2021 Leaf Campaign – Week #5

After 4 weeks into the 2021 Leaf Campaign, I had dragged a total of 54 tarps of leaves to the curb. In my last update, I had speculated that only 10% to 15% of the leaves remained on the oaks. That estimate was definitely on the low side. How did I fare in week #5?

Monday was a wash-out. A thin coating of snow prevented me from working on the leaves. But I wasn’t upset. I truly needed a break after a particularly exhausting work-weekend.

By Tuesday mid-afternoon, most of the snow had melted, so I fired up my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and collected the fallen leaves in the backyard, hauling 4 tarps to the curb.

On Wednesday, I climbed the extension ladder to the roof and blew the leaves out of the gutters. I also raked up 1 tarpfull of leaves that had collected near the front entranceway. The leaves that swirl through the neighborhood routinely collect in the “coves” of the front entranceway and garage.

Thursday was a breezy day and the leaves were coming down from the trees at a good clip. I fired up my backpack leafblower and collected the leaves in the backyard, including those that had accumulated in the ivy patch in the corner of the lot. I ended up dragging 4 more tarpfulls to the curb. A few hours after I finished, it looked like I hadn’t done a thing because of the leaves that continued to fall and others that swirled into our yard from the neighbors. The gutters were completely filled again.

Week #5 saw 9 more tarpfulls hauled to the curb, making 63 total for the campaign. I’m going to end up with significantly more than my usual 60 tarpfulls because of the wet conditions this year. Thursday afternoon there were still some leaves left on the trees as you can see from the photo above. It’s pitch dark when I do my weekend work commutes, so I’m waiting for daylight this morning to see what I’m up against. The weatherman is forecasting rain today and very high winds, so there’s going to be a serious amount of leafswirl in the neighborhood. No surrender! The campaign continues into week #6!

2021 Leaf Campaign – Week #4

Week #3 in the 2021 Leaf Campaign saw my tarp total reach 28, about 47% of the projected grand total of 60 tarps. How did things go this past week #4?

After my three-day work-weekend, I woke up Monday morning to a backyard full of leaves. I strapped on my trusty Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and corralled all of the leaves into two large piles and ended up dragging 7 tarpfulls to the curb. I could have dragged more, but I didn’t want to overtax myself as I had the previous Monday.

I woke up Tuesday morning to a couple of inches of snow covering the yard, definitely not good circumstances for leaf removal. Good thing I had a couple of leaf piles leftover from Monday, enabling me to drag 4 tarpfulls to the curb.

Snow still covered the ground Wednesday morning, but a high of 48F was predicted. By 3PM, most of the snow in the backyard had melted. I fired up my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower, corralled all of the backyard leaves, and hauled 7 tarpfulls top the curb, once again purposely limiting myself.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, but family wasn’t coming over for dinner until 4PM, so I was able to hit the leaves pretty hard. I raked up the leaves that inevitably gather near the front of the house, taking 2 full tarpfulls to the curb. I then cleaned up the mound of leaves in the backyard leftover from Wednesday, hauling 2 more tarps to the road. I hadn’t cleaned up the front yard in awhile and it had a healthy accumulation of leaves, so I started up my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and blew all of those leaves to the curb.

Friday was a work holiday and I had intended to get some rest, but the morning was perfect for leaf duty so I fired up the Husqvarna and cleaned up the backyard and both side yards. The result? 4 more tarps to the curb.

Wow! Week #4 was very productive! I hauled 26 tarps to the curb in five days, bringing my total tarp tally for the 2021 Leaf Campaign to 54 tarps. As you can see from the above photo right, probably around 10%-15% of the leaves are still on the trees. Can we finally put this campaign to bed in week #5?

2021 Leaf Campaign – Week #3

As I reported last Monday, the leaves on our oak trees were finally beginning to turn color and drop in earnest. How did week #3 in the leaf campaign go?

