Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘clearing brush

Looking Good

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I’m in the final countdown of days before leaving tomorrow for my annual vacation week of biking and camping with the Tour of Minnesota. I feel reasonably prepared, both mentally and physically. Yesterday, we worked on a few projects with immediate visual rewards on the landscape around our house and on our north loop trail to get everything looking good before I go.

We received notification from our county that it was time to have our septic system inspected and yesterday the tank was pumped and deemed to be in good working order. That’s always a relief to know. Cyndie and I mustered the initiative to use the occasion to clean up the overgrowth in our drain field.

I was reminded of our visit to Ian’s place in Portugal in 2010 when he and I cleared the bramble that had covered a spring he hadn’t seen in years. I uncovered an old tree stump that I had forgotten was there when we cleaned up the crazy tangle of things growing among the wild raspberry bushes since the last time we cut back the growth there.

After that was done I got out the diesel tractor and mowed down the thistle and poison ivy as well as the edges of our north loop trail. If I somehow avoid getting a rash after the wild thrashing of so much of the troublesome ivy it will be a big surprise to me.

Next, we spent time trimming branches near our backyard fire pit. I started with a pole saw that proved entirely inadequate and ultimately brought out the pole chainsaw and the big chainsaw to clear all that looked deserving. It is always interesting to discover there are more things to cut than we originally expected. Once you get in there and take out the first layer, the next obvious candidates suddenly pop into view.

While I had the main chainsaw out, I finally dispatched the last dying pine tree that was in the middle of the back yard.

Cyndie captured the shot just as the tree was falling. There is only one dying pine tree left back there now. It is on the side of the yard and doesn’t stand out as obviously so it can linger a while longer. We have already got enough branches to clean up after all the cutting that was accomplished yesterday.

Today, I will mow the grass with the lawn tractor to get this place looking its best before I leave Cyndie to deal with everything for a week.

That should be completed with plenty of time to spare for packing my things before Saturday’s departure. Despite having done this June week of biking and camping more than twenty times before, I still struggle with the decision making about what I really need to bring.

At this point, it sounds like the week is going to start out hot. That should make it easier to pack light.

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More Clearing

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On Saturday, we worked on the north side of our property. Yesterday, we directed our attention to the south. It has been several years since I properly worked to clear the drainage ditch that runs along most of the southern border of our property.

The first winter we were here I saw how the accumulated snow piled up against the neglected growth of brush and small trees in the drainage path. It acted as a dam and caused water to overflow the ditch during the spring melt. I remedied that for the next season by cutting out the trees and mowing the length of the ditch.

Lucky for us, the overflow poured into the neighbor’s field that year, not ours. He never said anything about it, but I’m sure he is happy seeing the attention I have given toward keeping the ditch clear since then.

I was complacent last year and skipped doing any cutting, so the random volunteer trees were able to establish themselves a little more significantly than I’d prefer.

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After first clearing each end of the ditch with the power trimmer, the rest was a cinch with the brush cutter on the diesel tractor. Well, that is, after pruning some branches that interfered with the upper portions of the tractor. Once we trimmed those, I just backed my way the length of the ditch and returned.

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Voilà.

Let the water flow.

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2020 at 6:00 am

Pondering Still

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In a simple reflection of the stressful current events that hardly need listing, my days are splattered with competing demands commanding my attention. I’m growing weary of the constant exercise of redirecting my energy from the angst-inducing to the peaceful loving focus I prefer.

I should be rewarded by the project of clearing brush we worked on yesterday in the uncharacteristic high humidity, but the slow progress was overshadowed by the pall of troublesome political, societal, and environmental issues simmering in a brew of the coronavirus pandemic stew.

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The front (or eastern) half of the northern border of our property has a natural fence of uncontrolled growth that I have long sought to turn into a wall by trimming it like a hedge. A year or so after we moved here, I made a first swipe along the span, cutting back the existing growth. In the ensuing years, I have gained enough confidence to cut the “hedge” much closer to the very old and mostly buried barbed wire fence that long ago defined the property line.

