Paths

Today, I finally was able to get outside and use the new electric snow blower around the house. I really wanted to get it done while the weather was still good; we’re supposed to start getting cold again in a couple of days. Nothing like the bitter cold we had before, but enough that I don’t want to be outside for 2 hours, or be trying to use the snow blower in high winds.

What a fantastic little thing Spewie is!

Also, we can now use the fire pit, if we want to. πŸ˜€

Photo heavy post ahead! πŸ˜€

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My lovely brother had already used his own snow blower to clear enough of the yard that we could drive up to the house. From there, I cleared a path to the back door of the garage. We rarely use it, but I do want to be able to have access to it, regardless.

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From there, I also cleared a path to the trees. I no longer go all the way around the spruce grove as part of my rounds, but I do go along the south fence.

Clearing this was not easy. My boot prints have resulted in a path with about 6 inches deep, hard packed snow. Off path, the snow is has a dense layer of snow on the top, but under that layer is very loose, crystalline snow. Spewie is wider than the foot path, so one wheel would sink into the loose snow, while the other was still on the hard packed path. It was actually easier to make a whole new path next to the old one!

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I noticed a path in the snow to the old dog house, showing that the cats are, indeed, using it. So I cleared a path to the dog house.

Because I’m a suck. That’s why.

One of the things about our gas snow blower is, the auger is deliberately raised higher. It’s about 3/4 inches off the ground. I wanted this, because I didn’t want to be hitting rocks or whatever, sticking out of the ground. In this area, there are at least 2 rocks sticking out of the ground that I won’t drive over with the lawn mower, even though I have the blades set fairly high. I use the weed trimmer around them. With the big snow blower set as high as it is, I am still concerned about hitting one of them.

Spewie, I notice, will clear right down to the grass. I’m going to have to be very careful with that, until I get a chance to look at it and see if I can raise it a bit.

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We shovel a path from the main entry to the feeding station. Here, I’ve cut a path through the snow to join it. This way, we can go around the tree when the van is backed up to the house, instead of clambering over the pile of snow near the base of the tree. I also widened the area for driving in, then continued the path to the feeding station around the back of the house. The deer go through there to get to the ornamental apple trees in the old flower garden. There are almost no apples left, but the snow under the trees is all trampled from the deer trying to get at them. It’s good to know those little tiny apples are at least feeding some critters. The Pine Grosbeaks really like them, too.

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We keep a path shoveled from the main entry to the sun room doors. Here, I have widened it, and also cleared as far as I could to the old dog house. Any closer, and I would be hitting things, like a handle on the upturned wheelbarrow. The cats use that for shelter, too, which I was hoping they would do when I left it there, after putting new straw all around the outside of the doghouse.

After that, I cleared a path further to the storage house.

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Have I mentioned that I’m a suck?

Yeah. Totally.

The cats made a path in the snow from where they come out from under the storage house, to the sun room. The new path I made joined with that, going to the opening they come out of, and then I back tracked to clear their path that goes between the dog house and the clothes line platform. There wasn’t space for me to clear all the way, but I was able to get most of it.

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You can see, along the storage house, a cat path that leads to the old log shed. I just cleared to the opening that leads under the house as much as I could, with the lilac bushes right there. In making a path around the house earlier, I’d already made a path along the edge of the old flower garden, where the ornamental apple trees are, then continued to the storage house. Here is where I joined those two paths.

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This is the path along the far end of the old flower garden.

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Here, you can see where the path turns to go around the back of the house.

All the trampled snow that you see (aside from the marks left by the extension cord) is from deer.

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Breaking a fresh path to the fire pit was certainly a challenge. The snow is deeper than the snow blower is high, so that meant lifting the front to go over an area for a few feet, then backing up and going over it again. You can see all the leaves the snow blower was kicking up on the second pass. In a few areas, I would feel more resistance. After pulling back to see what I was hitting, I would find frozen divots of soil from when the skunk was digging holes to get at the grubs.

