Our 2021 garden: filling the gaps

Today was nowhere near as productive as I intended it to be. Ah, well.

I headed out early in the day to the nearer small city, to pick up a few things we couldn’t get during our big city trips. The first stop was Canadian Tire, where I was able to get more of the stove pellets we’re using for cat litter now; we now have enough to last the month or more. A day or so after the frost we got, we could see that it did damage the new Heritage raspberries I’d bought as a gift for my daughter. They will recover, but they won’t do will this year. So I went looking to see if I could got more, but they were completely out of stock for raspberries. I resisted the temptation to buy blueberries, instead. Blueberries need acidic soil, and ours is very alkaline. We do plan to have blueberries, and once we decide on where we will plant them, we will have our work cut out for us to amend the soil to something they can do well in.

I hoped to get more chicken wire, but they only had 2′ wide rolls in stock. I ended up getting a 4′ x 50′ (1.2m x 15.2m) roll of 4 inch square wire mesh fencing. I even remembered to pick up a new hose nozzle to replace our broken one. Paid a lot more than I usually do; I usually get the Walmart cheapies, but I figured it was worth paying for quality for a change.

Then it was across the way to the Walmart to get more cat food and a few more little things, including a garden hose for the front of the house. It’s only 50′ but it’ll be enough to water the old kitchen garden, and as far as the grapes. Which, I am happy to say, are actually showing leaf buds! I thought for sure they had been killed off this winter, but they survived! Yay!

The down side of making the trip is that it basically wiped me out. I’ve been pushing myself too much of late and, while it feels good to do it, this broken old body doesn’t recover like it used to. 😦 Once the girls unloaded the van and put everything away, I ended up crashing for a couple of hours. By the time I was mobile again (to find lunch waiting for me! ❤ ), I still wasn’t up to doing much. Particularly since we were getting into the hottest part of the day. So we waited a couple more hours before heading outside.

I am really happy we got the new hose and nozzle!

While my daughter watered the old kitchen garden and anything else she could reach on that side (and planted that mystery bulb I found among the tulips), I started watering the north east garden beds until my daughter could join me. It was very handy to have her using the hose on some beds, while I used the watering can on others. Though we hadn’t needed to water this morning, by this time of the day, everything was thirsty again. Especially the newly planted corn and sunflower blocks.

While watering the Dalvay peas, I decided it was time to fill the gaps.

I figured that whatever was going to germinate, already has, and what hasn’t by now, isn’t going to. With these peas, we had a lot of seeds left over, so I went around with a bamboo stake and poked holes in the gaps between the seedlings, sowed new seeds, then covered the holes with fresh soil. Then the beds got thoroughly watered again.

That’s one thing about this area. It’s almost impossible to over water out here.

The King Tut purple peas also have gaps where seeds did not germinate, but there were no extra seeds left over from that packet, so whatever has come up is all we’re going to have for this year. We’ll still have a decent number of plants, and they are supposed to be rather prolific, so I’m hoping they work out.

And that’s about my limit for today. Other than bringing our transplants that are hardening off back into the sun room for the night, my body is letting me know that I am done like dinner!

I think maybe getting to bed before midnight would be a good goal to shoot for, this evening… 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: direct sown corn and sunflowers, done!

The crab apple trees near the old garden area are starting to bloom. Not all of them yet, but this one was looking gorgeous, today. 🙂

This morning, after all the garden beds were watered, my older daughter and I got to work on the corn and sunflower blocks. She started by making furrows for the seeds and watering them, then I followed behind to plant.

We managed to get 2 corn blocks done, with radishes planted in between, when we stopped for lunch. It started raining, and for a while I thought we wouldn’t have a chance to finish, but it did get done! Mind you, I was getting rained on while planting the last seeds, but not enough for it to be an issue. 🙂

These are the three types of corn that got planted today. At the far end in the photo, is the Sweetness, then Early Eh, and finally the Montauk, in the foreground.

Because the soil is hardest packed the further north we go, we planted the April Cross Chinese Radish, a Daikon type radish, in the northernmost corn block. The packet had much fewer seeds than I expected, so we were able to include them in only 3 of the 5 rows. There was enough Red Meat Watermelon Radish to interplant with the remaining two blocks of corn. Hopefully, both varieties will help with breaking up the hard soil and, once harvested, will give the corn’s roots more room to grow into. This is really late for radishes to be planted; they can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked, however with their short growing season, it should still work out.

