Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mammoth Undertakings!

This is the photo I showed you from another post. Doesn't it look great? In no time at all, we had to undergo a mammoth project cleanup. Read this blog post and you'll see what it takes to keep it looking good!

There are numerous areas around the exterior of our home on our property in dire need of attention and the list of items on our "goals' sheet" has been prioritized.

What we never expected was the longer than usual delay in a few areas to set us back more than we had originally thought for deadline and goal achievement dates.

First there is still the matter of fencing along one very long 480 foot length of our side property and around the house to the back property fencing from side to side. Our back property near to the house was in need of an excavator, dump truck deliveries of soil and a backhoe to get it prepared for grass seed. With two estimates in place, both seemed to present out of this world ridiculous finalized pricing, however they were also pending a decision on what we were to do in our front area near to the roadway. With poorer weather the past two weeks, decisions weren't happening, our fault really but then we didn't anticipate another discovery to change those initial estimate pricings either.

After having that big black bear come to visit two weeks ago, we're thinking the fence might not help us out from keeping him out but it will surely deter him from coming directly inside and opting instead to follow the fence line upwards to the road instead. At least that's what we are hoping here. And the bonus of the fencing is to allow our two dogs in need of much exercise the opportunity to run crazy about the property once and for all. It's been interesting allowing them out five or six times a day to play fetch with balls and such toy items. As great as its been to allow for those romping sessions each day, slowly but surely they are both distracted by the many smells crowding their sensing temptations to explore further regions beyond our property by running away to seek them out.

She's not at all impressed by the "grounding" punishment

Our husky ran off the other night in search of smells likely driving her nuts. What could they have been? Another bear? Coyote? Skunk, fox or porcupine, what? We don't know for sure but we are now hesitating to allow them the freedom to run about fetching balls and having playtimes at all, so they are "grounded" to the garage or dog kennel area with their daily walks still in progress to keep them exercising just the same.

Aside from the fencing area, we're quite pleased now we never did get it done as we were given a site survey and witnessed for ourselves the fencing property we "thought" covered the general area post to post wasn't so. In fact there was yet another jut-out area unaccounted for, a bonus property area we also own that we had no knowledge of. So we aren't beating ourselves up over this detail just yet, happy actually to consider it a delay thus far. This is a good thing to find out about rather than after the fact.

Our back deck issues are coming along...very slowly! Oh sure, our son already cleared away the existing turf and the stakes are up for exact measurements. The waiting game though has involved the practice of much patience as we have waited several weeks for our decking permit. At the time of applying for it, we were told the builder never sought and purchased a permit to place the temporary decking up, the small one we are going to move over to the other area in need of a deck. The four foot drop and lack of exit ability out of the double doors is becoming a problem for us now that summer is almost here so moving the smaller deck over is a really, really good idea to us.

Smaller temporary deck will come off and be installed in
another area where no current decking exists

So, the question was, who would pay for the second decking permit necessary for this house? We would of course, but how about the first one that was supposed to be in place before the building of the initial smaller deck? The builder, or us? Turns out the builder is at fault and the city has decided to be kind by not charging us for his billing from long ago before we even purchased this home. The situation seems to be resolved, and we are happy for that little glitch gone from our list.

A few of the decking materials laying around waiting to be used

For now though, all of the decking material was delivered and rests on the rock area on the driveway, permit is in hand and additional recommendations are noted on the drawing sketches my hubby drafted on the permit proposal. The carpenter has come each evening this week and has decided to use our older son as a labor helper for the decking completions.
  • First to remove the existing smaller deck and reinstall over here. Ahhh, to be able to use this door at long last! Yeah!
Notice there is no deck over here,
so the small one will be moved here

  • Next to dig the holes for the four foot depth requirements and get concrete poured inside.
Two are dug out and installed on Mon. evening (see below)

Remaining four in total for both decks completed Tues. evening

The smaller deck is removed from its existing location Wed. evening

The big boss does his own inspection tonight
  • Rock delivery (has been stalled pending carpenter's timing) for the ground underneath the new decks.
  • Three inspections are required along the way during this project. First inspection takes place this Friday.
I can hardly wait to get our deck built so we can actually place our Adirondack wooden chairs out there for our front seating to the sunsets again!

Meanwhile, the front area near the road in the center of the circular driveway area was beginning to present an issue requiring attention with new growth foliage en masse!

Our sudden sprouting forest floor was in dire need of attention

During the winter when snow was everywhere, all one could see was trees standing erect and tall and moonlight glowing evenings unobstructed to spill through the windows into the rooms of our home. As time has progressed and the weather has warmed, there seem to be multitudes of leaves covering the tree tops and swaying in the wind. That's okay for us to listen to, it's quite a nice peaceful sound actually in the middle of the night to listen to those leaf rustlings.

Over time however all of the maple, oak and black cherry seedlings have sprouted and have grown up tall, some almost five feet in height and bushy. The bush might appeal to some, but the amount of foresty bush has become high maintenance with grassy mounds, weeds and chipmunk cities underfoot. Surely this is a haven to small rodents, critters and even bigger animals. Just how to maintain it properly was a question we asked ourselves the past while.
  • Firstly my husband wanted to cut it all back and grass the entire area under the tall trees. His vision sounded simple to him, but it would be a nightmare for the lawn mowing duties to circle round and round those tree trunks.
  • Option number two is to create burm areas around tree clusters instead, raking and spreading the bark mulch currently around the outer edges to place over top.
Initially I headed out to the front two weeks ago to begin the daunting task of pulling dandelions, grass clumps, and just attempt a general clean up around the outskirts of the center area.

With my wheelbarrow, gloves and other assorted tools in tow, the goal of the day was to last a hour or two. I never anticipated the mosquito clouds while working out there, and I never quite made it to two hours because I was becoming speckled with welts from all the blood sucking.

