Clean up: south yard, mulching first bed

Today we were able to head out and do some more aggressive yard work, and I am happy as a clam!

I decided to start on an area in the South yard that we had already started to mulch with leaves in the fall.

Here are the before pictures.


This is the bed that runs between the people gate and the vehicle gate.


I even considered mulching all the way to the fence, as it’s difficult to mow in there, but decided against it for now.

My mother planted some bright yellow flowers in here that self-seed. They did rather well last year, but I was pulling a lot of Virginia creeper out of it, near the Chinese elm. Also, being self seeding, the flowers are sort of spreading in an uncontrolled way.

Here is what it looks like now.


On this end, my mother’s yellow flowers did rather poorly. The Korean lilac shaded it too much, blocking both sun and what little rain we had. It was being taken over by crab grass.

I’m pretty sure that maple is self seeded.


I could see the flowers were already starting to come up, and I think they will find their way through the mulch. If they can do that, however, the Virginia creeper will do so, just as enthusiastically. With the mulch in place, they should be easier to pull up.

We put a big dent in the pile of wood chips in the process! This was before…


This is what it looks like now.


The next area I plan to use these on is on the other side of the sidewalk, between another Chinese elm and the willow that got trimmed. There are white lilacs there that I’d cleaned up around and pruned last year; while there is some kind of greenery growing near the base of the Chinese elm, there were no other flowers or anything. We should be able to finish off the pile of chips in that area. Anything left on the ground where the pile is now will be raked out as mulch, right where it is.

I also got an after picture of the maples removed from overhanging the roof. This is the before photo I had posted previously…

This is what it looks like, now.

That one tree in there that’s leaning waaayyyy over is just funny!

I’m hoping to get that junk around that old shed hauled out of the yard this summer. First, though, we need to get the straw bale used up. It’s rather in the way, where it is now.

I’m so happy to be able to get out and start on all this again! 😀

The Re-Farmer


Today, I finally was able to get outside and use the new electric snow blower around the house. I really wanted to get it done while the weather was still good; we’re supposed to start getting cold again in a couple of days. Nothing like the bitter cold we had before, but enough that I don’t want to be outside for 2 hours, or be trying to use the snow blower in high winds.

What a fantastic little thing Spewie is!

Also, we can now use the fire pit, if we want to. 😀

Photo heavy post ahead! 😀

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Clean Up: spruce grove perimeter, south side

It was such a beautiful day today – we hit 8C today – I couldn’t resist!  I started working on the spruce grove perimeter again.  With the manual labour, the cooler temperatures are just perfect.

Rather than start were I left off last time, I started near the outhouse and garage.  I want to be able to go into the area with my wheelbarrow and tools from here, rather than having to go all the way around where I’d already cleared.  Also, there was a pile of junk at the corner of the garage I wanted to clear out.

It turned out to be a much bigger job than I expected!

In fact, I’ll be splitting this up into three posts to cover it all – including when I had to stop and get one of my daughters to help me get out a trapped kitten!

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Clean up: spruce grove, fence line, reaching the gate!

Though we had a trip into town for another medical appointment and some errands (since we were there, anyhow!) in the late morning, I decided I needed to finish clearing the fence line in the spruce grove today.  My siblings and I are working things out in regards to checking on our mother over the next few days, and tomorrow is my turn.  The long range forecasts say it’s going to get colder again, so today was the day, ready or not!

I am happy to say, it is now DONE!  I have cleared the fence line along the spruce grove, up to the driveway gate.  Anything else I am able to do before winter is bonus.  Woohoo!

I took a whole bunch of before and after photos, so I’ll just set up a slide show and let them speak for themselves!

The following photos were taken from the gate side of the fence, facing north.  I started inside the grove, where I left off, but realized I needed to start a new pile for cuttings.  The place to do that was on the south side.  Which required clearing a section of fence so I could toss things over, then working my way north to where I left off last time.

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Here is what it looks like from inside the spruce grove, where I left off last time.

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I managed to save one tiny little spruce tree. 😀  It was in the way, to be honest, but after cutting away so many spruces that were in the fence line itself, I wanted to keep at least this one!  It’s small enough that I could potentially transplant it, in the future.

As you can see in the after photos, I did break out the weed trimmer.  I did the edges of the driveway, first, and even cut away some of the smaller trees on the south side of the driveway, for a bit of visibility.  Next, I followed along the fence line where I worked, as this area had actual tall grass, rather than just undergrowth.

To be honest, though, one of the main reasons I did that was because I got tired of tripping over stumps I’d just cut, but couldn’t see due to the grass!  I will have to see if we have some really bright spray paint, and mark some of them, for safety.

I also tidied up the two strings of Christmas lights, as well as re-attaching the top wire of the fence onto one of the fence posts, where the original U nail was simply, gone.  I used the third string of lights I’d removed previously to replace burnt out and broken bulbs, and switch them all to clear bulbs.  I still intend to replace them with LEDs, but just in case I can’t get to it this year, it is all fixed up for now.

I also discovered that the light strings had plastic clips on them.  While on one of them, the clips were mostly broken off, I don’t know why they weren’t used to clip them to the wire, rather than wrapping them around tree branches.  I also brought out the zip ties for those areas where the clips were broken, and to secure the main power cable, including all along the fence to the garage.

I discovered that more of the fence posts on the south side need replacing than I originally thought.  I leaned on one while reaching to clear a tree at its base, and it broke at ground level!

There were some interesting finds.

Earlier in the year, I discovered there was asparagus growing at the fence line!  I highly doubt this was planted deliberately, and yet, how else did it get there?

There isn’t a lot, but they have their berries now!

I didn’t know they got berries.  Turns out the female plants do.  Interesting!

Also, do you see that rock?

Once I started clearing around it, I realized it’s two rocks.

I’m.  At a loss.  It seems to random, and strange, to find two rocks cemented together like this.

There has got to be a story behind this! 😀

When all was done, I had a large new pile we’ll need to haul away.

At least this time, the pile is in an area that’s easier to get to!

After cleaning up and putting everything away, I came back to address a concern.


It’s a temporary fix.  I cut out a section of one of my husband’s empty distilled water jugs (he uses distilled water for his CPAP humidifier, so we have lots!) and popped it on the post.

Why, you may ask?

This is why.


Once the trees were cleared, what little shelter there was for the outlet was gone.  I don’t know how many years it’s been outside, facing down to make sure no moisture got in. It seemed so very exposed!

So this should keep the precipitation off, until I can come up with something better.  Which will likely not happen until I can work on repairing the fences, so it might be a while!

While I was working on all of this, the girls were working in the West yard.


They had already done part of the yard and put the leaves on the little garden by the Old Kitchen.  This is just some of the piles they rakes up today – there’s more by the fire pit!

I had commandeered the wheel barrows, so they will move the piles onto the garden tomorrow, while I am out.

They also made supper.  The smell of which is making me very hungry right now!

It’s been a very productive day today!  I’m so glad to finally get that fence line done.

Another thing off the list! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove fence line, more progress, part one

The chilly weather we’ve had for the past few days has really got me wanting to finish this fence line along the spruce grove!  As long as I can clear to the driveway gate before winter, anything else is gravy! 🙂

I took a whole bunch of photos, so I’m splitting them into two posts again.  Here is the first section I worked on.  With how I was finding things, I decided to go with before, during and after photos.

This is where I left off, last time.  I was able to leave the oaks, just pruning them a bit, for transplanting next year.  They are really leaning towards the fence, where they would have been getting the most light, but once they are planted somewhere more open, they should start growing straight again.

Over the years, I could see that someone had trimmed branches back from the fence line.  A lot of those have died, but are high enough and short enough that I will leave them for now.  I pruned the undergrowth only as much as I needed to, to clear the fence and access things.

That meant cutting away some of the things growing in the juniper, as well as some of the dead juniper branches.

The ground cover (I am not 100% certain that they are juniper, but that’s what I’m calling them for now) stayed as well.  I had to walk all over them, but they can handle it.  They did make working in the area more treacherous, though!

I know these have been growing here for a long time, but seeing this stem really shows just how long.


It takes a lot of years for these to get such thick stems!

Clearing this first section revealed enough that I took before and after photos of the next section, too.  Which will be in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove fence line, part 3

Yes!  I finally got to the area where the trees had fallen on the fence!

