Monthly Archives: October 2011

When you don’t mow

This is what happens when you don’t mow my back yard. You can see the grass is still really short and doesn’t really warrant mowing, but the Golden Crownbeard is out of control.

Mind you, I let it get out of control knowing that, with our extreme drought conditions (upgraded from exceptional), the migrating butterflies would have little to feast on. So I just kept a path clear to my clothesline umbrella, and to the birdbath and let the rest go.

Of course the benefit is that you get lots of lovely butterflies and bees happily ingesting the nectar.

The downside, to not mowing, or weeding, is this. There are gardens somewhere in that mess of grasses. I have not been watering these gardens, which apparently the grasses don’t mind, so the soil is too hard to pull weeds.

On the plus side, it’s providing popular shelter for the birds. I’m constantly flushing sparrows and wrens out of the nearly hip high grasses. I’m almost sorry that I’ll have to eventually pull them. Then I’ll have to deal with all the germinating grass seeds. I would like to eventually walk down my stone path again. It’s there, honest.


Finally found a roofing contractor!

We’ve had a sagging spot in the roof for quite some time now, and we’ve made numerous attempt to find a roofing contractor. Most of the time, they never called back. It hadn’t been that big a problem because we’d had no rain, but when we finally did, it came pouring through the garage ceiling, onto my band saw. This repair moved to the top of our priority list.

Friends of ours had some roofing done after a big hail storm, and on their recommendation, I called the company they’d used. Someone came out the very next day, to look at the problem, deduce what caused it, and lay out a plan to fix it. I was pleased. He said he’d call the next day with an estimate. That was in September. A couple of weeks went by, and I called the company back. Apologies were given and promises were made to call me back with an estimate. Another two weeks went by, and another rain storm, which luckily caused no further damage to my tools, since I had moved everything out of the way and set a wide and deep plastic tote on the floor to catch the leaking rain.

I decided to give the company one last chance, as we’d been unable to get any other recommendations. This time, success. The boss came out within a couple of hours, laid out roughly the same repair plan, and gave me an estimate on the spot. It looked reasonable, so I signed it on the spot. That was on a Monday.

I was pleasantly surprised to get a call on the Wednesday telling me they’d be able to start on the Friday. It put a crimp in my weekends plans to attend the Oklahoma Ornithological Society’s fall meeting, but I wasn’t about to say no since we were expecting more rain on the Saturday night.

The problem that caused the decking to rot was rain running straight through the knot holes of the chimney siding. Apparently the siding was nailed to the framing, with no waterproofing behind it. So the first thing they did was strip off all the rotten wood and assess what needed to be replaced.

Then they built a box around the chimney framing, and put new, properly supported (what a concept) decking. Apparently the old patch was being held in place by the roofing nail. Oh, did I mention this problem had been repaired before? And, as is usually the case with this abused house, the repair had been ill-conceived and poorly executed. By the end of day one, the house was closed in again, so we wouldn’t have critters taking up residence in our attic, there was a pile of debris in the driveway, and all the material was bought to finish the job.

The next day, house wrap was applied, roof felting, and lots of flashing. The new siding, even if a knot popped out, would not leak.

By the end of day two, with three people working, the job was still not complete, but it was weatherproof, and none too soon. We got an inch of rain that night and not a drop made it to my catch basin in the garage.

The carpenter returned, eventually, the next Tuesday, to finish the siding and the painting. He was going to come back on the Sunday, but I pointed out that the wood would need a chance to dry before they stained it. (It also gave me a chance to pick up a can of contrasting stain for the trim; the stain was so weathered the contrast was no longer obvious)

It took the carpenter another seven hours, with the help of his wife, to finish the job. I must say, it does look really good. Not that I cared terribly, but the shingles are a pretty good match too. I just wanted a leak proof roof, and they gave me that, along with a spiffy new chimney. Money well spent, and I didn’t have to climb a ladder! I’m pretty handy with a hammer and saw, but I’m terrified of getting off a ladder onto the roof (not scared of heights, just the ladder). That was one job I was not going to do myself. I’m so glad we finally found a contractor to fix it.


D’Argo alerted me to a problem today and quick action averted a fatality. I had apparently lost track of some garden netting and it had blown into the corner of the porch among some fallen leaves, camouflaging it. D’Argo was fussing about something, and after staring in the same direction for a while I realized I was looking at two snakes thrashing about in the netting. After double checking my initial identification (it’s a new snake for Windhaven), I picked up the netting. When I did, the smaller of the two snakes slid out safely and slithered off into the shrubbery. The second snake was much bigger and was entangled in the netting. Sadly, I believe they were mating and I interrupted their nuptials. However, with Peter’s assistance cutting the netting, the Eastern Hognose Snake (notice the upturned nose) was extricated unharmed .

I released it just outside the gate (I didn’t have any shoes on) and when I returned to move it, it flipped over into the classic Hognose “possum act”. It was less than convincing since I saw the snake go into this pose and that it decided to close its mouth as an afterthought.

I moved the snake to a safer location and it tried to play possum again, this time twisting its jaw for a truly demented look. Would you mess with that?

Another task accomplished

When I fenced in the “dog pasture” back in 2008, it took me a while to complete the gates. I had never built, or installed, gates before and, as it turned out, I had made a couple of mistakes. With the round posts it was difficult to install gate stops so the last stopped the gate. The posts, although in concrete could still warp and twist away from the gate. The gate itself, was installed backwards. The diagonal should go from bottom hinge side to top latch side. So when I high wind day finally broke the latch right off the gate, I decided I would rebuild it right this time.

The round posts came out. Not an easy task since they had 50 lbs. of concrete attached to the bottoms of them. Then I set new concrete footings.

On the footings I installed tennoned square posts, with a mortised crossbeam.

Finally, I added the rebuilt gate, with a full length stop block, on both side, and a decorative arch. From start to finish, it was done in a week, and now we have an elegant entry to the yard.