Critters, and technical difficulties

First up, I want to share a couple of photos from our living room camera.

This one was taken a few days ago.  With the birdseed running out, there have been much fewer visitors of late.  Which means that, of the ones that do show up, they are less active and easier to get photos of. 🙂

2018-06-24.bird.on.pole

While doing our Costco shopping, I made sure to pick up a bag of mixed bird seed.  I even figured out how to pop the roof off of the bird feeder, so I could fill it.  I also added some seed to the platform part of the stand.

The birds haven’t really rediscovered it yet, but this squirrel did!

2018-06-24.squirrel.on.feeder

I know squirrels aren’t supposed to be good for feeders, as they eat so much of the seeds, but I really like these guys.  They take cat or dog kibble, too.  Back when this place still had a wood burning furnace, when it was time to gather wood from the big pile outside to throw into the basement, we would sometimes uncover a cache of kibble that the squirrels had hidden in the logs. 😀

My dad really liked the squirrels, too.  Sometimes, he would sit on the concrete steps out the main entry and lie back in the sun and fall asleep.  At least once, he woke up to find a squirrel on his chest, checking him out!

With another scorcher predicted for today, I headed out early to try and mow the lawn.  I don’t like working with loud equipment in the morning, but I wanted to get it done before things got too hot.  I got most of the lawn done, and was just doing the last couple of bits around the main garden, when I ran out of gas.  After refilling it, the mower wouldn’t start.

While I was trying to get it started, I jostled the fuel line filter, and it popped off!  I got it back on again, then got a screwdriver to loosen the clamp, push the filter nozzle as far in as I could, then tightened it again.  Then I went back to trying to start the mower.

No go.  Literally.

I ended up pushing the mower all the way back to the garage.  My daughters and I headed into town in the afternoon, then back again soon after we returned (but for good reasons… 😉 ), so I wasn’t able to try again until almost evening.

It started beautifully.

I guess it just needed a rest!

I finished the last bit of lawn.  Though it took me maybe 15 minutes to do it, it was about 30C out there, and wow am I glad I started early in the morning, when it was still relatively cool!

But at least that’s done, now.

And that’s the extent of outside work for today!!  Looking at the forecast, it looks like early mornings, or late evenings, are going to be the only times we’ll be getting outside work done for at least the next two weeks.

The Re-Farmer

Down it goes

When things started to cool down, I did a check around the yard to see how things were.

No surprise at all to find that, having taken down a dead tree trunk recently, the still living but broken branch is was supporting has come down.

20180626.hanging.branch

Unfortunately, it hasn’t broken completely.

20180626.break

The break is way too high for any attempt to cut it with the extended pruning saw.  I tried to pull and twist it, but it’s still hanging on.  All I managed to do was break of some smaller branches.

I’m just going to have to leave it for now.  As it dries up, it should eventually become brittle enough to pull down.

Meanwhile, it is basically blocking the path around to the back of the storage house that I was able to go through with the riding mower.  Which means that, when I do get the chance to mow, I’m going to have to find some way to either get it down, or somehow prop it to one side until I’m done mowing.

Oh, my!  As I wrote this post, some very dark clouds moved in from the West.  We’ve got storm warnings for that side of the province, though not as far us.  Hopefully, we’ll at least get some rain. According to my weather app, we should have heavy rain and a thunderstorm in 21 minutes.  Whether that actually hits us, we shall see!  The last few predictions of rain and storm missed us entirely.

The Re-Farmer

 

 

Oh, Dear

As we dealt with the cows this morning, I phoned up the renter to let him know about his broken electric gate.  Later in the morning, before heading to town to meet my brother and his wife for lunch, I took a quick walk around.  Fresh tire tracks in the tall grass showed me that the renter had already come and gone, checking both of his electric gates in the process of fixing the one, and got the cows back on their side of the fence.  We never even saw him!

One thing I saw while checking the electric gate by the barn was barbed wire sticking up out of the tall grass that wasn’t visible before.  Turns out, there’s an old barbed wire gate that was hidden in the grass.  The cows’ hooves must have got caught and pulled some of the wire up.  Yikes!  I’m going to have to put a priority on cleaning that out, even though it’s outside of where we are focusing on this year, just so no one gets hurt.  The posts in the gate are rotten to the point of broken, so it’s completely unusable.

