Winterizing: wood for the fire pit

I had some daylight left, so I decided to see how far I could get on another thing on my to-do list before winter.

Some clean up of the pile of larger wood, by the fire pit.

We may not have been able to use the fire pit over the summer, due to fire bans and unsafe conditions, but we should be able to use it in the winter. 🙂

Among the dead trees I cut down, leaving tall stumps until I can come back with a chain saw, there are three spruce stumps that form a triangle.

I decided to take advantage of that.

My reciprocating saw got quite a workout today! I was able to cut to fire pit size, and move the enter pile of larger wood, and even get some larger pieces in the “kindling” pile!

The disturbed area by the tree with the tire around its base is where the pile was.

The tall stumps worked well to keep the stacked wood in place. We can also use them when we put a tarp over the wood. We can even nail it in place, so the wind won’t blow it away.

Yeah, we plan to get cheap tarps. Actually, there is at least one I saw in the barn that we can dig out and see if it is still usable.

Another job I can mark off the to-do list! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Up and running again

Well, I’m glad my brother has been as dedicated to taking in-progress photos as I have become! After emailing him about what happened to the snow blower, he was able to email me back a photo of exactly where the fuel line was supposed to go (something I could not really see without taking the cover off, but could find by feel). He told me I should be able to push it in, and confirmed that it was solidly in place, when he attached the fuel line to the carburetor. It seems to have vibrated itself out, which really shouldn’t happen.

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Prepping the fire pit

I was able to head out and work on the fire pit area, including getting a fire going to clear the pit out for a future cook out.

I ended up being out there for about 2 hours!

After getting as much snow out of it as I could with it full of wood, I made use of the fire starter cubes I picked up while in town earlier. I figured it was the most efficient way to get a fire going, with all that snow.

I was right. 😀

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Clean up: firepit area, gate and fence line start

This evening, I decided to be methodical about clearing the west yard trees, and get right into the fence line.

It was a lot more work than I expected!

This is what it looked like when I left it last time.

I didn’t get photos from this angle today, but if you look behind the dead trees I cut down, that’s the area I focused on.

I had not really intended to start on the fence line on this side yet, but the mess was starting to get to me.

I am using the row of elm trees as my guide line for clearing the fence.  Anything between where those trees are and the fence line will be taken out.  This will leave a walkable path to access the fence.

I started at the gate post and made a discovery.

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There’s two of them.

From what I can figure out, as the older gate post started to become unstable, a second post as added, and new and old were tied together with a loop of barbed wire.

It was most likely a temporary fix that ended up a permanent one.

The problem is…

Both posts are rotten and broken at the bottom.

The hedge that had grown into the fence was pretty much the only thing holding it up.

I don’t really want to replace this fence.  I’d rather take it out completely.  I am wanting to install new fencing that will include both driveways, instead.  So for now, this old fence will remain for as long as it holds up.

As I worked down the line, I also discovered that there’s not just two gate posts, but two fences!  Somewhere along the way, the old barbed wire fence got a mesh wire fence added with it.  Then other cable type wire was also added, along the bottom.  You can see part of it at the bottom of one of the gate posts, above.

This made clearing away the lilacs more challenging, because it was woven through both the barbed and mesh wire.  For many of them, I had to cut them at least twice, so I could get the pieces out of the fence.

A surprising amount of the lilac was already dead.  Most of the living lilac is on the other side of the fence.  Which I will leave for now.  It’s keeping the fence from falling over.

In the end, it took me almost two hours to clear barely 8 feet of fence line!

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I’m also clearing in between and around the lilac and caragana that is in line with the row of elm trees.  That included taking down a dead lilac that was a thick as a tree!

I’m going to have to change up when I work in the yard.  We’re getting heat wave weather warnings for the next week.  I like to do the work in the afternoon or evening, but the hottest part of the day tends to be around 5pm.  It’s almost 9pm as I write this, and we’re still at 25C, with a “feels like 29C”.  I’m going to have to start working on this stuff in the morning, instead, when it’s cooler, because by afternoon, it’s supposed to reach 29C, and feel like 34C, but be only 18C in the morning.

I am not a morning person. 😀

Well, if I’m driving my daughter to her shifts that start at 8 or 9am anyway, it will work out for me to do yard work when I get back in the morning, instead of after I pick her up at 4 or 5pm.

