Some chilly morning progress

At some point, I’m going to have to borrow my husband’s phone or something, just to have handy to take some progress pictures!

And kitty pictures.

I counted 26 this morning. !! And I didn’t see Rosencrantz until much later, nor did I see Rolando Moon, who seems to have moved on again.

My new phone is expected to arrive on the 28th, which is the day I’m taking my mother’s car in to get the tire fixed. The shipping notice originally said the 27th, which I would have preferred, since that meant I could have the phone set up and ready before going in for our first city shopping trip for next month. I’ll definitely borrow my husband’s phone for that trip, at least.

Once I was done my morning rounds, I grabbed the loppers and went into the south side of the spruce grow. We haven’t done any clean up in there for quite some time. Much of that area was under water this spring, anyhow.

This area has been mostly taken over by poplars, and that was what I was after. As we clean out the spruce grove, one of the things I want to do is cut back a lot of the poplars and plant more spruces. I want it to stay a spruce grove, not turn into a poplar grow. Spruces are better for cutting the wind and snow year round.

What I was looking for were tall, straight poplars small enough to cut with the loppers. At that thickness, they should still be flexible enough to bend as I weave them around the uprights. If it’s too thick to cut with the loppers, it’s too thick for the wattle weaving.

While I was doing that, I found myself working around the apple trees we’ve been uncovering out there. I asked my mother about them, and these were trees she’s planted herself, mostly from seed. My mother still has a hard time understanding that you don’t get the same type of apples from seeds at the tree they came from (as far as I know, there is only one type of apple that grows true from seed). We have no idea what kind of apples these can produce. The area is so overgrown, the much shorter apple trees barely had enough sunlight to start blooming. I was even cutting poplars that were growing through the branches of an apple tree!

Since I was there anyhow, I went ahead and pruned several of the apple trees, cutting away dead branches, and opening them up to more light. With the number of poplars I cut away from around them, that will be a help, too. We will need to come back with other tools to cut away the ones that were too big for the loppers to cut through, as well as other bushes I can’t identify at this point. I was happy to spot little spruces trying to grow through the tall grass and fallen trees and branches, which also need to be cleared away. I was also very thrilled to find a single Tamarack tree. There were three others planted closer to the house, in between some spruces, that are way too crowded together. I’m hoping to save them, but that might require cutting down the spruces next to them, and I don’t want to do that if I don’t have to. This Tamarack, however, as all on its own and would not have been deliberately planted there. I really like Tamarack, and would like to eventually plant more of them.

Anyhow.

I kept finding more of these apple trees, but I couldn’t get at most of them. Of the ones that I was able to prune, though, I’m hoping they will finally get enough light to bloom and produce. I did see some flowers on one of them for the first time last spring, but no apples developed.

I am quite happy with how many small, straight poplar I was able to get at and harvest. Once I was done, it took several trips to drag the piles of them I’d made, over to where the burn barrel is. The branch pile may be chipped, but I’m already adding more to the remains that need to be burned! The next while was spent trimming all the branches and twigs off, adding those to the burn pile, then sorting the remaining poles more or less by length. Then they all got dragged over to the old kitchen garden.

I should actually have enough to finish wattle weaving the inside of the L shaped bed, and even start on the outside of it. What I think I will do for the outside is not have a 90 degree corner, like there is around the double lilac, but to have a curve, instead. I haven’t quite decided yet, but if I think having a curve would actually make things easier, and more even.

By the time the poles were dragged over to the old kitchen garden, I had to go inside to warm up! I don’t know what the temperature was outside at the time, but the thermometer in the sun room was at only about 3C/37F. Which is what our high of the day is supposed to be. It’s almost 2pm as I write this, and we finally reached that temperature outside. Tomorrow’s high is expected to be only 4C/40F, but after that, we’re supposed to have three days with highs of 13C/55F.

I have to get back at work with the poles I cut this morning, though, while they are still at their most pliable. It’s definitely going to be chilly work!

The Re-Farmer

Multipurpose clean up

Today did not work out at all as planned. My daughters and I were originally going to take my mother to a marsh in the area to see the migrating birds – something my mother tries to do every fall. Unfortunately, my daughters weren’t feeling well, so we’ll be rescheduling that. We only have today and tomorrow for good weather, though, so I was going to go over to deliver some thanksgiving dinner to her and, if she felt up to it, maybe head to the marsh anyhow. Before heading over, I pulled my mother’s car out of the garage to do a bit of fall clean up – and discovered a flat tire! I pumped it up, then used our van. I couldn’t see anything that could cause a flat, and when I came home, the tire was still holding air, so I don’t know what’s going on there. I’m just glad I decided to clean out the car first, which requires moving the car out of the garage. Where her car is parked is so tight, I might not have seen it before leaving, if I hadn’t. I’ve left it out so we can check the tire any time we’re outside.

