Monday, May 18, 2009

The past week in review

When I came home from work on Tuesday, I was surprised to find three people loading up all of the sheet steel from the demolished barn. I contacted them a few weeks ago and since they hadn't shown up, I assumed they weren't interested. I'm happy that was not the case! The area looks much better now. Not only did they clean up the metal, they enlarged my burn pile by throwing the rotted old wood from the barn on top. I'm happy to have all that metal gone!

Wednesday, I burned an area around one of the large pine trees that I have chosen to leave standing for the moment. There was poison ivy growing on the ground and assorted debris and burning was the easiest way to clean the area up. It worked nicely, allowing me to easily see the debris that didn't burn. As soon as the black area turns green, it will look much better.

Thursday I replaced the blades on the riding lawnmower and started to mow the weeds, er...lawn, for the first time this year. In some places the grass was two feet tall. The 15.5 horsepower Murray riding lawnmower didn't have a single problem with the grass. It didn't really like the fire ant hills that were hidden in that tall grass, but all-in-all it did a good job.

I was in the process of burning the big pile of tree branches and barn debris Friday evening when my son showed up for his scheduled weekend visit. I was trying to keep the flames from becoming ten feet high by spraying water on the pile with the garden hose. I put gallons and gallons of water on the pile just to keep it manageable. It finally burned down to a point where I felt comfortable going inside to get out of the mosquitos and away from the heat.

We started Saturday morning by grilling chorizo sausage on the grill about 8:30. That's a late start for me, but I was feeling lazy. After breakfast, I doused the smoldering burn pile so we could pile more on top. Wes and I gathered trimmed tree branches that have been cut for over a year and threw them on the pile. We gathered all the garbage from the area and while Wes mowed around the house with the push mower, I finished the larger areas with the tractor. I estimate that the entire area that I want to keep mowed is just over an acre. It looks really good when it's mowed!

My back kept me from getting good sleep overnight. I awoke at about 3AM and the spasms were really painful. I suffer from this type of injury frequently because I haven't quite learned how to work without straining my back. I took a muscle relaxer and went back to bed. The alarm woke me up for church at about 6:45. When I got up, the back was still acting up, so I took another pill and decided that it would be best if I layed in bed instead of go to church. It was rainy and somewhat cool so it was a good day to laze around. Wes and I had grilled cheese for breakfast and watched TV for the rest of the morning. Wes left to go home about 1PM and it was still raining lightly. I watched a bit more TV in between the muscle relaxer induced naps.

I got up about 3PM and decided to plant some flower seeds that I bought a month ago. With the ground wet from the rain it was easy to loosen up with the hoe and rake. I planted in last years burn spot so the ground was fairly sterile and had few things growing in it. I planted 30" tall Zinnias in the center and large 20" tall Marigolds around the Zinnias. I wanted another lower flower around those, but I didn't realize that the Impatiens that I bought were not meant for direct sun, so I didn't plant them. I'll look for another to complete the third concentric circle. Planting that small plot was enough for my back, so I went in and was a couch potato the rest of the day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Trees cut, deck started!

My son Wes and my Daughter Kristy spent 5 days with me during Holy week. I took Wednesday and Thursday off and Friday was a holiday. We worked together as a team to get much work done! We hauled 2 cubic yards of crushed rock to the ravine in my driveway. At $25 per yard, I ran out of money before the ravine was filled, but it's a start.

Wes and I made a big dent in demolishing the old metal and wood barn that was slowly collapsing on it's own. I almost killed us both in the process when the roof collapsed, but we were obviously protected. Wes was unharmed and I just suffered a bruise on my left shoulder about the size of a small pumpkin.

We also cut down a bunch of trees. 24 in all. As soon as I cut the fallen trees into pieces, they carried them off to the burn pile. It was pretty great to see the trees disappear almost as quickly as I cut them down! The entire area in front of my house looks much more open now. The biggest reason for clearing out the trees was so that the power company could get a lift truck to my power pole. They are changing the line voltage and they have to replace the transformer. Last week a pair of dual-wheel tire tracks appeared in my yard so I now know that they were able to get to the pole with no problems. I'm really pleased with the results of the tree cutting. It opens up the area quite a bit. I still have about 10 more that need to go, but I'll wait for some other time.

A few weekends ago, I installed a window in my living room so that I could install a window air conditioner. I also burned most of the trees that we cut down a few weeks ago. It's amazing to see years of growth disappear in hours. I also started on phase one of my deck which will be 8' wide all along the north gable side of my house. Eventually it will be covered with a roof. It's really great when a day or two of work makes that much difference in the appearance of my house. Not to mention how great it will be to sit on the deck!

East side view never before seen because of the tree, now removed.

Old barn being demolished

Remains of the 24 trees that were cut down

Deck in progress

View from deck towards the northeast.