Ginger baby update – a bit late!

Well, I certainly got distracted today. For some reason, I thought I’d already written this post this morning! While fiddling with the computer to try and see things on my monitor without the magenta and neon green all over the place, I found I hadn’t even uploaded the photos!

So, here is today’s very late update on Ginger!

It was a cold night last night, but he was toasty and warm in his favourite spot!

The outside cats were very happy to have their very empty bowls refilled!

And for the warm water.

It was -15C/5F at the time I headed out, with a wind chill in the -20sC-4F. It had gotten cold enough that even Ginger’s water bowl started to get a bit slushy, being as far away from the heater bulb as it is.

By the time I finished taking care of the outside critters, he was out of his warm spot and allowed me to pick him up for cuddles today. This time, I remembered to unzip my parka a bit before picking him up…

… which allowed me to tuck him half into my coat while we sat and cuddled. 🙂

I think he liked that!

We stayed like this for about half an hour, before my daughter came with the last of his morning pills. He’ll only have a single evening pill for a while longer. We’ll know how much longer, after he sees the vet to get the sutures removed on Monday.

Ginger may have been toasty warm, but after sitting in the sun room at 0C/32F for so long, I was the one starting to get pretty chilled! So we tucked him back into his warm bed, and I quickly finished my outside rounds before making a quick trip into town to get water refills, and the last few things needed for our Easter basket. The day warmed up quite a bit, and when I checked the sun room in the afternoon, it was almost 20C/68F! What a difference! We’re going to stay warm from now one, so we’ll have to make sure things don’t over heat for him in there, during the day.

Less than a week, and we should be able to bring him in to join the other kitties. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Stunned

While in the dining room, I heard a familiar thumping noise from the living room window.

The distinctive sound of a bird hitting the glass. 😦

I took a look and saw Junk Pile cat wandering by, so it looked like she had startled the birds. It took a while, but I eventually saw a bird lying upside down in the snow.

I figured it was dead, but decided to check, anyhow, because if it was just unconscious, either a cat would get it, or it would freeze to death in the snow.

I’m glad I checked.

It was definitely very stunned when I picked it up, but after a few moments, it lifted its own head, so I ducked around the house, out of the blowing snow, and kept it warm in my hands.

Poor thing lost a few feathers!

After a while it start to stand up a bit more, but made no effort to leave my hands.

After a while, it got more active and looking a bit anxious. I would have preferred to keep it warm in my hands for longer, but I didn’t want to scare it too much, as that could be harmful as well.

Once it seemed like it was able to stand up and move around better, I tucked it onto the bigger bird feeder, where it would be sheltered from the wind.

Checking on it after going back inside, it was still there, with juncos and chickadees fluttering around to get the seeds. About fifteen minutes later, I checked again and could no longer see it. I am hoping it fluttered away to a nice sheltered spot to recover fully!!

Such a cute little thing. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: starting luffa

It’s cold with blowing snow outside. What better time to prepare for this year’s garden!

I had been doing some research on how to grow luffa for some time, but it was just a few days ago that I found someone who had managed to grow luffa in zone 3.

After reading this post, written by someone in Saskatchewan, I certainly wished I’d found it earlier.

MUCH earlier!

Realistically, the chances of my being able to successfully grow luffa here are very, very low. They have a 150-200 day maturity range. All the resources I’d been looking at suggested starting the seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost date, but from this person’s experience, I should have started them in January! Ah, well. I’m going to try them, anyhow!

These required some advance preparations.

First, I set a few seeds to soak for 24 hours. Then tucked the bowl into a container I could seal, to protect them from cats. Like Susan, whom you can see at the bottom of the photo!

I was going to use the Jiffy pots in the red solo cups to collect drainage, but I found that three pots fit into a take-out container I’d saved. This will make watering from the bottom easier. I had some pre-soaked peat and filled the pots well in advance, so that the pots themselves would absorb some of the moisture.

I also prepared the small fish tank-greenhouse. I raised the level closer to the light, and added the light with the incandescent bulb to warm it up, since I don’t have a heat mat. The light has a full spectrum bulb in it, so it will be useful for the seedlings later, on, too, but for now, it’s the warmth that’s needed.

These are the seeds after soaking for 24 hours.

I was really surprised when I saw them, as every resources I’ve looked up showed black seeds!

I know there are different varieties, though, so if anyone knows anything about luffa aegyptiaca, please do leave a comment!!

I planted three seeds into each pot, pushing them into the peat to the required depth with a drinking straw. I am hoping to have 3 good transplants, but honestly, I’d be happy if I get just one!

Then, it was into their little greenhouse.

I think they need to be raised closer to the lights above!

The little light is staying in the tank for the warmth.

Yet another item repurposed from when we had fish; I’m keeping the aquarium thermometer in the tank, too. It’s reading about 24C/75F, which is impressive, considering the top is now just covered with a screen. The rigid insulation and aluminum foil definitely helps. We shall see how things go!

The other gourd seeds will be started after Easter, though I’m tempted to just go ahead and start them now. Which I might still do! 😉

On a completely different note, I have come to the realization that a problem I thought was with our crappy internet connection is actually my monitor giving up the ghost. Images not loading is a common problem, but I was having them only partially load, and the parts that didn’t finish loading tended to be bright, neon green. Or entire backgrounds of web pages would have blocks of this eye-blinding green. Then text started not loading completely, though I could still read it if I highlighted it, or it would sometimes work if I reloaded the page. When I started having this happen, or letters of text randomly showing as magenta or that green instead of the default colour, even when I wasn’t online, I figured I couldn’t blame shoddy internet anymore! My husband has already ordered me a new ergonomic keyboard (it’s a good thing I can touch type, because the letters are worn off most of the keyboard) that should have arrived weeks ago. Now he’s gone and bought me a monitor already! Now those are some sweet anniversary gifts. 😀

Hopefully, this monitor will last long enough for the new one to come in! 😀

The Re-Farmer

I have questions about this.

Yesterday evening, the girls decided to go out for a walk and headed out past the barn.

They found this, among the trees.

A squashed kettle.

Among the trees.

I have questions.

How did it get squished like this?

And why was it out there to get squished, in the first place?

When I was a kid, we had a large pig pen beyond the barn and, after that, there was a large manure pile. Past that was trees. Just trees. Nothing where someone might set up a kettle, then mysteriously leave it there to be crushed.

The girls have set it with my “art display” of other found objects. 😀

Ah, the things we find! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Ginger and the outside cats.

That title sounds like the name of a bad 80’s band. 😀

So the weather system swept in yesterday evening, and continues on today. We have had a little snow, and the temperature as I write this is still at -11C/12F, with a wind chill of -21C/-6F.

I’ve written before about the curious phenomenon of weather systems somehow missing us so often. We’ll get all sorts of forecasts for storms, etc., only for them not to hit us, or we just catch the edges of them. I’ve speculated that there is something about our geography that pushes the systems away. The systems pass to the south of us, most of the time. More rarely, they pass to the north of us.

Last night, while checking the weather radar, I could see it. There was rain passing over our region, with the colour codes denoting that it was quite heavy rain, with severe conditions in spots.

Except over us.

The rain actually formed a sort of horse shoe shape, and we were in the open space in the middle! We had had a small amount of rain, but that was it. While all around us, people were getting heavy rains, we had open skies. It was so wild to actually see that on the weather radar!

Once the rains past through, there was another system of snow that passed through during the night. We had a couple of centimeters (about an inch) by morning. What we still have now is the high winds.

Creamsicle Jr. was smart.

When I come out in the mornings and he’s in the cat’s house, he usually runs out and away. Not this morning! He stayed right were it was warm and cozy, and watched me as I refreshed the heated water bowl, just outside this window. He didn’t come out until there was kibble to be had. 😀

The other cats came running, braving the winds while I dashed into the sun room to get some kibble for them.