The blocks of 3 rows were for the sunflowers. The Mongolian Giant got planted in the block to the north; with how big they are supposed to get, I figured that would work out better. There aren’t a lot of seeds in the packets, but at 2 ft apart, I did end up filling two rows. There will still be the transplants to include, about a week from now. The 3 row block that’s to the south got the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers. The flags mark the block with the Hopi Black Dye and, not being a giant variety, they were planted 18 inches apart. That filled 2 rows as well. Not a single one of the packet we started indoors has germinated, so there is nothing to transplant. We will have more Mongolian Giant transplants than will fill in the one row left in that block, so we might end up splitting them between the two blocks. I didn’t think ahead, and planted seeds on the northern rows. Any Mongolian Giant transplants could end up shading the Hopi Black Dye – though with zero germination from the first packet, I wouldn’t be surprised if none of these germinated, either. I am at a loss as to why the ones we started indoors completely failed to germinate.

Now that these beds are done, we have some time before we can start transplanting, which should be enough time to get the squash tunnel built, and create more beds for them and the other transplants that need them.

Two weeks from now, if all goes well, all the planting (not counting successive sowing) should be done!

The Re-Farmer

Morning Mysteries

While doing my morning rounds, I made sure to check the tulips. Nothing has been showing up on the tulip cam, trying to get at them again. There are files of cats passing in front of the camera, and one of a skunk running along the lilac hedge, as if something had startled it, but that’s it. Nothing has been going after the tulips.

And yet, I found this.

It was on the ground, next to one of the tulips that got its flower bud chomped off, but not the leaves. The only signs of digging in the area were the old ones from before, which was likely a skunk digging for grubs in the leaf mulch. With how deep the girls had buried the bulbs, there should have been a fairly large hole if it had been freshly dug up. The bulb doesn’t even have dirt on it, or in its roots.

As far as I know, it wasn’t there before, though it’s possible it was covered in leaf mulch that got blown off, but… I don’t think so. When I’d seen that something was digging in the leaf mulch, I checked to see if the tulips were damaged, so I’d looked right in that spot. I expect I would have seen it then, if it had been somehow dug up then.

So I brought it inside, and it will be planted, once we’re sure of where we want to put it. The girls and I were thinking to put it in one of the blocks in the retaining wall that has nothing in it right now. That area is going to be draped in mosquito netting to protect it, once the netting comes in, so if it’s planted there, it will get protection from being eaten or dug up.

Still, I have no idea where this came from!

I’ve also been finding another mystery in the mornings.

For the past several mornings, I’ve been finding the rocks at one end of the path we made along the house, scattered like this. I put them back, and the next morning, they’re scattered again. Something has been digging among them. I suspect it has something to do with this being the only section of rocks that had some soil put over them, before I changed my mind about doing that the whole way down. My guess is that it’s the skunk, but there’s really nothing to show, one way or the other, what is doing it.

On the one hand, I’m glad whatever it is, is digging here and not in the garden beds nearby! On the other hand, those rocks are there because I found the concrete pad under the sun room was as thick as I thought it was, and they’re keeping the soil under the concrete from eroding out. The last thing I want is for a critter to start digging under there! The sun room is shifting enough, as it is. :-/

I did see the skunk again, this evening. I was just putting things away before going inside, when I heard a cat get startled out of the kibble house. When I looked, the skunk was in the kibble house, munching away. I made noise to scare it away, and it did start to leave, but it must have been very hungry, because it turned around and started heading quickly towards me, then jumped back into the kibble house to eat. I suspect we have a hungry mama skunk. Kibble is not good for them, though. Ah, well. It seems to have a peaceful relationship with the cats, at least. We need to get one more, smaller, hose to keep hooked up to the tap on that side of the house. Much safer to chase it away by spraying water than walking towards it, making noise!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: beans are in, and first spinach protectors

Once again, our temperatures have lurched from one direction to the other! From days cold enough for the furnace to turn on, and overnight lows below freezing, we’re back to the heat. It’s past 7:30pm as I write this, and our temperature is still at 24C/75F. A week from now, we’re expected to hit 31C/88F.

Well, by then we should be transplanting our squash seedlings, so that will be good for them, at least!

This morning’s job was to direct sow our bush beans. I am so glad we picked up that extra hose. The mini-beds we made for them needed to be soaked, re-soaked, then soaked again, before I even planted the seeds. I can’t believe how quickly things have dried out already, though I suppose with the winds we’ve been having, I shouldn’t be surprised. You can even see that the pea trellises have been moved around by the winds! I even found one end of a cross piece had come loose after one particularly windy days. The bags may work to startle critters, but they also act like sails.

The yellow and green bean packages had 200 seeds each. With a 20’/6m double row, we still had seeds left over. The purple beans were packed by weight, and a 50g package was just enough for its double row.

Once planted, they all got watered, and watered again! Normally, I would have pre-soaked the beads, but these were inoculated seeds, and I figure soaking them first would have washed off the inoculant!

After the beans were done, we set up the sprinkler to start soaking down the rows for the corn and sunflowers. We left it running over one side for a few hours, then moved it to cover the other end. Much to my surprise, the sprinkler can cover all but 3 rows. There isn’t a lot of pressure, this far out!

Our afternoon project was to see what we could do about protecting our spinach beds. After scrounging in a little shed near the barn, we dragged out the last of some narrow old, salvaged boards. Many of them had several 3″ deck screws in them that had to be removed, first. There were 13 boards, and we ended up using 12 of them, because they were not all the same length.

The roll of chicken wire (or 1″ hex wire) we got was 25′ (7.6m) long and 4′ (1.2m) wide. We have three spinach beds we need to cover. While the beds themselves are about 3-4′ (about a meter) wide and roughly 15′ (just over 4.5m) long, the rows of spinach were, of course, less than that. So we were able to use the roll to cover 2 spinach beds. Well, mostly.

We stole a couple of hoops from the small beet bed by the garlic beds to hold the wire up in the middle. The sides are held in place with sticks, that have a bit of mesh hooked onto their tops, so they are helping hold that up, too. Once we get more hoops, we’ll be able to stop using the sticks to hold up the mesh, which will allow us to move the covers to harvest the spinach.

The edges of the chicken wire were sandwiched between boards that were screwed together. Because of the different lengths, we had to cobble them together. A couple ended up with small gaps between the ends of boards, but they were still secure. The covers don’t really leave much room to do a second sowing, though, which we could do any time now, if we wanted. I think I will skip it, and save the seeds to sow later in the summer for a fall crop.

Like everything else we’re doing this year, this is a temporary thing, so we don’t need to get too fancy. When we build our permanent, high raised beds, we will make protective covers that fit properly, and be properly framed and supported. Right now, neither one completely covers the rows of spinach, so the ends might still get nibbled at, but it should be fine. If we want, we can tie on brightly colored or metallic ribbons to flap in the wind and discourage critters.

I’ll have to make a trip to the local dollar store again and see if they’ve restocked on things like pinwheels. I’ll pick up more hula hoops, too. I figure a couple more rolls of the chicken wire would not be a bad idea. I think we still have enough of that wood in the basement that we can make one more cover for the third spinach bed. For the small beet bed, I’m hoping the mosquito netting we ordered will come in soon, but if not, we can use chicken wire.

While in the city, I also picked up 200’/60.9m of yellow rope to string around where the corn and sunflowers will be planted. If what I read about deer not having good depth perception, so having two shorter fences a few feet apart works as well as a high fence, is accurate, we should be able to string just one “fence” of the yellow rope around half the garden, since it’s already so close to the barbed wire perimeter fence. Since most of the other half will be edged with squash, which deer don’t like, we might not need to do much more than that. We shall see!

Now that the blocks for the corn and sunflowers have been soaked down, tomorrow’s job is to plant the corn, with radishes in between to help break up the hard soil, and direct sow the rest of the sunflowers. The transplants are not done hardening off yet, and all our transplanting will wait until after June 2, regardless of what the weather forecasts are right now! The forecasts change so often, I don’t really trust them beyond a couple of days, and, even then, they are frequently wrong for our area.

Once the seeds are sown, we can finally get back to working on the squash tunnel!

The Re-Farmer

This, that and the other thing

Today was one of those days that went all over the place! So this is probably going to be a very disjointed post! 😀

One of the first things I wanted to get done this morning was to call the RCMP, as advised by my lawyer, about the gunshots from our vandal’s property. For non-emergency calls like this, it first goes to a receptionist who then, if it seems warranted, starts a file (or adds notes to an existing file), then passes it on to a constable, who calls back later.

The challenge was to bring up my concerns about hearing the shots, while also making it clear that there was no crime that took place. The interesting thing is that, as I described a bit of about why it was a concern in this particular case, the receptionist asked, “is this about…” and gave the name of our vandal.

I had not mentioned his name, nor did I mention my own. Yet, she knew who I was talking about!

She might have looked up my phone number in their system while we were talking, but she later had to ask me what my name was, so… that’s probably not it. She did remember talking to me about our situation previously, which would have been at least 8 months ago.

After we talked for a while, she put me on hold to talk to someone else, then came back to me with a new file number, telling me that an officer would call me back later. Since we were going to the city later, I gave my cell phone, just in case.

I shouldn’t do that. Whenever there is a cell phone number available, that’s the first number that gets called!

Once I was done on the phone, I went to quickly do my morning rounds, only to have my pocket start ringing. The officer was calling me back already! I do have my phone set to use WiFi, and at first he could hear me just fine, but then my signal started breaking up. We managed to arrange for him to call the land line, and I got back into the house just as the phone started ringing! Thankfully, I made sure my husband had the phone before I headed outside, so he got it before it went to machine.

In the end, the call was pretty much what I expected. There is no cause for them to go over. They did check and our vandal’s firearms license is up to date, and there are no restrictions in our area in regards to firing a weapon on your own property. He did tell me that, if something like this happens again, to go ahead and call 911, even if I didn’t feel it was an emergency. They would pass me on to dispatch and it would go from there. He also assured me that, even though there clearly was no crime (and I made sure to say, normally I would have no issues hearing gunshots out here), it was a good idea to call, given our particular situation. If nothing else, there is now a file on record.

Now that I think about it, though, while I’ve certainly heard gunshots a few times since moving out here, I have never heard gunshots from our vandal’s property before, or even that direction.

So that’s taken care of, as much as possible right now.

After quickly finishing my morning rounds, my daughter and I then headed out to the city, with a quick stop at the post office, first. Much to my surprise, I found a letter from the Court of Queen’s Bench. I opened it before we continued on, and it turned out to be about the court date for the civil suit our vandal filed against me, in retaliation for applying for a restraining order against him. We had an in-person court date in July but, according to the letter, due to Schrodinger’s Virus, all in-person small claims matters scheduled between May 6 and September 6 were being rescheduled and being done through teleconference calls.

Court of Queen’s Bench is federal, not provincial. The dates seem rather telling.

Anyhow, our teleconference date is set for September 10 now. Since my restraining order is a provincial matter, it is not affected by this. However, from what I’m hearing right now, our provincial government has no intention of relaxing their choke hold on us. I fully expect our court date in July to get cancelled. I really hope I’m wrong.

My daughter and I then continued on to the city, with a brief stop at a gas station along the way to grab some food. Now that we have changed where we get our gas, we’ve started going to a place that not only has hot food available, but even a few tables to sit and eat at, if desired. They’ve got some of the best fried chicken and potato wedges around! 😀 When we got there, I just parked and dashed in to get food. I walked in fine, but as I walked out, something went wrong and a metatarsal in one of my feet decided it didn’t like where it was and tried to escape.

That hurt. :-/

My daughter thought it was a great idea when I suggested that maybe we should keep my father’s walker in the van. Just in case. We do keep a collection of canes in the van, though, so at least I had that to fall back on.

Once in the city, we headed straight to the Costco, drove through the parking lot, saw the line up was even worse than yesterday, and kept on going. We went to the Superstore, instead. They had a line, too, but it was shorter and moving. My daughter reminded me to grab a cane, then when we were in line, she was able to get a shopping cart for me to lean on as we snaked our way through.

The down side of the change is that they don’t have flat carts. We did get most of what was on our list, but only half the amount of cat kibble we should have gotten, and a few other heavier or bulkier things got dropped. We’ll have to make another trip, later in the month. For the kibble, at least, we can go to the smaller city for some things, while other items can be gotten locally.

The price of beef has gotten insane. 😦

Even though we only went to the one place, we were both exhausted by the time we were done. My daughter dislikes shopping as much as I do! We find these trips more tiring than a day of hauling wheelbarrows full of soil. Plus, with the drive, I was having breathing issues again, and my daughter did the driving on the way home. I’m so glad she comes along, “one person per household” be damned. 😦

Still, it feels good to be stocked up again, even if some things will need to be topped up later.

Once we were at home, I had time to check the trail came files. Nothing triggered the tulip cam at all. I had plans to finally plant the beans today, and maybe start on the squash tunnel, but it was insanely windy. For all the rains we finally got, everything is all dried up again. In checking the garden beds, when I pushed my fingers into the soil, it’s dry all the way through. So this evening, wind or no, I went out to water.

I’m really happy with how great the garlic is doing!! Next year, we need to plant more. 😀

I set up the new hose we bought yesterday, and was able to reach everything that needed watering at the far end of the garden. Which was handy, because I hadn’t had a chance to refill the rain barrel we have out there, for the watering can. We want to get more of those. We’d rather use watering cans and warmer water, as the well water gets to incredibly cold.

Which reminds me. I looked up about the mulberry tree. There isn’t a lot of information out there, but I did find one site that proved useful. It turns out that mulberry trees tend to just drop their leaves when hit with frost, and grow back new ones. If our little mulberry had more time after being transplanted, it would have been better, but it may still actually survive. We shall see!


I found these tracks on one of the spinach beds. They were not there, this morning! The seedlings at the very end were nibbled on, too. There are no defined tracks in the soil, but I am inclined to think it was a deer. Partly due to the spacing of the tracks, and partly because we almost hit a deer this morning, while on the way to the post office! In this morning’s trail cam files at the gate, there was a deer making its way through the fence and hanging out in the driveway, too. We seem to have a lot of deer activity this year.

Tomorrow, we have to figure out how to set up the new chicken wire to protect our garden beds! Time to go scavenging in the barn and sheds for materials again.

I think that project just took priority over building squash arches!

The Re-Farmer

Monthly shop half done, and is it dead?

Last night, our temperatures dipped to -5C/23F. I’m not sure what to make of that, though. When I checked my app during the night, it said it was snowing, so I opened the garage cam app to see. Snowflakes are lit up by the infrared flash.

There was no snow.

I checked the weather radar, and from the big blue circle directly over us, we should have been having quite a bit of snow. Instead, I was seeing a bright full moon! Still, we did get the colder temperatures, so when I did my rounds before we headed for the city, I made sure to check all the garden beds. Everything was looking just fine! There was no signs of snow or even frost, by the time I went out, and all the seedlings looked untouched. All the leaves on the trees and flowers were just fine.

I forgot one thing.

The mulberry bush.

We should have covered it!

I took this photo after we got back from the city.


We have a frost warning for the south of the province tonight, not for our area, and the low is supposed to reach 2C/36F. I don’t know that there’s much point in doing anything now, but we could put jugs of hot water beside it and cover it with a blanket for the night. It had been doing so well, too! I am hoping the roots had established enough that it will sent out new leaves, but we may well have lost our mulberry tree.

Anyone have experience with growing mulberries reading this? Is it dead?



My younger daughter and I headed to the city to do our monthly shop. We did our first stop at Canadian Tire to pick up more stove pellets for the litter, and checked out the garden section. We ended up getting some trellis netting that will be good for the rest of our peas, instead of using twine. I also got a 4′ x 50′ roll of chicken wire that I hope to use to protect a few things. If it works out, we’ll get more. It was less expensive than the other options. We also picked up another 50′ of hose. We now have enough hose to reach the furthest areas of the garden. There likely won’t be much pressure left, but a gentle watering is all we want! I also looked in the plumbing section and found some PEX pipe that might work for the hoop supports I was thinking of, but after getting the chicken wire, which can hold itself up fairly well, we skipped it for now.

Things took longer than expected at Canadian Tire, as the pellets we wanted turned out to still be in the warehouse, so someone had to be called to bring a couple of bags over for us. From there, we went to an international grocery store. I don’t usually buy a lot of meat there, but they had some exceptionally good sales on, so I picked up some for the freezer. The only down side of this part of the trip was being hassled by a customer. This store respects medical mask exemptions. I wear my Mingle Mask more to avoid being hassled by customers. Today, I got an old guy stopping me and start lecturing me on how what I was wearing really wasn’t doing anything… I cut him off and told him flat out, “I have a medical exemption, and you can leave me alone.” He was all, “well, we can be nice.” As if lecturing a complete stranger over something that wasn’t his business was nice? I think I shocked my daughter, though.

The rest of that part of the trip went very well, though. I do not like shopping, but I really enjoy going to this store. While chatting with the cashier and commenting about some of the items we can only find there, I made a point of telling the cashier that they are the best! Staff usually just hear complaints, not the good stuff, so I do try to give positive feedback when I can.

The next – and last – stop was Costco. Usually, from where we enter the parking lot, I like to drive around the back of the building, to where I know fewer people park. A company vehicle of some kind was blocking half the lane, though, so I ended up going the other way. Much to my shock, I actually found a parking spot near the doors!

We also saw a line going down the side of the building. It doesn’t usually go down that side of the building, but it’s been a while, so we got in line and started waiting. Then someone else came by asking if this was the line in, or the line to the pharmacy?

It turned out to be the line for the pharmacy!!

When we heard that, about 6 of us stepped out of the line to look for the other one! 😀

At the sight of the real line, my daughter and I turned around and left! They changed things up, so that people were no longer lined up along the side of the building, but a back and forth line guided by temporary fencing. More efficient, I’m sure, and also making it easier to tell just how many people were waiting in line. I had forgotten. Our provincial government’s increased restrictions before the long weekend had not been relaxed, so more people had to stand in line than even before, and the line was moving slowly.

We decided to try a nearby Superstore that I’d heard was safe for people with medical exemptions, but they had a long line, too. We made a last ditch effort and drove across to a Walmart. I wasn’t sure if this one was safe for me to go to or not, but it had a long line that wasn’t moving.

Though we did remember to bring ice packs, we did have frozen items and fresh meat in the van, so we decided to head home. We will try again tomorrow. We talked about going to the little Walmart in the smaller city, but decided to try the Costco again. If it’s the only place we need to go to, we won’t have to worry about food thawing out or going bad in the heat of the parked van. If the line was too long, we could try the Superstore again or something.

Before we left the Costco, we filled the gas tank and I reset the mileage counter. I do that once a month. This past month, we drove less than 400km with the van. That’s about a third of our usual mileage for the past year. Counting the driving I did with my mother’s car, it still would have been less than 700km of driving, total.

I am quite okay with that. If I could get away with going out even less, I’d be happy!

Speaking of driving, I did end up getting my daughter to drive most of the way home. During the trip in, I was having breathing issues again. It wasn’t as bad as in the past, but it did prevent me from joining my daughter in singing along with sea shanties. 😉 I did all right for the rest of the drive, but as we were shopping, even with the Mingle Mask, it didn’t go away. The current restrictions state one person per household should do the shopping, but stuff like this is why I am glad to have her with me.

My doctor did refer me to a respiratory specialist, but I haven’t gotten a call yet. Frankly, I don’t expect to. People can barely get normal medical care right now, never mind getting in to see a specialist! So far, whatever is causing my breathing issues seems to be limited to when I’m driving, when I’m wearing the Mingle Mask for longer periods, and sometimes when I’m lying in bed, trying to sleep. A part of me suspects it has more to do with whatever is causing the mystery pain in my side that no one’s been able to find the cause of for the past 10+ years, after I had a large cyst removed. The last time I saw a respiratory specialist, it was to try and find the cause of my chronic cough. All he did was try to find ways to blame it on me being fat. When all my tests kept coming back normal, he just sent me back to my regular doctor. I would not be at all surprised to get the same treatment in this province, too. I irritate a lot of doctors by not having all the fat-people problems they “diagnose” me with, on sight. Kind of like the dieticians who get all flummoxed when I tell them what my diet and exercise habits are like, and they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that no, I don’t just lay around all day, shoving junk food down my gullet, but actually eat real food and, even with my busted up knees and feet, still manage to be more physically active than average. ( Granted, that’s a pretty low bar to compare with.) With some, I can tell that they think I’m lying. I don’t fit their preconceived notions and biases.

But I digress, yet again. I’m still thinking of that guy who decided he had some right to lecture me about my Mingle Mask. The fact that I was wearing something over my face, even if it was something he didn’t approve of, with my masked daughter beside me, should have been a hint that I knew what I was doing. Masks do unfortunate things to people.

Ah, some news! I got a call as I was finishing that last paragraph; my lawyer called to talk about my restraining order situation. As I suspected, he sees no advantage to contacting our vandal’s lawyer to discuss some sort of private agreement and bypassing the court. There would be no consequences if he broke the agreement, to begin with. The transcripts I’ve been making of the messages our vandal has been leaving on my mother’s answering machine are certainly something I can submit to the court, as they speak to his state of mind, and his obsession with me and the property. I remembered to bring up about the gunshots I heard this past Sunday; I haven’t had the opportunity to call the police about it. Our vandal legally owns his guns and he was shooting on his own property, but the lawyer agreed that, given our circumstances, it would be good call the police so that there is something on the files. Normally, I wouldn’t be the least bit bothered by someone shooting on their own property, but these are not normal circumstances.

So I will have to make sure to call the police tomorrow, before we head to the city again. It will be up to them to decide if they want to talk to our vandal again.

So much of our time and energy is being wasted, having to deal with all this! All because someone I was once so close to, covets this property and resents that we are living here.


Time to distract myself with more useful and productive things!

The Re-Farmer

Tulip cam’s first pictures

Setting the trail cam on the saw horse did work; several files were captured.

First, the good news.

Nothing was eating the tulips last night.

The camera did catch a few critters, though. I took some screen caps from the videos.

There was only one night time file, and it looks like the first definitive sign of raccoons. The critter passed too close to the camera to be fully captured, and it just walked by. All I can say for sure is that the tail looks too fluffy to be one of our cats. It did not go any closer to the tulips.

We did get a couple of deer passing by. They showed no interest in the tulips, and both ended up running off towards the gate by the fire pit.

The final capture was this cheeky little robin hopping around.

Whatever critter has been eating our tulips didn’t show up! I’m okay with that. Hopefully, it will stay away and the remaining tulips will have a chance to bloom, and the chewed up ones will be able to at least grow new leaves.

We shall see!

The Re-Farmer

Testing, testing!

Well, I’m certainly glad I decided to switch memory cards on the trail cam over the tulips after I finished my last post.

With this camera, if it happens to be recording when I pull out the memory card, I have to manually turn it back on again after putting in the new card. This time, it wouldn’t turn back on again. After much fussing, and even loosening the camera so I could reach things better, I finally got it going again.

When I checked the card, there was nothing on it. Whatever happened that caused it to turn off and stay off, happened while I was positioning the camera in a new location.

So I went back, made a point of triggering the camera so I would have at least one file from it in position, then switched cards again.

I then went back and forth between re-positioning the camera, switching cards and checking the files, several more times.

There were a couple of problems. The first was, no matter how I positioned the camera on various parts of the apple tree, I couldn’t cover all of the tulip area.

The other problem was physically moving the camera. It is held in place by a long strap. One end has a gripping clasp that the other end is woven through. This is great if I have to put it on a large tree and leave it there. It also doesn’t make much difference when it was on a fence post, as I could just loosen the strap and lift it off the top of the post. To move it from place to place on the tree, the strap needed to be pulled through the clasp, every time, then placed around the trunk, reinserted into the clasp and pulled tight again. Meanwhile, the strap runs through slots in the back of the camera that grip nothing, so the weight of the camera itself kept causing it to slide around and swing.

Since it was still on while this was being done, I had a lot of videos that were very hard on the eyes to watch!

In the end, there was simply no place I could put the camera that would cover the area needed. And there were no other trees in suitable spots that I could attach the camera to.

I could see where the camera needed to be set up. What I needed was something there I could attach the camera to.

I found something.

I grabbed one of the old sawhorses. We have three, and this one is the odd sized one, so it doesn’t get used as much. I set it up on its end, and attached the camera to the cross bar. The bonus is, now that the camera is strapped onto it, making adjustments is easy. I just shift the saw horse instead of trying to move the camera. With the camera mounted so low to the ground, I can switch the memory card more easily by tipping the sawhorse onto its side, then popping it back up again, without shifting its position. If I check the files and find that it does need to be shifted, it is much, much easier to do so now, then trying to do it on a post or tree trunk.

I already have a file of Creamsicle Jr. walking past the camera!

This should work out just fine.

And yes, I did move the string of bells and plastic spinner to the sides, so that they wouldn’t trigger the motion sensor in the wind!

On the one hand, I hope to capture the critter that’s abusing our tulips. On the other, I hope the critter never shows up, because there aren’t many tulips with flower buds left. We have not found other materials we can use to protect them (the fence wire I was thinking we could use would not stop a skunk), and won’t be able to buy anything until at least tomorrow. We’ll be making our monthly bulk shopping trip to the city tomorrow, but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to find anything useful. Now that we’ve added Canadian Tire to our list of places to shop at, to get the stove pellets we’re using for cat litter, I’m hoping to at least be able to find some chicken wire or something like that.

We’ll see how things work out!

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties – and morning carnage!

We had a cold, wet night last night, and this morning, all of the outside cats where there to greet me.

Even the shy ones!

Ghost Baby, in the back, is the shiest of them all, still. We still don’t know if Ghost is a he or a she, but if it’s a she, she likely has babies somewhere.

Do you see how Nutmeg, in the foreground, is positioned, with his chest so low to the ground like that? Ginger does that all the time. It’s one of those mannerisms that I thought was due to the missing leg, but both brothers do it. I haven’t seen if Creamsicle Jr. does it, too; he’s more likely to move away from any people than maintain his behaviour with other cats.

As large as we made the kibble house, and with so many food bowls spread out inside, we still get some minor battles between the cats. Rosencrantz and Ghost Baby tend to not be able to eat until after the more aggressive cats, like Butterscotch and Rolando Moon, have moved on. The plan was to make a second, smaller, shelter for the water bowls in the winter. I am now thinking to match the size (if we can scrounge the materials), and split the food and water bowls between the two shelters. That should reduce feline fracases.

Once the critters were fed, I went to check on the tulips and switch out the memory card on the trail cam.

Yes, the tulip carnage continued.

More flower buds were missing, though it didn’t look like any more leaves were eaten away. I was very disappointed to see damage to this Bull’s Eye tulip. Of the 8 bulbs planted, three had come up, and then this fourth one finally emerged, way in the back. It looks like the damage done to it was from something digging next to it, though, not from something trying to eat it. The flower bulb is still intact, if somewhat the worse for wear, and only one leaf was torn right off.

After switching the memory card out on the trail cam still at the driveway, I made sure to check the rest of the garden beds. I saw no signs of frost this morning, though there could have been some during the night. I think we had rain, though, so that would have helped. I’m happy to say that I saw no signs of frost damage on anything.

Unfortunately, I did find other damage.

The Heritage variety of raspberries that I got for my daughter had been doing very well in their newly planted location. I guess they still are, except that something has started to eat them!! They will recover – so long as the munching does not continue.

We still have some 1″ wire mesh in the basement. It might be enough to put a barrier around each of these raspberries.

Interestingly, the old raspberry plants, on the other side of the garden, under the shade of a crab apple and chokecherry tree, show no sides of nibbling. They aren’t as healthy as the new plants, though, and are just barely managing to leaf out right now. In the fall, we should transplant them into a sunny location. For now, whatever critter ate the new raspberries seems uninterested in the old ones.

I also found this.

It looks like something walked right through a couple of our beds. I’ve seen tracks similar to this before, but those tracks were so small, it was likely a cat. These much larger tracks line up with each other across the two beds. There is nothing to show if they were made by hooves are large paws (like a dog or a coyote), but with the nibbled raspberries, it does seem more likely to have been a deer. Or we could be looking at two different animals. The angle of the tracks don’t go to or from the raspberries, but at an angle well aside from them.


Once inside, I checked the trail cam, and nothing at all triggered the camera facing the tulips. Aside from files with me checking the angles and adjusting it, there was one other file, and it got triggered by wind blown branches.

