Friday, March 11, 2011

Is it March ALREADY?

I have been trying to get time to post on here for weeks..... hopefully I can get it actually done this afternoon. Life just seems to busy right now.

We've had much to keep us busy lately. The first farm auction of the season we attended was a huge affair not too far from us. We can home happy, carrying most of the items we had gone specifically to try to win: wire cattle panels, t-posts, hog-wire panels. I also picked up a good workshop vice, and a 22 foot log chain for very good money. Was a productive day, and we thank our neighbor for allowing us to borrow his 16' trailer to get the panels home. They are already erected in the orchard area (thanks to help from second son David) and ready for us to use for mobile grazing.

Steven has already begun his seedling operation for spring -- has the dining room bay window set up as a mini-greenhouse with grow lights and all. Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes seeds and I don't know what all else he has planted there and dutifully tends.

We have been able to check off some big items from our to-do list, which is nice. Late in February, I had a local electrician come out and drop the power line that goes around the house to the tool shed (washhouse) so that we could remove one of our biggest and oldest trees, which is directly behind the house. Since it has power lines on two sides, and buildings on the other two, we always knew it would be tricky to take down. Very sad, too -- that tree is like a landmark here.

Funny thing about us and trees. They are kind a big deal to us. I've read the journals of our ancestors who settled out here and had no trees visible for miles -- nothing to burn for firewood or use for building during the settling of this area in the 1870s. I appreciate trees. I appreciate that former generations of my family planted all these trees for a purpose.

But this massive, once-beautiful Siberian Elm tree had to come down. In the big windstorm of 1994, it was tore up pretty bad -- many large limbs dangling from the top that could crash onto the house. At that point we had to have it partially topped to get the deadwood out of the tips -- it used to be SO tall! Then ice storms took their toll, and little by little the tree died.

In this photo of our house taken in 1955, you can see the tree towering over the back of the house (all you can see is the top of it). My mother says she remembers the tree always being there as a mature tree as she grew up, and she is 73! So this is an old tree.

A local (very friendly, Mennonite) tree service, came out with their bucket truck to take her down gently. We told him to just drop it in sections as he could, and we would clean up the mess.
(He had already taken down a bunch of it before I thought to run in and grab the camera)

After he got it down to about 4 foot, we took care of the rest. Brush went out to the goat pen (they like to strip down the smaller limbs). Some rotten parts were put on the burn pile. We began slicing away at the small still-live portion of the truck with the chain saw, but it was too big for us to cut clean through. We did not cut any up for firewood - we have found Elm make poor firewood, and is extremely hard to split (considering we hand-split all of ours). We prefer to burn only hedge inside. However, some pieces would make a nice burn for an outside campfire/firepit if we were to ever have guest over for a roast...

So Steven set the dead portion of the trunk on fire. It burned all day as we watched it. Then he and I finished off cutting it flush with the ground with the old two-man saw. (That was work!)

Yes, the white stuff is fire - well, very hot burning tree. The fire is down inside (it had some hollow areas)

As we hauled pieces off, we were left with several really massive and heavy sections; trying to decide what to do with them! We had used them as "benches" when working around there, so we decided they would be 'benches' for the time being for the whole area. They were too heavy to move anywhere else. So Steven man-handled and rolled them into place, to make one big circle of benches around our wash-water ditch (not very pretty in winter, but in summer we plant gourds and flowers and stuff here to hide the ditch, and because there is a lot of moisture there all the time). Yes, I climbed on the roof just to get that photo.

(the little flat area at the right is where we cut it flush with the ground)

We have baby kids due near the end of March -- anxiously awaiting. Our goose has begun to lay eggs and hopefully 'set' as well. (which makes the gander ornery as heck - chasing everyone away from his lady!) Turkeys don't show any eggs yet - but the ducks and chickens are picking up on egg production.

Sorry this is such a long post -- I hope this catches you all up on what we've been doing the last 30 days.

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