Monday’s forecast called for rain and snow, but the leaf campaign doesn’t stop for weather. At 11AM, I strapped on my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and blew all of the leaves that had fallen in the backyard over the weekend into two very large piles. I then commenced raking the leaves onto the tarp and dragging the tarp to the front and dumping them along the curb. Because of the drizzle and snow, the leaves and the tarp were wet and heavy. The wet grass did not facilitate dragging the tarp, either. I finished at 3PM, totally exhausted. I ended up dragging 12 tarpfulls to the curb. I believe my record haul for a single day is 13 tarps. Needless to say, I was semi-comatose the rest of the afternoon and evening until I finally hit the sack.

Unlike Monday, Tuesday was a nice, sunny day. While the leaves continued to fall, there wasn’t a huge accumulation overnight. I leafblowed the east side of the backyard and collected and dragged 3 tarpfulls to the curb, a relative and much-needed respite compared to the previous day. I also blew the leaves in the front yard to the curb and mowed the front lawn for the last time this season.

Wednesday was an overcast day, but no rain. I leafblowed the west side of the backyard, collecting and dragging 2 tarpfulls to the curb. I also mowed the backyard west side for the last time of the season.

Rain was forecast for Thursday and at the crack of dawn I could see the leaves coming down fast as the low-pressure system moved in and the wind picked up. Then the rain started. Would Thursday be a wash out? The campaign doesn’t stop for a little wet weather! I strapped on my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and collected all of the leaves in the backyard into two big mounds. Just like Monday, the leaves were heavy from the rain and I quit after 5 tarpfulls, leaving the second mound of leaves for Monday.

The 22 tarps I collected in week #3 was a very decent haul. That gives me a total of 28 tarps so far in the campaign, 47% of the projected 60 tarp goal. I have a long way to go.

Huh? Hang on a second, folks.

“What’s that, dear? The to-do list? Sorry, the to-do list is on-ice until January!”

Looking out the sliding glass doors at our backyard this morning, I see that a lot of leaves fell over the course of my work-weekend. I definitely have my work cut out for me for week #4.

Monday, November 22nd, 8AM

2021 Leaf Campaign – Week #2

In my 2021 Leaf Campaign Week #1 kickoff update, published Sunday Nov. 7, I reported that the leaves on our oak trees remained stubbornly affixed to the branches. I had hauled only two tarps of leaves to the curb at that point compared to twenty-five tarps at the same time last year. Not an auspicious start.

Things improved a teeny bit last week. On Monday, I collected the small amount of leaves that had fallen over my work-weekend, just one tarpfull.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had some great weather in Rochester with warm temps and lots of sunshine that began to loosen the leaves’ grip on their branches. There was a noticeable change in the color of the leaves from green to amber-green. A slight breeze periodically blew through the tree tops and a noticeable amount of leaves rained down.

On Thursday morning, I got out my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and corralled three tarpfulls of leaves, making four tarps for week #2 and six tarps so far for the 2021 Campaign. That means there’s still around 54 tarpfulls of leaves still on the trees. Not good. At this time last year, just about all of the leaves had fallen (see photo above).

Postcript: It was cold and wet over the weekend while I was at work and A LOT of leaves came down. Rain is forecast for today and Thursday, so it looks like my window to collect leaves this week is going to be tomorrow and Wednesday.

2021 Leaf Campaign Kickoff? – Week #1

We have many oak trees in our backyard, not to mention the neighbors’ oaks that lean over our property. That makes for a lot of great shade in the summertime and a lot of falling leaves in autumn. I mean A LOT of leaves. Every year at this time, I gird my loins and start collecting and dragging the leaves from the backyard to the curb, where our town’s highway department picks them up. A typical leaf campaign starts the last week of October and ends the first week of December and involves around 60 tarpfulls of leaves. You read that right, 60 tarpfulls.

We moved into this house in 2004 and for 12 years I took foolish pride in corralling all of those leaves with just a rake, a tarp, and lots of elbow grease. But in 2016, I finally “tapped out” and bought a powerful Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower. Man, I should have bought me a Husqvarna way back when we first moved in!

