Clean up: spruce grove junk pile

Today is our only “cool” day before things start heating up again. Our high of the day was merely 25C/77F. We’re going to have another few days hovering at or above 30C/86F, so I wanted to get some clean up done while it was still relatively pleasant out.

I decided to clear things out to uncover the woodchuck’s den opening, under the junk pile.

This was a job I’d deliberately left for a while, as there were kittens in the junk pile and I didn’t want to scare them. Plus, the spirea and other undergrowth provided them with shade, and things to play with.

Since the kittens have been chased out by the grog, it’s time to clean up!

The first thing was to cut away the spirea and wild roses, until I could remove the old pallet. Since they were just cut to the ground, rather than being pulled up by the roots, the roses will come back next year. Unfortunately, so will the spirea!

Immediately after I took the above picture, a furry little face poked out and looked at me. The grog was home! I imagine he headed out the “back door” on the other side of the pile, as I kept causing a disturbance here.

As I worked my way along the fallen tree, I was able to pull more things up by the roots. The wine barrel planter that I uncovered was not yet collapsed when we first moved here. We used to be able to watch yard cats sitting on it in the winter, sunning themselves. After the pieces collapsed, it became a favourite play area for kittens.

The bushy Chinese elm next to the log are hiding an upright barrel planter.

I also uncovered what looked like a sprinkler hose. I have no idea how long it’s been there, but it appears that the tree fell on top of it. !!

After cleaning up the collapsed barrel planter, it was time to turn my attention to the upright one. On the ground to the right of it, you can see a bit of a red brick. Like other things I’ve found around the yard, I figured I’d be finding more bricks under the planter, once I cleared it out.

The first thing to do was pull out the pieces of wood. I was then able to remove the top metal ring (I’m keeping all of them), but the bottom ring has a smaller diameter, so it had to wait.

I can cut away the Chinese Elm that had been growing in this planter before, and what was growing this year was from the remains of the ones I cut last year. You can almost see the “stumps” that the new growth emerged from.

This is the wood from both barrel planters, plus a few odd pieces I found as well. Since doing a burn would still be stupid dangerous right now, these all went on the junk pile in the outer yard, waiting until we can hire someone to haul it to the dump.

After clearing away the wood and the metal ring, I broke up the soil so that I could take out the roots of the Chinese elm as best we could. Then I started poking around with a garden fork to take out any bricks that I expected to find buried under the planter.

I found a third metal ring, completely buried in the soil.

I also found that it was mostly flat rocks under the planter, not bricks! The one long, concrete brick I found was buried under where the collapsed barrel planter was likely sitting, before it got knocked over.

I find it interesting that care was taken to make sure the planters were on something solid, rather than on bare ground, yet they were sitting there for so long, everything sank into the soil.

After spreading out the soil that was in the planters and filling in the holes I’d made while pulling shrubs out by their roots, I dragged out the hose. I figured it was junk, since it seems to have been sitting there for a long time. I’ve found many hoses scattered about in sheds or the barn, and most of them were so old, they were brittle and cracked. I figured much the same with this, but decided to hook it up to a hose and test it out.

Much to my shock, it actually worked! The couplings were leaking, but all they needed were new rubber washers. There were two hoses together, and they both work. Which means, if we pick up some end caps for them, we can set them up in garden beds, like we currently have the soaker hose at the squash tunnel, for more efficient watering.

It was about this time we reached the hottest part of the day, so I stopped for now.

To get at the stuff where the sprinkler hose was, I’ll need to clear away the underbrush on the other side, then cut up the fallen tree to remove it in pieces.

Which will give me access to the back of the junk pile, too. There appears to be some wire fencing that may actually be usable back there!

This is the next area that needs to be worked on. All the underbrush to the right of the path through the trees needs to cleared out. This will give access to the dead trees that need to be cut down, as well as the back of the junk pile.

Clearly, that junk pile didn’t start out as a junk pile. The wood was carefully stacked and covered with tarps, but then junk got tossed on, the tarps blew off, and now the stacked boards are badly rotted. They’re also very full of nails and screws. !! I’d already cleared underbrush to access this side of the pile of wood, which was used when I worked on what are now the garlic beds, but what I cleared up is now mostly full of thistles. :-/

Where I’m standing to take this photo is about where we plan to build the cordwood practice shed that will become an outdoor bathroom, with composting toilet. We had intended to start work on it last year, but not it will wait until all those dead trees are taken down, since they would need to be felled towards where the shed will be. As it is, the new location for our compost pile, and the beet bed, may be in the way. These are very tall trees!

