Clean up: west fence line and maple grove

Today turned out to be too cold and damp to do the mowing between the trees I cleared last year, that I hoped to do today. I thought I might be able to at least use my reciprocating saw to cut some of the smaller stumps of trees I took down last year to ground level, so I could mow over them. In the end, I decided it was just too damp to drag out the extension cords and use electric tools.

Instead, I worked on an area I left partly unfinished last year; a double row of elms leading to the garden gate at the west fence line.

Here is how it looked before I started.

Last year, I had cleared in between these trees and used the weed trimmer here, and throughout the maple grove. This year, I was never able to get this far out with the weed trimmer, but was able to do some very careful mowing with the riding mower. The dead branches were a bit of an issue to work around, so today was my day to get rid of them.

There is also a section of lilac bushes closer to the gate that I wanted to do some clearing in. Again, I was having issues working around the dead branches.

The above photo was taken after I’d completed most of the clearing of the elm trees, so things were already much improved. I like being able to walk under the trees and not get my hat – or my hair! – caught on branches!

Though I did have problems with the sleeve of my sweatshirt getting caught on a loop of barbed wire from the fence, wrapped around a tree, every time I went past while clearing away felled branches. You can even see it in the “before” photo, around the elm tree on the far left. There were a couple of barbed wire loops, placed when the fence was still upright. Now, as the fence falls into the yard, the loops are pushed away from the trees, and one of them was at just the wrong height! I was able to tighten it around the tree a bit, though, so I was no longer catching on it.

I really, really want to take this fence out completely.

While clearing away the dead branches, I also ended up cutting down a small, dead elm. The lilacs had only a few larger dead pieces, which was rather nice. The lilacs I’d cleared on the other side of the maple grove last year had so much dead wood, there was hardly anything left by the time I was done.

One of the larger trees, though, also seems to be dead.

The trees have lost so many leaves already, though, I don’t want to make assumptions. Especially since a couple of elms I thought for sure were dead, last year, burst into life after a solid rainfall.

While I was working, I also kept hearing what sounded like bird noises coming from above. I kept looking to see where the sound was coming from, and finally determined that it was from here.

There is a branch broken on one tree, hung up on two other trees. As near as I can figure, the bird-like squeaking noises I was hearing were from the wood being rubbed together in the wind! It’s way too high for me to reach, so it’s going to stay there and keep squeaking. πŸ˜‰

Here is how it looked when I was done.

I left a very tall stump from the little dead tree I took down. I will cut it to grown level later. Until then, the height will ensure it doesn’t get tripped over. πŸ˜€

Most of the dead wood I took down ended up in a pile over the fence, near where I already have a huge pile of deadwood from clearing last year. Some, however, I chose to keep.

Here is one of them.

This is a section of lilac, near the dead elm I cut down for comparison. It has a very distinctive purple to the middle rings. I am keeping this piece for crafting purposes.

After cleaning up the debris from my work at the fence line, I made my way through the maple grove, checking things out, and paused to take care of this.

I remember, while working on these trees last year, identifying this dead branch on a maple as one I expected to fall. I’d have taken it down myself, if I could have reached it. I don’t know when it finally broke, but it is being held up by another tree it fell on. You can even see another dead branch from the same tree, above the one that’s broken. Another that will just have to come down on its own!

I was able to reach the broken branch with the hook on my extended pruning saw blade and simply pull it down.

The branches it was hung up on kept one end from falling down. Instead, it landed like this, now hung up on a poor little spruce tree, looking like another tree instead of just a branch! πŸ˜€ Thankfully, the spruce seems to be undamaged by it.

It was too wide to drag out between the trees, so I had to break it down into smaller pieces.

While I was cutting the first section of it, I spotted this.

Some really cool looking lichen! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get so fan-like and feathery looking before.

I noticed this branch also had some interesting colours in it.

I ended up choosing a couple of sections to keep for future projects, where I hope to really take advantage of the bright red ring in there. The rest went into the fire pit pile.

I didn’t get any photos, but before I stopped for the day, I also pruned back one of the ornamental apples near the old kitchen. They both have wildly twisted branches and really need to be pruned more, to open things up, but that will have to wait for when I am able to get at them from a ladder. For now, I wanted to get a couple of branches that were hanging lower and lower. All those little twigs and twists seem to have a thing for my head! They’ll take my hat right off, and if I’m not wearing one, they get hung up on my braid, even when I’m sure I’ve ducked clear of them.

Rather than just cutting back small branches, I figured out which larger branch was the source of most of the problem, and took the whole thing down. That gave me access to some dead branches that I could finally remove as well. Now that they’re gone, I’m thinking it’ll be much better for the garden, too. There is rhubarb planted near the trees, and they have not been doing very well. Hopefully, they’ll have more light and will do better, next year. We haven’t decided what we’ll be planting here, yet, but most things will require more light than the ornamental apples, in their current state, allow. I want to find that balance between letting enough light in, while also allowing the trees to provide some shelter, too.

All of the branches I pruned from the ornamental apple tree went onto the fire pit pile. This year, I’ve used the fire pit only once, and that was to burn off the Virginia Creeper I’d been pulling up. It was so hot and dry this year, it was just too dangerous to use the fire pit. Whenever we finally do get to do a cook out over the fire pit, we’ll have maple and apple wood to cook our food over. πŸ™‚

I don’t know when I’ll be able to continue the work next. We’ve got our monthly shop to do tomorrow, but it’s supposed to be rainy again, anyhow, with the rain and colder temperatures continuing for another week. We’ve even got overnight lows expected to hit 0C!

After not mowing for about 2 months, because it was so dry the grass wasn’t growing, we now have had so much rain, I need to get at least one more in before winter – but it’s too wet to do it!

Ah, well. It is what it is. As long as we get the winterizing done, we’ll be good. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far. πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

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