Well, it was bound to happen some time!

While heading out to do the food and water for the kitties outside, I discovered the heated water bowl.

Frozen solid.

A quick glance through the entry, and I found the cord wasn’t just knocked loose from the outlet, but the hook I put in to hold the cord and keep the cats from knocking the plug loose.

Which meant I needed to lift the roof.


At least it happened on a warmer day, and not when we had our deep freezes!

I could take the weight of the snow off, easily enough, but there’s nothing I could do about the ice. The roof was much heavier to lift, because of it. For me to lift the weight is not the issue. The problem is that, as I lift it, I can hear the dry old wood the roof is made up, creaking and cracking. Thank God we found a way to put on a counterweight. The beam it’s attached to runs the length of the roof, so it takes a lot of that strain off.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to shovel under the counterweight after moving the milk crates that support it. The roof was just barely open enough for the centre of balance to keep it from dropping right back down again.

As you can imagine, I got that heated water bowl plugged in as quickly as I could!

Then the snow had to cleared to the ground, so I could put the crates back under. The brick is tied off so that the crates support it’s full weight, without having to lift it more than the few millimeters needed to clear the outer edges of the crate. Any higher, and the entire block needs to basically be picked up.

The heated water bowl was half filled with ice, so I didn’t even try to get it out. Any attempt to knock the ice out would shatter the frozen plastic, so I just topped it up with warm water.

We had some very thirsty kitties!

They do all seem to prefer drinking from the old frying pans we’ve repurposed as water bowls. One is steel. I think the other two are aluminum.

The aesthetics of using old pans for their food and water may leave much to be desired, but they work a lot better than anything else we’ve tried, except for the heated water bowl.

After finishing up from putting out bird and deer feed, I heard a strange scrambling noise.

Nostrildamus had clambered up the side of the kibble house, and was playing with the string! πŸ˜€

The good thing is, with the layer of snow on top now, the string is no longer needed to hold the tarp in place. Funnily enough, the tarp is there to protect the roof from snow until we can paint it. πŸ˜€

It wasn’t until I uploaded the picture that I noticed there was a spice boy in the kibble house, glaring at me. πŸ˜€

The girls and I have talked about the state of the cat shelter. In the summer, we will have to look at how we can reinforce the roof and attach a handle of some sort, to lift it from the side instead of grabbing it under the the edge at the top. Along with replacing a few more damaged pieces, maybe redoing the roof (I found a box of leftover shingles in one of the sheds) we should be able to keep it usable for many years.

The Re-Farmer

Year End Review: top 10 posts!

Today we come to the close of what has got to be the most bizarre year we’ve had in my 5 decades! I think many of us will be very glad to see the hind end of 2020, even though there’s no sign that 2021 is going to be much different. :-/

[edited for formatting problems. WTH, WordPress??]

Thankfully, one of the side benefits of 1) living in the boonies and 2) living on my husband’s disability income, is that not a whole lot of the crazy affected our everyday life. We were already living on a tight budget, and disability payments are not affected. We were already doing things like stocking up in bulk purchases once a month, so that changed only because suddenly, everyone else was stocking up, too! My “job” is taking care of this place, and only one of my daughters had to stop working outside the home because of the crazy. The other was already working from home, so as long as we’ve got internet, she’s good to go. We got to focus on taking care of the property and each other, moving forward as much as possible on our long term goals, and basically be hermits. Which is kinda how we like it! The only real negative thing affecting us is my husband not getting the medical care he needs, but honestly, I don’t know how much of that can be blamed on the virus response. We’ve been here for 3 years now, and he still hasn’t been able to get the same level of care he had access to when we lived in the city. 😦

For me, one of the things I’ve tried to do is keep up with daily posts here on the blog, even if it’s just posting a photo. I’ve learned long ago that if I don’t get at least some writing in every day, it’s not very good for my mental health, but I also hope that the things talked about here will be enjoyed by, and useful to, others.