So that’s progress for today. It isn’t a lot, but it’s amazing how much difference even that little bit makes.

Plus, we now have a couple of “new” sprinkler hoses!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest

Oh, my goodness, what a difference a single day of good rain makes! No amount of watering with the hose can compete.

While we have been able to pick a Spoon tomato or two, every few days (there were three ripe ones yesterday, that my brother and his wife to go try. 🙂 ), the Mosaic Medley tomatoes still have a ways to go. Two plants have tomatoes that are starting to ripen, though, with this one being the furthest along.

Though pickings are slim right now, I can see that we will have lots ripening, all at once, soon! They are all indeterminate varieties, and with the Spoon tomatoes alone, we’re probably going to be picking lots, daily.

The Little Gem winter squash, in particular, got noticeably bigger overnight! There is easily several inches of new growth on the vines.

The Teddy winter squash has pretty much doubled in size since I checked it, yesterday morning.

Even the pea sprouts, among the sweet corn, are visibly bigger and stronger – and their stems are barely two inches high right now! 😀 As short as they are, the sweet corn is starting to develop their tassels, too.

There were a few zucchini we were keeping an eye on and leaving to get bigger, but by this morning, some of them were almost getting too big!

Plus, I picked our VERY FIRST beans!!!! Just a few yellow and green beans. No purple beans were even close to being ready to pick, yet. I’m pretty thrilled with just the handful we have now, and seeing how many I could see developing on the plants. 🙂

This morning, I uncovered the beet bed near the garlic. This was the first bed that got major damage, almost wiped out by a deer. After several attempts to cover it, we ended up putting on mosquito netting as a floating row cover, though I had to keep adding more weights around the edges to keep the woodchucks from slipping under and nibbling on them some more. Once the floating row cover was on, it basically remained untouched until this morning. We kept watering it, but that’s it.

It got a thorough weeding this morning, and I picked a few young beets as well. My daughters really enjoy baby beets and their greens. 🙂 The bed is covered again and will probably get ignored for awhile, other than watering. The other beet beds are also covered with mosquito netting as floating row covers, and they’re going to need some tending as well. That’s one down side of covering them like this. It’s a pain in the butt to move all the things we scavenged to weigh down the edges, so they are just being left alone.

In looking back at our gardening posts from last year (this blog is my gardening journal, too! 😀 ), there were posts about the heat waves we got last July. It wasn’t as severe as this year, but it was the most severe we’d seen since our move at the time. By this time our sunflowers – which we’d lost half of to deer and replanted with other giant varieties – were growing their heads and some were even starting to bloom. This year’s sunflowers are nowhere near that stage! We had also been able to do quite a lot of clean up and fix up jobs that were out of the question in this year’s heat. The drought and heat waves have set us back quite a bit, as far as getting things accomplished. We were also harvesting carrots and sunburst squash, regularly, by the end of last July. It’s hard not to be disappointed with how things are turning out this year, but there isn’t much we can do about the weather, and very hungry animals that have lost their usual summer food and water sources.

Speaking of animals…

I had finished up at the furthest garden beds and was making my way to the main beds closer to the house, when I realized I was being stared at by a little furry face on the gravel over what used to be a den! A woodchuck, the littlest of them, was just sitting there, watching me come closer. I started to shoo it away, and it would run a few feet, then stop and look at me, run a few feet, stop and look at me… on it went until I finally got it to run through the north fence and off the property. By then, I was standing next to the purple corn, at the opposite end of the garden area. Since I was there anyhow, I decided to check on the purple corn, turned around and…

… discovered I was standing next to another woodchuck! It had just frozen in place until it realized I could see it, then ran off. I chased that one past the north fence, too!

Thankfully, there was no sign of critter damage in the gardens this morning, but my goodness they are cheeky little buggers!

After their visit yesterday, and seeing some of the issues we’ve been dealing with, my brother messaged me this morning with some photos. There’s a store they were at that had electric fence started kits. The one he showed me uses D cell batteries, but he knew of another store that has solar powered versions. The basic kit he sent me a picture of covers 50×50 feet, at a very reasonable price. It wouldn’t be enough to cover our farthest garden beds, but we could easily pick up the parts and pieces to cover more area. We’d need a second kit to cover the other end of the garden area.

Something to keep in mind. Particularly when we start building our permanent garden beds. We’d still need to find ways to stop the woodchucks, but it would be a good start, and cheaper than building tall fences!

The Re-Farmer

We have rain!!! Lots of rain!

As I write this, we’ve had several rainfalls, and even a couple of downpours. We’ve had more rain today than we have had all year until now! It is so exciting!

We actually got our first bit of rain this morning, while I was quickly doing my rounds. In fact, it was a bit of a problem at the time. While changing the micro disc cards on the driveway cam, the card I took out of the camera slipped through my fingers and fell to the ground.

I never found it.

I had a fresh card to put in and came back several times today, and nothing. I have extras, but I’d really hate to have lost it completely!

When checking the garden beds, I found a couple more sunflowers got nibbled on.

Almost every one of the transplanted Mongolian Giant sunflowers in this row have had their head bitten off. 😦

The culprit was caught on the garden cam!


This morning, I made a trip to the smaller city to do the Walmart part of our monthly shopping, then swung by town on the way home to pick up my husband’s prescription refills. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized mine weren’t in there. I’ll have to remember to call them and get mine delivered. I only have one prescription, compared to my husband’s bubble packs and injections.

I wanted to make sure I got all the errands done early, because we were going to have visitors this evening. My brother and his wife were going to swing by, on their way to somewhere else. I’ve been sharing photos of the garden progress with them, and they wanted to see it in person.

It was while they were on the way over that the first thunderstorm hit. It stopped and started a couple of times, then stopped before they arrived. Meanwhile, during their drive, they saw no rain at all! It wasn’t until they got close that they finally saw wet highway. When they got here, we did the tour, including my showing them where the groundhogs have been hiding out.

I saw one crossing by the spruce grove just before they arrived, heading under the junk pile. When I took a look, there it was, watching me!!!

The cheeky little bugger.

While checking out around the junk pile, I was disappointed to see this.

These are Saskatoon bushes. We have a couple of them here, and they are in terrible shape. Not only do they show signs of fungal disease, but their leaves are riddled with insect damage, and little growths where insect eggs are. There is even a sudden grown of lichen on the trunks and branches! Lichen is supposed to be slow growing, yet these bushes, and even the dead branches on nearby spruce trees, have suddenly turned bright green and thick. Or perhaps it’s just the rain waking up what was already there? That sounds more likely.

There are a few places where we will have to clear out the diseased trees and bushes, then not plant anything nearby for a few years.

We were just finishing off our tour of the garden beds with my brother and his wife when it started to rain heavily again. We still have the gazebo tent set up, where we had painted the kibble house. The kibble house it back where it goes, so we had plenty of room to be sheltered from the rain, while still enjoying the lovely cool wind and freshness. They were really hoping some of the rain would make it their way; they’ve been pretty much as dry as we have, and while they have had a bit more rain than we have this year, it’s been more like a tease than anything else.

When the rain let up a little big, we made a dash to the pump shack. I had asked my brother if he remembered when the pump got changed, and he wanted to see what I was talking about.

He had no idea.

He remembers better than I do, what the set up was like before, when there was a motor to operate the pump with electricity. When I pointed out that the current pump was not attached to anything, but just sitting on the pipes, loose enough to move while I was pumping, he mentioned something interesting. It seems the pipes into the well are “floating”, and the pump itself will actually move up and down with the water table. !! He also described the piston system at the bottom of the well. The fact that I could get water but couldn’t keep it going suggest to him that the O rings are giving out.

We are still left with the mystery of what happened to the motor and the frame that supported it.

Later this evening, my mother phoned and I remember to ask her about it. Not only does she not remember, but as far as she knew, there was never electricity to that pump. She insisted it was only ever manual. This tells me that it was my dad that had it set up, after they moved out here. As far as I remember, there was always the electric system, which suggests that it was installed in the 5 or so years before I was born, but my mother no longer remembers this at all. I find that a rather strange thing to forget!