So there was no going anywhere with my mother, since it’s difficult for her to get in an out of our van. Instead, we had thanksgiving dinner together with the food that I brought. I am happy to say that she actually tried and enjoyed the peanut soup (after having an angry outburst over the fact that I brought soup at all), and even the roasted vegetables – though she did do a double take when she spotted a sunchoke, asking me what it was. When I told her, she started lecturing me about how I shouldn’t be growing “strange” things – after she had already eaten it! 😄

Overall, it was a good dinner, and I’m glad we were able to do it, in spite of some of the very strange attacks she came up with during conversation. 😄

It also meant that I was able to get home with the conditions still good enough to get some work done outside – though it did get very windy!

I need to build a wall along the “inside” of the L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden. Given what materials we have on hand, I was thinking of doing a wattle weave. I had intended to use lengths of maple suckers that I need to clear out of the maple grove, but after looking more closely at them, none of them were suitable for weaving, nor did they seem adequate for supports.

While bringing kibble to the tray in front of the pump shack, I took a closer look at some maple growing next to it. There was a maple that had been cut down, and suckers have been growing out of the stump for some years, to the point that they were getting into the power line running into the pump shack.

Lots of nice, straight and strong suckers, that would make good upright supports.

So that’s what I worked on today.

At some point, we should come back to the stump with a chain saw and try and clear it away even more. Maple stumps will send up suckers from the stump of a dead tree for ages, if something isn’t done to make sure it’s completely killed off. From what I could see, this maple has been cut down at least twice over the years, and been trimmed of suckers a number of times, too.

You can see where the power line attaches to the outside of the pump shack and runs in. That dangling board used to be attached to the side of the shack somehow. Something needs to be done about that, since it’s supposed to be supporting the line, not hanging off of it! Some of the suckers I cut away had branches tangled up in there. I’m very glad to have them clear of the shack!

I saved the straightest pieces. Hopefully, they will be easy to debark I wouldn’t want them to root themselves and start growing.

There was a lot of material that could not be used, too.

At first I put the cleaned up branches on the pyre stacked over the burnable garbage that’s too much for the burn barrel. On a calm day, we’ll have ourselves a bonfire! I ended up putting the last of the branches on the mostly composted bits that are left over from the branch pile that got chipped, just because there was getting to be too much on the bonfire pile.

I like being able to get more than one job done at once. I got to do some necessary clean up by the pump shack and it’s power line, and at the same time acquire materials to use for a garden bed or two!

As for the branches needed to weave around the uprights, I should be able to prune away suitable pieces of willow branches from the trees in the yard. Trees that have already been trimmed professionally to clear branches from the power line to the house, and that we need to keep trimmed. Willow is very enthusiastic about growing new branches after being pruned, and it’s been a couple of years. I’m just not sure we’ll have enough to do the wattle weaving I have in mind, but there are other willows in other areas in and around the yard that could probably use a good pruning, too!

I’m looking forward to trying to figure it all out, tomorrow. The temperatures are supposed to drop after tomorrow, but we’re also still expecting rain rather than snow, so it shouldn’t be too bad to get work done outside.

Now, if the wind would just die down, that would be great!

The Re-Farmer

Cutting back

My original plan for this afternoon was to continue mowing, but I decided it was going to get too hot to be walking back and for for hours in the sun.

So I decided cutting back trees for hours was somehow better. 😁

Oh, to be fair, pruning the trees did allow me to spend more time in the shade than if I were mowing.

Except when I was hauling branches to the chipping pile.

Ah, well. The job needed to be done! It did eventually get too hot, though. We were supposed to reach our high of 25C/77F at 6pm. Instead we hit it by 2pm. As I write this, we’re at a humidex of 27C/81F. Definitely not good for me to be outside doing manual labour.

I didn’t even think to take “before” pictures, as I’ve taken so many pictures of the area for other reasons. This is what the area in front of the outhouse looks like now.