Today’s November 7th and by this time I’ve usually dragged around 25 tarpfulls to the curb. But climate change is kicking in and the oak trees are hanging onto their leaves even longer (see photo above). To date, I’ve collected only 2 tarpfulls. Let’s do the math. There’s 4 weeks left in the campaign and 58 tarpfulls still on the trees, which works out to about 15 tarpfulls per week. I work Friday thru Sunday, so on my 4 days off I will need to collect and haul 4 tarpfulls per day. But it will inevitably be raining on some days, so I’ll need to move even more leaves per day on the good days. That’s a part-time job in addition to my regular full-time job.

I’m not getting any younger and following some recent leaf campaigns I’ve blustered/whined about selling this house and moving into a work-free condo. But the current plan is to stay in the house for as long as possible. I’ll be retiring at the end of November 2022 and the outside housework and yardwork will be a much welcomed diversion. A small riding lawnmower would be a huge help in cutting the grass and hauling the leaves, so I anticipate I’ll be purchasing one of those in the next year or two.

How are you doing with your own leaf campaign?

Throwback Thursday: Spiritual lessons from raking leaves

My 2021 House Painting Campaign: D-O-N-E!

My parents’ large, two-story house had wooden shingles and I had to help my Dad paint it a few times back when I was a teenager. Ach. Definitely not a fun job. My wife and I moved into our first house in 1979. It was aluminum sided, which meant I didn’t have to paint the exterior for the 22 years we lived there. We moved into our current house in 2004 and it has wooden shingles. Double ach! What was I thinking? I’m still trying to figure out why warning rockets didn’t go off in my head as we contemplated buying. Well, the house was freshly painted at the time so the misery seemed 100 years away. But then I waited way too long. After nine years, the exterior was starting to look shabby. I had to do a tremendous amount of scraping and priming. The weathered shingles soaked up the paint like a thirsty deer drinking at a cool stream (Psalm 42:1). One coat wasn’t enough. I had to paint the entire house with two coats. I vowed to never let things get so out of hand again. I took a three-year break and put my new plan in place. I would paint a quarter of the house every summer with a one-summer break. Sure, there’s now painting almost every summer, but there’s very little prep work and it’s a much more manageable task including applying only one coat of paint.

The southeast quarter of the house (see photo above) was due for painting this summer. I procrastinated for as long as possible, but finally took a trip to Home Depot on August 11th, buying a can of primer, two cans of paint, and a few other supplies. Our house is a ranch, so, thankfully, there’s not a lot of extension ladder work. While there wasn’t a crazy amount of prepping, I did come across some fascia board that had some water rot. How did I miss it the last time I painted that area? I must have had a lazy streak that summer.

I began by cleaning, taping, scraping, and priming as needed. I then painted all of the trim and shingle crevice areas by brush. The aforementioned is all very slow and tedious work. After the trim was done, I rolled the shingles. Boy, a roller sure beats a brush. I then worked on the rotted fascia area. I didn’t replace the rotted wood, but covered it over with a sheet of galvanized sheet metal, formed to fit and thoroughly primed and painted. Looks great!

The process wasn’t as quick and easy as the one-paragraph summary above makes it seem. I had some major obstacles like rain, the heat, and my Friday through Sunday job (including recuperation). But I finally finished on September 9th, 4 weeks after I started.

One big change this year was I switched from flat paint to satin paint. Satin is more weather resistant than flat and “should” buy me one or two extra paint-free summers.

Ah! I can now relax for about six weeks until the oak leaves begin to fall in earnest the last week of October. 🍁 Huh? What’s that, dear? The to-do list? Argh!

2020 Leaf Campaign Update – Week #4, the Grand Finale!

Photo above taken Saturday, Nov. 21st. No leaves remaining on the oak trees.

Last week was a VERY good week in the 2020 Leaf Campaign, with all of the oak trees prematurely releasing most of their leaves because of a warm stretch of weather, resulting in my hauling 34 tarps of leaves to the curb. This past week was the finale and there was a bit more work than I expected.

Thursday, Nov. 19 – The few remaining leaves had fallen from the oaks and some of my less-fastidious neighbors’ leaves had swirled into our yard due to some high winds, so I gave the entire yard a once-over with the leafblower, corralling the backyard leaves into piles and blowing the leaves in the front yard to the curb.

