Thursday, 26 September 2013

September 26, 2013
Reclaiming the land                                    

We continue the job of limbing the trees and cutting them into logs for drying.  Here are some pictures of the progress we are making. 

The garden area after the storm

The garden area today

Front yard the day after the storm

Here is the front yard today.

Here is the west side of the driveway area before the storm

Here is the same area after the storm

And here it is today

We've spent two days reclaiming the chicken yard.  We still have a long way to go to clear it and then the fencing all has to be rebuilt.  But we are making progress.

Here is the chicken yard after the storm.  Mike had already cut a path to the coop  ----  you can see the top of the chicken coop in the center of the picture

And here it is today.

And amazingly, the chickens continue to lay eggs in whatever hidden hole they can find!

Planning to do some shopping tomorrow so I might be able to get some pictures of this year's lambs.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

September 21, 2013
Help from Friends!                       

Last Tuesday Mike returned to Auckland to finish the work he had put on hold when he came home to begin to deal with the issues facing us after the storm.  Heather and I spent last week limbing trees with our little hand saws and making brush piles around the yard. Fighting through the tangle of several trees all fallen on top of each other makes for a quite a mess.  Hands, arms, pants and shirts are all covered with pine sap.  We smell nice!!  --  like a pine forest : )    But getting the sap of the skin is a challenge.  And we don't hold out any hope that the clothes will ever be clean again.  So now, in addition to the "paint pants" from two years ago (I spilled a whole can of paint on myself while painting one of the upstairs rooms), I have my "sap pants".

On Sunday, another set of friends, Fran and Neil, arrived to help.  In the morning, Mike cut most of the trees we had limbed into logs and Neil dragged them out of the orchard and stacked them in drying piles.  After lunch, Heather and I started limbing another group of trees outside the orchard and Fran carried the brush away.  Mike and Neil worked on the west side of the driveway.  Later in the afternoon, we moved to the east side of the driveway. Pictures below show the progress we are making, but sadly, we still have not even cleared away all the trees that fell into the clearing around the house or in the chicken's yard.

Here is the orchard the day after the storm

And here it is today

Here is the driveway two days after the storm. 

And here it is today.

Anine and her chicks continue to do well.  I think we have spoiled them, giving them treats at the front door.  Now they are sitting there every morning waiting for us.  

While the chickens are enjoying free access to the garden beds, we have decided to start our planting in small containers and transplant everything when the garden is secure.  Today I'm going to try and clear away the brush from the back fence area of the garden so we can plan how we are going to replace the fencing.  Good times!!

Monday, 16 September 2013

September 16, 2013
Continued Progress                              

Sunday morning Simone and Kylie arrived with their little boy, Quinn.  

Quinn and Simone

Mike and Kylie headed out to the south side of the property to clear the trees that had fallen on the fencing between us and the dairy pasture.  

Here's a tree on the southern border of the property that broke off about 7 feet up.  The trunk of this tree was about 12-14 inches across.

The property on the other side of our southern border is a pasture that a dairy company uses for grazing its cattle.  The pictures below show the branches and tree trunks that fell over or on the fence dividing the properties. Mike and Kylie had already cut them down.

 On the southern border, looking to the west.  You can see the line of the fence posts and everything to the left fell on or over the fence.  The trees standing in the background are about 200 feet away.

This is the view to the east.

And this is what is left on our side of the fence.  It is quite a tangle, and there is no way to get through it without cutting a path with the chainsaw.

The bee hive, which sits right next to the wood shed, was covered with branches.  It doesn't appear to be damaged and the bees are still able to get in and out, but Mike figured he would cut away the branches and make it easier for them.  Here are the before and after pictures of the hive.

Here is the hive before the storm.

Here it is after the storm.  You can just see the top of it in the center of the picture.

Here it is after Mike cleared the branches.  Just to the right of the hive is a root that pulled out of the ground when one of the trees behind the wood shed fell over.  If that root had been 6-8 inches to the left it would have flipped the hive over.

Here is the kauri wood all stacked up in the wood shed waiting to have the nails pulled out.  Below is what this section of the wood shed looked like after a tree root came up through the floor of the shed.

The power of nature!