The arrows point to where two large branches were cut away. They were in the path of that big, dead spruce tree, when it gets cut down. There is now a clear gap for the spruce to fall. Removing them did take out some of the shade, but this is an elm. It’ll sent up new branches in no time, and they will grow in dense and bushy, so there will be share here again, soon enough.

These are the cut down pieces of the second branch I cut away from that tree. Both of them were about the same size, so there was about twice what you see in the photos that got broken down before they were manageable for hauling away. There were also quite a few dead branches that got cleared out, too.

There is another elm nearby that has many dead branches on it, but it won’t be cleaned up just yet. The way it’s leaning, the pieces might fall on the garlic and yellow pear tomato beds. It can wait until those beds have been harvested.

Once everything was hauled away and cleaned up, I was quite ready to go inside, but decided to clear some of the branches overhanging the sunchokes and asparagus beds. Then a few more… and a few more…

I did finally stop, though there are still more branches to take down. It was just getting too hot, and I can’t handle heat like I could in my younger days! I did move the gate and some old branches that were too big for our chipper to go around the other side of the chain link fence and clear the tall grass away, too.

When the tree guys come with their industrial chipper, they’ll have more than just rotting branches that have been sitting for years to chip. 😊

Time to cool down inside for a little while!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: some pruning and cleanup – and we are forewarned!

While doing my rounds this morning, I decided it was time to do some pruning and clean up around the squash and melons.

With the summer squash, I cut away a lot of the bottom leaves, and anything dead or dying. The zucchini didn’t really need it, but the sunburst squash needed quite a bit.

Noting for next year: while I am happy with training the summer squash to grow vertically, and will probably do it again next year, I now know to make extra certain the support poles are more secure. I thought they were, but as you can see in about the middle of the squash bed, one of them has fallen right over under the weight of the squash attached to it – and I’d already added a second support pole with it! The zucchini on the far right of the photo is also tippy.

We are in a strange sort of state right now, where the squash and melons are continuing to bloom and produce, recovering for the extreme heat and dryness over the summer, but also dying off as they reach the end of their growing season. A couple of Halona melon plants were completely died off and got taken out. The single melon on the ground ground had come loose from one of those.

The three biggest Red Kuri squash are coming along nicely. The mottled green one is quite noticeably bigger. With the colours and slightly different shape, I find myself wondering if it got cross pollinated with one of the nearby Teddy squash.

Speaking of which…

There’s a new one! Of the two plants, one of them now has four squash developing on it. 🙂

After I finished pruning the squash and melons, I went through the other beds, doing a bit of cleanup, and found this.

We’ve somehow lost a sunflower!

It doesn’t even look like it was bitten – there is no sign of critter damage anywhere. It looks almost as if it were cut! It’s also in the middle of a row, in the middle of a sunflower block.

Very strange.

I took the seed head inside and put it in a very small bowl, shallow enough for the barely-there stem to reach the water. 🙂

As I was finishing up in the garden, the grader went by on the road, and the driver stopped to talk to me. He let me know that he’d seen a black bear – a big male – on our quarter section, and he thought it was heading for the newly dug out gravel pit for water. He’d actually seen 7 bears, just today! The most he’d ever seen in one day – and it wasn’t even 11:00 yet, at the time I talked to him. He suggested we might want to pick up an air horn to carry with us, so if we see a bear, we can use the noise to scare it off.

One of our neighbours, about a mile away, has been posting photos of a bear that’s been raiding – and destroying – his bird feeders. I would not be expecting any to come to our feeding station, though. With both bird feeders broken, I’ve just been tossing a scoop of seeds directly on the ground, so there’s not a lot to tempt them. Especially since we have zero saskatoons and chokecherries this year, and almost no crab apples, thanks to that one cold night in May. Even the ornamental apples in the old kitchen garden, which would normally be full of tiny bunches of apples, and birds eating them, have nothing. No hawthorn berries, either. Between the drought and the wildfires, this loss of berries would be quite widespread, and the bears are starving at a time they should be building up their fat reserves for the winter.

I really appreciated the grader driver stopping to let me know. I have never seen a bear in our yard, but this is not a normal year, so we will have to keep our eyes open!

The Re-Farmer

Fall planting: the last of the flowers, plus other progress

Along with the three types of garlic that came in, my daughters’ flower bulbs arrived.

The tulip collection included 10 bulbs each of Orca, Pinksize and Brownie, and 8 bulbs each of Black Hero, Pamplona and Vanilla Coup. There was also 6 bulbs of Gardenia Daffodil.