Definitely need to see about raising that auger higher.

In breaking this path, I had to remember where the end of the dead tree was buried in the snow, under the trio of maples, to make sure I went around it. Now that I have chain saws, I look forward to cutting it down to fire pit sizes lengths, come spring. πŸ™‚

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I had some issues with the extension cord… πŸ˜€

Also, you can see a bit of a rise in the snow to the left, that shows where the dead tree is buried in the snow.

The electric snow blower has a lot of advantages over The Beast – one of them being, when I want to turn around, I can just pick it up. One down side is having to drag 200ft of extension cord behind me. There is an outdoor outlet I can plug into, along the path to the feeding station, that is probably about 40 years old. Anything plugged into it is a bit loose. Which means every now and then, I suddenly have no power, and I have to trudge all the way back through the snow to plug it back in again, at the house.

Not much of an issue, really, but I’m getting too old and too broken to trudge through the snow much! πŸ˜€

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Finally! The fire pit has been reached!

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Clearing around this was quite a pain; the cord kept getting caught on the wood laid out inside the fire pit. We didn’t use the fire pit anywhere near as much as I had hoped. We had so many fire bans all summer, for starters. Other times, the bans may have been lifted, but it was just too windy to safely use it. The fire pit still has a pile of wood and kindling, prepared for the last time we planned to use it, only to have the wind pick up again.

Now that we’ve cleared it, though, we will probably use it in the near future. When we do our next Costco shop, I’ll make sure to pick up some hoagies and buns!

For many years, we continued a tradition started by my FIL; having a BBQ at midnight on New Year’s. Weather willing, I’m looking forward to having New Year’s Eve cookouts in the future, instead! πŸ˜€

Hmm. It just occurred to me. None of these paths are wide enough for my husband’s walker.

Well, maybe by the time we’re ready to have a cook out, we’ll have The Beast back up and running. My brother got a shipping confirmation for the new carburetor, so it should arrive soon. Sweethearts that they are, they even bought us real, proper ramps! They happened upon an incredibly good sale price and bought them for us, so not only will we hopefully have The Beast working again, soon, but will even be able to go to their place, load it into the van with our very own ramps, and bring it home ourselves, rather than have them drive all the way out here again.

There are some areas around the house I would not want to use it, but I would at least be able to widen the path to the fire pit.

All of this path clearing took maybe 2, 2 1/2 hours. In the summer, I had no problems working outside for that length and more, but I noticed a difference. In the summer, I was able to take it easy, sit when I had to, keep a water bottle with me, etc. While I tried to take it easy today, all the places I used to sit and rest are either covered with snow, or where on things that were put away for the winter. I didn’t realized I’d pushed myself more than I should have, until I started putting everything away. No worries. Just take it slow, right?

Then I got inside and tried to take off my boots.

*sigh*

I’ve got a pair of winter boots rated to -40C. They are excellent boots, but also very old. Above the heel in one boot, the lining is worn through, so every time I go to take it off, it catches on my heel. I just reach in with my thumb, push the lining back down around my heel, and keep going.

Today, that didn’t work. I bent to reach the back of my boot, and something about the angle triggered a leg cramp. So I went to take the other one off, which usually comes off fine, but that triggered a leg cramp, too! I got it off, though, then went to sit down. I had to get my husband to help me take the boot off.

It got stuck.

By the time he got it off, both of us were wiped out. Aside from the bending causing pain in his back, he’s had CPAP related loss of breath, so he could hardly breath. Meanwhile, I was fighting off leg cramps and my body suddenly deciding this was a good time to give out, now that I was sitting down.

*sigh*

I know I’m broken, but sheesh!

I’m largely recovered now, but I’m thinking a hot soak with some Epsom salts might be some good preventative measures, so I can walk without too much trouble, tomorrow.

:-/

The Re-Farmer

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