Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden

Thanks to my daughters taking care of feeding the yard cats for me, I got to sleep in a bit, after a late night of getting the hard crab apple cider started. I’ve been pretty good about getting to bed at around midnight of late, so I’m not as used to being up past 2am anymore. 😄

I am really enjoying checking the garden while doing my morning rounds. The Red Kuri squash are ripening nicely, and the chocolate cherry tomatoes are slowing turning colour.

I’m a bit surprised these are taking so much longer, considering they get more sunlight than the Yellow Pear tomatoes, which we’ve been able to harvest for a little while now. My older daughter, for whom I bought this variety for, is really looking forward to trying them.

I remembered to get a picture of the newly supported kulli corn and Yellow Pear tomatoes. You can see some of the corn is still leaning way over. Those stalks are from the middle of the bed, and I wasn’t able to do much to add support in there. The tomatoes had all been leaning into the pathway, too, but I managed to straighten them up and add more support to their tops, and now the pathway can be walked in again!

I just love the look of these Ozark Nest Egg gourds! They are doing so well. I was even able to hand pollinate a couple more this morning.

While seeing what else could be pollinated, I was happy to see the G-Star squash I’d hand pollinated seems to have taken. I was able to hand pollinate another Boston Marrow and a couple Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins, too.

I was able to collect a far larger harvest this morning than I expected. The larger colander I use for harvesting was not available. Usually, that’s not an issue, as the smaller one is quite enough – but I didn’t expect to be picking more tomatoes this morning! I ended up having to use my pockets, too. 😄

There were more pole beans to pick than last time – and from the looks of some of them, a few got missed before! I was happy to pick more Magda squash, and to have one green zucchini ready to pick.

The tomatoes are all Cup of Moldova, and they went into the freezer with the rest. We still had some Sophie’s Choice that I picked yesterday, and they are now sliced and dehydrating in the oven.

Today is the last business day of the month: payday. Normally, I’d be in the city right now, doing more of our monthly stock up shopping. We are still good from the trip I did on the weekend, and we need to process the tomatoes in the freezer to free up space, so the trip can wait a bit longer.

I think, however, I might still make a jaunt into town. My husband’s birthday is coming up, and he wants a pizza night for his birthday. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Starting hard crab apple cider: a long night!

Last night, my daughters and I got some hard crab apple cider going, with some minor changes from when we made it before.

I started on the apples while my daughter’s sanitized the 5 gallon carboy and set up the juicer. Each apple got cut in half, the stem removed, and any damaged bits cut off. We were able to get to the apples faster than when we made it before, so they had noticeably less bits to cut off this time around. The cut pieces went into a giant bowl with water and lemon juice while waiting to be juiced. We had a small colander set up over a bowl that we would scoop batches of pieces into, that could be kept close to the machine while I continued cutting apples

My younger daughter did the juicing again. We knew we would have more juice this time, so she set up the sanitized carboy with a funnel on a chair under the juicer nozzle; fresh, raw juice went straight into the carboy, instead of first into a pitcher, then into the gallon glass carboy.

The juicing took such a long time.

The machine could only handle getting a couple of pieces put in at a time; far less than when juicing other fruit. These are small apples that don’t have a lot of juice in them, so we didn’t get a lot for the work. After a short while, the sound of the juicer would change, and my daughter would have to stop it, open it up and peel off the shoe-leather strip of accumulated pulp that did not go into the collector, like it was supposed to.

It was past 2am by the time we were done. Which was fine for my daughters, since they are still up at night and sleeping during the day.

This is what the more than 5 gallons of apples got us.

We got about two and a half gallons of juice. We calculated roughly 5 cups of sugar for the amount of juice we had (the ratio is 1-1 1/2 pounds of sugar per gallon of juice). The handy thing about it being only half full is that, once the sugar was added, it was easy to just pick it up and shake it to dissolve the sugar. A half packet of yeast was hydrated, then added and it got another shake before being set up with the airlock.

I didn’t bother taking a hydrometer reading.

This is how it looked this morning, after having roughly 9 hours to settle.

The airlock was bubbling about every 23 seconds when I checked it, and the temperature of the liquid is 20-21C/68-70F. We’re supposed to reach 28C/82F today, so it’s definitely going to get warmer.

I’d hoped to have more juice, but it’s still more than we had last time. We do still have lots of apples on the tree to pick, if we want. We don’t have another large carboy, but we do have the 1 gallon ones, if we want to make more hard cider. I think I’d rather make more cider vinegar, but we don’t have more of the large, wide mouth jars right now. For the amount of apples we’d have, I wouldn’t want to use smaller jars. It would be a waste of jars and space. There are other things we could do with the apples, too.

Now that it looks like making hard crab apple cider is a thing we will continue to do, we want to acquire a cider press. The juicer is great for other fruit, but does very poorly with these little crab apples. There are table top versions that are reasonably priced. Building one is another option. It’s something we wouldn’t for another year, so we have time to figure it out.

I’ve been asking my mother about how my dad made fruit wine. I remember him using the same crock my mother used to make sauerkraut. I remember watching him one year, as he layered sugar, then raspberries, in the crock until it was full, then … I can’t remember. Most likely, he weighted it down then covered it with a cloth, but did he add water to it? And how much sugar to fruit did he use?

I described what I remember to my mother, and she just brushed it off. They just combined fruit with sugar, covered it and let it sit, she told me. They didn’t add water. That’s how she’s got the cherries she picked while here set up, right now. She didn’t have a lot of cherries, so it would be just a small jar. She couldn’t tell me how much sugar they used; apparently, they just winged it.

