Monday, November 01, 2010

winter prepping home and property

Ask any homeowner and they will concur with me on the very necessary steps for winter prepping both their home and properties.

As anyone who knows me can attest, when house hunting in our former area, after visiting and previewing the area before actually moving there, I strongly suggested to my hubby not to seek out living in one particular area after seeing so many home owners out raking mounds of leaves, and bagging them for their roadside pickup.

How ironic that now, here we are living in a boreal forest, with leaves all over the place this time of year to rake and compost/bag.

Fast forward to now, two autumn seasons later since our move here, and we are again raking, raking, raking!

The secret for us was making it a group event by purchasing everyone living here their very own rake and a pair of gloves.

Next as fall passed by, it was ensuring we had enough prepurchased paper leaf bags to load up for compost pickup, the one happening today, only twice yearly here.

Having a reliable wheelbarrow to haul the heavy bags to the roadside is a definite asset, and always being certain to book ahead by making the clean up time a family affair.

I didn't have enough afterall, making a run to the store to acquire more

With a few of us enjoying some music from ear buds resting from our necks, we were still able to carry on conversation as we proceeded in 6C weather to offer several hours of grunt work and since the cold was not a good thing for this type of activity, gloves definitely were required.

Using a leaf blower was a big help this year for clearing out the garden beds with ease, and sending the perimeter of the property leaf piles further into the denseness of the forest.

My husband was in charge of the leaf blowing for a time, at least he attempted to greet the challenge of clearing the front garden beds before requiring several rests in between. Next we assigned him the duty of riding around on his lawn tractor, mulching the back property leaves to save us from having to bag them up.

You know, there is something to say about having more neighbors. It seemed as our time working outdoors went by, other neighbors jumped on the bandwagon and were out in force preforming similar actions.

One neighbor across the street purchased a "John Deere" lawn tractor like my hubby's, but that very morning, he had decided to purchase the leaf sucking vacuum with bag attachments. Sure to catch my hubby's eye, this is how he and our neighbor visit one another now, so funny.

It becomes another problem solving situation when having the luxury of a clear garden bedding, uncovering and noting the enormous plethora of chipmunk holes now exposed, pesky critters we don't want hanging out near our concrete foundation, for they are notorious for eventually gnawing through it to create much in the way of damage.

Many of those holes had acorns resting inside of them, surely a winter's store lay beneath the garden ground in vast tunnel systems for winter's protection.

The older ones were so helpful in accomplishing this task with me, at least in and around their work shift scheduling for the day, and while the younger ones were actually absent for much of the day while attending their "Red Cross Babysitters Course", the final two in our home to obtain their passing certificates.

Once home again, the younger two were assigned "Nut picking duty" because the continued ground cover leaves it difficult to use the lawn mower, likely to ruin our blades one day AND, rids the food supply for tempting those critters to live so nearby in the first place. Friends came and went to offer a hand for such a nutty gathering time.

Rest assured if you feel sad for our forest pals, life in a boreal forest offers no shortage of food for them, so they are most welcome to seek food supplies and begin living further from our home. Besides, I have a friend who was very pleased to be gifted with several extra large freezer bags of acorns for crafts.

~ ~ Over the past week, many other things were tended to including;

  • Garage doors;
We hired a company to tend to the growing concerns over lack of proper installation of our doors. Immediately they knew what they were to do in order to solve the problems, removing and installing the ceiling supports so they were straight, removing the shoddy weather (mouse inviting) stripping and replacing them and the side stripping as well.

After lubricating all properly, light bulbs were installed in the opening units (we never had any before) and the suggestion to place outdoor push button openers was the most fantastic thing ever! Now when our teens forget their house key, or the dogs require walking and garage doors closed behind them to keep the heat inside, with a simple device outside the large doors, access is immediate. No more ringing doorbells or having to rush home now when someone is not mindful of carrying a key! Yeah!

  • Cleaning out the duct work;
Outside of ensuring our furnace filters are cleaned and/or changed frequently (every billing period one should detail this), having our duct work vacuumed out has created a home where respiratory issues are as healthy as possible.

"There is nothing so great as clean air"

The duct work took a substantial amount of time, 3 1/2 hours to perform and that was only due to things being a bit cleaner than the last time when they were here for an hour and a half longer. Our furnace, duct work, all air vents (cold and hot), HRV air system, and dryer vent were sucked up. We never did know what the blockage in the dining room furnace vent was, maybe our lost short tailed weasel from last year perhaps?

We really won't know the extent of other things aside from dirt buildups in there, but no doubt plenty of mouse poop was vacuumed up and whisked away in the process. The air is already so much cleaner and I had been awaiting this process before even considering turning the furnace on again for winter.

  • The furnace inspection and tune-up;
Each year in both pre-winter and pre-summer, we hire the company who installed our furnace and air conditioning systems to run a check on both before the new season ahead. We also have in ground hot water heating in our basement floors, which didn't seem to be working well when my folks were visiting.

All was inspected and detailed for us, that is until we heard an awful sounding sawing of a pipe and wondered what in the world the guy was doing down there! Wanna know? LOL

There was a blockage in our intake pipe, one that warranted removing the pipe and scraping/vacuuming it out. I wondered what in the world it could be myself, but when it was disclosed, I thought, hmmm, maybe not. He scraped out a dried up bat, many leaves, acorn nut pieces and obviously other incinerated items, likely rodents. ICK!

I'm so thankful my hubby went around to every opening around the house and placed a finer steel mesh covering over top of each to prevent more things like this happening. Imagine turning on the furnace and having a blockage first thing? So thankful for our furnace company for inspecting the furnace, the heating boiler, the flooring system, the HRV, gas line systems, and the intake piping for sure!

Nothing like a little peace of mind for the winter...

  • Storage room loading for winter;
We have a concrete storage area underneath of our front porch deck. It's the perfect tornado shelter, and also the perfect storage area for seasonal items awaiting usage once more.

Both sons and I ensured it was cleared out, and all things summer were returned there to keep safe over our harsh winter weather. The patio furniture is now off the deck for good, bicycles, hockey nets, gardening supplies, and all else not required for winter are also there. It feels to good to have this task accomplished.

  • "John Deere" - seasonal equipment duties;
Our local John Deere dealer offers a service to those like us who live in the country. They have a mobile unit one can book ahead and find useful for coming right to our driveway and maintain our equipment at home.

Twice yearly they arrive as expected, and this time they tuned up our snowblower (we're ready for the white stuff now, believe me!), our lawn tractor and our push mower, all in the convenience of not having to get the equipment to them.

I just love this service and find the technicians so helpful. It simplifies our lives to allow them to come to us at the comfort of our own home, especially when I am already at home anyway.

~ Last but not least, we can shout it from the rooftops now;


Today, my muscles are actually sore from all the hubbub of activities the past while (oh, ah, ug - snickering at the thought of needing a human oil job on my leg joints and back), and I've resolved to take the day easy as the children too are feeling mildly pooped out alongside me.

We are deserving of a bit of a lull today before heading off to mass tonight to celebrate in the feast of All Saints Day.

Happy "All Saints" Feast Day everyone!

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he as called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance of the saints. "

~ Ephesians 1:18

My garden florals still offer such a lovely abundance of color.