When we got back from town, my daughters and I moved the power pole completely into the yard, along the back of the garage, so that it’s out of the way.  With the cows gone, we left the vehicle and people gates open again, but at least now we know what sort of work they need to have done.  The reason the people gate no longer latches is because the fence post on one side is now leaning away from the gate.  We’ll have to decide if it’s even worth straightening, at this point.

After moving the power pole to its new location, I was glad that I had managed to do all the weed trimming last night, in preparation for mowing, including where we just left the pole.  I even cleared around most of the apple trees.  With 200 ft of cord, I was able to just reach the second furthest tree, but only trim on one side of it. 😀  An extra 10 ft of cord would have allowed me to finish the row, but I was just too tired to get one at that point.  It took me about 3 – 3 1/2 hours to trim around the entire yard, including going into some areas that I’ve newly cleared.

It was while trimming in front of the garden shed that I noticed something I hadn’t before.

Of the two trees leaning towards the house that have to come down, one is over the roof and its branches sometimes hit when it bounces in high winds.

The other reaches far enough that we can see it from inside the living room, but isn’t actually touching the roof.

Which is good.  Because I discovered this last night.

20180623.ant.damage.maple

A terrible picture, I know, but it was starting to get dark.

Somehow, in all the times I’ve been around this tree, I had never paused to look into this bole.  While weed trimming, however, it was right in my face and I couldn’t miss it.

That’s rotten wood and the remains of a carpenter ant nest.

Which means this tree is more unstable than I originally thought.  More unstable than the one I was more concerned about.

*sigh*

When I call to get quotes to have trees cleared from the power lines, I’m going to have to include these two trees as well.

If we can get this done before winter, I will be feeling much better!

Meanwhile, temperatures were cool enough today that I was finally able to mow the areas outside the yard (dodging fresh cow pies in the process! *L*).  It should have been done days ago, but was just too hot.

It’s looking so much better now! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Good Moooorning!

So my darling husband (picture me speaking with a rictus grin) cheerfully comes traipsing into the bedroom and wakes me up with a “so, are there supposed to be cows in the yard?”

What a way to be awakened!

No.  There are not supposed to be cows in the yard.

He had been hearing the cows mooing and thought to himself, that sounds awfully close.

Then looked out the window.

20180624.cows.in.the.yard

That’s not good!

By the time I put my glasses on, they were at the opposite end of the yard, by the fire pit.  When I got outside, there were no longer any cows in our yard, but there were several just outside the barbed wire gate at the fire pit.

I closed the gate.

I could see from the gate the the electric gate at the cow fence was in place, so before we closed the other gates, I went over by the barn, where the second electric gate is.

Sure enough, the wire was down, looking like something went right through it, dragging it into the tall grass on our side of the fence.

That left us with the task of closing up the vehicle gate, and the people gate.

Problem.

20180608.pole.delivery

Yeah.  The pole was still there.

Moving a 30 ft pole is awkward, to say the least.  It wasn’t just getting it clear of the opening, but clearing the swing arc of the gate.  So there was a whole lot of rolling and pivoting, but it wasn’t enough.  He really shouldn’t have, but my husband was able to pull it a few feet away from the yard (yeah, I helped, but really… I wasn’t doing much) and it got rolled clear.

This is the first time we’ve closed these gates since we’ve moved here.

*sigh*

They’re broken.

On the vehicle gate, one side isn’t too bad, but had to be lifted to close.  It shouldn’t need to be lifted.  The other was off the top hinge and we weren’t able to put it back at the time (I will need to go back with a tool kit), but we swung it closed.

They are supposed to be able to latch together.

They don’t.

But we could at least sit the parts on top of each other and let gravity to the rest.

*sigh*

Then there’s the people gate.  I had been wondering why there was a bungee cord on the chain link fence.

Now I know why.

The latch parts don’t latch anymore.  So the bungee is used to keep it from swinging open on its own.

