Babcia’s Bread Experiment, part 1: the story

I may have mentioned in past posts, about my mother’s memories of bread baking in pre-WWII Poland. I was fascinated by what she could tell me. With no commercial yeast available, I had thought my Babcia (grandmother) had used a sort of sourdough. I know my father remembers this; a portion of the bread dough would be set aside to continue to ferment, and be used in the next batch of bread.

My grandmother did something different. She allowed her old dough to dry.

We lost our own sourdough starter, the Sourceror this past summer. It almost made it to 2 years, but we had a real problem with fruit flies this year. Somehow, they managed to get into the container and contaminated it.

Having a big bubbling bowl on the counter has been a bit of a problem for other reasons, so the more I heard about how my Babcia saved her dough, the more I wanted to try it.

My mother’s memories go back to the late 1930’s, early 1940’s. Then WWII happened and they eventually ended up in Canada, where commercial yeast was available. After questioning her about it, this is what I’ve been able to piece together.

Babcia would bake bread once a week. She would set aside some of the dough, adding in the scrapings from the wooden dough bowl, form it into a ball, then burying the ball in the flour. The night before she would be baking bread again, she would take out the dried ball of dough, break it up into pieces, and soak it in water overnight. In would get all bubbly, and that would be her yeast for her bread baking, with the cycle continuing each time.

My basic bread recipe includes things like oil, sugar, eggs, milk… all things that I just couldn’t see handling sitting in a bag of flour for a week without going off. On questioning my mother, I learned Babcia used none of these things. It simply wasn’t available. Her bread was flour, water, a bit of salt, and the reconstituted old dough. That’s it.

The flour would have been flour they milled themselves (at least they did until the Nazi’s caught them using an illicit hand mill and destroyed it), using grain they grew themselves. My mother says corn flour was also sometimes used, which they also would have grown themselves. The ingredients may have been few, but my mother remembers it as being the best bread; especially when corn flour was added. She remembers it was light and fluffy, too.

My mother was too young at the time to remember a lot of details, though, so I did some research. I know that bread can be as basic as flour and water, but if salt is used, would that be a problem? I know that sugar feeds yeast, while salt retards it. How would having salt in the dough affect the old dough yeast cake? Also, how much dough was set aside? My mother remembers a “ball”, but as young as she was, her sense of how large that was would be distorted.

In my research, I found quite a bit about “old dough” bread baking. This gave me a lot of the information I was looking for. For some types of old dough baking, dough is set aside before the salt was added, while others were taken out after. Both work. As for how much was taken out, I eventually found a general “about the size of an egg” description.

What I didn’t find was anyone who used old dough that was stored in flour. Nor did I find any that stored the dough for weekly baking. Most described setting the old dough aside in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, at most. In some forums I found, people described using it in their daily baking. Not a single person described using their old dough the way my mother remembers her mother did it. They all used wet dough. None used reconstituted dry dough.

I have decided, instead of getting a sourdough going again (for now), I will try and recreate my Babcia’s bread.

Of course, some things I will simply not be able to recreate; at least not now. We’ll be using plain old AP flour. I won’t be adding corn flour right away. I don’t have a big wooden dough bowl like my Babcia would have had (with a wooden dough bowl, yeast would have gotten into the wood itself, adding its own layer of flavours). I also don’t have a wood burning masonry stove (something similar to this, with a sleeping area on top) like my grandmother would have been baking in.

I found some proportions for ingredients for 2 loaves that I will start with, and I will probably experiment with making some a couple of times a week before I start adjusting quantities for larger batches.

One of the main differences in this experimental process is that I don’t have a yeast “mother.” My mother has no memory of where her mother got hers from. It was always just there. She may well have gotten her first old dough from the family members she was living with (my great grandparents having already gone to Canada to start a homestead, only to not be able to send for their children as they had planned, because of WWI). However, as they saw the warning signs leading to WWII, they abandoned their farm in Eastern Poland, taking nothing but the clothes on their backs and a goat they could milk for food, to settle in Western Poland. At that point, my grandmother likely got another old dough ball from one of their new neighbours.

It’s amazing how much history is intertwined in something so ordinary as how my grandmother leavened her bread!

So this is what I will be doing in my experiment that will possibly span years.

Today, I have started a first batch of plain bread; it’s rising as I write this, and I will post about it separately when it’s done.

I will be using a commercial “sourdough” yeast I happened to find, in this first batch.

After the dough is risen and before I shape it into loaves, I will break off some of the dough and store it in a container of flour, then bake the rest of the dough as usual.

In a few days, I’ll reconstitute what should be a mostly dried ball of dough overnight, make another 2 loaf batch, then continue repeating the process.

What should happen: the flavour of the bread should change and develop over time, just as with a sourdough.

What might happen: I’ll have sucky bread that doesn’t rise properly? The dough ball will start molding? The yeast will die off and I’ll have to start over? I have no idea.