Though I am making no efforts at all to promote the blog, somehow, people are still finding it and following along. I don’t know how you all are finding us, but I really appreciate you stopping by and giving it a read, liking and commenting. Thank you so much!

In celebration of the end of the year, here are the top 10 most popular blog posts written in 2020. I skipped over any that were written in previous years, just because I want to focus on 2020. All links should open in new tabs, so you won’t lose your place here. πŸ™‚

So here they are, starting with number 10.

Comparisons. As this was our first year gardening, it comes as no surprise that we are starting with a gardening post! This one is from early August.

This year, I did something new, with a series of “Recommended” posts. These ended up getting their own permanent page, with a tab at the top menu. Number 9 is one of these posts. Recommended: Justin Rhodes. There is a massive number of videos on their YouTube channel! If you have any interest in self-sufficient living, do check them out!

This year, I finally started to do some more creative things with all the trees we’ve been cutting down, other than sticking them in huge piles for future chipping, or burning them.

The Wonkiest comes in at Number 8, showing off my first ever carving of a fork… and it truly is the wonkiest!! πŸ˜€

This year, we continued our attempts to brew booze, including our first attempt at making hard crab apple cider. Making hard crab apple cider: racking day – what happened? (updated: I found out!) comes in at number 7.

Every now and then, a post becomes popular, and I have no idea why! Like this one, at number 6: Let’s give this a try. It’s just a mix of all sorts of things, but apparently, people found it interesting!

No surprise to see another gardening post on the list! Number 5 is an analysis, First year gardens: what worked, what didn’t

Another Recommended post on the list. Number 4 is Recommended: Kris Harbour Natural Building. This YouTube channel is filled with years of videos, following along as Kris Harbour builds off grid in Wales. Well worth checking out!

Our first post about making hard crab apple cider is on the list, too! Here it is at number 3. Making hard crab apple cider; will it work?

Our crab apples were very popular this year! This time, at number 2, it’s Making Crab apple cider vinegar: airlock or cheese cloth?

And now we reach our number 1, most popular post of 2020.

This one blew away all the other posts, with almost triple (!!) the hits that number 2 got! In fact, it still gets hits almost every day. It’s another from the Recommended series of posts. Recommended: XiaoXi’s Culinary Idyll It’s another YouTube channel, and there are some really awesome videos to check out. Yet, I have no idea what makes this post stand out more than any other, that it should get so many more hits!

If you have discovered this blog through this post, I’d love to hear what brought you here! Please feel free to let me know in the comments. πŸ™‚

Well, there you have it! The top 10 must popular blog posts written in 2020.

I look forward to joining you again in the New Year! May 2021 be a year filled with many blessings, growth, healing and above all, normalcy!

God knows, we could all use some plain, boring old “normal” right now!


The Re-Farmer

2020 Goals: Review and Reset

Well, here we are, at the end of 2020. This is our 3rd full year, and 4th winter, of living on the farm.

We set up goals to accomplish the task of getting this place cleaned up and fixed up. Of course, goals are always flexible, since life has a way of blowing right through any plans we might make! So it’s good to take a look and see where we stand.

Of course, the first priority was getting the house itself settled. While we did get most of my parents’ belongings stored away, with some of it staying to be used, there are still things that need to get done. They are not a priority, though, so they can wait. I don’t think anyone wants to go into the attic over the old kitchen to clean that up, for example! Some day, we will have to, but it will wait.

After getting a good look (or so we thought!) of what needed to be done outside, we set yearly goals. The first two years were to be focused on cleaning up the inner yard, then moving on to the outer yard in the third year, before finally moving beyond the outer yard, where we could start looking at clearing out the vehicle graveyard and large junk piles.

In the first year, focus was on clearing out the maple grove and the south and west yards, while year two was supposed to focus on clearing out the spruce grove and east yard. The old garden area in the north was basically in limbo until we decided on what we wanted to do for gardening. The big accomplishment there was getting a new push mower that allowed us to actually mow the overgrown old garden that had been badly plowed some time before we moved out here.

