I'm feeling pretty productive in 2024 since I've managed to do all the major home improvements I planned for the year in the first 2 months of the year. Usually I wait til fair weather, but replacement of my electric hot water heater with an energy-efficient heat pump water heater could have been done anytime. It seems to be working fine, and all the things another plumber had told me about, as he tried to talk me out of it, failed to materialize. Like a much colder basement (it's held steady at 55 F) and the noise (I barely notice it).
And the fringe benefit of the heat pump water heater is that it naturally dehumidifies the air, so I no longer need to use my dehumidifier unit, which did an inadequate job. Could save me some money, since the dehumidifer ran all the time in warmer months.
Then I had my mason over a few weeks ago to do a refacade of a second crumbling wall. He was also to close up the crack where I "thought" the milk snake had gotten through, but it wasn't really a crack at all, just a gap between a piece of lumber and the wall, so truth be told, I'm not certain "how" the snake got in. A bit unsettling. Maybe one of the same entry points where mice were getting in? Those were also sealed up, so cross fingers, no more critters in the basement. I had just ONE mouse caught inside this winter.
The sole purpose of that vertical plank of plywood was so that the laundry sink in that corner could be attached to the plywood attached to the wall. My mason removed it all and refastened it without it. Looks much better now.
Today, I have tree cutters here to do some much-needed pruning of a dogwood tree, a mulberry tree and a crabapple. They will be back to do a dying apple tree, which I'm not trying to save, so I told them to just leave a 10- or 12-foot snag for wildlife but otherwise cut down the tree.
In April, they will come back again to do the huge burning bush; I cut 3/4 of the branches but I don't have a chain saw, which will be needed to cut the roughly 20" diameter trunk, after which I'll have to paint herbicide so it doesn't resprout. They will also do soil injections for a giant hemlock with wooly adelgid issues. These guys have great prices compared to what I've paid in the past. Like less than half of what a much larger company was quoting me.
One of the guys here now was actually using a battery-powered chainsaw, which amazed me due to the diameter of some of the stuff they were cutting and it gave me more confidence about buying a "mini" battery-powered chainsaw which I've been thinking about for smaller limbs. I was looking at a 6" blade. I hate the noise and having to deal with gasoline and oil for the regular ones, but I could manage this.
Activity with the groups I volunteer for is heating up. The president of one of them unexpectedly resigned for personal reasons, so we're having an emergency meeting later this week.
At a recent meeting of my other group, I volunteered to write a grant application to Cornell that would allow us to do a big project we've been planning on. It was my first-ever grant proposal, but the chair seems very, very pleased with it. Due date is Mar. 1 so we just have some final touches to apply. Now she wants me to apply for another grant from NY Botanical Garden as a backup in case we don't get the first grant.