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Monday, April 23, 2018

The Backyard, Area A

Area A.
Might as well be called Area 51, because we had no idea what was going on in here. 

The red highlighted area is Area A. Its huge. At first glance, it looks like a thick line of trees; but in reality this area only has a couple of trees and they are being smothered by monster weeds, vines and thorn bushes (that had grown to the size of small trees themselves). The blue dashes repesent the approximate location of the fence.  It was BURRIED by an honest-to-goodness wall of vines. 

The front half of Area A

The back half of Area A

Arrow A is pointing to a Silver Maple that is completely overtaken by vines.  We were thankfully able to save this guy.  Arrow B is pointing to another tree that is also overtaken by vines.  It's on the other side of the fence so we haven't gotten to it as of yet.  We're hoping that we can save it as well. There's also a third tree behind Arrow A in the corner of the fence that we are working on saving.

This area was so dense with vines, thorn bushes and weeds that we had to buy a heavy duty weed eater to help us tackle this.  Aaron started work on this area while I was working on Area D next to the house. This weed eater is all business.  Pieces of grass and wood were flying at a very high rate of speed as this machine did its thing.  As you can see, Aaron is wearing canvas work chaps and a special helmet with headphones.  The kids and I were safely on the other side of the yard while he meticulously started clearing this area.

We started working on this area on Saturday, October 28th, and by Sunday, October 29th this is what we had completed.  It was slow going, but so satisfying.

You can start to see the fence after clearing out the front half.

Standing in the front yard looking at the front half of Area A

We were only able to get the front half cleared to the fence this weekend.  As we cut into the brush, we had to take breaks to rake the debris into a pile and burn it.  We kept an eye on the fire as we diligently kept working away on this area. Due to weather and other life obligations, it was a couple weekends before we were able to get back out to the farm and get some more work done.

Here's what Area A looked like after the weekend of November 25/26, 2017

More fence line is visible and we were able to save the Silver Maple!

As you can see, we were able to save the Silver Maple!  Look how the trunk is twisted.  It was doing everything in its power to try and get sunlight. This was as far as we were able to get in 2017.

It was a long and cold winter, and it still hasn't loosened its grip on the Midwest, and we're half-way into April!  But we were able to make it out again in late March and I'm happy to say that we were able to finish clearing out this area of the backyard.  We still have the other side of the fence to tackle.  That will be it's own post, hopefully sometime this summer!

This is what Area A looked like after a full day's work on Saturday, March 24th, 2018

In this shot below, you can see the tree that was hiding out in the very corner of the fence.  We cleared as many vines off of it as we could get to from inside the backyard.  Hopefully, it will stay clear enough until we're able to reach it from the field on the other side of the fence.  These vines grow crazy fast, so it's a race against time before the tree is covered again.

Here's a close-up of the layers of weeds and vines that we had to work through.  You can see how the growth closest to the fence is completely dead and new growth has reached further out.  The new stuff literally chokes out anything it can reach.  Those vines were wrapped so tightly around the tree limbs that you can see the gouges.

If you look closely at the main limbs about halfway up, you can see the tracks from the vines. 

Look at the sunset sky! 

Isn't she pretty? The boys love to sit on her and watch us work, or call to the cows.

And here's a shot of the area from the driveway looking over the fence. At this point we just need to finish raking up the leaves and put down some grass seed!

As of now, we've caught up on everything we've done in the backyard, so I'll be updating this area in real time going forward.

Here's a picture of the other side of the fence for Area A.  We'll call this this "Field Side" of Area A.

The trees are just now starting to bud, but you can't tell from this far away.  All the "green" stuff you see are the vines, weeds and thorn bushes.  This area is going to look completely different when we get done with it!

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Backyard, Area D

Area D. 

This spot wasn't too bad.  There was another load of lave rock, about 50 more large flat rocks, and a bunch of weeds that needed to be pulled; but for the most part, it just needed some love.  And then there was that random electrical safety situation to deal with. 

The area on the left was a small vegetable garden at one point. We pulled a tomato plant (with its garden tag) out. And then there is really pretty fern that we kept and a bunch of ornamental grass that we divided up and spread out. 

The unsafe electrical situation.

And a seashell.

So for the most part we just wanted to clean out all the leaves and pull the rocks and weeds out.  And just have it be a quaint little ornamental garden. 

Busting out a concrete peninsula that didn't make any sense.

More lave rocks.

Fall was setting at this point, so working until 5 or 6 on a Saturday was working until the sun went down.

All the rocks, leaves and weeds are gone.

Putting in a few flowers and hoping that they'll survive the winter.

And a few daylight pictures of what it looked like on October 29, 2017

This spring we'll put down some mulch and add a boarder to clean it up. 