Which leaves us with the mystery of what happened to the old pump system. I suppose it’s possible my late brother had it removed, perhaps with plans to get the old well repaired? I can’t think of any other reason someone would have removed it. If he had, however, the parts and pieces would still be around, and they aren’t. So what happened to it?

It seems that there is no longer anyone alive that could tell us.

By the time we were done looking at the pump, it was starting to pour again, and my brother and his wife still had other places to do, so they had to quickly head out. I’m really happy they were able to stop by, and we could show them how things have been going. Including with the woodchucks. My brother brought up a possible solution, and it’s one I’d already taken steps towards. Hopefully, it’ll work and I’ll be able to post about being free of woodchucks! We shall see. Until the problem is solved, however, I’m not even going to try to plant the fall spinach and lettuces I was planning on. I’m not going to go through the effort, only to have it eaten!

I think I may have come up with a way to keep the grasshoppers off, too. They are decimating our poor radish and kale seedlings as thoroughly as the groundhogs have been wiping out our carrot beds!

At least our garden beds have finally had a thorough soaking. No amount of watering with the house can match a good, solid rainfall!

Here’s hoping the rain helped with the wildfires to the north of us, too!

The Re-Farmer

First tree stump bench made!

I had cleaned up the dead spruce tree I’d cut down, a few days go, but only now got to continue working in the area.

Because of how the tree had landed, I used the baby chainsaw to clear away all the non-weight bearing branches first, and was left with this giant insectoid shape! 😀 After clearing away the last of the branches, I was going to break the trunk down further with the electric chain saw, but when that turned out to not be working properly, I just left the trunk to the side. We’ll have to take care of it later.

Today, I broke out the reciprocating saw and used it to finish trimming the top of the stump.

Happily, the wood in this stump is nice and solid.

The other trunk, from the tree we took down 3 summers ago? Not only did it have ant damage, but as I was trimming it with the reciprocating saw, it was vibrating at root level!

Well. That changed my plans.

At first, I figured I would just make a seat instead of a bench, but I really wanted a bench.

I used one of the boards that would be a horizontal support to mark off and cut the stump, using the reciprocating saw. At this point, I was still thinking of making a seat, but figured this stump was solid enough to support a bench. I cut the support pieces to a couple of inches shorter than the board that would be the seat, found the middles, then drilled pilot holes.

Despite using a level when positioning the support pieces, they still ended up uneven!

Though at least part of that is because one of the boards was warped.

Ah, well. I wasn’t going to start over! The only thing I did have to do was trim the top of the stump with a hand saw a bit, to make it even with the support pieces.

Then it was time to screw on the board for the seat.

You can see on the far right, that there was a substantial gap! I ended up making a wedge from a scrap piece of wood and jamming it in, then screwing the board in place, though the wedge and into the horizontal support.

As I was doing that, I could feel the bench wobbling a bit and decided the ends needed extra support. I didn’t want to put too much stress on the screws holding it to the stump, even though there are quite a few of them, and they are longer than needed. I had the pieces of wood I’d cut off the horizontal supports, so I trimmed those to size and added them at the ends to make legs. The main support is still the stump. The legs are just enough to give a little extra support, if there is too much weight at an end. The ground under them is soft, so if they were to be weight bearing, I would have wanted to add something solid under them, like a brick or some flat rocks

And there we have it! Our very first tree stump bench. 😀 And I must say, it felt SO good to have someplace to sit down when I was done! It was the perfect height for me and my messed up knees, too. In fact, I used my knees to judge what height to trim the stump down to, and with the height added by the thickness of the seat board, it worked out just right.

Now it just needs a good scrubbing and a paint job to protect it from the elements. The board I found for the seat still has some paint on it, so it’s not too urgent.

I am quite pleased with how this turned out. We have so many dead trees in the spruce grove that need to be cut down, with some of them fairly close to each other. My thought was to cut them to leave stumps that could be used to make seats and tables, making sure that some of the seats are a bit higher, for my husband to be able to use comfortably. This bench is the first experiment to see if the idea is viable, and I’m happy to say that it is. Most of the greenery you can see behind the bench are a flower patch that we uncovered when cleaning up in this area, and have been leaving alone, as we mow or trim around it. Which means that, over time, we’ll be able to sit here in the shade, surrounded by lovely yellow flowers. 🙂

Over time, we will have many seats like this, scattered all around the the inner yard, as we continue to clean up among the trees, and turn the inner yard into a lovely haven.