What the area looked like before can be seen in this post.

First, I got rid of part of the tree further into the grove, so I could drag things by.


The next area actually had three fallen trees in it, each having fallen at different time.  One had fallen with its top just touching the fence.  In clearing that out, I discovered it was so rotten, the branches I grabbed to move it just broke off.  Then, when I tried to shift the trunk itself, to decide where and how to saw it, it broke, too.

I cleared away the broken part and left the rest for now.

Another fallen tree was under the three that had fallen the most recently, but it was small enough, and smooth enough, I was able to just pull it out from underneath, then carry it away.

Then I cut branches from the one that had fallen onto the fence, before cutting through the trunk itself, a few feet away from the fence.  Once that piece was free, the reduction of weight shifted the center of gravity, and the rest of the tree lifted and shifted!  I ended up rotating it a bit further, and left it.

This left things clear enough for me to continue on the fence, so I’ve left it for now, too.

Here are the after pictures to match the before pictures from the previous post.

I will leave pruning the little stuff for another day.  If I had a heavy duty enough weed trimmer, I’d just use that, but my little trimmer isn’t able to handle more than grass and smaller weeds.  When I’m done clearing the fence line, I plan to use the trimmer outside of the fence.

Here is another view.


I will leave continuing outside the fence for another time, too.

Also, the beer can I had noticed before turned out to be a bottle. 😀

It’s the brand my late brother drank, which means he was probably the last person to do maintenance on the fence itself.  He passed in 2010, so it’s been there since before then!


The next section has these oak trees at the fence line, and some juniper.  I’m going to leave the juniper as ground cover, clearing out any other trees that have started to grow in them, and I am deciding on whether or not I should leave the oak to transplant next year.  When I get back to this area, I will decide based on how in the way they are, or not.  I’ve seen quite a few oak saplings about that can be transplanted, so if I do end up having to cut these away, there are others I can use.

At this point, I’m about 3/4 of the way to the gate.  If all goes well, next time I work here, I should be able to reach it. 😀

I love how much better it looks, even if it’s not quite finished.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: Spruce grove perimeter, reaching the fence!

It’s been a while, but today I was able to continue working on the perimeter of the spruce grove.  I started off at the little maple I had stopped at, last time, and made it to the fence line. 😀

The last time I went through the area, looking ahead to what needed to be done, it was still green.  The leaves are completely yellow, now!

Here are the before and after pictures. (click on the images to see them better)

The cluster of trees is made of up 3 poplars and 2 spruces.  One of the poplars has lost its top, and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s lying on the ground near the little dead spruces I took out.  There is some dogwood at the bottom of this group of trees that I cleaned up a bit, but otherwise left to grow.  It’s one of those things that will spread quite handily, given the opportunity.

The next section is an open, mossy area.  I’ve been using it to turn around with the riding mower.

Most of the clean up here involved pruning shears instead of saws.

Once that was done, I was at the fence line and had to make some decisions.  How far to the north did I want to go?

In the end, I decided I needed to at least clear out a dead tree that had fallen on the fence, so I could access it for repair.

Though the dead tree was a big poplar, the remains of two other trees had also fallen on it.

The poplar itself was growing on the outside of the fence line.  There are a few larger trees on the outside that I will have to leave, but I will be taking out any smaller trees on that side, as soon as I am able.  I’m not sure about the bylaws in regards to municipal land along the roads, as far as who is responsible for keeping it clear, but I don’t want it to become overgrown with trees like it has on the other side of our gate.

I didn’t do much more in this area, as I want to focus in the other direction, so this section is unfinished.  There are a couple of trees that will be taken out, because they are too close to the fence line.  Otherwise, it’s mostly undergrowth that will need clearing and cleaning.  There seems to be some juniper in there that I intend to leave.

Moving southward, now.

There are some pretty massive spruces here!  There isn’t really a lot that needs doing with the trees themselves; a few low hanging branches and dead branches to clear out.  I could see that, at some point – long ago – someone had gone through and cleared the lower branches, so they were already pretty good.  Again, I spent more time with the pruning shears!  There are quite a few poplar on the outside of the fence that I will have to go back to, later.

