Clean up: west fence line and maple grove

Today turned out to be too cold and damp to do the mowing between the trees I cleared last year, that I hoped to do today. I thought I might be able to at least use my reciprocating saw to cut some of the smaller stumps of trees I took down last year to ground level, so I could mow over them. In the end, I decided it was just too damp to drag out the extension cords and use electric tools.

Instead, I worked on an area I left partly unfinished last year; a double row of elms leading to the garden gate at the west fence line.

Here is how it looked before I started.

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Prepping the old dog houses

Yesterday, after picking the crab apples, I had time to start working on the old dog houses, as part of our winterization plans for them. We were getting severe thunderstorm alerts and, looking at the weather radar, it looked like these ones were not going to miss us, so we rushed to get a bunch of things done outside. The girls put the sheets of metal roofing back on the old garden shed that had blown off from the last storm, but there was no way to nail them in place, so they strapped them down, instead. Then they helped me move aside the dog houses, so I could work on the space under them.

The main issue was that the ground is not level, resulting in one of the dog houses tending to rock back and forth.

This was part of why that was happening.

Nothing like a big ol’ tree root to mess things up!

To try and level it, I first used a garden fork to dig things up and loosen the soil. After that, I used a garden rake to try and level the area as much as I could.

Which the kittens absolutely loved.

I then put the sheets of Styrofoam insulation back, but lay them out differently this time, after noting some issues from how we had it before.

I happened to have a sheet of dollar store tarp in the garage, so I used it to basically hold the 4 sheets of insulation together – and I hope it will serve to protect it a bit from the cats, who like to use the foam to sharpen their claws! LOL

Then I snagged a daughter to help me move the dog houses back again.

The kittens love it!

I have a couple more sheets of insulation that I plan to slide under the dog houses, so the kittens aren’t going to be able to play under there for much longer. 😀 Later, when we get a straw bale to cover our septic tank, I plan to add start around the dog houses. We are also looking at ways to use the sheets of black tarp that I cleared from the old wood pile to further shelter and winterize these for the cats.

Not long after this was done, we did get hit with a pretty wild thunderstorm. We promptly lost our internet, and even the power flickered off and on several times, though we never lost it completely. I later saw photos taken in town, where there was some flooding in the streets.

Looking at the long range forecasts, we might get storms throughout tomorrow and into early the next morning, before things clear up. We’ve had enough rain that I might actually have to mow the lawn one more time before putting the mower away for the winter!

The Re-Farmer

Clean Up: old wood pile area, a bit of progress

I didn’t get as much done cleaning up in the old wood pile as I’d hoped, but a little is better than none!

This is most of the area I focused on today. I got more old pallets out, and a bit more rotten wood. For the most part, it’s too rotten to even pick up, but I’m hoping to at least get out the pieces with nails. I also cleared out some saplings that were in the wood pile my sister and her husband had made in the big garden, the summer before we moved out.

Most of the pile in the foreground is what I’d move there last year. I had intended to find uses for it, but I have access to better types of wood than I knew of back then, so I will be adding it to the chipping pile. I’ve got cherry wood set aside, and I have more than enough to work on, so any more cherry I take down is going to the chipping pile, too. There is still some apple wood I’d set aside by the old dog house. I’ll see what condition it’s in as I move it, before I make any decisions about it.

The pile of debris is growing, and I’m at a loss as to what to do with it. With the possibility of nails being in there, I can’t compost it, but there is so much soil in there, I just don’t think it’ll burn well.

I think, after I clean up more around the outhouse, I’ll spread it in the back. There is an access to the pit under the outhouse there, so it can be emptied as needed, so it should be kept open and clear. It’s not an area that will get traffic, to the risks of people finding nails is lower, and we certainly won’t be gardening or anything back there.

That’s one possibility, anyhow.

I did find a few things while moving pallets out.

A bent piece of sheet metal, two electrical insulators, and a perfectly intact tea cup – not even a chip on it! – buried under the pallet fence.

Weird!

In between working on this, we got some progress on the garden area we mulched, and had some company, but I will write about that in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: old wood pile, progress

Things actually got chilly last night, and we had a wonderfully cool morning! I was really looking forward to getting some progress in the yard.

Of course, by the time I actually got out there, it had warmed up considerably. 😀 It was nice, working in the shade, though.

With the way things have been doing this year, I decided that getting this old wood pile cleared was my one primary goal for the summer. Anything beyond that was gravy.

I may have messed myself up with this particular goal! 😀 It’s turning out to be a more challenging job than I expected!

This is why.

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Growing things

While doing my significantly more limited rounds this morning, I had to pause and get a photo of the ground by the feeding station. With the rain we’ve finally been having, things have really greened up again, and started to grow.

Including bird seed and deer feed!

This picture if of the area on the far side of the bird feeder, from the window – where we put the bulk of the deer feed in the winter. There is a smaller area on the side closer to the house that also has a patch like this.

The only thing I recognize in there is oats! We haven’t bought mixed bird seed, sticking to the black oil seed, since fall and we tried several different types, so I have no idea what all might be growing here. It’s going to get mowed, anyhow, but it’s neat to see!

While switching out the memory card on the trail cam, I got a picture of one of the asparagus growing wild by the fence.

None of the asparagus by the house is showing signs of berries, which makes these the only female plants around. This makes me extra curious about how they ended up growing here. It’s still possible that the seeds were spread by birds, but there are no other female asparagus plants nearby that could have been the source. The nearest garden to us is my brother’s, about a quarter mile away, and as far as I know they don’t have any.

I’m looking forward to when they turn that beautiful bright red again. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

The things I see

Posting is going to be a bit light over the next few days. Hopefully, I will be able to upgrade my WordPress account by this weekend, giving me more storage for photos. I am hoping to continue doing the before and after posts that I did while cleaning and clearing the yard last year. I will also be restarting the Critter of the Day posts – we’ve been seeing all sorts of new birds I’m excited to share with you!

It’s been a surprisingly chilly spring. It’s warm enough during the day, but even last night, we got another frost warning, and we’ve had our furnace turning on during the night!

Which leaves me feeling very behind on my work outside. I just hope this means we’ll have a longer fall to make up for it.

Meanwhile, here are some of the things I see as I do my usual routine.

Like when we open the garage.

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Clean up: wood chip pile and jasmine bed

I was able to tackle two areas in the East yard today. The first was planned; I decided to leave the remains of the wood chip pile where it was, and spread it out along Northwest corner of the spruce grove.

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Some of the pile got moved to the cross, as the pile at the other end didn’t have enough chips to extend that far. This will make mowing around this corner easier. Eventually, I will be clearing further into this area, but that will have its own natural mulch of leaves and spruce needles.

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This side is where they chipped the branches from the 2 big maples directly onto the ground. There is more cleanup needed here, plus that dead tree will need to come down at some point, so I wasn’t too particular about how much this area was spread out.

I have some thoughts about that dead spruce tree. I could have it cut flush with the ground. I could have the stump leveled at about a foot and a half high and use it as a seat, or put boards across it to turn it into a bench. I could have it cut a bit higher and put a table top on it, then add benches or seats around it. Or I could have it cut to a couple of feet, hollow it out and turn it into a planter.

Feel free to let me know what you think about these ideas in the comments. 🙂

Once that was done, I finally got around to removing the foam insulation we put around the house in the fall. That got me eyeballing this odd little flower bed my mother made where she had transplanted a jasmine.

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This is what it looked like after removing the foam insulation; I had tossed the little plastic fence things in there, just to get them out of the way.

It’s falling apart and, when I try to water the jasmine by the steps, the water just runs downhill, past that piece of pressure treated wood and the miscellaneous pieces of brick. I had a couple of other pieces of pressure treated wood, as well as other bricks. I figured I could use both to build up a little retaining wall, bricks as a foundation for the wood, then more bricks on the wood to create a higher wall.

The first thing to do, of course, is take out the bricks that were already there.

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From where I was pulling things out, I get the impression that a bed was built up around the jasmine by the stairs when it was transplanted, and then it was extended when the second plant (I am not sure if it’s another jasmine; I don’t think so) was added.

I wanted a rectangular bed, since I was using the pieces of wood for walls, so I started digging it out to create level trenches to put them in.

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I kept finding more bricks!

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Using one of the pieces of wood as a guide, I began putting bricks into the trench as a foundation, leveling them off by eye. This is not intended to be permanent, so I’m not too worried about getting anything exact, but it will be there a few years, I’m sure, so I still want to get it solid.

After reaching the steps, I discovered a bit of a problem. Even using a block of concrete that was already there, the length of the bed was greater than the combined length of the wood I was using. I did have another piece that turned out to be just wide enough to fit, but…

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Yeeeeaaaahhhh…

No.

I mean, I could cut it to size with a chainsaw (now that I have one that works), but it’s quite rotten and…. nah. Not happy with it.

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So I moved the end in a few inches, instead.

Once the brick foundation and wood pieces were in place, I used the soil I’d taken out to fill in the gaps.

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Once that was done and stamped down, I realized I didn’t need to make it any higher.

I will likely need to bring in more soil for the outside of the bed, to tamp down and make sure the pieces of wood don’t just fall off their brick foundation. That can be done little by little, as needed, over the summer. I will also be mulching it with straw, when I start working on the bale.

So I now have to figure out what to do with the bricks. 🙂

The Re-Farmer