A quiet day

I like when our Sunday day of rest turns out to be an actual day of rest!

While doing my rounds this morning, I let Potato Beetle out of the sun room. Today, he ignored this personal food and water bowls in favour of the outside ones.

I love how Nosy likes to just sit in the window, napping. 🙂

Potato’s wound is looking better as well. He didn’t want to go back into the sun room when I was done my rounds, so I left the doors propped open so he could go in later, if we wanted to. We were at a fairly mild -15C/5F (though with a wind chill of -28C/-18F!), so I knew he would be okay. We’ll keep him in the sun room for one more night, so when my daughters went out for a walk this afternoon and spotted him, the put him back in. Things are supposed to warm up quite a bit, after tonight, and he’s healing up well enough that we don’t need to take extra precautions.

Beyond that, it was just a day of online church (second Sunday of Lent), keeping up with family, and watching the parade of deer visiting the feeding station! It looks like the same group of five came back a couple of times, as well as a pair and a singleton showing up. There were so many showing up at once, I didn’t even try to take pictures with the DSLR set up in the living room. The zoom lens can’t get so many deer at once, I didn’t feel like switching lenses. Too many shedding cats around! 😀

Tomorrow, I bring the van in to the garage to see what can be done about that noise from the power steering pump. We were just going into the cold snap when I brought it home from last time he worked on it, and it hasn’t been driven since. We’ve only run the engine a few times, and the noise was there, so the cold is the only thing I can think of that could have caused the problem. Hopefully, it is something that can be fixed quickly, so we can do our monthly shop, and pick up that warranty replacement hot water tank! I feel like we’re on borrowed time with the current one.

Hopefully, this replacement will last more than 2 years. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Winter is not quite done with us, yet

After getting teased with spring, the temperatures lurched back downwards last night.

Also, I am SO tired of our intermittent internet. It took me forever to get any of my weather apps to load! We’ll be able to switch back to the primary account soon. Hopefully, that will be better again. :-/

As I write this, we’re still at -24C/-11F, but the wind chill has “warmed” up to -33C/-27. It was pretty steady like that, all night.

I am really looking forward to that 6C/43F two Sundays from now!!

While doing my rounds this morning, I opened up the sun room to let Potato out for a bit, if he wanted. Along with the warm water, I had a treat for the kitties. I’d kept the meat juices and dregs from a roasting pan. Usually, I’d use it as part of the liquid for a soup, or make a gravy out of it, but this was onion free, and safe for cats. The juices had gelled, so I added warm water to melt it and brought it out for the cold kitties.

They were so excited for the treat!!! Cats that would normally stay away from each other were all pushing their way into the bowl, ignoring the container of warm water they usually go for, while I knocked the ice out of the water bowls. With the temperature fluctuations, the metal bowls are in melted depressions of ice, and I had to use a chipper to get one of them out! LOL

I was happy to see that the terrarium heat bulb was enough to keep Potato Beetle’s water from freezing. There was just a bit of ice on the water surface furthest from the bulb.

Once the water was taken care of, I fought some kitties off the bowl of meat juices and split it between the various food bowls. More room for more cats to have a treat! The very last bits in the bowl, which had chunks of meat in it, went into Potato’s bowl in the sun room. He had gone outside after I’d opened the door, but it didn’t take much for him to go back in! We are a bit concerned about him being alone and lonely in there, but he seems to be content over the whole situation.

I tried to get a picture of his wound, but he wouldn’t stay still, so this was the best I could get! Now that the fur is shaved, we can see that it’s a rather large puncture wound – and there is a smaller one, next to it! It’s drying up and scabbing over nicely, though. We’ll keep Potato in the sun room for a few more days. Once it warms up again, it should be okay for him to be outside with his little nekkid patch.

I’m not sure what we’ll do if he wants to stay in the sun room, though! We’ve tried propping the doors open, but then we caught Nicky the Nose in there, asserting his dominance. 😦

I wonder if that old sling shot I found in the garage is still usable… :-/

Since Potato was content in the sun room, I closed him up again and continued my rounds.

I had lots of company.

I had five of them! Butterscotch and Nostrildamus, the spice boys and Rolando Moon, all came along.

Then I turned around and there was number six.

Creamsicle Jr. many not want us coming anywhere near him, but that doesn’t stop him from following me around!

Unfortunately, this lurch into colder temperatures has been very rough on my husband’s pain levels (the added medications are helping, but not much at this point), and this morning, his TENS machine just stopped working. It seems one of the wires has … broken? I don’t know. He’s in a lot of pain, so his tolerance to try and figure it out is out the window. It’s an older machine, so I don’t know if we can get new wires for it anymore. The plug in port is universal, so we should be able to. I’ll have to do some looking.

But it will wait until later. I just got a call from my sister in law. She’s dropped my brother off to see my mother, and is on her way to deliver the pressure cooker! Time to go open the gate. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

The Potato is done!

Finally! We got Potato Beetle to the vet today.

When I did my rounds this morning, I did let him out of the sun room. I figured it would be good for him to stretch his legs and … do things. (The litter we had for him looked unused, but that plant pot was knocked over again…) He followed along as I did my rounds, but wasn’t looking to happy about things, so I carried him back and closed him up in the sun room again. The fur around his wound was looking damp, but I couldn’t tell if that was from him licking it, or if the wound was seeping.

Shortly before we headed out, I got him into the carrier and brought him into the house.

Which had the other cats VERY interested! He didn’t make a sound, though, and just sat there.

Cabbages and Beep Beep would have been familiar smelling cats. He might not remember Susan, Two-Face, Cheddar, David or Keith, though. Or Fenrir; when she showed up here, he was one of the kittens among the two litters that absorbed her into the family.

He wasn’t too happy with the car ride to the vet. The vibrations from gravel road in particular seems to spook him. My daughter took him in while I waited in the car (I have no idea if the vet honours mask exemptions, and I really didn’t want to deal with it if they didn’t). He was given a thorough examination, the wound was shaved and cleaned, he got a rabies shot, just in case Nicky the Nose (the only cat that we’ve seen that would do this to him) is infected, plus the slow release anti-biotic. Overall, he checked out well. Since he is willing to stay in the sun room, we will be keeping him indoors for a little while. If possible, we are to keep the wound clean with a damp cloth, but that’s it.

He is now back in the sun room and seems content.

Even with the wound shaved, it’s hard to see in the photo! When the light hits it, though, you can see that it is bright, bright red.

We’re expected to get some colder overnight temperatures coming up, and while he’s got a cozy set up in the sun room, we decided to dig out the light attached to a board that my brother used under the kitchen sink, to help keep the pipes from freezing when the house was empty over the winter (the kitchen has no heat running to it, so it was the one vulnerable spot). We later used it to keep the water bowl from freezing when we had the sun room set up as winter shelter for the cats. I switched out the light bulb for the spare ceramic terrarium heat bulb. It’s now set up facing the food and water bowls, and the nearby box nest we made for him. It’ll be just enough to keep the edge off in a small area, but that’s all he’ll need. We could probably do nothing at all; while we are at -8C/18F outside, the sun room is above 10C/50F. His little box nest would be even warmer. But we have the means to safely give him some warmth, so why not?

I’m glad that he checked out okay. Plus, it cost much less than we expected, which is bonus. We’re so used to the high cost of getting a cat fixed, it seems weird that other services they provide cost so much less! The main thing is that he’s healing up nicely, and is doing well. That’s a relief! 🙂

In other things, I updated yesterday’s post about the pressure canner my sister in law found for us. Click on the link for more details, but the short version is, even though it was in the canning section and being sold as a canner, when she checked the instructions, there was nothing about how to use it for canning! We’re going to keep it, anyhow. It will be used! Meanwhile, we’ll still keep our eyes out for a pressure canner that is affordable. It’s not a big deal if we don’t get it this year, but we will eventually need one.

Getting a chainsaw is higher on the priority list right now. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: one last surprise! (updated)

I wasn’t expecting to do another post today – and certainly not another garden post – but I just had to! I’ve had two awesome things happen since my last post.

One is that I got an email confirming our back ordered seeds from Veseys has just been shipped! It’s only two packets of seeds; the cherry and grape tomato medley, and the third variety of bush beans we had ordered. Now, the only things left outstanding are the items that will be shipped in time for planting in our zone. I’m really glad I ordered all these back in December. Quite a few of the varieties we ordered have since gone out of stock.

Then there is the other exciting bit.

Have I mentioned I have an awesome brother?

Have I also mentioned he has an equally awesome wife?

I got a call from her this evening, asking me to check my email. She had sent me this photo.

You see, I had asked them to keep an eye out for a pressure canner for me and this evening, while on their way to a romantic dinner out, they stopped at a Canadian Tire. Because who can turn down a quick run into Canadian Tire?

They found a pressure canner (yes, I know; it says cooker, but it’s the same tool) in stock!

It’s even one that was on some of the “top 10” lists I’d been looking at. Plus, it’s on sale!

Did I want her to pick it up for me?

Yes. Yes, I did!

Then, just moments after we hung up the phone, she called back. Since she was there, in the canning supplies section anyhow, was there anything else I wanted?

She found a couple of boxes of wide mouth snap lids to pick up for me as well.

We are now all set for both hot water bath and pressure canning, this fall.

My sister in law is awesome!

The Re-Farmer

Update: So… about that pressure canner…

As Carolee pointed out in the comments, this is a pressure cooker. I have read about them being used as canners, found instructions for them, etc. It was in the canning section, being sold as a pressure canner. It should be good. At least for small jars, like we would be using. At that size, I knew we’d never fit quart jars in there, but we aren’t planning on pressure canning anything in that size.

However, I asked my sister in law to go through the instructions to see, and apparently there is NOTHING about using this model as a canner in the instructions. Which is a bit irritating, since that’s what it was being sold as.

In the end, we’re going to keep it, rather than ask them to return it. That was a really good sale price, and we will make use of it in other ways.

We’ve been looking online for pressure canners around the province. I found one in the city, selling for $450. Well beyond our budget. I found another in a closer hardware store that was smaller and more affordable, but it’s not in stock. I am trying to avoid using Amazon, so I tried looking at more direct sources and manufacturers. They’re all in the US which means that, with the dollar difference, shipping costs and hidden expenses, I just assume it will cost double what the listed price is. Some are still affordable, but… out of stock, of course.

We will keep looking, but if how things are now is anything to go by, it looks like we will be freezing, dehydrating and pickling vegetables, rather than canning them! I do want to can things like meat, chili, soups and stews, too, and for that, we will need a pressure canner. We’ve canned chili before, but that was to keep them in the fridge for quick meals. Which was really handy. I’ve also canned soup stock but, again, it had to be refrigerated and used fairly quickly. In the long term, I want to have shelf-stable produce, and there is no getting around needing a pressure canner to ensure the food stays safe. Ultimately, we can do without. We have alternatives.

Our 2021 garden: Baker Creek order arrived!

I made it to the post office while running errands today, and had a small package waiting. I just sort of assumed it was for my daughters or my husband, but nope! It turned out to be my last minute order from Baker Creek. I am totally shocked that it arrived already! When I placed the order, they had a notice saying that, for orders outside the US, it could take as long as 3 months to arrive. It has only been two weeks since I got the shipping notice! This may well be the fastest any of our seed orders have come in!

Which means that right now, not counting the items that will be shipped in the spring in time for planting, we have only a couple of back ordered seeds that we’re waiting for. One is our third variety of beans, and the other is a medley of cherry and grape tomatoes. The tomatoes are the only ones I’m concerned about, since they need to be started indoors, but not until April or May, so we still have time.

Here is what we got today. (All links will open in new tabs, so don’t worry about losing your place! 🙂 )

While talking about and planning for the varieties of seeds we already had, the girls noticed we unintentionally have been leaning towards a rather purple theme. These are now intentionally on that theme! We had only one variety of peas, so that was my excuse to get the King Tut Purple peas.

The Chinese Pink celery was chosen not just for the colour, but because it’s supposed to be easier to grow in our climate than the usual European varieties. We’re really excited to see how these turn out!

Our three varieties of lettuces have turned in to four! Thanks to the free packet of Buttercrunch lettuce, we have one green type to go with our deep reds and purples. Merlot, Lunix and Lollo Rossa.

As lettuces are cool weather crops, these will likely be planted in the shadier old kitchen garden, though with so many varieties, and other things we intend to plant there… well, it’s not that big of a garden!

That’s okay. We’ll figure it out.

The Spoon Tomato is another new one for Baker Creek (I can’t remember why I ordered two packets…) and these were ordered for my older daughter; the one person in our household that really likes tomatoes! My husband does, too, but not as much. These are so tiny and adorable, I might even try tasting them, even though fresh tomatoes normally make me gag.

Hmmm. I just took another look at the write up on the website, to try and remember why I ordered two packets. Probably because I noticed that the packets have a minimum seed count of 15. Since we’d be starting seeds in groups and thinning them, that would be why I ordered two. However I noticed in a review, a person commented that these will self-seed, because it’s basically impossible to harvest them all. We will have to keep that in mind when we transplant them outdoors!

The Luffa gourds are something I ordered just for me. I don’t know that we’ll even be able to plant any this year, but with how quickly seeds have been running out again this year, I figured I’d better get them. As it is, I’m planning to try growing just a couple of each variety, rather than planting entire seed packets, so I’ll likely try starting some of these indoors, too. They are edible when young, but I’m interested in them for the sponges.

It will be a real challenge to grow any of the gourds in our climate. I think I’m up for it!

Now I’m even more excited about getting those loads of soil. Thanks to TurboTax fixing that bug I discovered, I was able to file my husband’s tax return this morning. I’d tried before going to bed last night, but our internet was down again. My return should come in faster because of the glitch. As soon as it does, I’m ordering the soil!

Then I’m going to go shopping for a chain saw. 😀

The Re-Farmer

The gatekeeper of cuteness!

While the inside cats – at least one of them, anyhow – were busily trying to destroy our bunching onion seedlings, the outside cats were far more civil and adorable!

When I headed out to do their food and water, I opened up the sun room door, so Potato Beetle could come out. He was all curled up in the box nest we made for him.

The only reason he came out at all was because I refilled the outside bowls with warm water, before doing the one in the sun room. It had frozen over, but didn’t freeze solid, like the ones outside.

Once he knew there was warm water in the sun room, he was back inside!

The litter box we have for him was unused, though from the smell, he found somewhere to go! I think he (unsuccessfully) tried to use a plant pot with soil in it, as I found it knocked over. The good thing about the sun room is, we can easily clear it out and clean the concrete floor in the spring. He does know how to use a litter box; we used the sun room as a winter shelter for the cats and they all preferred to use the litter boxes we had in there, rather than go out in the snow!

By the time I finished with the deer and bird feed, Potato was back in his box nest, all curled up and ready for a nap! So I closed up the replacement door, leaving the inner door open, to allow a bit more light and warmth in.

While doing the rest of my rounds, I had plenty of company, as Butterscotch, her three boys, Nosy and Rolando Moon, all followed me around!

We had snow last night. A light, fluffy, crystalline snow. I wish I could capture on camera, just how much everything was glittering and sparkling this morning!

This is not frost. This is snow! Every surface that could hold the flakes was glittering in the sunlight. It was an amazing sight!

Almost as amazing as this… 😉

We had an adorable gatekeeper of cuteness! 😀

Creamsicle Jr. is a shy one, so I had to zoom in to take photos while trying to get closer.

He didn’t like that too much. 😀

I really hope we are able to better socialize him – and the rest of the semi-feral kitties that won’t let us near them! – over the summer. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: damage control

I’m about ready to start throwing cats outside! 😦

This is what I discovered, this morning.

The long piece of insulation across the top is what had been blocking the opening on the back of the tank lid. You can even see the claw marks in it!

Some nasty little beast managed to pull one of the trays up!

The peat stayed in most of the cells, though a few at the very back were empty when I straightened it out. I found the plugs and put them back as best I could, and gently took loose peat off the cells it had fallen on and put it in the emptier cells. I will give it a day or two, then plant new seeds in the cells that didn’t survive.

Eventually, the seedlings will reach a height were I can take out the box that is keeping them closer to the light, and the cats won’t be able to reach the trays anymore, but for now they trays need to be this high. They should probably be a bit higher, but that would just make it easier for a cat to reach. The opening in the back is where I’m going to set up the tiny fan we have, to blow over the seedlings and help them get stronger, but for now, I’ve basically put a sheet of foam core over the tank’s lid and weighed it down. It should still have a bit of air circulation, but we’ll have to keep a close eye on it.

I am not pleased with the kitties! 😦

The Re-Farmer