Clean up: wood chip pile and jasmine bed

I was able to tackle two areas in the East yard today. The first was planned; I decided to leave the remains of the wood chip pile where it was, and spread it out along Northwest corner of the spruce grove.

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Some of the pile got moved to the cross, as the pile at the other end didn’t have enough chips to extend that far. This will make mowing around this corner easier. Eventually, I will be clearing further into this area, but that will have its own natural mulch of leaves and spruce needles.

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This side is where they chipped the branches from the 2 big maples directly onto the ground. There is more cleanup needed here, plus that dead tree will need to come down at some point, so I wasn’t too particular about how much this area was spread out.

I have some thoughts about that dead spruce tree. I could have it cut flush with the ground. I could have the stump leveled at about a foot and a half high and use it as a seat, or put boards across it to turn it into a bench. I could have it cut a bit higher and put a table top on it, then add benches or seats around it. Or I could have it cut to a couple of feet, hollow it out and turn it into a planter.

Feel free to let me know what you think about these ideas in the comments. 🙂

Once that was done, I finally got around to removing the foam insulation we put around the house in the fall. That got me eyeballing this odd little flower bed my mother made where she had transplanted a jasmine.

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This is what it looked like after removing the foam insulation; I had tossed the little plastic fence things in there, just to get them out of the way.

It’s falling apart and, when I try to water the jasmine by the steps, the water just runs downhill, past that piece of pressure treated wood and the miscellaneous pieces of brick. I had a couple of other pieces of pressure treated wood, as well as other bricks. I figured I could use both to build up a little retaining wall, bricks as a foundation for the wood, then more bricks on the wood to create a higher wall.

The first thing to do, of course, is take out the bricks that were already there.

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From where I was pulling things out, I get the impression that a bed was built up around the jasmine by the stairs when it was transplanted, and then it was extended when the second plant (I am not sure if it’s another jasmine; I don’t think so) was added.

I wanted a rectangular bed, since I was using the pieces of wood for walls, so I started digging it out to create level trenches to put them in.

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I kept finding more bricks!

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Using one of the pieces of wood as a guide, I began putting bricks into the trench as a foundation, leveling them off by eye. This is not intended to be permanent, so I’m not too worried about getting anything exact, but it will be there a few years, I’m sure, so I still want to get it solid.

After reaching the steps, I discovered a bit of a problem. Even using a block of concrete that was already there, the length of the bed was greater than the combined length of the wood I was using. I did have another piece that turned out to be just wide enough to fit, but…

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Yeeeeaaaahhhh…

No.

I mean, I could cut it to size with a chainsaw (now that I have one that works), but it’s quite rotten and…. nah. Not happy with it.

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So I moved the end in a few inches, instead.

Once the brick foundation and wood pieces were in place, I used the soil I’d taken out to fill in the gaps.

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Once that was done and stamped down, I realized I didn’t need to make it any higher.

I will likely need to bring in more soil for the outside of the bed, to tamp down and make sure the pieces of wood don’t just fall off their brick foundation. That can be done little by little, as needed, over the summer. I will also be mulching it with straw, when I start working on the bale.

So I now have to figure out what to do with the bricks. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

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Clean up: south yard, mulching second bed

Today, we got the second area in the south yard mulched with wood chips. It’s not as long as the first one done, so it was faster.

It was also faster because I changed equipment.

Among the things that disappeared from here before we moved in were things like shovels and spades – the stuff that didn’t get taken are almost all broken in some way. Yesterday, we made do with snow shovels to load up the wheel barrows. It was a pain in the butt, but they did the job.

Today, I dug out a spade I’d found last year. It’s broken, of course, but just the handle on the top. I was able to use the sleeve of my sweatshirt to protect my hand while using it, and things went much easier.

Here is how the bed looked before.

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This is the largest of my mother’s white lilacs, at the West end of the bed, and where I cleaned out a big pile of horse droppings in between all those stems. I’ve never been able to figure out how that happened. I just can’t see a horse backing its hind end right into the bush and taking a dump. 😀

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This is where we had cleared out the remains of some fencing that had been used as a trellis for vines. I’m guessing this was done before my mother discovered that Virginia creeper is so invasive! Hopefully, the mulch will prevent it from growing back.