I feel a sense of peace, just thinking about it!

The Re-Farmer


The winds died down today, which means that the smoke is back. Today is one of the worst days I’ve seen yet. Usually, we don’t get visible smoke in the yard until the end of the day, but that’s how we started, today!

In going to pick up the meat pack we ordered, I drove to a town north of us. The fires are all well to the north of us. By the time I got to the exit for the town, I could barely see past a hundred yards or so!

The parking lot we met at was near a bridge. The river, thankfully, is not as low as I thought it might be, with our drought, but it is still much lower than usual. The smoke is actually thicker than it looks in the photo. By the time we finished chatting and said our goodbyes, my throat was completely raw from the smoke.

Once I was back on the highway, I just had to pull over to get another photo. Again, the camera on my phone automatically cleans up the haze, and it was much denser in real life.

On the plus side, we got our meat order, and we’re quite happy. The individual packages were smaller than we would see in a grocery store, but we also got a larger variety of cuts. They change up the package, depending on the time of year. For the summer, they try to include things for the BBQ (though they do have a separate BBQ package, too), while in the winter, they try to include more things like stewing beef. It’s all frozen solid, so for now, we’re just thawing out the sausages and peppettes to try, first.

Around November, when they do their butchering, they’ll have half or quarter beef available. They have to figure out new pricing for this year, due to the increased costs of having to buy feed for their cattle this year, but I am hoping we’ll be able to get a quarter beef for the winter.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning damage

I have a bit of time before I head off to pick up our meat pack, and just had to make a quick post.

It was a bad morning in the garden.

While heading over to switch out the memory card on the garden cam, the very first thing that I saw was this.

Of the surviving Dorinny corn, there was one plant on its own at the very end of a row. It is now in two rows.

The critter didn’t even eat the whole thing. It just chomped on half a corn cob.

Another Dorinny corn got it’s developing cob torn off and nibbled on.

This one got to me. These are the transplanted Hopi Black Dye sunflowers. The ones we started indoors months ago, but didn’t actually germinate until all the others were direct sown or transplanted. While small, they had been doing well. Now, all but one have their heads chopped off, and the one that didn’t, is broken.

You can see the single surviving pink celery transplant, near it. That got ignored, at least.

Then there’s this. You can even see the hoof print in the ground!

This is the purple corn, way on the other side of the garden. The last two corn in this row had already been partially eaten and were growing back, only to be eaten again. A third one has it’s tall stalk broken right off, and you can see it lying on the ground. Thankfully, that was as far as the damage went, with the purple corn.

And here we have our culprit! At least for the Dorinny corn and sunflowers. The tracks in the purple corn head in the opposite direction, so it was either another deer, or this deer took the scenic route.

In the trail cam files, I did see a woodchuck in the sweet corn during the day, but there was no damage to that corn. It looked like it was eating the grass or weeds in the path.

The woodchuck – or another of them – is likely the cause of this damage, in one of the summer squash. It’s definitely not a deer that did this.


Later today, I’ll be moving some of the things we put around the tulips to keep critters away. The tulips have died back and they are no longer needed there. The bells and spinners would probably be useful in startling critters. Clearly, the flapping grocery bags, motion activated light and aluminum tart pans are no longer enough.

I suppose the damage is pretty minimal, given how much we’ve got planted overall, but even a little bit adds up after a while. It’s so frustrating.

When we plant trees where the temporary garden beds are now, we at least know we’ll have to take extra steps to protect the saplings from critter damage.

The Re-Farmer

Things fixed and things found

The first chance I got, I headed outside to take care of the bird feeders, starting with fixing the base of the big feeder.

I was able to find some longer wood screws that weren’t so long, they’d go through the wood I added to the base. Hopefully, the 6 screws will now be enough to hold! Then I got the loppers out and pruned the Korean Lilac. The raccoons have been using it to get to the feeder, and they’d already broken a couple of branches. Though they look close, the ones in the background are well away from the feeder. I also pruned some low hanging branches from the Chinese Elm in front of the kitchen window, as much as I could. Once I’d removed the weight of the first branches, the main branch lifted out of reach! Hopefully, the raccoons won’t try to use them, because their weight would bow the branches down to the feeder. I don’t think they actually used the elm at all, but I wanted to at least take away the option!