So while I was having fun working in the soft soil, planting garlic, the girls did the hard work of digging holes for bulbs in hard soil, and between roots!

They did not take pictures of the process, unfortunately.

The tulips were planted not far from where they’d planted the Bulls Eye tulips that came in earlier. This area was selected for its combination of sunlight and drainage, and because they’re not supposed to be watered, and this is not an area where they might accidentally get watered along with something else.

The tulips need to be planted up to 12 inches deep, if we want them coming back year after year, but that depth includes the depth of any mulch. So they planted the 50+ bulbs at 6 inches, adding a 6 inch leaf mulch. Leaves, however, crumble and settle quite a bit, plus the wind was threatening to blow it way, so they also wet down some peat, which we still have lots of, and added that to the top.

The Gardenia Daffodil had different requirements, so it was planted with the Eye of the Tiger irises planted along one side of the old kitchen garden.

When we are next able to, we’re thinking of picking up a couple of bags of soil to scatter on top of the mulch. The soil under the mulch in the old kitchen garden is much improved from before, but the straw itself, and even the grass clippings, aren’t breaking down very quickly, making it not at all conducive to planting in it. It’s all just too stringy! 😀 And now there’s the excess flax straw from inside the cat shelter. Adding some soil and peat, as well as moisture, for the microbes and worms to do their stuff should help it break down faster.

We also got a couple other things off the to-do list today.

Now that the soil around the support post has had a few days to settle (and get stomped down some more, every now and then), our new bird feeder is now hung up. Hopefully, this less decorative design will not get flung around in the wind as much as the church and barn shaped ones were, and with the support now buried in the ground like a fence post, we don’t have to worry about it being knocked over any more!

I also had a chance to work on the grapes, while the girls were still digging holes for tulips.

The first thing that needed to be done was prune them. I hope I did it right. From what I’ve read, they should be pruned above the second bud from the ground, as grapes will be produced on first year vines. The problem was, I couldn’t see any buds at all! So I tried to err on the side of caution.

I had to move the trellis supports so I could get behind to harvest the grapes. Today, I finally set them into the ground in their new locations, so we can squeeze behind them again, if necessary. On the right is a long piece of rebar, but the white support on the left is actually two plastic tubes on a shorter piece of rebar. The bar wasn’t long enough to hold the trellis wire, but it is long enough to support the plastic tube. I had to lift off the piece that was woven into the wire mesh, then reset the position of the other two pieces.

When I set this up as a makeshift trellis, I was able to bang the rebar into the ground with a piece of broken brick I’d found while cleaning up around the storage house. I tried that again, but it broke. So I dug around in the sun room, among the things we’d found in there while cleaning it up. There was an old hammer with a ball peen on one side, and a heavy flat head on the other. Much heavier than a regular hammer. For the long piece of rebar, I had to stand on the stairs to reach the top and start hammering it in.

The head fell off the hammer.

It turned out the handle was rotted out at the head!

Thankfully, I still had the new handle I’d found while cleaning up the old basement. I’d intended it for something else, but it didn’t fit right, so I’d left it for later.

Now, I’m glad it didn’t fit the other thing I’d meant it for!

Mind you, it didn’t fit the head of this hammer, either, but I was able to shave the corners of the top, and got it on. I was able to finish the job!

After hammering the rebar supports into the ground and getting the plastic tube in the wire mesh back in place, I was able to use foam covered garden wires a darling friend found for me, to tie the pruned vines to the mesh. Then I used one of the bamboo poles that we’d used in the squash beds as a support for the top. With the grapes growing so well this past summer, I was able to see the weight of the vines were pulling the wire mesh downwards, so this should add some extra support.

Now, all they need is for some mulch to be added to protect them from the winter’s cold. From what I’ve found out about growing grapes in our zone is that they should be just fine with snow as insulation; the vine would be laid down on the ground to be covered. Planted against the storage house like this, that doesn’t really work out, so mulch it is!

We now have all the flower bulbs we ordered planted – 200 grape hyacinth, 100 snow crocuses, irises, gladiolas, and almost 70 tulips – plus the garlic.

That’s it for fall planting this year.

Now, we need to assess how our vegetable gardening went, and decide what we want to plant next year! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Did it work?

This afternoon, the girls and I did a bit of winterizing around the house by laying sheets of foam insulation around the base of the house and covering the septic tank, and the pipes to the house, with straw. The only part that is left to do is around the tap at the back of the house. There is still a hose attached, and we’ll likely be using both front and back hoses for a while longer. Once those are put away and we shut the water off from the inside, we’ll cover it with more pieces of foam insulation. We’re doing this quite a bit earlier than last year. There was already snow on the ground then!

Once that was done, one of my daughters and I decided it was time to take down a branch of the tree in front of the kitchen window. This is the branch the tech from our internet provider singled out as the last possible thing that might be preventing our secondary internet account from having any signal at all to its satellite dish. I can’t say that I was hopeful. There are far fewer leaves left on the branch, yet the signal to our primary account has been worse than ever.

Still, the wasps are gone, so it was time to give it a go.

We considered our options and decided to use the extended pole pruning saw to take the branch down, rather than climb up a step ladder and use something else. We figured that, this way, we could more easily jump out of the way if the branch went in an odd direction as it fell.

We also chose to cut it further out, so that the cats will still have their perching branch. They like to sit on it and watch us through the kitchen window! 🙂

It was a pretty large branch, so rather than try and manhandle the whole thing, I used the reciprocating saw to break it down to smaller pieces. The thin, leafy branches went to the chipping pile in the outer yard. The lengths of the “trunk” were big enough, we lay them out around one side of the bed the white lilacs are in. We only needed to grab one more piece from another large branch we had taken down from the tree near the gate to completely line one side, and curve around the end.

Then, because I was able to find some this summer, my daughter sprayed the cut end with pruning paint.

At some point, we are going to take this tree out completely but, until then, I’d really like to get the branch hanging over the roof removed. There’s no way for us to take it down without it falling on the roof. We just don’t have the equipment to take it down safely in pieces.

So it will wait. It seems to be quite strong and unlikely to come down in a storm, but then, so did the branches on this tree that have come down in storms!

Once we were done and everything was cleaned up, we went inside to see if we could notice a difference in our signal with the primary account.

We had no internet.

Nothing.

Zero.

Zilch!!!

After doing the usual troubleshooting, there was still nothing.

So my husband started phoning our internet provider. After several calls that went straight to a busy signal, rather than their usual recorded messages to direct calls, we figured we were not the only ones having issues! My husband tried again about an hour or two later, and this time it went straight to a recording saying they were getting an unusually high volume of calls and were not able to answer.

Eventually, though, we did get our internet back!

Once we did, one of my daughters tested it out by trying to log into a particular game where our intermittent signal was giving all sorts of problems. She was actually able to log in first try – and was even able to switch servers in the game! Now, this could just mean we are having a particularly good night. It could mean taking down the branch made a difference. Or it could mean that, in fixing whatever shut down our IPs service completely, they also fixed whatever problem was causing our intermittent service.

One thing I’ve noticed in preparing to write this post, though; WordPress seems to be loading better now! I have been having endless problems embedding images into posts, and this time, they worked just fine. I still had tabs that didn’t want to load, but even those were able to finally load, much faster than usual.

Tomorrow, my husband will call our IP to get the suspension on the secondary account removed, and we will see if we finally get a signal. If there is still no signal to that dish, there’s nothing else here that would be causing the problem. For all we tried to ration our internet usage, we still went over last month, and the overage fees per gig are so high, the final bill was higher on one account, than the cost of both accounts together!

Until then, I’m just happy to have any internet at all, again!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: deadwood

It’s a hot day today, but it’s going to get even hotter throughout the week, hitting above 30C/86F in a few days. Plus, I’ll be doing a lot of driving throughout the week. I figured if my brother could be out baling hay in this heat today, I can prune some deadwood!

There were two trees in particular I wanted to get at. Here is the first I worked on.

I had already cut the dead parts of the main tree, our first summer here. What was left were the suckers growing out the base. As the main part was grafted, what grew out the base was not the same type of apple as what had already died.

When I first worked on it, the live parts were bending low, so I left tall stumps of the original tree and used them as supports to tie the live ones to. One, growing out the middle, didn’t need the support.

As you can see in the photo, that’s the one that is now dead.

It actually did have leaves and even flowers this spring, but they didn’t last. As I cut it away, I was surprised it managed even that much. It was so dead and dry, I could only cut about half way, and then it was easier to break it off by hand.

One of the live branches was hanging down again, even though part of it was supported, so I got creative.

