Fuzzy grub

I was a bit startled while putting the kibble out for the cats this morning. I did not expect to see a tiny, fuzzy orange grub, under the water shelter!

It ran under the cat house, but when I came back after the kibble was all set out, I found it again.

There is something about its fuzziness that make it look like some kind of caterpillar when it moves!

After I got this photo, I was able to reach out and pick it up for the first time. I was careful to just hold it close and give it ear skritches and gentle pets, so it would associate human contact with warmth and pleasant feelings. Then I put it onto the kibble tray inside the entry to the cat house, rather than back in the snow. Yes, I could have brought it inside, but this was the first time it was held, and I didn’t want to traumatize it by taking it away from its mother and siblings so suddenly. I’d rather go slowly, while that’s still an option.

The cold has set in today; as I write this, we’re at -23C/-9F. The weather app says we have a wind chill of -33C/-27F, but we seem to be sheltered from that. It was nice and sunny, with no wind, so I was able to do some shoveling around the cat shelters and the south side of the house. Amazingly, in less than a week, the forecast now says we are supposed to have a couple days at 0C/32F!! Talk about temperature whiplash!

Right now, I need to talk myself into going to town. We have a couple of our water jugs waiting to be refilled. I just don’t want to go anywhere.


The Re-Farmer

It’s been that kind of day

There were so many things I was supposed to get done today, including a trip into town.

Instead, we’ve all been like this.

Yup. Even the cats are feeling it. One of my daughters is still pretty sick, and I have yet to see her today at all. The other is working on commissions, but is also finding herself dragging through the day. My husband normally struggles to stay up during the day, between his pain levels and the medications, and he finally gave up the fight and has gone to bed. It’s all I can do not to curl up with the cats on my bed and snoozing.

Like these guys.

The outside cats are even feeling it! I hate having to close them out of the sun room for the night, after luring them out with their second feeding of the day. Some of them ended up overturning a garbage can and were making a mess. At least I know they can’t get into the bin with the kibble, but if racoons get in, they can literally tear the bin apart, as they’ve already done with the old bin we had to replace because of them.

I really look forward to when we’re past winter solstice, and the days start getting longer again.

The Re-Farmer

Just in case

I was supposed to work on the Christmas ornaments yesterday, but I ended up working on something else entirely, and it took a lot longer than expected.

I made a baby jail.

Leyendecker likes it.

We don’t have the funds to buy a kennel, but with the newest set of wire storage cubes I got, we had enough altogether to make this cat cage, including a second level inside. The squares come with openings in two sizes, intended to be used as sides or backs for the storage cubes. I put the whole thing together to figure it out, then took it apart and put it back together with a plan. The kittens would be able to go right through the larger openings, so the bottom half is is all the squares with the smaller openings. Because the corners could easily be pushed out of their clips, I tied them together with twine as I went along. This thing is NOT going to fall apart! It is completely enclosed except for one square that is not in any clips at all, but tied in place to make a door, which can be clipped closed at the top.

Of course, the bitties could probably climb the bottom squares and still squeeze through the larger openings of top squares, but we could figure something out to prevent that.

It needs more towels and blankets, etc. plus a small litter box and bowls for food and water. Ideally, we would be able to get the bitties and Broccoli, altogether, keeping them safe in here with their mama.

Assuming we can catch them.

While feeding them this morning, I could see the bitties running around inside, but the best I could do for a picture was shove my phone through the strips of carpet over the entry, where I’d seen the orange bitty eating, and hope for the best!

Not a very good shot, but my goodness, what a cutie! I just love those little white patches under his eyes! When he moves around, he looks like a giant, wooly caterpillar.

I got a head count of about 27 or 28 this morning, NOT counting the bitties. In this picture, you can see three little heads poking out from under the cat shelter. What the two white and greys are blocking are two more kittens under the shelter. I think the smallest cats feel a lot safer and more secure under there.

We have to figure out which of the grey and whites that allow us to pet them is a female. We’ve got four booked to be spayed in less than a week. We’ll be delivering them to the cat lady the day before they’re booked for surgery, so I want to have the chosen ones tucked into the sun room the night before that. It’d be great if we could get Rosencrantz or any of the older females done, but they’re just not social enough. We’ll have to work on that!

The Re-Farmer

Looking ahead

Wow. WordPress now has prompt questions when the editor is opened, and I find them rather weird. When I opened the editor to start on this post, the question was “what do you think about eating meat?”

I’m here to talk about cats, thanks.

And weather.

I took this screencap of my desktop’s weather app, just a little while ago.

Would you look at those fluctuations?!! We’re going to be getting temperature whiplash over the next while. Today, we’re looking at a high of -15C/5F, tomorrow, it’s saying -4C/24F, then it’s going to dive down to highs of close to -20C/-4F, though it’s those overnight lows dropping to -30C/-22F that are going to be the main concern. Then suddenly we’re supposed to zoom up to -2C/28F, before dropping back down to a high of -18C/0F.

I don’t know when the roofers will actually show up – no one arrived with the supplies yesterday, but we’re keeping the gate open for them – but I’m hoping they hold off until after that cold spell coming up!

Of course, we’re keeping an eye on the kitties through all this.

I didn’t do a head count, but there seemed to be fewer of them running around in the cold while I was putting the kibble out. The heated water bowls had frost across their tops, but at least there was still water. The metal water bowls were, of course, frozen solid.

Though the kibble house has a sheet of insulation under the floor boards, as well as the one on the ground, I added scrap pieces under the kibble trays, too. I put out extra food, too, adding more in the tray just inside the cat house entry, and just plain more kibble in their favourite eating spots. I wasn’t able to get a photo, but I could see the little ones running around inside. I was happy to NOT see them going outside this time, which is another reason I wanted to leave extra kibble in the entry. I don’t want to do that in the evening, as overnight would be when any skunks or racoons show up, if they show up at all.

I also left the sun room doors propped open. I won’t leave them open overnight, again because racoons might show up and trash it, but at least during the day, the cats will be able to squeeze in and out. We will be setting the other heat bulb up, along with food, water and a litter, for when it’s time to collect the cats that will be getting fixed next, and for their recovery period, after. They will stay for only a short time with the cat lady before coming back.

Speaking of which, I had a chance to chat with her last night. She is dealing with a lot of cats, and her rescue is still small and new, so she doesn’t have a lot of resources, etc. Mostly, it’s just her doing everything, with the help of her family. She tried contacting her rural municipality for help with the colonies and strays. The only help they’re willing to offer it to send someone out to shoot them. We’re not even talking about feral cats, either. But since the property owners/tenants are willing to care for the cats (like we are), they won’t do anything else. In other words, if we were neglecting the cats, rather than feeding and sheltering them, only then would they be willing to provide resources, but because we’re actually taking on providing some level of care, they’re only willing to “help” by killing the cats. How does that even make sense? Mind you, we don’t live in the same RM that she does. I think ours offers the loan of traps.

As I was writing this, I got a call from my brother, wondering if the roofers made it out yesterday. Apparently, his contact with the company was texting back and forth with the driver who was picking up a load of shingles. It sounds like it will take several trips just to get all the supplies here. We shall see.

With the way the temperatures are today, I think it’s a good day to finally finish off my ornaments for this year – before the cats finish destroying more of my yarn!

The Re-Farmer

This is what $430 looks like – and they’re going to do it!

I was going to do a Costco trip today, however by the time I reached my mother’s town, I changed my mind. Road conditions and blowing snow was getting worse the further south I went, so I just got some gas, then went to a nearer Walmart. Costco will wait for another time.

Which turned out to be a good thing, because the trip was shorter. I was just leaving the store when I got a message from my brother. The roofers had called! They wanted to come by today and at least drop off the materials for the roof, if not get started on the work. They’re going to get it done before winter is officially here! They have not yet arrived, but I am glad to be home to be able to keep an eye on the security camera live feed. The gate has been left open, and we will be leaving it open, at least during the day, until the job is done. Everything is weather dependant right now.

Also, WordPress just let me know that this blog has hit 100,000 views! Thank you to everyone who has visited with us, and especially those who like what they see enough to follow and comment, too. It is really encouraging, and greatly appreciated.

So that’s our amazing news!

Meanwhile, I ended up picking up more than I originally intended today. This is what $428.74 (after taxes) looks like.

I got another four 10kg bags of kibble. Normally, with the four I already got, I would say we are stocked up for the month, but we have more yard cats this year, and they always need more food in the winter. The cat lady was going to see about getting some donated cat food for us, so that will be a help, but I’m not going to count on it.

If I’d made it to Costco, I would have picked up a case of 48 cans of wet cat food. Instead, I got two cased of 32 cans. That makes three cases of that size for the month. I’d love to be able to get some wet cat food to the bitty babies, but that would be difficult to manage with so other cats around, and we just can’t afford to buy enough wet cat food for them all.

All Purpose flour was on sale – $8.97 instead of $11.97 – so I picked up an extra bag. Stove Top Stuffing was also on sale for 87 cents, so I got a couple more boxes for our pantry. With all of us being sick for the last while and not having the energy to cook much, we’ve been going into our quick eats supply, so I got more of the ramen type noodles and canned tomato soup to replenish the pantry.

Other items for the pantry include toilet paper, facial tissues, feminine hygiene products, and a couple of tubes of toothpaste.

There was a really good sale on whole chickens, so I got a couple of those, along with eggs, rye bread, a bag of clementines and a new flavour of coffee creamer for the girls. I picked up a 12 pack of cranberry ginger ale as a treat, along with a big box of granola bars.

Some unplanned items included a shower curtain and shower curtain liner. The cats have been destroying them, so I sprung for higher quality ones, in hopes they will last longer. Leyendecker in particular keeps trying to eat the fabric curtain hanging on the outside, so I got a plastic one, this time.

I also got a set of 3 wire cubes. I am thinking that, with ones we already have that we used to display inventory, back when we were doing the art markets before our move, I can use them to make a kennel if we can manage to bring Broccoli and her babies inside.

One last extra was a box of religious Christmas cards for my mother. The ones I ordered online for her won’t arrive for some time, and she wants to send cards overseas, so I got these for her. Then, when I was paying for it all, I added a donation to the children’s hospital, too.

I swung by my mother’s place to drop the cards off on the way home. While there, I told her the news about the roofers. She was not happy, because if they put the shingles on now, they will all crack in the cold. Clearly, they have no idea what they’re doing. She then demanded (again) that we have a warranty, and that it’s in writing. I keep trying to explain, it’s all going to be there in the contract, spelled out in detail, but she refuses to believe me. I get the impression she thinks there is not actual contract; that it’s all being done with no record. Which might be what she’s used to, considering who they’ve hired in the past, but my brother and I would not hear of calling a local guy that has a reputation for being very drunk while he works.

Since I’d finished my shopping before I got the message from my brother, I made another stop at the grocery store near my mother’s place to get a few things I’d intended to do on another trip. When the roofers are here, I’d like to have hot food and coffee going for them; it’s not like there’s anyplace nearby they can pop over for their breaks and lunches. So I got what I needed to make a chili for one day, and a stew for another and, when I got home, I brought the meat for them out of the freezer to start thawing.

So that shopping, rounded up to donate to a local food bank, was another $40.

Finally, I stopped at the post office on the way home, as my husband was hoping a package for him had arrived early, but it did not. Since I was there anyhow, I picked up some Christmas treats out of the booze corner; some alcoholic eggnog, and a sampler of tiny, uniquely flavoured drinks, which added another $47 and change to the day’s total.

I’m still going to need to do a Costco trip, plus a trip to Canadian Tire to get the stove pellets we use for litter, but nothing is urgently needed.

It’s past 4pm as I finish writing this, and the roofers have not yet come by with the supplies. I’m not really expecting them to make it tonight, but who knows! Tomorrow is supposed to reach a high of -15C/5F, and be mostly cloudy. The day after (Sunday) is supposed to reach a high of -5C/23F with “snow showers”, then start getting quite a bit colder again.

This is not going to be a pleasant job for them to do!

The Re-Farmer

Mothering confirmed

I was able to get this photo not long ago.

It is confirmed.

Broccoli is the mama!

It’s hard to see through the reflections, but Broccoli is nursing all three bitty babies.

The orange and tuxedo bitties both have been seen outside. The grey and white tabby probably goes out, too, but we just haven’t been there to see it.

I am encouraged. The urgency to get them inside is lower now. On top of that, I was even able to pet Broccoli while she was eating on the cat house roof this morning, and while she gave me somewhat alarmed looks, she didn’t run away. Which means there is socialization of a mama happening.

This would be her second litter of the year. *sigh*

It would be awesome if we could bring her and the bitties inside. Maybe we could go half way, and get her and the bitties in the sun room. It’s not set up as a maternity ward right now, though, and the cat shelter if probably warmer, though the thermometer has been knocked right off it’s holder, so I can’t see it to check.

Right now, I’m just happy to have the mothering confirmed!

The Re-Farmer

So good!

It occurred to me that I have yet to post a picture of what the Black Nebula carrots look like, cooked! So I thought I’d share this photo with you, while we still have some left.

My daughters did the mashed potatoes and ginger carrots. At the last minute, I cooked up four HUGE t-bones from our quarter beef order, and made a pan gravy. The steaks were so big, I could barely fit them in our largest pans. I was able to cook all of them at one time, though, and made the pan gravy while they rested.

I am so full right now!

As for the Black Nebula carrots, they are so dramatically dark! A very beautiful dish. As for flavour… they’re really not any different from any other carrot. They were sweet and tasty, but not outstanding in any way. I am glad we grew them. We had the most seeds for the Black Nebula, and they shared a bed with the Uzbek Golden carrots, in the main garden area. The Napoli and Kyoto Red carrots we grew along the chain link fence did not do well with how much flooding that area got, even being in a slightly raised bed. If we had not had carrots growing in two completely different areas, we would not have had enough to last us beyond a couple of meals. Something to keep in mind, when we grow carrots next year! I’d be willing to grow them again some day, but I want to try a few other types before we settle into one or two varieties.

As for the steak…

Oh, my, that was so good!!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seeds have arrived!

These came in really fast!

The top row is all stuff we tried to grow in 2022. The only change is that the Candy Roaster seeds we got for last summer was from Veseys. We should still have some of those left, so if we wanted to, we could try both and see which does better here.

The middle row is also all stuff we tried growing last summer, except for the Chamomile, which is new for 2023.

In the bottom row, the Little Finger Eggplant is a repeat, while the Red Wethersfield onion and Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify are new.

The Lemon Cucumber are our free package of seeds with this order. (Image belongs to Heritage Harvest) I had actually been eyeballing these as something new to try, but had decided against them for now. In fact, I wasn’t sure if we’d try growing cucumbers again at all this year. We did actually get cucumbers, and they would have been enough for our own use – but then my sister gave us massive amounts of cucumbers from her own garden, and we were overwhelmed.

We like cucumbers, but not that much!

Anyhow, if we were to order more cucumbers, it would be another dual purpose type, good for both fresh eating and canning. Now we have these, so we will at least have a fresh eating type! Plus, it’s something we’ve never tried before. I’m looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: first Veseys seeds are in

There were two seed orders waiting for me in the mail today. The first had the seeds I’d ordered with some trees from Veseys, earlier.

I don’t know if we’ll plant the Caveman’s Club gourd this year – it depends on how well we manage with building trellises in the spring – but we will definitely start a few of each variety of peppers. We’ll have so many varieties this year, we won’t need to start many of each, and should still have a lot.

Assuming we have a good growing year in 2023!

The Re-Farmer