April 22, 2017
New Power Equipment
You might remember how my snow blower died in the middle of one of the biggest storms of this past winter - and how I was relegated to shoveling a wet, heavy 15-17" of snow. I was determined to take advantage of end of season sales, did research for weeks (I research everything to death), and on 4/11 found a deal I just couldn't pass up. Not only was the price right, but HD was offering free shipping too. SOLD!
Yesterday I got home just as the delivery guy was closing the garage door after depositing the pallet holding my prize. There is a slight bit of assembly to do - install the chute and the chute controller, but I have at least 6 months to do so. I am extremely happy with the heaviness of it - no plastic parts there. It is slightly bigger, a lot stronger, and can leap tall buildings, has a slightly larger chute rotation range, and should prove more capable chewing thru berms and heavy, wet snow than my broken snow blower.
I will have a whole new set of controls to get used to, but if that is my biggest issue I will be a happy camper. It is a SnowTek, which is an off-branded Ariens, and it is rated as one of the heavier duty work-horses in its class (and the reviews rave about it). About the only way I could have gotten better was to go to much larger.
And, you probably don't remember that I broke my mower at the end of last summer. I have been perusing CL the last month or so to see if I could find a good used unit. Last Sunday night I came across the ideal - the same size cutting width, somewhat larger motor, the same brand and type as my old mower, 2 years old and slightly used - at about what it would cost to bring the old mower back to fighting shape. I emailed the seller within 3 hours of his posting the ad and asked if I could pick it up that night. I explained I couldn't pick it up during the week because of working days and nights.
Seems he has a soft spot for people with multiple jobs since he has done that for a lot of his adult life. So, he offered to hold it for me until Saturday morning despite the fact that a lot of people were interested (he actually under priced it as far as I was concerned). I picked it up at 8 this morning and am now the proud owner of this mulching, FWD, self-propelled, one pull starting beauty
In talking to the guy his MIL bought it 2 years ago, used it a couple of times then hired a lawn service, who used their own mowers. She then moved to Florida over the winter and asked him to either buy it from her or sell it for her in the spring. He had already gotten a new mower, so it was spring and time to sell. It certainly looks as if it has only been used a couple of times, and we started it before loading it in the Explorer, and it did indeed start in one pull (as it should). The controls are exactly like the old mower, so no new thing-a-ma-jigs to learn on this one.
I will get the old mower fixed since I am reasonably certain I know what is wrong, plus it needs a new blade and tune up. The old mower is a 5.75 instead of a 7.25 but fully capable of performing back up duty and mowing in the areas where roots and rocks stick up out of the ground - what, if my diagnosis is correct, caused the issue in the first place.
August 21, 2016
Grass Is green - For Now
I mowed for the first time in two weeks yesterday. For this season that is unusual - I've been mowing every 3 weeks (whether it needs it or not). Mother Nature has been very stingy with the water this year and most of NH is under drought conditions, some areas of the state are up to 13" below normal. My area is only 7-8" under for the year. A lot of my front yard was brown for about a month, the shrubs and perennials I placed in wet and damp areas last summer were wilting (I have been watering them every couple of days for several weeks) and the swamp next door shows no water(neither does the drainage between that property and mine). Not only have we been under watered by MN, but we have been extremely hot for the upper Northeast and we've had over 20 days in the 90's (normal is something like 11).
But then I got lucky and got 4" of rain last weekend. True, all of it came in the span of about 4 hours, but we got moisture non-the-less. The weather service was calling for severe storms with lots of rain, so I made sure to water the "damp" and "wet" gardens that morning so that it would be prepped to let the precipitation thru.
The first severe weather started between 4 & 6. I really don't remember the time, I just know I was getting ready to get up on a metal step stool and use a metal scraper (just underneath a metal roof) to knock off ridges in the dried mud on the bathroom ceiling (taping and mudding, not dirt - LOL). When the thunder and lightning started, I figured I best not do that, so waited that cell out. When the deluge started, I put out a couple of 2" deep, strait-sided, flat-bottomed bowels to catch water so I could get a good idea how much rain I got.
By the time the cell moved thru and I checked the bowls they were over flowing, so I got over 2" in that round. I emptied the bowels so I could measure the next cell that was headed my way. Around 7:30, after getting the mud ridges knocked down (yes, the cell moved thru quickly), the second cell came thru
I was just mudding with a plastic spatula, so I didn't worry about working in the bathroom although when the Emergency Management System tone came over my phone it got my attention and I stopped to see what was going on. Just a text telling me about the possibility of flash flooding in my area. By the end of that cell, the bowls were just below full, so I figured another 2" (to make up for the overflowing the first time).
Since more storms might roll in thru the night, I emptied the bowls again. But the next morning there was only about 1/4" in them.
