A bit more progress

The thunder I heard as I finished up my post last night was a storm that passed to the north of us, but we did get rain. A steady rain all night, and almost all morning. Enough that we’ve got water in all the usual pooling areas again.

When the rain stopped, I headed out to try scything, and to see if it was any easier with wet grass.

Honestly, I can’t say for sure, one way or the other.

I did a bit more beside the main garden. Hit another patch of mostly alfalfa, which made cutting difficult. Then I did the paths in the maple grove. The grass there is sparse, and there’s about as much creeping bellflower as grass. That went quite easily.

Then I went to the outer yard.

The area I had been working on before, because the grass was still upright, is no longer upright. I’d started working from the driveway side because that gave me an open side where the swaths of hay could be deposited in windrows. The wind flattened the grass from the other direction, though, and to be able to cut it, the most effective way would be to work from the root side. Which meant starting from the barn.

The area in front of the barn was flattened in all directions, where the wind would have swirled around in circles there. It’s an awkward space to work in. Once that was done, I started working my way towards the driveway.

What a brutal job it was, and what a mess I made of it!

First off, I’ve never buried the toe of the blade into the ground so often! The flattened grass almost pushed the tip downwards. Second, I was hack and slashing a path through the middle of tall grass. There was no open space on one side to deposit the windrow. It had to be dumped on top of uncut grass, some of which was even taller than what I was cutting, and the lengths kept getting hung up on the blade.

I got a little more than half way to the driveway before calling it a day. Working in 16C/61F was a lot more pleasant that yesterday’s 28C/83F, but the cutting itself was brutal.

Once that first swath is cut, it’ll be easier. It’ll still be a pain cutting flattened hay, but I’ll have the open space on one side and will no longer be getting the blade hung up on still attached grass at the end of my cutting stroke.

There is a lot to cut in here and, when that’s done, I will need to cut the area in front of the warehouse, too. Right now, it’s almost inaccessible. Then, if I’m really ambitious, I’d like to cut a lane to the secondary driveway. I still need to properly repair the gate, and right now the grass about as high as the gate itself!

On the plus side, I’m finally going to have lots of mulch for the garden beds!

The Re-Farmer

Today’s progress

I managed to get a few things at least partially accomplished today.

It’s been put off for way too long, for various reasons, but we really needed to get a burn done. The burn barrel is getting to the point that we won’t be able to use it for much longer; it’s simply disintegrating on one side. So the wood pellet cat litter is being put into the metal fire ring I set up near it, to burn the things that wouldn’t fit in the burn barrel. It was getting too full.

Doing a burn in what turned out to be 26C/79F – not even the hottest part of the day – was not going to be fun. Some time ago, while cleaning out the sun room and the old kitchen, we found the parts of a beach umbrella.

They were not together when we found them. ๐Ÿคจ

So I grabbed the pencil tip iron bar I found somewhere else (I can’t even remember, anymore) and used it to make a hole for the umbrella post. The iron bar is only a couple of feet long, but the ground in the outer yard is a lot softer than the inner yard, so it worked rather well. It wasn’t much, but it at least gave me some shade to duck into in between tending the fires in both the barrel and the fire ring.

When it got to the point where I could cover them and leave them to smolder, I puttered around with a few other things. Some of the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes at the chain link fence needed some supports added to them. Then I set the bench I made on the saw horses to clean off the roughest edges with the wood shaver and sand paper, and took a scrub brush to get the dirt off the bottoms of the legs. I went through two sanding sponges in the process. They got torn to shreds, but at least things are smooth enough not to cause injury, even after being painted.

The bench then got hosed down and is now sitting upside down on the saw horses to dry, before it gets its first coat of paint. The underside probably won’t get more than one coat, except for where it will come in contact with the ground.

That done, I moved on to the Yellow Pear tomato bed. Some of them were getting tall enough to add more support there, too.

After that, I moved on to the main garden area.

Three of the four apple gourds are getting pretty tall and starting to climb the poles next to them. I attached pairs of bamboo poles as cross pieces between the three poles, so they’ll have horizontal support as they grow bigger. Only one of the apple gourds is tall enough to actually benefit from the new support, but the other two should be there, soon. As for the fourth plant, it is so small, it’s barely visible over the cardboard mulch!

That done, I decided to water the squash patch – then ended up watering the whole area. For the first time this year, I set up a sprinkler to water the garden. Usually, I just water it myself, but I wanted to work on something else at the same time.

I did find a lovely surprise that wasn’t there this morning!

Our very first tomato that is starting to turn red!

There is one other that has just the lightest blush on it. Both are Sophie’s Choice tomatoes.

