A lovely day

Today has worked out to be a lovely day!

First, I had a cheering squad waiting for me when I went to feed the fish.

Saffron, Cheddar, Big Rig and Two Face

The top of the big aquarium we can’t use right now has long been a favorite place for the cats to sit. Now, the kittens are big enough to appreciate it, too!

Also, Saffron wanted my phone.

It’s amazing, how one little fish fascinates the cats. 😀

Both girls ended up going into the city with me, which worked out rather well. I went into town first, to pick up my husband’s prescription refills. He got just one week’s worth, because of the weird rules over some of his more powerful medications, so he can’t get the rest until after Tuesday. We have actual doctor appointments on Thursday, so they should have updated prescriptions by Friday. Hopefully, that will end the problems we’ve been having regarding his refills, lately.

The bubble packs weren’t ready yet, so I made a quick run to the garage to see about my mother’s car. I was surprised to find it closed! My mother’s car was there, along with one other car, but that was it. Then I remembered that they often go into the city to pick up parts on Fridays. I’ll have to remember to call them tomorrow. I was able to get a medical appointment for my mother on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday this weekend), and it be nice to surprise her with her own car.

My mom’s car has been sitting there for so long, it has spider webs on the side mirror!

After getting the medications and heading home, it started to rain. I even drove through a very nice downpour! By the time I was unlocking the gate, it had slowed down a bit, but started to come down hard again as the girls and I were leaving.

By the time we were driving through the town my mother lives in, we had left the rain behind us and everything was dry! Which is basically the opposite of how it usually goes. 😀

The shopping went smoothly, which is something I can’t say about the drive. It was one of those days where it seemed like every other driver out there was determined to either tail gate me, or pass me into oncoming traffic!

Okay, I exaggerate.

A little.

A very little.

We had way too many close calls for my comfort.

I am so glad to not have to drive through city traffic all the time anymore!

We only had two places we needed to go, and once in the stores, things went much better. We found pretty much everything we needed, and the rest we can get locally as we need to throughout the month.

It feels good to be well stocked again.

Back on the highway, we drove into the rain again. By the time we got home, it was pouring. The girls unlocked the gate for me, so of course they got soaked while walking to the house. I pulled into the yard, right near the door, but got just as soaked while unloading the van.

It was beautiful! The rains have been passing us by for a while, now, so it was really nice to finally get some.

After the van was unloaded, one of my daughters went to check the picnic table under the tent. We hadn’t bothered to put on the walls, so it was possible rain could have been blown in from the sides. The back of the house provided enough shelter, though, to prevent that. The table was bone dry! The bird house I’d scrubbed last night was mostly dry, too. When doing my rounds this morning, I found something I could put the bird house on under the tent, just in case it rained, and I’m glad I did!

Tomorrow, if all goes to plan, we’ll flip the table and do the first coat on the top, as well as the bird house. I have to remember to bring the screened window over to paint, too. I’m leaving that as long as possible, since I’ll have to switch to the high density plastic window we use in the winter. I’ll be plugging in the big blower fan in the old basement to make up for the lack of air circulation while that one is in.

Right now, the sky is blue and there’s a lovely breeze.

I think this is a good time to do my evening rounds.


The Re-Farmer

Tiny harvest

This spring, the cherry tree near the house has many flowers.

Unfortunately, they did not translate into very many cherries this year. There are just a few, scattered about.

Walking past it today, I noticed some seemed to be nice and ripe. After trying a couple, I picked the rest that I could reach, and brought them in for my daughters.

Yup. That’s it! Counting the one I’d already taste tested, it was a whole 8 cherries.

There are others that are not quite ripe yet, but we’re not going to get anywhere near what we had last year – and that was just barely enough to fill a medium slide-lock freezer bag.

They were, however absolutely delicious. Wonderfully sour, with just a bit of sweetness. A lovely, tiny little treat!

The Re-Farmer

Prepping old bird feeder

When we first moved here, three winters ago, there was a bird feeder mounted on a metal post at the opposite end of the flower garden where we currently have the platform feeder.

