Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Tree is dead! Long live the Tree!

(Okay, so I don't have the heir to the tree yet, but the old one is *out*!!!)

So, Wednesday I put up the chain I bought and reattached the come-along (since I didn't want to borrow the neighbour's chain for too long). It turns out that those "quick links" come with the "do not use where failure could be catastrophic" warning for a reason:
Pathetic quality control! Good thing I had bought some spares, although they turned out to be *just* fat enough that I had to find links that were slightly D-shaped to put them through.

Also shown in the above photo... the *awesome* loop I put on my (well, long-term borrowed from mom and Bob) garden shears, to replace the one long-since lost. Okay, so it's not that awesome... but it does the job well, and the soldering job isn't horrible. ;)

Wednesday I dug around the root ball a bit more:
disentangled Dad's junk from the creeping virginia here:
(except the boards, which will become raised beds if dad doesn't get them first) and put it with the other junk here:
and put up some wires and tied up most of the raspberries beside the garage:
(I didn't get them all because I ran out of the string I had outside, and the sun had set by that point. I still need to get to the last few.)

Mom came over on Friday and did a bit more digging. (My mom is awesome.)

Saturday, I dug some more, while mom took apart one of the pallets for me:
After using the chainsaw some more, the tree was still standing, but we had managed to accomplish a noticeable lean with pressure applied by the come-along:
(The chainsaw cut great at first, after my neighbour had sharpened it for me, but then it went back to producing sawdust. *sigh*.) I was feeling a bit shaky by then, and mom needed to go anyway, so I had some yoghurt before getting back to work.

I tried getting the soil out from around the roots still left, but the soil was solid clay. So I took the nails out of my pallet boards and made a raised bed:
I got it half-way filled with dirt before I *had* to stop for dinner.

Sunday we brought out the big guns to work on the tree: my neighbour and his son. Not only did they get the tree down:
(dad's bucket of brick bits bit the dust after a square hit from the tree):
but they also cut the trunk into rounds for me, which I plan to use as stepping "stones":
(actual stepping stones being rather pricey, once you factor in how many I want... this way I can just buy a few here and there as these rot. Although I probably won't have enough and will still need to buy some now.)

Go figure, the stump portion fell back into the hole, so I'll need to heave it out later:
(I've told another neighbour who likes to have bonfires that they can have it, so maybe it'll disappear on its own...)

Now to put the dirt back in the hole, dig in organic matter, and get stuff *planted*!!! Yay!!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chainsaw Massacre

I brought out the big guns today for my battle with the dead spruce:
(Ugh... I really need to lose some weight!)

To avoid dulling the chainsaw, I dug around and under a number of roots before starting up the chainsaw. (Mom helped a bit... I had asked her over in case I had an accident with the chainsaw, but she helped move dirt too. She had hurt her back the other day, though, so she stuck to stuff that wouldn't aggravate her back.)

Then, with some assistance from mom (it seemed to take three hands plus a foot), I got the chainsaw started, then started again after I didn't keep enough pressure on the trigger to prevent it from stalling. Then I went at the roots. The result:
Sawing took longer than I thought it would. I think I wasn't applying enough pressure... I think I was expecting the saw to kind of drive itself in, like other power saws seem to do.

After cutting through the roots (I think I cut two small ones with the axe while I was digging, then five thick ones with the chainsaw), I attached the come-along again, and had a go at pulling the tree over:
Mom thinks she might have seen it budge minutely. I'm not sure it did.

Since it was going to take me a while to dig around more roots, mom decided I could do that on my own while she got in out of the rain. (It started spitting as soon as I went outside to get started, but didn't get heavy enough to stop until later.)

Before she left, mom used a shovel we found in the garage to put my piles of leaves and pinecones from sweeping the patio Thursday evening in the yard waste bins:
(She filled two bins. The pink one I put dead raspberry canes in, then shovelled a bit more of what I had swept up in the back lane.)

I didn't really feel like doing more digging today (especially since it had started drizzling a bit harder), so, after cutting out the dead raspberry canes, I moved dad's junk from an area I want to put my raised vegetable beds to a corner of the patio:
It's kind of a bummer to put that big ugly pile on the patio when I had just gotten it pretty good looking, but there wasn't really a better place for it. I put the biggest propane tank on the driveway side of the garage, but I didn't really want to put the other stuff there... I want to be able to park there, and it would mean carrying it farther. (It was a shorter distance for the big tank to the driveway, because I was dragging it across the ground and around the piles of dirt, rather than tossing it over top of the piles of dirt.)

