I keep thinking…if people mow their lawns, bag the clippings and rake up all the leaves, where does the lawn soil get any organic material from? It’s an interesting question and one that I haven’t found the answer to yet.
I used to bag the lawn clippings. I was having fun doing it too. Then, I read that I could just mow the lawn and let the clipping stay. Of course the article was written by one of those freaky granola people with a dirt lawn. You know the type, the guy who tries to eat the lawn weeds. I always try to take advice from people I want to be like, not some weirdo who jumped on the “green” train. So, I kept on reading articles from a variety of authors. I came to the conclusion that leaving the grass clippings on the lawn is okay if you mow frequently. If you mow infrequently, you will get big grass clumps that will kill the grass underneath. I think I can handle mowing regularly. About half way through this last Summer, I stopped bagging and the lawn looked the same thereafter.
The whole reason I did that research is because every time I bagged the clippings, I felt like I was taking a little bit of love away from the soil. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how that soil was going to get the organic material back. I mean, was it from the leaves I pick up every Autumn? No, because they obviously aren’t there anymore (I picked them up, duh).
I had a vision in my head…I visualized the lawn in five years. It was horrible. Everything was in black and white and looked barren like the moon’s surface. You can even use Mars as an example. I didn’t like having a lawn with no nutrients and dark soil. I decided to keep reading and to research what would happen if I just mulched up the leaves that fall from the trees every year and kept them right there on the grass. Well, wouldn’t you just know it, other people were having the same thoughts and a group up at Michigan State University did a study on this exact topic.
You can read about it here.
I am going to jump right to the conclusion of their study. They said that it is okay to mulch your leaves into the grass and it’s actually better for the soil. It helps out all those microbes and the worms as well. I know about the worms because my compost pile is FULL of them. Worms like organic material. If the lawn had more organic material, I could imagine that the worms would find their way there.
I’m going to do it. This year, I am going to mulch the leaves and leave them on the lawn. I am going to have to do a really thorough job though because there are a lot of leaves. That’s good because there are some areas of this lawn where the soil is just stripped of any nutrients. I wouldn’t even call it soil anymore. It’s like dust when it gets dry.
I suppose I could always just spread peat moss or compost over the grass every Autumn. That wouldn’t really be fun. Besides, where would I get my compost? From the big pile of leaves and grass clippings I raked up and bagged the year before?
This year will be the experiment. I will let you know how it goes. If things look good in the Spring, I will tell you. Actually, I will tell you either way. It can’t get any worse than it is now. Although, I am looking at the grass after a three week spell of no rain and a thorough dethatching job. Things ain’t looking so great.
Just for giggles, I did a Google search to see what firewood prices are down where I come from – lower New York. I nearly choked when I saw what people are charging for wood in my home town.
Let me first preface this by telling you what firewood costs in my neck of the woods up here in Maine. And this is funny because just last night I was talking to someone (who didn’t believe that I actually hump the logs out of the woods on my back, by the way) and telling them there is absolutely no money in wood in my area. I go outside and put in some serious labor taking trees down, cutting them up into three piece sections, pulling them up on my shoulder and walking them out of the thick. After that, I throw the logs in a pile, cut them up and finally split them with an axe, not a splitter. Now, that’s really not all too difficult. It’s the walk to the garage that usually gets to me. It burns my legs out pulling my cart, by hand, across an acre with at least 100 pounds of wet firewood in tow. It can get exhausting. I figure that after a half day’s labor, I net about $35 worth of firewood. I can’t imagine describing what I do to someone as anything other than a hobby.
But yeah, back to the price of firewood up here – in Madison, I’ve seen signs offering a cord for $210, delivered. That’s why I say, there’s no money in firewood.
Now, in contrast to what I just shared with you, there is money to be made by selling firewood in lower New York and Connecticut. Check this out (and this comes from two websites):
Cord of firewood, seasoned – $420
Delivery – $52
Stacked – $54 per hour
Face cord of firewood – $350
Half face cord of firewood – $220
And just to let you know, a face cord is 1/3 the volume of a cord. So it’s 8’x4’x16″. A half face cord is half that, or 1/6 the volume of a cord. It’s a little more than a hoop full of wood, to put things in perspective. We’ve all seen a hoop of firewood. It’s a bit more than twice my wood rack. Can you imagine filling up, let’s say, two hoops (to be safe) of wood for someone and walking away with $220 cash? You’d be an fool not to, if you had the means.
Now, let’s do a little math here. A half face cord is 1/6 of a full cord. If you sold six half face cords per day to various people, you’d make $1320. Not bad for a cord of wood.
