August! It's my birthday month. By this time I was getting burned out from grading and cutting trees. I was also stressing myself out. For my birth month I decided to celebrate myself by taking it easy. That being said I did still do work on the land, just not as intensely.
Picnic dinner with the girls
Local Donut is my favorite! They have incredible flavors. This was my birthday breakfast. Frangipane filled donut with blueberry glaze topped with blueberry compote... I'm drooling thinking about. I mean seriously doesn't get better than that for me.
Two of my favorite humans gifted me these flowers from their garden and a personalized birthday card
A few days after my birthday this crazy Colombian showed up.
With his older brother. Lalo fell in love with the tractor lol
They hung out for about 4 days, we cleared small trees over the septic site but mostly did this. Talked, caught up, bonded. All that good stuff. Someone even cried... and it wasn't me. Good times.
A different time they showed us this sweet swimming hole
At the end of the month we slipped in the removal of a culvert. If you read the previous posts, it's the one I worked on first, culvert number 7. I have a few photos of before and the start of digging with the tractor, then a video of getting the culverts out (again it was two separate culverts put next to each other, except this time there was a space between them full of dirt so nothing was flowing out!)
Before we started
Here is a video of getting each culvert out (explicit language, if watching with kids)
The culverts were removed, dropped them at our dump site which is a large dump truck stuck in the earth on our land. We have been putting certain items in the back of it. We also cleaned up the ditch this created to have good water flow in mud season. We may put a new culvert later but it's not a priority right now.
Video of us dropping off the old culvert at the dump truck and me being my goofball self with the commentary...
That brings us to September! The two major projects were cutting down a large maple and a five day culvert replacement! First, the large maple looked half dead and was situated too close to our build site. It had the potential to fall on the house so we decided to get rid of it now.
I hoped this would give an idea of how big the tree is
Before we could even get started on the maple there were about a half dozen or more smaller trees we removed around it to make working on it manageable.
Me hacking at it. I like to think I was helpful, Matthew definitely did most of the effective work.
Here's the video of me talking about the project and getting down the first section
This is what we were working with on the inside, it made it easier to know when we could use a chainsaw for some of the work.
Second section down, totally missed recording it happen
Video of the last section (explicit language, if watching with kids)
After the tree was down we had to clean it up and buck the wood. Along with the smaller trees we started with, we ended up with a lot of wood piles, this is just one with some brush in the background.
While the weather was good Matthew wanted to attempt mounting the snowblower to the tractor to make sure it went smoothly, worked and we weren't missing any pieces. It all went fine!
first step, remove bucket
second step attach thingy to tractor
last step attach snowblower! Success
I imagine Matthew would be very disappointed I called the attachment a thingy, but he is working and I can't ask right now. After all that he then went in reverse to put the bucket back on. We will reattach the snowblower in early November, ideally before the first big snow.
Next and largest project so far, culvert replacement. Culverts 3 and 4 need to be completely replaced. We did Culvert 4 because it was easier to start with and we only had enough culverts for the one. At the time the place we ordered from didn't have enough for both culverts. Culvert 4 had, like the others so far, two culverts with ends lined up. The problem here is the culvert was too small, the water in mud season was flowing over the road. We decided to replace it with TWO larger culverts side by side. It was 15" wide, we bought two 18" by 20 ft long culverts. Now, we didn't think about getting those home from the store, we ended up cutting them in half to fit them on the trailer, which worked great. Before installing them we taped them together with... something like plumbing tape. I don't remember the name, I watched a video with professionals doing it and I got the same stuff.
My gold chains lol we used these a LOT to move large rocks/boulders
Like this! I don't know how many we moved before we even started digging, maybe a half dozen
Video of breaking ground and starting the dig, mostly videos here on out.
Day one part two, totally missed recording the second culvert removal. Oh, and didn't use hand tools like I said we were going to in the video, and following videos for that matter. We used the tractor as much as possible.
Day three (only worked half the day because it was fall equinox)
Day four (another half day, we had two meetings in the morning so started late)
Day five! I'm over it by day five.
To round out the month I went on an awesome last minute overnight canoe camping trip with a friend.
Alright people, that's it! We are all caught up and at this point, don't see any more posts coming for a while. Thinking I'll keep with the same format of posting a two month summary. So, maybe new post in December.
As you are well aware this time of year brought on more challenges, not only were we at the beginning of this pandemic, but America was smacked in the face with it's internal illness of racism. There are many reasons this has been a tough year. Having the land has been one of the greatest blessings I've had, my husband being number one. June was spent doing a lot of internal work as well as the external work on the land. I graded the road, protested, read how to be an Anti racist by Ibram X. Kendi and took in the beauty of nature as it blossomed on the land.