It wasn’t until I unloaded the van that I noticed the new hanging feeder didn’t have a cable to hang it from! The instructions didn’t even show one, though there were holes in the top for it. I ended up using the one from the broken feeder, so that worked out.

This feeder hold a bit less than the old one, but I think it will be easier to refill. Instead of trying to pour the seeds into a small hole at the top, the container comes out and can be used to scoop the seed. It even has a convenient handle. We shall see if it really is helpful. Unfortunately, so much seed has been lost to the breaking of feeders, we’re running out of seed, and the amount in the bin was too shallow to scoop the new feeder full.

As you can see, the birds were quick to use the new feeder!

I had the soaker hose going in the garden while I did this, and spent the rest of the evening moving the sprinkler around every half hour or so, for the evening watering. While checking on the sunflowers and sweet corn, I found proof of what nibbled on the sunflowers!

This hoof print was in the row of corn nearest the nibbled on sunflowers.

The deer managed to step right on a new pea sprout!!

I could see several other hoof prints through that corn bed, which really made me wonder how the garden cam’s motion sensor missed it! Well, if we get any other visitors in there tonight, I hope the new location will be better to catch the critters!

There are very few, so far, but it was nice to see some bigger green beans have developed.

I also checked on the sad purple peas. They aren’t as small or as chewed on as the green peas, but they certainly aren’t doing well. The plants aren’t being eaten, but the few pods are! Amazingly, we are still seeing pea flowers. With so little growth, the peas aren’t climbing their trellises as they normally would, but some of the purple peas are long enough that I would wrap them around the vertical twine. Much to my surprise, I found a couple of pods.

Dried pops.

The first one I found had three peas in the pod, and then I found one with a single pea in it.

These can actually be saved to plant next year!

I still have the envelope the King Tut peas came in, so that’s where they are now, and the envelope has been added to the packets of leftover seeds for next year.

We have officially saved our very first seeds for our own garden! 😀

In between moving the sprinkler until it was back to watering manually, the evening was so lovely and cool, I hang around outside.

With kittens.

I’ve got a camp chair set up near the steps, and was able to play with the babies a bit. They still won’t come up to me, but I can at least wiggle a stick on the ground and get them close!

From left to right is Chadicus, Bradicus, Caramel, and Broccoli, next to her mother.

While watering the south garden beds, I got to see Nosencrantz and Toesencrantz. They are much shier than Butterscotch’s babies. Not as shy as Junk Pile’s babies, though! They are coming to the kibble house for food, but if we step outside, they immediately run off in a panic, even as their mother stays in the kibble house and watches us. I don’t have much hope for socializing that particular litter!

Tomorrow I’ll be doing the morning rounds quickly again, though I’ll have a chance to make up for it before it gets too hot. I’m going to be heading out to a town north of us to do a pick up. We found a fairly local beef farm that does direct sales, and I’ll be meeting them to pick up our package tomorrow. Which is handy, since it meant we didn’t have to pick up much meat during our city shop. I got the invoice and an itemized list of what will be in the mixed pack we ordered – the contents of the pack depends on what’s available at the time – and I’m really looking forward to it. There are cuts of meat in there that we could never afford to buy before! I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a steak, never mind a high quality cut. The price per pound, compared even to city prices, is so much better! I don’t begrudge retail stores their prices; there’s a lot those prices have to pay for. Things that don’t have to be included when buying direct from the farmer. I’m so happy I found this place! I’d found another company that is further away, but does regular deliveries to meet-up locations in the city. If we’d placed an order with them now, we wouldn’t have been able to get it until November, at the earliest.

I’m really looking forward to bringing home the beef! 😀

The Re-Farmer

The watchers, and critter damage

This spot is, hands down, a favourite of pretty much all the cats…

There had been three of them here, all sitting with their front paws at the window, watching the activities outside. Susan took off before I could get her in the picture. 🙂

They have plenty to watch out there! Butterscotch’s kittens like to play on the concrete steps below the door. Recently, I moved their food and water bowls to the steps, partly to get them used to being closer to the safety of the house, and partly to have them spending less time at the junk pile, now that a grog – my daughters’ word for the woodchucks – has dug a den under it.