The sad thing is that the swamp was so starved for water that it soaked it all in. I listened for runoff into the drainage (sounds like a burbling stream), but it was quiet. The farms in the state are suffering with no hay, stunted crops, and small fruits. Fish and Game also had bear warnings out since the wild berries have failed so the wildlife is looking for other sources of food.
Could be a lot worse - we haven't had any forest fires since spring and we aren't in the shape that Louisiana is in (or other areas like Mulvane, KS).
August 07, 2016
I don't think that I've posted a picture of the Polar Joy tree rose that I got earlier in the summer. This is its second blooming. The first bloom was weak since it was still in its pot, but it is much happier in a large barrel planter.
I do have to remove suckers from the trunk on a regular basis, and even a new shoot from the roots once, so it doesn't turn into a large bush, but other than that, it has been easy to care for.
July 17, 2016
On July 4th, after mowing, I was puttering around in the yard. I planted a Sweet Autumn Clematis (paniculata) next to the willow tree and decided to just mulch over the area between the willow and the ornamental plum tree (I'm not sure of that, but I believe so). That area is the hill between the fill that the house sits on and the swamp next door, so it is a pain to mow. And, I'm thinking of placing small shrubs there, so that would be the first step anyway. I had bought the clematis at a local nursery 4-6 weeks prior and it had been patiently waiting in a pot. But as a vigorous climber (up to 30'), it needed room to stretch out.
The "trellis" is the old Aluminum grill from the old storm door that I replaced a couple of years ago. I have been kicking it around (literally - every time I mowed I had to move it out of my way), but had hung onto it for just such a duty.
While I was covering the area with landscape fabric and mulch I smelled smoke. I started looking around and then I noticed smoke rising from behind a house down the road. There had been fireworks from that way the night before, and the ground was really dry (we are 5-7" behind in rain) so I jumped in the truck to investigate. Fortunately I saw someone burning out a garden area, or weedy area or something; the fire was low and was being tended with a hose nearby.
In progressing down the street to an intersection so I could turn around, I saw a neighbor walking her dog (I only know her by her dog and have only met her once), and stoped to chat for a second. I mentioned that I was investigating the smoke, but saw it wasn't anything to be concerned about. Turns out, that was her house and it was her brother helping her get the house and yard cleaned up to put the house on the market.
She asked if I wanted some landscape timbers - they were extras and knew I was doing yard work, so thought of me. Strangely enough, the day before I had been at H*me Depot for another reason, and looked at landscape timbers. However, what they had was crappy looking and not worth the price they were asking, so I didn't get any. I gladly accepted and she said she would deliver them later.
So, I went back to mulching and pretty soon I heard a 4-wheeler coming down the road. The neighbor was letting her nephew drive the 4-wheeler with a plastic pallet filled with timbers. They dropped them off while I joked it was funny that I was giving away a pile of wood while they were delivering wood.
We thanked each other - I for her generosity and delivery, and she for me for getting them out of her yard while knowing they would go to good use, and they went back to her house to continue cleaning up.
Thank you neighbor!
July 4th weekend I got some outside work done that was sorely needed. Sapling had really taken over the back of the property. I was noticeably mowing less, and I don't have very much property anyway, so I decided a bunch of them need to go. Another reason for thinning out the trees is that there are 3 black cherries growing back there. Although very tall, they do not do well when crowded and getting too much shade from other trees.
I had started by using hand loppers to get what I could (done the last weekend of June). Even some of those saplings were impressive in size as they were up to 15 feet tall. but with a trunk size of 3" or less. But, when I went to start my CL chainsaw, the beast wouldn't go, so I couldn't finish the job. I ordered a refurb'ed battery powered chainsaw ( pulling a gas powered saw's cord is very difficult for me) and it arrived before July 4 weekend, so I was in business.
The saplings I took down wer up to 25 feet tall.. I'll just show the before (after cutting with loppers in June) and after cutting with the chainsaw comparisons. First set is to the right as looking out the back door. (don't pay attention to the pile of limbs - I had already made 2 trips to the dump to get rid of the leavings so it is not indicative of anything)
A little to the left of the first pics - pretty much looking directly out the back door
To the left looking out the back door - note the white bird bath base sitting in the woods. When I moved in 3 years ago, it was clearly visible as it is in the "after" pic.
I didn't get any before/after comparisons in the yard past where the fence ends (there is another 30-40 feet, but you get the idea. All told, I took down 17 sapling from the back, and 3 very old lilacs that had been strangled by an Oriental Bittersweet in the front (just the chainsaw totals).
I limbed out all the saplings and took those to the brush pile at the dump. I cut up the trunks to 6-8' lengths and set them out with a sign for anyone that wanted to take them. I wasn't real hopeful as most of that was green wood (stated on the sign), but some was dead - and you never know what someone may find useful.
Tuesday after 4th of July, I took a vacation day and used that to take everything to the dump. It took 3 loads
I was going to make the fourth load the trunk material I had set by the side of the road, but just as I got home from the third load, a lady was finishing up loading her truck with it. I pulled up and told her of her great timing - this is the pile of wood that she scored.
