Friday, November 11, 2011

End of the Year Cleanup Complete

Some folks do Spring Cleaning, but on a ranch where it snows you also have to do Winter Cleaning!

Like most remote places, we don't get trash service where we are, so every scrap we don't want needs to be either burned or hauled off the property to be recycled or deposited at the dump.  Since this is a big deal, you wait until you have a pile large enough to be worth your while.   However, before the first snows of winter, you have to take care of all the piles you have been ignoring lest you create wildlife habitat under all that snow where little babies can be born in the Spring!

Our little bonfire burned for 3 days!
Burning is my favorite way of disposing of paper and wood.  Who doesn't love a fire?  This is the method that most folks use up here since they are bulky and you have to pay $20 per cubic yard for the Transfer Station to take them.  I was shocked to hear this since untreated wood and paper are so valuable in the Bay Area, where we come from.  However, the long haul distances makes it uneconomical for recycling here, so it just gets dumped in with the household trash at the transfer station.  The same is true for glass.

When we are up here full time, we will compost all our paper and cut used lumber up for our wood fireplace.  However, we resorted to burning these this year to get rid of the piles of debris before the first snow.   

Though paper and glass are not recyclable here, metal and plastic are, and it is big business.  Everyone in the community visits the recycling center.  This has been quite an education for us.  All that plastic covered wire we pulled out of the house that the rats ate?  Full of RECYCLABLE COPPER!  Who knew? We got $85 for it!  All those old and greasy metal cabinets that were in the garage?  RECYCLABLE!  Broken light fixtures, toasters, screen doors, twisted window frames, tangled blinds, smashed scraps of hardware cloth? Yep, those too, as long as they are mostly metal, the recycling center here will buy them.

Kim and I took a trailer load of mixed metal in hoping to get $20 for it, and walked away with a $139 check!  We also took a load of painted wood and plywood (stuff you should not burn) to the dump, and $60 flew out of our hands to pay the dump fee. (Ouch!)

There were several things that were just too big for us to handle (including a surplus army generator that weighed a ton and no longer worked).  Just looking at it all made us depressed, so we decided to call a local guy to haul away everything else on the property (including the pile in the photo below) and paid him $200 to cover the dump fees.  He was happy to do it for all the metal he received.  The generator alone was worth about $600 as scrap due to the huge amount of copper it contained.  It took him all day to cut it up in small enough pieces to haul away, and he had to come back twice more to remove all the remaining debris.  I'd say he earned his money!

One of three junk piles that needed to be removed.  All are gone now!  Hurray!
But junk was not the only thing needing to go before Winter.  Kim and I spent 10 days setting out live traps and catching all the remaining "varmints" in our house and garage - 6 more Wood Rats and a young Grey Squirrel.   I sealed the property up by installing two new doors (on the garage and pump house), replacing and patching vents, and nailing metal plates and boards over every opening I could find.

The last of seven Wood Rats caught and released this year
Townsend Big Eared Bat hanging in basement

Before sealing up the basement, I checked carefully to be sure our little bat friend had made it out.

I have been told this little guy (who is only about 2" long) is a Townsend Big Eared Bat .  Its ears are tucked close to its head in these photos, so you can't see them, but we did get a good look at them later that day.  This is likely the same bat I misidentified in an early post as a Little Brown Bat.  In any case, it spent several happy days in the basement after he discovered an opening I made in the wall while replacing vents.

Kim and I plan to put bat roosts on the outside of the house and barn next year to encourage bats to hang around to keep our bug population down.  Townsend bats generally like to eat moths.

Photo Note: I stayed about six feet away from this little guy when taking these photos.  I have blown them up for you to see more detail. 

close-up of knobby face characteristic of this bat

We will see how many of our friends have moved back in when we return to stay in June of 2012.  Until then, keep your fingers crossed for us!

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