One time, the cats suddenly became very alert, so I went over to the living room window to see what they were looking at.

There was a grog, standing up like a little man, next to the lilacs!

Unfortunately, our hanging bird feeder got broken yesterday. I had refilled it that morning, but didn’t notice that I hadn’t hung it properly on the hook. That time of the morning, this time of the year, I get blinded by the sun when I hang it back up, and I keep forgetting to move. 😀 I noticed it out the living room window, with the hanging cable sitting on top of the hook, instead of in it. For some reason, the hook is wrapped in electric tape, and that was keeping it from sliding off. Then I promptly got distracted and forgot to go outside to fix it. A few hours later, my daughter noticed it was gone completely. We spotted it about 15 feet away, in pieces, and the seed reservoir had a chunk broken off.

Though it had been refilled this morning, there was no sign of the birdseed that was in it! It was already all eaten up. My guess is, some larger bird landed on it, it slid off the hook, cracked when it hit the ground, and then a grog dragged it off and broke into it to get at the seeds. Just a guess, but a likely scenario.

When the girls were done the evening watering and went to shut off the back tap, they found another watcher.

This adorable BIG tree frog, just hanging out on the wall. 🙂


With the hanging feeder broken, I finally got around to attaching a piece of wood to the bottom of the big feeder, reattaching the metal fixture, then setting it back up on its post. The fixture is larger than the post, so I found some foam covered wire I had left and wrapped it around the post. It still wobbled a bit, but not as much as before.

The birds were happy to have the big feeder back up.

So where the raccoons.

I happened to pop outside some time after midnight and startled at least two of them. One ran off into the darkness, while the other ran up the tree outside our kitchen window, and just stayed there, frozen, until I left.

Unfortunately, they came back.


This is how I found it this morning. I’m going to have to find me some longer screws. Most of what I have are actually too long, and would go right through the base of the feeder.

I was heading to the city today to do our monthly shop, so I had to do a quick version of my morning rounds, which is when I found this.

Three sunflowers in one row, and one in another row, have lost their heads! The three with the twine around them were the larger, transplanted ones.

Given the height, I would say this was done by a deer, but when I finally got to check the garden cam, whatever did this did not trigger the motion sensor. I would have expected something as large as a deer to trigger it, but if it were something smaller, like a grog or a raccoon, it would have eaten the bottom leaves, or broken the stem, pulling it down to reach the heads.

The plants are far enough along that they will grow side shoots to replace the missing heads, but it will certainly slow their development.

The critters invading our yard this year are causing some issues of their own.

Having moved the kittens’ food bowl closer to the house also means the skunks will be coming closer, too. Which I’m not too worried about. They just eat the kibble, not our garden. When my daughter came around the house on her way to the garden, she startled a skunk at the steps. It ran off and went under the old garden shed.

Then suddenly began chittering like crazy, ran out and ran off.

The garden shed began making grog noises.

It seems the skunk ran to hide under the shed, only to run face first into a woodchuck.

I’m amazed it didn’t spray!

In other things, I’ve hit a bit of a delay in working on the bench I was doing to make, over the pair of stumps near the garden. I brought out the electric chainsaw to cut the stumps flat across the top, and to even heights.

The first curiosity was finding the chainsaw’s oil reservoir was empty. I’d only used it once since we had it services, and even then, just for one cut, before moving on to other tools. Once that was refilled, it was doing the job all right – until it wasn’t! The chain stopped turning. It didn’t stop running, though. After fussing with it, the chain started turning again, then would stop soon after.

I’ve had this thing services twice, and no one spotted anything that would cause this.

I noticed the chain was really dry, too. I don’t think it’s getting oiled as it runs, the way it’s supposed to. It has a button to push to oil the chain, but it doesn’t seem to do anything.

I don’t think I’ll bother getting it serviced again.

I’m hoping to be able to use our reciprocating saw to do that job, instead. The last time I used it, however, it was having issues, too. It’s a cheaper brand, and has seen a lot of use, so that doesn’t surprise me. It does, however, have a blade on it that’s longer than the bar on the electric chain saw, so if it does work, it’ll actually be easier to use on the larger stump than with the electric chain saw.

I think it will wait until tomorrow, though, which is supposed to be a bit cooler.

For now, I’m going to start the evening a bit early, since I wasn’t able to water the garden beds this morning.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: new finds!

Today is supposed to exceed 30C/86F, so I wanted to make sure the garden got an deep watering this morning. When I had removed the shade cloth from the three beds with fall harvest crops planted, the seedlings seemed to be doing pretty good.

When I returned to cover them this morning, I saw this on one of the beds.

There was no evidence of a critter getting under the chicken wire cover. That suggested whatever ate these leaves was either a really small, light critter, like a mouse (very unlikely, given how many hungry mouths our mama cats have to feed), or it was insects.

My money is on the grasshoppers. 😦

This was, however, the only damage found this morning. The rest was all fun stuff. I was absolutely thrilled to see this.

Our very first Tennessee Dancing Gourd!!!

Somehow, in seeing all the flowers in the plants next to the luffa, my brain just stuck them in the “melons” category. On looking more closely, I found lots of these.

It looks like we are going to have plenty of little spinner gourds growing! They only get a few inches long and, according to one of the reviews I read when I bought the seeds, they are very prolific. The writer claimed their one plant ended up with at least 250 gourds. This was someone with a much longer growing season than ours, so I don’t expect that sort of success, but we should definitely have quite a few from our several plants.

Meanwhile, the flower bud on the nearby luffa plant I saw yesterday, looking like it was starting to open, absolutely exploded into flower this morning! So awesome!

What is also awesome is being able to walk past the squash tunnel and, from any angle, be able to see melons, and knowing that there are more little ones, still hidden under the leaves.

I finally remembered to uncover and read the labels by the winter squash. The ones that are so enthusiastically climbing the wire are the Little Gem variety, with several small squash already forming.

This morning, I finally saw some fruit forming on the Teddy variety of winter squash.

Both of these varieties as supposed to produce small fruit, with a short growing season, so when I hadn’t seen any of the Teddy squash developing, I was beginning to wonder. I am really excited to see the fruit developing now. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Well, that sucks

When we first saw the mystery critters that turned out to be woodchucks, running around in the distance, we saw them going under my late father’s car, or under a shed near the barn. When we first saw them this year, there was a pair of them that seemed to have made their home in the branches pile in the outer yard.

It wasn’t until we discovered a den in the middle of the old garden area that we had something that needed to be gotten rid of. Then there was the den under the concrete steps, right at the house. We’ve got four of them that seemed to have moved right into our yard. One really big one, a pair a smaller ones, and one really small one that we’ve seen coming in and out of the spruce grove.

We know at least one of them, possibly two, seems to have made its home under the old garden shed. There isn’t much we can do about them living there, but I didn’t like having to seal off the concrete stairs. That has been a safe place for yard cats to have their kittens, and now they no longer have access to it. The cats also used the space under the garden shed, too.

With seeing the little one running in and out of the spruce grove near the junk pile, I noticed that Butterscotch and her kittens have not been there as often. They still come to the food and water bowls, and they play around the house and under the bird bath, but we’ve seen Butterscotch and her kittens going through the lilac hedge a lot. Which means she’s been taking them to them empty farm yard across the road. We aren’t happy with that, as that is a busy road they cross to get there, and we see a lot of people speeding on that road.

This afternoon, I happened to look out our living room window and saw a couple of woodchucks, next to the kittens’ food bowl.

The littlest woodchuck was getting it on with the biggest one. Which was interesting, considering she is at least twice his size.


So I headed outside to inflict a bit of coitus interruptus. They were gone before I came around the house, but I decided to take a closer look at the junk pile. There’s an old pallet leaning against one side, that the kittens loved to climb and play on, that I moved aside.

Well, crud.

It looks like the littlest woodchuck has made his den under the junk pile. I made my way through the thistles on the other side, and could see a hole leading under the pile on that side, too.

Then the junk pile screamed at me.

I guess that explains why the kittens don’t seem to be around there as much anymore.

The woodchucks are now responsible for the yard cats losing three safe places they had for their kittens, including one that was being actively used.

I am not impressed. The yard cats, at least, earn their keep by keeping us rodent free.

Well. Except for the rodents that are bigger than they are, and eat our garden.

I am not impressed.

The Re-Farmer