Friday, Nov. 20 – Seven tarpfulls. I raked the leaf piles in the backyard onto my tarp and made multiple trips dragging them to the curb. I also began removing the leaves from a large ivy patch in the back corner of our lot with my metal rake. It’s a very painstaking job, which is why I always save it for last. I removed about two-thirds of the leaves from the ivy patch, saving the balance for Saturday.

Saturday, Nov. 21 – One tarpfull. I finished removing the leaves from the ivy patch, accumulating one large tarpfull. I also got on the roof and blew out the small amount of leaves in the gutters before the snow falls.

Number of tarpfulls, week #4 = 8
Total number of tarpfulls to date = 67
Percentage of leaf campaign completed to date = 112%

Huh? 112%? I’ve always used 60 tarps as the estimated total number of tarps per seasonal campaign and it’s always worked out pretty close, but this year I ended up with 67 tarps. I’m guessing some of that spike can be attributed to the fact that I purposely didn’t load as many leaves onto the tarp on average due to my advancing age. 👴🏻

That’s it folks! I’m happy to say the 2020 Leaf Campaign is complete, a full two-weeks ahead of schedule! Thanks for all of the support and encouragement throughout the campaign!

Leaf campaign trivia: After raking leaves for 12 years, I finally broke down in 2016 and bought my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower. It’s been a HUGE help in dealing with the leaves, but it’s a bit temperamental. The salesperson warned me that I should use non-ethanol, specially-blended, high-octane, Husqvarna-brand gasoline sold in cans at the dealership. But that stuff is VERY expensive, especially for a guy like me with TONS of leaves. Instead, I buy non-ethanol, 89-octane gas at a Fastrac gas station near me, and add Husqvarna two-cycle engine oil. Sometimes the leafblower sputters like a Model-T jalopy and other times it roars like a well-tuned Pratt & Whitney jet engine. It still beats raking even when it’s not blowing air, full-throttle.

Week #1
Week #2
Week #3

2020 Leaf Campaign Update – Week #3

Photo above taken Saturday a.m., Nov. 14th. Only 2% of the leaves are still on the oak trees

Wow! What a week!

Week #3 of the 2020 Leaf Campaign began as normal.

Monday, Nov. 9Four tarpfulls hauled to the curb

However, a seven-day stretch of unusually warm, dry, sunny weather had accelerated the “abscission” process, and the oak trees began prematurely shedding their leaves en masse, in numbers I’ve never seen before. The result…

Tuesday, Nov. 10Nine tarpfulls to the curb. I also cleared the roof, gutters, and front yard.

Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Seventeen tarpfulls. Yes, folks, seventeen! In my sixteen seasons of removing the leaves from this property, I had never before hauled so many leaves in one day. I believe my previous one-day record was thirteen. I also cleared the roof, gutters, and front yard.

After dragging twenty-six tarpfulls of leaves to the curb in two days, I was physically spent, to put it mildly, and took Thursday off.

Friday, Nov. 13 – Four tarpfulls. I also cleared the roof, gutters, and front yard.

Number of tarpfulls, week #3 = 34
Total number of tarpfulls to date = 59
Percentage of leaf campaign completed to date = 98%

Because of the unanticipated early leaf fall precipitated by the unusual weather conditions, the 2020 Leaf Campaign is almost complete, three full weeks ahead of schedule! Unbelievable!

Leaf campaign trivia: Besides removing the leaves from the lawn, the other problem with living in a house amidst so many oak trees is that the gutters constantly fill up with leaves in the Fall and with catkins in the Spring. If a rain comes and the gutters are not cleaned out, the downspouts become clogged and the rainwater seeps over the gutters. We have one particular stretch of gutter where the rainwater seeps over and down into the basement window wells and the next thing you know, I’m removing rainwater from the basement floor with a wet vac. But climbing an extension ladder and getting up on the roof and cleaning out the gutters with a handheld electric blower is dangerous for a young guy, let alone a 64-year-old. My wife keeps nagging me, er, I mean, lovingly warning me to stay off the roof and have gutter guards installed. But gutter guards have mixed reviews. They’re expensive, they don’t keep out all of the leaf and catkin material, and they limit water intake in a heavy downpour. What to do? This is a problem that won’t go away and only get’s more dangerous for every year that I age.

