Monday, May 25, 2009

We've Got Wood

This weekend, my parents came up and brought with them my cousin BJ and his wife, C, to cut down the 2 mature trees we have that were rotting. We knew when we bought the place last year that 3 of the 4 trees were rotting and would have to come down, and of course, last year, half of one tree fell on and near our house, necessitating its cutting then. But the other 2 were left for when we had the money to get them cut.

But my parents decided to spend their holiday weekend helping us. So they persuaded BJ and C to come up. BJ brought his tree-felling equipment, and within an hour of their arrival on Saturday, had the first tree (one along our driveway) down. While Dad and BJ used the chainsaws to cut the branches and limbs into manageable pieces, Mom, M, C, and I drug the limbs away to a pile and stacked up the wood in an out-of-the-way place. Three or 4 hours later, only the main part of the trunk remained on the ground (and it lies there yet today, waiting for M to split the pieces into manageable, moveable sizes). Luckily, the skies had gotten cloudy and a breeze had picked up just as my parents and BJ and C arrived, so we weren't miserable the whole evening.

After dinner, we all fell, exhausted, into bed, and woke up early yesterday morning to make a "quick" trip to Home Depot for more supplies. The day was a little sticky, but still cool. Until we started on the tree. This time, we were felling the tree that's on the west side of the house, amid all the ruts left when the heatpump line was dug and laid, where we have no shade, but sun exposure all day after 9 or 10 AM in the summer. The humidity really vamped up, and it got up to the mid-80s, at least. The tree fell easier than the first one had, but it was almost unbearably difficult to cut up and move...the thing was full of water, so it was dense, and hard to cut and move. Add to that the fact that we were still worn out from Saturday night and were so hot and that we had to watch every step for fear of twisting our ankles in ruts, and you had a crew of extremely sweaty, thirsty, filthy (did I mention that the sawdust from this tree was super-fine?) people. At almost no point were all 6 of us working like we had on Saturday. Instead, 2 or 3 of us worked as long as we could, until we thought we'd fall flat on our faces, then take a seat and drink water, beer, or soda, and then we'd rotate, going back to work while others rested, or we'd all collapse for a while until someone could muster up enough gumption to haul just one more wagonload of wood to the pile. (Across grass the whole way, so the pulling of the cart or the dragging of the branches was far more difficult than it had been Saturday, when most of the trip had been on the smooth driveway, and shorter.)

Again, several very big pieces of trunk are lying in our yard, but the limbs that landed in the neighbor's field were all dragged away, and all the pieces that were small enough were carted to our woodpile, though they were simply dumped unceremoniously into a large pile instead of neatly stacked. We were just too damned tired to do much after about 3 hours of cutting, dragging, and hauling.

That's it on the tree front. We now have just 1 shade tree left, and it's pretty young and on the northeast side of the house, so it doesn't help much...

Meanwhile, the reflective ribbons M put on the fruit trees, along with the blood meal spread around them, seem to have kept the deer from further nibbling, so our "appetizer" trees have really bounced back.

Several of the greens in our garden are popping up; all of our corn mounds have sprouted and have plants at least 3 inches tall; our tomato plants are thriving in our water-bottle "thermal protection" pods.(TM) :) (Pictures shown here are from Mother's Day weekend, when we planted the corn and transplanted the tomatoes, not of the sprouts)

Our potatoes are thriving. (And BJ has offered to give us as many old truck tires as we want to use for planting the potatoes next year. Three cheers for [free] recycling!) Our beans seem to be suffering from SOME exfoliation, but according to our companion planting guide, the potatoes should be attracting some other insects that will feed on our bean-stripping friends.

Our Ozark strawberry plants have teensy little strawberries everywhere. All but one blackberry bush is showing foliage; same with the blueberry bushes. Sunflowers are starting to sprout, and our Jerusalem artichokes are really shooting up.

And tomorrow, I begin my stint as a full-time freelancer. I think I'll start by taking half a day off. (Well, it's to donate blood, not to play hookie.) Cheers!

Oh, and we had another traffic pull-over while we were working outside yesterday. Instead of pulling into our driveway, this genius just pulled off the side of the road at our mailbox. (The picture isn't that great because I didn't want to be obvious about taking pictures of two cops pulling a minivan over.)

* Stringham high: Rotten trees: 0 Seifert/Stringham family: 2
* Stringham low: Supreme exhaustion
* Stringham super-high: Go, go gardening!

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