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Early November on the Homestead

The 1st two weeks of November have been sunny and warm with temperatures in the low to mid-50s. We took advantage of the weather and in addition to playing lots of pickleball we accomplished several homestead chores.

The last hurrah with the lawn mower mainly to mulch leaves and avoid raking. Afterwards I pulled the cab from the truck, loaded the mower onto the truck using my folding ramp and took the mower to GKS for annual servicing. In years past I always loaded up the mower using the hill by the barn and whatever planks or plywood was handy for a ramp. The problem was that if we got significant snowfall before the mower was done, then I couldn’t get the mower unloaded on the hill; hence the fold-able ramp for unloading the mower.

Kathryn and I cut 3-4 face cord of firewood, mainly off our trails. There are a lot of dead ash and several ‘leaners’. The woods were pretty moist so I was careful where I took the tractor. We cut a large ash tree from just behind Kincaid’s house that we had to carry 40 yards to reach the carry-all. We also cut an apple tree from Ridge Trail, ash from Dead Apple Trail, the Four Corners, the pasture entrance to North Trail. A full load on the carry-all is just about 1 face cord.

We had a week of down time as the JD 2020 under went a through tune up.

Kathryn bought dog houses to shelter the beasts whenever we are gone. Not as insulated as the original Dad & Kathryn dog house that was made for Choice, but also not as heavy.

Replacing Water Heater Elements

Kathryn and I tackled the replacement of the water heater elements.  We I got the water heater my brother had set me up with all the required items: replacement elements, user manual and wrench socket. We went the safe route and rather than try to “change on the fly” we completely drained the tank. It was tricky replacing the lower element as the element was heavy to get lined up correctly and finger thread.  The 1st time we had a small leak and had to re-drain the tub and re-seat the lower element. We finally used a vise grips to get the lower element aligned and inserted. Our water has had sediment issues – this year especially.  I suspect that was a major contributor to the demise of the original elements.  But we have probably had the water heater for nearly 30 years; hopefully we can get another 30 year run !

Re-Arranging the Living Room Furniture

Our living room is a 261 square feet (14.5′ x 18′) and designing useful arrangements has been difficult.  Primarily, the room is used for Eric to watch Netflix and eat snacks or in the winter it is used as a reading room when one wants to sit near the wood stove.  One of the motivators was to remove Kathryn’s mahogany gaming table from living room which was the hottest room in the house.  We decided to re-arrange by bringing the furniture in off the walls and more to the center of the room.  So now there are two discrete areas – for watching TV and for lounging / reading.

Land Improvements

On Friday drainage tile was installed in the field south of our house with an immediate stream of water,  The pictures below show the access cleared through the fence line connecting the two pastures at their southern extremity, a view of the location of the former dirt pile – now re-distributed and graded.  The middle view looks north towards our house. The final picture shows the remaining topsoil graded to make a mow-able slope on the west side of the lot approaching the road.

Below are the ditch through the woods near cook-out corner which should keep water from flooding the hay field.  In the top right is the swale dug to capture water coming off the hay field and re-direct it into the stream rather than the lane.

A new load of driveway rubble squared off our driveway. Finally, the drainage tile from the south lot continued to pour water for 24 hours.

Memorial Day Weekend

On my way home from work I picked up a truck load of mulch (2 cubic yards) which we spread around the landscaping early Friday morning before it got too hot.  Kathryn found an old kitchen broom and a roller and we waterproofed the south deck and two stairways.  There wasn’t enough left over to treat the north porch, but that has a roof over it anyway and we waterproofed it last summer.

I planted Kale, yellow wax beans, 13 tomato plants, peas, cucumbers, 15 eggplant, brussel sprouts, and three type of potatoes.  Saturday we picked up Eric from an overnight with his friends Andrew and Dakota.  We stopped and got flowers for Kathryn which she planted on Sunday.  I completed the garden by planting pumpkin, acorn squash, and zucchini squash.