The dirt patch by the tire around the tree is a favourite place for the outside cats to roll around. 😀

Here is how it looks now.

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Alas, the cats have lost their rolling spot. 😉

A lot of the wood chips were used for this, but there is more left than I expected.

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I’m debating whether to use it on a nearby flower bed, or just spread it all out, right where it is.

For the amount that’s there, I’m leaning towards spreading it out where it is.

While doing my rounds this morning, I took some pictures at the logs from the two maples that were taken down. Check this out.

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You can see how the ant-damaged, rotten core is slightly pushed in. I was curious to see just how loose it was.

The answer is:

Completely.

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There were a couple of pieces like this, where I could pull the core right out!

Have I mentioned what a relief it is to finally have these trees down?

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: south yard, mulching first bed

Today we were able to head out and do some more aggressive yard work, and I am happy as a clam!

I decided to start on an area in the South yard that we had already started to mulch with leaves in the fall.

Here are the before pictures.

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This is the bed that runs between the people gate and the vehicle gate.

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I even considered mulching all the way to the fence, as it’s difficult to mow in there, but decided against it for now.

My mother planted some bright yellow flowers in here that self-seed. They did rather well last year, but I was pulling a lot of Virginia creeper out of it, near the Chinese elm. Also, being self seeding, the flowers are sort of spreading in an uncontrolled way.

Here is what it looks like now.

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On this end, my mother’s yellow flowers did rather poorly. The Korean lilac shaded it too much, blocking both sun and what little rain we had. It was being taken over by crab grass.

I’m pretty sure that maple is self seeded.

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I could see the flowers were already starting to come up, and I think they will find their way through the mulch. If they can do that, however, the Virginia creeper will do so, just as enthusiastically. With the mulch in place, they should be easier to pull up.

We put a big dent in the pile of wood chips in the process! This was before…

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This is what it looks like now.

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The next area I plan to use these on is on the other side of the sidewalk, between another Chinese elm and the willow that got trimmed. There are white lilacs there that I’d cleaned up around and pruned last year; while there is some kind of greenery growing near the base of the Chinese elm, there were no other flowers or anything. We should be able to finish off the pile of chips in that area. Anything left on the ground where the pile is now will be raked out as mulch, right where it is.

I also got an after picture of the maples removed from overhanging the roof. This is the before photo I had posted previously…

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This is what it looks like, now.

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That one tree in there that’s leaning waaayyyy over is just funny!

I’m hoping to get that junk around that old shed hauled out of the yard this summer. First, though, we need to get the straw bale used up. It’s rather in the way, where it is now.

I’m so happy to be able to get out and start on all this again! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Wet morning rounds

We had quite a bit of rain, overnight, which made for some lovely fog this morning – and lots of water and mud to slog through!

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When putting out feed for the deer, some of the usual spots I leave feed are all water right now, so I had to change that up a bit.

I wonder if our little buck will come over and splash in the puddle again? 😀

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All set, and checking things out

Yesterday was a fairly long day, as the girls and I made another trip into the city. Which should be the last supply trip needed. From now on, anything we’ll need over the month can be picked up locally.

Of course, before we headed out, I fed the critters. As I was putting food and water in the sun room, I discovered I had some quiet company.

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Had a snow-down – and I won!

Happy 6th day of Christmas!

Things have not gone as planned, thanks to some rather unfortunate weather. We were supposed to go into the city for a family gathering yesterday. We drove maybe 5 minutes on the highway, before turning around and coming home. Blowing snow, icy roads, poor visibility… and knowing it would be worse when we were driving home in the dark. Too risky. Maybe if we had a 4 wheel drive and winter tires, but not with our van.

We didn’t have a lot of snow, but it did get to the point that we needed to clear the driveway. Which meant time to break out the snow blower for the first time! 😀

Except, of course, it wouldn’t start…

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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

A fine morning!

Such a lovely morning!  Doing the morning check around the yard does have its benefits. 😀

With the chillier conditions, I’ll be taking on the feeding of the cats again.  The temperature change between indoors and out is not good on my husband’s back.  So I get to add putting out food and warm water to the morning routine.