For the first few months, at least, I will stick to the same basic mix of flour, water, salt and the old dough for yeast. Eventually, I will try adding corn flour. If I do decide to modify the recipe in other ways, it will be by doing things like kneading in herbs or shredded cheese or whatever, after the dough ball has been removed. I won’t be adding things to the base recipe, like sugar, milk, oil or eggs.

After I’ve done a few batches, and assuming this works, I plan to give some to my mother to taste. Hopefully, she will remember enough to be able to tell me if I’ve succeeded or not! 😀

The Re-Farmer

This year’s decorations start: dehydrated orange slices

For many years, I would craft new decorations for our Christmas tree. It was a good opportunity to use small projects to try out new techniques and ideas. Our tree is basically a mad chaos of different styles and materials, and I love it!

Life got in the way, and I stopped doing this for many years. I was able to do a few last year, and I’m hoping to be able to continue this yearly tradition.

With so many cats in the house, though, we’re going to have a much smaller tree, set high off the ground! We’re still trying to figure out how to manage that, but the cats have inspired ideas for this year’s decorations.

Cats are supposed to not like citrus, so I will be using dried orange slices as the foundation of the decorations.

Last night, I sliced two naval oranges and laid them out on a rack in a baking pan. I set our oven to “warm” (170F) and left them overnight. I did have the opportunity to turn them a couple of times, since I was up anyway, investigating the crashing and banging that woke me up (I found Layendecker on the fridge, and a decorative jar with seashells on it was on the floor in the dining room; I’ll have to figure out how to remove the broken seashells to replace them. 😦 ).

This morning, one of my daughters took a dried slice and showed it to some cats.

I don’t think they’re going to work as cat repellent! 😀

I plan to include cinnamon sticks in the decorations, too – something else that cats are supposed to not like. I don’t think it’ll help, since in the past, we’ve had cats try and steal our cinnamon apple dough decorations, right off the tree!

Well, even if it doesn’t work, we’ll have new decorations for the tree this year! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Well, that didn’t work out

Today was the day I was to finally face our vandal in court, in regards to the restraining order I’ve filed against him.

Nothing came of it.

The court date was cancelled.

I didn’t know that, of course, so I did my rounds early and made the drive out. We’ve had some snow last night, making the roads unpleasant, to that took a bit longer than expected. I’m glad I left as early as I did, but was wishing I’d left even earlier as I got stuck behind slow moving traffic!

I’d say my first warning that things were off was when I walked into the building, and there were no security guards in the lobby at the doors. In fact, aside from one person I saw going to the court office, the place was a ghost town!

I went down the hall to where the courtroom was, only to discover there were two of them, and nothing to tell me which was going to be used. Among all the Covid signs for distancing and sanitizing (oddly, nothing about masks, though we are under a mandate) I found some giving instructions to wait in the hall until one’s particular case was called, but that was it.

As I sat and waited, another group of people came down the hall, asking each other which court room they needed to go to. They eventually sat and waited, too. I didn’t pay much attention to them until I heard one of them coming back down the hall, saying “there’s no court!” They all left at that point, but it wasn’t 10:00 yet (the time court was scheduled for), so I waited until it was past 10, then headed for the lobby.

I could see into the court office, where someone was being served, and another person was waiting in the lobby, so I went back and forth between the two for a while.

Perhaps 20 minutes had passed by then. The longest time I’ve worn the face shield, and I was starting to struggle to breathe.

Short of breath

This really surprised me, and I tried to ignore it for a while, just lifting the shield a bit to breathe from under it every now and then, but it kept getting worse.

(image source)

Eventually, it was my turn to go into the court office, and I asked about what was going on.

All court dates have been rescheduled to Dec. 18.

Well; I guess I should say court sessions will restart then, because there is no way weeks worth of court appointments will happen on one day. I’m going to have to call them to find out what the rescheduled date will be.

While our province has been under “code red” lockdown for about a week now, this morning “enhanced restrictions” kicked in. I’m guessing that’s why court was cancelled, though no reason for it was given.

As we talked, she had to step away to double check for some of the questions, and I was increasingly struggling to breathe. Once I got answers about the court date, I asked about my options in regards to serving our vandal my defense papers for the suit he’s brought against me. I’d checked the tracking number last night, and it hadn’t been picked up yet. What do I do if he refuses to accept it? She had to get someone else to answer me, because she didn’t know, and that person was on the phone. So I sat and waited about a minute.

By the time she got to me, I was so short of breath, I could hardly speak. I quickly got my answer (if he refused it, the post office would return it it me, and I’d have to serve him in person), I rushed outside and tore the mask off.

I could not believe how much trouble I was having! My breathing wasn’t obstructed at all, yet I was struggling!

I walked the block to the van and ended up sitting there for maybe 10 minutes, with the window cracked open, because I was too dizzy to safely drive.

Why was I having to much trouble??? All I could think was that, as I was sitting with the shield on, I spent much of the time looking down at my phone. The shield was right against my chest while my head was down, which probably prevented proper air flow.

