Morning Visitors

I meant to post this earlier, but my friend is still in town and I was able to meet up with her at the last minute. We had a grand time!

It was getting dark by the time I was heading home, which meant being extremely cautious about deer! At one point, I passed at least 5 standing on the edge of the highway but, thankfully, they did not try to cross.

I put together some of the better videos from the gate cam, showing our morning visitors. I hope you like it! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Got it done

The day started out on the rough side, though so far, that seems to have worked itself out. Issues started in the wee hours of the morning, when I was awakened by the sound of something hitting the floor in the dining room. I came out to discover the container we are using to hold all the seed packs and supplies had been knocked onto the floor, spilling seed packs everywhere. I had them sorted by which need to be direct sown, and which need to be started indoors. That’s going to need to be sorted again. :-/

Then I went into the sun room, and found the worse mess yet. Along with much of what was on the shelf under the bathroom window being knocked onto the floor, the wagon knocked over, and the new roll of netting we’ll be using as temporary deer fencing, all knocked to the floor, the bin with deer/bird feed in it was on the ground, and the lid to the bin with the kibble in it was knocked aside.

With the feed, at least we didn’t lose too much of it, since it was only about half full to begin with. I’d just refilled the kibble bin, which probably made it too heavy to knock over!

So that required some time to do a partial clean up. The heated water bowl was dry again, and I ended up unplugging it and setting it aside, along with the containers we were using as kibble trays. Things have warmed up enough that we will be closing the doors again, anyhow.

The outside cats were quite happy to see me when I finally came out with kibble. There was none left in any of the trays. The heated water bowl that isn’t working for some reason had a layer of ice across the top, but the cats had kept a hole in the ice to access the liquid water below. From today on, their water bowls should not be freezing up completely overnight, anymore.

I saw at least 11 cats this morning. I also startled our usual 3 deer visitors in the yard when I came out. 🙂

The snow in the driveway is completely churned up by all the deer coming through!

I even saw one in my brother’s field.

When I checked the trail cam files later on, I saw the expected deer traffic from last night, but there was also a whole bunch of them captured by the camera, roughly an hour before I came out!

After the morning routine was done, one of my daughters and I headed into the city for our Walmart trip. For the past while, we’ve been going to a smaller, slightly closer Walmart, but decided to go to the big on in the city that was used to go, before I got hassled for not being able to wear a mask during the first lockdown. It was the first day I’d tried to use a shield, but it wasn’t enough. The staff finally were willing to let me in, only for me to get hassled by a customer at the turnstile. I left and never came back.

We got the last of what we needed while we were there, and my daughter got her own shopping done for herself and her sister. I don’t think I’ll be going back again, though. Aside from the repeated creepy announcements about wearing masks, even though they are no longer required, I tried to go to their vision centre to see if I could get an eye exam. Though it was open, it had a barricade across the front. I stood and waited, completely ignored by the person at the counter inside, when a couple other people came up, wearing masks. One of them told me that no one was allowed to go into the vision centre without a mask – then they went through the barrier.

I realize I had only half a face to go by, but from the expression of her eyes and body language, she seemed absolutely gleeful about telling me a mask was required.

So even though there are no longer any restrictions forced on businesses by the province (federal restrictions are still in place, but health care is a provincial jurisdiction), people like me are still being denied basic care.

I’m still off social media for Lent, but I may have to make an exception and go to one of my local groups to find out who provides eye exams without medical discrimination and segregation.

Or I can wait until Lent is over. I think I’ll do that. As long as my glasses don’t fall apart, I should be okay for a few more weeks. My eye exam is covered by my husband’s health insurance, and more time before getting an exam means more time to set money aside to pay for new glasses, beyond the amount the insurance will cover.

Still, we got what we needed, and are stocked up for the month. The only thing we’ll need to do later is get our Easter basket supplies. We might even be able to get our baskets blessed this year. People are allowed to go to church again, without forced masking, injections, spacing and registration again. Hopefully, that means my mother’s church will be doing the basket blessing this year. For the past couple of years, we blessed them ourselves. It’s not quite the same!