Woo hoo!

While the garden was being watered, I started scything nearby.

This is as far as I got. We’d reached our high of 28C/82F by then, and it was just too hot. On top of that, there is a lot of alfalfa in the first couple of swathes, and that stuff does not cut as easily. It also tends to get hung up on the blade. When scything, the cut grass gets pulled along with the blade and deposited in windrows – if all goes well. It did not go well! I found myself dragging cut material back again, and it just did not want to let go! Also, the ground is so rough, I couldn’t slide the blade smoothly across. I had to hold it higher up. All of which made the job a lot more difficult. Which I would have been okay with, if it weren’t for the heat!

So I moved on to another job.

I started using the loppers on the trees by the garden plots. I started cleaning up these trees from the other end… last spring? The spring before? *sigh* I’m losing track of time! ๐Ÿ˜† In the above photo, I’d cleared some branches away from the end. This will make it easier to get under there and scythe later one. However, as I kept moving the sprinkler down the garden beds, I was able to work on an area that needed pruning more. You can just barely see the grow bags in the photo. There were some fairly large, bushy branches above them that I wanted to clear out. I did enough to clear the space above the grow bags before stopping. While the sprinkler was set up over the last beds in this area, I watered where the trellises are from the rain barrel with a watering can. The water was quite warm! Then I got a bit more pruning done while refilling the barrel with the hose.

It was a bit all over the place, but it still managed to be a productive day, even with the heat.

Our forecasts have been all over the place. First, I was seeing thunderstorm warnings for Tuesday (today is Saturday). Then for Monday. Then for tomorrow morning! Meanwhile, another app is saying we’re going to get light rain tonight and tomorrow. Looking at the weather radar, however, it looks like the system is going to pass to the north of us. We’ll see if we get any rain at all! At least it will cool things down and if things work out, I’ll try scything after it rains. From what I’ve looked up, scythes cut better when the grass is wet, but I haven’t had the opportunity to test that, yet.

We shall see what tomorrow brings us.

Oh, my goodness! Is that thunder I hear? Why, yes. Yes it is.

So much for the weather radar being accurate!

The Re-Farmer

Little harvest, future harvest

This is what I was able to gather this morning.

Meager, to be sure, but we’ll be having more, soon!

They are hard to see through all the leaves, but these are yellow bush beans developing under the kulli corn. We might be able to actually harvest some in a few days!

I am so looking forward to fresh beans from the garden!

The Re-Farmer

Greetings, human! Feed us!

Look who was waiting for me this morning!

Every morning, the mamas gather outside the sun room door, waiting for me to come out with the kibble. Usually, at least one of the bigger kittens are with them, too. This morning, the little kittens were there, too!

I was even able to pick up and cuddle a couple of them, while their mamas stayed well away.

Even the big kittens are coming around in the mornings! These ones are more cat-tens than kittens. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just look at the size of that tabby! You can see the black and white, under the spirea. The tuxedo was around, too.

The littler ones have been hanging around the kibble house and in front of the sun room, playing enthusiastically. Hopefully, the older kittens will start coming around and staying, too.

Oh! Last night, while crossing the outer yard, I might have, maybe, possibly, seen a kitten following Broccoli into the tall grass. The first possible sign of her litter.

I suspect we’re going to be seeing a lot more new kittens showing up at the kibble house over the next few weeks.

The Re-Farmer

I see you!

With the groundhogs having completely torn apart and removed most of the old tarp covering the board pile, the old tire rim that was being used to keep it from blowing away isn’t needed anymore.

The kittens love playing in, under and around it, though, so it stays!

It’s also a secure place where they can watch the giant, food bearing creature that sometimes picks them up and does nice scritchy things to their ears.

I see you!

The Re-Farmer

Some garden stuff, and a run-around day

Just a few growing things to share from this morning!

The spruce grove next to the board pile where the smaller kittens are living has been overtaken by spirea again. Hard to believe I pulled those all out, just a couple of years ago. They are blooming like crazy right now, and just buzzing with insects, so I am leaving them for the pollinators. They can be pulled up later, when we need access to cut down the dead spruces.

This is one of the hulless pumpkins; a Kakai variety. So far, there’s just the one. I’ve seen another, much smaller one. We shall see if it got pollinated and gets bigger or not.

There is also just the one giant pumpkin growing. I made sure to hand pollinate this one, when I first found it! I am not seeing any other female flowers on the giant pumpkins at all, yet.

I was able to make a tiny harvest of shelling peas this morning; more of the pea plants have had hair cuts by a deer, it seems. Just at the one end, where they are already all spindly, though, so it’s not actually much of a loss. I was able to pick a small handful of raspberries, too. Not as much of either, as yesterday.

I didn’t spent too much time in the garden, though, as I had a lunch date in town. I met with my SIL for lunch, after she picked up the sleep test machine in the city for me, saving me the trip. After lunch, I tried calling my mom from the parking lot, but got a “user not available” message. So I made a stop at the hardware store and picked a paint for the benches. I went with a dark red. I got a gallon, so there should be enough for both benches, with some to spare for future projects.

That done, I tried calling my mom again, and discovered she had called the farm and left a message for me. She had just gotten word that her sister passed away this morning. My aunt would have turned 99, this fall. My aunt had gotten to the point where, when my mother recently visited her, she could not recognize her at all, and didn’t seem to know my mother was there. We were expecting this for some time, now.

I told my mother I had her sleep test machine and was on my way to her place. I was really looking forward to seeing it. The little storage bin it was in was about the same size as the machine I got, when I had a sleep test done years ago.

My goodness, has it ever changed! The test is the same; a pulse oxymeter to be worn on one finger, a hose with nasal prongs, and a heart rate monitor worn the chest. The small box strapped to the chest was the entire unit, with both the air hose and pulse oximeter attached to it. No machine sitting next to the bed, making things like rolling over very challenging to do!

There was a questionnaire sheet that I helped fill out on one side. The other side is for after the test is done. Then we went over the instructions.



It’s actually very easy to use, but the instructions were well beyond my mother. Especially when it started talking about what to do if you turn it on and get red lights instead of green ones. Just the nasal prongs, and putting the air hose around her ears, was too much for her. She was more than ready to not do the test at all, and expressed regret for agreeing to do it.

So I’ll be giving her a hand. The machine needs to be returned on Tuesday. I’ll come over on Monday night to help her put everything on and get the machine going, before she goes to bed. Then I’ll come back in the morning, go through the shut down procedure, finish off the questionnaire with her, then take the machine to the city and drop it off. It’s already been arranged with them that, when the specialist has gone over the readings and is ready with his report, he’ll call me to go over it, not my mother. I can then explain the results to her in a way she can understand, later on. The report will also be sent to her doctor to go over.

Then, since I’ll be in the city anyhow, I’ll stay to do more of our monthly stock up. I will be using my mother’s car again, though, so still no Costco trip, but there is a liquidation store near where I have to drop off the sleep test machine that I want to check out. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, and their inventory can change quite dramatically from shipment to shipment. I should be able to get deals on things to stock up on that I might not find at the other wholesale places I go to.

So that is all arranged.

There was one odd message my mother passed on to me while I was there. When her niece called about her sister’s passing, my mother was told that our vandal would be at the funeral, therefore I could not be there.

Which is completely backwards. If I go to the funeral, it’s our vandal that has to leave. I have a restraining order against him, not the other way around. Not that I would do that to him at a funeral. I would make and exception. He, obviously, would not. I have no idea what he told my cousin, but I suspect she doesn’t want me there, anyhow. When I later had a chance to pass on my condolences to her husband, I explained it to him, but also said that I will just keep things easy and not go. Our vandal might cause a scene, and if my suspicions are correct and my cousin doesn’t actually want me there, she would be upset with me, not our vandal. I have other ways to honour my aunt’s life without all this theatre.

Since I was in town with her car, I was able to take my mother on some errands before heading home. She is not at all impressed with how expensive things have gotten. I’ve been trying to warn her for months that this was coming, but she brushed me off. Even now, she thinks that the prices are high because the local stores are cheating people. She found an error on her grocery receipt a couple of times (in the 8 or so years she’s been living there), and is convinced the errors were actually deliberate. She still doesn’t get that cashiers don’t actually put prices in manually as they scan her groceries, and that the prices are set into the computer system by the franchise the store is affiliated with, not the store itself. For all my warnings, she seems to think these higher prices are just in the local stores she goes to, not something that’s happening across the country. Frustrating.

I had noticed a weekly farmer’s market was on today, so before heading home, I swung by to see what was available. There was one booth with fresh vegetables. The selection was more sparse than I remember from last year, but I was able to get some fresh yellow beans and a bunch of carrots. The market itself had a lot fewer booths, too. My bee keeping cousin was there, though, and I was looking to get a bucket of honey, but he had none, and will not be having any of his largest size at all this year. The long, cold winter took out his bees. He’s down to only two hives! They would have already been struggling after last year’s drought, too. This horrible start to the year we had must have been just too much for them.

It explains a lot, though. I’ve heard from a lot of people saying they’re not seeing any bees this year. At the time when the bees would have been coming out of hibernation, not only was it cold, but things that normally would have been blooming, were not. There would have been nothing for them to eat.

I had just been talking to a woman selling chokecherry jam (among other varieties of jams and jellies) about how we had plenty of chokecherry flowers this spring (when they finally could bloom), but no berries, and she had said she had the same thing. Especially with Saskatoons. The flowers just didn’t get pollinated. Bees would not have been the only pollinators affected by our horrible spring, either. I’m glad we have so many pollinators now, but the timing of it is just wrong for most berry bushes.

Thankfully, my beekeeping cousin has other stuff to sell in his booth, not just honey. It might take a long time for him to build his hives back up again.

This has been a hard year for all kinds of produce!

Still, I did get a large jar of honey, some fresh vegetables, a couple jams and jellies, and some individual sized pies to take home. Not too bad.

It’s been a long run-around day, though, and I was more than happy to get home!

The Re-Farmer

Scything and mulching progress

There had been predictions for more rain this afternoon, but when things stayed dry, I headed out with the scythe.

I worked on the area where the hay is still upright, and not flattened to the ground by wind. I took this picture when I thought I was done with scything for the day, but ended up cutting one more swath.

This means we can now access the shed we want to dismantle, now that the roof collapsed over the winter. We still need more space to stack things. I suspect much of it will go into a burn pile, but I know there is some good lumber that can still be salvaged in there, and I want to make sure there’s someplace to put them that’s off the ground. Once the remains of the roof is cleared away, I’m thinking of dragging out the old metal garage door that’s leaning against one wall and laying it on the ground, and using that to stack lumber on top of. If all goes well, we’ll have the materials to build a chicken coop that can handle our winters. I’d really like to build one on wheels, so we can set it up in different places, as needed. I hope to use the chickens as part of our gardening plans, as well as for eggs and meat.

We shall see how that works out.


In the foreground of the photo, you can see some of the dried hay from when I tried using the weed trimmer to cut this. I gathered all the previously cut hay into the wagon and hauled it to the garden.

The Boston Marrow really, really needed some help with all the grass and weeds that had grown through the straw mulch. I have not been able to get more cardboard, however…

I did have the box from when we bought the new lawn mower last year in the garage. It’s a really, really heavy cardboard, and there were so many strong metal staples in two of the corners, it was easier to just cut out that part of the cardboard, after removing all the tape I could.

Because the cardboard is so heavy, and I had just one box, I cut it up into many smaller pieces. Then, for each Boston Marrow, I cut a piece with an opening in the middle, to fit around the plants. Once each plant was done, I filled in the spaces in between with the remaining pieces.

I was short one piece to finish!

Ah, well. Close enough.

The dried hay in the wagon, however, was not enough to mulch all the squash, however. So I went back and got the freshly cut hay.

Thanks to the net that came with the wagon, I was able to jam all of it into the wagon.

It was enough to almost completely finish mulching the area.

Because there was no mulch on top of the cardboard I’d already laid down around the green patty pan squash and the hulless pumpkins, not only did the cardboard dry quickly in the sun, but pieces kept getting blown around. In this bed, it was bad enough that I weighed them down with some boards, as best I could.

Thankfully, there was enough hay to mulch all the individual squash plants, but not enough to finish filling in the spaces between the hulless pumpkins, nor to fill in up to the corn. It will be sufficient for now, though. Once the hay was down, I wet it enough that the cardboard below would be damp, too.

The green patty pan squash plants are so tiny, they’re completely hidden by the hay! I did make sure they were not covered. Honest. ๐Ÿ˜„ As small as they are, after all this time, there is still the possibility of a crop out of them. They have only 55 days to maturity. I’m hoping that, now that they’re mulched and not fighting for nutrients – and they’re no longer drowned out! – they’ll perk up, and we might have something to harvest by the end of August.

The cardboard being blown around is a problem in the big squash patch, too, but there was no more hay. I decided to use some of the remaining straw bale.

I only got one load done. Just enough to mulch two Baby Pam pumpkin plants.

This is one reason why. The handle on our new garden fork broke off!

The other reason is, while pulling the straw off the bale, there were clouds of what look to be mold spores being kicked up. I really didn’t want to be breathing that stuff!

Well, there’s a whole area just north of the garden that’s too overgrown to mow. I’ll start scything that to use on the nearby squash patch, so that I’m not having to use the wagon to bring it over.

But not today. Probably not tomorrow, either, as I will be out and about for much of the day. Saturday is supposed to hit 28C/82F, but if I get started scything early enough, I should be able to escape the heat. The hottest part of the day is typically around 5pm, so there should be plenty of time.

Little by little, it’s getting done.

The Re-Farmer