Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Betsy needs CPR

You'd be surprised how many pine needles a pine tree sheds in the course of a year. A lot. And when you have a lot of pine trees, that means lots and lots of cleaning up pine needles. Digging gooey pine needles out of the gutters, picking them out of the shrubs, sweeping them off the decks and sidewalks and raking them out of the garden. Gary being the safety conscious guy he is, I also have the pleasure of making sure the 'fire load' is kept under control. Which means keeping the pine needles raked on the property. I know we only have a couple of acres but keeping those pine needles under control seems to take up a large part of my time in the spring, summer and fall.

While Gary was on the coast last fall I diligently raked up all the pine needles. With all the landscaping work we had done we didn't really leave a spot close by, but away from the trees, to burn the needles. Lazy me decided to pile them on the garden (that was resting) instead of wheel barrowing them to the extreme far end of the property. What I did not realize was how big that pile of needles was going to get. Let's just say that it was 'one heck of a pile'.

The other thing you have to realize is that we seem to have to move things at least twice. Lumber, logs, siding, dirt, rocks, you name it, we move it once, twice sometimes three times or more, here and there around the property. So it seems only natural that we move this humongous pile of semi frozen pine needles too. Which also meant moving the lumber, again, and those freshly peeled logs, again, so that we could use the trailer to move those pine needles. Old Betsy, the tractor, was going to have get all chained up. That is a whole other blog....

Today was moving day, pine needle moving day that is. After a few 'special' words Gary was able to get Betsy and the trailer over to the pile of needles. We still have a fair bit of snow on the ground which made it tough for the old girl. Betsy, not me. I did just fine thank you very much. It took a bit of 'forking' and a comment from this old girl that 'this was crazy', but we got several loads of pine needles over to our new fire pit. We pushed, pulled and dragged those pine needles off the back of the trailer. Out comes the tiger torch, no little matches for this firefighter, and presto, instant smoke.

Of course, before lighting the fire Gary didn't move the trailer away from the needles. It was still snuggled up to the newly relocated pile of now burning, well smoking, pine needles. Gary goes to start Betsy again but wouldn't you know it, the old girl (Betsy, not me) has decided she's dead tired. So while Gary retrieved the tractor CPR kit (combustion and power remedy) I tried to move the pine needles away from the trailer and slow the fire down a bit. After a fill up, a boost off of another battery and a few more 'special' words, Betsy decides to move away from the warmth of the fire. After that we both spent the afternoon poking and prodding the fire while trying to evade the smoke.

Bull River was a little smokey today, but is was still a beautiful day. The sun was still visible through the clouds of smoke. And once again we finished the day covered in dirt and smelling like smoke. I think all that smoke had Gary reminiscing about the good old days at the firehall.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Bailey is a wonderful guard cat. It will be a quiet night here at Dusty Acres; we will be snuggled on the couch with our blankets watching TV with Bailey curled up sound asleep and snoring on our feet. On occasion she goes from a deep sleep to a tense, frizzed, growling beast. This is our clue that something is out there.

We heard a 'whump' one night and Bailey did her guard cat thing, growling at whatever was threatening us. Seeing as how the roof didn't come crashing down, and cause it was really dark and cold (probably around -20) we didn't check it out any further. Next morning Gary discovered that one of the pines about 50 or 60 feet tall on the east side of the house had come down. Good thing it missed the shed and trailer! I hate to see trees come down (or get cut down), ironic cause I love my log house and wood furniture. Gary and his cousin Lorne have been known to start up the chain saws, stand at the base of a tree, grinning wickedly, and just rev the saw up so they can watch me come charging from wherever I am to save my trees.

On this fine sunny Saturday my very own Paul Bunyan dug out his chainsaws and ropes (I guess that makes me Babe, the blue Ox) and announced it logging day. I quickly got ready; I wanted to make sure only the dead trees were marked for falling. The trees came down without too much trouble; one had some spikes in it which didn't bode will for the chain saw and one we roped up so that I could pull it in the direction it needed to fall just in case it decided to fall towards the shed. Damn, Gary is good, it fell right on the fire we had built to burn the branches.

Of course,
all this hard work made us hungry and we had a good hot fire going so out came the weenies and roasting sticks. We haven't roasted hotdogs over an open fire since we took the kids camping...oh so many years ago. No s'mores though.

The rest of the afternoon was spent peeling the logs so that we could use them to build the railings for the shop or whatever. I suggested to Gary that he could use the bigger logs to build me an outdoor kitchen where we could house the BBQ (and beer/wine fridge), perfect for the summer bbq's that you can share with us if you just make the short drive to Dusty Acres. Hint, hint.

As you can see Gary looks very happy and I managed to save a few of our trees. It was a great day spent working together, getting covered in sawdust and dirt and smelling like woodsmoke. Just like a firefighter to cut down seven trees to have a wiener roast.