After phoning the renter and leaving a message for him (with apologies for calling so early), I went around the yard, just in case we missed a cow in the bushes or something, then went to see what was going on.

20180624.cows.visiting

There were 6 altogether; 2 cows and 4 steers.  The rest of the cattle were on the other side of the fence near the electric gate.

I decided not to try and get them out.  They can graze all they want and, at some point, they may well wander back towards the barn and join the rest of the herd.

Granted, the rest of the herd might end up on the wrong side of the fence, too.  But I’m not too worried about it.  They can keep our grass down.

Now.  I wonder if I can get another hour or two of sleep…

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: after

I have just finished working on the bushes in the west yard, near the fire pit, for the day.  It’s not finished, but there is a storm moving in, and I did get the big stuff done.

So I have after pictures I can show you.

I actually went deeper in then I’d intended to.  I started in the area around the linden and plum trees, to get more dead branches down, and everything was getting so hung up, I had to go further in, just to stop that from happening.

In the process, I found the lilacs that used to form a tunnel I’d crawled into as a child.

20180614.cleanup.bushes.lilacs.before

Yeah.  Most of the lilacs are dead.

Between these and the tree directly behind the linden tree, there was just no way to avoid getting hung up on dead branches.

Here is the after, for this area.

20180614.cleanup.bushes.lilacs.after

Still lots to clean up, but the dead stuff is mostly gone.  The remains of the lilacs might actually survive.  They are very hardy.

Here is what it looked like around the linden tree, when I finished up.

20180614.cleanup.bushes.linden.after

Then I started working my way down the rows.

Here is the before of the first section;

20180613.bushes.cleanup.before1

I believe this is another crab apple tree, and it looks like it has some sort of fungal disease.  I cut away lots.  Here is it, now.

20180614.cleanup.bushes.after1

I freed up more plum trees in the process.

There are still signs of spotted and yellowing leaves higher up in the apple tree, but I got as much as I could reach for now.

While working in between the rows (there are three rows in total, in this location), if I had to choose between getting rid of a caragana and something else, or a false spirea and something else, I would choose the something else.  This was not a difficult thing as, in the process, as the “something else” was usually a fruit tree.  I also found a giant caragana in the back row.  Unfortunately, the biggest trunk of it was dead and so rotten, I broke it off and yanked it out without having to cut anything.

In fact, I was doing that a lot, today.  Yanking stuff out right by the roots, or breaking them and pulling them out.

The next section has a dead tree in it.  Here is what it looked like before.

20180613.bushes.cleanup.before2

There was a lot of false spirea around the base of it.  In clearing that out…

20180614.cleanup.bushes.after2

… I freed up some more plum trees.

That dead tree is going to need more than the little hand saw to take it down! So it stays, for now.  Though I was able to just break a branch off of it.

Next was another crab apple tree.

20180613.bushes.cleanup.before3

This one has a lot of tiny apples starting to grow on it, but it also is starting to show spots on the leaves. 😦

Also, a lot more of it was dead then I thought!

20180614.cleanup.bushes.after3

I was taking out lots of dead branches, and even a couple of trunks.

Like this one.

20180614.cleanup.bushes.dead.apple.tree

This is probably the biggest thing I cleaned out today.  It wasn’t until I cut it, then started dragging it out, that I realized how big it was, so much was hidden among the branches.

There is still lots to do here, including clearing out the section of false spirea at the end, so I can reach the dead lilacs behind it.  It’s going to be a while before all the bits of dead branches and twigs on the ground are cleaned up, though I did take out the hidden ones I found by stepping on them.

All of this was about 3 hours of work, give or take.

When I was a kid and mowing the lawn in this area, when the crab apples at the end of the row were full of fruit, I would pick a whole bunch of them when I went under it,  I would eat them as I mowed my circuit, then gather more when I got back.  They were small, hard green apples, and very sour.  I loved them!

We also had a pear tree next to this crab apple tree.  It was another small, hard variety.  My father told me about having this variety when he was growing up in Poland.  They were too hard to eat as they were, but they would be gathered and buried under rocks in the fall.  In the winter, they would freeze.  Later, the rocks would be removed, and the frozen pears taken out.  The freezing not only softened them, but made them sweet, as well.

