Playground Rock

rock Placing 008During our rock wall adventure in landscape, sometimes, you run into a really large boulder that really should be made into a piece of solid playground equipment. Here is one that we found this week.  This had to be moved so we could cut a dead tree down where we are going to build our rock wall in front of our house.

rock Placing 011How many tires are actually on the ground as Pete moves it around with the Kubota? As we move this heavy rock, notice the squished front tires when the rock is being pushed. Do you think it just may be a little beyond this piece of equipment’s capacity? Sure hope this little tractor is up to the test.

rock Placing 022 rock Placing 028 rock Placing 031Roll, roll, roll. Push, then tilt.

rock Placing 034This granite guy has a flat top just perfect for climbing on, and two stairs on one side with a single stair on the other, it’s perfect for the lawn area. The grandkids have already tried all the surfaces out for us.

Rock Movers in Elk WA

rock Pile 02If you are an expert “operator” of equipment, or rock mover, anything is possible. Really, just ask Pete!

Kubota Repair 001BTW. Expert, as defined by my father, is a drip under extreme pressure.

Kubota Repair 002

Besides, if Peter breaks the tractor he knows how to order the parts and fix it himself. What is the problem? It takes real talent to move rocks while using equipment that is lighter than the object that you are trying to pick up or move. Just last week Pete had to re-weld the shift lever twice for this poor little tractor. It broke while doing “the impossible”. I wonder what this Kubota tells all the other pieces of equipment in the yard… after the moon comes up each night. It would be interesting to put a baby monitor down there at night to see what the tractor tells the lawn mower, and rototiller when we are not there.

rock Moving 01Here is a pictorial sequence of hooking up to move a big rock with a tiny garden tractor and a chain. Simple, really! Sometimes you have to start with digging a little to be able to reach underneath and put the chain around it.

rock Moving 03Then you hook the chain to the bucket and start to back up real slow and pulllllllll.

rock Moving 07I can see this little orange Kubota sweating as it strains.

rock Moving 05Look at how interested Max is in seeing the rock move. Not even.

rock Moving 08When it reaches where it is going to rest for now, placing a rock under one edge allows us to easily hook a chain around it next time without having to dig under it.

rock Moving 10Okay, now imagine doing that all day long, to make a Ph. D pile like the one at the top of this post. Are you wondering what a Ph. D pile is? A quote from Pete, “It is a stack of rock Piled Higher and Deeper!”

Bluebird Day at 49º North

Ski Day

Bluebird day at 49º North 2
49º North in Chewelah WA

The day was beautiful up on the mountain today at 49º North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington USA. Because, the sky was ultra blue and the conditions great, with a new layer of about 10″ of fluff to play on. Any questions?

Bluebird day at 49º North 3
49º North in Chewelah Washington USA the view from on top the mountain on a bluebird day. #ski49N, #bluebirdSkiDay

The world’s best ski-buddy, my husband Pete, took this photograph at the top by chair #1 & #5. In the second photograph, the colors are so vibrant with scenery that almost looks too perfect going off into the distance.

Possible Painting

Pete truly has a great-eye for taking pictures. I love the way the shadows in this picture are adding intriguing shapes to the composition.  Also, I am marveling at the amount of color in this winter day. The whole day was just absolutely beautiful, outside, in the Inland Northwest. Honestly, skiing is like experiencing heaven here on earth.

Online Fearless Painting Classes

Monochromatic Assignments
Monochromatic Assignments

Painting

I have not been known to be very fearful as far as my art is concerned, but I recently signed up for a class called Fearless Painting. What are my worst fears? Being an artist is what I am and always will be, but….

How do I sell the art that I am always creating?

After facing some “real” health issues, a lot of activities have had to be re-learned. It was noticeable that my creativity felt stymied. I really needed a little boost. This &#(@^$% quarantine is still in effect, so getting a weekly  in-person class becomes impossible. I noticed that a friend of mine named Elise Beattie, from Spokane Watercolor Society was offering a two hour online class on Tuesday nights through the Spokane Community College which I signed up for.

