The Weed Wrench

I have mentioned our Weed Wrench in previous posts and found that there is a lot of interest in this great device.  My husband discovered this tool one day about six years ago when he was researching the best way to pull out some small trees and large bushes on our property.

First things first:  I am telling you truthfully that we are not being compensated for this post in any way by the Weed Wrench company or anyone who sells the Weed Wrench.  It’s just that we like the device so much that I thought I would share it with you and show you exactly how it works!

The first thing you do is select The doomed oakyour small tree or large bush to be removed.  This oak is in the way of widening the road, so it will have to go.  I have removed trees with thicker trunks than this one, but I chose this one for ease of showing you how it’s done. Once you have chosen your tree, make sure that there is a clear enough area around the base of the tree to get the jaws of the Weed Wrench around it.  Lean forward a bit on the Weed Wrench and this opens up the jaws to it’s fullest. Ours opens it’s jaws about 2-1/2 inches. Now, with Getting The Jaws Aroundyour foot on the front of the Weed Wrench, holding the jaws in place, start to pull back on the lever.  You only need to pull a bit to cause the lever to clamp the jaws shut onto the base of the tree.  Make sure you get a tight clamp at this point or you might just strip the tree of bark instead of pulling up the entire tree!  Now, using your muscle and/or weight, pull back on the Weed Wrench using the horizontal bar in the back as a pivot.  Be careful at this point because there have been times when I have had a stubborn root and the tree will snap before the root will let go, sending me onto my kiester! Setting the Jaws  But, no harm, no foul.  By the time the handle is near the ground the root will have broken free or is at least loosened.  With especially long roots  you may have to reattach the Weed Wrench and go through the entire process again.  There it is – it’s that simple!  No stumps left over to trip on or re-grow!  The best part is that there is absolutely no digging!  Just the clean removal of an entire tree.  This works just as well on bushes but requires a bit of a different technique. When removing a bush the Weed Wrench can 100_4773have a bit of trouble getting around the entire base of the bush, so a series of clamp and pull motions may be necessary.  It’s also possible that you may need to trim a bush of some outer branches first so that the Weed Wrench can get a good grip with it’s jaws.  But once the Weed Wrench jaws are engaged around a trunk, it’s usually a done deal!

This tool has been invaluable for Ray and I while widening our original road and cutting in another road on our future The final push downhomestead.  While Ray is chainsawing the larger trees and branches, I go behind and get the smaller trees and bushes.  With this kind of teamwork, we get the job done in half the time!  The only complaint I have about this tool is it’s weight.  Holy Cow this thing is heavy!  But, it’s heavy because it’s built to last forever!

So, there it is.  One of our favorite tools.  If you would like to look at their website (not sure if you can buy these in stores) you can go to http://www.weedwrench.com/weedwrench.  There you can watch a video and also see the different sizes of Weed Wrenches available.   The result

We highly recommend it!

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Work and Visit Weekend

For several reasons (I’ll spare you the details), I have been unable to post anything new for a few days. The hubby and I spent the last several days up on our future homestead doing some necessary chores, including filling the lower water storage tank from the upper storage tank for the orchard, filling the water storage tank for the walnuts, burning a lot of the brush that remained from cutting in our new road, erecting our screened-in dining room (the mosquitoes at this time of year can be brutal), and trimming a huge oak tree so the artichoke plants can have more sunlight!  Whew – I’m tired.

We also had the opportunity to meet with Linda and Charles, some neighbor friends of ours, Monday morning over on their property.  Let me tell you, these guys have an absolutely georgous view from their property!  Linda bought the land several years ago and she and Charles have been improving it over the last few years.  It was a lot of fun catching up with them, sitting in their outdoor kitchen around their woodburning stove!  I know you are reading this, Linda, so I would again like to thank you for the great time!

While, during and after our visit and doing chores I was able to take a few photos.

Frog under Apricot Tree

We were looking at the hole some varmint left next to the cage of our apricot tree when something moved inside. Upon further inspection, we saw this toad! Isn’t he the cutest thing?  We decided to leave the hole – afterall, how much damage could a frog do under an apricot tree!

Lupin with raindrops

This is Whorled Lupin, which in mid-spring has a georgous purple and white flower. The rain drops on it looked so beautiful that I just had to stop what I was doing to get a picture!

Three Apricots

We still have three apricots! You can see them just peeking out from under the leaves. We got more rain this past weekend than was predicted, which was bad for the Memorial Day festivities but good for the trees and plants!

The potatoes in the compost seem to be doing quite well.  But, wait a minute...... what's that?  If you look closer you can see a leaf of a different shape?  Is that a squash or melon?  Of course out of curiosity I will let it grow to see what in the world it is!!  Cantaloupe, please be cantaloupe!  I already have a lot of squash!  Hahaha!