If you look in the before picture, at the big spruce to the left of centre, you can almost see a potential problem.  The top of this tree is broken off, and its top is still there, hanging upside down.  I have no idea how long it’s been like this, but at some point, it’s going to fall.  Ideally, we’d get it down before it falls on its own and potentially damages something, but for now, it will have to wait.

It’s starting to open up quite nicely.

Though my priority is clearing the fence line, so it can be accessed and repaired as needed, I might have to clear out some of the dead wood further into the grove.  There is a large spruce that has come down in the area that I am leaving for next year, but I might have to cut away at least some of the branches, just so I can drag out some of the stuff I know I will be dealing with, further down.

And that is my progress for today!  It might be another few days before I can work on it again, so I’m glad I was able to at least get this little corner done.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove, further down the line

Another lovely day for yard work!

The girls were awesome and hauled away what I took down yesterday, while I made a run into town to get the prescription refills that got missed yesterday.  By the time I got back, they were just finishing, and I could get started!

Before I started on the next section of trees, I got the anvil sheers out and worked on the area that was under the overhanging branches.  Here’s a look back at the area I cleared yesterday.


The wheel barrow is filled with all the little things I pruned out, and a few things dug out of the leaves, etc.

If you look in the wheelbarrow, there is a lighter coloured stem sticking out, to the right of the handle.

Notice it looks slightly… fuzzy?

That’s a wild rose.  And the “fuzzy” is thorns.

Wild rose stems are basically all thorns.  Little, skinny, vicious thorns.

The gloves we have are decent gloves.  Not the highest end, by any means, but good, mid-range quality gloves.

Wild rose thorns can go right through them.  I had to stop and get a daughter to use tweezers to pull one out of a finger, because I wasn’t able to do it one handed in the spot it pierced me!

When I start working further into the spruce grove next year, I plan to keep as much of the wild roses in the undergrowth as I can.  What I’ve cut away here will likely grow back, since I just pruned them.  The root stocks remain.  I will make decisions about them next year, as they grow back.

Here are the before and after photos of today’s progress.

This is basically where I left off, yesterday.  Once I took out the dead and dying tree next to the last tree I worked on yesterday, I was able to finish that one up, taking out more dead branches with the extended pruning saw.

My goal for today was to work my way down to a maple tree.

No, you can’t see it either of the photos above!

Nor the photos below.

Though I did thin out some smaller poplars, I’ve left the bigger ones.  I am hoping, as they get more sunlight throughout the day, they will not lean quite so much as they grow larger.

The farther I worked down the line, the spruces seemed to get thinner, and more crowded.  Quite a few were dead, but I was surprised by how many still had live growth happening.  I still avoided working the inner row of trees, which is where most of these are.  A few times, I did have to prune away dead branches and twigs, so I could access the trees in the outer row better.  It should be interesting to see how they fare, next year.  It is very typical for the lower branches of black spruce to be dead, and it’s not always a reflection on the health of the tree.

As I cleared away the low hanging branches, I found more and more wild roses and, among them, little dogwood bushes.  I took out those that were large enough to be a tripping hazard, and will clear the rest out another day.  When I work further into the grove, I intend to leave any dogwood I find.  They make great underbrush.  It will be interesting to find that balance between open space and undergrowth that I want to foster in here.

But that will wait.

The maple I was using as my goal post was something I was intending to keep, like I am with some of the poplars.  Then I reached it and found that it was not the original tree, but growing out of the base of a rotten stump.

After removing the rotten bits, I found the rot extended quite low into the moss (all along the outer edge of this area, where the poplars and this maple are growing, the moss is several inches deep).  I wasn’t sure if the tree had much support, so I basically yanked it back and forth.  It seems to be holding its own, so I straightened it as much as I could and tamped the ground down to support it.

We shall see if it survives.

When I work on the next section, I should be able to reach the fence line.  After that spruce you see in the background, there is an open space of moss that I’ve been using to turn around with the mower. 😀  There won’t be a lot to clear, there.

There are a number of larger, downed trees around here, too.  Once I reach the fence, I will start working towards the driveway.  The goal is to make the fence accessible, so I’ll be leaving the downed trees unless they are at the fence line.  I know there is at least one that had fallen on the fence itself, before we moved out here, that my older brother had cut loose.  So I will also be examining the fence itself, as I go along, and see what repairs might need to be done.