Fearless Painting with Elise Beattie

I am not quite finished with the acrylic “abstract” & a landscape of a “mountain view” that were started in last Tuesday night’s online Fearless Painting Class. We are using a primary color pallet allowing tinted MONOCHROMATIC values. Fun, fun, fun!  I love value studies.

West Side of Garden Fence

West Fenceline (southern)
Southern side of the garden West fenceline

This is the beginning of the new west fence line which is 53 ft in length stretching out from the south side of the garage.

before of west side on the north
northern side of the west fenceline

Here is how the old fence and gate looked on the other side (northwestern) of the garage. We walked in here to pick blueberries or apples.

Old Northwest fence line removed
old fence is removed

We took down all the wire and pulled the old fenceposts/braces down, then smoothed out the ups and downs in the dirt along the fenceline. So, now we don’t have gaps between the ground and the wire at the bottom of the fence to deal with.

One Kubota tractor with a phenomenal operator can move mountains and valleys. I will never doubt the power of a man and his Tonka toy! Prior to the tractor, we left all the hills and valleys just were they were. Unfortunately, we used to have to put old logs at the base of the fences to keep turkeys out. They would come in every gap where the ground was uneven. Leveling the ground before building the fence, could be thought of as an act of forethought and planning. Wow, that is scary isn’t it? Are we getting smarter in our old age?

west fenceline posts installed
New West fence posts installed

This is the west corner going 50 ft. then turning a 45º angle for 40 feet to go around the apple tree. Covering approximately 70 feet before it makes the turn uphill into the northern side of the fence.

Mystery Fence Tool on South Side

Mystery Tool

Can you identify this mystery fence tool and what it is used for?

Fence Tool
Mystery fence tool.

I wonder what part this tool plays in the process of fence building?

Rolling-out 150 feet of wire fencing can be hard on your body. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s easy. First, my legs get tired from rolling out the wire. Then, biceps get a good workout from lifting it up so it is vertical with the posts. Honestly, how many times can you walk up and down a fenceline in a day before your legs wear out? I learned how to straighten the wire. It is required that you pull with all you got, then pull again. Following this, my hands, arms, shoulders, abs and legs are talking to me all night long.

Say hello to my little friend!

Wire Tensioner 01
Wire Tensioner on top wire south fenceline

The Fence Tensioner

I think I am in love. It is an old tool from Pete’s secret stash in the garage. A basic block and tackle assembly with a cogged clamp on one end that grabs the wire, and a dual hook chain on the other side. Pete showed me how to slip the chain around one fencepost, then hook the clamp end to the top wire of the wire and pull the rope. Yahoo! Nail the top in, then repeat for the bottom. This tensioner takes a wobbly crooked fence to a straight line. Sweeeeet!

South Fence
First posts in garden south side fence.
South Garden Fence
Posts for half of the south fence

Now all that is left is to staple the wire three times per post. The south side of the garden is about 150 feet long, with 15 fenceposts.

Loose Wire
Wire loose on fenceline

You can see how the wire is drooping down on the top row of wire before we used the wire tensioner.

Putting New Fenceposts

clear SW fenceline
clearing south and west fenceline

Good Fences

We shift into new fence routine, starting with ground work including tree and stump clearing. Then on to moving any other obstacles, like gargantuan boulders. The tractor easily flattens-out the grade once the obstacles are clear. This grade work was done by-hand using shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows prior to buying our brother and sister’s tractor. Whew! Those were not the good ole days.

Last week we completed the rock retaining wall located along the asparagus patch. This wall holds an entry corridor open on the lower level for secondary tractor access. About 4 feet of bank is there between the upper and lower portion of the garden.