Year one went to plan, but year two had other plans for us, as my husband ended up in the hospital for 3 weeks, followed by trips to the city for medical care, and other such things. The weather also did not cooperate, with drought conditions and heat making heavy physical labour outdoors potentially dangerous. So that whole area got pushed back another year, except for one thing. I managed to clear out the old wood pile, uncovering the only good and soft soil in the entire inner yard! We also set aside an area where my mother’s garden used to be for future gardening, covering it with mulch, then using the giant black tarps reclaimed from the old wood pile to cover most to the area over the winter.

Between those two accomplishments, we ended up planting an actual garden this past summer. This was not something we expected to be able to do for some time, but really, if we waited until conditions were just right, nothing would ever get done, so we went for it. In that respect, this past year had us ahead of the game a bit.

Another plan we had for this past year got pretty much zero progress. We wanted to build a cordwood shed to use as an outdoor bathroom. Having what we thought was the septic tank backing up into the basement, and having to use a honey pot until that got cleared up, showed us that we don’t just need a second bathroom. We need a bathroom that does not rely on our septic system. The old outhouse we’ve got here has a growing hole to the pit developing under the door, and we don’t consider it safe to use. We want to move away from having a pit and use a composting toilet, instead. Sure, it means having to empty the contents regularly, but in the long term, it means the shed could someday be used as something else, just by removing the toilet box.

At the very least, I hoped to get an area dug out so we could create a level “foundation” to build on top of, that would allow for drainage while also holding the weight of cordwood and mortar walls.

This past year, we had a wet spring followed by some pretty extreme heat (well… for our area), and the only thing we managed to accomplish to that goal was clear away the last of the little trees that had sprung up by the old wood pile. I think not getting any progress on that is my one real disappointment for the year’s plans gone awry.

At the same time, even with the setbacks of the previous years, there were things that needed to get done in the outer yard. Thanks to my brother, gaping holes in the roof of one the sheds were patched with pieces of metal roofing left over from when the barn and garage were done, years ago. Windows were replaced or fixed. Some trees cleared away from other roofs. These were things that were part of the original plans, so in that respect, they were being done on schedule. The other things that need to be done in the outer yard will be slowly accomplished over the space of years, but some things were just more urgent than others.

The summer heat made working in the spruce grove severely limited. Plus, while we were glad to have an actual garden this past year, tending them did take time away from the goal of clearing out that grove. It is a fire hazard, which increases with every tree that comes down in a storm, or any branches that fall. Plus, we want to take down the dead trees and plant more spruces in the spruce grove!

So that area has been pushed back for yet another year.

Which brings me to our updated plans and goals.

For 2021, we’ll be focusing even more on gardening, having picked up a ridiculous number of seeds, with more things to arrive in the spring, when they can be planted right away. This is going to rather force us to get the spruce grove cleared up faster! Areas of the spruce grove are being taken over by poplars, and these will be perfect to use to build trellises and arbors for the garden. We even plan to build a gate/arbor combination to set up next to the main gate, so people can come in without climbing the locked gate. The taller poplars would probably be useful in building temporary, deer proof fencing to protect our garden, too.

There’s at least one large dead spruce I want to take down. Not starting on the cordwood shed may actually be a plus, since I would be cutting it to (hopefully!) fall in that direction, where there are no other trees for it to fall on top of. With the old chainsaw we have breaking at one of the switches needed to start it, the very first time I tried to use it, we will need to invest in a new one to get the spruce grove cleaned up. There’s only so much that’s reasonable to do with a buck saw! Plus, we have a mulberry tree coming in the spring. It’s a zone 4 tree, so we want to ensure it is growing in a protected area that also gives full sun, and that’s going to be in the spruce grove.

With having varieties of corn and sunflowers that need to be kept away from each other to avoid cross pollination, we’ll be working in areas of the old garden that are well away from the house. All of that will be temporary as, in the long term, we are looking to plant nut trees in there, and move most of the gardening into the outer yard, south of the house. So any gardening we do around there in the upcoming year will mean breaking up the hard, rocky soil and amending it, which will make it better for any future nut trees we plant out there.