The potatoes in the compost seem to be doing quite well. But, wait a minute…… what’s that? If you look closer you can see a leaf of a different shape!  Is that a squash or melon? Of course, out of curiosity I will let it grow to see what in the world it is!! Cantaloupe, please be cantaloupe! I already have a lot of squash! Hahaha!

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day and remembered, in your own way, those who gave their everything for our freedom.

Shared at:  Healthy 2 Day Wednesday; Wildcrafting Wednesday; Wicked Good Wednesday; Homemaking Link-Up; Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways; The Backyard Farming Connection

 

 

Building A Driveway Culvert

The driveway for our mountain property leads off of a private dirt and gravel road, which has seen better days.  When we signed the escrow papers to buy our property, we were informed that this was a private road and each landowner along the road was responsible for maintenance of said road.  Unfortunately there are more unimproved lots along our private road than there are residences, so there are less people (less money, muscle and equipment) to help maintain the road.

Here is a picture of the ditch that runs alongside our property and the road.  You can also see the mini canyon caused by the rain run-off.

Here is a picture of the ditch that runs alongside our property and the road. You can also see the mini canyon caused by the rain run-off.  The hillside doesn’t look very pretty because we are in the midst of clearing it for a fire break.  When that is all cleared, we want to plant pomegranates single file, about fifteen feet apart, to give the frontage a clean, fire safe and pretty appearance.

One issue of any dirt and gravel road that is on a slope is run-off.  Our road is not graded correctly and does not have a crown in the middle, so sometimes during a heavy storm we have miniature grand canyon develop down the middle of the road.  This isn’t too much of a problem for us because we are the second lot and almost at the top of the hill for this road.  But for the people who have land and residences further down the road, their passage has actually been prevented by the muddy mini-canyons caused by the run-off.  In fact, there have been several times in the last few years that only a four-wheel-drive vehicle can travel the length of the road.

We have a ditch that runs the length of our property alongside the road and have to periodically re-dig the ditch to maintain drainage on our side of the property.  However, where the driveway leads from the road into our property, the ditch was pretty much nonexistent.  This lead to run-off causing even more of a problem to the road below our driveway.  This is the way it was when we bought the property, so we decided to fix that problem by placing a culvert under the driveway.

Once the ditch was dug deep enough, we laid the culvert and then covered it with 8-12 inches of dirt.

Once the ditch was dug deep enough, we laid the culvert and then covered it with 10-12 inches of dirt.  The soil is heavy clay, so our back and biceps got a real workout!

The hardest part was digging out all the dirt and rock to be able to place the culvert.  The soil here is heavy clay and when the clay is mixed with rock and then driven over, and over again – well, let’s just say we were exhausted when the entire ditch was dug out!  We placed 8″ diameter heavy-duty plastic culvert in the 30 foot long ditch.  Then we threw the dirt back over the culvert, burying it about 10-12 inches underground.  Then more rock went over that.  Whew!

After the culvert was laid and buried by about 8-12 inches of dirt, we spread out a truck load of rock.

After the culvert was laid and buried by about 8-12 inches of dirt, we spread out several truck loads of rock.  This was the first truck load.

A few weekends later we decided we didn’t want to leave the plastic ends exposed because we knew that sooner or later someone was going to slip off the road or cut across the driveway, hit the culvert and crush it, or break it, or destroy it in some manner.  Also, even though it did the job, it certainly wasn’t very pretty.  So we decided to cover the last 3 feet of each end of culvert with concrete.  Not only would this preserve the culvert, but it made a nice solid border to our driveway and would also prevent a lot of rock falling from the driveway into the ditch.

Here is the box Ray devised to enclose the plastic culvert in concrete.  We went heaviest with the concrete at the top so it wouldn't get crushed.

Here is the box Ray devised to enclose the plastic culvert in concrete. We went heaviest with the concrete at the top so it wouldn’t get crushed.  This is the right side of the culvert.

Essentially all Ray had to do was build a box around the culvert, leaving about 4-6 inches on the sides and about 8-10 inches on the top for the concrete.  He blocked off the end with a solid board so concrete couldn’t get into the culvert itself.  A few sacks of cement was all that was necessary, and now we have a solid (and kind of pretty, I might say) culvert under our driveway.  This sure made our down-the-road neighbors happy!

Here is the culvert finished with the protective concrete ends.  Isn't it pretty?

Here is the left side culvert finished with the protective concrete ends. Isn’t it pretty? Now all we needed was some more rock.

My only question now is: I wonder how many critters are living inside that culvert?

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Cutting in a New Road

Madrone Tree

This is one of the smaller trees that we pulled out with the Weed wrench. This tree is a madrone and is no match to the weed wrench after a soaking rain! Generally we love Madrones, but these were small and in our way, yet too big to transplant, so to the wood pile they went!

