Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dirt, Hidden Doors and Spending my Morning in a Tree

I accomplished so many tasks today! Posting my list really helped me focus on what I needed to get done. The best part was this afternoon when my DH and I went to the local compost yard and picked up an entire cubic yard (actually, slightly over) of compost in the back of my Subaru station wagon. I'm always amazed at what we can fit in our wagon; it's been a fantastic vehicle when it's not broken down, that's for sure. Jeremy is so amazingly supportive. He's always willing to help me outside if I need it, even if it entails pounding fence posts or stacking firewood.

I'm hoping to get at least two more yards of the stuff before winter. It's very cheap, high quality and local! Unfortunately, it's also almost gone for the year. They only screen compost until the end of October, and they probably only have 5 or 6 yards left, so I'm hoping to get back over there this weekend or early next week to see if I can get at least another yard, if not two... or three! I love dirt. I feel more at home completely covered in dirt than I do clean, especially if it's clean dirt, like freshly turned compost!

In addition to the compost, I walked the entire main sheep field and gathered whatever burdock I could find. Unfortunately this was a lot of burdock, and I worry that in the great number of bushes that I pulled, hacked and destroyed a lot of burrs were lost. Sheep are fantastic at finding burrs. They're like little burr-detectors... I'd like very much to blanket my sheep, but I can't bring myself to buy blankets, I would much rather make them. It seems like a few years ago one of the spinning magazines had an article on how to make fleece covers, but it's hazy and I can't remember where or when it was published.

After eradicating the burdock, I decided it was time to conquer the grape vines weedling their way under the aluminum sheets on the west wall of the barn. If you've ever been to our place, you may have noticed the ugly sheets of corrugated metal tacked haphazardly to the old wooden structure. I'm pretty sure they were added to keep the wind out, but really they just hold moisture in and they are ugly. It's been my goal since moving in to pull the sheeting off and replace it with some new boards, but I get side tracked every time I go to work on it. This time I was hauling on an old grapevine and one of the sheets just plopped right onto the ground. Imagine my surprise when I saw a small framed, square hole on the side of the barn with what looks like holes from a preexisting door. I immediately recognized it as a poultry door! My guess is that they used to house poultry in an indoor coop and let them out on the cow pasture to graze during the day. Of course I have every intention now of doing the same! I cleaned out the debris and started fitting a door to the hole, made from an old wooden table that I've been using for scrap in the barn. It's like fate... I have to get chickens now, right? :)

This barn is such a hodgepodge of addons and patchups. This is made evident most by the fact that the adjacent stall wall cuts into a window into the main barn. I love it though. It's full of history, and it's had a fascinating life.

Unfortunately the foundation has crumbled, though it's still standing soundly. The leaning west wall is a sign that this poor building certainly won't stand forever. Another sign is that the roof, which started to leak obviously years ago, was patched with the same stuff the west wall was. Corrugated aluminum. Ugh.

My other task was to clean the roof of the barn. The same box elder tree that is destroying the foundation of the barn was also crushing it from above by growing directly into the roof. I spent a good chunck of my day 15-20 feet above the ground, sitting in this tree with a bow-saw, a pair of loppers and a large garden rake, which Jeremy so graciously brought me. I had a great perch and I worked carefully to saw off the branches that were growing into the building, clip branches that would do so in the future and scrape the debris (years of old leaves trapped by the branches) from the roof.

The photo on the left was the view from my perch in the tree. On the right here is the mess of branches and debris that had to be removed. I really should get up there and tack down the loose sheets of aluminum before winter, but it's a two person job I think since ladders aren't my forte.

Again, I have one of the most supportive husbands I can dream of. After a quick cellular call from my perch in the tree, he ungrudingly brought me my tools to take care of the barn roof. What a great guy!


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