I retrieved an 8′ telephone post from our new property and hooked up the brush hog – removing the draw bar for the 1st time ever.  I mowed trails including our two new trails, which need a little more maintenance – removing a couple of stumps from the angle trail and making a turn around on the Kincaid trail.  I took a shot at mowing most of the new property before calling it quits at noon.  In the evening we went to a picnic at Chris and Jack Skelly’s.

Monday I sprayed Round-up along the fence line, cut willows around the pond and Eric and I re-seated the steps by the pond.  The pigeon that was nesting under the lean-to appears to be trying to start a 2nd brood, so I cleaned out the next – it was pretty nasty, but fortunately dry. I got almost all of the new property mowed – cleaning up a lot of wild rose bushes.  I also mowed around Kirkland’s field trying to keep the brush from infringing on the field.

Volleyball Playoffs, Re-Arranging the Livingroom and Cutting Wood

This past week was the volleyball playoffs. Our Wednesday night Volley Llamas team finished 2nd in the 9 team league but lost in the semi-finals 2 games to 1. We had a large lead in the last game and just fell apart. Our team was comprised of AARP members (i.e. old, slow, and achy), with the exception of Billie Jo and a college aged son – we battled injuries and more than one person is doubtful to play next year, so it was an accomplishment finishing where we did.


Kathryn’s Thursday night team played in an more competitive division, but they also finished 2nd in the regular season and got beat in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

Eric got invited to accompany one of his buddies on a family camping trip Friday/Saturday night. So we did what any married couple does when they get a free, childless night – we moved furniture and re-arranged the living room!


Kathryn has had designs on breaking up the big futon couch and making the living room “more one room”. Of course, every piece of furniture that got moved required some cleaning actions to be taken.


So the computer/entertainment center went into the family room. The couch got split up and the little TV got re-positioned.


Saturday and Sunday we cut wood / started a new ski trail through our woods. We cut for a couple of hours on Saturday and then loaded it all onto the 3-point hitch carry-all that my Dad made. I estimate that when it is fully loaded the carry-all takes about ¾ a face cord of wood. We currently have about 8 cord of dead elm and ash firewood and another 4 cord of ash that I cut early in the summer and is likely to be dry enough to burn, but I would like to use it next winter, if possible. This past winter was very cold, we ran our wood stove nearly 24/7 and went through ~10 cord of wood.

The King of Mulch

We have landscaped 11 cubic yards of mulch in the past three weeks.  That’s three heaping pickup truck loads and one not heaping load.  Most of the mulch has gone on the west and north sides of the house where we re-landscaped.  But we have mulched between the peonies and the roadside fence; the holly in the lawn the new trees along the road, the trees in the lawn and the grape arbor.


As the next phase in our home remodeling we are landscaping around the house, attachment and garage. This involves digging up old plants, moving them to new locations (in some cases) and planting new shrubbery.

I would dig around each shrub that was to be moved and then use my tractor and slip scoop to pull out any remaining roots, load the shrub into the slip scoop and move it to the new location.

There were a lot of shrubs to move.

So once all of these are removed, the dirt is re-filled and graded, landscape paper is put down and new plants are put in. I know, they look small, but they will grow – especially the blue globe spruce and purple Rhododendron.

Kathryn (behind Rhododendron) weeded around the house and we set in landscape paper.

The west side is planted. See how big that purple Rhododendron got to be?


The next day’s lineup ready to be planted.

We got bulk mulch from Olney’s carrying 3 cubic yards per truck load. It took 6 cubic yards total for everything. It was hot and humid work.

The finished product.


Kathryn takes pictures of the finale.



Garden and Yard

The seeds (Tomato, Eggplant & Artichoke) I planted last weekend are already starting to germinate! Not much, but just poking through the potting soil. Yea!

The weather was so nice I hoed the garden and planted the 1st row of peas.

I have a large pile of leaf mulch, courtesy of neighbor Rick, to put between the rows once the garden is set.

The ice on the pond in the background is melting rapidly and the redwing blackbirds and Canada geese have been checking it out.

The crocus and daffodils are flowering. The bees are already checking out the blossoms.

“Cullen Underfoot*” was also checking out the blossoms and bees.

*Name not yet approved…..