Clear

Things have been rather hectic the past couple of days, to the point that I even missed yesterday’s critter of the day photo – I ended up driving my mother to the emergency and staying with her until she got the all clear to go home. She is fine, but she was scared about some chest pains. They never found what caused the pains, but once again, her heart is checking out just fine. They couldn’t identify what was causing the pains, so she had to go a regular doctor to start that process. :-/

In the middle of this, the girls took down a branch from the Chinese Elm in front of the kitchen window. The outside cats are going to miss their last easy access to the roof!

Getting it down took some doing. While one person used the extended pruning saw, the other pulled on a rope that was slung around the branch. This way, when the branch finally fell, it wouldn’t land on the roof, but get pulled away.

It worked. It landed right on my mother’s fancy lilac bush, but when I checked it later, there wasn’t a single broken branch on it! Very flexible branches!

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Tree work done!

Photo heavy post ahead. 😀

It’s about 6 months later than we meant to have it done, but done it is! The trees are now clear from the power lines and the roof.

I was really, really excited to see the chipper they brought in.

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Roof status

Oh, while a wild and windy day today!

I don’t know if we got any of the predicted snow flurries last night, but there certainly was plenty of blowing snow on the highway this morning!

I did my rounds after driving my daughter to work, and found a few things.

The floor in the sun room was wet. Not just a spot or two, but a large area of damp.

I have a 5 gallon bucket I use to carry the deer/bird feed, and an ice cream bucket I use to scoop the feed into it. I store one inside the other, next to the bin I use to hold the feed. When I picked up the ice cream bucket, I found some water in it, and the bottom was all damp. Looking into the 5 gallon bucket, I found a couple of inches of water. These are all on a plastic couch. Looking up, I could not see where the water was coming from. The lid on the bin was dry and dusty, and the couch seat itself was dry, so that narrowed down where the drip had to be coming from, but I could see nothing.

My daughters informed me that the drip at the corner of one window upstairs is back. This drip was discovered last winter and, from the damage to the wall beneath it, has been dripping for some time. Those windows were installed the summer before we moved out here. They are well installed and sealed, which confirms that the source is from somewhere else – if it had been from the old windows, the drip would have stopped after the new were installed. We already figured that, but it’s good to have a confirmation.

By the time I got back from dropping my younger daughter off at work, my older daughter had already climbed out onto the roof of the living room – in this wind! – and cleared snow on the upper roof (which cannot be safely climbed not) as much as she could, as well as clearing the eaves-trough. There is an ice dam that forms on the roof edge. There is a visible discoloration in the snow in an area that might be where the melt is getting through the shingles, but it’s not possible to see exactly where it’s coming in right now. Once things are clear enough, the girls plan to look around to find the source of the leak and seal it.

During my rounds, I checked out a couple other areas we need to keep an eye on.

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The second story roof on this side is much steeper than the other, but it’s also North and West facing, so it doesn’t melt away as quickly as the South and East facing sections. Here, you can see where the branches are brushing the roof. This is one of the trees that the arborist will take down for us in the spring.

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This is where the log part of the house and the Old Kitchen roofs meet. Every year, this ice dam forms. So far, there is no sign of any leaking because of it.

I made sure to look at the roof over the sun room, and above it, and those are mostly clear of snow. No ice dams, but also no way to see if any shingles have lifted or anything like that. Last year, we had water dripping in through the bathroom ceiling, and never found where it was coming from.

It was while I was in the bathroom that I saw a drip through the window, in the sun room. I was able to see a water drop on the ceiling, this time. From where it is, it would be why the floor is wet. There was still nothing visible on the area above where the feed bucket sits.

This has been another confirmation for me. I had been wondering about sections of peeling paint on the ceiling of the sun room. It is, indeed, water damage. Once again, this shows that there have been leaks since long before we moved here. In fact, I half remember seeing the peeling paint in the sun room when we were last here and stayed with my late father, in 2015. Since the upstairs was closed off completely, in the winter, to conserve heat, no one would have seen the drip up there at all. My father would not have been able to see the dripping in the sun room, either, and there was no one else around who would have caught either. That would have been just as true while my mother was still living here, from what I have been able to tell.

Well, all we can do is patch it up for now. My mom has been talking about a new roof for the house, and selling off some of the scrap metal around the farm to help fund it. The place is definitely due for one!

We have one more colder day, then in 2 days it’s supposed to go – and stay – above freezing.

Which means, for the next week or so, we’ll be keeping a close eye out for drips and shingle damage.

The Re-Farmer

Abandoned

Usually, when I do my morning rounds, I stick to the inner yard and the garage.  Every now and then, though, I go farther afield and check on the septic field and the sheds in the outer yard.

Today was one of those days, and it took me past the old Farm Hand tractor that’s still sitting among the collapsing outbuildings.

You know how you walk past things time and again, look at them, but don’t always “see” what’s there, then suddenly something that’s always been there, catches your attention?

I had one of those moments today, when I saw this.

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Give it a shake

Ah, what a day!

When I headed into town to pick up prescriptions and allergy medications, it was snowing, but fairly lightly.  It picked up a bit while I was out and about, but not too dramatically.

Then I got a text from my husband.

The power went out at home.

Driving back through our own little hamlet, I could see no lights, anywhere, so I could at least be assured it wasn’t just our place!

Also, it was snowing quite a bit more heavily by then, too!

The power was out for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours in total.  The girls and I were about to head out to town, where we could get a data or WiFi signal, so we could check online to see what was going on.  The power came back on, just as we were putting on our shoes.

So we stayed home, and instead walked around and knocked snow off of the trees.

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I had already knocked the snow off of these lilacs, before I went into town, and it had to be done again, later on.

It was just above freezing, which means it was a wet, sticky and heavy snow.  Since it started off as rain, there was also a layer of ice under the snow.  All the trees that still had their leaves were drooping like crazy.  The girls and I went around shaking trees, or knocking the snow off with a rake or broom, as high as we could reach.

It’s a good thing we did, or there would have been a lot more weight on those branches!

It continued to snow heavily for some time.  I was sitting in my crochet corner when a noise out the window caught my attention.

Then I watched as a piece of tree came tumbling to the ground!

Soon after, I went outside to check on the trees and, right outside our door, this is what greeted me.

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This is from the Chinese elm, outside our kitchen window.  This is also where we park the van, when we drive it into the yard.

Thankfully, it was safely in the garage at the time!

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This is the piece of tree I watched from inside, as it fell.  It took me a while, but I think I found where it fell from.

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This is the dead spruce whose top we watched fall down in a storm, last winter.

I really look forward to when we can have this tree taken down!

The lilacs by the house were again heavily covered in snow.

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The cherry trees are drooping so much, you can’t even see that they’re there!

The girls had already knocked the snow off of this just a few hours before.  One of the branches was right on the bird feeder platform.  As I tried knocking the snow off, I found that it had broken right off.

I continued around the yard, shaking trees or knocking snow off with a rake, but some things, we just can’t reach.

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You can see the lower branches, where I knocked the snow off, but the upper branches are still a risk.  It doesn’t normally touch the roof there.  Hopefully, no more branches will break, and if they do, they’ll be ones that fall into the yard, not on the roof.

Another reminder that this tree needs to come down. 😦

Also…

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Snow and ice covered willow branches are hanging heavily over the power lines.

And there’s nothing we can do about it right now. 😦

The Re-Farmer

Hello, down there

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The larger of the orange tabbies now has a name.

Meet Jim.

I’m told there’s a tangential story behind this name.  I don’t know what it is. 😀

Jim wasn’t too keen on me coming closer to get his photo, and kept moving around.  From here, though, you can see the “platform” the cats like to sit on, to look into the kitchen.  This is where this tree had been cut down before.  There are also places where I can see larger branches had been cut down, too.  And yet, in a remarkably short time, when it comes to growth speed of trees, it is once again overhanging the roof.

Which is why we have decided that it’s going to need to come down completely, to protect the house.

While that will solve one serious problem, taking it down is also going to loose a lot of the shade it provides, which is why it was planted there in the first place.

It also means taking away one of the cats’ favorite spots.

I’m still entertaining the thought of leaving a trunk tall enough to make it a table.

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, more progress, part one

The chilly weather we’ve had for the past few days has really got me wanting to finish this fence line along the spruce grove!  As long as I can clear to the driveway gate before winter, anything else is gravy! 🙂

I took a whole bunch of photos, so I’m splitting them into two posts again.  Here is the first section I worked on.  With how I was finding things, I decided to go with before, during and after photos.

This is where I left off, last time.  I was able to leave the oaks, just pruning them a bit, for transplanting next year.  They are really leaning towards the fence, where they would have been getting the most light, but once they are planted somewhere more open, they should start growing straight again.

Over the years, I could see that someone had trimmed branches back from the fence line.  A lot of those have died, but are high enough and short enough that I will leave them for now.  I pruned the undergrowth only as much as I needed to, to clear the fence and access things.

That meant cutting away some of the things growing in the juniper, as well as some of the dead juniper branches.

The ground cover (I am not 100% certain that they are juniper, but that’s what I’m calling them for now) stayed as well.  I had to walk all over them, but they can handle it.  They did make working in the area more treacherous, though!

I know these have been growing here for a long time, but seeing this stem really shows just how long.

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It takes a lot of years for these to get such thick stems!

Clearing this first section revealed enough that I took before and after photos of the next section, too.  Which will be in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: Spruce grove perimeter, reaching the fence!

It’s been a while, but today I was able to continue working on the perimeter of the spruce grove.  I started off at the little maple I had stopped at, last time, and made it to the fence line. 😀

The last time I went through the area, looking ahead to what needed to be done, it was still green.  The leaves are completely yellow, now!

Here are the before and after pictures. (click on the images to see them better)

The cluster of trees is made of up 3 poplars and 2 spruces.  One of the poplars has lost its top, and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s lying on the ground near the little dead spruces I took out.  There is some dogwood at the bottom of this group of trees that I cleaned up a bit, but otherwise left to grow.  It’s one of those things that will spread quite handily, given the opportunity.

The next section is an open, mossy area.  I’ve been using it to turn around with the riding mower.

Most of the clean up here involved pruning shears instead of saws.

Once that was done, I was at the fence line and had to make some decisions.  How far to the north did I want to go?

In the end, I decided I needed to at least clear out a dead tree that had fallen on the fence, so I could access it for repair.

Though the dead tree was a big poplar, the remains of two other trees had also fallen on it.

The poplar itself was growing on the outside of the fence line.  There are a few larger trees on the outside that I will have to leave, but I will be taking out any smaller trees on that side, as soon as I am able.  I’m not sure about the bylaws in regards to municipal land along the roads, as far as who is responsible for keeping it clear, but I don’t want it to become overgrown with trees like it has on the other side of our gate.

I didn’t do much more in this area, as I want to focus in the other direction, so this section is unfinished.  There are a couple of trees that will be taken out, because they are too close to the fence line.  Otherwise, it’s mostly undergrowth that will need clearing and cleaning.  There seems to be some juniper in there that I intend to leave.

Moving southward, now.

There are some pretty massive spruces here!  There isn’t really a lot that needs doing with the trees themselves; a few low hanging branches and dead branches to clear out.  I could see that, at some point – long ago – someone had gone through and cleared the lower branches, so they were already pretty good.  Again, I spent more time with the pruning shears!  There are quite a few poplar on the outside of the fence that I will have to go back to, later.

If you look in the before picture, at the big spruce to the left of centre, you can almost see a potential problem.  The top of this tree is broken off, and its top is still there, hanging upside down.  I have no idea how long it’s been like this, but at some point, it’s going to fall.  Ideally, we’d get it down before it falls on its own and potentially damages something, but for now, it will have to wait.

It’s starting to open up quite nicely.

Though my priority is clearing the fence line, so it can be accessed and repaired as needed, I might have to clear out some of the dead wood further into the grove.  There is a large spruce that has come down in the area that I am leaving for next year, but I might have to cut away at least some of the branches, just so I can drag out some of the stuff I know I will be dealing with, further down.

And that is my progress for today!  It might be another few days before I can work on it again, so I’m glad I was able to at least get this little corner done.

The Re-Farmer

This is me, having a “heart attack”

High winds last night.  Lost the internet a few times.  A bit of a storm, later on.

Several times, I took a quick walk around the yard to check on things and picked up downed branches (one of the apple trees in the west yard lost a big one).

I paused to take a short video, during which my heart was in my throat.

Can you see those power lines?

Can you see those branches, whipping about at the power lines?

When we can finally get those cleared, it’s going to be so much better for my blood pressure.

The Re-Farmer