West Yard; fire pit area clean up

Another wonderful day of yard clean up today!

And a photo heavy post to show for it. 😀

After all the clearing I did yesterday, we had a lot of wood to breakdown and move out.  The rain was holding off, so my younger daughter and I started on the big pile.  As I was de-branching and cutting down the dead spruces, I was thinking of where we were moving it all and how we were running out of space.  With all the rain we’ve had, we could actually start burning some of it in the fire place.

So that’s what we decided to do.  My daughter would get the fire pit going, while I continued to break down the spruces.

Wet as things have been, we still weren’t going to take any chances.  My daughter started by getting the hose ready.

So far, we’ve got two hoses going; I found a shorter one we’d been using on the south and a much longer one I’d hooked up to the tap on the north side of the house, to use on the flower garden I’ve cleared up and started to layer.

The long hose got moved to the south side when my daughters cleaned out the eaves troughs, and as long as it is, it wasn’t long enough to reach the fire pit.  Adding on the shorter hose still wasn’t enough.  Is there more hose?  I remembered a long hose in the side of the garage, so she went and got it.

It turned out to have several major holes and breaks in it.  She tried patching it with duct tape, but two were so bad, the water just sprayed out from under the tape.

I checked the garden shed.  Turns out there were two more hoses there, so I grabbed the heavier duty one.

No holes, but it did leak right at one end, where it was attached to the first hose.

20180601firepit.area.fire.prep

We just put that part of the hose over an area of dry grass, so it could water it. 😀

We’re going to need to buy new hoses.  Several of them.

All in good time!

That done, my daughter got a fire going.  Then she sprayed all around the fire pit, and the trees by the fence line, and basically anywhere else she felt might be at risk from sparks.

Because we err on the side of caution when it comes to that.

As she started working on burning one of the piles of small stuff.  We had one pile of larger wood, then a second pile for little branches.  That one got huge, fast, so a second pile had been started of those.  Which is why I wanted to start burning it.  There’s just soo much of it!

In the photo above, you can see the beginnings of a pile of green wood, waiting to be broken down.  My daughter and I had already removed the old awning I’d taken out from under some maple trees, and it’s now on the pile of stuff outside the yard we plan to hire someone to hall away in the fall.

After I finished breaking down the three sections of dead spruce trees – they had so many branches that needed to be cut off before I could cut the trunks shorter – I decided to stop with that pile, and start helping my daughter.

20180601firepit.area.fire

By this time, she’s almost cleared up the smaller pile of little things.  As I watched the fire, I couldn’t help but feel my paranoia creeping up.

See those spruce tips in the background?

I am really not happy about how close the fire pit is to the spruce.  Spruces are just big resin torches.  Plus, there was all the other brush and undergrowth.

I started to break down the pile of green wood and stacking it against the back of the log cabin.  These will sit to dry until next year, where they will be used as fire pit fuel. I expect that pile to get rather larger before the summer is done!

Finally, I went under the branches of the spruce tree and started clearing under it.  The lowest branches were all dead, so I took them to my daughter to break down and start burning.  Then I started cutting more branches for as high as I could reach with the hand saw.  The branches were still hanging down to the ground, so I got the pruning saw and kept going.

20180601firepit.area.spruce.clearedWhat a difference just a few minutes of cutting made!

I cleared a bit of underbrush as well, uncovering the remains of an old wagon and another electrical cable spool.

After getting under the spruce tree cleared, I tackled the big dead branch by the old gate.  I wasn’t sure how much I could clear of it, because the break was so high.  Turns out it’s been dead for so long, I could just pull it away.  You can see part if it in the above photo.

20180601firepit.area.dead.broken.tree

Here’s the rest of it.  I’d already started to clear away some of the smaller branches when I took this photo.  That huge piece of tree was just dangling there, for who knows how long.

Getting it down made us feel MUCH more comfortable with a fire.  The wind was blowing towards the fence line, so any sparks would have gone right into that area.

