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There’s been a massacre. Finally, weeks after we started, all of the trees are gone from the side of the house. We cut about a dozen or so Norway Maples and two other species I don’t recognize, all within about two feet of the wall. None of them were intentionally planted and needed to be removed to reduce possible damage to the stone foundation. Norway Maples are incredibly invasive, and were using the fence line as a trellis. Cutting them down was extra difficult since the chain link was embedded inside the trees. Still, I felt bad. At least two of them were probably older than I am and they cast nice shade over the metal roof and backyard. Alas, they had to go.

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It took absolutely forever, but we stripped all of the branches of leaves and chopped and piled the wood in the backyard. Now…what to do about the stumps? Pulling them was briefly considered. Norway Maples do have a shallow root system, but ultimately we decided that the safest course of action is to have someone come grind them down so we don’t inadvertently cause damage to the foundation. Once that’s done, it’s just a matter of pulling what remains of the chainlink fence and this wall will be ready for some very necessary grading and masonry work.

 

The house successfully denuded, I spent days burning the gigantic brush pile next to the front door. This task took on some urgency. In late May I noticed numerous little black  wasps hanging out lazily on the interior windows along the west wall. The house has an abundance of various insects since it isn’t well-sealed from the elements, so while it caught my attention, I didn’t take much of a second look. A few weeks later, they were gone, but I became concerned that they were more ant-like than wasp-like. I never took a picture, but I’m fairly certain now that they were carpenter ants in swarm.

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A carpenter ant “swarmer” like the ones I spotted in my house. Image from http://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/household/ants-house/ent-2013/

 

I haven’t seen any frass (the sawdust-like refuse that wood-boring insects leave behind) or non-winged ants, so I’m hopeful the colony is either outside of the house or not very large. I’ll find out in the fall when we start on the interior if they’ve caused much damage.  The cottage will have to be treated as soon as possible, but removing the trees and brush piles, and reducing the moisture problems in the house will make it a less appealing environment.

As far as other news on the house goes, I found a great porch column and a little closet door for either under the stairs or in the bathroom during large-item trash week. And a neighbor who owned the house a few decades ago stopped by for a chat. He told me that city trucks and plows used to pull out of the garage across the street and drive up on his lawn. The consistent weight unknowingly ruptured his water main and one day a garbage truck literally fell into a sinkhole caused by the erosion under the road. The city repaired or replaced the main, but this story may explain the sinking at the front of the house that I’ve posted about previously. If so, this is great news, because it means the depression is likely a decades old problem that was resolved and not an active issue that needs attention (and money).

 

Also..uh, there’s something happening here, but you’ll have to wait until the next update to read all about it.

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