I’m just not going to be doing it at first light.  The cats are going to have to put up with that! 😀

The nice thing is that, while I’m putting the food out, I’m actually able to pet almost all of them.  Even Rosencrantz or Guildenstern (but not both) will let me touch, for a brief moment, before moving away.  I don’t want to keep the shy ones from food, though, so I leave them alone and move on to the water.  Which now includes knocking the ice out, first!  It was while I was doing that, when all the cats suddenly exploded in all directions!

We got another visitor this morning.

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Productive

What a gorgeous day we had today!  We actually hit 19C!

I don’t expect we’ll hit above 10C again, for the rest of the year.  It’d be nice, but I’m not going to count on it!

Which meant a final run around the yard.  I took out the string of lights that wasn’t working, then hauled away a few more loads of pruned and cleaned up branches from the spruce grove; what hasn’t been cleaned up are in piles that can stay the winter.  Mostly, I wanted access to the larger, less noisy, wheelbarrow!  The straw around the old dog house I prepped for the cats to use over the winter had settled, so I added three more wheelbarrows of straw around the outside.  I also finally cleaned up the platform for the clothes line.  Some of what was on there went to the junk pile – we won’t be able to get that hauled away this year, unfortunately.  There was a plastic bin under the bench seat on the platform that had some plant pots in it, sitting in half frozen rain water.  The pots went into the shelf we’ve left by the sun room – that thing has been too handy to haul away.  The bin itself was put back under the bench, but on its side, so it won’t collect water.  Bricks that had been lying around went inside it, to ensure it doesn’t get blown away.  One more little shelter from the weather for the cats, though they also go under the platform itself.

The tools and equipment have been put way, but into the sun room, not the garden shed.  That shed will need to be hauled away with the junk, after we clear it out of whatever is not broken in there.  I’ve put the garden hoses in there, but I hope to replace those next summer.

It looks like getting the trees done will have to wait until the spring, after all.  The pump for our well has been making some strange noises when it first turns on, but I’ve never been able to get to it to record it, before the noise stops.  We’ve been listening for it, as it doesn’t happen every time the pump turns on, and it seems to make the noise only after the pump has not had to turn on for several hours.  So, mostly, when the first shower of the day is started.  Before contacting the plumber I emailed my older brother about it.  From the description, he says it sounds like the foot valve is letting water slowly leak down.  If it has long enough time to leak, when it turns on again, it will make the grumbling noises we’ve been hearing, as it tries to prime itself.

If that’s what it is, it’s a job for the plumber, because fixing it would require taking the pipe out of the manhole outside.

I’ve asked the girls to let me know before the first one of them showers tomorrow morning, so I can go downstairs and start recording when the water is started, and hopefully catch the pump making the noise when it turns on.  Then I can call the plumber, play it for him, and it will give him an idea of what it is.

This is one of those things we can’t take a chance on.  If the pump goes, we have no water.  Better to have it fixed now, before winter gets here!  I’m just hoping we can pay for that, and still be able to get me to a dentist. 😦

Renting a wood chipper this fall is also out the window.

*sigh*

20181018.lights.fixedOnce it was dark enough, I went out to check the lights again.  One string shorter, but all are working!

I’m really happy with how the whole fence line is looking.  After I took the broken string of lights down, I took the time to cut away the small underbrush I’d left behind, since I was focusing on getting the fence itself clear of the big stuff.  There was enough of it to be in the way while walking back and forth, with the lights.

That done, I spent some time walking around, just enjoying the warm and peaceful night in the yard.  Gosh, it is so nice!  I really missed this, when living in the city.  You can actually see the stars, and it’s so quiet.  Even when being chased down and having my calves tackled by a Doom Guy. 😀

I played around with the “pro” settings on my phone to try and get some photos.  Here’s one of them.

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You can actually see a star next to that moon!  I’ve resized the image, and some of the detail is lost. The lights on the bottom right are the solar lights I’ve got on each side of the vehicle gate into the yard, and you can see the moon reflecting on the metal roof of the garage.

Anyhow.  As for as outside the house goes, we’re ready for winter.

It’s been a good and productive day!

The Re-Farmer