No escort this morning!

This morning, as I headed out to give the outside cats their food and warm water, I was very pleased to see that the water bowl was still on the warming set up!

It was completely empty, but it was there, at least!  Which meant no new ice on the concrete floor.

I think we’re still going to have to increase how often we bring water out for them, though.

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This is one of the water dishes we still use, outside.  You can see the holes made by little tongues, trying to get through the surface ice, to the water below, before it froze solid.

When I go out with their food, they are normally all over each other, trying to get at the bowls of food. 

Not this morning! 

Oh, look.  Fancy tree fruits.

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, hanging out in the ornamental apple tree.

Towards the end of my rounds, Butterscotch did try to join me, but soon, she was hanging out in a tree, too!

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So what changed, this morning?

This guy.

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My brother’s dog came over for a visit!

He looks so sad that Butterscotch won’t come down for snuffles.

He actually let me pet him, without much stand-offish-ness, this morning, which made me happy. 🙂

As you can see by the ribbon attached to his collar, it’s hunting season right now.  In fact, I heard two gun shots this morning, while doing my rounds.  Someone out there is getting meat for their freezer!

While doing my rounds, I went back to see the electric fence the deer broke.  I didn’t like all that wire tangled and looped up in one spot, so I found the broken end and started pulling it back.  The end was near the gate, so there were quite a few holders for me to loop it through, before I reached the full length.  I found an insulator on a post to loop the end through, so it wouldn’t spring back again, then found the other end and pulled that back as far as I could.

The break turned out to be right next to our septic outflow.

Which is looking pretty dramatic right now!

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The ground is too frozen to absorb the grey water, so the ice is extending quite far, already.

I’m guessing the piece of metal roofing was put where it is, deliberately, to prevent excess erosion from the water being pumped out the top of that pipe.

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There are quite a few willows here, including this one that used to be quite massive.  Which says something about how quickly willows can get huge.  My father planted these by just sticking branches into the marshy ground.  Which means these were planted in the early to mid 70’s. 

I am remembering something the younger of my brothers had said, shortly after we moved here.  Something about how he had been trying to kill off the Chinese Elm growing by the septic field, because they were planted too close to the outflow and the roots were causing problems. 

I’ve gone through were a few times over the past year, and there are no Chinese elms growing here.  Just the willows my late father planted.  He planted willows because they are good for taking up water, and would prevent the area from becoming too marshy.  Some of it is lower and forms a sort of pond, when there’s enough rain (which meant there was almost no water at all, this past year), but the outflow is closer to the barn and several outbuildings.

So… I don’t know what my brother was talking about, in regards to any elms in this area.  Odd.

The Re-Farmer

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Spruce tips

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That spindly little spruce tree I was able to leave, while clearing the spruce grove, seems to be looking healthier – now that it’s getting more light after the bigger trees were removed from the fence line, and it is no longer crowded by underbrush.

I think it’s got a very good chance of surviving.

The Re-Farmer

Getting feisty!

Part of my morning routine, weather willing, is to walk around the yard and check on things, such as looking for fallen branches, or seeing if anything broke or blew over during the night.

Having been able to clear as much of the spruce grove perimeter as I have, I now include that as well.

So I finally got a photo this morning, of the lonely little cedar tree, cleared of the poplars that were starting to crowd it.

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I will have to do some research to find out the best way to care for this little guy.  🙂

Beep Beep has taken to following me, as I walk around.  Sometimes, Butterscotch as well.

This morning, I had both of them.

Beep Beep, we’ve noticed, has been getting feistier and more aggressive to the other cats.  This morning, she went after Butterscotch!20181026.catfight1

It’s one thing to be growling at the other cats, and maybe batting at them a bit.  Rolando Moon has always been like that.

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But this morning, she was ready to start a fight with Butterscotch!

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And Butterscotch is definitely the more passive of the two.

I broke them up and ended up carrying Butterscotch for a while.

Poor thing. 😦

The Re-Farmer

 

Big Tree ‘shroom!

While taking my walk around the yard, I noticed a new tree mushroom by the collapsing log shed in the yard.

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Unlike the others I’ve found, this one was quite low down, so this photo was me holding my phone under it and hoping for the best!

I’m happy with how it turned out.

It amazes me just how fast these things can grow!  One day, there’s nothing but tree trunk.  A few days later, there’s a huge mushroom.

I have no idea what kind they are.  Something to research in the future, I think. 🙂

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

 

Tree Kitties

Spotted out the kitchen window, while making lunch.

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I know we’re going to have to take this tree down, to protect the house, but when that does eventually happen, I’m going to miss watching the cats playing in it.

And them, watching me back. 😀

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 fence line, part 3

Yes!  I finally got to the area where the trees had fallen on the fence!

What the area looked like before can be seen in this post.

First, I got rid of part of the tree further into the grove, so I could drag things by.

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The next area actually had three fallen trees in it, each having fallen at different time.  One had fallen with its top just touching the fence.  In clearing that out, I discovered it was so rotten, the branches I grabbed to move it just broke off.  Then, when I tried to shift the trunk itself, to decide where and how to saw it, it broke, too.

I cleared away the broken part and left the rest for now.

Another fallen tree was under the three that had fallen the most recently, but it was small enough, and smooth enough, I was able to just pull it out from underneath, then carry it away.

Then I cut branches from the one that had fallen onto the fence, before cutting through the trunk itself, a few feet away from the fence.  Once that piece was free, the reduction of weight shifted the center of gravity, and the rest of the tree lifted and shifted!  I ended up rotating it a bit further, and left it.

This left things clear enough for me to continue on the fence, so I’ve left it for now, too.

Here are the after pictures to match the before pictures from the previous post.

I will leave pruning the little stuff for another day.  If I had a heavy duty enough weed trimmer, I’d just use that, but my little trimmer isn’t able to handle more than grass and smaller weeds.  When I’m done clearing the fence line, I plan to use the trimmer outside of the fence.

Here is another view.

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I will leave continuing outside the fence for another time, too.

Also, the beer can I had noticed before turned out to be a bottle. 😀

It’s the brand my late brother drank, which means he was probably the last person to do maintenance on the fence itself.  He passed in 2010, so it’s been there since before then!

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The next section has these oak trees at the fence line, and some juniper.  I’m going to leave the juniper as ground cover, clearing out any other trees that have started to grow in them, and I am deciding on whether or not I should leave the oak to transplant next year.  When I get back to this area, I will decide based on how in the way they are, or not.  I’ve seen quite a few oak saplings about that can be transplanted, so if I do end up having to cut these away, there are others I can use.

At this point, I’m about 3/4 of the way to the gate.  If all goes well, next time I work here, I should be able to reach it. 😀

I love how much better it looks, even if it’s not quite finished.

The Re-Farmer