Digging

I just spent the past several hours, clearing snow out of the corner by the basement window, and hauling it away.

I am now stiff, sore and in heaven.

Gosh, I love manual labour. πŸ˜€

This is how the area looked after I last worked on the area.

Hidden in the snow in the back of the first photo is the basement window, and my first goal was to get that clear.

After many loads of snow was hauled away, I could finally remove the cover over the window.

*sigh*

We really need to replace the hinged roof that used to be over this window, supported by that post.

Also, I had a very enthusiastic assistant.

Agnoos was very excited to sit in the wheelbarrow, every chance he got!

During one of my many trips with a load of snow, I was amused to find this, in front of the main entry.

That is a Rolando Moon butt spot. She had been sitting there, enjoying some sun, in the one warm spot that was melting in the warmth.

And it was remarkably warm! I don’t know what the temperature was, but it was warm enough I had to change into a lighter jacket and hat, instead of my down filled part and toque. There was snow melting off the roof, too – and into the sun room, unfortunately. We never did find where the leak was before the snow hit.

Digging out the window was more difficult than I expected. The post is in the way, of course, but that high density plastic protecting the ground in front of the window was SLIPPERY!! Along with the ice chipper, I broke out a small, telescoping snow shovel that really ought to be in our van for the winter. It was small enough for the space, plus aluminum, so it could cut through the hard packed snow and ice, except for the very worst, which needed the ice chipper.

Once the recessed area was clear, the cover went back into place.

Then the ice chipped got a major work out.

I was able to clear right to the ground, breaking off chunks of hard packed snow where the path had been, and clearing along with wall. The downspout off the entry is now clear – and it was dripping!

I wasn’t done yet, though!

With water leaking into the sun room, and seeing quite a bit of melt happening on the roof, I broke out the telescoping roof snow shovel.

That thing can reach remarkably far!

You can now see an ice dam on the eave of the main roof, which drains onto the sunroom roof. Remarkably, the telescoping shovel could even reach onto there.

I seem to recall finding some sidewalk de-icer in the basement, I think. We’ll have to look for it. What I’d like to do (or, more likely, will ask a daughter to do) is make a long, narrow fabric tube and fill it with de-icer, then toss it over the ice dam to create a channel to the eaves trough.

Of course, that meant more snow to haul away. The openings into the shelf that are shelters for the cats were completely covered, and the shelves partially filled.

Once that was cleared, more chipping was done in front of the door, and along the sun room to the old kitchen garden.

That was some seriously hard packed snow.

Once it was clear, I pushed the sump pump hose through between the shelf and the window.

Now, it is back where it’s supposed to be, draining into the old kitchen garden, and nowhere near the well!

The diverter then got put back under the downspout. We’ll have to keep an eye on it, since it’s sitting on top of snow, so it’ll shift as things melt. Eventually, the rain barrel will go back into this spot.

Which is really a bad spot for a rain barrel. It blocks access to the garden. Ideally, it should be around the corner. At some point, we’ll work out a way to do that. Unfortunately, the last concrete block is tipping, likely undermined from the rain barrel being allowed to overflow. When we made a path along the west facing wall, it looked like the entire corner has been undermined. If it’s slowly sinking, that would explain the door frame being so off kilter, and cracking windows. We have spare windows in both sizes in the barn, but I wouldn’t want to replace them without making sure they aren’t just going to crack again! Both smaller windows, and one big window, need to be replaced. At least it’s just the inner panes on these double paned windows that’s cracked. The big window is just a single pain window, and has been since before we moved here. You can really tell the difference. It gets completely covered with frost, while the other windows remain clear.

So that’s the first are that needed to be cleared. Next, we have to clear the well cap.

That’s under the pile of snow you can see on the right of the photo with the door, and on the left of the photo with the newly cleared area.

It’s going to take a lot of trips to clear that pile, and it’s starting to get hard to find space to dump the snow without blocking areas we need to keep open!

We should be able to work on it over the next few days, though maybe not tomorrow. I think some pain killers and a break is in order! Plus, I got a message letting me know my mother’s car is ready, so we’ll be going into town to pick that up, and get the new alternator belt and tensioner looked at. And talk to him about the windshield wipers. And the EGR valve codes triggering the check engine light…

We really need a new van. Or maybe a truck, instead. As long as my husband can get in and out without too much pain, and there’s room for his walker.

If I’m going to dream about it, I want an extended cab F150 or Ram 1500 (both highest rated for winter trucks, last I looked), with a tow hitch and a plow attachment. With, of course, a plow and a small trailer to go with it. Plus a cap on the box, to protect our monthly groceries and supplies. πŸ˜‰

In blue.

Because I like blue.

Oh, that reminds me. I wasn’t able to stop to take a photo, but while driving home from the city, the odometer on our van hit 456,789 km. πŸ˜€

Definitely time for something newer, and in better shape! Since we got this vehicle, the cost of major repairs could have bought a newer, less worn out, vehicle! It’s done well by us, though, all things considered.

Even if I did have to drive across three provinces while holding the door with one hand, to keep it from popping open, in spite of the Bungee cord rigged to hold it closed, when we moved out here!

Still, not bad for a vehicle I could pay for using my debit card.

The Re-Farmer

Looks like good news this morning

I heard back from our mechanic today.

First thing is that it looks like my mother’s car simply needs a new battery. !! He has no idea what made that “POP” noise I heard; possibly a backfire, though it didn’t sound at all like a backfire to me. He put in another battery and it’s running fine. A new one has been ordered and we should be able to pick it up tomorrow. A battery is much more affordable than I feared!

While we are there to get my mother’s car, he will check the belt and tensioner on our van. He said the tensioner did seem kind of finicky when they worked on it. I’ll talk to him about our wipers and the issues with the EGR valve when we are there tomorrow. With spring coming, we just can’t be without working windshield wipers!

We ran out of deer feed yesterday, so after taking care of the outside cats, I made a quick run to the local general store. I’ve got the onboard computer display on my van set to display voltage all the time, now. When I started the engine, it was at 12.2 volts or so, but very quickly went up to 14.3 volts, where it stayed. I kept the music off, but I did turn on the rear defogger, and it still held.

The trip is just 3 miles. I spent maybe 5 minutes – definitely less than 10 – inside, but when I started the engine, the display read 11.1 volts! It quickly went up to 14.4, but before I even drove my first mile, it dropped to 14.0 volts and stayed there – and I didn’t have anything but lights and heat running.

I look forward to getting that checked tomorrow!

Meanwhile…

… the outside cats are doing just fine. No signs of fighting this morning.

And I am amused by the one-eyed smiley face on the heated water bowl!

After I got back with the deer feed, I grabbed a couple of containers to put feed out for the birds and the deer – double what I usually do, because the entire bag doesn’t quite fit into the storage bin we transfer it to! πŸ˜€ When I came around the corner of the house, our usual two deer ran off – then stopped and watched me through the trees. Once I started heading away from the feeding station, they both came running, not even waiting for me to be completely gone.

They know who brings their treats!

I tried to spread the seeds out more, so they’re not fighting over one little spot, but… they seem to like to eat together out of one little spot! πŸ˜€

While checking out the deer through the window, I was enchanted by a rolling ball of fluff.

David is so adorable. When he sees us, he twists his head upside down, makes cutesy faces at us and start rolling around and twisting himself into a pretzel, to get us to pay attention to him.

It works, every time!

The Re-Farmer

I’m getting really tired of this van

*sigh*

What a day.

Things started off well enough.

Susan got to watch the piebald deer chasing the other two regulars away.

I discovered a strange, furry fruit in the Korean Lilac!

Once outside with the kibble, I was greeted by a very dishevelled Potato Beetle. He headed into the sun room to eat, as usual, so I closed the door to keep him in!

The Distinguished Guest was looking ever more dishevelled than Potato Beetle, making it clear who else was involved.

From the many tufts of long, black, with the occasional white, fur around the kibble house, I’d say Potato Beetle had the upper hand in this battle!

Yeah, that’s blood in the snow, too.

By the time I got back from shopping, several hours later, Potato Beetle was looking a lot better, though with some new scratches on his nose. So when he wanted out while we were loading things into the house, we let him be.

My trip to the city didn’t quite go as planned.

Our big city shopping routine now usually includes a stop at Canadian Tire, first, where we pick up the wood pellets we use for litter. While there, I got more seed starting mix and more trays to fit the mini-greenhouse shelves, and a few other things.

It was snowing lightly in the city, so when I loaded up the van, there was melted snow on the windshield, and the streets were wet and messy, so while going to the nearby international grocery store, I had to use my wipers.

They didn’t work.

All I heard was the sound of them moving lower down into their recess under the hood, and that was it.

When I parked, I tried again, and I could hear that they were trying to move, but they could do nothing more than wiggle a bit. I popped the hood, which is the only way to access them, and they were slightly overlapping each other, but I could see nothing obvious that would be a problem.

Thankfully, I have a long handled windshield cleaner. It’s meant for the inside of the windshield, but i had paper towel in the van, too, so I was able to give the outside of the windshield a good cleaning before heading into the store.

Costco, in another part of the city, would have been my last stop. Since I didn’t want to be driving on messy streets with no wipers, I decided to instead to go a nearby Superstore. It meant getting a lot less than I wanted to, since at Costco I have access to a flat cart and can really load up, but half a shop is better than no shop!

When I finished loading up the van and was getting ready to go, I noticed something.

The check engine light was back on.

That light has been on since we had the EGR valve replaced. It got looked at, the code reset, only to turn on again almost immediately. Our mechanic tried to clean the lines as best he could after replacing the valve, but there are still bits of crud he couldn’t get at, and those are likely tripping the sensor. Since we hardly used the van last year, we didn’t take it back in. Our mechanic reset the code when he replaced the alternator.

I hooked up my OBDII reader, got the codes, screen captured them, and texted them to our mechanic. It’s Sunday, so he’s closed, but he’ll at least be able to see them tomorrow.

Before continuing on, I went through the displays from our onboard computer, which I do fairly regularly.

There was something odd.

When I picked up the van, I went through the displays and the battery read at 15 volts. I don’t remember ever seeing it at higher than 14.4 volts, so that stuck in my mind.

It was now reading 13 volts.

I had the heat, lights and a CD playing. With a brand new alternator, it should still have been at full charge.

I decided to monitor it while driving.

It kept dropping.

By the time I reached the highway to home, it was down to 12.4 volts.

On a hunch, I turned off the CD.

It immediately began to increase, eventually topping up at 14.6 volts and holding.

On the trip home, I drive through the town my mother lives in, which is the only place the speed limit is reduced. Once I was clear and back at highway speeds, I turned the music back on.

It held at 14.6 volts.

Great! Just some weird glitch or something.

When I got home, I had to back the van up to the small gate for unloading. I pulled partially into the garage so I would have space to turn the van around and maneuver to the gate.

In the minute or so that took, the battery was down to 12.2 volts.

!!!

I shut the music off, then the engine, and we unloaded. Leaving the girls to put the groceries away, I parked the van in the garage, which did not require any manoeuvring. Just one wide turn, taking maybe 30 seconds.

With the music off, the battery was back up to 14.2 by the time I parked it in the garage.

What the heck???

So I need to pass that on to our mechanic, too. This should not be happening! Not with a brand new alternator.

We have actually had something similar happen to us in the past, long, long ago. We bought an old car that had been sitting for many years, and one of the first things it needed was a new battery. We even got a high end one. Then we had some other work done to fix it up from being parked for so long, including a new alternator. The battery immediately started to die. If we had the radio, lights and wipers on at the same time, it would stall and we’d need a boost to get it going again.

Not fun while driving in downtown Victoria, BC, in a downpour, at night!

We took it to a different garage, the mechanic took one look and said, “that’s the wrong size alternator” and got us the right one. There was nothing wrong with the first alternator; it just couldn’t handle the power needs of the vehicle.

When we went back to the first place (a Canadian Tire), they said they would reimburse us if we could provide the computer printout to prove it was the wrong alternator, but the garage that fixed it was old school. They never hooked it up to a computer, because they could just see at a glance, that it was the wrong one for that car. So we never got our money back for the first mix up.

This is not the kind of mistake our mechanic would make. At least, I don’t think so! However, I have noticed odd electrical… gremlins… in the van, for some time. Things would start working, then stop, then start again. Loose wires, perhaps? The radio is particularly weird. It doesn’t always turn on or off until after several tries, and if we’re on a bumpy road, the volume will start adjusting itself up or down, and the knob for the volume doesn’t work right away. Which sometimes has us frantically spinning the knob, trying to turn down the volume, only to have it keep getting louder before it finally kicks in.

Whatever the problem is, it’s not showing up on the sensors.

We just got the van back, for crying out loud!!!

Can we win that lottery now? Please? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

The Re-Farmer

Future forest

I wasn’t feeling well and ended up lying down this afternoon, but before I did, I asked my daughters to start the paw paw and tulip tree seeds.

These are already cold stratified, so we had two options in the instructions. They could be planted directly into pots, or first put into slide lock bags with moist soil until roots emerge, then get potted.

What I want to do it first pot them in the degradable pots, so that when they need to be potted up, we won’t be disturbing their long tap roots. From what I’ve read, the paw paws are especially sensitive to damage to their tap root.

We got a dozen paw paw seeds and 20 tulip tree seeds. There is no way we have the space for 32 pots anyhow, but I don’t expect a 100% germination rate. Also, especially with the paw paws, the roots develop long before they start sending leaves up, so it will be a long time before we even know if they’ve germinated. So I figure if we start them in the slidelock bags first, we can then plant only the ones that successfully germinate into individual pots. Then, even if they take a while before we see anything, we at least know there are roots growing, out of sight.

My daughters don’t take progress photos, so I just have photos of the finished job.

They misunderstood my comment about wanting them in individual pots, so the seeds all went into individual baggies!

Which is fine, too. We’ll need to buy more baggies now, though. πŸ˜‰

They don’t need light right now; just warmth. So the labelled bags all got pile onto an empty shelf in the mini-greenhouse. We’ll keep an eye on them, both for roots and to make sure they stay moist. The instructions said to make sure the soil isn’t too wet, or the seeds will rot, so it’s a bit of a balancing act.

Once I pick up more trays that will fit in the mini-greenhouse, we’ll arrange them so they’re not all piled on top of each other like this, but for now, they’ll be fine.

Our future forest has been started!

Looking at the needs for the two different types of trees, I am thinking we could actually plant the paw paws – or at least some of them – with the tulip trees. Paw paws are an undergrowth tree, and need to be shaded their first few years, though they fruit better in full sunlight. When the time comes, the pots with their seedlings will be kept in a sheltered area outside. They need to go dormant in the winter, and we could probably overwinter the pots in the sun room, at least for their first winter. Properly protected the pots could also stay outdoors, but I’d rather not do that until the seedlings were bigger and stronger.

First, we’ll see how many germinate. Then we’ll see how many survive being potted. Then we’ll see how many survive their first season in pots outdoors. Then we’ll see how many survive until ready for transplanting in 2 years. Then we’ll see how many survive being transplanted.

It’s a lot riskier starting trees from seed like this, but it does show just why buying seedlings from a nursery can cost so much. A lot of resources, time and effort went into them!

The Re-Farmer

Looking beautiful today!

Would you look at this!

As I write this, it’s -7C/19F. I think it was about -9C/16F while I was outside this morning, and we’re still expected to warm up to -5C/23F.

It’s gloriously warm out there!

Funny how acclimatization works. πŸ˜€

Before I go on, however, I just have to share this horribly low quality picture of Nosencrantz.

Our cat is broken.

I didn’t want to disturb her with a flash.

Baby girl is enjoying life! She is the most chill cat, ever. Gosh, I’m going to miss her when she gets adopted out!!

We’re still keeping her and Butterscotch in my office/bedroom. Or should I say, we are mostly keeping the other cats out, letting them in only under supervision. Nosentrantz has shown little interest in leaving, though we take her out and carry her around. Most of the other cats are okay with her, but some are not. Beep Beep, Tissue and Turmeric, in particular, are not happy to see her. Mind you, Beep Beep is just a b*** and will randomly go after other cats anyhow, but Tissue and Turmeric will try to go after Nosencrantz, specifically. Which is a bit funny at times. Nosencrantz will be sitting on the red blanket, watching the other cats mill about, un-phased. Turmeric will see her, stand up by the bed and start batting and hissing at her, and Nosencrantz will just look at her, like she’s nuts.

Which she is.

Butterscotch, on the other hand, hardly ever comes out of her favourite corners. She’ll move from one corner to the other, come out to eat, drink or use the litter box, and if no other cats are around, she’ll come out for pets. She especially likes my husband. But she wants nothing to do with other cats! Even if they’re completely ignoring her, if she sees any, she starts snarling. She’s even started to snarl at Nosencrantz, sometimes! She just wants people. No cats.

As for the outside cats, they are quite enjoying the warmer weather!

They are very active outside, and we see them running and climbing all over the place.

With so much packed down snow, it’s become difficult to clean out the heated water bowl. The cord is completely buried, so all I can do is tip out the water into the snow.

Nice to see Ghost Baby making an appearance. I do wish we could convince her to come closer. She’s the most feral of all the yard cats.

I’m amused by the spot on the roof of the cat’s house. Even with snow on it, they’ll sit in the spot above the heat lamp inside. πŸ˜€

I took advantage of the warmth and got the burn barrel going, which required digging it out again, digging out the path the the electric meter, then started working on clearing snow away from the house.

Some of it was quite hard packed, and needed to be broken up with the ice chipper.

I think I got about a half dozen wheelbarrow loads hauled away, before the burn barrel was done and it was time to go inside. Not a lot of snow can fit in the wheelbarrow before it all just starts sliding down the sides.

Agnoos really likes it when I’m tending the burn barrel, for some reason!

It’s going to take many trips to clear the corner out. The girls and I will chip away at it over the next couple of weeks, while the temperatures are warmer, but not yet melting. We’ll need to clear away the well cap, too, which is going to be the most difficult part. We did try to keep it clear, but there was just too much snow.

While we have several snow shovels, the ergonomic one in the photos is our best one, and we prefer to wait until it’s free instead of using one of the others. Once I was done, my daughter used it to clear parts of the roof, so we don’t end up with water leaking into the house again.

Unfortunately, she noticed the shovel is starting to crack in the middle.

Crud.

Looks like we’ll have to find a new one sooner rather than later. The other shovels we have are not as strong as this one, and are far more likely to break with the packed snow we have to clear. Except for the one steel one we found, and that one is just too heavy for a job this big!

My husband’s disability pay came in today, instead of Monday. We weren’t sure if they would do that again, and my plan had been to do at least part of the big shop today, if it did. Unfortunately, I was not feeling well this morning. The deli pizzas I picked up as a treat yesterday apparently did not agree with me! So that will have to wait until tomorrow, depending on how I’m feeling. I would have at least liked to make the closer trip to a Walmart. With the paw paw and tulip tree seeds, we’re going to need more soil, soon.

Now, a new snow shovel is on the list.

The Re-Farmer

Our van is home, the car is not… and the tree seeds are in!

We have transportation again!! Yay!!

While waiting for a call from the tow truck driver, we had gotten the automated call from CAA assuring us that they hadn’t forgotten about us; they were just really busy. The tracker on the website did change to “dispatched”, noting that a driver had been found, but never got to “en route”.

Instead, I got a phone call from the driver, telling me, “I’m in your driveway right now, looking at your car.” !!!

I’m glad I opened the door this morning. πŸ™‚

I’m also glad we had moved my mother’s car to where we normally park the van, because the driver would have been hooped.

What he ended up doing was backing his truck up until he could hook up and raise the rear wheels, then set up a dolly under the front wheels. We didn’t even need to put my mother’s car in neutral.

One of the things involved in hooking up the front wheels was to use a long bar as a lever to lift the dolly – and the car – in place. He could do it on once side, but on the other, there wasn’t quite enough room.

If the car had been in its usual spot, he could not have done it at all. There just isn’t enough space in that area.

He did have to very carefully pull the car out of the garage far enough to use the bar – a touchy thing, with it not properly put together, yet!

Once it was pulled back, it revealed this.

This dark spot in the dirt floor looks new and fresh.

Not good.

What was good is that I was able to ride into town with the driver.

We saw SO many deer along the way! He mentioned scaring some away from our yard when he came in, too.

When we got to the garage, there was no parking spot for my mother’s car. I quickly ran in and let them know. He gave me the key to our van and I moved it, and the tow truck driver very deftly maneuvered my mother’s car into the spot I’d just emptied.

While he was doing that, I went back in to pay for the work on the van. After taxes, it ended up costing $600.30 Then we talked a bit about my mother’s car, and I told him no hurry on that, because we can’t pay for work until next month – the van took up the budget for this month!

Once I was done there, I drove across the street to the grocery store and picked up some deli pizzas for supper.

Because I wanted to. πŸ˜€

Plus a bit of groceries. My husband’s main disability payment comes in on the last business day of the month, which would be the expected day to go into the city and do our big shop. However, the last business day is a Monday, and sometimes it comes in on the Saturday instead. Which would be nice. I’m not a fan of shopping in the city on the weekend, but I’d rather get it over with if I can. We’ll see, tomorrow.

Meanwhile, on the way home, I was able to stop at the post office just before it closed, and pick up the mail. Along with a package for my husband, we got these.

Our tree seeds are in!

Mind you, they probably came in days ago, but we haven’t been able to go to the mail since before my mother’s car died.

These are already cold stratified, so we should be able to start them right away. We’ll go over the instructions again, first. Until we can work on them, I put them back in the bubble pack envelope and tucked them into a fridge drawer, until we can get started.

There was another nice surprise in the mail.

We got a rebate check from our vehicle insurance company. We’ve gotten one for the past 2 years, and for two vehicles, they were a little more than $100. When it was announced that we’d be getting rebate checks again, that’s what I was expecting.

Instead, it was more than $500.

I have sent a message to the garage, letting him know we got our rebates in, so as long as a fix is under $500, we can do it right away and not have to wait until the end of March. He said he’ll check it tomorrow and let me know.

Here’s hoping!

Now I think I’m going to spend some time reading instructions on how to start paw paw and tulip tree seeds!

The Re-Farmer

Morning destruction and rearranging the mini-greenhouse

So I was all concerned that the cats would somehow go after the mini-greenhouse and wreck our new transplants.

I was wrong.

This morning, I came into the living room to find our big Jade Tree on the floor.

*sigh*

That thing needs to be repotted into a bigger, wider pot, but right now the only thing keeping the cats from digging in the soil is a combination of how little space there is for them to get into, and cayenne pepper. The plant is too big to cage, the way we have with the others.

As for the mini-greenhouse. it was fine, but it wasn’t getting any real sunlight. It was getting light, certainly, but was too far back from the window to get full sunlight. Putting it by the window is not an option, because it’s too cold.

So things got rearranged.

After cleaning up and clearing out the spot the big Jade Tree was in (the replacement band for our vacuum is probably waiting to be picked up at the post office, so it was mostly a crevice tool job), I emptied the mini-greenhouse.

I was happy to see the transplants are looking nice and strong, still. The metal tray had no water left in it, so that’s working like it’s supposed to.

The mini-greenhouse then got moved, chair and all, to the spot the Jade Tree was in, where it does actually get some sunlight.

But only on the bottom shelf, so I set the light with the full spectrum bulb up above the higher tray. It’s the best we can do right now. There’s a mirror on the wall, so there’s at least some reflected light, too.

The cats, of course, were very curious, and “grandma” immediately claimed the sun spot.

The Jade Tree got set up where the mini-greenhouse was. Since there’s no need to access a zippered front, I could move it close enough to get some direct sunlight – then reapplied the cayenne pepper. I was messy about it, too, with pepper on the tray under the pot (I decided to use one of the oven liner trays I got for the aquarium greenhouses), and the little table it sits on, just to discourage them from coming anywhere near the pot!

After that, I was finally able to go the morning rounds.

It was only -25C/-13F, bright and sunny, and the cats were loving it! There’s 12 visible in the photo, with a couple in the sun room, and more running around. The only ones I didn’t see where Rosencrantz and Ghost Baby.

While out, I opened up the garage for when the tow truck came for my mother’s car. Just for a lark, I tried starting it again. Nothing. Only the electrical stuff turns on, so I get the console display and the fan turns on, but nothing else.

Then I came inside and found Tissue INSIDE the mini-greenhouse! There’s just enough of a gap at the bottom, from the cover being over the back of the chair, that she got in. The lamp and the shelf it was on were knocked askew, as was one Sophie’s Choice tomato, but not damage.

That gap is now filled.

That done, I called CAA to arrange the tow for my mother’s car. I was warned that it could take 48 hours! It was arranged, though. I don’t expect it to take that long. I’m still waiting for a call from the driver, though, and the online tracker still only says “received”, not “dispatched”. The ETA is still listed as an hour from the time I’m writing this, and I don’t expect that, either!

However, I did get a message from the garage. Our van is ready. The tow truck is my ride in, though, so I have to wait.

Though I’m seriously considering finding someone I can get a ride from. I really want our van back!!! We’re warming up enough for the next while that I’m not as worried about the van not being in the garage, as long as we can still plug it in. Especially since we don’t know when the tow truck will get here.

Gotta figure something out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: starting shallots and transplanting tomatoes

Okay, for better or for worse, we now have stuff in the mini-greenhouse! Let’s see if we’ve succeeded in making it cat proof. πŸ˜€

The first thing today was to get the shallots started.

There are a lot less seeds than I remember from last year. I’ll have to look back at last year’s photos and double check.

The container is a mixed greens salad container from the grocery story. It has drainage holes in the bottom, and the seed starting mix is pre-moistened.

With such easy to see seeds, after scattering them I used a chopstick to separate any that were right up against each other, and spread them out more evenly. Then they got a spritz with water, a light layer of more soil mix, then spritzed again.

The container’s lid is recessed, and I didn’t want it too close to the soil surface, so I just plopped it on upside down. I then left it in a tray with water under it, to be absorbed from below. While it was sitting, it was time to work on the aquarium greenhouses.

The red and yellow onions are doing quite well. I rotated the trays after adding more water below them. The reflective light from the aluminum foil at the back, which is closest to the trays themselves, is clearly making a difference. All the sprouts were leaning towards the back of the tank! πŸ˜€

We have our first Wonderberry sprout! These were taken out and got more water added to the outer cups, as well as a spritz, then set aside for later, so they wouldn’t get knocked over while the seedling tray was being moved around.

You can just see that a new luffa gourd is starting to sprout! It’s right against the wall of the pot at the top of the photo.

I very carefully removed the seed covering from the leaves of the canteen gourd. Normally I would avoid doing that, but I’m glad I did this time. It was really solid, and had to be broken apart to get it off.

Here are the tomatoes, on either side of the eggplants and peppers.

The tray usually gets water on the bottom well before the pots dry out this much, but when the pots are damp, they are difficult to move. They feel like they’re about to fall apart. Which will be good when they get transplanted into the garden, but not so good when I need to move them around!

With the eggplants and peppers, they were thinned to 2 plants per pot. As they get larger, we will probably thin them to one plant per pot. We don’t need a lot of either of these. Three plants each should be fine to meet our needs.

The plan was to transplant all the strongest tomatoes to thin them – but there were a lot of them! Especially the Cup of Moldova. They’re doing really well in here. In the end, there was just one seedling that didn’t get transplanted because it was so tiny.

We half-filled red Solo cups with soil and used a chopstick to make holes for the transplants. Then I ended up using a steel poultry trussing needle (which never gets used to truss poultry; I’m not even sure why I originally bought them!) to loosen and tease out the transplants as carefully as I could. After they got tucked into their new pots, more soil was carefully spooned around them to about half way up their stems and gently pressed in, just enough to make sure there were no air spaces, before they all got a spritz of water.

Each of the original pots was left with one tomato plant. With the Cup of Moldova, we ended up with a dozen transplants, making 15 altogether. These cups were used last year, too, and already had drainage holes in the bottom. If we needed to, we could double cup them, but for now, they fit into the baking tray, in one of the higher shelves of the mini-greenhouse, above the back of the chair it is tied to. I’d rather it was lower down, but with the wider baking tray, that’s where it fits.

With the Sophie’s Choice, there were only 7 strong enough to transplant, and they fit in the tray with the shallots container.

When it’s daylight, we’ll assess whether or not we need to set up a light from the other side. There may be an issue of the high tray shading out the lower one.

Then the original tray went back into the big aquarium greenhouse, on the heat mat, and the tray got a generous amount of water added, to moisten the pots from below.

In doing the transplants, the tomatoes also got moved to one end of the tray, while the eggplants and peppers are now next to the gourds. That was just because it was easier to reach the tomatoes while transplanting them.

Hopefully, these will survive their transplanting well. It should be interesting to see the difference between how the tomatoes in the mini-greenhouse do, compared to the ones in the aquarium greenhouse. There is going to be a substantial difference in light and warmth.

But first, we’ll see just how tempting the trays in the mini-greenhouse are for the cats, or if they will be left alone!

There are still two more shelves open in there. The next time we need to start seeds, which should be in two or three weeks, we should be able to move things out of the aquarium greenhouses, into the mini-greenhouse, and have the new seed starts put into the aquariums. If the weather co-operates, by the time we’re ready to start more seeds in April, we should be able to transfer the biggest seedlings into the sun room. I’m sure these tomatoes will need to be potted up by then, too.

This is the first time we’ve had so many seeds to start indoors. It’s going to be a juggling act!

The Re-Farmer

Kitty updates, and changed plans

It was another bitterly cold morning today BUT this should be the last day of it. We’ve already warmed up considerably (it’s late afternoon as I write this), and it should keep warming up and stay very mild, well into March.

That will be nice!

I topped up the kibble inside the sun room – then took a hammer to break the layer of ice that had formed at the top of the heated water bowl! Yes, it was on and working, but it is warmed from below. It got so cold last night, the top froze over.

Chadiccus is so done with this cold!

I got some updates on the kitties the Cat Lady took.

Nicco and Saffron are doing very well after their visit to the vet. They were found to be quite healthy, for all their tiny size.

The two of them are getting along well, and they are looking to adopt them out together. Which is interesting, since Saffron has been one of the more aggressive ones responsible for the scratches on Nicco’s nose. It’s just the two of them, though, which changes things dramatically.

I let the Cat Lady know that the two of them are only a day apart in age, and that Nicco is Cabbages’ older sister, by a few months. πŸ™‚

Cabbages, meanwhile, as discovered how to open up drawers! I’m not too surprised, as most of the cats here have figured out how to open most of our cupboards, but we don’t have many drawers they could get into. They’ve shown no interest.

I did warn her about Cabbages’ love of digging in dirt.

They’ve already discovered that, apparently, and have had to lock their spider plant in another room!

I should send her a picture of the cage we had to build around the smaller jade tree.

Gosh, Cabbages is looking so great!! Hard to believe she came so close to dying, and all the other vets were recommending euthanasia!

If you would like to contribute to our fundraiser to reimburse the cat lady for Cabbages’ vet bills, click on the button below, or click here. If you would like to read more about it, click here.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

This afternoon, I got a phone call from the Cat Lady. She had just gotten off the phone with the organization that’s helping with the cat vet visits and adoptions, and wanted to call me about it right away.

Things are going to be set back for a while.

The vet clinic/hospital we’ve been using is off the list for about a month. Apparently, they’ve been taking in an unusual number of sick cats, and the vet expenses are getting too much. (They run entirely by donations and adoption fees, so the money is always tight.) So no appointments are going to be made there in March, though the Cat Lady is going to look at other towns as possibilities for our cats.

There has also been an issue with one of their fosters. They had taken in kittens that turned out to be sick with something I can’t remember the name of. The kittens were lost, and how the foster has to disinfect their entire home, and the home cannot have any cats in it for at least 30 days, to ensure no other cats catch this. This was one of the fosters lined up to take cats from our place, which obviously is not going to happen for a while.

So it looks like things will be set back at least a month before the next pair of cats goes out.

Which just means nothing much changes for us. As it is, by the time we would be starting on the outside cats… well, the males would be going, but from the activity I’m already seeing outside, there are already new litters on the way. Usually, they start giving birth around the end of April, early May. I don’t even know how many females we have out there anymore, though there are now two fewer, with Butterscotch and Nosencrantz now spayed and indoors.

In other things, I cleared it with the garage, then arranged to have my mother’s car towed in. Much to my surprise, I was asked if I needed a ride in, too! Some drivers are taking passengers now, though masks are still required. I mentioned I have a medical exemption, so I was put on hold while that was looked into. It took so long, she finally just made a note of it on file and left it to the driver.

They don’t wear masks themselves, so I’m not worried about it.

Of course, they had to ask the usual questions, and I just had to laugh out loud when I was asked if I had to isolate. No, I don’t have to isolate. That’s our normal state out here!

After an hour or so, I got an automated call assuring me that no, they had not forgotten about us. Things were just that backed up.

Then I got a call from one of the two companies, telling me that they still hadn’t found an available driver in our area. I reassured them that we were in no hurry; it could even wait until tomorrow. I had just been messaging our mechanic and, while he had the part, he was so busy, he couldn’t be sure when he’d be able to get to the van today.

After updating the garage about the tow, he suggested doing it tomorrow afternoon, instead. So I called CAA back and ended up cancelling the tow for today, and will book it again tomorrow.

I’m glad I double checked with the garage. Otherwise, I might have gone into town with the tow truck, only to have no way to get home again, if the van wasn’t ready today!

I’m actually happier with the switch to tomorrow. It’s supposed to be much warmer than today, and warmer still, on the day after! This should make it safer to drive, and do at least a smaller trip to the city. Thanks to the Cat Lady swinging by yesterday, we have enough dry kibble to last us. She even gave us more canned cat food and some treats! Cat food was the only thing we’ve been running out of, partly due to the stores being out of stock so much.

So that’s more or less worked out.

Not what was planned for the day, but that’s okay. We’re good!

The Re-Farmer

Changes of plans, and look who blinked first (convoy talk)

One of my goals for today was to start more seeds and transplant some little tomatoes, after I did some baking.

My younger daughter usually does the bread baking, but she not well today. So I did a double batch of oatmeal and chia bread, then another double batch of herb bread made into mini loaves and buns.

Of course, the phone kept being busy today! After my phone appointment with my doctor, he forwarded a 90 day refill for my prescription – but for some reason changed it from taking it twice a day, to once a day, which was not what we talked about on the phone. The pharmacy caught the change and called me about it. In the end, I went ahead and took what they could give me, while they sent another fax to the doctor for find out what was going on.

After that, I left the phone with my husband!

Even so, I happened to glance out the kitchen window while shaping loaves, and saw someone walking by with a cat carrier and some bags of cat food! He didn’t even go to the door, but let them near the cat shelter. I got outside just in time to wave goodbye to them as they drove away.

I’m assuming the guy was the Cat Lady’s husband. With no chance to talk, I quickly sent a thank you text. It turned out she’d tried to phone ahead, but … well… we do live in a cell phone dead zone, and this time, she had no signal at all. The cat food bags they left with us were very small bags; it actually made more sense when I saw them, after she told me she’d got them for only 27 cents each, but couponing. It should be enough to last us until after we get the van back and can do some shopping.

Then the pharmacy delivery guy called, but my husband was able to take care of that, while I finished shaping the last of the buns.

The down side is, by the time I finished kneading the second batch and setting it to rise, my left hip gave out. It’s still bothering me! I was able to finish the baking, but I’m afraid I had to leave most of the clean up for when my daughters to the evening chores. Which means mostly my older daughter, once she’s done working, since my younger daughter isn’t feeling any better, yet – and my older daughter has her own joint issues to deal with!

What a gimpy bunch we are. πŸ˜€

While I was doing all this, what I was NOT doing was keeping on on the Senate debates before voting for or against our Prime Dictator’s invocation of the Emergency Measures Act. They’d debated all day yesterday, and the people I knew who were watching it live were mostly incredibly disgusted by what they saw. A lot of the senators were repeating the same lies and slander our politicians and media were pushing.

I must say, though, this brief clip was probably the worst example.

The “ceased” guns she was referring to had nothing to do with the protesters, the vitriol wasn’t from the protesters, but… honk honk equals Heil Hitler?? Really? It’s one thing to see idiots saying that on social media, but coming from a senator?

There was some calm and measured speeches, though. This one is worth a listen.

The fact that she has been working right where the protests were happening, and could confirm what was really going on, was important.

Funny how people who weren’t there were the ones who complained about the disruption and noise of the protests more than people actually living there. I even had one person on my friends list claim they could hear the horns, even though 1) they live an hour away from Ottawa and 2) the honking had stopped.

A constant refrain I was starting to hear from people living there is that the police blockades were far worse than the protesters ever where.

The Liberals didn’t like it when the New York Times managed to accurately report on the police actions.

Meanwhile, organizer Tamara Lich was denied bail.

This video dives into the many problems about that.

That’s right. The judge who denied Lich bail is a T2 supporter who even ran for election as an MP, for the Liberal Party.

Then I started getting messages from people.

Our Prime Dictator revoked the Emergency Measures Act himself.

That’s right. It’s done.

Gone.

But not over, of course.

He went from saying the EMA would need to be in place for months, even though the “red zone” in Ottawa was cleared of protesters, because they might come back. His party was even talking about making some of the EMA powers permanent.

The Conservative Party had already filed a motion to revoke, which would have been discussed on Monday, should the Senate have voted to support the invocation of the Act. Under the Act, the EMA is in force for 30 days, when it either expires or gets extended by vote. Any party, at any time, could move to revoke the Act, at which point our Prime Dictator would have to justify keeping it in force again, then the House and Senate would have to debate and vote on it again. The NDP would be supporting the Liberals every time, which means it would always be the Senate that had to have the final say.

A process that could, potentially, keep happening, over and over again.

Meanwhile, it began to appear that not enough senators would vote in favour of the EMA. A number of them voiced displeasure at the pressure they were getting to just rubber stamp the invocation. They were still debating it when our Prime Dictator made a live announcement that, since the emergency was over (the emergency that was never there in the first place), it wasn’t needed anymore, so he was ending it.

I have not watched his speech, because seeing and hearing him makes me physically ill.

Trudeau blinks; the truckers win; the Emergencies Act is dropped. But it has shown us who the tyrants were, didn’t it?

Literally today, as Trudeau was writing his short speech announcing that he was abandoning his Emergencies Act, his shills in the Senate were standing up and speaking in favour of it. Imagine burning up a lifetime of political capital, only to have Trudeau walk away from it moments later. Oh well – it was a useful exercise.

Which politicians β€” including in the Conservative Party. Oh yes, I didn’t mention it?

The cowards in the Liberal Party who announced that they were very much against it β€” but that they were going to vote for it anyways, because Trudeau was β€œforcing” them to.

But is it over?

No, of course not.

The reasons for the protests are still there. The federal mandates have not been lifted.

There continue to be protests across the country and, even near Ottawa, there are protesters set up and ready to come back, if necessary. People’s bank accounts that had been frozen are slowly being un-frozen. The law suits are still files and making their way through the process.

Ottawa’s newest Chief of Police was going to continue his witch hunt.

Will that change, now that the EMA is no longer in effect? I don’t think so.

Will this mean that our Prime Dictator will just invoke the EMA every time there are protests he doesn’t approve of? Or will his party just find other ways to grab power? For example, while all this was going on, they have been trying to push a bill that would make vaccination – but just one specific vaccination – a condition of employment, by federal law. Never mind that making any vaccine mandatory is illegal in Canada.

This is not any sort of victory. Our Prime Dictator has simply blinked first, but not until after his jackboots used illegal and violent measures to remove a legal and peaceful protest. This is not the first time he’s tried to make a power play. This is just the first time it involved the general public in such an open manner. A lot of people who were typically on board with him, even if they didn’t like some of the stuff he was doing, have had a very rude awakening.

A lot of people have also realized what a precarious position they are in, in many ways. I saw a huge leap in people moving towards increased self sufficiency, working to get out of the cities, and some even leaving the country. I foresee the “homesteading” movement to continue to grow because of what’s been happening these past two years.

For us, we’re still going to be pushing ahead with our one original goal to be as self sufficient as possible. The only change is to see how much we can speed up the process.

This is not over. Not by a long shot.

The Re-Farmer