So I went back and moved the camera. It is now on the crab apple tree at the “corner” of where the tulips are. I tried a couple of different branches, so when I next check the files (which I will probably do later today, rather than wait until tomorrow), I can see if one works better than the other. The problem is, I think the camera is now too close. It may be covering just a small part of the tulip area, rather than the whole thing.

Meanwhile, as I was tightening the strap and adjusting the camera position, Creamsicle Jr. came by, walked up to a tulip plant that was still taller (having had just a flower chomped off, leaving the stalk and leaves), grabbed it with a paw, and started biting at the leaves!!! The little s***! Now, I don’t think the cats did the damage we’re finding, but it’s adding insult to injury for him to start chomping on the already damaged tulips!

The girls and I have been talking about what we can try to protect these. The problem is, there isn’t a lot available. I made a point of looking in garden centres, and have not been finding what I remember seeing just last year. I’ve seen some “deer fencing”, which is basically a stronger plastic mesh, but no netting. The closest I found were pop-up mesh covers for individual plants. Which would be fine if we were trying to protect just a couple of plants, but completely unusable – and insanely expensive – for our set up. In researching options. I’ve read that smaller birds can actually get tangled up in the bird netting, so I was looking for something finer. Unfortunately, there was nothing. I found that very odd, as this was something that used to be easy to find. In the end, we ordered a roll of mosquito netting, online, courtesy of my daughter. It’s a 10′ x 30′ roll, and we were going to try it over the beets, first. I think it would be fairly easy to set up on the hoops I put over the beet bed next to the carrots, and my daughters were thinking of using the T posts along the retaining wall in the old kitchen garden to support netting over the lettuces and beets planted there. If this works out, we’ll pick up more mosquito netting.

I also want to pick up more 1″ wire mesh, which is relatively cheap (at least I hope it’s still cheap!). I think that will work better for some of the beds. I’m thinking of getting some PVC pipe to use as hoops, too, though I’ve been looking for that for a couple of years now, and not finding the right size that will bend well. We might have to order that online. We’ll have to come up with something much cheaper to put around the corn and sunflower beds, though. I’ve read that deer don’t have good depth perception, so two low fences, a few feet apart, works as well as one tall fence. We might be able to get away with picking up more of that yellow rope and making a double “fence” around that far garden area. We can also tie flappy, spinny and shiny things to it, to keep the birds away, too.

I’ve been looking at ideas for protecting garden beds from insects, birds, etc. for some time, and in many ways, it has been very … perplexing. I suspect it has to do with the difference between countries. For example, I often see ways to make various structures by re-purposing “free” wood pallets. Where on earth are people getting free pallets? My daughters both worked at a major hardware store. Pallets were always returned to the company that supplied the product, to be used again. They did have “extra” pallets that customers could have – at a price, not for free. By the time pallets ended up at the back by the garbage bins, they were no longer usable. Not much left to salvage from those (we’ve grabbed some in the past and did what we could with them). No one just tosses out good pallets! At least, not that I have been able to find.

Then there are the PVC pipe projects. PVC is so cheap! You can make things for almost free!

Well, not really. I mean, PVC pipe is relatively inexpensive, compared to other things, but clearly our prices are much higher than whomever is writing articles about these projects I’ve found. Also, I’ve looked for the type of pipe used in the projects, and I’m not finding them. What I am finding is far too rigid to be used the way they are in the projects. Then there’s the electrical conduit. I’ve seen these used to make strong, lightweight frames for trellises. Again, I’m not finding them in local stores. The type I am finding is flexible, not rigid. I suppose we might find it in the city. Yes, I know; we could try ordering online and pick them up or something, but the few times I’ve tried that, what showed as available in a store on the website often turns out to not actually be in stock at the store. Plus, when buying something I’m not familiar with, I like to be able to actually see the product to make sure it will do, before I buy it. For my fellow yarn crafters, it’s like buying yarn online. It’s one thing to buy yarn you’re familiar with. Caron Simply Soft is Caron Simply Soft, wherever you get it, but when buying new type of yarn, it’s very much a touchy-feely thing. I recall a friend of mine who spent $200 on yarn intended for some charity projects, but when it came in, she found the texture to be so course and awful, she ended up spending another $200 on yarn at the store I was teaching at, at the time. For me, it makes no difference whether it’s yarn, or PVC pipe. I need to see and handle the product, first. I find ordering online to be a bit of a crap shoot for many things. Like when my daughter ordered a XXL hoodie, thinking it was be safe to order a much larger size than needed, only to get something labeled as XXL, but would barely have fit a child! Or the keyboard my husband bought for me that I ended up not being able to use.

By I digress, yet again!

We have to figure something out, to protect our garden beds from critters. We have so many, so spread out, however, it becomes difficult to find affordable, practical solutions! Particularly since so much of it is temporary. It will be much easier when we are ready to build our permanent accessible garden beds.

Until then, we do the best we can to reduce the carnage!

The Re-Farmer