One of the first things I noticed about it was that there was a rock sitting on one corner of the base. I quickly discovered why it was there, when I lifted the top to add birdseed.

The whole thing tipped over to one side.

The rock was a counterweight, so it wouldn’t tip when birds landed on it, or in the wind.

Eventually, I took a look and discovered that the feeder had a metal mounting that fit over the post, so it could easily be lifted off.

Also, there were only 2 screws on one side, holding it in place, and that’s why the feeder kept tipping. Rather than add more screws. someone just put on the rock.

I’d set it aside for cleaning and painting, and for the past two years, it’s been sitting upside down on the bench near the main entry. I just kept forgetting about it.

This evening, my daughter wanted to add a second coat of paint to the bottoms of the picnic table legs, so I went out with her. We’d made a dump run, and I needed to hose out the plastic bin we put the cat litter bags into until we do. As I was putting the cleaned bin back next to the bench, I saw the feeder and realized this was the perfect time to prep it for painting. I just needed to take the two screws out and remove the post mount, first.

Of course, they were two completely different types of screws, that needed different screwdrivers.

One of them was actually bent.

That would be from the bird feeder tipping! I’m surprised they weren’t both bent.

Here is the feeder, after hosing it down to get rid of debris.

And spider webs.

I don’t know how much the birds would have used it, considering it was basically surrounded by the lilac, plus the maple tree that was growing through the middle of the lilac at the time. I’ve since removed the maple and pruned the lilac, so the post is now clear enough that I think the birds will use it, once we put it back again.

I suspect being engulfed in greenery had a lot to do with the feeder being so covered in lichen.

I scrubbed it as best I could, though there are still some crevices the brush I was using couldn’t fit into.

Which is fine. We’ll just paint over it.

I noticed there were holes drilled into the base to allow water to drain off. Considering much much water collected from the hose while I scrubbed, I don’t think they’re enough. I might drill a few more before we paint it.

If I remember… 😉

I then flipped it upside down to scrub the bottom, then let it dry.

I see absolutely no sign that this was ever painted.

Yeah, the wood is definitely showing signs of rot.

It’s still pretty solid, though. Once it’s painted and the mount is properly secured, it will probably last for many more years.

The plan for tomorrow will be to head into the city for the rest of our monthly shop. Only one of my daughters will be coming along. I believe my other daughter is planning to do the first coat on the top of the picnic table while we are gone, when she takes a break from work. There should be plenty of paint to do the bird feeder, too.

I am also planning on painting the frame of the screened window I made for the old basement.

That blue is going to be all over the place!

I like it! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Internet status

Soooo… a few things happened today.

Long story short, we are still down to just one account.

Long story long…

First, we got a call from the tech guy, saying that he would be here between 1 and 3pm to see what’s going on with our secondary internet account.

Second, we got our ebill for the month.

Yeah. Over $550. They charged us $2 a gig in overage fees, even though my husband had been told they wouldn’t.

Which is when he had a conversation with them!

At first, they tried to say they couldn’t credit us the amount, or credit us for the account we couldn’t use all month that we paid for, anyway.

So he told them to cancel the secondary account.

Well, they couldn’t credit the whole amount, but they could credit us $10 a month for 6 months.

He told them to cancel the secondary account.

He got put on hold while she went to see what she could do.

In the end, he agreed to a credit of $20 a month for 6 months. Which basically covers the cost of the secondary account for a month.

After all the huge expenses we had this month, like having to get a new lawn mower and new washing machine, among other things, plus we’ve still got the rest of the bill for my mom’s car to pay soon, we’ll be paying this bill down slowly for a while. I’d already budgeted a higher amount for the bill, but not that much!!

Meanwhile, we still had the tech guy coming out.

Shortly after noon, I headed out to unlock the gate – just in time for him to pull into our driveway! Yup, he arrived almost an hour early. We got a good laugh over my being there to unlock it at just the right time. 🙂

He started off by bringing in his own router to test with. While he did his best to make sure he wouldn’t disconnect us from the one account that was still working, if badly, my daughter stopped working, just in case. The last thing she needed was to be in the middle of something, and suddenly, no internet. So she and I started on the picnic table.

The tech ended up switching modems, changing connectors, changing the entire cable, replacing the receiver on the satellite itself, all while constantly checking and rechecking the signal we were getting.

He was actually getting negative numbers. Which never seen before. I mean, if there’s no signal, it should be zero, but to get negatives?

He was at it for about three hours, in 25C/77F heat, with the humidex at about 30C/86F, in full sun on the roof, and not even a breeze!

Thankfully, we had just picked up a case of van water, and what didn’t fit in the cooler in the van, I brought to the house. I had some nice, cold water bottles to give him!

He did everything he could, and nothing worked.

That one dish is just not getting a signal.

In the end, there was just one thing left, and it was not something he could do.

I identified a specific tree branch that might be causing the problem.

It was actually one I’d narrowed it down to, myself, though partly because it’s the one we can reach to try.

I was ready to just grab a ladder and take it down right away.

Thankfully, my daughter stopped me.

This is the trunk of that tree.

Do you see those holes?

The elms are all riddled with them.

They are made by bald faced hornets. Which are wasps that burrow into trees to make their nests.

That’s right. The tree itself is the nest.

In the fall, they all die. The ones that hatch, build a nest elsewhere.

The tree we’d already pruned huge branches from had been a nest last year, but is empty now.

The year before, they had been in this tree, but in other branches.

This year, their nest is this branch.

Now, these wasps are actually pretty docile. They will leave you alone, if you leave them alone. They are not aggressive. In fact, they are desirable, as they keep down other insects.

If, however, you F* them up, they will F* you up.

Cutting down the branch that is their nest is about as F’ing them up as you can get.

The guy was still hear as my daughter explained all this, which I think he appreciated. He may well need that information at someone else’s place, in the future!

Which reminds me…

I had talked to him earlier about how the satellites had worked for the past while, and that the trees themselves actually have a lot less branches than before. We can tell when the branches are a problem during high winds, as they block and unblock the signal. So when he told me which particular branch he thought my be the problem, we also talked about what to do if we took the branch down, and it still didn’t work!

After he was gone, we had a talk about it.

One option is to pick up a whole lot of wasp and hornet killer, spray the branch, then cut it down. The problem with that is, this isn’t an external nest like with paper wasps that we can spray. The nest is inside the branch, and it’s very unlikely we’d be able to kill them all. We’d probably have to empty 3 cans over the length of the branch, and hope the contact kill gets the ones we miss.

Unlike the paper wasps, though, we don’t actually want to get rid of these guys. These ones are “good guys”. Plus, they will die on their own in the fall. Until then, they will help keep actual problem insects down.

My daughter suggested we just get used to having one account for a while, then take the branch down after the tree stops buzzing.

So tomorrow, my husband will call our provider back and ask them to suspend the account for now. We’ll just have a small fee each month, instead. If we keep paying what we normally budget at the same time, we’ll pay off the current bill much, much faster, too.

In a couple of months, we should be able to remove the branch, then ask them to activate the account again and see if it worked. If not, it’s time to call someone to come out again. Which is what the “care” charge on our bill covers.

Until then, we just have to keep rationing our internet usage, and get used to having horrible internet. The guy did check the primary account, too, and it was working fine, though as I type this I’m noticing we have lost internet again.

Oh, it’s back.


So I’m kinda feeling really lucky right now. I had been eyeballing that tree and thinking of that one branch that was most likely to be at least part of the problem. I was thinking of just taking it down, and even decided on where to cut it, so that new branches growing out of the remains would still provide shade.

I just never got around to doing it.

When going under the tree, you can hear buzzing, but I’d never been able to see where the buzzing was coming from. My daughter was able to point it out, and you can actually see the wasps crawling around. If I had cut that branch, once it crashed to the ground, I would probably have been swarmed.

I seemed to have really dodged a bullet on that one!

So that’s where we stand now.

Given that my husband already got them to credit us for the next 6 months, they might balk at suspending the account. Still, it’s not the same as cancelling it, and I would hope that they would be understanding once he tells them why we have to wait before we can take the branch down and see if that’s what’s causing the problem. The tech couldn’t even say that it would work. It’s just that he tried everything else he could do. It’s the only thing left that he could think of.

We’ve been wanting to get rid of that tree for various reasons, but now we have a new one.


We’ll just have to find some other way to provide shade.

The Re-Farmer

Picnic table progress: painting started

While the tech was here to try and figure out why our secondary internet account wasn’t working (more about that on another post), my daughter and I got started on the scrubbed and fully dry picnic table.

First, we set up her tent!

Once we moved it over the table, she got the paint ready while I pegged down the legs.


Tried do.

I was able to get only 1 leg properly pegged down. With the others, it didn’t matter what angles I tried, I kept hitting rocks!

Hopefully, it’ll be enough to keep it down if we get any winds.

Even if we don’t end up getting rain, it provided much appreciated shade!

Since it’s the underside, we weren’t too worried about complete coverage, except for the ends of the legs. Those might even get a second coat before we flip it.

I’m really glad we had those chimney liners to use to raise it off the ground. They really made the job easier! Amazing what a difference just those few inches makes, on preventing back strain.

The colour darkens a bit as it dries, but it’s still really, really bright!

Of all the things we need to work on, this small project is something that will be done fairly quickly. It’s a psychological thing. Once it’s done and set up, we’ll be able to see this one bright object in the yard that is a thing that we actually finished. So many other things have been delayed, or are things that will be worked on over years, not days, or even months.

I really look forward to using it when it’s done! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Mystery critter, and order placed

Just minutes ago, we saw our mystery critter again – this time out by the compost pile!

We ended up bringing the DSLR, with it’s 700mm lens, and tripod over to try and zoom in for some pictures.

Unfortunately, the window we were looking through is the one that was not replaced, when all the others were. It has a sheet of plexiglass mounted on the inside, to keep the drafts out. Which means that there was nothing we could do to keep the auto focus from focusing on the glass, instead of the critter. I even tried manual focus, and the pictures I got were actually worse.

So these are the best of the bunch. I cropped the photos and resized them, but that’s it.

The question is: what is it?

It was eating grass and what I think were dandelion leaves. In one of the photos, it looks like it has a stuffed cheek!

It’s surprisingly large. About the size of our big skunk, but bulkier. Almost as big as a beaver! It kinda has a beaver shape, too, but the tail is completely different.

So it is a gopher? Groundhog? Prairie Dog?

Whatever it is, it’s adorable!

In other things, I just finished making our fall plantings order from Vesey’s. This is what we have ordered (all links should open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place!):

Fall garlic collection 2: This collection of hard neck garlic includes Porcelain Music, Rocambole and Marble Purple Stripe. The Purple Stripe is supposed to be really good for roasting. The collection has 1 pound of each. We are planning to plant these where we currently have the beets and carrots.

The rest that we ordered are flowers.

Muscari: aka Grape Hyacinth. I’ve wanted these since I was a kid! When we lived in Victoria, BC, they grew everywhere, like weeds. I loved them! We’ve ordered 2 packages of 100 bulbs.

The girls picked the rest.

Snow Crocus Collection: “This collection contains 105 bulbs including 25 Dorothy and 20 each of Blue Pearl, Tricolour, Snowbunting and Spring Beauty Snow Crocus.” Our plan is to mix these bulbs with the Muscari, then plant them randomly in the areas we have picked for them.

Double Tulip Collection: “This collection contains 58 bulbs, 8 of Black Hero, Pamplona & Vanilla Coup and 10 each of Pinksize, Orca and Brownie Double Tulips.” The girls aren’t big fans of the typical tulip shape, but they really love the more unusual shapes.

Speaking of unusual tulip shapes, definitely click on the next link!

Bulls Eye Tulip: We got 1 package of 8 bulbs of these. What an unusual tulip! I can hardly wait to see how they grow.

Eye of the Tiger Iris: They could have had so many punny names for this one… 😀 This one comes in a package of 15. We do have some irises in the flower garden the bird feeder stand is currently in. They’ve been there for as long as I can remember! Only 2 of them bloomed this year, and they were done so fast, my daughters never saw them!

Gardenia Daffodil: These come in a pack of 6, and quite different from the usual yellow daffodils I’m used to seeing. When we lived in a PMQ in Victoria, BC, there was a field between our duplex and the military hospital that was just filled with bright yellow daffodils. It should be interesting if these will have the same spreading habit!

And spreading is something we actually want, and they will be planted with that in mind. Especially for the muscari and crocuses. For those, we are hoping they will form a floral carpet to fill in areas between trees, so we don’t have to mow such awkward places.

For our zone, we expect these to be shipped to arrive in the second half of September, in time for immediate planting.

Looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Morning finds

We are back from our city shopping trip and stocked up with most of what we need. We will still have to make another trip to get the rest. After that, we should be set for the month, and anything we need, we can get locally.

I am hoping my mother’s car will be ready for pick up by this weekend. I made a doctor’s appointment for her – they’re actually seeing patients for physicals now, instead of only doing phone in appointments – next week, and it would be great to surprise her with her own car. 🙂

That, and her car has working air conditioning… 😉

Before we headed out, I did the morning rounds and, of course, checked on the picnic table that got scrubbed yesterday evening. Check out how different it looks from last night to this morning!

The first two pictures are before scrubbing, after scrubbing, and then the last one is after drying overnight. The wood looks so much lighter! I expected it to be more grey, just from aging.

It’s still quite damp in places, mostly where the wood is most rotten, so it’s a good thing we weren’t going to be able to paint it right away anyhow. We should be able to get to it, tomorrow (Thursday). There are predictions of rain on Friday (which would be great!), though. My daughter has a 10′ x 10′ canopy tent she used when doing art markets before the move. If we set that up, we can paint it and not have to worry about rain while it’s drying. The underside will get just one coat of paint, so if all goes well, we should be able to flip it and do the top on Saturday. Friday will likely be when we make our second trip to the city, so it should get plenty of time to dry.

I think after that trip, I will be more than done with being around so many people!!

Meanwhile, I had another find this morning, that was much less pleasant.

Some time after I came in from my rounds and was uploading trail cam files, the kittens trashed our dining table.

Last night, the girls discovered the cats had knocked one of our plant pots in the living room onto the carpet. The little jade tree in it was a rescue from previous cat damage! The girls vacuumed up the mess, then put the pot with the plant and remaining soil on the dining table to be dealt with in the morning. Instead, the cats dealt with it before we could. 😦

The table had a lot of other stuff on it, too. You know how it goes. Any flat surface must get covered with stuff! 😀

My husband discovered the mess. Everything on the table was covered in dirt! As soon as I got most of the stuff off the table, I then had to fight off kittens who kept jumping up onto it to play in the dirt! I was able to clean that up before we left. One of my daughters stayed home to work, so she was kind enough to clean up the mess that spilled onto the floor while we were gone.

Keeping the kittens out of the plants has been quite a battle. They just love dirt! I have a very large pot with several avocado seedlings growing in it, and Nicco in particular has been repeatedly caught curled up in the middle of it, sleeping! One of the seedlings now no longer has any leaves!

I am not impressed.

The Re-Farmer

Prepping the picnic table

If all goes to plan, by the time this post is published, I should be in the city with one of my daughters, doing half of our monthly shop. While going over our list, we realized we will have to split it into two trips.

Of the various outdoor projects we need to work on, I decided to start on the picnic table. It meant working in the shade, and with water, so being out shortly after the hottest part of the day would be less of an issue.

I had company.

Creamsicle tired himself out, rolling in the dirt where the picnic table has been for the past couple of summers. 🙂

We will be painting the picnic table a ridiculously bright blue that I found, but first, it needed to be scrubbed.

I started with the underside, since that required the most time. Here is how it looked before I started.

I had kinda hoped those white patches were old paint but, alas, they were not.

They were old, dry mold.

I spent the next while methodically scrubbing away everything but the underside of the table top.

Which revealed a fair bit, such as the state of these two legs.

There were rotten pieces that just sloughed off as I scrubbed.

I intend to paint the underside of the table, and especially the bottoms of the legs.

This old picnic table has a lot of rot on it, but it is still strong enough to sit at. The goal is to make it more pleasant to sit at, until such time as we can replace it. The paint may even add some years to it, but I don’t expect it to.

You can actually see the colour of the wood, now! 😀

At this point, I’ve scrubbed everything except the underside of the tabletop and only managed a cursory scrub of the few inches above it. Here, it became an issue of mobility. I don’t bend and reach very well anymore, which meant I needed to find a way to raise the whole thing higher.

The area I was working in is near the old garden shed, which is an area I was able to clean up of a lot of stuff, our first summer here. Among those things was a stack of what I eventually learned are chimney liners. They and the chimney blocks we are now using as a retaining wall/planters (with more in the basement) were intended to replace the crumbling chimney for the wood burning furnace.

They were acquired shortly after my parents bought the property. The chimney had needed replacing even then (about 50 years or so ago), but it just never happened!

So now I have the inserts stacked by the back of the house, waiting until I can figure out what to do with them.

So I grabbed three of them and set them up.

… after hosing off all the spiderwebs, first…

They were perfect. I wish I’d thought of using them earlier. It made things SO much easier on my back!

Here is the underside of the table top, with years of dirt and mold scrubbed away.

I can also see where some attempts had been made to strengthen and stabilize it. We had lived in a building my parents bought as an investment property in the “downtown” of our little hamlet, years ago. After many years of problem tenants costing them thousands in damages, they didn’t want to rent the house out anymore, so we lived there for a couple of years before moving out of province. While there, we got this picnic table for a whole $5. The municipality was replacing the picnic tables in public parks and selling off the old ones for next to nothing. So it was already old when we got it, but still in great shape. It just needed a paint job. Which we never got to do, before we left the province. So my late brother brought it to the farm. He is likely the one to add the angled braces supporting the middle board. That bar across the middle was an addition, too. It looks like a hole had been drilled though to support a shade umbrella, which is probably why the braces and support bar were added. Then there’s the other piece, with a lager hole drilled through it, to support an umbrella with a larger post. I’m pretty sure we have the umbrella that was used in there, stored in the sun room now. When we’re done painting, I plan to see if it fits.

Then it was time to flip it over.

I know my mother did make efforts to protect this from the elements. She’s the last person so have painted it, and she told me how she would cover it with a plastic table cloth over the winter, to protect the wood (she used thumbtacks to secure it, and some of them are still stuck in the wood!).

It has been a long time since anyone has done anything to protect it, since. She has been living where she is now for about six years, so it’s definitely been longer than that.

Long enough for lichen to start growing on it!

The top was a lot easier to scrub. 🙂

There was red paint at one corner of the table top, as well as the seat below. I suspect someone used the table to do something else, and made a mess on the table. Whatever kind of paint it was, parts of it actually dissolved and washed away with the water!

I had to use the hose almost constantly as I scrubbed. Otherwise, it all just sort of smeared. !! There was also debris packed into the spaces between some of the boards that not even the jet on the hose nozzle could blast out. Among the nearby junk around the old garden shed, I found some wire sturdy enough that I was able to get the debris loose and clear.

When we first got this table, it was a sort of reddish brown colour. I think the provincial parks department got some sort of deal on the paint because, for a while, all park benches and picnic tables were painted that same colour! There’s no sign of it now, though I can see that someone did paint it a different grey some time before my mother’s final coat of blue-grey.

So the table is now prepped for painting!

When they had a chance, the girls came out to see how it looked, then we flipped it upside down over the chimney inserts again. Since we’ve got at least 1 city shopping day to do first, it won’t be right away but, hopefully, it can be done before we go back to get the rest of what we need for the month.

Hhmm. I should probably pick up another paint brush or two. You never know. We might have more than one person available to work on it at the same time! 😀

Once it’s painted and ready, we’re thinking of setting it up near the fire pit. We will be making sure to pick up things we can cook over the fire, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to use the fire pit quite a few times this year. The picnic table will get some good use, once it’s no longer nasty to sit at! 😀

I’m really looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer