Sunday, April 26, 2020

Movin' Leaves

With the weather we've had the last few days, it really has been a joy to be out int garden! We get a LOT of leaves in our backyard - the first Autumn we were here we spent several weekends blowing and raking and we filled probably 50 paper sacks with leaves. Once the sacks are full, I had to wait until the Wednesday night, and then lug them all to the top of my driveway to be collected. And it ALWAYS seemed to rain in between. Paper sacks over-filled with wet leaves don't travel well....

Anyway, last year, about halfway through the process, I had a better idea: a leaf bin we could use to make mulch - we can always use the mulch in the yard, but that was a secondary consideration. I learned how to mulch leaves when I was a pre-teen and I did yard work with my Dad's frenemy Elvis Presley (Note...after my exposé on my Dad's old friend Ron Tent, I've been banned from mentioning anything close to a real name in my blog...).

This plan actually worked very well; six months on and the leaves have reduced in volume by half - it takes two (2) years to properly mulch leaves, so this is great progress. The only problem was the leaf pen I built was knocked up (ooh err) in about fifteen minutes and looked like $hite on toast; even a blind donkey would have shied away from it. Until last weekend, most of it was obscured by vegetation, but with that section of the yard cleared out, the leaf bin had to GO GO GO!!

I thought it would look much better re-located below the "tree" and with the 2" x 4"s replaced with something a little more rustic. It's not really a tree, its a dead trunk which is overhung by vegetation from the neighboring yards...but it looks like a tree from fifteen feet.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and after a nice lie-in and a pancake breakfast, it was time to GET SERIOUS. This simple project actually turned out to be the most fun I've had in a long time because Sam Sheep came out to help. It's a slight regret that I didn't take any "in progress" photos, but I was concentrating on showing Sam how to (safetly) use the circular saw and nail gun...and how to avoid getting scratched by the chicken wire, although I failed to heed my own advice on the latter...

It's not quite finished, but this is what we came up with: the same piece of chicken wire is stapled to the fence at both sides and supported at the center by a dead tree trunk that we salvaged from the wood pile. Sam nailed a piece of plywood to the end of the trunk so it has a base to stand on, and we added two smaller branches to make a more-or-less stable tripod.

That was the simple bit. Transferring a massive pile of partially decomposed leaves fifteen feet across the patio was something else - I couldn't have done this without Sam's help.

This is how it looked after we swept up the patio. Best of all, only a tiny bit of the chicken wire is visible form the upper level kitchen window!  We were not quite finished, but by this point it was lunchtime.

With the shelter-in-place edict still in effect we are limited on where we can go to exercise never mind have lunch. One place than we can still visit is Alameda Beach, and it was the perfect day for it - even if we have been there twice this month already. When we do go to the beach, we like to hit up In N' Out on the way. Ruby Sheep used to be a hater on this plan until she discovered the secret menu, so these trips have turned into universal crowd pleasers....and it's not very often we can say that.

We had a top time at the beach even though it was as busy as a regular Saturday. The weather was perfect, in fact my brother and I would have called it a "Daddy-in-the-sea-day." This nomenclature arose in about 1980 when our family was at the beach somewhere in southwestern England and I asked my Dad to join us in the sea. He said he would come in when we could look around in every direction and just see blue sky; any hint of a cloud and he had to remain in his deckchair. I tried this old bollox with Sam when he was really little, but it didn't get me very far - we don't have clouds in the East Bay very often and when we do we don't go to the beach.

By the time we got back from the beach I was far too tired (and too sunburnt) to screw around in the yard  - an hour in command of the TV remote control was more what I had in mind, so the leaf pen had to wait to the following day for the finishing touches.

The next day was Sunday, so naturally I kicked it off by loafing around in bed for longer than was strictly necessary and then read the news ont inters-webs. That took about thirty seconds since I'm sick (!) of reading about Covid-19 and the $hit state of the world economy and there's nothing else in the papers. Amy Sheep and I went out to the backyard and were just contemplating some activity when we were called away to play monopoly. This time around I failed to "over stretch my financial resources too early in the game" and emerged victorious. I took this as a sign that it would be a good time to get the chainsaw running.

I bought what I consider a good quality chainsaw almost....well, maybe a year ago? It's been a while. It should be a good tool, it certainly it cost serious moolaw, but I've been having problems with the chain coming off the bar. Once that happens, you have to buy a new chain, so after two iterations I lost interest. I bought a new chain months ago, but getting this tool going has been on the burner behind the back burner. Whatever, I decided that today was the day. I watched a couple of videos on changing the chain, and I tried my best to copy them. After some too-ing and fro-ing, I had my way with the chain, and after another frustrating bout of tugging on the pull cord, I got the saw up and running.

As you can see from my safety gear, I haven't used the chainsaw much...

The first cut is the deepest! This is how the leaf pen looks after I cut down the post/old tree in the corner. I have lots of other stuff to do with the chainsaw, but I like to go out on a high so instead I returned the saw to the workshop and moved onto a couple of projects that will feature in this blog eventually.

This corner of the yard really is a blank canvass now. Once the garden centres reopen, we can go shopping for saplings.

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