By mid June we were able to get to work on the second culvert. The cement we (mostly matthew) poured had plenty of time to harden and we were ready to build up the road.
This is a before photo, except we already got started, this was after at least one load of rock was dumped. It worked like the first culvert, he dumped rock or dirt, I evened it out.
This is the after shot, it was a good days work, a lot easier than the first culvert.
Towards the end of the month we were in strawberry season! I found an organic u-pick farm and got to work. I, all by my big girl self, picked 12lbs of strawberries! I brought them home, processed them, and froze the majority of it. I've been using them in smoothies, making strawberry ginger jam and still have plenty for the winter.
At the start of July we got visitors. Matthews parents came to spend 4th of July with us. It was the first time we spent on the land and didn't work our butts off the whole time. Having them around... it was like we gave ourselves permission to take it easy and just take it in. We spent almost the whole time like this...
Hanging out talking. We got them to swim in the pond! Sorry, no photos of that.
So part of the road work is clearing trees that are too close and/or blocking sunlight. This was my first time felling a tree of this size and doing it alone. You can make out my little yellow chainsaw, my favorite toy.
I took down two trees that day, this was the other one, you can see how much sun is on the road compared to the area where we still need to remove trees that is shaded. This was tiring work, but I felt like a badass.
New toy! We need a snowblower for this winter, we got lucky and found one on craigslist for way cheaper than we thought we'd find. It is pretty heavy and Matthew figured out a cleaver way to strap it to the bucket so we could get it off the trailer and place it next to our other toy the brush hog, which somehow I failed to ever take a photo of getting and using.
That's pretty much it. I didn't take photos every time I was on the land. I did a lot of grading, we did a lot of tree removal and there is so much more to do. We plan to continue working on the land in the winter. We can still remove trees while the road is covered in snow.
In April the snow melted and we got a better look at the road... which was a proper mess! The road in has 6 culverts you drive over, but there is a seventh giving road access to the capped well. This last culvert wasn't doing well, the road was sinking over the culvert and I decided to try tackling the ditch on the side the water flows in, open it up so the water will drain better. You will discover that we eventually just removed the culvert, fun video of that in another post.
This is how it looked before
This was a lot of digging and cutting trees
I got a little dirty
Went by a little later and there was a happy frog!
A few days later I worked on the 6th culvert. I didn't get a before photo, just this after shot...
Mostly what I did was build up rocks and dirt at the end of this culvert to make the road wider.
Later that same day I noticed the 2nd culvert on the way in, which is the biggest, had this going on inside...
So there are two culverts that meet in the middle. Not a big deal we thought until later when I found a hole in the road where I could see this water flowing. That's a job for another post.
In May we finally cracked open a bottle of honey mead we were saving to celebrate getting land and sat to have lunch out there for the first time.
We got busy working on the first culvert...
As the snow melted we realized half the road was sticks and logs
We had to pull all of these out, there were pine boughs in here and it was a mess!
This is after we pulled everything out
Matthew brought in slate from a source on our land and I did my best to build a rock walk to support the material we were going to put in. Matthew would use the tractor to deliver more slate that I layered as evenly as possible, then bring dirt and I would smooth it out over the slate.
This was the end result. These days it blends with the rest of the road and has been holding up well. The true test will be seeing how it does in mud season.
By this time we initiated talks with Unity homes, the company we are building with. They needed to see the condition of the road to determine if they could get in. We took a video of the road from where we were planning to build. I thought I'd share so you could see most of the driveway and the condition of the road, it's a lot better now.
We are now building in a different location even further in so our drive will be a little longer than this. It's better overall, the new site has a great view, it overlooks the pond and is drier for building than where we were thinking of. Great to have professionals to tell you whats what. The next video was a day we went out to play with our new toy. The tractor came with the bucket, and we bought a rear blade to use for regrading the road. It happened to be snowing when we got to the land, but it cleared up later.
I didn't get video or photos of the final product, my bad. It looked a lot better, it was a little lumpy and I later went over it again with the blade and smoothed it out more. You can only get it so nice with the blade though. We are talking about getting a box blade which would make it way smoother... and toys hehe I don't have photos of it but the rest of the month I did some road grading and we filled the hole I found at the second culvert with concrete. It took about 6 bags of concrete, first Matthew crawled into the culvert and built a rock wall over the hole to keep the concrete from getting into the water. Towards the end of May it got really warm and I went for my first swim in our pond!