Since I was in this city, I had some shopping to do, I stopped at the small Walmart that was on my way home. I figured I would have no issues, since I would be upright and walking around.

I will say that, while everyone around me was wearing masks, I had zero issues from anyone about wearing a shield. No hassles at all.

With the “enhanced lock down”, all sorts of aisles of “non essentials” were blocked, displayed wrapped up in plastic, and other displays had signs saying “not for sale”.

I was able to get the cat litter and bird seed I needed, then went through the groceries. I had a hard time finding some things, so it took a while.

By the time I was heading for the cash desk, I was struggling again, light headed and using the cart to stay upright. There was no line, though the cashiers had customers, so I didn’t have long to wait before I was guided to one that was almost done. I was so out of it, I walked right past the “stand here” line on the floor until another staff member let me know. I think the first staff member saw I was having a hard time, and let me know I could go to a different cashier, where the customer was faster at paying. I got my stuff paid for, rushed outside and removed the shield as soon as I could.

Promptly breathing a lung full of cigarette smoke, from a group of people smoking nearby.


It still wasn’t as bad as trying to breathe with the shield.

I got to the van and spent some time outside, bagging my stuff (I don’t bother bringing bags in, since I can bag things better myself at the van). It was enough time that I was able to recover.

I am totally blown away by how much trouble I had. This was not at all expected.

As I’m finishing this up, I still need to head out to pick up my husband’s prescription refills. From the pharmacy that will no longer let me in, even with a shield.

And now I know even a shield is a problem for me, at least after a while.

This is so ridiculous.

The Re-Farmer

Garden plans for 2021

Yes, it’s only the middle of November, but the girls and I are already planning for next year’s gardening.

We learned a lot in our first year of gardening here, and will be using that information as we expand our food growing.

We have several goals and things we keep in mind when deciding what to order. First is keeping in line with our long term goal to be as self sufficient as possible. The other is to take advantage of being able to grow our own food by growing things we either can’t normally buy in the grocery store (either due to lack of availability, or poor quality in stores), or because they tend to be more expensive, or “treat” items, that we typically can’t justify spending our limited budget on. Both of these goals also allows us to go a bit wild in what we grow! 🙂

With that in mind, I’ve already placed and order with Rare Heirlooom Seeds. It’s a small order; some of the things I would have bought were out of stock while, with others, we will go through the wish list to pick and choose. Here is what I’ve got ordered right now.

Giant Rattle Breadseed Poppy. I was really excited to see this new item! These are very much like the poppies I remember my mother growing, when I was a kid. I used to love eating the seeds right out of the dried poppy pods. She grew enough to make the filling for poppy seed rolls, which uses a LOT of seeds! Poppy seeds are something I love, but buy very rarely. If we have our own, I would certainly be using them every chance I get!

Longue Rouge Sang Carrot. I’ll be honest. I selected these just for the colours.

Kyoto Red Carrot. This is one I ended up choosing based on comments other customers left behind. It’s described as a “winter carrot”, which obviously isn’t a thing in our climate. Several people had complained about not being able to grow it well in their warmer zones. Then someone in a zone 3 – the same as us! – said they grew it as a summer carrot and it thrived. Awesome!

Strawberry Spinach. This is something I’ve actually tried to grow before, in containers on our balcony, years ago. We had limited success, largely due to weather conditions. What little we got, I liked, so I want to try them again. Both the leaves and the berries are edible, so that’s bonus, too!

Dorinny Sweet corn. I hemmed and hawed quite a bit about growing corn yet, but I decided to just go for it. This variety is from a Canadian hybrid, so it should be quite hardy to our growing zone.

Montana Morado Corn. This one falls into the “go wild” category! I chose it partly because it is a cold hardy variety, but mostly because of the amazing colour. It is also a variety that can be milled into flour; something we have included in our mid term plans. We just have to acquire a hand mill. Once we do, we will be looking into planting grains as well as corn, specifically for milling.

Other things we plan to get from this site are giant sunflowers, plus a variety of sunflowers that can also be used to make a purple-grey dye.

We’ve also got a substantial wishlist going at Veseys, which is where we got almost everything we planted last year. Those will be ordered later in the season, as their new catalogs include promo codes for discounts. With how much we plan to order, we’re going to need a discount!

This past year, one of the things we really loved about having the garden, was being able to pick and eat our own produce, daily.

As great as it was to have fresh produce all summer, there wasn’t much left over for the winter. This time, we will focus more on things we can process (the pickled summer squash was a huge hit for our family), as well as things that can be kept in the root cellar for long periods.

So for sure, we will be re-ordering the summer squash mix, with an extra packet of sunburst squash again, to go with the carrots and cucamelons (I have cucamelon tubers from this past summer, but will likely get more seeds, too).

We plan to get a variety of winter squash, with a focus on those that store well. Winter squash is something I almost never buy in stores. This will include small eating pumpkins (rather than the more popular carving pumpkins).

