Ready and waiting – an update

Well, my husband’s replacement hospital bed arrived this morning!

Yay!

Though I am perplexed.

I thought he was approved for a heavier weight bearing bed. Instead, he got the exact same bed as before. Which is rated to above what my husband is, but that didn’t stop the other one from starting to break.

The mattress, however, is an “ultra” version that has a higher weight rating. It’s also thinner at the foot end, which I found interesting.

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Continue reading

Building the new back gate

Today we picked up some fence wire to make a new gate for our second driveway.

The wire we got was 1 inch mesh, in a roll of 36″ x 25′  I was pleased to see the hardware store had 1 inch mesh in stock. When I price checked it a while back, the largest they had was 3/4 inch mesh.  I would have preferred something like a 2 inch mesh, but this will do just fine.

My younger daughter and I then went out to the back gate to replace the old barbed wire gate.

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When we moved out here, the gate was open and we had no idea that it was in such bad condition.  When the girls went over to close the gate, they had to replace the post at the end (the lock and chain around it is the only thing keeping it closed) and salvage the wire as much as they could with what was there.

We salvaged the posts for the new gate, cutting down the round one at the end so that it was the same length as the middle ones.

In the process of working on it, I made sure to gather up and set aside the old barbed wire from the gate.

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It’s amazing how much rusty barbed wire just disappears in the grass.  There were a couple of times when, even though I knew the wire was there, I still managed to catch it with a shoe, or almost step on it.

Keep that particular detail in mind for later…

On to the new gate!

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The first thing we did was lay out the wire and position the posts more or less where they needed to be, while using other posts I’d brought, just in case we couldn’t salvage the old ones, as weights to keep the wire from rolling itself back up again. 😀

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For the end post, we first affixed the end of the mesh to the post with U nails, then wrapped the wire around the post and affixed it again, opposite the first U nails.  Since this post will see the most movement, the wire needs to be secured the strongest here.

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Once the first post was secured, we slid the next two posts under the wire, making sure their bottoms lined up with the bottom of the first post.  Then, after making sure the wire mesh was pulled taut again, the wire was affixed with more U nails.

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Next, the gate was put in position and the mesh affixed to the gate post.

The main gate post on the right has a barbed wire loop at the bottom that the first post tucks into.  A second barbed wire loop at the top was then tucked over the top of the post to hold it in place.  You can’t see it, but the chain is hanging down from that wire loop, as it had been threaded through one of the links when the chain was added.

You can see my daughter at the other end, securing the wire mesh to the opposite gate post with more U nails.  The posts in the gate itself each has 3 U nails securing them, but at the end, the mesh is secured with 5 U nails.

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The space between gate posts is about 22 feet.  Once the mesh was secured, wire cutters were used to remove the last 3 feet or so of mesh.

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The chain fits through the mesh, which worked out perfectly.

The barbed wire loop at the top was replaced with the wire that was wrapped around the mesh roll, to keep it from unraveling.  It is the same type of wire the mesh itself is made of, but was long enough that we could fold it in half, twist it around itself, fold it in half again, then twist it around itself again (something I do with string or yarn to make cord when crafting).  The loop itself is secured to the gate post with a U nail as well.

Yay!  The gate is finished, and it looks SO much better than barbed wire!

That done, my daughter headed back to the house to put away the tools and supplies, except for the hand saw and anvil shears I’d brought to clean up some of the self sown saplings that were starting to encroach.

Remember what I said about barbed wire, disappearing in the grass?

Well, this was next to the gate.

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The old gate had been on top of this pile of posts and barbed wire (and an ant hill).  My daughters referred to this as the barbed wire trap!  We’ve already had the renter’s cows end up on this side of the fence once (and as bad as the old gate was, it was enough to keep them from ending up on the road, so it still did the job. 🙂 ), and it’s always possible it will happen again.  I don’t want any cows getting hurt in barbed wired, so I figured I’d take some of the loose wire and pull it out to add to the pile of junk we plan to get hauled away later in the year.

I grabbed some of the wire and pulled…

… and pulled…

… and pulled…

Before I knew it, I was pulling up the wire from an old fence line, long since collapsed.  Since I had already started pulling the wire up, I couldn’t even stop, since lifting it made it that much more of a hazard.

Every now and then, I’d reach a fence post and try to lift it up, only to have the wood disintegrate in my hands.  On some of them, the bared wire was attached to the post with nothing but bail twine. ???

Now, the thing about barbed wire fences is, they never have just one line.  There’s usually three.  Which meant there were at least two more barbed wire lines, hidden in the grass.

About half way down the row of trees, I found myself pulling up two wires at once, because they were stuck to each other in places.  Then one of them ended abruptly, while the first one continued…

… and continued.

When I finally reached the end of the row of trees, at a large willow, I saw the remains of what turned out to be the last post of the fence line (I hope!).  I pulled it up, but the wires attached to were basically all broken off a couple of feet away.  I tucked the post itself against the willow.  I did find some ends and started pulling them up.  Once they were clear of the tall grass and old thatch (that area needs a controlled burn, big time!), I started working my way back, rolling up the wire as I went along, eventually adding in the second line as I found it again.

When I got back to the area of posts in the picture above, it was all pretty tangled together, so I tried lifting the post that looked like it was the furthest out in the line and began pulling on it.

As near as I can make out, the pile of posts were the remains of another barbed wire gate.  But why would there be two of them?  I’m thinking maybe an old gate was replaced with a newer gate, and rather than getting rid of the old one, it was just tossed aside at the fence line.  Then when the fence line collapsed, the old gate came down with it.

But that’s just a guess on my part.

I did, however, find the third wire of the fence!

So back I went down the row of trees, pulling up the third wire until it ended.  Which was about 2/3rds of the way down the row of trees.  Which means there’s probably more of it under the grass somewhere along the way.

Once I found the end, I worked my way back to the gate again, rolling it up as I went along.

This is where the fence line was.

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The tip of the arrow at the back is pointing to the willow the fence line stopped at.

My guess is that, when the row of trees was planted along the fence that’s still there, this fence line was added to protect the plantings from cattle.  Since then, the current fence line was kept up, since the land is being rented out for grazing on the other side, but the inner fence was allowed to just rot away and collapse. [Update: I have since learned that I got this backwards.  It turns out that the collapsed fence is the original one, and it has been there for an estimated 40 years!]

Leaving barbed wire hidden in the grass for anyone, or any cow or deer, to step on, trip over or otherwise hurt themselves on.

Which just blows me away.

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In the end, I couldn’t even get rid of the wire, because it’s all still attached to the main fence line.  I just didn’t have the tools for it.  So I moved the posts and the wire I rolled up into one, more obvious pile that I think even a cow will not bother getting into.

I hope!

After this, I cut away the spreading saplings on both sides of the area I’ve been mowing to the gate we just replaced, including clearing them away from the gate into the garden.

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Notice that this gate has 5 lengths of barbed wire on it.

In the future, as I work my way around, clearing the yard’s fence line, I will eventually cut back that lilac to uncover the gate post it’s growing over.  I checked the area over as I cut away the saplings and it’s clear, so the next time I mow down this way, I will probably mow a path to this gate, too.  (I haven’t done that to the gate by the fire pit yet, as it seems to need some clearing, first; I’m not entirely sure what’s buried under the thatch and tall grass, but it’s very uneven.)

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This is the corner created by the garden/yard fence line leading to the roadside fence line.  Though I will be clearing the fence lines themselves, I have not yet decided if I will also clear away these self-sown saplings.  It might be nice to just leave them be.  They’re not blocking anything.  I’ll leave them for now and decide what to do with them later, when we get to the point of working in the outer yard area.

It wasn’t until I was at the computer, uploading these photos, that I noticed this…

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I honestly don’t know what that happened!  I’ve got so many scratches from doing yard work, I don’t even notice them anymore.  😀

The back gate is finally done.  One more thing to check off the list! 😀

The Re-Farmer

For Real? LOL

My older daughter came with me when it was time to pick up her sister from work.  Since UPS hadn’t delivered my birthday present yet, I asked my husband, who had had to lie down again, to be up in case they came while we were gone.  We also made sure the gate wasn’t locked when we left; it was just closed and not even latched.

Along the way, we saw our shaggy friends again.

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I wish you could see the babies better!  They are so adorable.

When we got home, we found this.

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Yeah.  They just slid? tossed? pushed? it past the gate.

Seriously?  Could they not figure out how to open it?  Or did they just decide not to come in?  I mean, I know UPS will leave packages at doors when no one was home, but this isn’t even anywhere near the house!

But you know what?  I don’t care.  IT’S FINALLY HERE!!

*doing the happy dance*

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There she is!  My new toy!

Yes, I made sure to read the instructions first.

Then I went and took down part of that big branch that was hanging off a tree behind the storage house.  I couldn’t get all of it; the pole isn’t anywhere near long enough for that, but at least I won’t be having to push past the hanging branches when I mow through there.

Then I went around different areas, taking down some branches with the extended pole, then converting back to chain saw mode and starting on some trees and stumps.  I got a couple of larger dead tree trunks down, which required some careful maneuvering with a blade that’s only 8 inches long.  Then I started cutting some of the tall stumps I’d left behind to ground level.  Turned on its side, it can cut quite close to the ground, which I really appreciate!

I even got the smaller of the two dead spruce trees that had been covered with vines down.  Not to ground level, as it is too wide at the base, and the second tree will have to wait for a full size chain saw.

Unfortunately, I’m already out of bar and chain oil.

I expected it to be used up quickly after the first fill, since it’s a first use and the whole thing would have been bone dry.  However, I also did a dumb.  I refilled it once, noticing it was already completely empty (there is a window on the side where you can see the oil level).  Shortly after, I noticed it was getting low again, so I added more.  After topping up the oil, I put the bottle away, came back, used the saw once to cut a skinny tree stump to ground level, and suddenly realized I hadn’t put the oil cap back on.

I just just poured all the out out by accident.

I used the last of my oil to refill it, but it was only a small bottle (which you can see in the photo), so there wasn’t enough left to completely fill it.  I was able to finish cutting flat as many stumps as I could for now.  There are some older ones from trees cut down before we moved here that are higher, but also too thick for my little blade.

I am so happy with this thing!  I can hardly wait to get into the last section of the spruce grove.  I already went through it yesterday evening, taking out the dead branches that were already on the ground.

I just have to pick some more bar and chain oil, first!

😀

The Re-Farmer

Maple Grove Clearing – a big, rotten mess!

In this photo from my last post, you can see part of the mess I also cleaned up today.

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That round thing of rotting wood is the top of a giant spool that was used for electrical cable.  It was likely used as an outdoor table or something, at some point – that was a popular thing for a while. This top part, I was able to tilt up and roll away to the back of the shed.

But not before I had a very close call.

There’s a reason I stopped to clear the area around the chimney blocks instead of focusing on the trees.  As I stepped towards one of the trees behind the mess, to clear away branches that had already fallen, I felt something go through the sole of my shoe.

I immediately pulled back, put away what I’d been working on, then went back to dig through the dead leaves and old grass.

I found this.

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This area became a priority clean up!

This rotten wood turned out to be part of the remains of an old pallet.

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The above photo was taken after I’d cleared away the old pallet, and even removed a bundle of wooden stakes.

There’s a tire rim under there.

Because of course there is.  There are tire rims fekkin’ everywhere around here! 😀

I’d already moved some sort of basin that was screwed onto a metal base.  I have no idea what it was used for since, unlike the other basins I’ve found around the yard, it wasn’t used as a planter.

I used it to hold the rotten, some nail filled, wood I was finding.

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Then, when that was full, I used the blue … barrel? … you can see in the previous picture to hold the pieces of wood I found under the top of the wire spool.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After moving out a whole bunch of rotten and rotting wood, I tried to move the wagon that was leaning against the chimney bricks.

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It promptly disintegrated.

The top half wasn’t as bad, but when I moved the bottom half, even one of the wheels just sloughed off.

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I wonder how many years it sat there?

After I moved it, I found something that brought a smile to my face.

My stone “ostrich egg” !!

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My late bother and I found this in a field somewhere, when I was a kid, and brought it home.  The size and shape made us think of an ostrich egg, so that’s what we called it.  It actually turned out to be quite handy.  My mother used to make sauerkraut in a big clay crock (which I believe we still have in the basement!).  After layering the cabbage, she put an upside down plate on it to keep the cabbage in the liquid.  This rock (after being cleaned thoroughly, of course) was put on top of the plate to weigh it down.

I’m so happy to see my rock is still around. 😀

Then I moved on to the mess under the top of the wire spool.

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The base of the wire spool itself was completely rotten, falling apart as I pulled it up.

Then I raked up the decaying leaves and whatnot that was under it.

Whoever put the spool there took enough care to place it on bricks.

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With enough time, not even that was enough to keep it from rotting.

I did find another mystery, though.  Can you see it?  Just above the brick at the bottom, right.

Seashells.

There was a pair of seashells under there.

I just… accept mysteries like this, now. 😀

I took out the bricks, cleared away around the chimney bricks – found some more small bricks, and raked around it.  Here is how it looks, now.

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The little stools had been leaning against the chimney bricks.  They really should be tossed, as they’re old to the point of unstable, but they can stay here for now.

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I forget what the long clay “pipes” are for.

All cleared!

And – most importantly! – no more rotting wood with nails sticking up.

Back to clearing the trees!

The Re-Farmer

Another Mystery

This afternoon, while my daughters broke down the pile of branches I’d trimmed at the back of the house, I got the ladder out to caulk the holes in the wall left from the original internet satellite dishes.  Hearing the noise, my younger daughter came around to help.  Sweetheart that she is, she braved the incredibly bouncy ladder to fill the holes while I held the ladder for her.

My older daughter came around to see what was going on.  In the process of looking at her sister caulking the higher set of holes, she noticed something very strange, under the eaves of the second floor roof.

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Yes.  That’s right.

Linoleum tiles.

Why?

Why is that there?

The Re-Farmer

The Data Vampire, returns!

After monitoring my system data usage through April, I thought for sure the Data Vampire had been vanquished.  In fact, I didn’t even bother resetting the data usage meter when I checked it at the end of the month.

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April 30, data usage for the past 30 days.

Even though there was a sudden spike of almost 25 gigs at the end of the month.  Windows 10 updated, and it was reflected on our internet provider account information; almost 100 gigs used in a day, as 4 computers updates themselves! Continue reading

Oh, the things we find!

My daughters have been diligently working their way around the yard, methodically raking leaves out of the edges of the trees and the many flower beds all over the place, picking up wind blown sticks, and generally cleaning things up.

I was called out to see what they found next to the small people gate.

We’ve walked past this many times, of course, and saw the dried and matted plants at the base of a tree.

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Those two sticks on the side were stuck in it.  Just a mess of dead plants to clean up is all.  Right?

Oh…

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So… that’s wire fencing, all stuck in there.  We’re guessing the sticks had held the wire up for the … vines? … to climb.

Hold on.  What is that, under there?

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A glass bowl, with gold trim.  Hidden under the dead mat and buried under more leaves.

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A bowl with no bottom.

Not a broken bottom.  There’s no sign of the broken pieces.  Just… a bowl.  With no bottom.  Half filled with dirt and leaves.

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My daughter used on of the sticks to prop the mat up and hold it in place, while they rakes around it.  We’ll have to figure out how to get it, with the wire mesh it’s grown around, out of them.  Most likely, we’ll just have to cut it.

My siblings have been cutting the lawn and whatnot, since the house has been empty.  This does not look like something they would have planted and set up.  It looks like one of my mother’s projects.  Which means, it’s been like this for quite some time.  Maybe 5 years?  Just a guess, on my part.  I have no way to really know.

And what’s with the broken bowl under it?

I wonder if any of my siblings know anything about it?  I doubt I’d be able to get anything from my mother; after all this time, I doubt she would remember.  If it’s been there as long as I think it has, I doubt any of my siblings ever bothered to look.

Or, someone took the time to do this last year, when no one was living here, and that doesn’t make much sense, either.

Hmm.

The Re-Farmer

A Day of Progress

A few more steps forward, today – and the girls are still outside, working on cleaning up around the yard, so the progress continues even now.

The most exciting thing for me is, the septic guy came!  Yay!

Oh, the things that excite me in my old age… LOL

Seriously, though… it’s one less worry, and I already talked to him about coming back in the fall, as part of his regular route in the area, as we go back to doing the regular routine cleaning in the fall.

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I can’t help but admire someone who can back up a vehicle like this, through our gate into the yard, between the spruce grove and the flower garden along the East side of the house, and turn into the North side of the house – without hitting the downspout (which was screwed in place, unlike the others) or hitting the low hanging branches.

Dude’s got mad reversing skills.

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While chatting with him, I learned he is not a fan of this type of septic tank.

Typically, a septic tank is a large reservoir with only one chamber.  The solids naturally sink to the bottom and, once it reaches a certain level, the grey water drains out to the septic field.  It’s all gravity based.

This system is much smaller and has two reservoirs.  The one for the solids is smaller and has a smaller opening into it.  The grey water eventually fills the second, larger, reservoir until an ejector pump sends it out to the septic field.

He needed to get that hose into the solids reservoir, which not only has a smaller opening, but the hoses from the pump (which is inside the basement) run over it.

He knew the place had been empty for the last couple of years, since he’s been servicing our tank for quite a long time, and had assured me it wouldn’t be a concern.  Still, he was surprised by how much was in it.  I did explain that, though empty, there were still people using the house.  Add in 4 people and 6 months… I’m really glad we got it done.

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All done!

The straw on the left is what covered the lid for the winter.  I was going to pile it elsewhere, but I couldn’t find a pitch fork anywhere.

I checked the garage, the pump shack, the barn, the garden shed – even the basements.  No pitch fork to be found.

What farm doesn’t have a pitch fork?

Like most of the lawn on the North side of the house, the grass here is pretty much all gone.  Not even just dead, like in other parts of the lawn.  It’s basically just dirt and weeds.

After the tank was done, I went back to working on the wood pile in the garden, but not before getting a picture of something that was a mystery to the girls.  A mystery I actually knew the answer to, for a change!

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It’s one thing to find extension cords all over the house, what with the lack of outlets, but an extension cord up a tree?  The tree itself is probably 60 ft high, or close to it, and the cord runs almost all the way up.

I remember when it was run up there.  My late brother, who was an agile climber, put it there.  He also carried up a star shaped frame with Christmas lights in it, and installed it near the very top of the tree.  The cord is to plug in the star.

I can’t see if the star is still up there, but I can’t imagine anyone climbing up there to take it down.  Nor can I imagine it ever being replaced since it was first put up there, which means that is a very old extension cord.

We have no plans of ever using it again!

Meanwhile, back to the wood pile in the garden!

This is a pile of deadwood and prunings that had been put there before we moved out, and my family had wanted to burn in the winter.  I didn’t want it burned, so we now have the job of cleaning it out of the garden area.  Most of it will be used as fuel for the fire pit, but some I’m keeping for future crafting purposes.  My mother is still adamant that she wants the garden plowed, as soon as the pile is cleared.

I’m glad we put our collective foot down about not burning this.  Earlier, I’d already pulled out a bunch of fibre glass insulation that was buried in it.  There are more bits and pieces we are still finding.

I also found this.

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Apparently, no one had a problem with burning this, then plowing the remaining metal and glass bits, into the garden.

Nor with this…

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I’d already pulled out a margarine container.  Today, I found the two lids and some mystery plastic, along with the bits of insulation.

Lovely.

As I was writing this, my daughters called me out to see a discovery they made while cleaning around the yard.

That one is getting its own post.  After I make supper.

Oh, the strange things we are finding!

The Re-Farmer

Shaggy friends, a new bird ID and… a mystery!

Early this morning, I spotted some movement at the edge of our spruce grove.  It turned out to be a bird, enthusiastically digging and pecking at the ground.  A surprisingly large bird; not as big as a grouse, but certainly bigger than a blue jay or crow.  Not something I recall seeing before.  Unfortunately, it was too far to identify by eye, so I got some pictures zoomed in as far as our lens can go.  They’re not good pictures, but enough to identify it.

From what I can find, it appears to be a Northern Flicker, though there are different kinds that can look quite different.

The most distinctive thing about it was the splash of red at the back of the neck.  The other distinguishing feature is the black bib.

A number of the photos of Northern Flickers I saw also had a splash of red on the cheek, but this one did not have that.

As it later flew away, I was able to see the underside of its wings, which appeared to be a bright yellow.

The Norther Flicker is a member of the woodpecker family, so it’s interesting that this one was pecking, not at wood, but at the ground.

Later on, my younger daughter and I got some progress done on the sorted wood piles in the garden.  We’ve now removed all the wood we’d already sorted, except for the pile I set aside to keep for potential projects.  More will be added to it as we finish going through the original pile.  When we got to the larger pieces, we had to saw most of them in half so they would fit in the wheel barrows.  We could really tell when we were cutting apple wood!  The wood is so much harder, and the patterns in the rings are so distinctive and lovely.  Even the ones I didn’t choose to keep, I set them to one side in the piles we’re making near the fire pit, for use when we’re cooking or, if all goes well, able to do some smoking.

My poor daughter.  By the time we were done for the day, she was just wasted.  She was really too sick to be doing this sort of work, but she did it anyways, and I really appreciate it!

After that, I went to the post office and, along the way, I found our shaggy neighbours were closer to the road, so I pulled over to get some photos.

Zooming in with a cell phone doesn’t get very good pictures, unfortunately, but still.  Bison!

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We got some unexpected people visitors today.  First, my brother and his Lady Fair, who live nearby, came over to pick up the last of some stuff he’s got in our root cellar.  I was all excited because his beautiful dog finally allows me to pet him!  Then my older brother came by, just as they we leaving.  My mother’s car has been stored here for the winter, and she wants to register it again soon, so he came to put the battery back in.  It turned out to need charging, so he started doing some stuff at the barn.  When I went out to join him, I stopped to take a look at a pile of wood that is sitting in the barn yard.

Only to discover, it’s not a pile of wood.  It’s a pile of something else, covered in wood.

What on earth was I seeing under there?

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Whatever the wood is covering has moss growing on it, and there’s a layer of plastic.  Something is showing through holes that I at first thought was ashes?

So I asked my brother.

It’s insulation.  My youngest brother had put it there.

My youngest brother died in 2010.

Why is it there?  My brother didn’t know.

The wood on top showed up more recently.

What on earth are we going to do with a plastic covered, moss covered, wood covered, pile of insulation, sitting in the barn yard?

The Re-Farmer