Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Troy-Bilt...still tilling after all these years

Our Troy-Bilt, rear tine rototiller is old, really old.  We have been married for 30 years and this rototiller was my husband's father's tiller.  He died about 5 years before I met my husband and we lived together for 5 years before we got married.  So it has to be at least 40 years old.
 40 years old and still tilling.
 Over the years this tiller has really gotten the workout.  Gardens tilled are too numerous to count.  Lawns tilled so they could be reseeded......a lot of lawns.....too many lawns.  

And then there was today's job.  We rented a stump grinder over the holiday weekend to grind down all the stumps of the dead trees that we have had to cut down in the last 10 years.  Damn you emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease.

There was one extremely large ash tree that we cut down that was at least 125 years old.  We counted the rings but without a magnifying glass we could only come close to the actual age of the tree.  Because the tree was so old, the lawn rose up around the tree.  After R ground the stump away there was a hill left behind.
Back and forth and 20 minutes later....fluffy dirt.
We raked all the excess wood chips and removed some dirt in an attempt to flatten out the area but the grassy part was still too high.  So it was time to haul out the old Troy-Bilt one more time.  Would it start?  Well of course it did.  It had a flat tire that needed air but those 40 year old tires are cracked and ready to be replaced.

Over the years, R has been very good about changing the oil and not leaving fuel in the tank over the winter.  We had to replace a starter and the recoil about three years ago but no biggie when you think about how many times it has been started.  The cord probably was a little dry rotted after all these years and was the reason it broke when R tried starting it manually.  We also needed to replace the muffler because it was no longer muffling anything.  Mufflers are cheap and do not last all that long even on new equipment.  The intense heat, steel, and moisture from combustion makes for rust in very short order.
You can see how dusty it is because we haven't had a good rain in awhile.
R probably tilled for about 20 minutes in the area of the ground down stump and about 5 feet around the stump area into the lawn.  We called it quits after he tilled because it gets darker sooner these days and we had some watering to do before we went inside for the night.
Remove some dirt,do a little raking, and throw down some grass seed.
I'm sure we will have to remove some dirt to lower that entire area but it won't be too hard to do.  The rear tine set up breaks up the soil so that it is loose and fluffy.  I have plenty of low spots in the yard so it will just be a matter of dirt musical chairs.  Move dirt from point A to point B and C and D and E......and so on and so on.
Nice fluffy soil.
If you are thinking of buying a rototiller but you can't afford a new rear tine Troy-Bilt......look for a used one.  They are made to last.  Invest in a tune up from a reputable garden shop that specializes in garden tractors and such and you will be ready to till yourself a garden or till up a lawn that has seen better days.

We also have a Troy-Bilt snow blower that we bought used.  We just love the electric start.  I always thought that electric start meant that your snow blower/thrower had a battery.  I don't know about you, but when it is 10 degrees outside, starting anything can be difficult.  Batteries can wear down before you actually get the blower/tractor running but not with this electric start.  This one uses a heavy duty extension cord.  Plug one end of the cord into the wall outlet and the other end into the plug outlet on the blower and turn the key.  Easy peasy.  No batteries to worry about running down. 

We purchased our used blower just before the polar vortex winters.  Those two winters were horrible.  I thought it would never quit snowing.  Thankfully we had the snow blower because we have a loooonnnng driveway.  Which reminds me that I need to talk to R about getting the snow thrower ready for winter because I heard we are suppose to have a bad winter because of La Nina.

It's always something.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Curbside Treasures...Bonanza Edition

R has really been kicking it in the curbside treasure department this summer.  Some of the items I don't have a need for or want, so off to Craigslist they go.

We figure that it's a win win for everyone involved.  

1. We keep the item out of the landfill.
2. Someone gets an item that they need or want for a fraction of the price.
3. We get cash to buy something we need or want.

The number one item that sells fast and for a good price is the glass for glass top patio tables.  R brought home two glass top patio tables at different times and both sold within a week for $40.00 each.  These were tables with tubular frames and not a wrought iron table base.  Both frames were bent so we removed the top and cut up the base and added it to our scrap metal pile.
It seems that a lot of people break their glass top when they remove the umbrella when it is windy just before a storm hits.  The edge of the pole hits the edge of the glass hole and the table shatters into a million tiny pieces.  Plastic inserts are available to protect the umbrella hole but with exposure to the sun they crack and people throw them away.

You can easily find them, especially online.  Here is one at ACE Hardware and it is only $3.39.  That is cheap insurance against a broken glass top.  I may order some replacements for my tables.  The plastic plug becomes discolored from the sun and look bad.  The inserts also have a center piece that plugs the hole if you are not using an umbrella.  

When listing a glass top you need to measure the length and width of the glass 'only' and do not include the metal frame.  Make sure that you take a close up photo of one of the corners.  There are several different corner radius' and if they are buying it for the glass only, they need to have the correct corner radius.

Do not remove the metal frame from the table top because this protects the glass during it's ride home.  The fastest method to remove the metal frame is with a cut off wheel on a grinder.  Just go slow so that you do not make contact with the glass as you cut through.

Both buyers were pleased as punch because they priced new glass and it was more than a new table.

I was driving to my sister's house and noticed that a round table top with the frame still on the glass was placed out to the road for trash pick up.  I stopped and rolled it to the truck and proceeded to my sister's house.  When I got to her house, I asked her if she saw that table top that was out to the street.  She said that John (her husband) stopped but it was only the top.  I told her I picked it up.  I sold it within the week for 40 bucks and then called her and said "you snooze, you lose.".....LOL

Here are some other items that we picked up and sold so far this summer.

 Exercise bike $25.00
 Patio table and 4 chairs $40.00
Cargo carrier $25
  Snake plant $15
 Donkey planter $15
Snow plow $20
R also found a nice tubular table with glass top and 4 matching chairs.  We are keeping that set to use while we work on the back of the house.  I would rather damage this set than my vintage Woodard wrought iron set.  We will sell it when we are done with it.  I forgot to take a photo of it.
 He recently picked up two bar height patio chairs.  I think I will keep them for now because they are heavy duty welded aluminum frames and they swivel.  We have an idea for a patio bar and these would work perfect.  If not we could easily sell them for 50 bucks.
 Here are other items that we are keeping or might sell at a later date.
Mail box post.  We are keeping it in case the county snow plow mows down our mailbox.  We can use this mailbox post by putting it in a 5 gallon pail with sand, as a temporary set up until the ground thaws and we can replace our broken mailbox post.  I hope that we will never needs this post but it's nice to have it at the ready.
I love this heavy, grey resin flower pot.  It is large and I love the shape and you can never have too many flower pots.
This cement birdbath base is missing the top but we know where we can buy a replacement top. We already have two of  these and the birds love them.  The top is square and very shallow.  If you have bees you can put a big sponge in the water and the bees will land on the sponge to drink. 
R has been dying to buy a lawn roller because our lawn has so many ruts and holes that it makes walking treacherous.  But who wants to buy or rent one just to use it once a year. So this was a real score!!! This is a homemade set up but it has a very nice hitch and even has grease zerk fittings.  R was impressed with the zerk fittings and it was the first thing that he pointed out when he brought it home.  My son was looking at it and it was the first thing he pointed out, too.  It makes it easy to grease the bearings and with this being so heavy, you wouldn't want any additional drag from bearings that are dry.
R found this grill with the stand.  The stand was completely rusted away but yet the grill itself was just fine.  It came with the ash holder and two grates.  Just needs a stand.  Might build a stand or sell it.

We also sold a gas grill/smoker set up for $40.00 but I deleted the photo.

But the best curbside treasure of the summer is this riding lawn mower.  It was at the curb with a sign that said free to good home.  Roger was looking it over when the owner came out.  He had purchased a new mower because this one had a bent part.  No
 problem we have torches.  

R picked it up and took it directly to G's race shop and fixed it in a matter of minutes.  It actually took longer to get the torch and pry bars out.  Fire is an amazing tool.

The owner later stopped by and dropped off some extra seat springs that were still in the package.

That mower went to our rental house that we are selling next year.  We will add the small black lawn trailer that we already have in our inventory.  R picked it up curbside years ago.

I have these items that I need to list and sell.
Vintage stack able file cabinets.  They can be configured anyway that you want.  5 high or 5 horizontal or 2 or 3 high.
HUGE basket.  36 inches across and 39 inches high.
 Exercise equipment.  It is all there and similar to a Bow Flex but with thick rubber bands for resistance.
 Vintage wheel covers.  4 Chevrolet baby moons, 3 Dodge, and 2 heavy, Chevrolet wire wheel covers.

The table that the wheel covers are sitting on is another curbside treasure.  The table top is Formica and damaged.  The legs are solid wood and heavy.  The apron has a cool detail so I am keeping the legs and apron and will use at a later date for a table project that I have swirling around in my head.

How did we do???  Have you found anything interesting on the curb?

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Fruits of Our Planting Labor

I've been a bad blogger.  Every time I sat down to write a post it seemed like it was just the same things rehashed.  Kind of like Wash, Rinse, and Repeat.

My cousin, Judy, (Hi! Judy) sent me a message wanting to know if everything was all right because I wasn't posting anything.  So in honor of my cousin Judy, I will try my best to post regularly again.

We started planting fruit trees about a year after we bought the house.  Trees take time to grow so we wanted to get them in and growing right away.  

Below are the apples and pears that we have growing in the yard.

Golden Delicious 

Red Gravenstein


Comice Pear

Anjou Pear
Asian Pear (we have two varieties)
Paw Paw Tree

We soon realized that some trees would not grow in our yard because of the black walnut trees.  The peach, cherry, and apricot trees were dead within two years.  We replanted thinking that we must have done something wrong but they died again in two years.

There is no where in our yard that is far enough away from a black walnut tree to plant those types of trees.  Apples, pears, and Paw Paw have done well.  The Paw Paws  will need a few more years before they bear fruit but the trees are growing.

Last year we planted 5 blueberry bushes in the landscaping on the south side of the house.  We chose two varieties.  Three were a regular height bush and two were a short small compact bush called Jelly Bean.  Our intention is to have an edible landscape.

Jelly Bean was a prolific bearer this year.  Despite it's short stature it has large full size, and very tasty berries.

South side of house.  Jelly Bean bushes are behind bird bath.  The other three blue berry bushes are located under the window box.

FYI we do not spray or treat our fruit trees.  The fertilizer we use on EVERYTHING is Alaska Fish Fertilizer.  You can buy it at Walmart, Lowes, TSC, and Home Depot (my Home Dept doesn't carry it).  The best bargain is to buy it by the gallon.  It's stinky but all natural.

 We had several plum trees that were infected with Black Knot Fungus.  We cut down those trees and ground the stumps up.  To keep from spreading the disease we burned all the wood as fast as we could.  There was a period of windy weather that kept us from burning for about a week.
Photo from Gardening Know How

To fill in the spots where the plum trees were growing we decided to stick with apples and pears.  R wanted a Red Delicious and I wanted a Granny Smith for pies.  The third tree that we added is a Bosc pear tree.

Look for posts on Buckthorn shrub, Curbside Treasures, and downspout bling. 
The thorn of a Buckthorn........ouch!

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Praying Mantis Egg Cases Part 1

Today I took the praying mantis egg cases out of the fridge so I could set them on their journey to hatching.  The photo below shows the three pods in a paper bag.  
The dark string like objects coming out of the pods are thin wire that was threaded through the pods for easy attachment to a limb.  Pods should be attached to a limb in a protected area and between 1 or 2 feet off of the ground.
Each pod can contain between 50 and 400 praying mantis.  That means I could have anywhere between 150 to 1200 praying mantis' eating bugs in my yard.  I hope this means that my roses will be aphid free this summer.  Praying mantis' are carnivores with a big appetite.

The cost for the three pods was around 15 bucks.  Which is both safer and less expensive that buying a commercial rose bug killer product.  We are trying very hard not to use any pesticides or Round Up in and around the house.  

But sometimes we have found it impossible and we must use a pesticide or Round Up.  When we do use pesticides it is with a light touch and confined to just the affected area.  We found a carpenter ant infestation in the rotted wood of the garden shed during it's remodel.  After spraying the area we waited one day to make sure the ants were dead before we removed the rotted wood.  I swept up the dead ants and burned both the rotted wood and dead ants.  That was three years ago and we haven't seen another ant. 

Hatching may take up to 8 weeks of warm weather before we will see anything.  I will make sure to check every couple of days to see it anything has happened.  But I don't expect anything right away because the weather has dipped back down into the 40's.

There is still time to get some praying mantis egg cases for your yard.  You can find sellers and stores that sell egg cases (pods) on eBay.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mason Bee House Part 4

We finally had a weather forecast of 5 warm days in a row without rain, so I grabbed the Mason bee cocoons out of the fridge and a rubber band and headed out to the garden shed.
 Each box of cocoons has both sexes of Mason bees.  The female cocoons are larger in size than the male cocoons.   
 I removed the end flaps off of one end of the box.  Then I placed the box under the bee house and secured with the rubber band.  Placing the box under the house will protect it from rain if it should rain before they hatch.  The reason for attaching the cocoons to the house is that it will imprint on the bees where they need to return to make next years cocoons.
 Two things to notice in the photo below.  First notice how there are less cocoons in the box after just one day.  Second thing to notice is the tan spots on the bee house.  The lady who taught the class mentioned that we may see this on the bee house after they hatch.  She said it is Mason bee semen.  I can't remember why this is because I guess I was too busy thinking....WHAAAT?!!!!!
After 5 days... all the cocoons have hatched except two AND there are MORE tan spots.
I wanted to learn more about Mason bees so I checked out the Internet and found some vintage books about various bees and wasps written by a Frenchman named J H Fabre, in the late 1800's.  These books were then translated to English in 1914 by Alexander Teixeira De Mattos.
I found 4 books but there are more in the series.  The ones I purchased are The Mason Bees, The Mason -Wasps, The Hunting Wasps, and Bramble Bees and Others.
Two of the books have book plates in them with the name Giulio Marchetti.  I think I need book plates for my books.  I kind of like the simple design of this one.