As I was reading one of the company’s Google+ pages, I came across a negative review. Someone was complaining about how the company couldn’t deliver as well as they would have liked. And get this – there was a snow storm coming that night. I guess these are the types of people who pay $220 per half face cord of firewood. People who wait for the impending doom of a snow storm to find the energy to order firewood. Poor soul had to buy those little bundles of logs out in front of a grocery store instead – sort of like a grocery bag of wood. Man, I’m doing something wrong. If I could sell the wood I’ve collected since last year for these prices, I think I’d eat two bowls of rice and beans tonight instead of just one. I’d walk my little hand cart all the way to New Jersey for that kind of money.
A few weeks back, I had a project to finish up in the downstairs bathroom. Apparently, the upstairs toilet, which is directly above the downstairs toilet, was dipping (not dripping, dipping). For whatever reason, it felt like the floor under the toilet upstairs sat ever so slightly lower than the rest of the floor in the bathroom. I couldn’t stand it, so I fixed it. All it took was a few 2x6s and some joist hangars in the ceiling of the downstairs bathroom to make an annoying situation less annoying.
I had some extra wood from this project, so I figured that I would head outside to make some sawhorses. I’ve been meaning to make these things for years, but never got around to it. But, like I said – I had some extra lumber (a 2×6), so the time was ripe.
These sawhorses aren’t perfect for all situations, but they are really good for people like me who intend to keep them in one location, such as a garage or a shop. They are bulky, difficult to handle and are heavier than those fancy aluminum Dewalt sawhorses you can find at the big box stores. They also take some room to store. But, if you are like me and want to own something you made by hand and have a sort of pride in when the time comes around to using them, these are perfect. And probably pretty strong – I don’t know, I haven’t put them to the test yet.
Are you ready to check out one of my sawhorses? Okay, here goes:
As you can see, I made the cross member out of the extra 2×6 I told you about. I then used 2x4s for most of the remaining parts. For the bottom of the cross member, I used two 7″ cuts of 2×6 as can be seen here:
Here’s a picture of a side of the sawhorse. I attached a small 2×4 to hold the legs sturdy. I suppose I could have moved the piece down further, but I wanted to put a screw into each leg, the 2×6 cross member, as well as the small 2×6 spacer piece that’s hidden in this picture.
Okay, I figure I’ll give you a fast breakdown of the measurements and materials I used, just in case you like what you see. It took me a while to get past all the pictures of the world’s fanciest sawhorses and to gather enough information to get the project done. Here is what these sawhorses consist of. And these materials are good for two horses:
(2) 2x4s @ 36″ for top section of cross member
(2) 2x6s @ 36″ for center section of cross member
(4) 2x4s @ 36″ for cross leg braces – these are positioned 22″ down from top of leg
(8) 2x4s @ 34″ for legs
(4) 2x6s @ 7″ for leg spacers to be attached to bottom of cross member 2×6
(4) 2x4s @ 12″ to be cut diagonally as leg space braces
I think that’s it. To make these, all you really need to do is cut the materials from the material list above and put each sawhorse together. The only time you would even need to use a ruler is to measure the 22″ down from the top of each leg to place the leg braces in the proper position.
Please let me know what you think of these. I really like them.
I’ve been busting my ass outside for the past few days trying to gather as much firewood as possible. Do you want to know what I’ve come to realize? It’s never enough. The craving will last forever. As long as I’ve got someplace to store it, I’ll keep collecting it.
I was talking to one of my buddies in jiu-jitsu class last night and I mentioned that my world would be so much less strenuous if I had an ATV and a trailer. He agreed. He’s got one and he told me it makes all the difference. I then mentioned that I would feel somewhat empty if I had finished gathering all the wood I needed. I said, “If I had an ATV to help with the speed of the whole thing, I’d be done.” He smiled and said, “No you wouldn’t.” He got it, I got it – you’re never done. Especially after you get used to the fact that once it’s cut, split and stacked, it’s money in the bank. All this wood cost me was my time, some gas and oil, a chainsaw and a house with five acres of property. Wait, that is kind of expensive. Well, the land would’ve been here regardless if we installed a wood burning stove or not. The trees would’ve just gotten larger and larger until they died off naturally.
So far, I’ve got about two cords of firewood for next year. I have no idea how much I’m going to need, but it’s not a big deal – I’ll just keep going and going year round. Pellets are going to be our primary heat source with wood cooking in the background, if need be. I have two tons of pellets already with another two tons floating around in the back of my mind. I’ll pick them up eventually. Pellets, like firewood, are easy to store indefinitely, as long as you’ve got the space.