After getting this down, we decided to really give the pruning saw a workout and get the dead branch from the maple tree on the other side of the fire pit.  This branch had actually been long enough to reach over the fire pit, but I’d already broken some of it off.  Still, it was rather close and low enough at the end to be a concern.

Did I mention the pruning saw is awesome?

20180601firepit.area.dead.maple.branchOh, how good it is to have the right tool for the job!

We took turns sawing at it.  Because of how high it was at the trunk, and how thick it was, it didn’t take long for our arms to start loosing circulation! 😀

Much to my surprise, this branch did actually have a few living twigs on it, so part of it went to be burned, and part of it onto the greenwood pile.

That done, I just kept on clearing along the fence line.

20180601firepit.area.fence.line.beforeHere’s how it looked before I got back to it.

After breaking down the big dead branch I’d just pulled down, I moved the wire spool and started clearing more under that area, then just kept working my way towards the gate, separating the living from the dead.

Most of it was dead.  Dead for so long, that I was pulling bushes right out of the ground, without having to cut anything.  Or even yank hard.  My daughter had so much dead wood from what I was pulling out of here, she stopped taking from the main pile completely, until I was done.

20180601firepit.area.fence.line.cleanup.garbageOf course, there always has to be at least one surprise! 😀

This picture is from the base of the tree I’d pulled the big dead branch out of.

That is some sort of garbage.

It’s IN the tree.

That piece of garbage has been there for so long, the tree has grown around it.

I also found some old beer cans and even a juice box, but nothing else that was grown INTO a tree!

Though some saplings growing through the fence wire came close.

Here is how it looks now.

20180601firepit.area.fence.line.gate.after

One side of the old gate is now CLEAR!!  Yay!

I am at a loss, though.

The barb wire gate is still there, just like it was when I was growing up.  Then that picket fence got added.  I don’t know when.  It’s actually attached to the posts of the barb wire gate with more wire.

Why would someone essentially block off an entire gate?

At some point, we’ll need to re-fence the yard, and I’d like to keep a gate here when we do.  It’ll be much easier for the septic cleaners to get to the tank from this end, then going around the house from the other side.

20180601firepit.area.fence.line.after

Here is the mostly cleared fence line.  There are still little things I’ll need to get back to, and I’ll need to decide if it’s worth keeping some of the long, scraggly bushes. (I don’t plan to cut back what’s on the other side of the fence this year.) They’re living, and some are even blooming, but now that the dead stems that were holding them up are gone, I really don’t know how well they’ll stay up on their own.  It wouldn’t take much to break them.

20180601firepit.area.fence.line.spruce.after

While clearing stuff away, I found a big metal ring that would actually work well as a fire pit, if we ever needed to set up another one.  It’s slightly smaller than the metal ring that makes up our fire pit now.  I didn’t try to move the remains of the wagon, yet.  There is more dead wood back there to clear away.  The spool, I’ve just left there for now, making sure not to block access to the side of the log cabin, as there is more dead wood to clear away in that area, too.  There’s also a mostly dead maple tree, but that will need a chain saw.

20180601firepit.area.greenwood.pile,finish

And here we have the green wood pile, after my clearing away of the fence line.

There really wasn’t a lot of green wood from there to add to the pile.

Though more clean up will be needed, especially of all the dried leaves on the ground, the entire area is now much less of a fire hazard then it had been!

Once we finished breaking down and burning the deadwood I’d cleared out of there, my daughter and I continued to break down and burn more from the big pile.  You know; the one we’d originally started the fire to start getting rid of! 😀

It was awesome.  My daughter even brought a couple of chairs and made a carafe of lemonade for us to enjoy while we kept feeding the fire.

Our first fire of the year.

By the time we wound down for the day, there was a huge new pile of ashes in there.  Since we are only burning wood in here, it will be a great addition to the layers I am building up on the flower garden, when it comes time to clear it away.

I am so loving this kind of work.  I missed it so much!

The Re-farmer

One thought on “West Yard; fire pit area clean up

  1. Pingback: First Wiener Roast of the year! | The Re-Farmer

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