Initial attempts seemed futile; too many mosquitoes were attacking us!

Slipping our shovels under those dandelions, we gave them the good riddance salute. Good thing we blogged about them first, huh? LOL
(This guy also learned fast about wearing longer sleeves while working out in mosquito country.)

A few days later I asked all the children to provide up to one hour a day after dinner when the sun was still on part of the area we wished to clean up, but usually we only lasted up to half an hour from the same problem. Those nasty, nasty mosquitoes loved us! We were using our hands to pull weeds and a shovel to delve deeply into the ground to break off some of the tree suckers at the source. It suddenly seemed so overwhelming to all of us because we had hardly covered a great area at all before having to call it quits from the continued biting on our flesh.

Off to work we go....

This past weekend, as a family we created a working environment to tackle more of the general clean up necessary, thinking many hands would make work light. We pulled out garden gloves for all, longer sleeve and pant leg clothing, jackets for some, and several electrical cords for use with our hedge trimmer. We had purchased two small scroll saws for the younger children to use as there were a few smaller trees growing in a few cluster areas that required cutting down. They were the perfect size for their younger hands, and perfect for the job at hand. Great investment in the end if you ask me, only 5.00 each with extra blades included!

Having tools of the trade makes everyone happy
and results in a successful family work bee.

With other assorted saws and tools in hand, still our efforts felt like a slow turtle in a fast race, hardly any area still tended and a greater challenge remained over how to tackle this project faster! That is when I sent my hubby out to the rental center to bring on the big guns!

Until we rented this "big gun" our efforts seemed almost futile.
(Although my hubby was well protected from mosquitoes for the most part, he was spared from bites, that is until the wee hours of the next morning when a mosquito attacked his eyelid - twice and his eye swelled shut for the day. Awful things!)

Grass clumps with roots up to four feet long; this one is hanging on the ground though it's hard to tell as it blends in with the forest floor covering.

We were looking for tree branch trimmers at the same time because there are many dead branches continually falling to the ground for additional clean up out there, but all were already rented to other customers. Saving the day, my hubby brought home a most interesting piece of machinery, one that rested over a shoulder and didn't require as many muscles or intense laboring for its use. It ran on gasoline, and mimicked a small chainsaw though the blade looked more like a electric skill saw blade instead.

See what a forest we are growing under the trees?

Now we were making some progress and the raking could begin

This SWEET piece of machinery whipped through that forest area very well. It cut through new growth tree trunks, right to their stumps. The only problem was how long my hubby was going to be able to use it while trying to conserve energy for fatigue issues. I thought he and our older son would collapse with their allergy issues and all that freshly cut foliage before them while in hot pursuit of the next batch of green weedy areas. They managed quite fine with several well warranted breaks, cold drinks for all, even ice cream to cool off and keep from overheating as people like myself did to themselves. ugh. Determination goes a long way though, and the proof at the end of the day showed the fruits of everyone's efforts for all to witness.

Front left side - AFTER!

Front right side - AFTER!There is much to do here still, another family work
bee activity for next weekend
is on the calendar.

It allowed for us all to pick up the pace, and rakes were now outdoors and ready to use for swooping up all of the leafy remains, dead leaves underneath and the complete removal of the remains of the work efforts of this terrific invention. I think we need to think about buying one of these judging from how much simpler it made our challenging tree growth cleaning project.

We had to weed out our forest from new growth

I won't kid you, it was a grueling and sweat building goal for the day to complete it all. The heat intensified and some of us became quite overheated, resulting in dizziness and headaches. Don't forget some of us had long sleeves on to keep mosquitoes at bay.

"Heh mommy - we have bark mulch for real!"

It was also back breaking, to stoop and bend when picking up debris and branches, or for cutting to the roots, or still lifting clumps of weeds. Our resident chipmunks never exposed themselves, not once. This was highly unusual as each time we've been out there to work for a while, there are always a few darting to hide around the foliage.

The task at hand never seemed to end and was quite grueling,
all of it just ended up really being plain ole hard work.

There is such a grand difference, quite a contrast to what used to be there compared to what it looks like now. We are so pleased with the initial results so far, but it's only a beginning to more.
  • Next, we all head out one more time to rake up even more and clip down any remains.
  • We'll bag up all the rest of the dead leaves laying about to clear the underground area and prepare it for the deliveries of soil when we order them.
  • Once the soil is delivered, my hubby wants to rent a bobcat and spread it all out, sculpting the tree cluster areas for future gardens before placing all of the raked and piled bark mulch for redistribution over top of those specific areas.
  • Finally we will flatten, and prepare the rest of the grounds for grass seed, water all of it as necessary and tend to it in the future by using our lawn tractor over top when the new growth demands cutting.
Whew... This is part one of an unexpected labourious task in the front, but believe me, it has to be done and everything else we are waiting on is not something we can propel to the finish line, so at least this is one area we can complete sooner than later.

At least my pretty floral planters look
nice, offer color and require less maintenance

When we compose ourselves and the bulldozer arrives, we'll go ahead and allow it the mammoth task of sculpting part of the back of our property where the great forest floor foliage growth gathers and has become so dense, it too requires someone to take charge. That duty won't be our human project. Nope. the bulldozer will do a mighty fine job for us because it's more than twice the labor over what we did out in the front.

Here's what we are facing out yonder in our back property area we are hoping to sculpt and plant with grass seed. Can you just see a swinging hammock beckoning us all out there? ...

Back of property - WINTER

Back of property NOW

See how the foliage grew in!

We can't see a thing beyond
this section through the dense new forest growing there. Even our intended trail beginning straight out the back is filled in. sigh...