She has a road test booked in September.  She’ll be able to drive herself to work, if we don’t need the van for something else.

It is becoming increasingly clear we are going to need a second vehicle for the girls.  That and our utter dependency on having a vehicle makes me extra paranoid about having only one.  It’s not like there are any buses we could use instead, or anything is close enough to walk to!  We went about a month not driving our van until we had the money to replace the fuel pump, to avoid causing more damage (which our mechanic really appreciated), and that was enough for us!

At least we’ve finally reached a point where we are caught up.  As of this month, we have no expenses left related to our move.  Yay!  It only took us 9 months. :-/  Starting next month, we can start diverting money to a contingency fund to pay for things like getting the trees cleared from the power lines and roof in the fall, or towards getting a second bathroom installed.  Or unexpected emergencies, like the van breaking down!

The problem is, there are SO many things that need work around the house and yard, it will be hard to prioritize.  We had hoped to get the second bathroom installed this summer.  It’s high on the priority list, but clearing the trees became the higher priority since… well… we’d really like to NOT have our roof damaged or have branches knock out our power lines.

Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up progress; west yard trees

Today, I went back to around the west side of the maple grove to continue cleaning up.  This time, however, I focused on the area nearest the fire pit and gate.  This area seemed to have been mostly spruces, though only a few have survived.

Let’s look at the before pictures.

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This spruce tree is right behind one of our piles of wood for the fire pit.  It’s doing rather well, though as with most spruces, the lowest branches on the trunk were dead and hidden by the ones above.

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Right at the wood pile is an elm tree that we thought was dead, but after we finally got some decent rain, suddenly shot out some green.  It is still mostly dead, but we’ll be leaving it for now.

Most of the spruces behind it are completely dead.  Only two are still alive, plus one scrawny little thing that I’m hoping will survive now that I’ve cleared away the dead stuff.

I went further under the trees for these next photos.

 

Going through here, looking at all the dead wood, all I could think of was “that’s a fire hazard, that’s a fire hazard, that’s a fire hazard…”

I started by pruning the spruce in the top photo and working my way in a bit, then went to taking down the two bigger dead spruces.  These ones have been making a mess of my nerves, every time we used the fire pit and a breeze blew towards them!

I took the bigger one down first, because it was easier to get at.

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When it finally started to drop, it got hung up on the trees on the other side of the gate.  The cut part also just stayed on the trunk.  I finally grabbed a piece of wood from the log pile and swung it like a baseball bat against the trunk.

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It still just dropped straight down, being held up by the other trees.

I finally got it to fall, though!

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After this, I cut the tree up into small sections so I could move it and work on the next one.

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Which also got stuck and needed whacking.

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It, too, was being held up by the trees on the other side of the gate.

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My older daughter happened to come out to ask me something, so she got to do the whacking…

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And also got it down from the other trees.

After this, I took down the two smaller dead spruces.

Then I realized I had completely blocked the gate, so the smaller stuff I would have taken to the pile outside the yard with a wheel barrow had to wait.

Here are the after pictures.

20180730.cleanup.firepitarea.1after

In the foreground is the spruce from the top photo.  As I cleaned up after taking down the dead spruces, including cutting back some spreading lilac and caragana, I kept finding more and more dead stuff, buried under dead leaves and grass, and especially along the fence line.

20180730.cleanup.firepitarea.6after

I’m leaving the stumps of the trees I took down for now.  You can see the pruned trunks of the two remaining spruces here; the skinnier one has just a few live branches at the top.  There are still dead branches I want to prune away, but for those, I’ll need the extended pruner, so it will wait for now.

There’s still lots to clear out of here but, at this point, the heat was becoming and issue and I was getting ready to head inside.

20180730.cleanup.firepitarea.trees.down.after

The remains of the 4 dead spruces I took down, plus some of the larger dead pieces I dragged out while cleaning up.  Lots of dead caragana and lilac hidden among the living.  It seemed every time I thought I was done, I kept finding more and more to pull out!

I was just taking these last photos when my daughters came out to haul it all out of the yard for me.

They are so awesome!

Though it’s no where near done, the difference is still pretty amazing.

The Re-Farmer