Above: Yup, that’s me corralling leaves in our backyard this past week with my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower.

2020 Leaf Campaign Update – Week #2

Photo above taken Sunday a.m., Nov. 8th. – 58% of the leaves are still on the oak trees

I’m pleased to report that Week #2 of the 2020 Leaf Campaign went very well. A brief summary:

Monday, Nov. 2 – The wet, cold, and windy weather that arrived in Rochester last Sunday continued into the evening and early Monday morning. When day broke, there was a substantial number of leaves on the back lawn. After taking care of a few other chores, I fired up the Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and collected the backyard leaves into large mounds and also blew all of the frontyard leaves to the curb. I then raked the backyard leaves onto my tarp and dragged five tarpfulls to the curb.

A spate of unseasonably warm and dry weather precipitated some major leaf-fall for the balance of the week, enabling me to hit the leaves hard.

Wednesday, Nov. 4 – I cleared the roof and gutters with my handheld electric blower.

Thursday, Nov. 5Four tarpfulls to the curb

Friday, Nov. 6Four tarpfulls to the curb.

Saturday, Nov. 7 – Three tarpfulls to the curb. In addition, I once again cleared the roof, gutters and frontyard.

Number of tarpfulls, week #2 = 16
Total number of tarpfulls to date = 25
Percentage of leaf campaign completed to date = 42%

Week #2 was very productive with 16 tarpfulls and I’m closing in on the 30-tarpfulls halfway point. But all of the activity this past week really tired me out – I feel like I was hit by a Mack truck – so I’m taking a break from the leaves today.

Leaf campaign trivia: Every year, my lovely wife remarks that she thinks my leaf collection process is inefficient. She believes it would be much more efficient to wait until all of the leaves fell before collecting them, which, she suggests, would leave me more time to address her to-do list. Every year I must explain that waiting until the beginning of December, when most/all of the leaves are down would mean processing 60 tarpfulls in the one week prior to the last town pickup; a guaranteed coronary event. And there’s the very-real possibility of snow at that time, which would interfere with the collection process. With the help of my leafblower, I’m able to collect and process the 60 total tarpfulls over the course of 6 weeks, which still breaks down to a very challenging amount of leaves to process each week.

Above: Tarpfulls #s 7-25 piled up on the curb and awaiting pickup by the town.

2020 Leaf Campaign Update – Week #1

Photo above taken Sunday, Nov. 1st. – 85% of the leaves are still on the oak trees

I thought I’d send out a weekly update every Sunday on the status of my 2020 Leaf Removal Campaign.

I usually drag 60 tarpfulls of leaves from our backyard to the front curb every season. The campaign usually starts the last week of October and ends the first week of December, when the oak trees finally give up their last remaining leaves.

Some leaves fell early this year, so I got a jump on the season, beginning on Friday, October 16. Using my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and my sturdy metal rake, I corralled 3 tarpfulls of leaves and dragged them to the curb. On Friday, October 23, I was able to collect and haul another 3 tarpfulls. The town highway department picked up that leaf pile a few days later.

I anticipated gathering up another 3 tarpfulls today, but after watching our livestream church service this morning, I saw it was sprinkling slightly outside with heavy rain forecasted for the afternoon. Too bad. Leaves don’t wait. I fired up the Husqvarna, gathered up the leaves, and hauled 3 tarpfulls to the curb. The rain was very slight and didn’t slow me down.

Total number of tarpfulls to date = 9
Percentage of tarpfulls completed to date = 15%

After I finished working on the leaves today, the weather worsened dramatically as forecasted with heavy rain and some wind, resulting in many leaves coming down. I anticipate hauling at least three more tarpfulls tomorrow.

With approximately 51 tarpfulls remaining, I need to average 10.2 tarpfulls per week for the next 5 weeks.

Tarpfulls 7-9 resting on the curb