One of the goals we had for this past year was to hire the tree company to come out with their massive chipper, and get rid of the piles of wood we’ve got all over. We couldn’t do it this year, but it still needs to be done. It may be worthwhile for us to just buy a chipper instead, though the cost of one that can handle what we’d be putting it through would be considerably more than the cost of hiring this company to come out for 6 hours. From the estimate I got at the time, he figured 6 hours would be enough time for them to do all the piles, too. Hiring someone would be more efficient to get these big piles done. We can invest in a chipper of our own, later on. We will always have branches to clean up and get rid of, so it would be worth it.

So the past year has been an odd mix of goals delayed, while others were accomplished faster than expected. One thing that has been delayed for way too long is getting the junk pile hauled to the dump. This is something we will be hiring people to do, so it basically comes down to whether or not it’s in the budget at any given time. So far, it hasn’t been! It would be fantastic to get rid of that unsightly mess, though.

Aside from time and weather dependent things that will need to get done, like all things garden related, our goals and plans for 2021 have become a lot more loosey-goosey. Timelines have become much more vague, and we’re still at a loss on how to accomplish some vital goals, like replacing the roof.

Still, we’ve managed to accomplish enough in the past year, that we can spend more time building things up, rather than taking things down, in the next year.

Which is as good for the psyche as for anything else!

The Re-Farmer

Pretty morning

We had a light snowfall all night, with almost no wind. This morning, the trees looked like they were covered in frost!

It’s enough to almost make the junk cars in the old hay yard look pretty.


Fresh tracks at the feeding station, and around to the ornamental apply trees in the old kitchen garden, show we had quite a few deer visits in the night!

As promised, I got a picture of the wonderful gift from my brother and his wife.

Well. The box, at least! No point in opening the box until spring!

Being the incredibly thoughtful person he is, on noticing the spikes into the soil are not very long, my brother included a length of angle iron we can pound into the ground, and wired to tie the post to it, for extra support!

I find myself thinking… if we have a fire, that might thaw out the ground enough to install this, and we can have some winter cook outs! With the fire bans, we aren’t using the fire pit in the summer anywhere near as much as I had expected to.

It’s supposed to be pretty mild for the next while…

Yeah. I’m just looking for excuses to get this set up out there! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

Clearing snow before it snows, and I think they’ve figured it out!

We had ourselves a very pleasant surprise today! Company!

Sort of…

I got an email from my older brother, asking if he could swing by this afternoon. Considering that it’s a 1 1/2 hour drive for him, this was a welcome surprise!

I got his message after doing my morning rounds, which included changing the batteries on the new camera with ones that weren’t frozen. The camera still couldn’t show a display on the screen inside, though; more than the batteries was frozen! So I had no way of knowing if it was even working or not. At least I was able to confirm how much easier it is to change the batteries on this thing. I did not have to take it down to do it!

Then, after things warmed up a bit more, we brought out Spewie, our little electric snow blower, and gave it a workout!

With a daughter helping by controlling the 200 ft of extension cord, so it wouldn’t keep getting hung up on the snow and unplugging itself, it was done much more quickly! We got the area needed to drive the van to the house, with turning space, widened the path to the compost heap, and even managed a path around the house, in case we need to reach the septic tank. I didn’t try to make a path to the fire pit or the barn this time, though.

Of course, it’s now snowing. We’re expected to only get a centimeter or so, so it should be fine. Even if it’s more, it’ll be easier to clear, later! It does seem funny to rush to clear away snow, before more snow arrives, though. πŸ˜€

The great thing is, when my brother got to our place, he was able to drive right up to the house, like he normally prefers to do. πŸ™‚

He didn’t come into the house, due to the restrictions still in place, but we were able to exchange our Christmas gifts. πŸ™‚ We gave him and his wife the olive server and cutlery I’d carved, using maple I’d cut away from the pump shack so I could reach and fix the window.

