Spring Pine

Happy Earth Day everyone! Today marks our sixth anniversary since we moved in.

Normally we buy a tree and plant it for Earth Day and to celebrate our house anniversary but to be honest we’ve been very busy. After running back from an appointment I just felt like sitting on the porch and writing. We’ll get a new tree here soon enough but for now I’m taking the rest of the day off.

I walked around the yard and took some photos to share. I had noticed a patch of green in the north meadow, as I pulled the car out of the driveway. So I went back there and noticed that along the path to the bees, there was a 2-3′ pine tree. This is one of the trees I planted years ago when we first moved in.

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is out and the birds are chirping. A great day to enjoy the house and all the hard work we put in to live here.

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Ditch Digger

Round three of me working to preserve my gravel driveway. Last year and this winter have been rough on the driveway. A couple years ago I spread out a few tons of 411 limestone. Then last year I had Driveway Dave bring in a few tons and tamp them down where the pot holes are at. At the time Dave said I need to ditch around the perimeter, to route water under the drive. Possibly add a second pipe under the driveway. The surface water is creating and preserving the pot holes. Adding more gravel isn’t doing much.

In a perfect world I’d hire an excavating company to come out and fix the drive. Or in a slightly less perfect world I’d rent one of those kickass little baby excavators and dig my ditches using that. But here in the real world where I live month to month, I’m digging my ditches by hand. And I’ll have five tons of 411 delivered in two weeks (cost about $150-$300 delivered).

It’s really tough to gauge the fall of the land but from far away it looks like if I dig one continuous ditch along the south side it’ll route all the surface water to my one pipe, and under the driveway.

The ground is super wet due to a huge rain storm we had yesterday, so I decided to start digging and see how it would go. It went pretty good. I figured out to dig with the ditch, at one end of it, as opposed to against it or standing to the side. There’s a lot of thick grass and the ground is oversaturated so it was slow going, back breaking work. But the water is flowing along the ditch so that’s encouraging.

Ultimately my goal is to have a nice two track driveway devoid of potholes. We’ll see how well my ditches work once I finish them and it rains again. Maybe I finally found my calling in life.

Tupelo

My first spring walk around the estate today to see how well spring has sprung so far. Not much is happening. Things are budding and turning green but no real flowers are blossoming yet, save for a few dandelions and other yellow ground flowers. If we have daffodils anywhere, I cannot tell for I didn’t see a one.

There is one peach tree with a blossom. Another has green leaves, and the third looks to have died. The apple trees all have leaves budding, but no flowers yet. The cherries have small leaf buds as well.

As we’ve know for some time, the last of our bee hives died out over the winter. We are not getting a replacement hive this year. We’re taking a year off. I really want to get a hive, but the wife is right in talking me back from the edge. I have too much going on and I don’t need the stress and responsibility of raising bees this summer. I will really miss all the work they do around the yard pollinating though, especially if we revive the vegetable garden as planned.

Walking through the woods, everything is very wet. I doubt the ground will dry out any time soon.

In the front yard I noticed something peculiar. One of the black gum trees was cut down or gnawed down or magically fell. The two step break was really weird but I suppose an animal could have done it. This particular tupelo tree was dead on its main trunk so no great loss, just weird. there were shoots growing up from its base so I don’t know…do they grow up to be a tree someday?

Out of the five black gums we planted I think only two survived, so that was a pretty good waste of money.

Right now a walk around the yard is pretty uninspiring. Hopefully by May 1st things will be in bloom and drying out.

New Roof Washer Filters

After four years of living here, our roof washer filters really needed changing. The roof washers wash all of the water that comes off of the roof when it rains. There are two fiberglass chambers in our front yard that the water flows into. As the chambers fill up with water, debris like leaf parts, bugs, and dirt stay on one side of the filters and the water flows through to the center of the filter, into a pipe and down into the cistern for storage.

I had previously taken the filters out twice, they’re like a cotton material, and washed them. I tried getting new ones last year, and through circumstances didn’t successfully get new ones until this year.

I’m very glad the new filters came with new mesh screens inside and out. The screens give the filters their circular shape. The old screens were rusting out. To install, I simply took off the top caps and threw out the old filters, and inserted the new fluffy white ones.

I’m still waiting to get an invoice for the filters, but I don’t imagine they cost too much.

Elsewhere not much is going on. In the 90 degree heat this past weekend I cut the grass and finally spread a few bags of mulch I had purchased in June; spreading them around some of our smaller younger plants we planted in the meadows. The mulch will help them get some breathing room from encroaching meadow grasses and golden rod.

 

 

For a link to one time when I cleaned the roof washers click here.

Peach Blossom

Our peach trees are blossoming, but they don’t look that encouraging. There aren’t many blossoms across our three young trees. One of the trees looks dead basically, with just two random shoots growing from the bottom of the trunk. A few blossoms decorate each shoot, and a couple branches that look to still be alive. If the bees pollenate the peach trees, we might get one or two peaches before summer’s over.

It’s hopefully too early to tell but honestly not many of the plants and trees that we’ve planted look very good, across the entire yard. I’m hoping things shape up soon.

The apple trees have all leafed and look pretty good. In fact this year I think I’ll actually have to figure out (guess) how to prune them. I do this in the fall I believe. It’s too early to tell if we’ll have any apple blossoms.

Here are today’s pics. Fingers crossed we get lucky with spring – weather wise and bounty wise. Or just luck wise in general.

-c

P.S. I forgot, the one redbud tree has a giant ant hill at its base, just like the other redbud tree had in years past. None of the redbud’s look that great. I’m going to go around and spread fertilizer at the base of all my plants and trees this weekend. Don’t know if it’ll help but it’ll make me feel useful, which is all that matters really. Anyway, the ants..I sprayed them with two mixtures: one was vinegar and essential oils, and the other was warm water with Dawn dish soap. In theory one or the other or both will either kill or deter the ants from living at the base of my redbud tree. I’ll keep spraying, dousing for several days and see if it helps any.

2015 Christmas Tree Planted

Just a quick post today to share some photos.

We say hello to the 2015 Nine Apple Trees Christmas tree, which is now planted out on the pond berm. It’s been a warm December. Who would’ve imagined I’d be planting a tree, and about a dozen ferns between Christmas and New Years.

2015-xmas-tree-planted

We say goodbye to an old friend. I sold the Rabbit a couple weeks ago. I don’t even want to think about how sad it makes me to see him go. We had so many awesome memories when we were building the house. And he was no stranger to the blog. But we needed a larger vehicle with four doors for our family so reluctantly we bid adieu.

07-VW-Rabbit-for-Sale

And lastly, wash your beeswax. LOL I was lazy and just threw all the wax from the last extraction into the pot and melted it down. The honey residue, which normally would be washed out, liquified and made it through the strainer. It then congealed underneath the beeswax during cooling. Gross.

when-you-dont-clean-your-beeswax

Don’t let this happen to you. Wash your beeswax before melting it.

Christmas Tree Day 2015

It’s Saturday early evening, I’m sitting down with a beer and listening to Christmas music. For the next half hour or so I will have the equivalent of a day to myself, to relax and write.

In the spirit of the season, we went out and bought our Christmas tree today. It’s a live Norway spruce tree, or at least that’s what we think it is. They weren’t labeled at the tree farm. As is our tradition, we get the tree a few weeks before the holiday, then bring it inside a few days before Christmas and decorate it. After the holiday we plant the live tree in a pre-dug hole somewhere out in the yard. This year the tree will go out on the pond dike. Previous year’s trees can be seen just off the driveway. Once a tree graduates from home to yard, the following year it gets a string of colorful solar lights. The idea being that, let’s say we’re here twenty years. Visitors would be able to see twenty trees in the yard with colored lights on them. Fun.

Back inside the house, I’ve been slowly continuing work on the basement. I’ve started tiling my office area, and I have also essentially finished the full bathroom.  Tiling is going slow, but I think I’m doing an okay job. I got a new tile cutter at Lowe’s and I’m very happy with its performance. I haven’t really ruined any tiles yet. I think it’s got a good sharp wheel and easier action, and that makes a difference. I do need a grinder though to angle cut some tiles around a doorway. But there’s no reason to spend $80 on a tool I probably won’t ever use again. I’m going to see if I can make a Dremel tool work or, worst case, rent a grinder.

In the bathroom, all of the accessories are hung. It took me a while to figure out where the blocking was for the towel bar. In the process of discovery I drilled about a half dozen holes in the drywall, all of which I had to patch up and repaint before mounting the bar.

While figuring out where to hang up the toilet paper roll holder, I discovered that you’re supposed to mount it about 8″ in front of the toilet bowl, off to the side. Well I don’t have a wall in that location. I could have mounted the holder on the adjacent cabinet, but the wife and I both voted against that. So, behind and to the side of toilet the holder went. I think it’s fine. I don’t see how just putting the roll in a basket or a freestanding holder does anything. It’s fine back there.

As time allows I’ll continue to tile. I want to make sure I get all the tile down as soon as possible, in case they discontinue the tile style. I don’t want to be left short of tile. Then I’ll really be in trouble.

Earlier today I extracted honey from hive No. 3. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, this hive died late this autumn. We got nine frames of honey. I haven’t weighed it yet.

Next year we’re just going to manage one hive. If it gets large enough we can split it. Otherwise, we’re not pouring any more money into beekeeping if we can help it.

Actually we’re not going to pour any money into any projects for the foreseeable future. I’ve got the materials to finish the basement, except the ceiling. That should keep me busy DIY-wise for a while.

One interesting side note, I’m finally selling my trusty Rabbit. The wonderful VW that kept me company throughout our new home build, and was mentioned in many a post, well it’s time to say goodbye. We need more space and more doors in a vehicle. If you know anyone who’s looking for a great, clean car for commuting, running errands, or just starting out, let me know. I’ll make you a great deal on our good friend.

Ok, here’s today’s pictures. Time for me to go back to the real world and all of its responsibility. Cheers!