Look! No junk:
(Some suckers I need to deal with, and not exactly level... but it's a start.)

My garlic and onions (green and walking) are doing well:
It looks like most of the perennials survived the winter too. (There's a couple I'm not sure about yet.)

Ow. I *hurt*. Oh well... at least I feel like I made progress today, even if it's not enough. It's nice that they're now recommending we wait until some time in June to plant live plants (it's okay to seed now, though)... but I only have access to the chainsaw until next weekend, after which it is returning to the lake. Plus I want to get my raised beds started with lettuce, peas, and other "likes it cool" seeds. Argh.


I noticed a white spot on my suet bird feeder. Had something gone moldy?
Nope... turns out a plum branch was caught in the feeder!
I wonder how that happened? (Branch freed now, and feeder moved over slightly so that hopefully this won't happen again.)


When I looked out my kitchen window today, I discovered that Mr Hoot had tipped over. Given how round he is, I doubt it was the wind. Was it a squirrel? A cat? Or does Mr Hoot like to party a bit too much on a Saturday night? (At least he's quiet about it.)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Home Sweet Gnome

I wanted a gnome for my junkyard-turning-garden. The White Rabbit is adorable, and I love him, but he is not a gnome.

I saw a promising-looking fellow in last week's Rona flyer, but he was sold out at the one I visited, and the other garden statuary didn't fit what I was going for. (There was a nice gargoyle, but I think it was $40, and so I decided to wait for an end-of-season sale for that one, assuming I remember and there's one left.)

Today I popped into Home Depot for a thatching rake (which they didn't have), and checked out the garden centre while I was there. I found some great groundcover plants (three kinds of creeping thyme, a moss similar to the one I bought last year but a different colour, and a saxifrage), and a gnome!

Meet my new gnome, who needs a suitably Germanic name that I will hopefully manage to remember:

While in the garden statuary area, I couldn't resist Sourpuss and Mr Hoot:
Sourpuss (aka Grumpy aka Grouchy) is sitting in the mud under the plum tree where nothing (yet?) grows. Mr Hoot is near the same spruce as The White Rabbit. The gnome is currently in the same general area as The White Rabbit and Mr Hoot, but I suspect he'll be moving to the vegetable garden area when that area is ready.

Don't worry... I don't plan to clutter the yard with statuary. I will hopefully manage to keep it at a relatively tasteful level. I'm not currently looking for any more, although some "perfect" pieces might still wander home with me.

Two things I would still like to get for the garden are a niger-seed bird feeder, and one or two wall decorations for the fence on the south side of the yard. (One in the main garden/yard area, and, if I get a second wall decoration, then it would go in the vegetable/back area.) Plus all the plants and raised beds, of course, but those will take time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Garden Update: Me vs the Dead Tree

Before I get to the tree, here's a photo of the adorable little ceramic bunny I bought for my garden:

And I'm glad I cleared the dead leaves from the day lilies before the art show... here they are now:
I still need to dig up the weed roots, but that'll come... eventually.

Okay, here's the tree:
You may (or may not) remember that I started digging it up last year, and managed to get a number of roots exposed before the snow flew. Well, the snow is now gone, the roots are still exposed, and the tree is still standing.

With the assumption that the dead tree with it's roots partially exposed will be less well anchored than the live tree that is thicker, I attached the come-along to both of them (once I found some chain), and started winching.
Not even a hint of budging. So I hacked at the roots some more, and removed more dirt.
Dang, that's a thick root. And spongey wood is hard to chop. I eventually did get through that root, and chopped through some others too.
Still didn't budge. This is going to take significantly more effort. (And I can already tell that I'm going to *feel* today's effort tomorrow.)

I winched that come-along so tight, I bent a link on the chain I borrowed from mom:

Cheeky little chickadee!
While I was winching & chopping, I moved the bird feeder over so that it wasn't in the way. When I was done for the day, I topped it up and hung it back up, but before I had removed the come-along and chains. As I was working at the chain (whose openable link was reluctant to unscrew), I heard the buzzing of wings as something flew to the feeder. I paused for a second, then looked up to see a chickadee, no more than a foot from my face. It flew off, but returned a moment later once I wasn't looking at it again. So I stepped back a pace, and took out my camera... and got the above shot.

I also sat and enjoyed the sunshine for an hour, and listened to the birds (and a ... leaf blower?). It was a nice day, but it feels like I didn't accomplish anything despite all of my effort.

Next weekend I'll work on the raised vegetable beds, so that I'll at least feel like I've accomplished something. :P