Silly Kitties, and relentless winds

Things are warming up again. We’re actually above freezing right now.

Unfortunately, that means that any hibernating flies that have survived the cold are starting to come out and sluggishly make their way to windows.

Guess how I know that?

Go on! Guess!

Yeah. The cats have found them.

I first discovered this when I was awakened by cats trashing the top of my desk and work table, trying to get to the north window.

This is the one window that didn’t get replaced before we moved in. The new window has a nice ledge on it, due to the thickness of the log wall. This window still has sheets of plastic covering the inside to keep the weather out, resulting in almost no ledge at all.

The cats still go for it.

They don’t succeed.

I didn’t actually see a fly when the crashing and bashing first started. I just tossed the cats out, closed the door and tried to get back to sleep.

I didn’t succeed.

Finally, I got up and left the room for a bit, leaving the door open.

In the couple of minutes I was gone, Cheddar had managed to get to the window, catch the fly, and bring it to my bed. I came in to find him sitting there, looking confused by the little black dot walking around on my covers. It was funny, so I went to grab my phone to take a picture.

Which is when Dave jumped up and joined him.

He ate the fly.

They then spent the next several minutes, looking for it.

Silly kitties!

The temperature might be going up, but the winds have really picked up, too. It’s coming from the south, south-east, a direction from which we have very little shelter, it turns out. Lots of stuff being blown around.

In doing my rounds, I noticed this in one of the trees.

No, that’s not a soft filter on the image. I checked my phone after uploading the pictures and saw it. A feather from my down filled coat was stuck in my phone case, partly covering the lens! 😀

You can see the broken top of this tree, hanging town. This top broke many years ago, but usually it’s pretty hard to see among the branches it’s hung up on. It has noticeably made its way down further. There are still lots of strong branches under it, so it might take years before it finally falls to the ground. Or it could come down today. Who knows? Either way, I’ll be keeping an eye on it. If it falls, there’s a good chance it’ll land on the fence, so if there’s a point when we can pull it down and away from the fence ourselves, that would be a good thing.

While walking around, I had Beep Beep in my arms, but was also hearing the distinctive high pitched meowing of Two Face, over the wind. But where was she? I couldn’t see her anywhere.

Oh. There she is!

Silly kitty! 😀

One of the things I was able to clean up since coming here was what turned out to be a post pounder my late brother had built. After clearing away the garbage piled on, around and even under it, I wrapped it in a tarp to protect it from the elements.

The elements, however, are relentless.

This is the worst, but not the only, tear in the tarp.

With the wind coming from the direction it was, the whole thing gets blown out like a sail.

What I’d really like to do is drag this thing indoors (which wouldn’t be easy, with 2 flat tires and a bent up trailer hitch). The only place large enough is the barn, and it’s still full of so much junk, we’d have to clear some of that out, first.

Which we might be able to do, at least a bit, this summer, as we salvage items for things like building climbing trellises for the squash we’re looking to plant this summer, or things we can use for the cordwood outdoor bathroom we’re planning to build. We might at least be able to empty one of the old cattle stalls, which it would fit in. That would be after we clean up and put a platform on the trailer frame we found and put wheels on.

Once done my rounds, I checked the trail cam files, as is my usual routine. I’m happy to say that moving the new trail cam to a different tree worked out. Our vandal was out for a walk on the road (with his wife, so he was behaving), and both cameras picked them up quite clearly. Plus, there is no longer a fence post in the middle of the frame. The low hanging tree branches don’t seem to be triggering the motion sensor much, which had been a concern.

I’m thinking of getting another camera like the new one, to replace the old one. It’s has much better quality images, plus the new cameras have a wide angle lens, which would be very useful facing the driveway gate. The old camera would do very well attached to the house, facing the feeding station. Wide angle would be of no benefit, there, making the old camera perfect for there.

Well, I guess it’s time to stop procrastinating and get back to work!

And maybe try that recipe for Foccacia bread my daughter found. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

On the beach

This past Sunday, as has become my custom, I stay in town during my daughter’s short shift. It turned out to be a beautiful day, and I was able to have my first visit to the beach since the blizzard.

I have to say again, how incredibly fortunate we were during that storm. Yeah, we got some tree damage and were snowed in until we could shovel our driveway out, but we really didn’t have a bad run of it. Just yesterday, I was reading that there are still some 2000 people without power. The electric company, with help from other provinces, has about a thousand people working to restore power. In some places, generators were delivered or where on the way, to provide emergency power. The remote areas they workers are in, and the conditions, make these last northern areas much more difficult; in some places, workers are trying to restore power lines while chest deep in water and mud! A rough estimate was that the storm resulted in about $100 million in damage to the electrical system, though there is no way to know for sure until after it’s all done and the numbers are crunched.

We have much to be thankful for.

How the storm hit could be very different, depending on the area. Especially with the lake effect. The one time we did go by the beach, it was amazing to see no snow at all, yet just a couple of blocks away, people’s yards had about 6 inches of snow.

People living near the beach and marina posted videos online, and it was astonishing to see the waves crashing over the breakwall on the main dock.

There were some significant changes that I could see, right away.

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Storm clean up: unexpected damage

While working around the willow tree, I noticed something out by the north fence and took a closer look.

That’s when I found we had more trees and branches come down there, too. I hadn’t seen it before, simply because I hadn’t bothered going that far through the snow. The main priority was checking close to the house.

I’m really glad I was able to mow in this area, because that made clean up a lot easier!

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Storm clean up: the old willow

I’d posted a video I took after this job was done, previously. I am honestly surprised more of this tree did not come down in the storm. I hope it survives many more storms, because it’s such a beautiful old tree!

The first thing I had to do was assess the fallen branch more closely.

The branch was long enough to reach the double row of elms heading towards the garden gate.

As I started cutting away sections, I was able to see that the whole thing had been kept from hitting the ground by the skinny little top of the branch that landed on an elm!

Amazing, that that was all it took to keep such a big, heavy, branch from falling all the way to the ground!

After clearing away enough branches that I could reach the main part with the extended pruning saw, I just start pulling.

Eventually, the top came down, and I was able to start breaking it down from the end.

The main branch ended up being held up by another branch I’d already cut away part of. While I continued cutting away smaller sections, it looked like I would have issues with where it cracked at the trunk. How would I even reach it? I had expect this to be the easy part of the job, but it took a lot more work just to cut away pieces, so I could reach where I needed to go!

Plus, I had to get the weight off the branch that was still holding the whole thing up, so I grabbed a branch and started dragging it off to the side. It all twisted at the cracked trunk.


Little by little, I cut sections away until I reached the cracked trunk.

This part of the trunk was too high for me to reach, and I couldn’t see how I could cut it away. It would be too dangerous to use the step ladder and a buck saw.

However, it was really quite rotten, and it twisted quite a bit when I was manhandling it to get those sections cut away. What would happen if I pulled on the cut ends?

I found the whole thing easily twisted around, and pieces of the trunk started to fall off.

What I thought would be the hardest part of the job turned out to be the easiest part – it just pulled right down!

The pile at the base of the tree is all from that one branch that broke.

I’m leaving it there until spring, when I plan to take down the rest of the rotten trunk. I’d already added lots of other downed branches to the pile by the fire pit.

So that is done for now!

When I started working on this area, though, I spotted more storm damage that I’d missed, because I simply hadn’t slogged my way far enough through the snow.

That will be my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Storm clean up: the kitchen elm

The first area I focused on when cleaning up the storm damage was the tree closest to our main entry.

I’d already had to cut away a few parts of the branch earlier. While we could push our way through the branches when walking by, I needed to back the van up to the house, so we could load it up for a trip to the dump.

It had been my intention to cut pieces away, little by little, until I could get the cracked main branch down completely. The first few, I was able to reach with the extended pruning saw from the ground, but as weight was removed, the whole thing started to rebound, higher and higher. I had to bring out the step ladder to be able to reach the main part of the branch. I expected to cut it away in at least three sections.

Things didn’t quite work out that way.

Once the piece in the photo above came free, it came twisting down – towards me on the step ladder, of course! – while the rest of the branch, released of the weight, flung itself upward about 5 feet.

After looking it over, I decided to just leave it. Without the weight of this section, there is no longer a danger of it cracking more. It should probably still be taken down eventually, but there is no risk to leaving it alone for now. Especially since we plan to have the entire tree taken down at some point.

This pile is the broken down pieces of just that one section from the above photo!

This is all of what came down from this one tree. The two bigger pieces went to the wood pile for the fire pit, while the rest went into the big pile for eventual chipping.

The cats LOVED playing in all the branches I’ve been cleaning up!

It’s really remarkable, what a difference there is in the yard. Two large branches of this tree came down, and it all feels so much more open and lighter under there!

This job ended up taking less time than I expected. It was time to move on to the big willow tree.

That job ended up taking more time than expected!

More on that in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Storm clean up: the little stuff

It’s federal election day here in Canada, and I’m happy to say that there was a local polling station (according to the elections Canada website – and the agent I spoke to on the phone while trying to find where the nearest polling station would be – our little hamlet doesn’t exist) and I was able to register and vote without any problems. What a difference from the last federal election, when we were still living in the city! It helped that the registration officer happened to be a “neighbour” that I finally got to meet. Since she lives on the same road we do, a mile away, she had no issues with the fact that there are different names for our road. I’ve got the road name on my driver’s license, which no longer matches the signage. She’s had the same issue we have, since the stop sign with the road name got knocked down, and the sign with the name of our road disappearing. It has not been replaced, so there is just the numerical designation on the other stop sign.

I got to vote, and later on I’ll be going back with my daughters, so they can register and vote, too. 🙂

Until then, I’ve got a bit of catching up to do, and will be splitting things up into several posts, rather than one big one. I was finally able to get the tree damage from the storm taken care of, as well as putting stuff away for the winter, the day before we had my mom over for a surprise second Thanksgiving dinner. With this post, I’ll start with the last things I cleaned up; the little things!

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Things have been warm enough for the snow to mostly melt away, so today I was finally able to go around the yard and take care of the storm damaged trees.

I will process and upload photos, probably in a couple of days, but until then I wanted to share this video I took of the big willow tree, after I’d finally gotten the broken section down.

The base of this section is pretty much compost.

I really am amazed that this is the only section that came down in the storm.

I’m leaving the remains where I’ve put them, to clean up in the spring. That is when I plan to take down the rest of the rotting trunk.

Assuming it doesn’t come down on its own, over the winter.

The Re-Farmer

A few interesting things today

While doing my rounds, I noticed something about the storm damage to one of our elms that I hadn’t before. I simply didn’t stop to look, since it’s still to wet and snowy to start cleaning the damage up, until today while doing my morning rounds.

This branch here isn’t just broken.

It’s broken off completely. The only reason it’s not on the ground is because it fell on another little branch that’s holding it up!

The girls and I had to make a trip into the city today, and while driving around, we saw so many damaged trees. Some were large ones that basically split apart at their turns, as heavy branches on different sides broke off in different directions.

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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!



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

The Aftermath

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and after the blizzard that hit us, we have so much to be thankful for! Parts of the province are described as looking like they were hit by a tornado, and I just learned that my sister was without power for 2 days. Thankfully, they have a wood stove and fireplace for cooking and heat, as well as a generator.

When I drove my daughter to work on the Thursday, things were still looking good. By the time we reached town, it was starting to snow, but it was on the way home that I drove into the beginnings of the storm, locally.

When it was safe to do so, I pulled over to get a picture.

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