Saturday, 28 February 2009

Bag End visitors


I haven't forgotten this is meant to be a wildlife garden, even if I never seem to do any gardening and the place looks more like the aftermath of the October 1987 storm. This morning, this lovely Red spent ages in the garden.


Taken through glass I was pleased to catch the whiskers.

This afternoon I was treated to a good view of the ellusive little Treecreeper. She is a regular visitor to Bag End but very hard to photograph.


Haze on the picture because it was taken through glass, but at least you can see her very long claws.

The Novelty Has Worn Off

I didn't really feel like working in the garden on Wednesday but had no choice. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and once again, we've "set ourselves up" by arranging for Neil to work with us on Saturday. Weather permitting he will spend all day hauling logs from one part of the garden to another.

In order to make this possible, I had to clear a route through to the first pile that needs shifting and that meant I had to cut up a tree . . . like you do on a sunny February afternoon.

The mess I started with.

It's taken 11 months but the novelty of being a Chainsaw Diva has definitely worn off! I like using the saw, I really do, there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction as a newly sharpened chain slices almost effortlessly through large bits of timber but either I am out of shape since last Autumn or it is getting harder.

Thankfully, Husband was able to stop work at 5.30 and we put in another hour as the light faded.

The "mess" we ended up with, and the huge log pile is revealed.

The right-hand tree, and brush piled up next to the fence to get it out of the way.

More brush . . .

The back side of that huge log pile

Fingers crossed for dry weather on Saturday.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Another new toy

but this one is His, not Hers!

Most of our remaining trees need pruning, TLC and a lot of attention to try and get them back into shape. It is not possible to get a ladder to many of the thin limbs (and even we are not daft enough to try and use a chainsaw up a ladder) so Husband persuaded me we needed this.


It is the longest, largest, dedicated Pole Pruner that Husqvarna could supply, and it's a lovely bit of kit with a 12" chainsaw bar on the end of a small motor. It works beautifully - investing in the right tool for the job makes life much simpler, however, when you are small Hobbit-sized it is a PIG to use because of the way it is balanced and will, in the main, be "his" toy, not "hers". I foresee significant marital discord in the future as I indicate with a long bamboo cane exactly where I want a cut made and he makes it somewhere else . . .

Unfortunately it took longer to arrive that we would have liked and it is nearly too late in the year to do some of the pruning. We've made a small start on the Magnolia but in truth we're going to miss the main window of opportunity for this year because of all the other stuff that needs to be done first.

Monday, 23 February 2009

The Post-Felling Clear-up Begins

Oh boy are we out of practise. Clearing up the Coppice area on Saturday left us both way, way more tired than we expected so Sunday has been a little bit more sedate.

Husband concentrated on the large log piles. The longest one got in a mess during the felling when people were trying to be helpful by adding logs to it but it wasn't built to Management's standards so there's been a lot of reorganisation to make best use of the space. He's also been adding to the Log Store which is starting to look rather good!



Despite saying I wasn't going to run the chainsaw today, I took down the three remaining cherry trunks that had been sticking out of the front lawn for the best part of a year, and cleared rubbish out of the Coppice.



Not bad, given that on Saturday morning this whole area was covered in fallen Sycamore and dumped Leylandii branches.



The Cotoneaster we coppiced last year has put on loads of new growth. The sycamore stump will need to be killed off before it regrows and does more damage to the old wall, sadly, we might have to lose the Hawthorn next to it as well.



An early afternoon finish, soak in the bath, relatively early dinner and then back outside when dark. No wind so an ideal time to have a small bonfire and get rid of the brush that we tidied up yesterday. Hmm, about that "no wind" thing. There was no wind until 5 minutes after I lit a small pile of twigs and then a gentle breeze turned up to take all the smoke directly towards our neighbours. Sadly, good relations with neighbours (and perhaps a rare dose of common sense) prevailed; I stamped out the small fire, packed up and came indoors. Hmmph.

And finally, not for the squeamish. I found this on the ground underneath where the Sparrowhawk was photographed on Friday, there is very little left of this Wood Pigeon. Ten minutes later husband called out "did you see the Sparrowhawk fly through just now". As I was putting tools away in the garage the answer was no. There followed a very confused conversation as I told him about the carcass under a pile of brush - confused because it had gone so he couldn't see what I was talking about and I was accused of some sort of birding hallucination until we realised what had happened!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Scarface



We did worry in case the removal of the Leylandii upset our squirrel visitors, they used the trees as part of the route to get in and out of the garden. Doesn't seem to have slowed them down - felling finished at 4.45pm on the Tuesday, one of the reds was back at 8.15 on Wednesday morning!