I will have to get a picture later, of what they gave us: a fire pit cooking grill! One that is mounted on a post, and can be swung off and on the fire! We are so excited! It can be used above the set up we have now, or replace it completely. I can’t wait to try it out! The ground it too frozen to install it now, though, so it’ll have to wait until spring. *sigh* πŸ˜‰

While he was here, my brother took a look at my mother’s car. I had not hooked the trickle charger back up, because 1) the battery does not have + or – symbols on it, though I was pretty sure which was which, and 2) I could not figure out how the clamps would go on, while being flat enough for the cover to be put back in place.

While he was there, he ended up completely moving how the cords for the trickle charger, battery warmer, block heater and extension cord were set up. I had set it up as it was before, across the front, with zip ties holding things in place so nothing would drop onto the belts below (which had happened already, and I had to buy a new extension cord). This was not how he’d had it before, but how a mechanic had set it up, after some work was done. He’d had it set up tucked under the frame by the battery. He was able to get it to all fit into there again, and there are no moving parts they could fall onto in there!

While he was setting it up, and even double checking with a volt meter to ensure it was working, he searched and searched the battery for something to show with side was positive, which was negative. He did find the letters POS hidden under one of the clamps. I’ll have to take his word for it, because while I could see that something was under there, there was no way I could tell that it was letters!

So that is now done, and the trickle charger is finally hooked up. I try to use my mother’s car as much as possible, but over the winter, who knows how long that will be. We hardly use our own vehicle, this time of year!

Speaking of which…

After my brother left, I headed out to the post office – one of my husband’s Christmas gifts finally arrived! LOL – then into town to pick up a few last things before New Year’s. Normally, we would have done our monthly shop by now, but between the holidays and the weather, the end of December just doesn’t work out for that! With all the restrictions happening right now, we haven’t been able to stock up as well as usual, so we’re running out of things more than usual, too. Nothing essential, really, but I still prefer to stock up at least a little bit, just in case we can’t get into the city as planned. Last month, I didn’t even go to the city at all, but went to the Walmart of a smaller city, instead. It’s not as well stocked as the bigger stores in the bigger city, but at least I knew I wouldn’t be harassed for wearing a shield instead of a mask. As far as I know, 2 of the 3 stores we normally go to for our monthly stock up are safe for people with medical exemptions, and I’ve heard the one Costco location we usually go to is actually offering both masks and shields to people, and when people have gone in mask-less, they’ve only been warned if the mask nazi’s … er… inspectors where in the store. The inspectors are threatening stores with fines, even though the mandates expressly stipulate medical exemptions. But then, one store made the news for kicking a woman out for not wearing a mask, and she didn’t have hands to put one on. The exemptions clearly state that people who cannot put on or take off a mask themselves are exempt. It all seems so very arbitrary, which makes it difficult for people who can’t wear masks to know, from one day to the next, if they will be left alone, harassed, kicked out, fined or arrested.

I’m just thankful that we are isolated enough that it doesn’t affect us as much on a daily basis. Just in our own extended family, we’ve got people dealing with everything from trying to figure out how to get to work with the day-cares closed, to job losses, home losses, and dealing with severe depression as a result. I’ve always been grateful that my husband has such excellent private health insurance when he went on long term disability and, for all the challenges, happy that we left the city to live on and take care of the farm. Now, I am even more grateful for it. I honestly don’t know how we would have managed, if we were still living in the city we were in before. Our daughters could have stayed behind, too, but they chose to move out to help take care of the property, and their father, instead. They gave up a lot to do it, but it’s now turning out to have been worth it, for reasons we never imagined.

What a crazy world we live in, right now!

But I digress!

On a more fun note, after I got back from town, I was able to bring the van into the yard to unload it.

We were being watched.

Creamsicle Jr. was not alone at first. By the time I got my phone out to take a picture, Nostrildamus had come out to say hello. He had been sitting behind Creamsicle Jr.

Directly under the terrarium heater bulb.

In front of the light sensor on the timer.

I think they’ve figured it out.

If a cat is siting under the bulb, it is blocking the light sensor, which turns on the heat. While it’s unlikely that they made any sort of connection to the timer, it would be easy for them to figure out that if they sit in just the right spot during the day, that thing above their head starts getting warm again.

One thing about the yard cats; they do have to be smart, if they’re going to survive! πŸ˜€

I’m happy that the littlest ones are handling the cold as well as they are. Being born so late in the year, they were the ones most at risk from the cold. Not only are they doing all right, they’re downright playful in the snow! πŸ™‚ They’re even regularly following me out to the gate when I check it, and switch out the memory cards. They still won’t come close to me, but they will follow me! πŸ˜€ (I’m happy to say that, while showing the new trail cam to my brother, I found it had thawed out enough to start working again! I didn’t even have to reset the date and time. πŸ™‚ )

For now, judging by how often I’ve seen the red bar across the top of my browser, warning me that auto save didn’t work because I’m offline, I’d say the weather system has hit us quite thoroughly, and it’s taking our internet out in the process. That, and my weather app will not reload! The temperatures are still relatively mild, but I can see the snow falling on the security camera’s live feed. It seems to be enough to mess with our satellite. That secondary dish may have started working again after we pruned more branches, but it still doesn’t have a good signal at the best of times. It doesn’t take much to make it worse!

At some point, I’ll be able to post this… πŸ˜‰

The Re-Farmer

Babcia’s Bread Experiment, part 9: a few changes

Yesterday, I made another batch of bread using the old dough stored in flour as a starter. I did change things up a little bit, though.

One of the things about trying to recreate how my grandmother did this is, I’m relying on my mother’s childhood memories. There would definitely be things my mother never noticed, never saw, or simply doesn’t remember. In reality, my grandmother would have made do with what she had, so while their bread would certainly have been as basic as flour, salt and water, if she had had other ingredients, she would have used them. I know they would have made their own butter and rendered their own lard. They may even have pressed their own seed oil (my mother does remember processing hemp, so they likely had hemp oil, too). They likely had honey or some type of sugar, if only rarely. It’s hard to say, though, since my mother doesn’t remember very much of that, and none of my research so far has turned up more historical detail. There just isn’t a lot out there to describe how people in poor, backwater villages ate because, frankly, most of the people recording such things either didn’t know about them, or were indifferent to how ordinary people lived.

I do think that there is room to experiment a bit and still be pretty true to how Babcia would have done things, even if they were only on special occasions or when she happened to have access to ingredients.

With yesterday’s baking, one of the things I changed up was how long the old dough was left to soak in warm water. My mother says it was left overnight. My grandmother had a large lump of old dough, for her weekly baking of a dozen or so loaves, but I’m not working with such quantities. The amount I’d set aside from the last batch was the largest I’d done yet, and it was getting too big for my canister of flour. In fact, I didn’t get any pictures of it when I took it out, because there was just too much flour all over, it was bigger than the plate I’d brought to hold it, and I just broke it up into my crock right away.

When the old dough was left to sit in a warm oven overnight, it seemed to me that this was too long. It was no longer actively bubbling by morning. So this time, I decided to just let it sit for a few hours. I also added a small amount of sugar (about a tablespoon to 2 cups of water that had been boiled, then allowed to cool down to the right temperature) to feed the yeast. Last time, I supplemented with a bit of commercial yeast, but not this time.

This is how it looked, after about three hours sitting in a warm oven.

Just look at how bubbly that is!

I did add a bit more sugar (another tablespoon or so) to the dough as I mixed it, too. No added yeast. This was a slightly larger batch than before, too. Previous batches used about 3 cups of water in total, to 4 or 5 cups of flour, but this time I used about 7 cups of flour to 4 cups of water. Then, after cutting away a piece of dough for next time, I tried something else.

I kneaded in a cup of thick cut rolled oats. This is something my grandmother would have had, at least sometimes, so I have little doubt that she would have included it, when it was available.

Normally, I would have added the oats at the very beginning, leaving it to soak in boiling water until it was cool enough that the yeast or sourdough started could be added. I wasn’t sure how that would affect the dough set aside for next time, though, so I left it until later.

I knew the flakes would still soften while the dough was rising, and it would add some texture, too. Kneading it in was a challenge, though! I deliberately left the dough stickier than I usually would have, just to make working in the rolled oats easier, and it was still trying to fly all over the place! LOL

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take pictures after this!

The dough itself just did not want to rise! Yes, it was in a warm oven, but I’m using a plastic bowl (metal can react with sourdough, affecting the flavour, and this is pretty much a kind of sourdough), so I didn’t want to make the oven much warmer. It did rise some, and again as I formed the loaves, but even the smaller loaves didn’t rise as well. I really should be leaving it to rise for far longer, but it’s just to dang cold.

It does rise more while baking, of course, so that helps. The bread was still dense, but it did still have plenty of air bubbles in it. The rolled oats did soften up, as expected, while still adding a bit of nice texture and a subtle flavour.

Speaking of subtle flavours, there is most definitely a light sourdough taste developing.

I made a total of 8 small loaves out of this batch; 4 round loaves (basically just big buns!) baked in a cast iron pan, and 4 long loaves baked on a pizza stone. At 400F, the round loaves needed about 40-45 minutes to bake, while the long ones needed about 30-35 minutes. I have no idea how long my grandmother would have baked hers, since she had a masonry stove, and I don’t know what method she used to determine when the temperature was right.

As for the bread it self, it was quite tasty. I like the addition of the rolled oats. This morning, I cut one of the little long loaves into slices, pan toasted one side in butter, then topped each with a slice of mozzarella, for breakfast. It was very nice! It probably would have been nicer to broil the cheese, but I didn’t feel like fussing with the oven. πŸ˜€

Next time, I’ll have to remember to take pictures through the whole process. πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

Signs in the snow

While they don’t come around when we’re around to see them, there are plenty of signs that the deer are coming to the feeding station.

The snow was absolutely trampled this morning! You can see it all the way back to the corner of the spruce grove, before the tracks start splitting up into smaller trails.

Here, you can see their trail coming from inside the spruce grove. More tracks go through the gate and towards the barn.

We may not be able to leave much feed out – and the birds eat a lot of what we do leave out – but at least they know they can come here for a winter snack!

The suet we have right now seems to be a bust, though. When I bought it, the Walmart I found them in was out of stock except for packs with 3 different “flavours”. All mixes of seeds, nuts and fruit. Usually, the only ones I can find locally are basic seed mixes, or special mixes for specific birds. The brand is the same, though.

The individual packs were not labelled, so I don’t know which is which. The first one I put up was, as far as I could tell, completely ignored. Usually, the chickadees and nuthatches are all over it! After several weeks of it looking completely un-pecked at, I decided to put a different one in. I put the first one in the snow in the bird bath (which I am not trying to keep with water this winter; it is just too damaged for that, and I’m amazed it actually lasted another summer!).

Since then, I’ve seen Blue Jays on the bird bath, pecking away at that piece of suit, but none on the hanging feeder!

I’m thinking the larger birds don’t like the little feeder basket as something to land on, and the little birds don’t like these mixes, so they’re not bothering. Not with delicious black oil seeds for them to eat, instead! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

You bet, I’m procrastinating!!!

I might wait just a bit longer. I’m sure the critters won’t mind staying sheltered a bit longer, either.

The temperatures plummeted last night! It’s now almost 10am as I write this, and it’s still -27C/-16.6F with a wind chill of -35C/-31F out there.

The app on my phone says we’ve already “warmed up” to -25C/-13F with a wind chill of -28C/-18.4F

It’s supposed to continue warming up but we won’t be getting warmer than -20C/-4F for a few more hours. So I’m going to have to get out there and get some warmer food and water for the outside cats soon. There will still be both food and water out there right now. I just want to make sure they have some that is a bit more pleasant to ingest!

The plan for today was supposed to be clearing enough snow in the yard to drive the van to the house tomorrow, so we can load it up and make a trip to the dump. We haven’t been able to make that trip in way too long, but with temperatures like this, it might have to wait again. 😦 We could postpone clearing the snow in the yard until tomorrow, but the dump is open for only a few hours in the morning on Tuesdays, and it will probably be closed by the time we’re done. It’s supposed to reach an absolutely tropical -7C/19.4F tomorrow, bringing a couple of centimeters of snow along with it.

Yeah. I think we’ll do the clearing tomorrow afternoon and make the dump run when it’s open again on Thursday evening. They are open for a full 8 hours on Saturdays, but that’s New Year’s Day, so they’ll be closed this weekend.

Definitely one of the downsides of living in the boonies. Maybe this explains why we’re finding so much garbage as we clean up around the farm!

The Re-Farmer

A Pretty Surprise Gift

Yesterday, I made a quick trip out to deliver some turkey dinner to my mother. She tried to tell me I didn’t need to, but when I mentioned potatoes and gravy, she couldn’t hide how excited she was. πŸ˜€

It was just a quick stop, as she met me at the side door of her building, but she had a surprise for me, as well. It seems lots of people have been giving her sweet food gifts – far more than she can (or should!) eat. While the tin of shortbread cookies I gave her will keep well (I told her to have them with tea, when her lonely neighbour sneaks over for a visit), but some needs to be eaten more quickly.

So she gave me a bag with a box of chocolates someone had given her to take home. It wasn’t until then that I saw that these were a type I’d never seen before!

The writing on the package was in Polish!

Thankfully, the pictures that showed what the different chocolates were, had both Polish and English, though some of the translations still didn’t tell us what they were. At least, I hope not. I’ve never heard of avocado as a chocolate filling before…

I’m willing to try it, though!

My daughter picked up two 5 pound boxes of “ugly” chocolate from Purdy’s this year, so we won’t to into this box until those are done. πŸ˜€

I got a call from my sister this morning, letting me know that my mother wasn’t feeling well, so I called my mother to check on her. She was feeling pain in her bones, having trouble moving, but also stomach discomfort. So far, we’re not looking to take her to the hospital or anything; something she does not want to do again. She must have been feeling better by the time I called, though, because she began to lecture me on my gravy in the dinner I brought for her. Last year, she complained that I included “so much” bacon, which clearly meant we eat massive amounts of bacon, all the time (I’d included, at most, 2 slices from what I put on top of the turkey before roasting it). So I skipped the bacon completely this time. Now she’s complaining that the gravy is white instead of brown, and that I should have browned the flour first, but clearly I didn’t and just wanted to do things the “easy” way, and so on. I told her it was done exactly the same way as I did it last year, and turkey gravy is a white gravy. Because it’s turkey. But no. Gravy is supposed to be brown. It tastes better when it’s brown. Then she talked about how she learned to brown the flour in a pan, first, from her mother and describing how she did it. I told her I knew how to do it, because I’d learned how from watching her when I was a child. I just don’t do it. She sounded surprised by that. She always sounds so surprised that I know how to cook – even as I give her meals that I’ve cooked!

So… I figure she can’t be feeling too ill if she has that much energy to complain about the colour of the gravy that came with the Christmas dinner I brought for her.


Well, we shall see how she feels as the day goes on.

Meanwhile, she was kind enough to give us these beautiful chocolates from Poland that she didn’t want. Which I don’t mind at all! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

Cat perch

I can tell how much milder the temperatures have gotten these past few days, but how many of the outside cats I see when I do my rounds in the morning! I saw 9 of them this morning, including Rolando Moon, who has been away for a week or two, but showed up yesterday.

I had 5 cats following me when I went to check on the gate. When I came back to the house, I had this surly face to greet me.

We had brought several pieces of the maple that I’d cut away from the roof of the old chicken coop to the house, for future wood working projects. They’re odd shapes and keep falling over.

The cats really like them, and Rolando Moon seems to really appreciate having a relatively warm perch to sit on, out of the snow!

She is such an ornery old cat. I love her! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer