Winter Projects

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So maybe you think, now that it’s winter, I can settle down with a good book? Or get busy and finish all those indoor house projects I’ve been putting off? Well, yes and no. It seems there are always outdoor projects hanging around that should have been finished in the fall but never got done. One of these is clearing the forest of invasive hedge (common privet?) that, over the last couple of years, somehow started taking over the bank along the private road.

Earlier on, I had noticed this strange little tree at the corner of my driveway with black, oval berries that nothing seemed to eat. I left it alone for a couple of years, thinking maybe it was some kind of native shrub, though I could never identify it. I finally decided it was probably useless or worse, so I cut it down. Then someone pointed out that the same things were growing all over the bank where I hadn’t noticed them. By that time they were so big I had to get my handyman to take them out with his chainsaw!

That was in 2015. This summer, I noticed that stump sprouts had grown from all of the strange trees he had cut, plus I now had a few big ones growing on the stream bank that had gotten too stout for my loppers. I hadn’t noticed those because of all the weeds and the vines growing on them. During the growing season I get so engrossed in gardening and livestock chores that sometimes basic property maintenance isn’t on my radar!

So, in November, I finally got my handyman over to take care of some things, which included cutting the trees on the stream bank. I had him haul a lot of junk away, too, as well as take one of my 100-lb propane tanks to be filled. After everything else was loaded up, there was no room for the cut-down trees, so here they still are!

My handyman had promised to return, since he needed an extension ladder to clear three years’ accumulation of dead branches and leaves from my garage roof, to bring a boot to put around the stove pipe he replaced in the workshop roof, and to return my filled propane tank. But, like everything here, that was “if the creek don’t rise.” Of course, it did. It has stayed riz ever since.

Meanwhile, I figured I could clear those stump sprouts with my loppers so he could haul that off, too, but this is as far as I’ve gotten:

All that green stuff you see at the top of the slope still needs to come out. Not an easy job since it involves crawling up a roughly 45-degree slope with my loppers and trying not to slide back down while cutting multiple sprouts from each stump, sometimes with my outdoor cat, Cecil, perched on my back. (He loves that I’m working outside, since it means he has company for a change!)

The other pressing chore for early winter was to check my water line and tighten up any loose connections so I don’t have a repeat of last winter’s experience when the line came apart; it took me weeks to find the trouble and get around to fixing it. Since the line comes from a spring about 800 feet from my house and partway up a ridge, this has always been a daunting project to me. The last few hundred feet of it roughly follow a stream bed, sometimes lying in the stream, sometimes on one bank or the other, often buried under mud and brush. Since I had never walked the entire line most of the work involved clearing weeds, brambles, and small branches so that I could access it without all that stuff poking me in the face. Here’s an example of one of the rougher sections:

It took me three sessions of an hour or two each, but last week I finally got it all done up to where it connects with my neighbor’s line, tightening several connections as I went. I don’t think I’ll bother going the rest of the way up to the spring, because my neighbor probably checked that part at the beginning of hunting season when he was going to be staying at his cabin. And, while it does make for a scenic hike past the two waterfalls, I have limited tolerance for scrambling up the last 50 feet or so, stepping over rocks and grabbing onto saplings to pull myself up.

Now maybe I can get to finishing that kitchen-painting project!