More storm damage

This morning, while doing my rounds, I was able to go further into the spruce grove, after checking the trail cam. Near the trail cam, I found a small poplar that was broken, and a few more broken branches. I also found that the asparagus have been completely denuded of their berries!

Which reminds me; I had been showing photos of the yard to my mother and she saw one of the red berries on the asparagus and asked me where it was taken. I told her were, and wondered about how they got there. My mother says they’ve always been there! Which would mean there have been little spears of asparagus growing here for some 60 years!

Wow.

Anyhow;

In the spruce grove, I had made note of several dead trees that I wanted to keep an eye on, and one of those came down during the storm.

I don’t know why this picture ended up so out of focus. 😦

Unlike the other trees that have come down, this one does not have signs of ant damage in the trunk, so it took quite a lot for the wind to knock this one down!

It landed right on another tree, which you can see bending under its weight. That little tree (which I think is a living maple, but it has no leaves right now) is the only reason it is not on the ground!

The other bent tree to the right isn’t actually under the fallen tree; it just looks like it from this angle.

The two dead trees in the foreground are right near the one that feel, and there is another dead tree a bit further back, behind it. I am hoping we’ll be able to cut those down before they fall, like this one did.

Here, you can see where the top of the tree is right in the top branches of another spruce.

Which is also dead.

By the time we finally clear out all the dead trees, the spruce grove is going to be a lot more open than it is now!

While making my way out, I had to stop and get pictures of this unusual tree.

It’s another dead spruce, but I’m fascinated by how this one spruce has been so stripped of its outer bark. Almost as if it had been sand blasted for something. It’s the only tree that is like this, though.

My goal for this year had been to start clearing into the spruce grove, so that will be my goal for next summer. The first thing will be to get at and clear away the dead trees that are already on the ground. Then figure out how to get down the ones that are fallen, but hung up on living trees. Only then can we start looking at cutting down the dead trees that are still upright.

That last part can wait another year or two, though (except the ones we’ll be hiring someone to take down for us, because they are closer to buildings). I need to start clearing the outer yard, too! At the same time, we have to keep on top of the areas already cleared, so they don’t get taken over again.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Crab apple picking

Catching up on stuff that I intended to post about yesterday…

I finally got a chance to pick some crab apples.

I had help.

It was starting to get pretty late in the season to pick these. A lot were already on the ground, other had signs of being eaten by birds. There were some I could not safely reach, even with the ladder, but that’s okay. The birds will enjoy them.

The one tree that was giving larger, sweeter apples this year resulted in about 2 1/2 gallon buckets of apples.

There is one other tree that had larger, sweeter apples last year. Though the apples are much smaller this year, there are lots of them. When I do my rounds, I have been tasting them. As the season progressed, the apples on this tree did start to develop that sweet-tart taste crab apples are known for. There are a couple of other trees with lots of apples on them, but they are pretty… unpleasant.

I decided to pick some from the one tree with good apples. Just a bucket full, I figured. So I dragged the ladder over and went to set it up under the most apple laden branches.

There… weren’t any?

These apples have been getting a very deep red as the season progressed, and there had been lots of them, but suddenly, there were hardly any at all.

Of course, my first thought was to check the ground, to see how many had fallen, but the ground was clear of fallen apples.

I finally went to pick some. Most were already too far gone and starting to rot at the stems. This is all I got.

Barely enough to cover the bottom of the bucket!

You can see one with a hole at the stem that I accidentally picked. Most of the remaining apples I saw had much larger holes like that.

I am guessing that the apples were eaten by something. I’m good with feeding critters. What I found interesting, though, is that it was just this one tree. There are trees on either side of this one that are full of apples, and I can see apples on the ground beneath them.

I guess whatever has been eating the apples from this tree found it tastier than the others, too!

Anyhow.

For the larger amount of apples, I am planning to make jelly. For the smaller amount, I’m going to try making apple cider vinegar.

We shall see how they turn out! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Old kitchen garden, retaining wall progress

I am so happy I was able to get back to working on this today!

It is now basically finished for this year!

Here is where I started today.

I loosened the soil and leveled off the space where we could fit 1 more of the chimney blocks. In the process, I realized that I could completely miss the bunch of chives. However, I wanted to add a block to form a corner, so I decided to dig some out for transplanting, first.

After discussing what we wanted to put in these in the future, we decided to transplant just some of the chives into two blocks, just inside the corner. The bottoms were stuffed with mulch, then topped with peat, before transplanting. More peat was added, later.

I then went to work on the opposite corner, which had a bit of a problem.

That metal fence post is every so slightly in the way.

The ground here also started to slop upwards towards the house on this side, so I had to level the area by taking soil away from the area. On the other side, I had to level the soil by adding to it!

As for placing the block, I found I could push the metal post aside, just enough for it to line up right.

After everything we jammed in and settled into place, the post ended up being very close to straight, still. So I was happy.

On to the next step!

I raked the mulch I had moved aside, right up against the blocks, then used some of it to jam into the openings until they were filled to about an inch or two from the tops.

Next, I put a layer of peat on top of the mulch.

As I worked my way down the line, I added more mulch to some of them before adding the peat, just to make sure there was a deep, tamped down layer.

I then gave all of them a thorough watering, to give the decomposition process a bit of a head start – and wash off the tops of the blocks a bit.

As it breaks down, I expect the mulch and peat to sink by an inch or two. That will give us the space to add soil as we plant things in them.

As for the small openings, my daughter and I talked about filling them with sand or gravel. I don’t mind the idea of filling them with soil and planting things in them, though they are really too small for that. Even just leaving them empty will serve as a layer of insulation to protect the soil in the middle. However, if we were to put sand in them, it would keep unwelcome things from starting to grow in there, plus give a nice base to add garden stakes, supports, or even solar lights for lighting up pathways.

Since we’re stuck with those metal posts anyhow, I like the idea of using them to string decorative LED lights across, too. 🙂

I’m pretty happy with how this area is starting to shape up.

For those new to this blog, here is what the area was like, when I started cleaning it up last year.

Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four

We’ve made a lot of progress here! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: old dog houses moved

Brrr, today has turned out to be chilly!

With some help from my daughter, though, I was able to get a lot more done outside than I expected.

First on the list was to move the old dog houses to what I hope will be a permanent – or at least long term – location.

Unfortunately, things are really level in the area I wanted to put them. After discussing it a bit, we decided which space was the most level, then hoisted the dog houses over.

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Morning company

In the last while, the kittens have become more interested in following me around as I do my morning rounds. Especially when I go to switch the memory card in the trail cam. Usually, it’s just one or two kittens, though.

This morning, my daughter came along, and that really got their attention, so we had 4 of them from the start. 😀

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Some manual labour, and getting things started

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.

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Clean up: old wood pile, progress

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! 😀

So this is where I left off, yesterday.

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Chokecherries, ready to freeze

The chokecherries I picked this morning are all done for now.

Nice to see my colander so full of berries! All clean and ready to pick over.

I got all the stems (of course, I found one I missed after I took this photo!) and the ones that were damages or whatever. I filled two 9×13 jelly roll pans with berries when I was done.

They are now in the deep freeze, to be transferred to freezer bags when they are frozen solid. After that, they can wait until we decide how we want to use them this year. 🙂 The freezing will help them release their juices later, too.

So… what shall we make? More chokecherry vinegar? Or try a jam or jelly this year?

The Re-Farmer