Clean up: spruce grove junk pile

Today is our only “cool” day before things start heating up again. Our high of the day was merely 25C/77F. We’re going to have another few days hovering at or above 30C/86F, so I wanted to get some clean up done while it was still relatively pleasant out.

I decided to clear things out to uncover the woodchuck’s den opening, under the junk pile.

This was a job I’d deliberately left for a while, as there were kittens in the junk pile and I didn’t want to scare them. Plus, the spirea and other undergrowth provided them with shade, and things to play with.

Since the kittens have been chased out by the grog, it’s time to clean up!

The first thing was to cut away the spirea and wild roses, until I could remove the old pallet. Since they were just cut to the ground, rather than being pulled up by the roots, the roses will come back next year. Unfortunately, so will the spirea!

Immediately after I took the above picture, a furry little face poked out and looked at me. The grog was home! I imagine he headed out the “back door” on the other side of the pile, as I kept causing a disturbance here.

As I worked my way along the fallen tree, I was able to pull more things up by the roots. The wine barrel planter that I uncovered was not yet collapsed when we first moved here. We used to be able to watch yard cats sitting on it in the winter, sunning themselves. After the pieces collapsed, it became a favourite play area for kittens.

The bushy Chinese elm next to the log are hiding an upright barrel planter.

I also uncovered what looked like a sprinkler hose. I have no idea how long it’s been there, but it appears that the tree fell on top of it. !!

After cleaning up the collapsed barrel planter, it was time to turn my attention to the upright one. On the ground to the right of it, you can see a bit of a red brick. Like other things I’ve found around the yard, I figured I’d be finding more bricks under the planter, once I cleared it out.

The first thing to do was pull out the pieces of wood. I was then able to remove the top metal ring (I’m keeping all of them), but the bottom ring has a smaller diameter, so it had to wait.

I can cut away the Chinese Elm that had been growing in this planter before, and what was growing this year was from the remains of the ones I cut last year. You can almost see the “stumps” that the new growth emerged from.

This is the wood from both barrel planters, plus a few odd pieces I found as well. Since doing a burn would still be stupid dangerous right now, these all went on the junk pile in the outer yard, waiting until we can hire someone to haul it to the dump.

After clearing away the wood and the metal ring, I broke up the soil so that I could take out the roots of the Chinese elm as best we could. Then I started poking around with a garden fork to take out any bricks that I expected to find buried under the planter.

I found a third metal ring, completely buried in the soil.

I also found that it was mostly flat rocks under the planter, not bricks! The one long, concrete brick I found was buried under where the collapsed barrel planter was likely sitting, before it got knocked over.

I find it interesting that care was taken to make sure the planters were on something solid, rather than on bare ground, yet they were sitting there for so long, everything sank into the soil.

After spreading out the soil that was in the planters and filling in the holes I’d made while pulling shrubs out by their roots, I dragged out the hose. I figured it was junk, since it seems to have been sitting there for a long time. I’ve found many hoses scattered about in sheds or the barn, and most of them were so old, they were brittle and cracked. I figured much the same with this, but decided to hook it up to a hose and test it out.

Much to my shock, it actually worked! The couplings were leaking, but all they needed were new rubber washers. There were two hoses together, and they both work. Which means, if we pick up some end caps for them, we can set them up in garden beds, like we currently have the soaker hose at the squash tunnel, for more efficient watering.

It was about this time we reached the hottest part of the day, so I stopped for now.

To get at the stuff where the sprinkler hose was, I’ll need to clear away the underbrush on the other side, then cut up the fallen tree to remove it in pieces.

Which will give me access to the back of the junk pile, too. There appears to be some wire fencing that may actually be usable back there!

This is the next area that needs to be worked on. All the underbrush to the right of the path through the trees needs to cleared out. This will give access to the dead trees that need to be cut down, as well as the back of the junk pile.

Clearly, that junk pile didn’t start out as a junk pile. The wood was carefully stacked and covered with tarps, but then junk got tossed on, the tarps blew off, and now the stacked boards are badly rotted. They’re also very full of nails and screws. !! I’d already cleared underbrush to access this side of the pile of wood, which was used when I worked on what are now the garlic beds, but what I cleared up is now mostly full of thistles. :-/

Where I’m standing to take this photo is about where we plan to build the cordwood practice shed that will become an outdoor bathroom, with composting toilet. We had intended to start work on it last year, but not it will wait until all those dead trees are taken down, since they would need to be felled towards where the shed will be. As it is, the new location for our compost pile, and the beet bed, may be in the way. These are very tall trees!

So that’s progress for today. It isn’t a lot, but it’s amazing how much difference even that little bit makes.

Plus, we now have a couple of “new” sprinkler hoses!

The Re-Farmer

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