Junk Pile cat, who can be seen peeking around the side, had been tucked under the kibble house, on the sheet of insulation I put under there, when I first came out. I am so glad we were able to build this for the outside cats! The winds were swirling around from all directions, but at least inside the kibble house, they were sheltered while they ate!

Ginger, meanwhile, was watching them from the sun room.

He did NOT want to come to me this morning!

He looks like he’s all curled up for a nap in this photo, but in reality, he was rolling around in front of the window.

Since he wouldn’t let me pick him up for cuddles, I grabbed feed for the birds and deer to quickly take care of that.

By the time I was returning from putting the feed out, I found Creamsicle Jr. back in the cat house (you can see him licking his chops! LOL) with Junk Pile for company. Nutmeg stayed outside to run around and play in the snow. 🙂

Ginger wanted to join him!!

When I came back into the sun room, he still wouldn’t let me pick him up. Eventually, my daughter was able to get him, and I gave him his morning medication, then we checked his sutures. There are still those spots that look a little raw, but they are not getting any worse.

I had to take him from my daughter in order for us to check him out, and he was content to stay in my arms, so I sat with him to cuddle for a while.

We stayed like this for a good long time before he finally had enough and went to his bed.

His warming mat was turned on, and he took full advantage of having it, and the heater bulb above!

It might be cold and blustery outside, but the sun room is warm, he’s got his own heat sources, and is doing just fine!

But he still wants to join his brothers outside sometimes! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Ginger baby update, and getting settled in

This is how I found Ginger this morning. 🙂

The warming pad has been added to his favourite spot under the heater bulb, so the Ginger baby can be warm from above and below!

When I finished putting getting food for the outside critters, he had come out, so I picked him up and sat on the swing bench with him.

He stayed like this almost the entire time, as we waited for my daughter to come in with his morning medication. He didn’t even purr, but just sat silently, only making a noise when he saw one of the outside cats go by.

He was so calm and settled that when my daughter came in with his pill, he barely even moved as she gave it to him! Then he let her cat him and cuddle him, while I went back out to finish my rounds.

His wounds are looking good overall, but there was one spot of rawness between two stitches we’ll have to keep an eye on.

Once my rounds were done, I quickly headed out to get more cat food and litter. While I was gone, the vet called to arrange removing the sutures. He’s now booked for Monday afternoon. I’m surprised they’re open on Easter Monday! I imagine they’re still doing a lot of catch up with having to refuse/delay so many treatments with the restrictions.

We’re keeping an eye on the forecasts, and it’s looking like the expected snow is going to hit us tonight, instead of tomorrow night. We’re supposed to reach 13C/55F this afternoon, then drop to -10C/14F overnight. The southern parts of the province are expected to be hit harder than we are, but we will still be getting rain, then snow, along with high winds, with blowing snow through most of tomorrow.

The gusts of high winds are already hitting us now, and some areas are under high wind alerts. We’re 8C/46F as I write this, with the wind chill supposedly putting us at 5C/41F, but it felt a lot colder while I was out in it!

Ginger, however is snug as a bug in his “isolation ward”. After his sutures are out, we should be able to introduce him to the rest of the house, and his expanded feline family!

I’m glad I was able to head out today to stock up on cat supplies. We won’t do our full city shopping trip until after Easter. Until then, we’re all settling in for what should be the gasp of winter. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Gardening beyond the inner yard: what do you think?

As we plan this year’s garden, we are also looking towards the permanent, accessible garden beds we plan to make, both near the house, and in the outer yard.

The satellite image I used to plan things out for this year’s gardening was cropped from an image that included the outer yard and beyond. Looking at the image, I figured out the line where the pipes run from the house towards the barn. Back when my parents still had cows, they set up water to the barn, and to a pair of water fountains for the cows. There is also the pipe from the septic tank by the house, to where it drains well away from both house and barn.

I was thinking of putting the permanent raised beds directly south of the house, making sure not to do anything above where the pipes are, in case they some day need to be excavated. Looking at the satellite image, I figured that would require putting everything to the West of the pipes. My sense of perspective is really off when looking at the satellite image, though. This morning, I stood right where the pipes should be, and realized we might not have to do that.

The lines mark approximately where the pipes should be, under my feet and running towards one of the fountains (the little bit of orange you see in the distance). The pipe from the septic tank diverts off to the West (to the right, in the photo). The grey water gets pumped to an outlet hidden by the collapsing log building. The water pipes go to the fountain, to the barn and to a second fountain on the other side of the barn. I have zero memory of how pipe was laid to get to the fountain behind the barn. I only remember the trench from the house towards where the fountain is. I would have to confirm with my brother to get a more exact idea of where the pipes are.

The yellow line going to the left is running through a power pole, holding the electrical lines that power the barn. That is about midway between the barn and the main power pole, so while it looks far away, it’s actually not much past half way to the outer fence, from where I’m standing to take this shot. There is a vehicle gate through the fence, though, so we wouldn’t be going much beyond that post. It still leaves us with a lot of space.

There is a shut off valve at the well pump in the basement, for the water to the barn and fountains. I don’t know how many decades it’s been shut off, but I do know that, at some point, a smaller pressure tank was installed, so even if we did dare turn it on, we don’t have an adequate pressure tank to supply water to the barn and the house at the same time. The fountains are designed to be refill continuously as cows drank the water, so they have no “off” switch, other than the float that keeps them from overflowing. One of the fountains looks to be in pretty good shape and probably still works, but the other – the one in the picture – looks like it’s been bashed around. It used to have a box built around it, but that has been falling apart. I think the renter’s cows have knocked it about.

I have no idea how they are powered, nor how the power to them is turned on and off.

Which is all my roundabout way of saying that, any gardens in this area would be watered from the house, not the barn.

In the distance, you can see the fence for the outer yard. At some point, we want to make sure that is fixed up and cow proof enough to eventually remove many sections of the fences around the inner yard, so it’ll all be one big yard around the house.

One of the reasons why I want to set up in this area is because it’s fairly close to the house, we can see it out our windows, and it would be easy to water it. There’s a tap on the south side of the house, and it’s basically a straight line over the chain link fence to this area.

The area in the above picture is shows quite a bit; I had to set my phone to wide angle to get as much as I did, which is partly why the perspective is so off. It doesn’t show all of this area, though.

Here is the rest of it.

The yellow lines mark roughly where the pipes run.

I think you can see some of the problems with this area. It’s not just overgrown, but rough, with low patches. That patch of brighter coloured tall grass is basically marsh grass growing in one of the lowest spots. The area needs to be leveled, or at least smoothed out. That antique tractor needs to be moved, and the trees trying to grow through it taken out. There’s an old disk rake beside the tractor, and other miscellaneous parts and pieces floating about. Of course, there’s also that collapsing building. That’s a log building that was the second of three log cabins previous owners had built, with the third one being the old part of the house we’re living in now. Sadly, no effort was made to preserve it. It is full of all sorts of stuff that was “stored” there until the roof collapsed on top of it all.

At least the old chicken coop, behind the tractor, is still pretty solid, though the entire roof structure is slowly sinking.

We wouldn’t need to go as far as the stuff that needs cleaning out until we’re starting to build greenhouses or some such.

So this area is where I was thinking we could set up the permanent garden beds, and maybe even a greenhouse or poly-tunnel, some day.

While walking around the area with my daughter, however, I found out she thought I meant somewhere else.

She thought I meant on this side of the pump shack and old chicken coop. That yellow line, marks where there is a buried cable providing power to the storage building. Which, some day, I’d like to empty of my parents’ stuff and turn back into a workshop. My late brother had a marvelous set up in there, but it’s now stuffed full of my parents’ things that we emptied from the house. It’s so full, that when we finally cleaned out the basements and the old kitchen, we had to use the barn and the “extra” house in the inner yard to store things.

So… not someplace we can put garden beds (though if we cleaned it up, we could use the space between the pump shack and the old chicken coop).

My daughter then suggested this area.

In the foreground is where we need to be able to drive, and you can see the start of what is a very rough driveway to the back gate. It’s the area between that driveway and the shed that she is talking about. We’d have to remove the pile of stuff there, which includes a stack of massive steel doors and what I think are pieces of steel door frames. There are also what look like steel balcony rails. They’re quite large and heavy, too.

This area would be easier to clean up. It’s rough, but not as rough as parts of the other area. The shed does create some shade, but most of the area gets full sunlight. The main problems are that this is getting pretty far from the house, we can’t see if from the house, and it’ll be harder to get water to it.

Unless we can get the old well and manual pump in the pump shack going again. Which we want to do, anyhow, so that we have a back up water supply if we ever lose power.

The yellow in this photo marks the “driveway” to the back gate, with a turn off that leads to a gate in the outer fence line. Someone drove through here when it was muddy, leaving deep ruts that are still a problem. We will be cleaning up the dead and dying trees in that shelter belt row there, and will be planting nut trees in the area closer to the fence, and behind where that pile of branches is – one of several piles we need to get chipped.

This photo shows where the drive leads to the gate in the outer fence. It’s hard to see the fence line, but in the corner there is roughly where we would like to someday build a small, barrier free house for my husband and I, and the girls will get the main house to themselves. That is many years in the future, however, and may never happen. Meanwhile, we could start putting garden beds in the foreground area.

Also, that’s a cat path cutting through the grass! 😀

For these permanent garden beds we are planning, they will be designed for accessibility. That means the beds themselves will be about 3-4 ft high (roughly a meter) and no more than 4 feet (1.2m) wide. The lengths are flexible, but the paths in between must be at least 4 ft wide as well. This is enough room for a walker or wheelchair to go through, and be able to turn around. Which means the paths also have to be level and solid for wheels. Handily, that will also make it easier to move around with wheel barrows or wagons, too. The space needed for the paths means that everything will be pretty spread out, compared to your typical raised bed garden layout. Space, we have. Functional space… that’s a completely different issue.

If we can get the old well going again, that solves a lot of problems. The old chicken coop used to be a “summer kitchen” before my parents bought the property from a family member. It had a wood burning cook stove and was used to do the canning and cooking, without over heating the house in the summer. If the old well can be fixed, it would be worthwhile to rebuild the pump shack, and I’d love to turn it into a summer kitchen. Maybe not with a wood burning stove (that would increase the property insurance rates for my brother, significantly), but I like the idea of having a place to cook outside of the house, that’s still sheltered.

A moot point, if we can’t get the well going. We will test it out this spring, once we can move things around in there to access the pump again.

Okay. These are our options.


There’s the area between the house and the barn.

Pluses:

Southern exposure: gets full sun all year.

Easy to get water to by running the hose straight from the house.

Can be seen from the house.

Easy to get to from the house. It’s straight from the main doors.

Minuses:

No wind protection from the south. We’ve found the southern winds to be much more of a problem than any other directions.

Must work around pipes running underground.

The ground is very rough and uneven in parts. Will need to be smoothed and leveled. We’d likely have to hire someone with heavy equipment to get the area to the West of the pipes leveled.


Then there’s the area by the storage shed.

Pluses:

Relatively easier to clean up. Does not need as much leveling.

Does have some shade, but most of the area gets full sun, all year.

More potential space, if we decide to continue adding beds along the “driveway” to the secondary gate.

Minuses:

Further from the house.

Can’t be seen from the house.

Harder to get water to (unless the old well can be fixed).

No protection from winds from both South and North.

With vehicle access needed to the storage shed and gates, there is less flexibility in space.


Personally, I’m leaning towards the space I can see from the house, but my daughter thinks the other area would be better.

What do you think? Can you think of other pluses and minuses for either area? Any suggestions?

The Re-Farmer