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Family work crew helps prepare for winter

Susan Manzke
Susan's daughter Rachel is prepared to battle leaves in the eavestroughs on back deck with leaf blower.

The last couple of pleasant weekends, different family members showed up at the farm for a visit outside. Too bad for them they asked if there was anything they could do for me while they were visiting. I didn’t have to think too hard to find a few things to use up their days off.

A couple weeks ago Rebecca and Andy offered to help. They started by carrying softener salt and 40-pound bags of cat food to the basement for me.

More work was on Rebecca’s horizon. The gutters above the front and back porch needed cleaning. My oldest daughter soon found out that these gutters hadn’t been cleaned properly for over a year. They were pretty gummed up and needed a lot of scraping.

The back porch gutters were easy to reach as we only had to walk out the door and I could help. The front gutters were only accessed by crawling out an upstairs bedroom window.

Two weeks later, daughter number two showed up with her whole family.

After a picnic lunch outside with grandchildren, Rachel asked if there was anything she could do.

Well, more leaves had fallen since her sister had visited. To ensure better drainage, I asked if she could go onto the porch roofs again and get the last of the recently fallen leaves out.

Rachel hesitated. “That’s pretty high,” she said as she gazed up.

I assured her it wasn’t too bad. “There won’t be a lot of scraping, as Rebecca did that, just use the leaf blower. It will be a cinch. And remember not to lean heavily on the deck railings. There are a few spots that are a little rotten.”

Rachel gave me a funny look but charged upstairs with the leaf blower.

As expected, the dry leaves blew out easily over the back porch. Rachel’s only anxious moment came when she blew a few hornets from the gutters, too—good thing they weren’t too disturbed and didn’t bother her.

The front deck took Rachel through that old bedroom window—one of the few windows that still need replacing. As with Rebecca, I held open the storm windows so they wouldn’t fall as Rachel exited the room—a good thing, too, as they started to slip down as she was halfway out.

The gutters had accumulated some leaves, but they were dry and flew off when Rachel pointed the blower at them—I used to climb out that window to clean those gutters, but getting in and out that window, well, my body doesn’t bend so easily any more.

Work wasn’t finished. Rachel and Dave moved a bench for me and Dave fixed a piece of siding that was blowing loose on a shed. That only took a few new screws.

Susan hoped an archived photo of Bob working on field tile back in June 2019 would help them find the location of the broken tile.

Dave then wanted to know where a field tile was blocked. We had talked about this problem before and I hadn’t thought about it in weeks. But if he wanted to check it out, I’d try to locate it for him.

Well, finding that blocked tile outlet wasn’t so easy. The last time Bob and I worked on it was in June 2019. But I was pretty sure I could find it.

Weeds had overgrown the ditch where the old cement tile exited the field. I pointed to the large tree where it was near, except I couldn’t find the exact spot.

Poor Dave started digging for the outlet about 20 to 30 feet south of the tree. After he mucked around in the ditch, digging and slipping on mud, I went into my photo archives and found the picture I had taken of Bob working on the tile in 2019.

After analyzing the photo, we figured we were on the wrong side of the tree.

More digging and mucking, but we didn’t find the tile outlet. We were close though. There were a few pieces dug up.

Son-in-law Dave, holding Bob’s tile shovel, trying to figure out where to dig.

Sunlight dimmed and ended our work too soon. We never did find the tile but the hunt’s not over.

I have to thank everyone for all their help. Because of my family, I’m better prepared for the next change of weather.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54164; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog