After dropping one daughter off at work, my other daughter and I did a whole bunch of manual labour around the yard.
The first thing we did was haul away the stuff I’d clean up in the old wood pile area, including moving the pile of debris to the back of the outhouse, and sorting through the pile of found objects and garbage.
I was able to get about an hour of clean up in the old wood pile area. I made sure to check the temperature before I headed out, and it was only 22C. Thank God it wasn’t any hotter, because even that felt way too hot.
Y’know, I’ve always wanted to travel, and go vacation on some tropical island. I still want to do that, but I am realizing that I’d just die in the heat! 😀
Today has been a very unproductive day. I felt exhausted all day, to the point of falling asleep at the computer. I even tried to nap, but that was a failure. Mostly because I’m a suck, and I didn’t have the heart to move the sleeping pile of cats on my bed. 😀
It was my turn to do the cat litter tonight, and I headed out a bit early to do the sun room litter pans. It seemed cooler, so I stayed out and worked on the old wood pile area. I didn’t get very far. Again, I was feeling exhausted, and was dripping with sweat. This is not usual for me.
Then, just before starting this post, I checked the temperature.
27C – feels like 30C.
Which means it was even hotter while I was out there, even though it was about 7pm at the time.
That might have something to do with how I was feeling!
This is what I managed to do, in the short time I was out.
Yesterday, I heard some odd meowing noises out my window, so I went to check it out.
I walked right by one of the apple trees by the old kitchen garden, completely missing it was the source of the meowing!
The base of this tree is one of the cats’ favorite rolling-in-the-dirt places. When I first spotted them, though, he was mostly hidden behind the tree. It was his Aunty Beep Beep that had me laughing. It looked like a pair of eyes was watching me from the ground!
Then she rolled around some more; the epitome of grace. Not. 😀
Since I was there anyhow, I stopped to take a good look at this apple tree.
You can see one branch is hanging quite low, weighted down by apples as they get bitter.
Much if it, however, did not survive the winter. It wasn’t doing well last year, and I guess that polar vortex that kept hitting us was too much for parts of it.
As you can see from its base, it has been cut back a few times. I don’t think there’s anything left of the original graft. The two main trunks that you see in the above picture seemed to be dead. With living and dead branches so entwined together, it was really hard to tell where one branch started another began. I couldn’t tell if they were completely dead, or if they still had a live branch or two on them.
Either way, down they came.
Not a living thing on either of them.
I cut them at about 3 feet above ground, with the intention of cutting the remains, further down. Instead, I decided to make use of them.
I took the branch that was hanging down the most and braced it against one of the remaining trunks. It had a secondary branch that immediately began leaning over in the other direction, so I used rope and the remaining trunk pieces to support them. If they survive, with this support, they will continue to grow stronger, upwards.
This is not a healthy tree, however, so we shall see.
This is how it looks now.
It’s hard to tell, with the maple grove in the background, and with the dead wood gone, there’s surprisingly little left. Basically, they’re just suckers that have survived while the rest of the tree has slowly died.
After finishing with this one, I turned to another apple tree next to it.
This tree had quite a bit pruned away, but also had signs of a fungal disease.
The branches that had the most signs of disease seem to have died.
Once again, with how twisted the branches were around each other, it was hard to see how much of any particular main branch was dead.
I ended up taking out three major branches.
One of them did have a still-living off shoot, but…
The part of it closest to the main branch is blackened. It almost looked burned.
One of the dead branches I cut out was so intertwined with others, it was really hard to pull out of the tree, with several dead branches breaking off and staying stuck among the living.
After cleaning it out, one of the living branches ended up hanging down almost to the ground. It turns out to have been supported by one of the dead sections. I could have mucked about to give it support, but in the end decided it would be better for the tree to take that weight off completely.
There was a third apple tree, growing between the plums, with a dead piece I cut off as well, though I neglected to take photos of that one.
I haven’t done much beyond maintaining what I did in this area last year, trying to focus on the East yard and the spruce grove, instead. Even so, I can see how the trees that seemed the weakest last year are either struggling even more this year, or have died outright. The row of apple trees to the north of the spruce grove is no exception. I don’t think we’ll be getting many apples this year. Not just in quantity, but they bloomed so late, it’s unlikely they’ll have time to ripen before the cold sets in. One that had been pruned back the summer before we arrived had started to recover fairly well, but not enough to survive this past winter. Others in that row have lost quite a few branches. Those, I think I’ll leave pruning back until next spring or so.
Something we will have to keep in mind as we plant more food trees: either they will be varieties hardy enough for our bitter winters, or we will have to ensure they get extra protection wrapped around them in the fall.
Before we moved out here, a tree in the spruce grove had fallen onto the fence. I have no idea when it happened, but it had to have been very recent. My older brother, spotting it, grabbed a bucksaw and cut the tree at the fence, then propped the fence wire up with a stick, then neatly tucked the top of the tree, now on the outside, against the fence.
When I was cleaning along that fence line last year, I moved the tree top away from the fence line to give me space. I just dragged it over into the space between fence and ditch and left it there until I could get back to it.
That section of tree has been sitting there ever since.
I didn’t get as much done cleaning up in the old wood pile as I’d hoped, but a little is better than none!
This is most of the area I focused on today. I got more old pallets out, and a bit more rotten wood. For the most part, it’s too rotten to even pick up, but I’m hoping to at least get out the pieces with nails. I also cleared out some saplings that were in the wood pile my sister and her husband had made in the big garden, the summer before we moved out.
Most of the pile in the foreground is what I’d move there last year. I had intended to find uses for it, but I have access to better types of wood than I knew of back then, so I will be adding it to the chipping pile. I’ve got cherry wood set aside, and I have more than enough to work on, so any more cherry I take down is going to the chipping pile, too. There is still some apple wood I’d set aside by the old dog house. I’ll see what condition it’s in as I move it, before I make any decisions about it.
The pile of debris is growing, and I’m at a loss as to what to do with it. With the possibility of nails being in there, I can’t compost it, but there is so much soil in there, I just don’t think it’ll burn well.
I think, after I clean up more around the outhouse, I’ll spread it in the back. There is an access to the pit under the outhouse there, so it can be emptied as needed, so it should be kept open and clear. It’s not an area that will get traffic, to the risks of people finding nails is lower, and we certainly won’t be gardening or anything back there.
That’s one possibility, anyhow.
I did find a few things while moving pallets out.
A bent piece of sheet metal, two electrical insulators, and a perfectly intact tea cup – not even a chip on it! – buried under the pallet fence.
In between working on this, we got some progress on the garden area we mulched, and had some company, but I will write about that in my next post. 🙂