It’s funny, the more trees I cut down, the more I scout out for removal. And now that the leaves are off them, I can see what’s what. The vacant area left behind from the trees I’ve already removed is barely noticeable, which is good. Just yesterday, I took down a huge quaking aspen (popple) from a stand of aspens and don’t even know it’s gone. That’s what I like. Just a bit more sun for future trees to grow.
Last week, Laura and I decided that if we were going to pick apples this month, we better get on the road. We have a terrible habit of waiting too long for these things and by the time the season almost passes, we go picking during a rain storm. It’s like a race against time because of our laziness. This year though, besides the oppressive heat wave that hit towards the end of September, we experienced almost perfect weather.
I’ve never been to North Star before, but like I said, it’s a great place. There’s tons of good parking and enough space to pretty much avoid everyone. Even though the orchard does offer a tractor to pull folks up the almost quarter mile dirt road to the active picking trees, we decided to walk. If I can recall, I wasn’t in the mood to be pulled around. It’s a nice feature for someone, perhaps, who has a broken leg or an injured organ or something, but for two able bodied adults, walking it was. Nature at its finest.
How were the apples? Well, they were and are still delicious. We picked a half bushel and paid $18 for it. If my calculations are correct, that’s less than $1 per pound. Not bad for some really juicy McIntosh and Cortland.
I took a bunch of pictures, so I’ll post them below. I hope you enjoy.
Do you remember that post I wrote where I showed you what the beginnings of next year’s store of firewood looks like? Well, I figured I’d show you how much more wood I gathered from the rear four acres of our property. Basically, I finished up the row, which equals a bit over a cord. The row is 27 feet long, by 16 inches wide, by about 5 feet high. A cord is 24 feet long, by 16 inches wide, by 4 feet high. As you can see, I’m rolling in firewood. Although, let’s remember what a wise man (me) once said, “One can never have enough firewood.” And, “A true man loves firewood like no other object.” And, “A boy becomes a man when he sleeps on a bed of firewood…” Okay, I’ll stop.
Anyway, I took down a few more maple trees and some ash trees and this is what I’ve come up with:
Of course, this is only half the pile. The other half can be seen here. Not bad, but not good either.
I need to get at least two more rows before the snow starts falling. What I’m finding is that while the wood I collected this past spring is fairly dry, it’s not as dry as I’d like. I had a feeling this would happen. For firewood to really generate energy, it needs to dry for about two years. Six to eight months isn’t going to cut it if you want the most bang for the buck. I know people up the road who are getting green wood delivered now. They are crazy people and are people who will burn way too much wood, simply in an effort to keep what wood they do have burning, lit.
The wood I collect this autumn will be satisfactory for next winter. What I’d like to do is get next year’s firewood all set up and then start working on next next winter. Then, I’d be in good shape. And for all those out there who say that wood seasons over winter, I say you’re crazy. Wood needs summer heat to dry. Even though the humidity is very low during the winter months, that low humidity does nothing to season wood. It’s the summer that gets the ball rolling. I should know – I had some wood in the back shed over the winter and when I checked on it come spring, it was almost dripping wet. Cross ventilation and everything. Weird.
So, the time to squirrel is now because as they say, “A boy squirrel who doesn’t have a bed made of firewood will never become a man squirrel who loves wood like no other object.” BAM!
I was just moving over some posts from my old blog to this one when I ran across a few of my older bjj belt stripe and promotion pictures. I thought about them for a while and figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put up a shot of my purple belt sporting my latest stripe. I mean, I roll my ass off for these things so why not show them off a bit?
I’m not sure if you can see the first stripe. That’s the tiny rolled up one on the end. I got that down in Florida after a grueling six months of training with guys who wanted to kill me. Ahh, those were the days. I had a good time down there. The second stripe was falling off a few weeks ago (a good sign in the BJJ world) so I decided to pull off the old one and replace it with new tape. Not more than a week later, I was awarded a third stripe, so two of them look about the same age. No matter – they’ll get worn in soon enough. Perhaps tomorrow night during Butcher’s blue belt test. Guys show up from far and wide for belt tests, so things should get interesting. I love those kinds of nights because I get to test my mad skills against some of the areas finest Mainers. Peace.
Well, I’ll tell you that it’s about 70 degrees out there right now. For some strange reason, things warmed up and are fairly humid. I’m not complaining because there are no bugs. Summer with no bugs is a wonderful thing, as long as it doesn’t get any warmer. I complain when it gets too warm.
The leaves are changing like nuts. The oranges and yellows light things up – it looks like I’m in another world when I stand under them. No wonder people come to northern New England to see the leaves change – there are so many maple trees to give them what they’re looking for. It’s crazy.
