Yard Clean up

Sofa; cloudy, 31 F, 0519

This house has many mature trees in the side and back yards. Every autumn, the trees lose their leaves. Some threes also produce many nuts. This is very nice, but leads to one problem; mice. The mice love the nuts and love the cover of the dead leaves to hide in. If I do not get rid of both, then there is a mouse population explosion and they get in the house.

This requires a layered approach. I do not like poisoning the mice because the effects other beneficial wild life. When a mouse does in the house, there are several traps around the basement baited with peanut butter. That will usually get them.

Outside I make sure that I get as many nuts (hickory and acorns) as possible racked up. I dump them in the woods where the dear, mice and squirrels can enjoy them. I also rack up and get rid of all the leaves around the house and yard. This denies them cover while running from the woods to the house.

Finally, I encourage natural predator like owls, foxes and snakes to take their place in the food chain. I build a nesting platform for great horned owls in the woods. They take up residence in the spring and raise new owlets every year. The foxes are regulars in the back woods and there are plenty of rat snakes living back in the brush pile and stone wall.

As far as the yard cleanup is concerned; most of it is done with the lawn tractor. I mulch and bag the leaves up and dump them in the compost pile. The remaining is taken care of with the rake. The white oak always holds onto its leaves. Throughout the winter, the west wind blows the leaves back into the woods keeping the lawn area clean.

The area in front of the house under the hickory tree requires raking to get rid of all the nuts.

It takes a few hours to complete, but is well worth the effort.

Annual Time Marker

Living room sofa; clear, 45.9 F 0619

We are having a stretch of extraordinary weather. I spent a good amount of time outside enjoy the warm sunny afternoon. It surely will not last.

Gutters filled with debris

As fall progresses, the list of chores changes. When all the leaves are off of the trees, yard cleanup commences, at least for a little while. One item that is fairly important to do every year is to clean out the gutters. As mentioned in a previous post, the gutters, downspouts, and underground pipes used to collect rain water and conduct it away from the basement are an important system. Any problems with those will lead to extra water getting in the basement, which is not a good thing.

Close up view of the problem

After we replaced the siding, I had seamless aluminum gutters installed. These are well worth the money. Like any gutter, they do collect debris over the course of the year. During summer, small sticks break off trees and collect in the downspouts. The hickory tree in the front yard drops copious amounts of nuts every fall. Leaves, pine needles and other things all buildup until rain water cannot make it to the downspout and overflows the gutter.

Removing accumulated leaves, pine needles, nuts, twigs, etc

If that continues for too long, mold will begin to form on the cinder block foundation walls.

Job completed

The best way to prevent that is to get the ladder out and clean them out. It is not a difficult job, just inconvenient. Doing anything on the roof of any building is always a little dangerous. Many people think that the most dangerous jobs are things like police officers, fire fighters or crewing one of those Alaska crab fishing boats. Nope. Those are dangerous jobs to be sure. However, according to OSHA the most dangerous job is roofer. Unfortunately for them, it is also an extremely tedious job. I guess that is why no one ever made a TV show about sweating, sunburned workers repetitively nailing shingles down to the roof and likely swearing like a drunken sailor on shore leave in Olongapo. I may or may not know anything about that last part.

Anyway… Be careful up on the roof.

Past project: Installing a new well, well pump and pressure tank

Living room sofa; mostly clear, 26.0 F, 0633

After we had lived here for a year or so, we discovered that the well we were using was not on our property. It was on our neighbors property across the street. The well itself was a old, hand dug tile well, close to the road. None of that was good news, and it was something else that the “home inspector” failed to mention.

Thus informed, we drilled a new well on our property. She is a beauty; Two hundred and twenty three feet deep, producing one hundred gallons of cool clean water a minute.

New pressure tank and water filters

Next project was to install a pump and new pressure tank. I went with the new pressure tank because the old one did not have a bladder and it would lose its air pressure often. The bladder tank is nice; pressurize it once and it should be good forever. I used 1 inch PEX from the pump to the pressure tank, then 1 inch copper to the main distribution point above the water heater. That means you can take a shower and flush the toilet at the same time.