Next I'll start showing you the progress made on Area A.  We're still not done with it, a year after taking possession of the property.  This area needed some serious man-power.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Backyard, Area C

As I mentioned in the previous post, Area C was my nemesis.  This area is right outside the Converted Porch, so we assume the previous owners wanted to create a landscaped focal point in their backyard.  We could tell that they put a lot of work into this feature and it was not easy to disassemble; but it definitely needed to be.  This area featured a fake pond, surrounded by large flat stones, lava rocks, two fountains or bird baths (they were so damaged that we couldn't be sure) and some sort of large bush that was becoming a tree. They also had electricity running to the pond area that powered some in-ground lights and possibly one of the fountains.  At one point, I'm sure it was nice, but at this point in time, it had become unsafe.  The fountains were broken and crumbling, the lighting was broken, the electrical wires were cracked and the bush they had planted had started to grow into a tree. 

Here you can kinda see the landscaped area/water feature out of the glass door in the converted porch. You can at least make out the general area of the feature.

Here's a close-up of the plastic pond full of leaves.  You can see how the edge of the pond is being exposed by the rocks shifting out of place.  And all the weeds that are taking over.  Also in this pond were about 20 frogs and about a million mosquitos. Yuck.

In this picture you can see that we were finally able to dig out the plastic pond.  It was MUCH larger than we expected.  It was about five feet across by about three feet deep.  There were a lot of nasty leaves submerged in there.  The mosquitos were ridiculous. 

You can also see the stack of firewood in the background.  We were working on this area at about the same time we were working on Area B.  We started Area B first, but there were some days that Aaron just needed to be in there by himself cutting down trees with the chainsaw.  So I would move over to Area C with the boys to keep everyone safe.  We got a LOT of firewood out of Area B!!

Here is a shot of some of the flat rocks we removed from this area.  Once we finished digging out all of the lava rocks and the large landscaping edging stones and started flattening out the ground, we pulled about half again as many flat rocks from below the surface. 

We dug out about 15 boxes of lave rocks.

I'm showing the picture below again because you can sort of see the back end of Area C after I had cut down the bush/tree.  The above picture shows the bush/tree cut down to almost a reasonable size.  I can't seem to find a true before picture of this area. 

Also in the picture above, you may have noticed the wooden post sticking out of the ground.  This post is holding the electric wires that are running underground from the shed to the pond (Area C) and then they go back underground and continue onto Area D and then into the house. Attached to the post are two outlets that we didn't dare test out!! We did have an electrician come out to the house to disconnect the electricity that was leaving the house.  We were trying to be as safe as possible, but we also didn't want to take any chances.

Below is a picture of the post that used to reside in Area D just so you can see a close-up of how this was assembled. I'm going to guess that this was not up to code...

Aaron pulling the electrical wire out of the ground.

The wire going into the ground.

A very home-made electrical situation. Not safe at all.

The electrical wire continuing onto Area D

Once we dug out the rocks we started to flatten the ground.   

I thought that we would have a big pile of dirt to haul away, but we didn't.  It all flattened out just perfectly. 

We tried to dig out that bush, but the roots are holding tight.  We'll have to grind it out with a stump grinder later this summer. But for now, it will just look like a massive grave.

This is how this area looked when we stopped working on it last fall. October 7, 2017 to be exact. 

And here is how it looks as of March 2018.  Grass seed is down and we're praying it takes so that we don't have anyone wondering what's buried under there.

March 2018

Next up, we'll move back over to Area D.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Backyard, Area B

I'm going to go a bit out of order from the picture showing the areas of work in the previous post. After clearing out big trash items such as loose fence posts, pipes, piles of old wood, garden stakes, random flower pots, and broken lawn chairs, we were able to start focusing on specific areas. We started out with Area B due to the fact that it was covered in Poison Ivy.  We wanted to get it cleared out as soon as possible and with our boys playing in the yard while we were working on it, we wanted to minimize the chance that they would get caught up in it.  I am happy to share that neither of the boys got any on them.  Aaron and I, however, did get a few spots on our arms but were able to treat it fairly quickly.

We were na├»ve in that thought that we would have this area cleaned up in a weekend or two.  We thought we would pull an old fence down, throw some trash out, rake some leaves, cut out a couple of small trees and finally clear out some weeds and vines. WRONG. As I mentioned in the previous post, this area was full of items that we couldn't even see due to the amount of leaves, trees and vines.  We pulled out an old metal swing set that had collapsed, wooden light post that was propped against the shed that we didn't know was a light post because the foliage was so thick, a dog bed (along with a collar and leash), plastic and cement flower pots, and a couple of car tires.

There's a swing set in that greenery.

Can you pick out the light post?

When we started work on this area we had already filled our first dumpster to the brim and had it hauled away.  We thought we would be able to load up any other items we came across in our truck and bring it home to toss in our own trash.  We thought wrong.  Again. As we cleared out this area we moved all the trash to a pile on the driveway and we quickly realized we would need another dumpster.

The trash pile before we started loading it into dumpster #2

We started working on this area on July 29, 2017 and by September 3, 2017 this is what we had accomplished.

By this point fall was setting in and we needed to get a few other things accomplished before winter came.  So we didn't put any seed down until this spring. 

This is what Area B currently looks like.  I can't wait until the grass starts to sprout up.  Later this summer we plan to get a stump grinder out here.  But for now, the stumps will just have to be worked around.

March 2018

Next up, I'll show you Area C.  This area was my nemesis.