I have no idea what happened to that tree.

I also wonder what happened to the mountain ash (aka rowan) that used to be here, about were the current diseased apple tree is. We had a few of them.  They never got very big; nothing like the ones in the city we just moved from – I had no idea they got that big until we started living there!  But they were beautiful, and produced masses of red berries.

A lot has changed over the years we’ve been away, but a surprising amount has stayed the same, too.

The Re-Farmer

Clean Up: Firepit area gate

After cleaning up in the bushes near the fire pit yesterday, today’s goal was to access the gate by the fire pit, before continuing in that area.  We needed someplace to pile the wood we’re cleaning out.

Before I could start on that, though, my younger daughter and I made a trip into town.  She had dropped off some resumes a few days ago.  The next day, one place called back, but she was with me at the shop with the mower, so they asked her to call back the next day.

That was yesterday.  They booked an interview with her for this morning.

And by “interview”, it turned out they meant, “what hours can you work and here are your free t-shirts.”

Starting next week, my daughter begins training as a cashier at the grocery store we usually shop at. 😀

That was a nice way to start the day!

So I didn’t get started on accessing the gate until this afternoon.

Here is what it looked like before.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate1

The far end of the gate is completely hidden by overgrown lilacs, caraganas and a maple tree.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate2

The picket fence thing that was there appeared to be attached to the barb wire gate only by this length of wire, twisted around, and one section of the top barb wire looped around a board.   So it wasn’t going to take much to separate them.

But first, I needed to clear the gate post.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate3

Most of what I had to clear away was from a lilac bush, including a lot of dead branches and stems.  My mother likely planted it there, so I didn’t want to cut it all away.  The maple would have seeded itself, and likely the caragana as well.

I’ve left most of the caragana for now, but when it comes time to take down the two dead spruce trees, we might have to cut those back more.  We shall see when the time comes.

That done, I could open the barb wire gate.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate4

The closure of which promptly broke in my hands.

All the wood there is really quite rotten.

Some of the barb wire has come loose from the posts.  The fence part also had boards coming loose.  It’s all really quite rotten.

Have I mentioned that much of the wood around here is really old and rotten?  I think I might have… 😉

It took some doing to get the fence part loose.  Hidden in the tall grass were fallen branches that had to be moved, and the grass itself – including years of thatch – had a good grip on the bottom of it!

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate5

I decided to leave the fence part like this for now, so that it’s visible.  There are so many nails in that thing, I don’t want to take any chances of someone stepping on it.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate6

Speaking of nails, it turned out that part of the fence was indeed attached, by wire, to the gate post.  This length of board, however, was no longer attached to the fence part.  Even with all those nails!

I count 20.

While getting all this open, I could see something blue peaking through the grass.  Once done, I yanked it out to see what it was.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate7

It seems to be a bell for a child’s bike.

Why was it there, and how many years as has it been there?

That done, I moved the barb wire gate to the outside of the yard, then cleaned up all the cut wood from clearing the gate, plus the pile from yesterday.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate8

Since I had all that handy wood, I fixed the broken closure on the gate.

Here is the after picture.

20180614.cleanup.firepitgate9

There’s going to be a lot more to be added to the pile over the next while, so I am leaving the gate open for now.

All of this was about two hours of work.  Not too shabby!  I’ve stopped for the afternoon, though.  I plan to continue where I left off yesterday, but we were getting into the hotted part of the day, so I will wait until the early evening, when it starts to get cooler.  Now that this is done, I’ll be able to clean things up right away, too.

I placed the pile far enough away to completely clear the open gate, plus leave room to access the fence, if necessary.  Seeing the fence from this side, I was reminded that, at some point, it would be good to re-fence the entire house yard.  All of it, including the fence lines that are bordered by roads, if possible.  I say “if possible” because they are so full of trees, and my mother’s lilac border along the garden section.  It would be good to have something other than barbed wire fencing and gates!  I would still want to have a gate here, by the fire pit, and the one by the garden.  I’d even like to add another gate to the south fence line, so that we could drive into the yard at one end, then out again at the other.