Post Apocalypse Pictures

Well, here it is - evidence of our insanity. Just when we got the mess cleared up, we created more of it!








I guess dropping 48 monster Leylandii in one year is quite an achievement (and certainly the neighbours seem to think so) but it continues to frustrate the h*ll out of me that the garden constantly looks such a mess.

I know I'm only feeling like this because I am tired. We now have much more light reaching areas that have been in shade for years and as soon as the remainder of the logs and brush are moved we can think about digging around the perimeter in readiness for hedges. I have lined up the son of a friend who will come and do some labouring - his first task will to move logs, lots of them, hopefully next weekend.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

One Year On

We completed the legal gubbins exactly one year ago but did not fully move into Bag End until the end of the month so although we've been the owners for a year, I think of 1st March as our "proper" anniversary. However, the date deserves to be marked and what better way than to share the view from the kitchen sink at 8.00 this morning:

Lunchtime Visitor

Didn't manage to take any 'post apocalypse' pictures of the tree felling today, but we did have this beautiful visitor. There are a few Wood Pigeon feathers underneath where she sat, but no other evidence of lunch.








When there is a World Championships for Naff Bird Photos these will be contenders, but, they were grabbed in a hurry through a window which has plastic film over it . . . the annoying thing is that she may have been on this branch for quite some time and I'd been working at the Utility Room sink for half an hour and not noticed - grrrrrr.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Fangorn Forest No More

The final felling - two perfect February days with absolutely no wind, no rain, minimal cloud. The ground continued to be fairly disgusting underfoot and five or six pairs of large boots clomping around for two days hasn't helped the muddy areas.

What can one say except for chainsaws, chainsaws and more chainsaws:


Three large trees from the side are already down and being limbed and logged as we go. Last night's bonfire is trying very hard to restart itself and the colour is off in all the pictures 'cos idiot here had changed the White Balance for some reason and not put it back to Auto.


There is always a risk that no matter how careful you are with ropes, cutting out wedges and so on, a tree might fall the wrong way and in the case of these monsters, the wrong way would be onto a road. I spent much of Monday standing in the lane ready to stop anyone who might be coming past at just the wrong moment.

video
This is a series of photos turned into a movie (new camera may be super-clever but it doesn't have a video setting!)


When professionals do it, tree trunks get cut up an awful lot faster than is the norm at Bag End.

Monday saw us get rid of 7 Leylandii along the side fence, three from the coppice area plus a self-sown Sycamore that was far too close to the wall and would have caused structural problems at some point in the future, plus the final big Leylandii between us and the nearest neighbour.

That just left four Leylandii to be dealt with on Tuesday - great big huge things that were very close to the house and surrounded by other trees we wanted to keep. The only way was to take them down bit by bit and that is very slow, tiring work.






Yes, Tim does know what he is doing, yes he is on a harness, (so is the chainsaw) and no, I did not accept his offer to let me take over if I wanted . . .

Now all that remains (ha ha) is more clearing up. Tomorrow's task - get out and take some "after" photos.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Planning

I should know better than to make plans . . . sigh.

We went to bed Sunday night very pleased that, by our warped standards, the garden was tidy and there was very little to do for the next few days. I had the laundry up to date, the house relatively picked up, and Husband about to leave for a two-day business trip. What's a girl to do in these circumstances but quilt? I fell asleep visualising the quilting I was going to be doing all day Monday.

Which is why, at 07.55 on Monday morning, when I was padding about in dressing gown and slippers, only half way through the first cuppa, I really was not ready for John to phone and say "the weather is absolutely perfect, there is not a drop of wind and we might not get another window like this once the expected low arrives".

I'm starting to think the Universe really does not want me to be making quilts at present . . .

The calm before the storm. The only "gardening" I'd planned for this week was to finish raking up the twiglets and dumping them in the green bins for the Council to turn into compost.

A wonderful weekend. Saturday 7th - Sunday 8th

With no computer to distract me (giggle) and clear, bright, frosty days, what else should a Hobbit do but get on with clearing up those damn logs?



