim the maples.  The maple I’m standing next to as I take the photo (in the foreground, to the right) is going to need thinning, but it can wait.

Several times, I started to clear a maple, then thought, oh… it’s actually an elm.  No, it’s a maple.  No, it’s… both??

There were groups of trees where maple and elm were growing against each other.  !!

This next section shows some apple trees.

In the before picture, there is a crab apple tree that is part of the row of crab apples in the middle of this area, but this one had so many little apple trees growing around it.  Likely self seeded, as apples fell over the years.  As I went through them, trying to figure out what to keep and what to take out, I discovered the biggest one – the one that would have been originally planted – was almost entirely dead.  It had two younger ones growing next to it, so I left those.  They are too close together, but I will see which of them does better over the next few years, before deciding if they need to be thinned more.

The major challenge was the big ornamental apple tree.  The branches were so twisted and wrapped around each other, with living tangled up with the dead.  It was a struggle to get them free of each other.  Most of it was growing towards the East – the morning sun would be the only real sunlight it would be getting – and that’s there all the little apples is had are hanging from.

There were so many dead branches higher up on all of these trees.  The extended pruning saw got quite a workout.  Not just to pull down or cut dead branches, but to untangle them to get them down.

Sadly, I was not able to use my little electric chain saw/extended pole pruner.  I checked it over thoroughly (it’s really designed to be idiot proof) and everything looked good.  Yet when I tried to use it, it started screaming and immediately began to jam.  It was also dripping chain oil. 😦

Time to see how long the warranty is for. 😦  Or if it’s still covered.  All I can think of that’s different that might be an issue is the chain oil.  The oil it came with was perfectly clear, like water.  The chain oil I have now is generic, and red.  The paperwork did recommend using their brand of chain oil, but it seems not to be available in Canada.

This rather sucks, because it did make work go much faster, when it was working!

Still, I have the tools I need to do the job, and the next time I am able to work on the trees, it will be at the spruce grove!  Woo Hoo!!!

I love this work. 😀

The Re-Farmer