Our latest project on our future homestead is cutting in a new road.  We already have a road that crosses through the middle of our property, traveling by where the house will be, down a bit to the orchard and shed, beyond the trailer site and on to the back side of our property.  However, where we live in California, in order to get a building permit approved, it is a requirement to have either a three point turn (with a very large radius) or a road that loops around for the heavy equipment to get into and out of the property.  The road has to be 12 feet wide and must be clear 15 feet high.  We decided we wanted to have a road that loops around rather than a three point turn, and the road could also act as a fire break along the north side of our property.

That's me digging around a stump. I had to put this picture in to prove to my family and friends that I do a lot of  heavy labor  :)  up on our property!  That's why we don't need gym memberships!

That’s me digging around a stump. I had to put this picture in to prove to my family and friends that I do a lot of heavy labor 🙂 up on our property! That’s why we don’t need gym memberships!

We started working on the road last fall and continued to go up and work on the road every couple of weeks through the winter.  The only power tool we used was a chainsaw!  Luckily the route we decided the road would traverse had already been cut about 25 or 30 years ago when the land had been logged, so there were no really big or valuable trees in the way.

The first thing Ray did was to cut down the larger trees with the chainsaw, which gave us a good supply of oak and madrone firewood, probably about a cord.  The smaller trees and bushes came out easily with our Weed Wrench, especially after a good rain. What’s a Weed Wrench, you ask?  You can click HERE and find out!

Here's a pile of scrap wood on an old decaying pine stump.  Those pine stumps were still pretty solid in the middle and took a lot of work to remove.  That orange stick in the background is the Weed Wrench, an invaluable tool for us.

Here’s a pile of scrap wood on an old decaying pine stump. Those pine stumps were still pretty solid in the middle and took a lot of work to remove. That orange stick in the background is the Weed Wrench, an invaluable tool for us.

My biggest peril was the poison oak.  I haven’t actually gotten it for a couple of years now (knock on wood) and I don’t know if that’s just because I have become an expert at spotting that noxious weed, or if I am building some type of immunity to it.  Ray, however, is completely immune to it!  Somehow he is one of those 6-7%  of Americans who are not allergic to the urishiol oil (the active ingredient) in the poison oak. I even caught him tasting one of the white berries (silly boy) when he didn’t know what they were.  When I gasped and told him he had poison oak berries, we were sure he was toast, but we were wrong.  He can trudge through a field of poison oak and not get one single blister – not even a red mark! So, with only gloved hands (better to be safe than sorry) Ray pulled up the poison oak wherever it was exposed.  During the winter there aren’t any leaves on the weed, but you can tell which vines are poison oak vines just by seeing the black “tar” on the stems (urishiol oil) and roots.

Here is a better picture of our Weed Wrench.  We have had this tool for several years now and it has saved us a lot of time and muscle!  It was worth every penny we paid for it.  No, I am not being compensated in any way for saying this either!

Here is a better picture of our Weed Wrench. We have had this tool for several years now and it has saved us a lot of time and muscle! It was worth every penny we paid for it. No, I am not being compensated in any way for saying this either!

The plants also look just like little sticks poking up out of the ground when there aren’t any leaves on them, and since we knew where most of the poison oak was, identification without the leaves wasn’t difficult.  Some of those roots were 10-15 feet long!  He pulled vine after vine and root after root, and then would twine them up like some type of grapevine wreath.  After he had piled all the wreaths together we were amazed at the amount!   We really aren’t sure what to do with these wreaths now.  They can’t be burned because the urishiol oil can travel in the air as soot and if breathed in, can cause poison oak blisters in the lungs, which is life-threatening.  We don’t want to put them in our compost pile because I read where the oil takes 3-5 years to break down.  I think we should just find a deeply forested area on our property where nobody goes and lay them to rest for a few years.  Maybe they will just turn into forest duff after a while.

That's me behind another stump that I'm digging out.  I'll tell you, my biceps have never been bigger, but my back is sure sore!

That’s me behind another stump that I’m digging out. I’ll tell you, my biceps have never been bigger, but my back is sure sore!

When the trees were cut, the saplings and bushes removed, and a majority of the poison oak eradicated, we began digging around the tree stumps so that Ray could chainsaw them down about 2 feet underground.  It’s unlikely that any of them will try to regrow with so much of their trunk gone.  If any of them do, we can deal with that later by actually pulling the remaining stump out of the ground entirely.

We are almost done now.

A pile of firewood and a pile of scrap limb wood, alongside a portion of the new road.

A pile of firewood and a pile of scrap limb wood, alongside a portion of the new road.

What we have left to do is fill in a couple of holes and level the road area.  Eventually we will begin trucking in some gravel, a bit at a time.  There’s no hurry because we don’t need to have this finished until our building permit is ready to be finaled, which won’t be for a while yet.  We also would like to edge the road with some sort of landscaping logs, to keep the gravel contained, but that will have to come in the future also.  Everything will happen in due time.  I will just have to be patient!

Another portion of the new road.  We saved and replanted that little fir seedling in the middle.

Another portion of the new road. We saved and replanted that little fir seedling in the middle.

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