The pile in the foreground and the huge pile at the back were moved, bit by bit. I didn't do it all - Husband provided much muscle and assistance. When we built that huge pile it was a good idea, we were not going to do anything in that corner of the garden for a while, trouble is, plans change and with John due at the end of the month to fell the remaining Leylandii, it all had to be cleared away.



When I wasn't moving big logs, I raked debris and twigs and pulled ivy root, and also cleared up three small piles of thin logs which had been dumped by the fence for far too long.

By the standards employed by normal gardeners this still looks a complete mess but given the debris we've lived with for the past year, I was extremely pleased to get this far!

Not many pictures because I was too busy working but Management thought it would be funny to capture the final scene before we came in on Sunday afternoon. Nearly all the logs are moved and piles of brush were ready for a night-time bonfire (there was absolutely no wind and we thought that all the neighbours would have the sense to be indoors with their windows closed!). It wasn't cold working in the snow but peaceful - and great fun.





By our (usual) standards, a very small and quick bonfire. Great fun to be standing with snow gently falling, a bottle of cold beer in hand, next to a very hot fire (and we were still inside and eating supper by 8.00pm).

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Strangely Liberating

Or, as Mrs Flummery put it - Hasta La Vista, baby!

By Wednesday of last week I couldn't stand Vista any longer, I tried, honestly I did, but it was never going to be a happy relationship! In the process of downgrading the OS to XP Professional I ran into a driver issue that was going to take me way too long to fix so I took the decision to give the system unit to a small local company and have them wipe everything and start again giving me a lovely vanilla installation with no unwanted bits of Vista lurking about in the background.

WestCom were very speedy, professional, ridiculously well priced and definitely my first stop for all computer matters in future.
I could have collected the computer at 10.30 on Monday morning .. . . except that in usual Bag End style the week did not start the way it was planned and I have been a tad busy the last couple of days, more on that later.

What was really weird was me, the computer junkie, being delighted not to get online for nearly a week - I relaxed in the evenings, read some books and magazines, didn't miss email. I could have dug out an old laptop and gone online with that but just couldn't be bothered.

Strangely Liberating

Or, as Mrs Flummery put it - Hasta La Vista, baby!

By Wednesday of last week I couldn't stand Vista any longer, I tried, honestly I did, but it was never going to be a happy relationship! In the process of downgrading the OS to XP Professional I ran into a driver issue that was going to take me way too long to fix so I took the decision to give the system unit to a small local company and have them wipe everything and start again giving me a lovely vanilla installation with no unwanted bits of Vista lurking about in the background.

WestCom were very speedy, professional, ridiculously well priced and definitely my first stop for all computer matters in future.
I could have collected the computer at 10.30 on Monday morning .. . . except that in usual Bag End style the week did not start the way it was planned and I have been a tad busy the last couple of days, more on that later.

What was really weird was me, the computer junkie, being delighted not to get online for nearly a week - I relaxed in the evenings, read some books and magazines, didn't miss email. I could have dug out an old laptop and gone online with that but just couldn't be bothered.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

No Snow Here!

Despite much of the country coming to a complete standstill, the inch of snow we had yesterday did not last the night.

Monday's lunch of sunflower seeds was unearthed from a layer of snow



Tuesday's lunch was discovered on a tall log, newly placed outside the kitchen window

I already like February much more than January!

Sunday, 1st February.

The good weather continued, it wasn't as cold as Saturday and despite a later than planned start we were able to finish cutting up the tree trunks - that's 7 trees dealt with in one weekend!

Good to look back and see how much we achieved yesterday. No idea what I did to get the sky looking like this - don't remember it being so dramatic!



Didn't take much to finish the last big trunk from yesterday -



With a very determined Hobbit behind the chainsaw, this trunk lasted about 15 minutes!



And here's something you will not see very often:



In order to get at some of the trunks I had the (daft) idea of cutting up a load of smaller branches and moving the logs directly to the store, rather than just moving big bits. This was a great idea (not), 3½ barrow loads later blue smoke was seen escaping from the motor of the mitre saw - oh dear, killed another power tool!



Yes, it's still an unholy mess and at times like this I wonder how many years it might be before this looks more like a real garden and less like a forestry site, BUT, we no longer have tree trunks littering the place, we made a small start on moving the wood and the log store has a bit more in it.