Although more saplings need to come down, I am happy with the progress I made.
June 11, 2016
Blooms are Coming
A few things have managed to bloom even though we are having a cool, dry spring:
The iris is from Cop Car - planted last summer. I'm surprised it bloomed as conventional wisdom says not to expect blooms for 2-3 years after dividing. I had a couple of this color bloom, and several purple iris bloom (you can see some in the background behind the lupine in the picture below)
I don't think the rhodies out front ever have a bad year - no matter how bad they look after a winter!
A red squirrel was scolding me as I was reading under the crabapple tree.
This is an area that during early spring I had pulled everything I could; poison ivy, blackberries and oriental bittersweet were prevalent along with some "good" plants, but I didn't discriminate. The last 3 weekends I have sprayed for poison ivy and the invasive vines. Last weekend, after spraying and letting it dry for several hours, I covered it with heavy plastic, heavy gardener's fabric, then mulch. Hopefully the smothering will finish off the stuff in that area.
I have to smother a 3-4' section alongside the back of that rock wall too. Then I will be religiously spraying in and around the rock wall and the huge stump all summer and into the fall (that is about a 3' diameter stump that poison ivy has thoroughly entrenched itself on the right).
I knew I had poison ivy coming out of the trees behind the house, and out of the swamp to the right of the house, but yesterday I found a good size patch just outside the fence on the left side of the property toward the back corner. I'm officially surrounded :(
May 22, 2016
A Few Spring Pictures
Not much happening besides mowing, work and other mundane things, but some of the plant life around here is finally convinced spring has arrived.
Phlox with a Primrose backdrop
The crab apple tree - it didn't have a real good bllom this year. I caugh this at what I thought was the beginning of the bloom on 5/13, but it was actually the best day to take the pic
Last weekend I could tell what vehicles were in that parking lot behind my house, andsee people walking down that street. The leaves were budding, but not in the way. This pic was taken yesterday.
The lilacs and forsythia did not bloom well this year, which I knew would happen since I severely pruned them during the summer (after this year's flower buds had developed). Some of the plants I put in last year are starting to develope, but it will be another year or two before they are picture ready. Other plants don't seem to have survived the winter; None of the redbud trees are even trying to put out any growth and 3 roses were lost (the two by the front door are coming back though). Looks like even some of the winterberry was lost, while others are coming in.
Hoping to find some time to work in the yard during the summer, bring some sapplings down, plant some shrubs that I overwintered in pots etc., but with my current schedule and the weather pattern, I'll be happy if I can just keep the lawn mowed and weeds down to a minimum in existing plant beds.
May 01, 2016
Yesterday was an awesome day to get out and do some yard work; it was in the mid 50's, sunny, with a light breeze. I got out and raked leaves and limbs (this pic is just one of the piles of leaves.
I saved the 3 cu/ft bags from mulch I laid down last year and stuffed those full of leaves (you can cram quite a bit in there, just keep compressing and compressing). The bags are of a nice thick plastic, and even when a hoe or tear develops, it doesn't enlarge from pressure as it would using normal trash bags. Using those, and a large trash barrel, I loaded up the truck to take it all to the dump's brush pile.
There are some large limbs below all the bags, but since I had done a limb cleanup last month, I didn't have a second load to take. The pellet bag (yellow/tan bag) and the white trash can are my trash and recyclables. You probably can't see it, but the 33 gal trash can full of leaves and sticks is in the front of the bed, on the right side. You can just see the handle sticking up toward the middle of the windshield.
Although I threw most of the mulch bags away after dumping the leaves, I did save 3 of them for future yard work. I'm sure I'll get more mulch later in the season, so will replenish my stock then. Between what the former owners left in the house for large plastic bags (I still have a box of them), mulch bags and pellet bags (for household trash and lining the kitty litter bucket), I don't think I've bought any sort of trash bag since I moved here :) .
I have been getting good use out of the Explorer - I couldn't have done this in one trip with the Patriot - heck, the trash barrel would have to lay down (I've used that barrel a lot for transporting detritus from various demolition projects).
April 23, 2016
Happy Birthday Cop Car
Cop Car's birthday was a couple of days ago - although her card should have made it to her on time, my blog posting is a bit belated. However, my Hyacinths bloomed right in time so these pics are for her.
Love you lots Mom!
April 17, 2016
First 2016 Spring Flowers
Sad but true, here are all the flowering plants at this time; two English Primrose - one whcihc is much more expesed to wind and cold so is still showing affects from the really cold day a couple of months ago - but it is going for the flower, so I assume it will survive.
The bulbs I planted last year are coming up
Sadly, the gardens will most likely suffer this year as I will not be able to do any work at night, and weekends I have other house projects I want to get done. However, I'm not saying nothing will get done as I never know what I will be in the mood to work on.