I decided to get off my duff yesterday and start preparing for next winter in earnest. I know I’ve got a good amount of firewood still standing in the form of trees in the back, but I’m sure I could use more. With that in mind, I asked Sam and his father to drop off a pickup truck load of word for me. I think what they gave me measures about a half cord (12’x4’x16″). Not bad for $85. As the year goes on, I’m going to continue to accumulate. The wood they gave me was just cut this morning, so it’s got a lot of seasoning to do. It’s wet and very heavy maple.
And yesterday, I ran out to pick up a ton of pellets, but not before I called Tractor Supply and haggled them down from the price of $249 a ton to $215 a ton. Basically, I threatened to go straight to the plant if they didn’t lower their price. They did and I picked up my first ton of, most likely, four.
I plan on burning more firewood this winter than wood pellets, but it’s still nice to have a bunch on hand just in case. It’s not like they go bad or anything and I happen to have the storage space.
I also pounded some metal and wooden posts into the ground this morning. I did this for two reasons, 1. To force people to stop driving on the grass because I’m starting to plant small pine trees, and, 2. To assist me in locating the driveway when we get dumped on with snow this winter.
Lastly, I figured I’d give you an update picture of the back yard. This is what it looks like on September 27th in Maine.
We’ve got some changing leaves out there. Right now, the maples and birches are turning bright yellow and orange. Throw some red in there and you’re looking out my back window. As far as poplar, basswood and the rest – nothing. It’s all maple and birch. And that’s what’s going to make this autumn crazy with color.
Laura and I took a walk up the road yesterday and were surprised at how much had changed from the day before. It’s happening so quickly. At this rate, we’ll have no leaves come mid-October. Very little has fallen, but I think that’s right around the corner.
I tried to take a few pictures during our walk yesterday, just as some sort of status update. Here are the lousy ones I got of some of the trees.
And here’s a picture of our neighbor’s cabin. Pretty cool, huh? What someone wouldn’t give for a nice cabin like this up in the woods.
While we were at the top of the road, of course we had to take some pictures of a sexy bull. Here’s Brownie looking as debonair as ever.
I couldn’t decide which one to post. They all look good.
As we were taking pictures of the cow and bull, Dave came out with some hamburger rolls to feed them. He shared with us and made our walk even more exciting. It’s the little things…
This is very exciting for us. We’ve got a whole new cluster of animals up the road and I’ll tell you, our walks just got a bunch more exciting.
Luckily for us, Laura decided to bring her camera during our last trip to Don’s. Don’s is the end of the road, so I like to call our walks “Going to Don’s.” When I want to go for a walk, I yell out, “Hey, do you want to go to Don’s?” Laura yells back, “Sure Jay. I’d love to go to Don’s.” She knows what I’m talking about because a long time ago, I explained to her how I see things, and how I see the road in particular. I told her outright – “Don’s is at the end of the road, so that’s where we’re going.” I heard no complaint and it’s been Don’s ever since.
I’ll go through our walk chronologically. That’s probably the best way to do things here because the animals go from fairly boring to very thrilling. Let’s go.
First, Sam’s family picked up a few ganders from the auction about a week ago. They purchased four ganders in all, but only three remain. They already ate one of them. I suppose that’s what they’re for, if you do that. I prefer seafood, but I hear duck is tasty. The only time I tried duck was during a trip to a French restaurant in New York with my 7th grade French class in middle school. I don’t remember caring for it all too much. If memory serves, it tasted like tough chicken. But still, people like their duck, especially when four of them cost only five bucks at an animal auction.
Here are the three ganders that are left.
And here are the three ganders, along with the other ducks and Henry, the big gander who may be yelling at them. I don’t remember.
Next up is the cow and the bull. The cow’s name is Daisy and the bull’s is Brownie.
Here is Daisy in all her glory.
And here is Brownie. He didn’t even look at us when we called him. He was too busy eating grass and laying around like a lazy bull.
Now we get to the exciting part of this post. The cat pictures – or should I say, the kitten pictures.
Ever since we began walking to Don’s, we’ve been seeing a multitude of cats and kittens at one particular house. At one time, we saw about five white cats that look just like this one:
For some reason, we don’t see many like that one anymore. Perhaps the others were picked off by predators, such as coyotes and fishers. Fishers are especially vicious and could easily eat a house cat in one sitting.
But what we did see was a few kittens. I forget the calico’s name, but here’s a picture of her:
There was another kitten – an orange one – that was inside. His name was “Target” because it looked like there were targets on his back. The orange cat we did see is named, “Rusty.” I want to steal Rusty, but I don’t want another vet bill. I love him already and while we were up the road walking to Don’s, I held Rusty in my arms, if just for a few seconds. He has mites in his ears, but he’s as cute as all get-out. Take a look for yourself. I bet he’d be a good match for Voleman. He looks just like him.