I’m quite happy with the progress and how it is looking.  The labour is not without it’s price, however!


Both arms, my lower legs, and even my abdomen, are covered in scratches!

It’s sweaty, dirty and sometimes bloody work.

And I’m loving every minute of it!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: west yard trees – FINISHED!


It is finally done!

The maple grove/west yard trees are now finally cleared, trimmed and cleaned up.  After this, there will just be the basic maintenance to be taken care of in this area for the rest of the year.  Aside from maybe trimming the tall stumps, if we get a full size chainsaw before winter.

What a difference!

When I headed out today, the first priority was to clean up the branches and trees from last time.  In the process, I went digging around for downed branches under the last bit of trees I needed to work on, grabbed what I thought was a branch and found…

… metal.

This is what I dragged out.

I haven’t the foggiest clue what it is.

It went on the junk pile by the old garden shed.

Once I did that, I broke out the weed trimmer and went to town in all the areas I’ve been working on that hadn’t been trimmed yet.

Oh, my, does it ever look awesome!!!  (click on the pictures)

While I was using the weed trimmer, I kept having to stop and pull more branches out of the dead leaves, as I found them with the line on the trimmer.  My daughters cleaned away what they could find.  I had been taking what I cleared out of the last section (photos below) to the pile out of the yard, but by the end of the day, I was getting too tired to do both.  It was quite pleasant to work among the trees, but once I got out of the yard with the wheel barrow, or dragging a tree or two, it was like walking into a wall of heat.  So I started leaving things to the side, then the girls did a fantastic job of cleaning it all away, later.

While I wasn’t going to work on the rest of the fence line, I did go in with the weed trimmer.  I took the before picture when I last worked in the area a few days ago.

There was just the last bit to work on, over by the power pole (see below).  I went into it with the weed trimmer as much as I could, but there was a section by the gooseberry bush I couldn’t reach, because I kept getting stabbed by low hanging and dead branches!

This side will probably need to be thinned down more, but I will wait and see how the remaining trees do over the next year or two.  If the maples do well, I might trim the elms to give them more room to grow, because maples can get so huge.  If the elms do well, I may trim the maples.  The maple I’m standing next to as I take the photo (in the foreground, to the right) is going to need thinning, but it can wait.

Several times, I started to clear a maple, then thought, oh… it’s actually an elm.  No, it’s a maple.  No, it’s… both??

There were groups of trees where maple and elm were growing against each other.  !!

This next section shows some apple trees.

In the before picture, there is a crab apple tree that is part of the row of crab apples in the middle of this area, but this one had so many little apple trees growing around it.  Likely self seeded, as apples fell over the years.  As I went through them, trying to figure out what to keep and what to take out, I discovered the biggest one – the one that would have been originally planted – was almost entirely dead.  It had two younger ones growing next to it, so I left those.  They are too close together, but I will see which of them does better over the next few years, before deciding if they need to be thinned more.

The major challenge was the big ornamental apple tree.  The branches were so twisted and wrapped around each other, with living tangled up with the dead.  It was a struggle to get them free of each other.  Most of it was growing towards the East – the morning sun would be the only real sunlight it would be getting – and that’s there all the little apples is had are hanging from.

There were so many dead branches higher up on all of these trees.  The extended pruning saw got quite a workout.  Not just to pull down or cut dead branches, but to untangle them to get them down.

Sadly, I was not able to use my little electric chain saw/extended pole pruner.  I checked it over thoroughly (it’s really designed to be idiot proof) and everything looked good.  Yet when I tried to use it, it started screaming and immediately began to jam.  It was also dripping chain oil. 😦

Time to see how long the warranty is for. 😦  Or if it’s still covered.  All I can think of that’s different that might be an issue is the chain oil.  The oil it came with was perfectly clear, like water.  The chain oil I have now is generic, and red.  The paperwork did recommend using their brand of chain oil, but it seems not to be available in Canada.

This rather sucks, because it did make work go much faster, when it was working!

Still, I have the tools I need to do the job, and the next time I am able to work on the trees, it will be at the spruce grove!  Woo Hoo!!!

I love this work. 😀

The Re-Farmer