W new fence posts
West new fence posts

Slowly But Surely

Yesterday, we completed the west side (5 fenceposts) located on the south side of the garage.

fence south side begin
fence south side begin

Today we started on the longest straight line of fence which is the south side of the garden. You can see the first group of posts in ground starting at the lowest elevation down by the garage. This length of fence is approximately 150 feet with a walk-in gate in the center and a duplex equipment gate up at the top for equipment. You may be able to notice the two tree stumps laying on the right side of the picture. These are from two dead trees that used to stand right where the new fence is going in.

We were picking up one pole at a time and taking them to the appropriate post hole to install. Lining-up the tractor and dropping the post into the hole. Then, adjusting to make sure it is straight, followed up with upside-down-shovel tamping. Then on to the next posthole using the post hole digger on the back of the tractor. Once the hole is ready we drive back over to the fencepost pile for a post, chain it up and come back to put the next posthole in.

Pete is Working & Tractor Is Slacking

This animation brought a smile to my face when I noticed how Pete was loading up fenceposts on the tractor. Pete says, “This way saved a lot of time transporting poles.” I tend to want to use machinery if at all possible, instead of my back. My back hurts just watching him pick up those heavy beasts. What do you think?

 

Demo Old & Begin New Fence

fence top rail removal
fence top rail removal

Demolition

Our demo construction experience “kicks-in” for both of us as we prepare to build a new garden fence. With all the new posts painted and stacked to dry, the demolition of the old fence begins with Pete taking down all of the top rails on the existing fence. Demo of old fence hardware and posts, requires determination of what is in good enough for reuse and what is not. We sort and stack supplies, then burn debris in the fire. Then, we do it again. Next, we remove wire staples taking down and rolling-up wire for reuse.

SW new fenceline
SW new fenceline

Ground Prep

The ground is graded after clearing the old fence away. This allowed easy and accurate measurement for South and Southwest corner posts locations. We stretch bale twine line to use as a guide to help make the fence straight. Consequentially, by the end of the day the first 5 fence posts are set on the southwest side of the garage.

Temporary Fence

Since this is not a one day affair, we must construct temporary fencing each evening as we work. Why? Because, Bambi is always a threat in our area. If you look at the middle of the dirt expanse in this picture you can see how we placed temporary fencing for this evening.

apple blossoms
apple blossoms

We have a total of 10 fruit trees in our orchard. It has taken years to get them all healthy and happy and they are beginning to bloom. It is so beautiful and fragrant. If we want any fruit this year we must not leave them out in the open for the deer to eat up. We hope that the weather doesn’t decide to freeze up and snow again before summer gets here. Just another thing that we are crossing our fingers for. Unfortunately, it is all over if those beautiful little flowers get frosted.

cherry blossoms
cherry blossoms

Fence Replacement Prep

exist south fenceline
exist south fenceline

One of the first concerns with any project prep is the cost of getting all of the necessary supplies. But, luckily Pete had already thought ahead by stacking a deck of logs to dry that we could use to make new fenceposts with. Thank goodness, the man is always thinking. A couple of years ago, wild turkeys decided our garden was a local delicatessen, so we installed new wire. So, we knew that if we are careful with demo, we’d be able to reuse a lot of the wire. Our material costs will be low. Mainly it is going to be a lot of sweat equity.

We are well aware that it is not going to be an easy task!

But, what the heck. What else are we going to do with the hours at the home front during quarantine?

Prep

SW corner Tree Removal
SW corner Tree Removal

Pete and I set a corner post at the southeast corner discovering obstacles at the southwest corner. Two large trees with broken tops and a large rock which he removed.

Next, He cut the logs into 14 foot lengths and peeled the bark. Then began to split the larger logs by using 3 simple tools and his muscles. Splitting fenceposts (an informative article), used to be a common yearly deed for Peter on his family dairy farm, but I found it to be an amazing thing to see in modern day life. A maul and two wedges, combined with lots of strength (sweat) and determination produced our 50+ fenceposts.