I found what was probably an old mop handle and zip tied it to one of the old stumps at the bottom, and to another live branch higher up. Then I lifted the bent branch and attached it to the support. Hopefully, this will be enough for it to start growing straight – or at least straighter – on its own. If nothing else, I won’t be getting my hair caught in it when I mow past it, anymore!

The next tree was a bigger job.

I’d actually thought I would be working on an old plum tree, but it was another apple tree that needed help.

There are two large branches on the apple tree that have died. In the background, you can see the dark coloured plum tree meandering its way up. The branches are so tangled, it was hard to see what belonged were, but it seemed that the plum branch still had live branches and little plums at the top.

I would see better, after the apple was cleared.

I took the slightly smaller branch off first (on the left of the trunk, in the above photo) using the reciprocating saw, and it came down fairly well. The branches at the ends were tangled with live branches, so it ended up standing upright on its cut end when it fell. Once I cleared that, it was time to get the big one down.

When cutting larger branches like this, you always have to be careful when it gets past a certain point, depending on the angle and weight of the branch. Once it starts breaking under its own weight, things can go in unexpected directions.

This one was a bit different.

It didn’t fall.

You can see the one live branch growing out the side, so I made sure to cut above it.

I cut right through, and it just sat there!

Hmmm… I wonder why that would be…

The live plum and apple branches were holding it up!

There was a lot to get tangled on!

For this tree, I used pruning spray on the cut branches, to protect the main trunk a bit.

There is still one branch alive on this tree, and it’s got quite a few apples on it.

The plum in the background does have a lot of dead branches, but at the top, it’s still alive. I am leaving it for now.

Usually, for stuff like this, I would have broken down the branches a bit, but otherwise just hauled it over to one of the piles of branches we’ve made while cleaning up over the past couple of years. I did things differently this time.

The small branches, I cut short and loaded into the wagon, to be used as kindling in the fire pit.

The large pieces will wait until I can co-ordinate with one of the girls to work on them.

The wood looks surprisingly solid. I’m going to see if anything can be salvaged for carving. If not, they’ll be cut to fire pit size for use during cook outs.

It isn’t much, but I’m happy to have gotten at least this bit done. There is another tree, an elm, near the fire pit area that is mostly dead. I actually thought it was dead our first year here, but after a rainfall, it perked up. Last year’s drought seems to have done it in, though. It’s quite large, though, so we’ll have to be more careful taking down the dead parts.

That will wait for another day!

The Re-Farmer

More large branch pruning

While we have been able to determine that the trees in the south yard are NOT the cause of our current internet problems, we did work on some additional pruning of the elm we’d worked on earlier.

This is one of a couple of large branches we took down, that were growing into the lilac bush I’m trying to save, as well as overhanging the haskap bushes and flower bed between the elm and the lilac.

This is my daughter trying to get at one of the dead branches. We added the extra length to the extended pole pruning away, making it about 12 feet long. She could still barely reach it!

Then the pole came apart at the join.

Not where it’s meant to come apart!

So that job got finished from a step ladder – which is not safe at all! – but at this point, there’s not much more we can do about this tree without calling in the pros, with the equipment needed to get high enough.

Here is how it looks now. A bit more open, and a few less branches to worry about.

At the bottom of the photo, just right of centre is a maple tree growing up and into the elm branches that I will likely have to take out, if I want to save the lilac. I’m loathe to do it, as it’s such a healthy tree!

Besides. There are a lot of dead trees and branches that need to be taken out, first, as well as continuing with cleaning out the spruce grove.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

I think that’s going to have to become my new motto. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Just a bit of a prune…

In my last post, I mentioned how we were having connectivity troubles with our satellite internet, due to heave foliage.

It’s very windy today.

Since we switched cables on accounts, we’ve had constant interruptions in service, to the point that my daughter was having difficulties working.

I’d gone outside to use up more of the rain barrel’s water around the yard when the girls came out to take a good hard look at the tree situation.

The satellites are aimed through a gap between two trees. A gap that is mostly filled with leaves right now.

The question was, should we prune?

It came down to a particular branch on one of the elms beside the small gate in the chain link fence.

Now, I’ll be straight about the pair of trees on either side of this gate. I would love for them to be gone. They were planted in a poor location, and their roots are currently pushing up the sidewalk blocks. My ideal plan would be to remove both trees, pull up their stumps, and lay down a new, wider, properly installed sidewalk that would better accommodate my husband’s walker. That is a HUGE job we are in no position to do for many years yet, if at all.

I’m pretty sure that when the current sidewalk was installed, the pavers were just laid down on the grass, and then some dirt was thrown up against the sides so the lawn mower could go over them. I think the paving stones forming a small patio under the kitchen window were install much the same way. Those ones are being lifted and shifted by the roots of the elm tree in front of the kitchen window; another problem tree.

I understand why my mother planted them. They provide excellent shade. The problem is, she didn’t think far enough ahead when she chose the locations. Now, the one by the kitchen is a problem for the roof, as well as the patio blocks and the basement wall. The ones by the small gate in the chain link fence were planted too close together, never mind the sidewalk running between them.

So these are trees that have many issues.

In the end, it was these many issues that had us agreeing to prune away one of the major branches growing towards the house.

That, and they’re elms. We could cut them down to stumps, and they’d grow back. The one in front of the old kitchen had already been cut back significantly, leaving behind a flat top the yard cats now use to hang out on. 😀

I didn’t have my phone with me, so I have no before pictures, but this is how it is now.

As you can see, this is not the first time this branch has been pruned!

This was also our first opportunity to use the pruning paint I found, which is black, so it’s not easy to see in the photo.

The girls had started off using the long handled pruning saw to cut it, but it started to jam. I ended up bringing over the step ladder and a buck saw. Once up there, I could see that where they’d started cutting had a huge knot, out of sight from below! So I started cutting a few inches away. We never did have to cut all the way through; the weight of the branch itself started breaking it, long before. One of my daughters grabbed it with the hook on the long handled pruning saw and was able to pull it the rest of the way down. After that, it was just a matter of cutting it free from the tree, which required one daughter to lift the weight of the main branch while the other did the cutting.

Once it was on the ground, I was able to go at it with the reciprocating saw and cut it into manageable sized pieces for hauling away.

Except for the main body. We set that aside for now.

We were thinking of the possibility of my using parts of it for carving, but I don’t think that will be possible.

It looks like the core of this branch was already rotting away! I think I even see insect damage.

Which means, if we hadn’t taken it down now, it may well have broken in high winds, like branches in the tree in front of the kitchen window already have. Well, that’s a likelihood for any of the trees. The rot just made this one a higher risk.

You can just see the black end of the branch we cut in this photo.

You can also see some of the many dead branches above it.

In this photo, you can see part of the elm tree on the other side of the gate, on the right side of the photo. Lots more dead branches, all out of reach.

Taking this branch down has opened up the yard quite a lot! I remember getting that same feeling of openness when I cut away the broken branches in the elm by the house (on the left edge of the photo, you can see part of a branch from that tree). We still have plenty of shade, too.

In the end, I’m glad we got it done. Whether or not it reduces how often our internet cuts out (which happened again while I was writing this, but only once, rather than the 3 or 4 times when I wrote my last post), we will see. For now, though, we got the one branch done, and will hopefully find a way to get at the dead ones, too. I’d really rather not wait for storms to bring them down, if I can!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up progress

I had originally been thinking of working in a different area today, to remove more dead and damaged trees in the West yard. That pile of apple branches, however, was bothering me.

So I started breaking that down, instead. Here are the before and after pictures.

This is as far as I got, before it started to rain.

I’ve been breaking it down to firepit sized pieces, to make it easier later on. I have to admit, as I cut some of the larger pieces, I find myself thinking that … some of them look pretty good … maybe I could salvage some of them… It seems like such a waste to burn this beautiful apple wood! I wouldn’t even want to use it for a cookout, since I don’t know how the fungal disease would affect the smoke. But gosh, apple is a beautiful wood!

I made very good use of the new long handled pruners I got not long ago. It was going through nice thick branches like nothing! I used to have to use a saw for a lot of these. I noticed, however, there was a rattling noise that seemed to increase. And was that anvil supposed to rotate with the cutting blade like that?

Nope.

At some point, we lost a bolt. There is no nut at the other side. It looks like a proprietary shape, too. Or at least not something I have seen when perusing the section at the hardware store.

It has a lifetime warranty, though, so I looked up the website and sent an email with the above photo and another of the bar code (because, of course I don’t have the receipt anymore… LOL) as proof of purchase. We’ll see how that goes. I might just zip tie it in place for now.

Hmmm… It looks like the rain has already passed. I might be able to finish breaking down the pile today, after all. 🙂

The Re-Farmer