Yesterday’s effort was nice to accomplish, but it was a sweaty struggle against the frustrating strength of entangled vines that fought back unendingly against our every attempt to clear branches. The grey clouds hung low and the high dew point temperature gave the September air an odd thickness that was the opposite of inspiring freshness.

For all the progress we made, stepping back to look at the distance that still remained to be cleared revealed how little had actually been gained. It felt all too similar to the issues of social justice that are far from being accomplished.

The world at large does influence each of our own individual environments. If anyone is suffering, we all suffer.

A new Minnesota poll just released highlighted a variety of details related to the pending U.S. Presidential election. One that resonated in particular for me was how the level of education reflected the differing amount of support for the two main candidates. I think that speaks volumes.

Don’t ever vote stupid. Get educated on our democracy. Become smart enough to recognize integrity.

Imagine if we could vote in a government that would work to protect citizens from stupid ideas. Oh to have a Federal Government that would swiftly and intelligently address the pandemic. Oh to have leaders who would uphold the intent of our protections against harming the environment. Oh to have leaders who could enforce financial ethics guidelines.

Oh to have the entire length of our “hedge” shaped by the time next spring’s growth begins to expand it once again.

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2020 at 10:32 am

Fighting Frustration

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I know that I can just give in and stop trying to make progress when barriers repeatedly frustrate my attempts to advance toward a goal, but I seem to have an ingrained attachment to that angst of repeatedly banging my head against the problems that arise. Eventually, I will go back to grazing, but for now…

Yesterday was a day to give up and go back to bed, but I forged ahead regardless, and bashed headlong into the fruitless exercise of trying to get something done anyway. It probably wasn’t as bad as I’m making it seem, but the final straw was trying to write this post live online when our internet connection was doing an endless dance loop of resetting, creating a repeating pattern of pages hanging mid-load, and slamming the brakes on any attempts to actually achieve something productive.

Talk about frustrating! We were trying to research costs for materials for our next phase of pasture fencing, to compare with the quote we have received from our fence contractor. We also got stopped in the middle of trying to do online research for information on improving the surface of our paddocks.

The reason we were indoors doing research is because it is raining outside again. Speaking of frustration, the rain gauge revealed 2 more inches fell overnight Sunday to Monday morning. The wetness around here is crazy-making!

Since I couldn’t work on anything else, I walked right down to the wettest area of our planned grazing pasture —probably out of spite— where two dead trees had toppled over in the storm that destroyed my woodshed (I think the woodshed failure is frustrating me more than I am admitting to myself), and I started cutting them up and creating a new brush pile. Man, will it feel good to ignite that bonfire. Too bad it will have to wait for months because the pile is currently located on an area of standing water.

I let my focus wander to the drainage ditch that forms the southern border of our property, where the water of the last few storms is still flowing along in an irritatingly pleasant manner. Standing in water up to my ankles, I began the work of cutting out the 1-to-2 inch volunteer trees that were allowed to grow unchecked to clutter the ditch, making a perfect snow-stop that creates dams and backs up flow during the spring melt.

The plan is to clear the ditch, and the junk trees that have been sprouting in the area just above it, because above is where we will run the southern leg of our new grazing pasture fence.

While I was down there working, our delightful dog, Delilah, was happily exploring to and fro, prancing in the running water, and generally being a sweet companion… until she wasn’t. She disappeared on me while I was engrossed in aggravating the tendonitis in both elbows, working our ratcheting pruner to cut down the forest of unwelcome growth.

After Delilah’s performance on Sunday —moments after I had received a subtle comment from our neighbor about her frequent visits to his place— where she ran away from me to interrupt that very family’s Mother’s Day picnic on their front lawn, she has me so frustrated that I have decreed that she must be on-leash now when outside and not being directly watched.

It’s all got me plenty frustrated, I tell you, but the regression to need to leash Delilah again is at the top of the heap.

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Written by johnwhays

May 13, 2014 at 6:00 am