I wound my way down the driveway around noon after fortifying myself with some Aunt Judy’s. This trip, my only aim is to suck up leaves. However, I had some prep work to get out of the way. I started the pump and filled the keep’s reservoir so I could have some wash water this weekend. I also blew leaves off of the deck and away from the front of the keep. I unloaded my bags and some tools from the truck, parked it out of the way, and I was ready to hop on the mower.
I got right to it, starting with the driveway. I’m very glad the collection trailer works as well as it does; it would take forever to do this with a traditional bagger unit. As it was, I filled the trailer three times from the driveway alone. I’m dumping the mulched leaves around the marsh entrance as that’s been getting pretty squishy lately. After about four hours on the mower, I finally decided to do something about all the low branches and dead trees on the east side of the yard. I parked the mower and got out the chainsaw, trimming trees as high as I could reach from the ground. I hit everything from the marsh entrance to the outhouse, greatly increasing visibility in that part of the yard.
Happy with my minor-league lumberjacking, I grabbed the green ATV and small flatbed trailer to start hauling the brush to the pit. After four loads, each over 6 feet high, I took a break and headed into town for some A&W at about 6:30. Refueled, I hauled a few more loads over and lit the pit. With plenty of dry cedar branches in the pile, it wasn’t long before I had an impressive column of flame bright enough to light my way to and from the remaining piles. It was around 10:00 by the time I had everything I could see fed into the pit. I put away the ATV and closed up the pole barn as I waited for the flames to die down, then headed into the keep for a warm shower and to relax and watch some MST3K. I started dozing off in the recliner around 11:30 and stumbled to bed soon after.
Took my time getting up and ready for the day. It had rained a little overnight, but the forecast is calling for clear skies, a little wind, and highs near 50° F, so I should have good weather to finish cleaning up the yard. I headed to town for some more Aunt Judy’s breakfast around 9:30, and then it was back to work. I finished collecting the rest of the branches I dropped yesterday and got the pit going again. With the east yard cleared out, I was able to maneuver the mower a lot better. I unhooked it from the collection trailer and ran some circuits around all the new open areas, blasting the mulch out to where I could more easily suck it up later.
I switched over to the leaf blower and got everything around the outhouse and bird feeders again before hooking the collection trailer back up and finishing the job. The results were impressive. I filled that trailer nine times this weekend. We haven’t had the yard picked up like this in the fall since my grandpa’s time. I’m hoping this helps grass growth in spring.
With a hungry coal bed glowing in the pit, I decided there was one more task that I wanted to check off before leaving. We’ve had a tree leaning precariously over the roof of the big trailer for years. Based on my successes with the big limb over the pole barn and felling many others around the yard, I figured I could tackle this one, too.
I got my big ladder out and set it up on the edge of the big trailer’s roof. I had firm footing and encountered no problems felling the trunk right at the roof line, dropping only the light top half gently onto the roof. So far, so good, so I started hacking off the smaller branches and cutting the trunk down to manageable chunks. Well, one of those chunks rolled its way off the roof and into the side of my ladder, which responded to this assault by falling right over. Great.
I reached for my phone, hoping to call Peter to see if he could come help me out, and realized I left it in the keep to charge. I started weighing my various options for getting 14 feet down without a ladder, none of which seemed particularly appealing. I was nearly resigned to trying to slide down to the little front porch (and hoping I wouldn’t impale myself on the railing or simply bust through it) when I heard a car door slam. Feeling hopeful, I yelled out a few times for Danny. After the fourth or fifth time, I heard a familiar, warbling reply. He made his way across the yard and uprighted my ladder for me. I was finally back on solid ground. Thanks, Danny!
At this point, I was tired, felt foolish, and I had a personal vendetta against that stupid tree. I quickly dropped the rest of it and was happy to toss it into the pit. With all the smaller branches and twigs collected, I put away the chainsaw and ladder and closed up the pole barn. I took a quick shower to get rid of the 2-cycle chainsaw perfume, drained the keep reservoir, disconnected the pump and water heater, and poured anti-freeze down all the drains. I’m not sure when it’s going to drop below freezing, but I want to be prepared. I packed up and was on the road by about 6:00, pretty satisfied with my groundskeeping for the year.