On extra I did get at the Walmart, that I hadn’t been able to find elsewhere, is a suitable new hanging bird feeder.

It’s filled with deer feed, because that’s what we have right now. I think, after this bag is done, we’ll be switching back to the black oil seed. With the deer eating up all the seeds before the birds can get any, I have been looking to get a new one for a while. Most of what I found was either too small or too expensive. We had one like this before, and it worked out rather well, until the racoons discovered it and kept knocking it down, eventually breaking it. Hopefully, this one will last longer. I’d like to find a way to keep it from falling off the hook, while still letting me reach to get it on and off. Short people problems. I can just reach high enough to put the hanger cable over the hook – as long as the cable doesn’t slide downwards!

Anyhow. I’m happy to have finally found another one of these. The size is right, and so is the price. The chickadees were happy I found it, too, and were all over it as soon as I left after hanging it up!

So we managed to get a few things done today, and hopefully, we won’t need to go to the city again for another month!

The Re-Farmer

Too many critters!

While at my computer a little while ago, I started to see all sorts of activity in the security camera live feed. A whole lot of deer, making their way down the driveway!

So I headed over to look out a window and see where they were going. Mostly, they were milling around, just beyond the chain link fence, watching something in the yard, intently.

They weren’t going to the feeding station (though we spotted the sad faced, brick of a cat, sitting on the junk pile), so I decided to head outside and see what was going on.

That took longer than expected.

I opened the door from the old kitchen to the sun room, and found the flood covered with black and white, furry beasts.

At least four skunks were in the sun room, eating the kibble!

Two took off right away, but these two would not leave! I ended up having to get a spray bottle and spritz them with water to get them out.

Meanwhile, Rolando Moon was in her bed in the shelf, just watching them. !!

I didn’t even try to take stills in the fading light, but tried to get some video. It wasn’t very good, either, but I could at least get this screen capture.

They ran off as I came closer, but then I saw them on the camera again, coming back.

Several had already gone by, but in this image, you can see another four of them across the road, and another making its way to the gate!

While I was out, I found there was no kibble left for the cats at all, so I refilled their trays, then headed inside. When I saw that the deer were returning, I headed back out again.

Guess who else was back?

Yup. One of the stinkers was back, eating at one of the newly refilled kibble trays.

Using flash didn’t help see the skunk better, but I love the red, heart shaped glowing eyes of the cat on the left! 😀

Unfortunately, there was no way to chase off the skunk without also chasing off the cats, which certainly won’t help our socializing efforts.

More reason to looking forward to being able to close the doors to the sun room again. Hopefully, this will be the last night we need to leave them access to the heated water bowl in the sun room. Temperatures are still dropping below zero overnight, but not so low as to freeze their water bowls solid.

Between the deer and the skunks, no wonder we’re going through the kibble so fast outside!

Oh, and now I’m watching three more deer crossing the driveway from the barn yard to the spruce grove.

A fourth one just joined them.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many deer in my entire life, as I have this spring!

The Re-Farmer

Tired

Oh, cool!

Just as I started writing this, I caught some movement on the security camera live feed. There is currently a deer slowly making it’s way down our driveway.

Contributing to this…

While heading to the driveway cam while doing my morning rounds, I found the driveway filled with deer tracks in the fresh snow.

Right up until the gate.

Just before the gate, the tracks started to disappear, and by the time I reached the gate itself, they were completely gone, covered with windswept snow. What a difference that spruce grove makes!

The outside cats were happy to see me. Their trays were completely empty. Even in the sun room. The heated water bowl was completely dry, and the food containers scattered.

I don’t know how much is the cats and how much might be from the skunk I now see fairly regularly on the security camera, but every morning, the sun room is in disarray. I am inclined to think it’s the cats, because I don’t think the skunks can get up onto the counter shelf, under the bathroom window. We keep all sorts of things on there; too many things, but they’re handy there. One of the things I had on there was an unopened 3 pack of suet for the feeder. Not only did they manage to open up the outside packaging, but the shrink wrap on all three blocks has been torn off, and the suet looks clawed up and chewed on.

So we’re going to have to reorganize that shelf, and find some way to seal up the suet blocks, while still keeping them handy.

They also got into the two new bags of kibble that were sitting on the swing bench. Thankfully, the kibble bin was mostly empty, so I was able to fit both 11kg/24lb bags into the bin.

There was one mystery this morning, though.

With the leaks in the ceiling, I had placed a scrap piece of rigid insulation on top of the feed bin lids. The plastic cracks in the bitter cold, so there are holes in the lids, and I didn’t want to chance water getting into the food. When I go into the bins, I set the sheet aside, but make sure to put it back when I’m done.

It’s gone.

I have no idea where it could be. Since the doors are propped partially open in such a way that they cannot be opened wider – the cats have to squeeze and snake their way around the door frame to get in – and they were still in position, there is no way it got dragged outside. I can see it being pulled out if a cat was digging to get at the bins, but it should have just fallen to the floor in front of the shelf. Even if it landed on another cat or something and got knocked further, there really isn’t a lot of places it could be. But it’s gone! It should be interesting to see where we find it, when we do the clean up later today.

If we find it. 😉

I’m not really looking forward to the job. Partly because I’m still quite tired from yesterday. These trips to the city are really draining, even when they go well. Just being around so many people sucks the energy right out of me.

So yes, there’s that. Another part of it, however, is definitely the weather. Winter is just dragging on and on. We were supposed to be only a degree or so colder than yesterday, when it was actually warm enough to rain (the trail cams both had a layer of ice covering parts of them!). Even as I write this, the forecast it still saying we will be reaching a high of -1C/30F, but it’s noon as I write this, and we’re still at -5C/23F, with a wind chill of -13C/9F. The average high for today, over the past 30 years, is 5C/41F. Though I suppose I should be glad we’re nowhere near the 30 year record cold for today, which is -18C/-0.4F That was set in 2018, which was our first spring here. The record high for today was 15C/59F, set in 2010. In 2001, there was a record snowfall of 77.5mm, or about 3 inches. So we don’t have much to complain about, really but, gosh, it really starts to drag on a body. Especially when it’s so overcast, too. It’s all I can do to stay awake right now.

Another change in the 5 day forecast has happened. Friday (the day after tomorrow) was expected to reach 5C/41F, but now it’s saying we should be reaching 7C/45F.

Considering how often we’ve ended up colder than predicted, I won’t be holding my breath on that.

I’m now seriously considering finding a way to set up a heater in the sun room to use overnight, so we can move our seedlings in there. The overnight temperatures are still too low for seedlings, but we need to start the next batch soon, and there is going to be a lot more that need starting this time. We need the space.

Meanwhile, I’m just feeling so…

Tired.

The Re-Farmer

I couldn’t resist

I’ve made more videos in the past few days than I have in ages! I just can’t resist those deer images!

This is a short one; I did resist including more of the files of deer from the trail cams.

I love how they came so close to the camera! I don’t think they’ll be able to do that after today, though. It’s warmed up enough that I think they’ll start sinking, if they try.

The other trail cam had a deer go close by, too. The snow has finally melted enough that they can get through to that area again. 😀

I think we can officially say we’ve seen more deer this year, than we have since we moved out here.

The Re-Farmer

Snow, snow, go away!

Things continued to warm up today, so after I finished my morning rounds, I headed to the city for our monthly shop.

Got some major sticker shock, even though I was well aware of prices going up.

I did a quick stop on the way to put a big of gas in the tank. Normally, I would have grabbed some fried chicken and wedges for breakfast, but I was too early, so I just grabbed a snack. My first stop in the city was Canadian Tire. We usually get our wood pellets for the cat litter there, but the pellets last so long, we didn’t need any. What I did find was a new garden fork to replace the one that broke last fall. I hope it is a decent quality one, because the only other fork they had was a pitch fork. Which we do need, but not as much as a garden fork. I also picked up a new cat scratcher. Butterscotch and Nosencrantz still don’t leave my office/bedroom… well… Nosencrantz does explore once in a while, then dashes back again. Which means they don’t go to where the scratching posts for the other cats are. I did get what I thought was a small scratching post last month, only do discover I should have read the label more closely. It was a replacement post, so there was no platform with it. It’s still available, and the other cats sometimes scratch at is, but not Butterscotch and Nosencrantz. Nope. They are going after one of the suitcases stored in my closet, instead! That closet doesn’t have a door, just a curtain, so they have free access to it.

I had also tried picking up one of the cardboard cat scratchers the other cats love so much. They tear them to shreds and made a huge mess of them, but I’ll take that over them going for the couch, any day. Nosencrantz and Butterscotch did use that one – but Nosencrantz was also using it to pee on, instead of in the litter box, so that went away.

This time, I found one that is made out of carpet, and has non-slip bumpers on the ends, so it can be leaned against a wall. It is also infused with cat nip oil.

So far, the other cats have checked it out and knocked it about. We’ll see how Nosencrantz and Butterscotch like it.

One of the things I checked out while at Canadian Tire were their pumps. I was pleased to see that the sump pumps were not very expensive. As soon as we can work it into the budget, I want to get a spare. I also want to get a spare septic pump, too, but I didn’t see any that I could price check. That’s something I’d have to run by my brother first, anyhow. He knows exactly what our system needs.

After Canadian Tire, I went to an international grocery store that is one of our favourites. They also have hot food available, and the seating area has been returned, now that restrictions are lifted, so I got to have breakfast for lunch. 😀 There isn’t a lot that we get in this store, but there are a few things that we don’t find in regular grocery stores, plus I like to get fresh produce in non-Costco size packages. 😀

For the amount I got, which was pretty typical, I’d say I spent about 25% more than last month.

Then, it was finally time to go to Costco, where I can shop with a flat cart. 😀

I made sure to fill the tank before I went in; I’d added only $20 of gas at 174.9 cents/L (regular) when I stopped on the way to the city, and I was still under half a tank. Costco’s gas was 164.9 cents/L (regular), but it still cost me just over $80 to fill the tank. I can’t remember the last time it cost me that much to fill that tank, even during the rare times it was below 1/8th of a tank. I already had to increase or grocery budget. Time to see what can be juggled so we can increase the gas budget, too. 😦 I think we’ll mostly just drive even less than we already are.

Once in the store, I did get a chance to ask about getting an eye test this time. Despite all restrictions being lifted, the eye clinic still requires masks. No medical exemptions.

So no eye exam for me. 😦

There were no such restrictions for the rest of my shopping, and I was happy to see smiling faces on a lot of the staff.

I did have a couple of splurges today. Because they were still in stock and so inexpensive, I got another of the shop lights that I picked up last time to use with the mini-greenhouse. This one will be for the sun room, so the seedlings will get light from two directions, when we transfer them over, and the trays won’t need to be turned as much.

I also unexpectedly picked up a new spade. We do have one good spade. We had two other, much older ones, that we found. One broke on a root when I was digging a hole to transplant a haskap bush. The other can still be used, but the handle is broken off at the end (it was like that when we found it), so it has a jagged edge. It’s a wooden handle, so we could cut the damaged part off, but then the handle would be too short for use without wrecking our backs, so we make sure to wear gloves to use it.

Well, now we have another good spade. This one comes to a sharper point than the one we already have – which is funny, because it’s called a “round point shovel”. It’s designed more for uprooting, and where we are going to be planting the buffalo berry and sea buckthorn, there are a lot of roots, so I hope this works out. We will have a LOT of holes to dig!

As for the rest of the shopping, even taking the extras into account, I still ended up spending more while buying less. Not everything was more expensive, but most things did go up at least a little. The Kirkland brand of kibble, which the cats quite like, was limited to one bag per cardholder. Another brand didn’t have an limits, plus are slightly larger bags. Both have gone up in price, as has the canned cat food. Paper products all went up quite a bit, though nothing compared to the increase in fresh meat and fish prices! It didn’t even matter what kind or cut. They’ve all gone up. Some fresh produce, like potatoes, didn’t seem to be any different, but the dairy and eggs all had increases. Still cheaper than non-Costco, though, so it did make the trip worthwhile, still.

Most things were in stock, though some items were missing specific types or brands.

Most of what we get there are not things we can grow or make ourselves, which is why we buy them in the first place, so there isn’t a lot we can do to avoid the increasing prices. At least, at some point, we’ll be able to start raising animals for eggs and meat, and possibly milk (I don’t think we’ll be up to getting a cow, but we might be able to get milk goats at some point), but not for a while, yet. Right now, we’re focussed more on the gardening, and building what we need to be able to raise animals, starting with chickens. That is doable in the shorter term.

But I digress.

By the time I was done at Costco, I was completely knackered, and more than happy to be heading home.

Though overcast and warm all day, once on the highway, the visibility soon started to drop. At first, there seemed to be rain, but almost immediately, it turned to snow. By the time I reached home, visibility was maybe 100 yards (which is a little over 90 meters). I’d been seeing Canada Geese all over on the way in, along with a few grouse, along the roads. On the way out, it was deer. They were grazing by fence lines, though, thankfully, not running across! One herd I saw was at least a dozen deer, probably more.

For all the visibility was down, there wasn’t actually a lot of snow accumulated, when I got home.

The kibble trays were completely empty, so after the van was unloaded, and I parked it while the girls put everything away, I refilled the trays. That’s when I realized I’d forgotten the container I usually use to scoop the kibble and the deer feed, outside. I leave the container at the feeding station as I go to switch out the sign cam’s memory card, and forgot to grab it on the way back.

Which made for convenient visualization of how much snow had accumulated.

It’s not a lot, but everyone is just so tired of snow right now. Yes, we do need more snow for the moisture, so help recover the water table, but at this point, I’d rather have rain instead of snow! 😀

As I write this, I can see snow is still falling. We are at 0C/32F right now, so the snow is quite sticky. After today, it’s supposed to keep warming up, reaching 5C/41F within the week. In the 14 day forecast, we’re supposed to get as high as 8C/46F, but overall, it should remain pretty level. No extremes. Which is exactly what we need for the ground to thaw out and be able to absorb all that precious moisture. Both rain and snow are predicted, but not much of either, so that shouldn’t mess things up too much.

As much as I know it’s good to have the snow melt away slowly, I am still going to be very happy when it’s finally all gone!

The Re-Farmer

Catching up

With things going a bit crazy for the past few days, then being able to spend the day with a friend, I’ve been a bit behind on my usual computer stuff.

The kitties were very happy to see me this morning. I spotted a dozen of them this morning. Their trays in the kibble house had been knocked about; my husband tells me that, from the sound and smell at about 4 am (he had a sleepless night, unfortunately), there was a run-in with a skunk. Even the sun room had been ransacked a bit, again. It will be good when we can close those doors up again, which we should be able to start doing soon, now that it’s supposed to get warmer.

Going through over 300 files from just the one trail cam, then making a video using all those deer images, took a lot longer than it should have. Partly because I don’t have very good video editing software. The “easy” software that came with my computer suddenly needs a driver update and wouldn’t let me export all the work I did. I didn’t have the time nor inclination to search out and download the driver, so I used some old movie making software I have. It allows me to do a lot more, but the “new” version of the software I got was so much less intuitive, and useful than the first version I bought, not to mention a massive resource hog, I never updated it again and hardly ever use it. I’m told there are others that are better, but I just haven’t been up to searching for something that meets my needs.

Still, it was enough to get the video made. Setting it to export into an uploadable file gave me enough time to make supper. :-/

This evening, I finally sat down to go through the email notifications for the blogs I follow, and even find a few direct emails and notifications, including donation notifications to the fundraiser for the Cat Lady (thank you!).

It took several hours to catch up. Granted, I did leave the computer a few times to do other things, but I did finally get it done. I even managed to get it done before 11pm! 😉

As I write this, it’s now just past 11pm, and we have continued to warm up to -2C/28F. Considerably warmer than this morning! Or even this afternoon.

We’re supposed to drop down a degree overnight, but tomorrow we’re supposed to reach a high of 1C/34F We’re also supposed to get a bit of snow, but that forecast changed from an expected 5-10cm/2-4 inches, to 1-3cm/<1/2 – 1 inch, in total, through tonight and into tomorrow.

If all goes well, we should be able to make our big, monthly shopping trip to the city tomorrow, and stock up again.

Thankfully, my brother made the 1 1/2 hour trip on Sunday to visit our mother, early enough to go to church with her. He was able to help her do her grocery shopping and other errands. Normally, I would have, but with the septic issues we were having, I lost complete track of how long it had been since I last helped her with her groceries. Usually, I would have phoned to ask when she needed me to come over, but that was when we found the mess in the basement and started having to get the snow cleared and the septic guy in. I called her today and mentioned it, as why I hadn’t called about her shopping earlier. She told me she had thought we would do the errands on the day I took her to visit her sister in the nursing home, now that they are allowing visits without appointments again.

Which was a bit of a surprise to me, since when we last talked about it, she had said it could wait until the weather improved again, and we would talk about it later. There was no other timeline discussed.

She was also remarkably incurious about the septic issues we had. Also a bit odd, since such conversations usually involve her going over everything I did wrong and telling me how I should have done it, or telling me I should have gotten my brother to take care of it, and how sad it is that I “don’t have a man in the house” to take care of such things for me. I guess my husband being disabled means he stopped being a man. :-/ So I suppose it was a good thing that she didn’t care that we had to deal with septic backing into our basement for the third time in four years! Still, it was very unusual for her.

She did, however, find the time to chastise me for growing potatoes in bags last year, because that was something to maybe do in the city, but it was just stupid to do that out on the farm.

I don’t think she knows that I know about the very, very stupid thing we found out she did that hurt my brother so badly. But then, she still doesn’t realize that what she did was in any way wrong. My poor brother is still trying to fix the damage. It keeps him up at night from the stress. He’s told her that, and she’s completely oblivious.

My brother is such a saint.

I know I’ve said it before, but I am so incredibly glad he owns the property now. I’m also glad that our living here does relieve him of some of the stress and worry about keeping the place from from falling apart – and our vandal from stripping it bare even more that he already had. It’s very much a “win-win” arrangement we have with him, and he is a much better “landlord” than my mother was!

We have much to be thankful for, when it comes to living out here. Even if we do have to deal with unfortunate things coming up the drain in the basement, every now and then!

The Re-Farmer

A whole parade of them!

I haven’t been going out to the sign cam to switch memory cards for the last few days, due to the weather conditions and the path being blown in as much as it was, but I finally was able to get out there today.

It was just a few days, but there were over 300 files to check out!

Yes, they were mostly of deer. A whole parade of them!

I couldn’t resist. I put them together into a video.

So. Many. Deer!!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: luffa – finally!

It took a long time, but the second planting of luffa seeds has finally germinated, just this evening.

There was nothing, when I checked them this morning.

I’m glad to see them, because it looks like the one surviving luffa isn’t going to make it. Another casualty of the Great Cat Crush. 😦 At just under 10 weeks before our last frost date, I’m hoping it’s enough time for them, still.

Some of the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes that got moved out of the big aquarium greenhouse and into the little one, to make room for the newly planted seeds now with these luffa, have suddenly withered. After a bit of rearranging and squeezing things closer together, I moved them into the mini-greenhouse. It has the brighter light, plus the little fan to maintain air circulation. Hopefully, that will help them recover and grow stronger again. There are still lots of others, though, so for now, I’m not too concern. We only need a couple of plants from this variety, along with the two or three other tomato varieties we’ll be starting in a week or two, that are being grown mostly for fresh eating.

Things are supposed to start warming up tomorrow, and keep warming up from now on. At least for daytime temperatures. It’s time to prep the sun room and start keeping the outside cats out again, so we can be ready to move things over as soon as the overnight temperatures in there get, and stay, warm enough.

The Re-Farmer