And the good news for the day - - - Annie brought her chicks right up to the front door and let Heather hand feed them - - - quite unusual in the world of chickens.  But then Heather has a special way with animals.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

September 15, 2013
Cleaning Up

Early on Saturday morning Heather and I, using little hand saws, started limbing trees in the orchard while Mike sharpened the two chains saws. Mid-morning Steve and Michelle, H&M's friends, arrived to help with the clean up.  Mike worked on the east side of the house and cleared a path to the chicken coop so the chickens could more easily get to their food, water, and shelter. 
Path to the chicken coop

Then he cut up the two giant trees that had fallen on the back part of the garden.  The fence along the back of the garden was completely crushed, so we'll have to fix or replace that before we plant.  The chickens are having a great time digging for insects and dust bathing in the freshly turned boxes!

Steve went to work on the orchard area and Michelle pulled out and stacked the branches as he limbed the trees.  Lots of progress on clearing the orchard.

The orchard - the limbs Michelle pulled out are in the forefront of the picture.

Heather and I moved over to the side driveway area and limbed what we could, but little hand saws don't work well on the trunks of pine trees.

Obviously not much progress here, but we tried!

With a short break for lunch, we worked until late in the afternoon when Steve introduced me to PIMMS and lemonade, a tastey fruity drink that does wonders to lift one's spirits!!  After a couple of those, we all enjoyed Mike's slow cooker beef stew and then watched the New Zealand All Blacks beat the South African Springboks in rugby.  One of the benefits of not being surrounded by forest is that the TV reception is suddenly superb!

Here is part of the work crew enjoying their PIMMS!

Steve, Michelle, and Mike with Jimenez the cat, otherwise known as Mr. Purr

And despite all the devastation, sometimes good things happen.  Annie hatched six chicks!

And as you can see, Heather is pleased!

Tomorrow, clearing the trees off the fencing on the south side.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

September 14 2013
 The Story in Pictures

Mike had flown off to Auckland for business just before dinner on Tuesday evening.  The wind was blowing the car around on our drive back from the airport.  And just after 9:00 pm we lost power.  We set up a lot of candles on the kitchen table figuring that power would be out for the night.

By 10:00 the wind was howling and we starting hearing branches cracking and the THUD of trees hitting the ground.  We peered through the windows holding up flashlights to see what was going on.  We could see fallen trees in the yard and then saw many many trees falling, one right after the other.  Our flashlight beams only reached to the first couple of rows of trees in the forest so we had no idea what we were to see in the morning.  Fortunately, none of the trees hit the house or any other structures in the clearing, except for the wood shed.  Here are some before and after pictures.  A brief description of the area follows each set.

A picture of the front driveway from last year.

The front driveway area from the deck outside my room on Wednesday morning.

Mike flew back from Auckland Wednesday morning and he and Heather began  clearing the front driveway.  This had to be done immediately because we were unable to get the cars off the property. One of the dangers of living in the confines of a forest is fire.  One of the forested areas some distance away from us did catch fire from a lightning strike during the storm.   The fire trucks were unable to get to it because of downed trees blocking the roads.  I assume that the rain that followed the wind and the lightning helped in putting that fire out.

Front drive cleared

Here is Heather standing amid the first row of trees that fell across the side driveway.

Here is the north side of the house from last year and the forest on the south side of the property

Here is the same shot from today.

Here is the east side of the house from last year.

Here is the same view from today.

Here is the west side from last year and the forest on the east side of the property.

And here is the west side from today.  The property behind the house from this view was the hardest hit.  There are very few trees still standing and most of those are damaged and will have to be taken down.

Here is the garden from last year with the forest on the east side of the house behind it.

And here is the garden area after the storm.

I don't have a good 'before' picture of the orchard, but here is what it looks like today.  There were about 20 fruit trees growing in the orchard.  We have been able to save some of them.

Here is the woodshed.  All four trees seen in the background came down.  The two on the left hit the woodshed, collapsing the left end, and the root balls of the two on the right pulled up the floor of the shed and broke through the back wall.

Here is a view of the shed from the left end showing the collapse.

You can just see the top of the chicken coop in the center of this picture.  It sat in the woods between the rows of trees.  It did not take a direct hit, but there was some damage to the roof and part of it blew off the next day when the winds came up again.

Mike spent a couple of hours this morning cutting a path through the branches and tree trunks to get to the coop.  As you can see, it was very lucky to not take a direct hit.  The turkey hutch apparently was not so lucky.  We have not even found it yet, so we're assuming it has been crushed.

Many trees down around the Wee Mansion, but none actually hit it.

Four trees fell behind the Wee Mansion but caused no damage.

So that is some of the damage.  The very sad part is that the forest around the house is gone. Of the approximately 2200 trees on the property, they are estimating that 1500-1800 are down. It will take many years to replace it.

Tomorrow I'll post some pictures of the progress we are making cleaning it up!