We have a new visitor to the feeding station, today!

I haven’t seen grouse in the yard in quite a while, and whenever we did, they tended to be under some bushes or trees. This is the first time we’ve seen one at the feeding station!

Such a pretty bird, all puffed up to stay warm.

I think there was too much movement in the window, as it started to move away, but it did come back, and actually stayed at the feeding station for quite a long time.

I hope it comes back again! 🙂

The Re-Farmer


I haven’t done my Critter of the Day pictures in ages. Usually, once we’re spending more time indoors, I start them up again, but they take quite a bit of time. I do very little post processing – maybe some cropping, or fixing the lighting, but that’s it. The main thing is to resize them so they don’t take up so much storage space on my WordPress account. Even after upgrading our account, I post so many photos, it adds up.

So I don’t think I’ll be doing daily critters, but I will post some every now and then. I recently uploaded the files from the DSLR in the living room, and this one made me smile. I just had to share!

I can’t help it. I just love it when we catch tongue blehps!!! They always make me smile. 🙂

In the last little while, the deer have started to show up at the feeding station during daylight hours almost every day, and the yards a crisscrossed with their tracks. Though we’re just seeing a few at a time, there are definitely a LOT more that we’re not seeing!

So pretty. 🙂

At least they are, now, when there is no garden for them to get into! 😀

The Re-Farmer

The Distinguished Guest

It’s been difficult to get a really good picture of the new addition to our outside cats, but my daughter managed to get one with the DSLR outside our living room window a while back.

The Distinguished Guest is such a beauty! Here, just looks like she’s all black, but she has a white blaze on her chest, making her more like a tuxedo.

She is still with us, though I haven’t seen her yet, today. In fact, I haven’t seen any of the outside cats. I had a rough night last night, so my husband was sweet enough to take care of the critter feeding this morning. I’m even postponing the city shopping trip to tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll actually get some sleep tonight. We’ve brought the storage bins of Christmas decorations up, and the inside cats are having a blast exploring the new smalls and knocking things over.

But only after we’re all in bed.


So today is going to be an indoors day for me!

The Re-Farmer


One thing about feeding so many yard cats. Especially in the winter.

Sometimes, they make you feel really, really loved and appreciated!

In between trying to chomp my fingers. 😀

Butterscotch in particular likes to strrreeetttcchhh out for pets. Or stand in her back legs.

She’s so sweet, when she’s not vicious and mean! 😀

I had a small addition to my morning rounds, and that was to check on the van. I have a habit of leaving really, really early for things, and yesterday was one of those days that got me into that habit. I was just about to leave for my course, and the van wouldn’t start.

The battery was dead.

I don’t know why. It was working fine on Friday.

Well, my husband was a sweetheart and put it on the charger while I too my mother’s car to my course.

Having to pay expenses for two vehicles may be hard on the budget. Especially when one of those vehicles isn’t really mine, but out here, having a “spare” is pretty necessary. It’s not like we could just hop on a bus or take a taxi or something!

This morning, I made sure to start the van and check the battery level, and it was just fine.

Which is great, but it’s still a mystery that the battery would suddenly die like that.

Depending on how things go, I’ll be making our city shopping trip in the next day or two. We’re actually supposed go above freezing again, in a couple of days. It’ll be messy, but I prefer that to making these trips during a deep freeze.

Which, thankfully, is not on the horizon. The long range forecast are showing December will start to get colder at about the middle of the month, but even then, it’ll still be pretty mild for this time of year.

Still holding out hope that The Farmer’s Almanac will the the accurate one in predicting a mild wet winter for our area, and not the other long range forecasts I saw that predicted another severely cold winter. Either way, though, we plan to be prepared!

Including prepared to keep the outside cats warm and well fed. ❤

The Re-Farmer

It was worth it.

I am not a morning person.

Especially when the days are so short.

Not even a glorious sunrise quite makes up for having to be heading out so early, on icy roads.

But it was worth it.

I just spent the day at one of the nearby towns, and am proud to say that I have officially passed my non-restricted firearms safety course; an early Christmas present from my husband!

I just have to mail in the form to get my license, which might take a few weeks, or a few months, to get processed and mailed to me.

Once I get that, I can legally buy any hunting-type long rifle or shotgun.

Now, I learned how to shoot as a child, and a lot of the rules we have now didn’t exist back then. There wasn’t much I had to “unlearn”, though. With the written test, I only got one answer wrong, and it was a silly one. It was a true/false shotgun question, and I am only slightly more familiar with them than I am with a muzzle loader! 😀 I’ll be getting a prize in the mail, though!

The practical part of the test had me handling weapon types I’d only ever seen in movies until today. Thankfully, being unfamiliar with a weapon did not generally result in lost points.

One thing I found interesting, particularly as someone who lives in the boonies; as long as we meet some pretty basic, common sense safety precautions, we’re pretty much wild west out here. Especially if there is a concern about wild animals in the area. While the list of restricted weapons and ammunition is longer here in Canada, and pretty stupid (some are banned basically because they look scary, and there’s even an air rifle that reaches only 350fps that’s banned. My crossbow does over 400fps!), thanks to the gun registry being rightfully thrown out, as long as we’ve got our license and keep it up to date, there are not a lot of restrictions.

Granted, we don’t have the budget to actually buy a rifle any time soon, but once I get the license, at least it will be an option. We also want the girls to take the course, too, though for the cost, it would be just one at a time. Which is fine. As long as I’m not the only one in the household with the license.

I am quite happy. It was worth it, and allows us to eventually get one more type of tool needed for living out here.

On a completely different note, today is the first Sunday of Advent, and while I was gone, the girls were kind enough to bring the bins of Christmas stuff up from the basement. Time to start some cat-proof decorating! 😀

Oh, and on another completely different note, and one that I was actually kind of expecting.

I got an email from our vandal’s lawyer, rather late on Friday, wanting to talk to me on the phone. Sure enough, our vandal did NOT agree to the conditions, so we do not have our Peace Bond against him. His lawyer will call me on Monday (tomorrow) to tell me what happened, and to talk next steps. I expect he will suggest mediation, which is where our vandal and I sit down with a third party, who tries to get us to work something out. Which I would be willing to do, if we were dealing with someone rational, but we’re dealing with someone who can’t accept responsibility for his actions, things everything is everyone else’s fault, and believes he’s entitled not only to what’s on the farm, but to have complete access to everything here, any time he wishes, as if we weren’t living here – except that I’m supposed to invite him in for tea after he verbally abuses me and vandalizes stuff. So I don’t see that mediation would be of any use. Which would mean going to trial, and the earliest court dates that are being booked are a year from now.

Well, we’ll see what happens when I talk to the lawyer on Monday.


At least as long as this drags through the courts, our vandal is behaving and leaving us alone, even if he does sometimes still phone my mother and leave nasty messages about how horrible we are. Ah, well. It is what it is. We just go along the best we can, while this drags on!

The Re-Farmer

David the Magnificent

I don’t tend to post pictures of the inside cats very often.

To be honest, it’s only partly because of how hard it is to get them sitting still long enough for a photo. It’s also partly because I’m a terrible housekeeper and the backgrounds are always a disaster! LOL

Every now and then, though…

… I can get some wonderful shots.

This old plant stand has become a favourite spot for the cats to sit and watch the activity at the feeding station outside.

David is the most magnificent of them all.

The Re-Farmer

Analyzing our 2021 garden: the abject failures!

Since we ordered SO many things for this year, and expanded how much space we were gardening in, I decided to go over groups of things in separate posts, in no particular order and spread over the next few days.

This is the last post in this series.

The utter and complete failures!

It was such a very difficult growing year this year. We had to deal with drought, heat waves, difficulty watering things due to the beds being so far flung, deer, groundhogs and a plague of grasshoppers.

Yet, we still managed to harvest food from our garden, and with some, we even had enough to freeze and pickle.

There were some things, however, that just didn’t work.

One of these was the Baby Pam Pumpkin.

I have no photos, because there was nothing to take photos of!

When we started these indoors, we only planted a few seeds, not the entire package.

They did not germinate. At all.

I highly doubt there was something wrong with the seeds. Veseys seeds have always been of very high quality. We had a number of issues with starting things indoors, and those were more likely the reason.

These little pumpkins were chosen for their short growing season, small size and their reputed excellent flavour. I think I’d be willing to try them again, when we start our other squash indoors. We already have so many others, though, it might be something we will try again further in the future.

Another fail was the Strawberry Spinach. These were broadcast in a new bed we made, near where the asparagus crowns were later trenched. They did seem to sprout, and then they disappeared.

Assuming the sprouts we saw were even Strawberry Spinach!

I want to try these again. This spot was chosen because they are known to self seed easily, and this could be a permanent spot for them. We’ve grown them before in a balcony garden, years ago, so I know we like them. I plan to get more seeds for this coming year. Once this bed was finally abandoned, it got very weedy, so in the spring, it will need a lot of clean up of as many roots as we can. It’s already got new garden soil on it, but a bit more won’t hurt. The seeds are so fine, a mulch might be too much for them, but perhaps if we cover them with the clear plastic we have, first, then with netting until the start getting big. Maybe that will work?

We shall see.

Then there was the Illinois Everbearing Mulberry.

We took a chance on this one. It was a zone 4 plant, but with a good microclimate and winter protection, I thought we could make it work. I remember my mother being able to grow things I later learned were zone 5, quite successfully, so I knew it was possible.

It started out so well, too! We had a wonderfully warm May, and Veseys sent it out when it was the right time of year for transplanting in our zone. Once transplanted, it took well and soon sprouted healthy leaves.

Then we got hit with that one really cold night in late May.

Our last frost date is June 2. Typically, that means hitting temperatures at or just below freezing. Maybe as low as -2C/28F or so.

If I remember correctly, we hit -8C/18F.

It was devastating.

With the month having been so warm, we had things blooming all over. Most of the lilacs, the crab apples, chokecherries and Saskatoons were all blooming. Even the highbush cranberry I uncovered in the spruce grove the year before had flowers.

That was it for the lilacs blooming, and we got no fruit. Even the grape vines, which hadn’t even started budding yet, were set back.

Unfortunately, we had completely forgotten about the mulberry tree. If we had remembered, we could have done something to protect it from the cold, but we didn’t. I’d read that, when hit with cold, mulberries can drop all their leaves, but then grow them back and recover. I held out hope for months, even continuing to water it during the drought. I even thought there might be a possibility that it would make a come back next spring.

All possibility of a recovery ended just a little while ago, when I discovered that even the remaining stem was gone, having been eaten by deer.

That poor little tree.

Since then, I have found a nursery that has a cold hardy, white mulberry available. It was an accidental discovery on their land, and that parent tree has survived temperatures of -40C/-40F. It’s a lot more expensive then mulberries at other nurseries, but no other place has any this cold hardy.

We plan to order one, as soon as we can squeeze it out of the budget. Mulberries are known for producing a LOT of berries; enough for our own uses and what we can’t reach, the birds can enjoy. Another reason I want to get a mulberry tree is because of my mother. She shared stories with me of a mulberry tree they had in Poland when she was a child. A huge tree, bigger than their barn. When I found out that mulberry trees were available to grow in Canada, I just had to give it a try.

Hopefully, the next one we get will survive!

Another failure for us was the Chinese Pink celery, though that is entirely my fault. I didn’t pay enough attention to the instructions. It wasn’t until we were starting other things indoors that I realized these should have been started in January or February, not April!

We did actually get seedlings, and I even transplanted one little bunch, but nothing came of it.

I am still very curious about these and would love to try them again.

Maybe not right away, though.

Ah, the radishes.

I ordered a couple of varieties for my younger daughter. Daikon and Watermelon. These were interplanted with the corn. The Daikon radish in particular is known to help break up hard soil, which would have been quite beneficial in that area.

It was very exciting when they started to germinate! We were seeing them all over.

Then they disappeared without a trace.

A while later, there was some late germination, but those disappeared, too.

I have no idea what happened to them. We weren’t having problems with insects at the time. Birds, maybe? I just don’t know.

It was quite disappointing.

Then, later on, I decided to try again, this time with seeds I picked up at the grocery store.

Oh, I completely forgot about the chard!

It was not a failure. At least not the Bright Lights chard. As a fall planting, they grew very well, but we didn’t eat a lot of them. They weren’t a big hit with the family, and we didn’t really know what to do with them. They sure handled the frosts well! The second variety was a fail. Only two plants survived the grasshoppers. Barely.

As for the radishes, they got decimated by the grasshoppers. In the end, all we got was this.

Two French Breakfast radishes, which were left to grow because I was after pods, not roots.

We got neither.

I do plan to try radishes again, but very different ones. I’ve found a source for tillage radishes – they can grow many feet long, and are used as more as a cover crop, because they do such a great job of “tilling” the soil, and are left to decompose, further amending it. They can also be used as a forage crop, so planting them away from the house could be useful in luring the deer away. I’m also looking at picking up some sugar beets to try. They also help break up the soil, can also serve as a forage crop – or we can actually try making our own sugar from them. Our province used to be a major producer of sugar from sugar beets for many years. I figure it’s worth a try, at some point.

We have a couple more complete failures here. The Early Purple Vienna kohlrabi, and the Russian Red Kale.

These were both free seeds from Baker Creek. I really like kohlrabi and tried planting White Vienna the year before. Of all the seeds I’d planted, only 4 survived, and only 2 got large, but none ever got a chance to form their bulbs. The final killer was flea beetles.

This year, we didn’t even get that.

As cool weather crops, both got planted the earliest, but as far as I can tell, none germinated. I even tried planting kohlrabi again, as a fall crop when the radishes, lettuce and chard were planted.


Now, I don’t mind the kale not working. I’m not a big fan of kale, though I did enjoy kale chips that we’ve made in the past. I’m willing to try different types and maybe find that I do like them, after all.

Kohlrabi, on the other hand, is something I really enjoy, but only buy rarely as a treat. I’d love to be able to grow my own. The problem is, I don’t know why they failed this year. I can’t even be sure if they germinated, or if something ate all the seeds. Or maybe they did germinate, and something ate all the sprouts?

I have no idea.

But I really, really want to grow kohlrabi!

I think, if I have the space for it, I will try starting some indoors. Maybe transplants will survive!

Final analysis:

In spite of the complete failures, and all the other challenges we had in the garden this past year, I’m still pretty happy with it all. I heard from so many others that lost their gardens entirely, so we have much to be thankful for.

Plus, all those challenges now, means we have a better idea of what we can do in the future, whether its by focusing on hügelkultur beds and mulching as a way to conserve water during drought conditions, to knowing what critters we need to protect our food from (the groundhogs were an unexpected problem!), and so on. We’ve learned a great deal.

Which means that even the failures are really successes, in the end.

The Re-Farmer

Analyzing our 2021 garden: the odd stuff

Since we ordered SO many things for this year, and expanded how much space we were gardening in, I decided to go over groups of things in separate posts, in no particular order and spread over the next few days.

There were a few things we planted this year that we won’t know how they will do until next year, at the earliest!

The first of these are the wildflower mixes.

Now, what we should have done, under better circumstances, was clear out our chosen locations of all roots in the fall, loosen the soil, then plant the seeds in the spring.



We just don’t have the equipment for that. Especially for the areas we would be planting them.

This is one such area.

Can you imagine going over this with a tiller, then clearing out all those roots, as recommended? Especially since there are a lot of tree roots in here; I had to go over the area and cut them away before I could mow it.

This is outside the property, and technically not our responsibility to keep clear, but my family has kept it from getting overgrown for as long as I can remember. Inside the fence from here is where we had our corn and sunflower blocks this past summer.

This is where the package of Western Mix seeds went. They didn’t get broadcast until there was no possibility of early germination. Normally, that would probably have been around mid September, but it ended up being at the start of November! I put the seeds in an old bulk-size spice shaker with some soil, gave it a shake to make sure they were well mixed in with the soil, and scattered it not far from where we had just installed the new sign. In the photo, that would be basically right where I was standing to take it. I didn’t want to spread the seeds too close to the fence line, so we wouldn’t be walking on flowers while tending to the fence.

In theory, when the snow melts in the spring, they will germinate and this area will have wildflowers growing in it. The purpose is to attract pollinators, and to make it so we no longer need to mow here at all. The ultimate goal is for almost this entire area, all the way to the driveway, to be filled with native wildflowers.

We shall see how it works, some time in the spring!

This is where the alternative lawn mix went. The area was raked clear of leaves, raked again to loosen the soil (it’s almost bare soil in between the rows of trees, with some crab grass trying to grow in it), the seeds scattered the same way I did with the Wildflower mix, then the leaves were returned as a mulch.

As with the other seeds, I expected to do this in the middle of September, not the beginning of November.

Hopefully, when the snow melts and the soil warms up, we’ll have all sorts of things growing here. If it works out, we’ll get more of these seeds and use them in other treed areas that are difficult to maintain, but we don’t want to leave to become overgrown again.

Then there are my Christmas presents from my husband.


More specifically, spores for morels and giant puffballs.

Morel mushrooms are native to the area, but I have never seen any in the home quarter. I remember finding them in the unoccupied quarter that is rented out for pasture, even though it’s probably at least half trees, plus a pond and marshy area. It’s highly unlikely we’ll have a chance to go morel hunting out there, so being able to inoculate an area inside our yard is definitely preferable! This location was chosen because the instructions recommended several different types of trees to spread the spores under, but the only one that grows here is elm. After checking out a number of videos on how to grow morels, I built this bed for it, with carboard to keep the crab grass out, and inoculated layers of wood shavings and hardwood pellets.

The spores for the giant puffballs needed a couple of days in water with molasses first. The instructions said to pour the liquid over grass, and I chose this area between the rows of elms, because it’s not easy to mow or keep clear.

Puffball mushrooms are also native to our area, though I’ve never seen the giant varieties. These guys are supposed to get so big, you can cut them into steaks.

The thing with these is, we will have no idea if it worked, until something pops up, and that could potentially take years!

At least they didn’t cost much when my husband ordered them on Amazon. Over the years, we plant to get spores from other types of edible mushrooms to inoculate trees and logs. Recently, I went over the wish list I’d made of different mushroom types on Amazon, and the prices are almost 10 times what they were before! I even tried comparing like-for-like by finding the same Morel spores my husband had ordered. The price increase was really shocking!

There are other places to get mushroom spores, however, and I’d rather not order from Amazon, anyhow. Whether or not these work out, I still want to get other types of mushroom spores over the years to try. Types that are either hard to find in grocery stores, or that are just way too expensive to be worth buying.

A very different way to grow food, but a fun one to try!

The Re-Farmer

Analysing our 2021 garden: lettuce, spinach, tomato, poppy and asparagus

Since we ordered SO many things for this year, and expanded how much space we were gardening in, I decided to go over groups of things in separate posts, in no particular order and spread over the next few days.

Quite a mix of success and … almost success… in this post!

First, the asparagus!

I’ve honestly lost track of when we ordered these, but they are Purple Passion Asparagus from Veseys. We only got six crowns for a start.

Asparagus is something that can produce for about 20 years. They required a new bed to be dug, and we had to choose an area where they could be permanent. We did see a few asparagus growing from all the crowns this summer. The earliest we can expect to harvest these is two summers from now, and even then, it would be better if we gave them more time.

There was asparagus already growing here, and they have been for many decades. Nothing suitable for harvesting. I suppose, as some point, we should dig up the ones in the old kitchen garden, which are all male plants (male plants are apparently better for harvesting). They are easily more than 50 years old. We’ve also found a few female plants at the fence near the gate. Every fall, we see their bright red berries, but for all that they drop seeds, there are never more plants! I’ve asked my mother about those, and she said they have been growing there since before my parents bought the property! That makes them probably well over 60 years old.

While our asparagus seemed to do all right this year, even with the drought, we won’t know of they are a complete success for at least another two years.

When I was a child, I remember my mother grew poppies that we could harvest for their seeds, but when we moved back, there were only ornamental poppies. So when I found seeds for bread poppies, I happily ordered some. They were Giant Rattle poppies from Baker Creek.

The seeds were broadcast on a new bed in the old kitchen garden, more nostalgic reasons. That’s the garden where my mother had her poppies growing. 🙂 It took quite a while longer than expected for them to germinate and, with the drought, they never reached their full potential, even with regular watering. We did end up with some small seed pods that I could harvest, though!

Poppies self sow easily, and I did make sure some seeds were broadcast in the bed this fall, but I will sow more in the spring as well. Hopefully, next year, they will live up to their name!

Then there were the tomatoes! These were, hands down, the must successful things we grew this year. We had the super tiny Spoon, super prolific tomatoes from Baker Creek, and Mosaic Mix, a medley of cherry and grape tomatoes, from Veseys, that were also very prolific. Both were indeterminate varieties planted in a new bed against the chain link fence, which we could use to help support them. With the drought conditions, it did seem to take a while for them to start producing ripe tomatoes, but once they did, they just didn’t stop, and even kept on producing after being hit with colder temperatures, before finally being killed off by frost.

If that’s how they did during such a hard growing year, I can’t imagine how much better they would have done under optimal conditions!

When it comes to eating tomatoes, my husband and older daughter love them. My younger daughter and I do not! She and I can handle them if they are processed into a paste or sauce, but that’s it. I was, however, able to taste the Spoon tomatoes and not gag, which is saying a lot! My husband and older daughter, however, absolutely loved having so many of these little tomatoes to snack on!

While the bed these were in has been completely redone and is now a low raised bed bordered with bricks, I would not be at all surprised if we see some of these sprouting in the spring. Reviews for the Spoon tomato in particular said to expect them to self-sow, because there’s just no way to pick all the tiny tomatoes before they fall to the ground.

Spinach was another success for us. We got a collection from Veseys that included three varieties that matured at different rates.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell much different between them! They were all good. We quite enjoyed having fresh spinach available any time we wanted, usually in salads or sandwiches. Even when doing my morning rounds, I would grab a few leaves to snack on as I went by!

We harvested the last of our spinach when they started to bolt in June. The original plan had been to successive sow them, then sow them again for a fall crop. That didn’t quite work out, when we found ourselves having to build covers for the beds to protect them from deer. The covers weren’t long enough to cover the entire rows, which meant the exposed spinach at each end still got nibbled on, but there was so much of it, we didn’t mind!

We ended up dehydrating the final harvest spinach, and we are still using them. 🙂

As for a fall planting, things didn’t quite work out as planned, and we just skipped it – which means we still have seeds that we can use next year, if we want.

Then there was the lettuce…


We ordered three varieties of leaf lettuce from Baker Creek, all in reds and purples. We got a packet of green lettuce for free with our order. We planted all four varieties in the retaining wall blocks, with netting to protect them from the deer.

That was before the groundhogs showed up.

One morning, I came out and they were all gone. They had just gotten big enough to start harvesting, too.

We didn’t try replanting in the blocks. There just didn’t seem to be any point!

We did, however, plant some in one of the spinach beds for a fall crop, with a cover to protect them from groundhogs, deer and grasshoppers. A bunch of seeds had spilled into the slide lock bag I had them in, so I planted the loose seed, expecting to get a mix. They turned out to be almost all one type – Merlot – with only a couple of Buttercrunch in the mix.

Having to keep them covered with such a long cover, unfortunately, made it very inconvenient to casually harvest them. The bug proof mesh prevented us from being able to just reach underneath an end, like we could with the spinach. This is why I decided to make our high raised beds only 9 feet long. We can build covers for them that one person can easily move alone, unlike the 13 ft covers we had for this year.

We did enjoy the fall lettuce for a while, but then they suddenly got very bitter, and I don’t know why. It’s a shame, because they handled the colder temperatures, and even frost, very well.

Final Analysis:

Asparagus: With only 6 crowns planted this year, even once established, it’s not going to be much for four people. Well, three. My husband isn’t a fan of asparagus. Over time, we will get more. I think we’ll get a green variety, next. We will need to find another suitable location, though, as the one we planted the purple asparagus in has room for those 6 crowns, and that’s it! This is something for the long haul, though, as we will likely get just a few more crowns every year, until we have enough for our uses. Asparagus is one of those things that are so expensive at the store, except for a few short weeks, that once we have our own, we will happily eat them a lot more often. If we eventually have enough to freeze, pickle or can, all the better!

Poppies: While these were not quite a success, as far as having seeds we could use for baking, they weren’t quite a failure, either, and we should have this variety of poppies growing in the same bed again, year after year, if we do it right. I have since found a couple of Canadian sources for other varieties of bread poppies. I plan to get one of them, and sow them in another area where, like the Giant Rattle poppies, we can treat them as perennials. I figure, with at least two types, we will eventually get enough poppy seed to use in some of the traditional Polish bread rolls I remember my mother making with them! 🙂

Tomatoes: both of these varieties did very well, but we will be trying different varieties next year – though I expect to see some of this year’s tomatoes showing up on their own, next year! If not, I would have no problem buying more of the Spoon tomatoes in the future, and highly recommend them. We already have some Yellow Pear tomato seeds from Livingston (my first purchase from this company; I found them at the grocery store by my mother’s place) and Chocolate Cherry from Veseys. These are for my older daughter and husband to enjoy. In addition to these, I will be picking up a variety of paste tomato – I’ve not yet decided which type – for processing into our own tomato paste. This is something we regularly cans by the case, to use as an ingredient in quite a few things. We use it in quantities that make it worth the effort to can our own. Any other type of processed tomato we use tends to be so infrequent, I don’t think it’s worth going through the trouble of canning them ourselves. We’ll just buy those from a store as we need them for specific recipes.

Spinach: These did very well, and I look forward to growing them again. We still have lots of seeds, since we never got to succession sow them, so we don’t need to buy more for this year. Yes, I know, older seeds have a lower germination rate, but considering how high it was originally, I don’t see that as being an issue! Spinach is a favourite, so I can see us growing this every year. We just have to make sure to protect them from deer.

Lettuce: Our intentions of having fresh lettuce to casually harvest any time we wanted, didn’t quite pan out! We still have plenty of seeds from all four varieties to try again, next year. As with the spinach, we’ll have to find a way to protect them from critters. Doing so without making it a pain in the butt to harvest them turned out to be the tricky part. As much as we would like to grow lettuce regularly, as long as we have plenty of spinach, we can do without lettuce as well. That’s a decision to make once we start planting other things, and see what space we have left.

The Re-Farmer

Getting stuff done

Today was my day to do part of our monthly shop.

After the kitties were fed, of course.

Rolando Moon followed me around while I did my rounds.

She even let me pet her a bit, before trying to chomp my hand.

She is so mean. 😀

It’s a good thing we were doing a shop today, because we ran out of bird seed yesterday, and used the last of our dry kibble for the outside cats this morning!

Normally we would have gone to the city to do our Costco shopping today, but our budget got a bit switched, so it was a smaller Walmart trip at the smaller, nearer, city. The electric company changed the dates to report our meter reading, which meant the due date changed, too. Normally, we can pay all our utilities when my husband’s disability payment comes in on the last business day of the month; that would be the one with his private health insurance that we live on. He also gets CPP Disability from the government, which is a top up of sorts, on the third last business day of the month. That allows us to do the bulk of our shopping a few days before the end of the month. This time, however, we had to make our electric payment out of it, and it was a few days late. We haven’t had a late payment on any bill since we’ve moved here! Thankfully, though, I was able to get explain our situation to the electric company and they were able to change it for us, so this will be the only month where it is an issue. Still, it left us with only about a third of our budget for this trip.

Which is okay. We’ll just do the big trip next week.

We had another change to our budget this month. We signed up for StarLink quite a few months ago. The initial down payment was made and we were just waiting for the service to go live in our area. Once that happened, they would send us an email to let us know before taking the rest of the funds out of the account. That would give us time to transfer the funds from our savings account to cover the bill.

Last night, my husband showed me an email from them, saying they’d tried and failed to make the payment.


It took a while, but my husband eventually found several emails from them, in his spam folder. Not only did they send as an email in advance, but they had tried to take the payment out a couple of times already!

Thankfully, today my husband was able to make the payment manually. Which means the equipment will soon be mailed out to us. He did have to update our address to our driveway marker number, because they didn’t consider a box number a valid address. Which is silly. There are plenty of people in rural communities that don’t get mail delivery. Considering rural internet is the whole point of what StarLink is doing here, you’d think they’d clue in.

No matter. With the shortage of computer chips delaying their roll out by months, if not years, we weren’t sure when we’d get our system. Thankfully, we signed up long enough ago that we are still high on the list.

The only down side is, even once the equipment gets here, we may not be able to install it. There is an app that will help us locate the strongest signal from our roof, and that’s where the dish will be installed.

There isn’t a massive amount of snow on the roof – the girls would have gone out to shovel it, if there was – but there is enough snow to make it dangerous to go out there, while lugging around the parts and pieces of a satellite dish and tools!

No matter. It’ll get here when it gets here. It’s still in beta, so once we do have it set up and running, we will close the larger of our two satellite accounts but leave the second one as a back up, just in case something goes wrong. After about a month, we’ll see about closing the second account. Just closing the one account, while paying for the new StarLink account, will save us about a hundred dollars a month. If it works as promised, we should have more reliable internet, with no data limits. Our current service keeps going up in price, but connectivity has been getting worse. Meanwhile, if we go over our data limit, the cost per gig is double. The StarLink satellite signals shouldn’t be affected by weather to the south of us, the way our current service is.

Once we get to the point where we have just the one, new account running, it should save us at least a couple hundred dollars per month, and with the way the price of basics, like food and fuel, are rising, that will be a big help. Plus, with more reliable service and no data limits, I’ll be able to do things like participate in Zoom calls and meetings that I’ve had to skip. I tried doing a Zoom call with my brother once, and it was barely functional!

So that is good news. 🙂

My husband was able to take care of that while I was doing the shopping. We haven’t been able to clear enough or the yard to drive up to the house, though, so I had to pull up as close to the gate as I could. Thankfully, it all fit in the wagon we’ve found so handy, though it was heavy enough that the wheels were sinking in the packed snow of the driveway!

As soon as everything was unloaded, I fed the outside cats again while the girls put stuff away. You’d think they hadn’t been fed this morning at all, the way the little buggers were begging! After taking a couple of kibble bags into the house for the inside cats, I came out to get the last two bags for the outside cats, and found a cat in the wagon, looking ready to tear one of the bags open, right then and there!

Once all that was taken care of, I headed out again to the post office, where I also picked up a bag of deer feed this time, instead of the black oil seed I get in the summer. I was also able to refill the suet feeder. I’ll have to pick up more deer feed next time; for the past couple of winters, we went through about a bag of deer feed a week, but with the extended fall we had, and the current mild temperatures, the deer aren’t in as much need for supplemental feeding just yet.

While going back and forth, I usually have several of the adult cats following me around. Among the kittens, it’s been Nosencrantz and Agnoos – until now! This handsome boy has joined the party of cats determined to get stepped on and tripped over! 😀

More importantly, he lets me pet him regularly now! He even lets me pet his belly while he’s rolling around on the ground, though he does look awfully confused when I do! 😀

I just love those golden eyes!

I’m settling on this one being Chadicous. Aside from Bradicous, with his distinctive white tail tip, we’ll have to settle on which is which for the other ‘icsouses. 😀 One has a distinctive black mark on its nose, while another has a lot more white on his hind legs. There’s still a third one that doesn’t stay still long enough for us to spot any distinguishing features.

I’m happy to say we are now good for the next while; it was mostly critter food we were running low on or out off, but we’ll be good until we can do the rest of the shopping next week. After that, we will be avoiding shopping as much as possible! I expect one last trip to the city in the middle of the month, then not again until after Christmas and New Years, at the earliest. Hopefully, the weather will remain mild, but if we end up in a deep freeze or snowed in again, we should be stocked up for a couple of months by then, if necessary. Especially once that quarter beef we ordered is ready!

I really look forward to when we are at the point of self-sufficiency where these trips to the city are just for topping up, not a major necessity as they are now.

The Re-Farmer