Storm clean up: unexpected damage

While working around the willow tree, I noticed something out by the north fence and took a closer look.

That’s when I found we had more trees and branches come down there, too. I hadn’t seen it before, simply because I hadn’t bothered going that far through the snow. The main priority was checking close to the house.

I’m really glad I was able to mow in this area, because that made clean up a lot easier!

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Storm clean up: the old willow

I’d posted a video I took after this job was done, previously. I am honestly surprised more of this tree did not come down in the storm. I hope it survives many more storms, because it’s such a beautiful old tree!

The first thing I had to do was assess the fallen branch more closely.

The branch was long enough to reach the double row of elms heading towards the garden gate.

As I started cutting away sections, I was able to see that the whole thing had been kept from hitting the ground by the skinny little top of the branch that landed on an elm!

Amazing, that that was all it took to keep such a big, heavy, branch from falling all the way to the ground!

After clearing away enough branches that I could reach the main part with the extended pruning saw, I just start pulling.

Eventually, the top came down, and I was able to start breaking it down from the end.

The main branch ended up being held up by another branch I’d already cut away part of. While I continued cutting away smaller sections, it looked like I would have issues with where it cracked at the trunk. How would I even reach it? I had expect this to be the easy part of the job, but it took a lot more work just to cut away pieces, so I could reach where I needed to go!

Plus, I had to get the weight off the branch that was still holding the whole thing up, so I grabbed a branch and started dragging it off to the side. It all twisted at the cracked trunk.

Hmmm…

Little by little, I cut sections away until I reached the cracked trunk.

This part of the trunk was too high for me to reach, and I couldn’t see how I could cut it away. It would be too dangerous to use the step ladder and a buck saw.

However, it was really quite rotten, and it twisted quite a bit when I was manhandling it to get those sections cut away. What would happen if I pulled on the cut ends?

I found the whole thing easily twisted around, and pieces of the trunk started to fall off.

What I thought would be the hardest part of the job turned out to be the easiest part – it just pulled right down!

The pile at the base of the tree is all from that one branch that broke.

I’m leaving it there until spring, when I plan to take down the rest of the rotten trunk. I’d already added lots of other downed branches to the pile by the fire pit.

So that is done for now!

When I started working on this area, though, I spotted more storm damage that I’d missed, because I simply hadn’t slogged my way far enough through the snow.

That will be my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Storm clean up: the kitchen elm

The first area I focused on when cleaning up the storm damage was the tree closest to our main entry.

I’d already had to cut away a few parts of the branch earlier. While we could push our way through the branches when walking by, I needed to back the van up to the house, so we could load it up for a trip to the dump.

It had been my intention to cut pieces away, little by little, until I could get the cracked main branch down completely. The first few, I was able to reach with the extended pruning saw from the ground, but as weight was removed, the whole thing started to rebound, higher and higher. I had to bring out the step ladder to be able to reach the main part of the branch. I expected to cut it away in at least three sections.

Things didn’t quite work out that way.

Once the piece in the photo above came free, it came twisting down – towards me on the step ladder, of course! – while the rest of the branch, released of the weight, flung itself upward about 5 feet.

After looking it over, I decided to just leave it. Without the weight of this section, there is no longer a danger of it cracking more. It should probably still be taken down eventually, but there is no risk to leaving it alone for now. Especially since we plan to have the entire tree taken down at some point.

This pile is the broken down pieces of just that one section from the above photo!

This is all of what came down from this one tree. The two bigger pieces went to the wood pile for the fire pit, while the rest went into the big pile for eventual chipping.

The cats LOVED playing in all the branches I’ve been cleaning up!

It’s really remarkable, what a difference there is in the yard. Two large branches of this tree came down, and it all feels so much more open and lighter under there!

This job ended up taking less time than I expected. It was time to move on to the big willow tree.

That job ended up taking more time than expected!

More on that in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Storm clean up: the little stuff

It’s federal election day here in Canada, and I’m happy to say that there was a local polling station (according to the elections Canada website – and the agent I spoke to on the phone while trying to find where the nearest polling station would be – our little hamlet doesn’t exist) and I was able to register and vote without any problems. What a difference from the last federal election, when we were still living in the city! It helped that the registration officer happened to be a “neighbour” that I finally got to meet. Since she lives on the same road we do, a mile away, she had no issues with the fact that there are different names for our road. I’ve got the road name on my driver’s license, which no longer matches the signage. She’s had the same issue we have, since the stop sign with the road name got knocked down, and the sign with the name of our road disappearing. It has not been replaced, so there is just the numerical designation on the other stop sign.

I got to vote, and later on I’ll be going back with my daughters, so they can register and vote, too. 🙂

Until then, I’ve got a bit of catching up to do, and will be splitting things up into several posts, rather than one big one. I was finally able to get the tree damage from the storm taken care of, as well as putting stuff away for the winter, the day before we had my mom over for a surprise second Thanksgiving dinner. With this post, I’ll start with the last things I cleaned up; the little things!

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Rotten

Things have been warm enough for the snow to mostly melt away, so today I was finally able to go around the yard and take care of the storm damaged trees.

I will process and upload photos, probably in a couple of days, but until then I wanted to share this video I took of the big willow tree, after I’d finally gotten the broken section down.