Making a mess in the yard; excavating a trench for the new well

I rented an excavator and dug a trench 4-6 feet deep to the house. The ground here is very rocky, therefore the PEX and electrical wiring was sleeved in 3 inch PVC DW pipe. This protects the PEX during back fill.

Pipe laid in trench, ready for back fill

I used a drill and a hole saw to make a hole in the well casing for the pitless adaptor. The static water level of the well is 60 feet below ground level.

PEX clamped to well pump
Completing electrical wiring to pump using pump splice kit
Pump ready to be lowed into the well

I installed a Goulds 10GS10422 1 HP submersible pump at a depth of 200 feet. This is a two wire pump, meaning the pump starter is on the pump motor, not next to the pressure tank in the house. I also installed a torque boot five feet above the pump to prevent repeated twisting of the PEX pipe during pump start. Twisting during start up will eventually break the PEX. The torque boot diameter was adjusted to the interior diameter of the well casing according to the instructions that came with the pump. Additionally, a 3/8 polypropylene safety rope was attached to the pump in case the worst does happen. That way the the pump does not end up in the bottom of the well.

Installing well pump

Lowering the pump into the well by hand wasn’t too bad. It actually took a bit of force to move the pump down into the well for the first 60 feet or so. The most challenging part was hooking the pump onto the pitless adaptor five feet or so into the well casing. Even that was not too hard.

Making the final plumbing connection
Trench back filled

Perhaps the least enjoyable part of any job like this is the cleanup. I waited for the rain to come so the soil would compact down to the right level. After that, It took a few weeks of rake work to level this out. I had to cart several loads of medium sized stones back to the stone wall in the woods. I seeded it with grass and now it looks like nothing ever happened.

The DeWalt DCCS620 Battery Powered Chain Saw

Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid product endorsement, I do not have any affiliation with any retailers or companies associated with this product.

Living room sofa; mostly cloudy, breezy, 34.9F, 0530

My property includes a small wood lot behind the house. Over the years, trees grow and die, fall down and rot away. This is normal and natural. Every once in a while, I go back and try to clean up the area, getting rid of dried, dead standing wood. I also make sure that all fallen trees are completely on the ground so they can uptake water to facilitate decay. Decay, in this case, is good.

I own a gas powered Husqvarna 240 chains saw, which is great for general work. However, I don’t use it enough to keep the gas fresh. Thus, after sitting for several months or a year, I have to empty the gas tank, mix up new gas, change the spark plug, etc. In short, it is a pain in the ass.

I decided to try a Lithium Ion battery unit on a recommendation of a friend. On recommendation of a friend, I ordered the chainsaw on line and it arrived via UPS in a couple of days. I was pleasantly surprised at the build quality of the unit, as it was not at all expensive. After a quick recharge of the batteries, I went out and tried out cutting some fallen timber.

I was very surprised at the power and ability to cut through large logs. The battery also lasted much longer than I thought it would. My curiosity peaked, I decided to try cutting through some black locust logs, a heavy, dense wood. I found that this chainsaw, while slightly smaller than the Husqvarna 240, is just as able to cut though hardwood logs.

A small wood pile for the winter

Of course, there are some notable differences. The bar on the DeWalt is 10 inches vs the 14 inch bar on the Husqvarna. The DeWalt is much quieter, lighter in weight, there is no mixing of gas and oil, no two cycle smoke, etc. Depending on the work load, the DeWalt battery lasts 30-40 minutes. After each battery change, I topped off the bar oil reservoir. For intermittent use, such as clean up, cutting and clearing, the DeWalt with one or two extra batteries will work just fine. If a project requires long periods of cutting, then the gas powered saw is the right tool.

I would have no problem with keeping this chain saw in the back of my car over the winter. It will also be useful for work. Sometimes having a chain saw available decides whether or not a transmitter site can be accessed.

Jotul F100 wood stove

In a matter of a few hours, I was able to clean up several dead standing trees. As the wood is still sound, I split it for use in the wood stove this winter. It was a good afternoon of work. I enjoy having a nice warm fire in the wood stove on a cold winter night.