Truthfully, old age is not for wimps. Increased energy expense requires aspirin consumption at night. Honestly, we both have had to make use of our jetted bathtub to ease sore muscles during the evenings of this project.

Preserving Fencepost Bases

fencepost painting area
fencepost painting area

I mixed all of the enamel paints we had together coming up with a yucky purplish brown mix. Luckily, it blends in well with the color of dirt. Painting the post bases helps provides some protection for the wood. As the logs were split, they were moved to the painting area (pictured above). Afterwards, they were again stacked to dry and await being put into the ground.

Val painting fenceposts
Val painting fenceposts

Pete is amazing to watch as he moves the posts from one area to the other. He also alternates between removed top rails of the old fenceline, and clearing and/or leveling the grade where we want to put the new fence.

fenceposts 12
fenceposts begin
fenceposts
fwnceposts progress

Our goal was to do the best job we could. After all, we don’t want to be doing this fencing replacement project on a yearly basis, just because we were too lazy to do it right.

 

Finishing Details on Mural

1_49MuralDetail

Adding finishing details and final touches to this winter scene interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. My scaffold gets packed up and I use the ladders to work on the last parts of this project. With my smallest brushes, I paint, then backup to see how the whole wall looks to me. This little step-back-and-look habit, always really helps me to change my perspective making it possible to see things I do not notice when I am close to the wall. After repositioning myself, I usually see missing items better.

02_49MuralDetail

Watch Out

Mountaintops in the winter can easily become an addictive thing. This whole project is quite an enjoyable one for me as I am painting from my own memories on the hill. There is absolutely nothing like spending the day speeding down a powdery hill feeling the cold wind kissing your face. Your eyes take in some of the best views on the planet as your heart races similar to being on a rollercoaster. If you have not tried skiing yet, don’t miss out on this wonderful experience in your life. You may find that winter will become your favorite time of year! Really!

I tell you the truth, skiing is just about as much fun as you can have without breaking any laws.

01_49MuralDetail

Finishing Touches

I carefully add scattered groups of detail in larch and birch between the evergreens bringing a little realism into the whole impressionistic view. Stepping back, lets me notice that I am missing majestic tamarack trees both in the background and up front. Next some shrubbery is added at the tree bases using a rigger brush with dark browns and then adding snow on some of them. Some of the closest snow mounds receive a stroke of white to finish them up.

03_49MuralDetail

Standing back to get a better look, another missing ingredient comes to mind. I can’t forget to add little clumps of snow resting on the branches of the trees. If you knew our family, you’d know why that snow is important! Especially Patrick, who is known for sharing those clumps of snow with unsuspecting fellows on the slope. Okay, remember now that payback is patient dude!

Wall “A” is a twenty foot long space and all details are complete now.

Finished 49 Mural Wall A first half Finished 49 Mural Wall A second half

Wall “B” is a forty-foot wide wall in three sections, having 2 columns and a doorway in it. It also has a rather large storage cabinet built into the corner behind the cash register. It was kind of tricky to figure out where to put the finishing details and not cause confusion or competition with the door or columns, and use of the benches. People tend to hang out and examine the details in a mural, so I try not to interfere with the business by drawing attention with the placement of details to areas away from traffic patterns if possible.

finished 49 Mural Wall B1 Finished 49 Mural Wall B2 Finished 49 Mural Wall B3

Wall “C” is now finished as the shortest twelve foot wall that divides the nursery from the children’s club. The cash register counter is on the right where parents check-in with their children dropping them off for lessons on the hill.

49MuralWallC

“All Pau!” with this winter mural.

When you are all finished with something, then you are “all pau” with it in Hawaii. Which is simply a scrap of trivia information for those of you who enjoy collecting those little bits of information. I can’t wait to start skiing this season! Hope you can come up to 49 Degrees North to see the mural and let me know what you think. Time to pray for snow everyone!