Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Trail Blazing - quite literally...

At first glance, we could envision much for this property of ours, even before the papers were signed when purchasing it.

Our home is situated on three acres, and consists mostly of house, forest and raw natural land.

Over time, and bit by bit (sweat on brow), we have been realizing our original envisioned and intended goals towards a final completion of sorts.

It's year two, and we are currently working towards the grand finish of our "part two" at the back of the property.

"Picturesque" is one word we could use to describe the beauty and splendor of owning such a piece of property.

Last year, our immediate goals for spring included removing trees within our building envelope, especially all those leaning precariously towards our roof top.

What was to be 38 trees removed overall, turned out to be 42. And they were BIG trees! The first of our *part one* goals were crossed off.

Then the party began!

Actually not.

Try as we might ourselves, multiple duties were too difficult and overwhelming for us alone, so we brought in the big guys who in turn brought in the big equipment for removing the brush, forest floor materials and the abundance of new tree growth.

Next and in proper order was the delivery of extra soil, and eventually the sculpting of the newly formed areas of the front and back of the property, resulting eventually into its initial stages of order.

More of *part one* complete. CHECK

See how fast the forest floor fills in?

Next all was seeded (sprayed and buried) so there would be grass out back in place of brush return. Passing over all with the lawn tractor would make it easy to maintain.

Another thing crossed off...

By September 2009, the grass had grown just right - like this;

Oh, I forgot to mention we had to build this deck beforehand... another list item crossed off.

Fast forward to Spring 2010.

Psst... that would be about right now folks.

Right from the beginning, we had envisioned the creation a few meandering and joining forest trails. One had already been forged during the same timing as the landscape sculpting by bribing the bobcat driver with cold water (grin) in the heat of the day.

It just never connected to anything else, only a dead end at the back of its long grassy length because of the fallen trees resting there and blocking the way.

One year later, here's when our *part two* begins, the part when we begin racing against time before the black fly and mosquito season begin, taking over all possibilities for a pleasant outdoor work effort.

Before heading off to work, my husband made all of us decide which pair of safety glasses we would be wearing. I chose the one with bright yellow lenses. So cool!

All of our intended tools for the day were brought outdoors, and we were ready to begin.

An equipment rental center was the perfect place to pop in and acquire a few bits of proper gear to add to our own.

A small chainsaw and a weed whacker were perfect for the big job ahead, but not your ordinary weed whacker, this one was fitted with a 7.5 inch wide skill saw blade for cutting through small trees, and forest bramble.

Dangerous but so effective, I felt like Paul Bunyan working on a westward expansion for trail blazing in the wild yonder.

I could take down trees with this blade, and once in a while it was a bit annoying to skim a rock or a log lying in my way.

I knew it would be my duty this year to man this equipment, something of a challenge for my hubby. So, outfitted with a safety strap over my head, resting on one shoulder, and holding on to the handles in view in front of me, I set off for making wide 6-8 ft. sweeps, for what was to end up being a spectacular and physically enduring feat I never thought I would be able to complete.

But I did.

At first I hummed along slow and steady, filled with enthusiasm and great patience for the job ahead and trying to maintain some sort of endurance level so I wouldn't get too tired.

And then, forget it, I was anxious to just barrel through, trying to keep a steady pace, trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel at one point in the day.

With the strap on my left shoulder rather than my age-old injured right shoulder, eventually the weight was beginning to take its toll, especially when the gas tank was refilled, like a lead weight to hold up.

This contraption was really quite awkward and heavy, requiring not only to be whisked and moved around but also to be held up off of the ground at the same time. Superwoman I am not, but this was one job that had to be done! :)

My helpers followed behind me as I forged new trails and cleaned up along the fence lines on two sides of the property.

One had garden sheers, the other removed cut debris from the trails themselves.

The task was much more difficult than I had first thought. In the photo above, I was just edging some of the prickles on the forest edge. I tried to work into the bramble about 6-8 ft. from the grassy edge, hoping this summer to have less bushy, mosquito filled foliage growing there.

And then, the real work began... and THIS below was what I had to forge forward and wade in to. There are just no trees in view in the scene below to give and full effect of the actual challenge;

Imagine having to complain about the sun's warmth this day, so hot by noon, we all became overheated shortly before ending our day, ultimately abandoning our duties for shade and water, but returning after a break to complete the job.

I laughed at the photo snapped of me by my photographer husband, smile. I look like I'm licking the tree or something silly, but in actual fact I was taking a brief moment and a deep breath, just looking for a bit more ooomph to keep on truckin. I had become severely overheated near the end. We all were.

Our supervisor instructed us well and kept cheering us onward. He kept the gas levels topped up for my equipment, and suggested which way to move while trail building. Frustrated with the inability to offer his total assistance for the project, he did what he could, overdid it often and recovered when abruptly necessary.

Working as a team, when we were done, we were DONE!

Our daughter fixed us all a plate of nachos on her favorite paper china plates (grin), and believe me, if we never ate the food with the water, we all may have been sick about then.

Water was great.

Food was good.

Shade was better.

And then we noticed all the burrs on our clothing, gasp!

And felt all the cuts on our arms, legs, everywhere - right through our clothing in fact. Ohhh, they began to hurt. Like many paper cuts stinging, and bleeding.

All this trail blazing took place two days ago.

Yesterday I was able to finally hobble back to take a look at what we actually completed. The following photos are what I was able to discover out yonder, before another cleanup round.

While working, I had only pressed forward and really didn't take a moment to turn back. I had my little crew working behind me and felt they would assist with whatever I may have missed. They were incredibly helpful I might add!

Today, leather gloves were donned once more, rakes in hand, a continuation of our trail blazing resumed with the final bit of clearing from the remaining wilted prickle bush piles, tree trunks and wooden logs cut up along our pathway.

These photos do NOT do the area justice for one cannot see in them the amount of sheer sweat and labor that went into this project. so happy it's done!

One more thing on our list for these trails will be to transport the pile of chipped wood from last year's tree removal, placing one wheelbarrow at a time along the mouth of the connecting trail and continuing as far as we are able.

Obviously we won't have enough for all, but it will assist in compacting the ground's ability for instant regrowth.

From our experience last year, once the overhead growth is chopped back, the ground's bramble and new tree seedling growth just explodes with the summer sun.

Here's hoping we can keep it all back and these trails will be such a refreshing calm to our days, walking and taking our dogs back there during our days.

The best part since has been watching everyone's enthusiasm when taking a stroll out yonder, with friends, with siblings, and chatting about having picnics back there this summer. Even my husband suggested we take a walk on our own property. Love it!

And this concludes another segment of our (property) goals accomplished, which is to be continued....