I wonder if Guilio Marchetti raised bees and if he did, where?  Italy perhaps. Or was he Italian by birth and immigrated to the US. The plot thickens.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Mason Bee House Part 3

Yesterday we hung the Mason bee house on the back of the garden shed.  This area gets morning and early afternoon sun plus it is sheltered from storms coming from the west and wind from the north.  In the class she told us not to attach it to trees and to place it around 42 inches from the ground.  We placed it higher because of the plantings under the window.
OOPS!! I need to fix that storm window screen.

The bee cocoons are still chillin in the fridge.  I don't want to wake them up until there are blooms available for them to snack on.

I also have praying mantis pods in my fridge.  They too, will wait until a little later in the spring before they make their appearance.  Last summer I saw a praying mantis on the deck so I know that we have some are out there in the yard.

The temperatures yesterday and today were in the 70's.  Love the temps but it's raining AGAIN.  The cats have been loving the warm temps.  They have been busy rolling around on the deck and hiding in the fallen willow limb.
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mason Bee House Part 2

I'm really excited about the Mason bees.  I  know that they do not produce honey but they help with pollination and are fairly maintenance free.  Maintenance free is something I really like.

You can read about the Mason Bee House Part 1 HERE.

The first thing that I did when I arrived home with my newly assembled Mason bee house was I disassembled it.  Yup I took it back apart so I could glue it together.  I used wood glue and then reassembled it.  Then I used a damp cloth to wipe down all the areas where glue squished out.  I then let both the glue and wood dry completely

Next I applied two coats of exterior primer and one coat of the same exterior paint that I use on my house.  The paint is Behr exterior in a satin finish in the color Anonymous.  I want the Mason bee house to blend in and not stand out.  
I couldn't find a photo of the painted bee house but did find this weird crooked photo of my purple/blue fingernails and old ripped sweatshirt.  How lovely.

Today we put out our kinetic spinners.  We have three but my fave is the large tulip spinner I bought last year while shopping with my sister.  We love it but it has a design flaw.  The shaft is too light weight for such a heavy top AND then add the spinning and it goes all wonky and bends.  The photo below is an 'after photo'.  See how straight it is now.
The shaft is made of two pieces and is thin walled tubing.  As the kinectic spinner spins it would bend where the two pieces connect.  We decided today that we needed to add a one piece tube over the two piece shaft to add stability to the kinetic spinner.  

R found a piece of old copper pipe that he salvaged from a past demo.  The ID (inside diameter) was the same size as the OD (outside diameter) of the spinner and added rigidity to the original shaft of the spinner. We just removed the tulip part and slid the copper pipe over the two pieces of thin walled tube. Then placed the tulip part back on the original shaft.  I will spray paint the copper pipe with black paint so you will not be able to detect that it is even there. 

Best part is that this was a $0.00 cost fix.  Downside was the piece came from the scrap pile and I had to hear "this is why I do not throw anything out" ALL DAY LONG.  Yes R we know you NEVER throw out anything....LOL

The kinetic spinner came from a company called Evergreen Enterprises.  I painted mine black to match the other iron/metal objects in and around my house.  Here is the post I wrote about the kinetic spinner and the flag bracket from the same company.

Next up.....Part 3.....hanging the Mason bee house.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mason Bee House Part 1

Today I stopped by my local wild bird supple store, J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store, to buy a replacement tube for my 36 inch finch feeder and walked out with a mason bee house that I assembled myself.
The class was full but there was a last minute cancellation so I was finally in the right place at the right time.
The house was all pre cut and pre drilled.  Assembly was pretty straight forward.  The tubes and liners were supplied along with enough liners for next year.  Also included were two strips of bee attractant, a bag of mud, and a small box of mason bee cocoons to populate my new mason bee house.  These cocoons are currently chill laxing in my fridge.
Cocoon Photo courtesy of

Why mason bees?

They are excellent pollinators, they are indigenous to our area, they are easy to raise, they are docile like honeybees, and why not?

Mason bees are strictly pollinators and do not produce honey.  But don't let this deter you from installing a mason bee house.  Honeybees are important but their population numbers are currently down and if you have fruit trees like I do, but have very little fruit production, you may need help in the area of pollination.  Last year I had plenty of blooms, no late frost, but very few fruit.  So pollination was the problem.

The genus species name of the blue orchard mason bee is  Osmia lignaria.  Mason bees lays their eggs in holes or tubes and then seal them with mud....hence the mason part of their common name.

Part 2 will cover hanging the bee house and placing of the cocoons.  Stay tuned.

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