Hmmm.  Thinking of it that way, it might just be easier to build a new fence on the other side of the driveway.   And if we do that, may as well extend to the fence that’s keeping the renter’s cows out.  Get rid of the current house yard fencing, completely.  Wow.  That would really extend the size of our yard!

That, however, is likely many years into the future.  Still, it’s something we can talk about and plan for.

Later.

I have to keep reminding myself.  This year is our “figure it out” year, and the focus for now is on the house and yard.

That is plenty of work all on its own! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Look what I found

Yesterday, I’d done the south lawns, including along the fence line and behind the “spare” house (more as a space to turn around with the mower, than to cut anything, since there’s barely any grass there).

Today, I set aside hoses, picked up branches, and so on, before I finished mowing the rest of the lawn.

Later, I went back behind the other house to see if I could get down some more of the dead branches.  A lot of it involved simply reaching up with the extended pruning saw, which has a hook at the point, grabbing onto an attached dead branch, or dangling broken branch, and yanking until it fell to the ground.

I even remembered to take a picture of how it looks, after my daughters did such a great job raking up under there.

20180613.behind.rectory,trees.raked

Which is when I found this.

20180613.broken.branch

The branch is so big, I actually missed it at first, thinking it was just another part of a tree.  Nope.  A big ole branch broke, some time after I’d mowed here yesterday, and was hung up in the other trees.

I couldn’t even tell which tree it came from.

In the picture, you can just see the power line that goes from the other house, to the pump shack (which isn’t hooked up now, thank God!).  It wasn’t on the power line, but the branch that it was stuck on, is just above the power line.

Once again, I used the extended pruning saw to grab and yank it down, though I did have to cut down a branch from the tree outside the yard that was hanging over the fence, and in the way.

20180613.broken.branch.down

Finding stuff like this is why I’m on such a drive to get the dead and dying branches down, as much as possible.  We’ve got entire trees that are ready to come down, almost on their own.  One is right in this area, in fact; I cut away some of the lower branches that I kept getting hung up on, and the entire tree was shaking and making cracking noises at the base.  I could probably push it right over, if it wouldn’t fall directly on that power line I mentioned earlier.

After this, I did some other clean up in the yard, but I will post about it later.  After I shower.  I keep finding little bits of dead tree stuck in my hair!

The Re-Farmer

Yard in Bloom

With all the yard work we’ve been doing over the past while, I’ve been really appreciating all the blooms.

The ornamental apple trees and plums are long since finished blooming, but now we have all sorts of flowers, scenting the air!

20180606.flowers.white.rose

Right by the sun room door is this white rose.  There are others in the flower garden, but they are not as prolific as this one is!

20180606.flowers.white.lilac

After clearing away the vines that had climbed up the lilacs by the people gate, I could finally see that they were blooming!  I’m sure my mother told me, at some point, that these were white lilacs.  Not that I can remember one way or the other!  So it was a nice surprise. 🙂

20180606.flowers.tiny.lilac

This is the huge lilac bush with teeny, tiny leaves and flowers, that I’d cleared a maple tree out of, earlier.  I’ll need to go back to this garden and finish cleaning and clearing it.  It, too, is inundated with vines!  There are regular lilac bushes at the other end of this flower garden.

This is also technically the “front yard”, and the door in the middle of this side of the house is the front door.  Which isn’t used.  In fact, I still haven’t been able to open the screen door; it’s still stuck at the base, and I don’t want to force it and break something.

If all goes as planned, though, that is the door the ramp we hope to have added will be installed at.  Depending on the dimensions, it may be necessary to remove this garden.

The post in the foreground had a bird feeder on it.  I took it off after I turned away from pruning a branch and smacked right into it with my glasses, knocking them askew.

Thankfully, the base was designed to lift right off.  It needs to be cleaned up and repaired, anyhow. 🙂

20180606.flowers.honeysuckle.bush

In the big flower garden, off the old kitchen, is this honeysuckle bush, in full bloom!  When talking to my mother about clearing this garden, one of the things she requested as to save this bush.  It was being choked out by the invasive undergrowth!