The base of this section is pretty much compost.

I really am amazed that this is the only section that came down in the storm.

I’m leaving the remains where I’ve put them, to clean up in the spring. That is when I plan to take down the rest of the rotting trunk.

Assuming it doesn’t come down on its own, over the winter.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: no more pile of stuff!

We were able to use all the chimney inserts that were piled behind the house, and even the last chimney block, while winterizing around the house. That meant I could finally clean up that area once and for all!

This area has taken me two years to clean up.

Here is what it was like when I first started working on it, back in May of last year.

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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.

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Clean Up: mowing the big garden

Today started early for me, as I had to drive to my mother’s to take her for an appointment to get her CT scan. She had a requirement to drink a litre of water an hour before her appointment, then restrictions on going to the bathroom shortly before, so I wanted to make sure she got there early enough to not have to worry about the restriction. Given how long it takes to drive from her town to the city where her appointment was, that meant she had to start drinking her water while we were driving.

She also had to fast 4 hours before the scan, but my mother went a bit overboard and, aside from eating some crackers with her morning medications, she had fasted since the supper! So as soon as we were done, I made sure to take her to lunch somewhere fast.

By the time I got home, it was mid afternoon. The weather was holding, so I decided to break out the push mower and get as much done as I could. (I only got rained on a tiny bit! 😀 ) I was going to start working in the trees, but then decided to do the old, overgrown garden, instead.

When my brother brought the mower back, he walked me through what he had done. It started fine when we tested it, but he mentioned that he felt the prime pump wasn’t doing its job. So, just in case it wouldn’t start, he showed me where to open up the side of the engine, where there is a filter and an opening behind it, and told me I could basically just splash some fuel into it, and that should be enough to start it.

I’m very glad he told me that, because it wouldn’t start. I ended up having to do it twice! The second time was after I ran out of gas, but I found that if I filled the tank before it was completely empty, I didn’t have to do it again. Except I didn’t just splash it. I tipped the mower onto its side and poured a tiny bit, using the cap of the jerry can spout to hold the tiny bit of fuel I needed. After that, it started just fine.

Mowing the old garden ended up taking about 4 hours.

It is not a small garden.

It was also incredibly rough. Plus, I had to look out for stuff like this.

Thankfully, it wasn’t sticking too far out of the ground, but that’s something we’re going to have to dig up at some point. Maybe. Depends on how big it is, underground!

Here are the before photos.

Right now, the garden area is split by the section we covered with straw to mulch it, used some RoundUp when things started to grow through the mulch, then covered with tarps, that I worked around. That is where we are hoping to be able to start planting something next year. I also tried to get into those trees my mother left growing when she transplanted her raspberry bushes, as much as I could.

Here is what it looks like now.

Did I mention it was rough in there?

This picture barely begins to show how rough it was! It’s hard to grasp from the photo, just how big that hill in the foreground is. When this area was last plowed, this is where the tractor turned, so there are huge ridges all over.

If the weather continues to hold tomorrow, I want to work on mowing between the trees in the maple grove, plus the area leading from the big garden to the gate. My mother said she planted elms in there, so the area had not been mowed, but I see no signs of them.

And now I have to try and get the burrs out of my pant legs.

The Re-Farmer

Prepping the old dog houses

Yesterday, after picking the crab apples, I had time to start working on the old dog houses, as part of our winterization plans for them. We were getting severe thunderstorm alerts and, looking at the weather radar, it looked like these ones were not going to miss us, so we rushed to get a bunch of things done outside. The girls put the sheets of metal roofing back on the old garden shed that had blown off from the last storm, but there was no way to nail them in place, so they strapped them down, instead. Then they helped me move aside the dog houses, so I could work on the space under them.

The main issue was that the ground is not level, resulting in one of the dog houses tending to rock back and forth.

This was part of why that was happening.

Nothing like a big ol’ tree root to mess things up!

To try and level it, I first used a garden fork to dig things up and loosen the soil. After that, I used a garden rake to try and level the area as much as I could.

Which the kittens absolutely loved.

I then put the sheets of Styrofoam insulation back, but lay them out differently this time, after noting some issues from how we had it before.

I happened to have a sheet of dollar store tarp in the garage, so I used it to basically hold the 4 sheets of insulation together – and I hope it will serve to protect it a bit from the cats, who like to use the foam to sharpen their claws! LOL

Then I snagged a daughter to help me move the dog houses back again.

The kittens love it!

I have a couple more sheets of insulation that I plan to slide under the dog houses, so the kittens aren’t going to be able to play under there for much longer. 😀 Later, when we get a straw bale to cover our septic tank, I plan to add start around the dog houses. We are also looking at ways to use the sheets of black tarp that I cleared from the old wood pile to further shelter and winterize these for the cats.

Not long after this was done, we did get hit with a pretty wild thunderstorm. We promptly lost our internet, and even the power flickered off and on several times, though we never lost it completely. I later saw photos taken in town, where there was some flooding in the streets.

Looking at the long range forecasts, we might get storms throughout tomorrow and into early the next morning, before things clear up. We’ve had enough rain that I might actually have to mow the lawn one more time before putting the mower away for the winter!

The Re-Farmer