This time, we know to use 3 or 4 inch pots to start our seeds indoors, and to start them earlier. Maybe even get a warming mat. Some of our seeds took forever to germinate (especially the birdhouse gourds!), while others germinated fine, but outgrew their Jiffy pellets before the weather allowed for transplanting.

With potatoes, we decided to get the same amount of Yukon Gem potatoes as before (6 pounds of seed potatoes), but also get other varieties. If all goes to plan, we’ll be planting 4 varieties, including two that are noted as being good for winter storage. For these, we’re thinking of using grow bags or pots, to try and keep out the grublins that chewed holes in our potatoes.

We might get more varieties of corn, as well. We will be getting a collection of peas in 3 varieties. Peas right out of the pod are the best! A 3 variety collection of bush beans is also on the list. I love fresh beans, but in stores, they are among those things that always look a bit iffy. Eventually, we will get beans for drying, but not quite yet.

If we can figure out how to protect them from the deer, we will be getting the same collection of beets as we did before, too. A spinach collection (three varieties, each maturing one after the other) is also on the list.

We will be getting at least one more variety of carrots. We will very likely pick up a 3 variety pack of raspberry canes, too. These produce in their second years, so they will be for 2022’s garden. We’ve also been looking and onion and shallot varieties, focusing on those best for storage.

We’re looking at starting to get more trees and bushes, too. There are blueberry varieties that are suitable for our climate. Of course, we want more haskap berries. What I thought were gooseberries here turned out to be currants, so gooseberry bushes would be good to get, too. We’re also looking at mulberry, apple, plum and pear trees. All of these take at least a couple of years before they start producing, so the sooner we start planting them, the better. We will likely get fruit and nut tress from Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery. It’s one of the few places I’ve found that has cold hardy food trees suitable for our zone.

There is an extra purpose to all this planning ahead so early. We had plans we weren’t able to follow through on for last summer’s garden, in regards to trellises and other supports. Once we know what we are going to plant, and figure out where, we can use the winter months to accumulate any materials we need to buy (like cattle panels, rebar or rebar grid, tie wire and other fasteners, etc.). Most of what we want to build, we can use materials salvaged from around the property, but there will always be a few things we’ll have to buy.

With that in mind, I now have a tighter goal for cleaning up the spruce grove – something that is already behind “schedule” of our original timeline by a couple of years! We have a lot of tall, springy poplars that I want to clear out, and they will be used to build upright trellises, A frames, arbors, and more. We’re also looking to build squash tunnels. The beds we have where we planted squash last year looks like they will be permanent gardening areas, so I would like to start building up raised beds there. The walls for these can double as supports for any arches we add. Plus, I’m going to see if I can start taking down more of the dead spruces that are further from the house and garage (the ones closer will be taken down by professionals!). The wood might be usable for various projects. However, as we clear out the dead wood and open up the ground to sunlight, this will give us space were we can plant fruit trees that require extra protection from the elements.

We’ll have a lot of work ahead of us!

I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Recipe: Mushroom, Bacon Haluski

Today, I bring to you a variation of the traditional Polish dish called haluski. You can go here for a traditional recipe with some common variations. The link will open in a new tab, so you won’t lose your place. 🙂

Oddly, though my parents were both born in Poland, and I grew up with a lot of traditional Polish foods, haluski was not one of them. Mind you, when I was a kid, I hated cabbage and probably wouldn’t have eaten it if my mother did make some! Even so, my parents also took us to Polish celebrations and events in the city, and I have no memory of this dish. I did not discover it existed until within the past year or so, while looking up things to do with cabbage!

Of the recipes I found, the most basic is onion, cabbage, noodles, and a lot of butter. Some include bacon, kielbasa or a variety of cured meats, like pancetta. I tried making it with bacon, and we liked it enough that it has since become a fairly regular dish in our household. My husband is not too keen on cabbage, though. 😉

This time, I decided to experiment with the recipe, and I am very happy with the result. The plain egg noodles were replaced with mushroom egg noodles and, because I still had some left, I included dried mushrooms as well.

The dried mushrooms are a mix of white button mushrooms, crimini and shiitake mushrooms.

The next time we dry mushrooms, we need to do a whole lot more! 😀

The noodles I used are a brand that is easily found in our area, usually in its own little display. They are made with 2% porcini mushroom granules.

While preparing the noodles according to package instructions, I chopped the cabbage and onions, cut the bacon into small pieces, and set the dried mushrooms to reconstitute in boiling water. If I were using fresh mushrooms, I would have just sliced them.

Not pictured is the butter and seasonings. The seasonings can be just salt and pepper. As I still have some left, I used mushroom salt, as well as freshly ground pepper, garlic granules and paprika. Fresh garlic can be used instead of the granules, adding them in just before the cabbage.

The bacon pieces were added to a large pot and fried until they started getting crispy. The bacon fat is used in place of butter at this point.

Then the onions were added and, after they had softened a bit, the reconstituted mushrooms were added. The liquid was included, too, which helped deglaze the pot. The seasonings were also added at this point.

Where I using fresh mushrooms, I would have added them to the bacon before the onions.

Next, the cabbage was added, along with a dollop of butter, and cooked until soft.

By the time the cabbage was ready, the noodles were cooked and drained.

The cooked noodles were then mixed in, along with another dollop of butter.

Here is the end result, sprinkled with dehydrated parsley from our garden.

The mushrooms and mushroom noodles were a very tasty modification to this traditional dish. The flavour they add is not overpowering, but there is a whole new layer of umami in the dish that works very well! I think it would have done nicely with a dollop of sour cream on top, too.

Here is the recipe! If you give it a try, I hope you come back to let me know how you like it. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Mushroom, Bacon Haluski
serves 4, generously


1 medium cabbage
1 medium yellow cooking onion
1 package bacon slices, 500g
1 package mushroom egg noodles, 350g
1/3 cup dried mushrooms of choice
seasonings to taste (mushroom salt, pepper, paprika and garlic granules were used for this recipe)
butter, as needed


  • remove outer leaves from cabbage, core and chop into pieces about the same size as the noodles
  • chop onion and slice bacon into roughly half-inch pieces
  • line a small bowl with a coffee filter. Add the dried mushrooms, breaking up any larger pieces, and cover with boiling water
  • cook noodles according to package directions
  • while the noodles are being prepared, place the bacon pieces into a large pot. Cook on medium high heat until desired crispness, stirring frequently
  • add chopped onion and cook until the onion begins to turn translucent, stirring frequently
  • add the reconstituted mushrooms (the coffee filter makes it easier to pick them up out of the liquid). Cook briefly, then add the liquid the mushrooms were soaking in. Stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot.
  • add seasonings. Continue cooking, stirring often, until onions are soft and the liquid is cooked down until almost gone
  • add the chopped cabbage, along with about 1/4 cup butter (adjust quantities of butter as needed). Combine well and continue cooking, stirring often, until cabbage is at desired tenderness
  • add cooked and drained noodles to the cabbage mixture, adding more butter as desired
  • combine well. Cook until the noodles are heated through.
  • serve while hot



The kittens have been pushing the limits on things they’re not allowed to do.

Like go into our plant pots.

The problem is, if we’re not in the room, there isn’t much we can do about it!

I have a large, self watering pot that had 5 avocados that I’ve managed to grow to a decent size, until one of the kittens decided she liked it as a bed. We even tried putting Duct tape, with the sticky side up, to try and stop them, but that only lasted as long as the tape was sticky!

Today, we discovered a cat had dug deep into the pot, scattering dirt everywhere.

This is not what I had in mind when I bought the hardware cloth.

There is 1 avocado and a stick left in the pot. Whatever cat did the damage had dug down enough that I could see the stick still has live roots under it, so it might actually sprout leaves again. The other one has lots of leaves with tooth marks in them, but it has managed to survive. Hopefully, it will still survive this latest feline attack!

Unfortunately, this is not the only plant they dig in, but it’s the only one I can protect with a cage like this. Along with the avocado pot, I found a pile of dirt on the carpet under the umbrella tree. After the messes were cleaned up, I went into the living room not long after and found a new pile of soil from the umbrella tree, sitting on the shelf beside it.


The worst are the jade trees. We have a lot of those. The leaves are toxic to cats. They don’t eat them, but they do like to bite the leaves off the plant, then chase them around the house. They break off pieces of aloe vera, too. My younger daughter has her orchids in kokedama hanging in windows, and the kittens have been trying to get at them, too!

We have a spray bottle handy for when we catch them doing stuff, but several of the kittens have decided they don’t mind being sprayed with water at all, and just sit there, looking at us, while getting soaked! 😀

How do you keep cats from getting into things, when you’re not there?

This has put us into an interesting conundrum.

What are we going to do for a Christmas tree? There’s no way we can use our usual 6 ft artificial tree. We’ve decided to use my daughter’s 4 ft Ikea tree, and see if we can put it on something higher, and have some sort of guard to prevent cats from getting up to it. Except we don’t really have anything like that. Whatever we figure out, our usual custom is to put the tree up, with nothing on it, for quite a while before decorating it, so we can train the cats to stay out of it. That has worked before, but we haven’t had so many cats in the house before.

This would be a time to have one of those trees that hang from the ceiling! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Got it done

What a gorgeous morning today, while I was doing my rounds! The ground looked like it was covered in frost, but it wasn’t frost. We were having an ever so slight snowfall, and it was making the very air glitter and sparkle!

I couldn’t resist trying for some shots of snowflakes on spruce needles. My phone can take some very good photos, but it doesn’t do zoom very well. Unfortunately, zooming in was the only way I could get right in there without creating a shadow. This one turned out pretty good, though!

I waited until shortly after noon before heading out to the court office to file my defense against the lawsuit our vandal has made against us. Well. Not “us”. Just me. Which I’m good with. I doubt he even remembers the names of the rest of my family well enough to spell them.

The last couple of times I was there, I had some minor issues with the mask mandate. The first time, there was no one in the lobby, and I just told the clerk in the office that I was medically exempt. The second time, there was a pair of sheriffs on duty and, while my exemption was accepted, the guy I spoke to clearly didn’t believe me. So this time, I put my face shield on before going in, just in case, even though I shouldn’t have to wear even that. The mandates say nothing about face shields.

There were no sheriffs in the lobby this time. I am pretty sure this is because court is in session only in the mornings. The chairs were even back in the lobby!

There was already someone in the office, and someone else in a chair (three chairs, right next to each other… no attempt at physical distancing at all!). It was an older gentleman, filling out some paperwork, with his mask under his nose. 😀 I took advantage of the wait and made a quick dash to the bathroom. When I came out, the first guy in the chair was in the office, and there was a different older gentleman sitting in one of the other chairs, filling out paperwork, with his mask under his chin.

It looks like the court office is being more reasonable about things.

When it was my turn to go in, the clerk seemed to do a double take when she saw me, but said absolutely nothing about my shield. I think she just didn’t expect it. The face shield is shielding me more from being hassled, than anything else!

I had pretty much everything ready before I came in, so all I needed to do was sign and date the form in front of her. She double checked everything was in order, did her own stamping, dating and so on. It took hardly any time at all, even with her having to disappear in the back to check on things. She apologized, explaining that she was still new to the job and wanted to make sure of things. Which was just fine by me! Then she made a couple of copies; one for me and one for me to serve our vandal with. She also gave me a declaration of service form. We talked a bit about that, because I wasn’t quite sure how I was to do that. Since I plan to serve via registered mail, I just need to keep an eye on the tracking number online. Once it shows that our vandal has signed for it, I can fill out the form (I should be able to print out proof of pick up), then go back and file it.

This is for a February teleconference court date. I have my own court date with him in 4 days, and that will be in person. It looks like I’ll be going to that building 3 times in one week. I suppose I could file the declaration of service on the same day as court, but I wouldn’t want to wait that long if he, say, picked it up tomorrow (which is not assured; we drive in to get our mail only once or twice a week, and I think that’s pretty common out here). Plus, I know that once the court session is done, I’m unlikely to have the sanity points to deal with anything else! I expect him to fight the restraining order, of course. Likely, that will mean a trial date will be set. However, the judge may decide to make a decision right then and there, too. Considering the type of restraining order I am applying for includes “fear of property damage”, which he has already done, there is no ambiguity for my concerns on that part, so it is a real possibility. It would certainly save the court time.

It’s unlikely but, after seeing my defense, it’s entirely possible he’ll drop the suit against me. Especially with the list of things my brother could potentially sue him for, topping an estimated $45,000. Replacement value would easily double, possibly even triple, that amount. The fact that he was already given the opportunity to remove anything he could prove was his, more than 2 years ago, is probably all a judge would need to throw it out.

Ah, well. It will be what it will be.

I’d come prepared with an envelope, so as soon as I was done at the court office, I got our vandal’s copy ready and went to the post office to mail it. I’ve already checked the tracking number, and can tell that all the postmaster had to do was print out a pick up card and tuck it into his mail box. I had some concern that it would have to be sent to the city for processing, first! 😀 Actually, I had more concern that I might run into him at the post office, which has happened before.

I am sorry that this has all had to get to the level of the courts, but now that it has, I really hope this will finally put a stop to the things he’s been doing. A restraining order is just a piece of paper, but it’s better than nothing, and gives the police more authority to act, if he does something stupid again.

All we can do it take it one step at a time.

The Re-Farmer


Three years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, we finally made it. My older daughter and I, with our two cats, a couple of fish, and the van stuffed with plants and as much more as we could squeeze in, arrived here at the farm. We were finally reunited with my husband and younger daughter.

It would be several more weeks before we could get the house cleared up enough for our own stuff to be brought by the movers, with all the disaster they wrought in the process.

It was a brutal move.

Things have not gone to plan. Nothing ever does! However, we’ve managed to meet, or at least progress on, a number of goals. My husband ending up in the hospital with a heart condition last year threw quite a few things off, but he is still with us, and that’s the main thing. Of course, we never dreamed we’d have such a mess with our own personal vandal (the list of things he’s taken from from here over the years now tops $45,000 in estimated value, and it’s still just what my brother can be sure of!). The deal we had with our mother to take care of the farm is now with my brother, and it has been quite mutually beneficial.

Among our goals, we want to slowly get ourselves as self-sufficient as possible. Being able to garden this year was a major step forward in meeting that goal. It just happened to also be a year when absolutely everyone who could, decided to grow their own pandemic gardens! It did make it a bit harder to find some things, but overall, we did all right.

Little by little, we’re moving forward in our plans. Looking at the list of stuff that disappeared has had me thinking of just how much further forward we could be, if we had all those tools, equipment and supplies to use! Ah, well. It is what it is. We have had to get creative, and I’m looking forward to some of the projects we’ve got in mind for the next few years.

Looking ahead, we will be slowly expanding our gardening; I will probably continue to focus more on the vegetable gardening, while my daughters will focus more on flowers. We hope to be able to plant a nut orchard as soon as we can, since the trees will take so long to mature and produce. Berry bushes and fruit trees are also on the list. My goal of clearing out the spruce grove continues, though I will have to divide that with working on the outer yard more. There are things that need to be done there that really shouldn’t wait, some of which I’ve already started on. Hopefully, we will be able to expand our gardening to the outer yard, where there is more direct sunshine, and at some point set up some poly-tunnels or greenhouses.

There is still a lot to clean up, repair and replace. We still have to figure out how to come up with the money for a new roof. Though there is much more renovation that needs to be done, none of that matters very much if we don’t get the roof done!

We still plan to build a cordwood shed that will be an outdoor bathroom with composting toilet. As much as we need a second bathroom in the house, if we have another disaster with the septic like we had earlier this year, we need a back up, and the old outhouse we’ve got now isn’t really usable. I’d be worried someone would fall through the floor!

There have certainly been challenges, and of course there will be more. In the end, however, I still think moving out here was the right decision for us. Especially with all that’s been going on this year. I don’t even want to think about what things would have been like, if we were still living in the heart of the city right now! It was stressful enough, even before the world went crazy with Covid. Still living in the city through all this would have been disastrous for my husband’s health – and that’s without getting the virus! For all the unexpected difficulties, living here has still given us an oasis of relative peace from the world, and I am grateful for it.

Here’s to another year of moving forward!

The Re-Farmer

That’s convenient, and sooo tired!

With feeding the critters outside, I needed a good, sturdy scoop to hold the cat kibble, deer feed or bird seed. At first, we tried re-purposing the gallon plastic jugs from distilled water. They’re basically the same that milk comes in. We would just cut the bottom off to form a scoop and, with the cap on, the jug itself became the carrying vessel.

The plastic, however, was too flimsy and bendy. I believe it was my husband who first cut the bottom off of an empty popcorn container from Costco. The plastic is much stronger, and even the handle is a better shape. Very convenient!

There is something else that’s convenient.

When we fixed up the old platform bird feeder, I’d taken off the rotten seed platform, but left the supports. I figured I might add another platform in the future, but as soon as it was set back up, the birds started using the supports to perch on. Being so handy for the birds, they’ll be left as is.

Which is working out for me, too.

After refilling the new bird feeder, I need to hands to be able to put it back on the hook.

The supports are the perfect width and height to hold my scoop for me while I hang the feeder! LOL

Also, while doing my rounds, I couldn’t resist getting a picture of this clump of trees by the barn.

They are just so tired!

I know. Lame. I couldn’t help myself! 😀

The Re-Farmer

A new day

Today dawned a beautifully sunny, bitterly cold day. It doesn’t take much for the wind chill to bring a -12C (10F) morning to -22C (-7F)! It was good to get outside, though, where a whole crowd of furry adorableness was out waiting for me.

I didn’t post yesterday, other than the critter of the day photo, and I’m still debating where I should write about it at all. I generally try to focus on the things we do and find around the property, but this blog is also about our transition to life out here, and the things we deal with. Obviously, there are things I’ll never write about in a public blog, even anonymously, but I do try to cover what I can, as openly as possible. The good and the bad.

Yesterday was both.

Yesterday is also the first time it brought me to tears.

Believe me. It takes a lot to get me to that point.

The first tears were tears of … how do I even describe it? Humiliation? Frustration, to be sure. Emotional pain. Even a sense of betrayal.

My husband needed a prescription refill. The pharmacy was closed on Remembrance Day, so he ended up calling it in on the first day of our province locking things down again. They’re also pushing the mask mandates even harder, despite all evidence showing that it’s not actually accomplishing anything. Pretty much everyone is complying, but the test positivity numbers continue to go up, as we work our way through flu season.

My husband forgot to ask the pharmacy about my medical exemption. I’ve never had a problem there before. I’ve always used the sanitizer, kept my distance, but have never worn a mask, and they have never said a thing about it. However, after what happened while in a pharmacy with my mother, I figured I should ask first.

Maybe I shouldn’t have. Would it have been any different, if I just came in, as usual?

I called the pharmacy and asked if they would still honour my medical exemption. I did add that I now have a shield.

At first, the pharmacist I spoke to said yes, of course. He even joked that I might have to wrestle my way in, but added that I just needed to explain to whomever was at the door. That was a relief.

I got a call back less than a minute later.

The pharmacist had just been told that no, even with a shield, I could not come in.

This really threw me. I didn’t really get a chance to respond, as he was already offering delivery, which we can’t do because we don’t have a credit card, and debit Visa is not an alternative they can do. He said they could bring the prescription to me in the parking lot and asked if I were paying by cash. I told him by debit. It turned out they did have a wireless debit machine, so I could pay in the parking lot. I told him I had other things I needed to get, so I was transferred so floor staff. Thankfully, I already had made a list. Usually, I just go by memory.

By the time the staff member finished getting what was on my list, I was was in tears. I did make a point of telling her I had a problem with having to do this, how humiliating it was, and yeah, she could certainly hear I was crying by then.

Here’s the thing. If they offered this as a service, which I knew they already did, for anyone who chose it, that is simply good customer service. The problem is that, for someone like myself, who cannot wear a mask, there is no choice. We are simply banned. There’s a whole list of things that we can still do. Masking is the last thing recommended, and only in specific situations, and the mandates have several exemptions. Yet, outside of websites and pdfs, it’s the other way around. Masks have become the end all-be all, and if anyone has a problem with them, they become pariahs. Even as the mandates allow for medical exemptions, people insist that there is no medical reason to not wear a mask, or that it’s just for a short time, so wear it anyway. I know people who are wheelchair users that can walk short distances. It would be like telling them that, since they can walk at least a little bit, they have to leave their wheelchairs outside. Or worse, that if they can walk at all, they shouldn’t be allowed to use a wheelchair. Or they should just stay home. It’s the exact same sort of discrimination.


The other place I needed to go to was the grocery store, so I pulled myself together and phoned them, too.

Will they still honour my medical exemption? I do have a shield I can wear.

Of course, was the response. Everyone does!

I told the woman I was talking to that the pharmacy would not let me in, even with a shield. She was stunned, but went to double check, just in case. She came back to assure me that I would have no problem.

I was crying again as I thanked her, this time in gratitude.

When I got to town, my first stop was the pharmacy. I called from the parking lot to let them know I was there, and two people came out with my stuff. I recognized the manager was one of them, simply because he was male and not a pharmacist; all the other staff are female. Most of the pharmacists are, too. There was a cashier with him, and I think I recognized her by her hair. They put my stuff in the van, behind my seat, for me. The manager commented that this was the first time their wireless debit machine had ever been used. The cashier was there to be trained on it.

Oh, the irony.

Because my purchase was over $100, tap wouldn’t work, so he had to hand me the machine. The cashier had the till receipt, so after they got the printout from the handheld machine, she put them together and handed me both.

I came into physical contact with both of them in the process. I would have had less physical contact with anyone, had I gone into the store.

That done, I decided to fill my tank before going into the grocery store. Normally, I go in to pay, and usually pick up some cheap energy drinks for the cooler in the van in the process.

I paid at the pump, instead.

I’ve never had a problem there before, either. At least not from the staff. I just didn’t have the energy to find out if things had changed.

At the grocery store, nothing had changed. I did wear the shield. It keeps hitting my chest and shoulders as I move around and, having put it on in the van, the wind almost blew it off as I walked to the store. It was when I coughed that the sense of irony hit me again. My chronic cough is what wearing a mask exacerbates. Usually, I cough into my sleeve or shoulder, never my hand but with the shield on, I coughed into my hand before I even realized what I was doing. :-/

As I was finishing up with my groceries, I made a point of telling the cashier how much I appreciated that they honoured medical exemptions. Like the woman I spoke to on the phone, she sounded surprised that anyone wouldn’t. I told her about the pharmacy, that the hardware store next door had kicked me out the previous week, and of the pharmacy in my mother’s town kicking me out. She could hardly believe it. The mandate has exemptions, and everyone is supposed to honour them. She was so surprised by the places I’d mentioned.

By the time I got home, I was pretty drained. It didn’t help when I was on my personal Facebook page. A friend of mine, who works at the gas station where I paid at the pump instead of going in, had posted about people not wearing masks. She talked about people being a**holes about it and giving her a hard time, and if that were the only point, I would have been completely in agreement with her. Staff are supposed to tell people about the mandate, and shouldn’t be hassled for it. Instead, she started attacking people for not wearing masks, and making digs about people buying cigarettes but not being willing to wear a mask for 5 minutes. When I tried to point out medical exemptions can include all sorts of things, it basically came down to, if she had to wear a mask, everyone else should, too. The next thing I knew, I was the subject of an onslaught of personal attacks. I actually had to get off the computer soon after and haven’t been back to Facebook since, but it was bad enough that a mutual friend messaged me privately, telling me how sorry she was to see me being bullied so badly. I’m loathe to log on again, but she did try to defend me, which means she was probably targeted, too, so I would want to come to her defense.


I have long been against the covering of faces in general (other than the obvious exceptions, like protecting your face from the weather), whether it be protestors wearing masks, or burkas or whatever. One of the biggest reasons is psychological. Hiding our faces dehumanizes us, even if only subconsciously. It creates a mental, as well as physical, barrier between people. And when we no longer see others as people, even the most gentle of people can become quite cruel, and believe themselves completely justified for it. With so many people hidden behind masks now, my observations have been verified, over and over, and the psychological damage is even worse than I’d originally believed.

How can we ever heal from this? Especially with so many people trying to convince everyone that masking should become permanent, so we should all just get used to it?

The “cure” is becoming so much worse than the disease.

The Re-Farmer