20180606.flowers.honeysuckle.flower

I can see why she wants to keep it! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Trimming, clean up and… NOT mowing the lawn?

With predictions for rain tomorrow and storms the day after, I decided that this was my day to try and mow the lawn.

Of course, nothing is quite that simple around here.

When I got outside, I was greeted by…

20180528.seed.drifts

… a reminder of one of the reasons I stopped liking Chinese elm.  There are millions of these seeds, being blown everywhere.  They’re starting to drift in places, and they’re coming off the trees like rain with every breeze.

Ugh.

Before I could mow the lawn, I needed to clear the back door into the garage of trees.  This will be needed for when the power pole is replaced, but also to get the mower in and out.

Let me find a before picture…

20180429doors

Hmm.  Apparently, I don’t have a picture that includes the fence, as well.

You can see that there are saplings growing in front of the door and along the garage walls.  More were growing along the fence to the gate.  Most of is was poplar, but I also found some raspberry canes and vines, and along the fence was an unintentional coppice of maple.

I had noticed a metal pipe in the middle of the maple, but had left it until I could start cleaning up the area.  So while clearing the saplings away, I pulled it out and…

20180528.surprise.hoe

… it’s a hoe.  Someone replaced the handle of a hoe with a length of heavy pipe.

Well, it’s certainly not going to break. :-/

This is the after picture.

20180528.garage.cleared

I started stacking the saplings I cleared outside the yard, alongside the garage, which you can see part of on the right of the photo.  I cut away poplar towards the outhouse, too.  There’s more that needs to be cleared, there, but it will wait for another time.

Leaning against the garage and half buried in tall grass and dead branches, I pulled out three lengths of … hmm.  I don’t know the name of them.  They’re used as ramps to drive a vehicle onto a trailer or something like that.  Two were longer and the same length, plus there was a shorter one.

I ended up using the shorter one to cover the hole in front of the outhouse.  It will do double duty in keeping the door from coming open on in the wind again.

I found other stuff in the grass and leaves.

20180528.concrete.blocks

Along with more branches, some plastic margarine tubs and what might have been a metal tobacco tin, I found these concrete blocks.

I’ve left them for now.

20180528.tire.planter1

Ah, yes.  Another tire planter.

You can see part of the remains of the maple I cut away in the bottom right corner.  I had some concerns about accidentally hitting the remains with a lawn mower, so I decided to take advantage of wanting to move the planter and cover it with the soil.

Flipping the planter over, I heard an unexpected noise.

20180528.tire.planter2

Metal on brick.

Not sure why the bricks are there.  It’s not like they could support anything under there.

20180528.tire.planter3

I don’t know what was planted in there, but it was amusing to see a perfect mold of the rim in the root systems and soil.

Since there was this handy hoe nearby, I used that to move the dirt over the remains of the maple.

Once it was all cleared away, I got the lawn mower out.  Finally!

It didn’t want to start, but my brother did tell me it was finicky.  It didn’t help that the part that held the throttle cable to the handle frame kept popping off.  Nothing a zip tie couldn’t fix.

I finally got it going, but it didn’t have a lot of oompf. Still, I was able to mow along the fence line and around a few trees before I started working on a section in front of the house.

Then it puttered and died.

I checked the fuel.  There was still some in there, but low (I’d started with about half a tank or so), so I topped it up with the gas my brother had left for me with the mower, when he did maintenance on it in the fall.

I got it going again, but it kept stalling.  It ran as long as I was going over areas where there was hardly any grass, but as soon as I hit slightly greener areas, it would stall again.

And again.

And again.

By this point, it was getting too hot to be working outside, anyways, so I finally just put it away.

So frustrating.

I did some research to see what might be causing the problem, and the only thing that seems to make sense is the fuel didn’t handle the winter well.  Yet, it was stored properly.  It shouldn’t have gone bad in so short a time.

I just don’t have the spoons to fight with it.

It will have to wait.  Not after all the clean up I’d already done.

Ah, well.  There are other things that need to be worked on.

The Re-Farmer