Well, whatever my dad did, his raspberry wine in particular got rave reviews. I remember picking pin cherries (those trees are now gone) that he used to make wine, as well as the hard little plums that are more stone than fruit, that we still have in the yard (though the trees seem to be dying). My parents had no wine making equipment. They used no commercial yeast (yeast for brewing was not something that would have been easily found back then). I wish I could ask my dad what he did. I don’t think my mother paid too much attention to it, and what she’s doing now is not what I remember seeing him doing. Maybe one of my siblings remembers more than I do. I should ask them. 😊

For now, though, I’m content to make hard cider with our crab apples. I prefer that over wine, anyhow. 😁

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: wind damage repair, and an unexpected harvest

This evening, I headed out to see what I could to about fixing the wind damage in the garden. Particularly with the corn. I ended up stealing some bamboo stakes running across the hoops in a couple of other beds, but that still only gave me four. I did have one more, plus a stick, already in the sweet corn, supporting a couple of stalks that had fallen over previously. They were still standing, while the corn around them was flattened!

I ran twine between the poles from end to end of each row, wrapping the twine once around each stalk in that row to hold it up. Even as I was working, I had the wind pushing the stalks, so I scrounged up another pair of sticks. I set them up on either side of the middle, then ran twine between them, catching the support twine in between. This way, whichever direction the wind blows, there will be some support.

Some of the stalks where still trying to fall over, but I could only find one more stick. It was enough to add extra support to the twine in the rows.

The cobs are actually filling out quite nicely! Some of the silks are even starting to dry up, and they should be ripe soon.

The hard part while doing all this was trying not to step on the poor little bean plants on either side of the corn. Since I was there, I checked them over and found a pretty decent little harvest!

I didn’t have a container with me, but I managed to shove them all in a pocket. 😄

There was have it. Our very first harvest of green bush beans, planted late to replace the ones that drowned out.

When watering this bed, I do try to make sure to water the beans more directly, but as I was harvesting, I could feel that they could really use more water. We’ll have to focus in them a bit more!

The next area I worked on was the group of ground cherries that had been flattened.

I managed to find a couple more sticks – I think my daughters intended them as walking sticks! – and grabbed a couple of short pieces left over from hula hoops we used to make row covers last year. The ground cherry plants are a lot more delicate than other plants, and I felt the twine might damage them more, so I threaded it through the pieces. As careful as I was, I could hear branches cracking as I lifted them. I’m not sure all of it will survive.

They are, however, still covered with many flowers, so we’ll still be getting more berries developing.

Once these were done, I started on the kulli corn. I completely forgot to take pictures, though.

One side was fairly easy to do. I lifted the netting up, then used the existing scavenged T posts to hold the twine, which I wrapped around stalks to hold them up. This was on the north side of the bed, and the gust of wind had come from the north, so it was pretty easy to reach things.

The other side was far more difficult. We did lose the top of one stalk completely, and the others were leaning onto the nearby bed of tomatoes. If the net wasn’t there to hold it, they would have fallen onto the other bed, but instead they created a sort of arch.

The tomatoes themselves were outgrowing their supports and falling over. I had to add more support to those, just so I could keep working on the corn without breaking tomato branches. Some of the stakes were leaning over from the weight of the tomato plants, so I just zig zagged some twine between them to pull them together, which gave me enough room to work on the corn.

With the corn, I ended up doing much the same thing; zig zagging twine bank and forth, wrapping it around the top line of twine that was already there, to support the netting. I was able to wrap twine around a couple of the bigger stalks in the middle of the bed to give them extra support, but there really wasn’t much I could do for them. I can’t even guess how well they will recover from this. 😔

Then I went back to the tomatoes and added higher support from end to end to catch the newer growth. They’re looking much better now. There were even a few ripe tomatoes to harvest!

That done, I checked the late garlic in the next bed and decided it was time to dig them up.

The two by themselves on the left are the only two survivors transplanted from the bed the tomatoes are now in. I didn’t bother keeping them separate when I moved the bundle to the canopy tent. We’ll let them dry a bit, then brush the biggest dirt off and either lay them out or hang them up to cure. I’m kind of impressed by them. They’re pretty big, considering what a rough time they had of things! It’s a shame. The bed where only two survived had 90 cloves planted in it. The other one had over 80 cloves planted in it. This is all that made it.

This fall, the garlic will be planted elsewhere. I kept the biggest bulbs from the one bed that did so well, but would really like to plant more. We shall see how it works out, when the time comes.

The Re-Farmer

Furry babies

Only some of them were willing to let me take their picture!

Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but it seems that super fuzzy one on the right is not running away quite as quickly as usual. It’s not that he is letting me come any closer. Just that he seems to be waiting a bit longer before running away.

That little brown tabby in the front in the kibble house perplexed me a bit. He will come up to me, or hang around when I come in, and even gets playful around me – but he still runs off if he feels I’m too close – whether it’s because I moved towards him, or he moved towards me!

If it weren’t for the mosquitoes, I’d be spending more time just being outside, trying to socialize them. I don’t want to slather myself with bug spray to do it, either. Especially with the littlest kittens. Between the smell and the chemicals, it isn’t good for them.

We do what we can.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden, and a follow up

My mother wanted me to check her out of the hotel as late as we could, so this morning I actually got to sleep in a little bit before doing my morning rounds! I’m happy to say, my mother is now settled in at home and really hoping not to have to go through this again! While helping put fresh sheets back on her bed, I noticed the exterminator left a trap in the corner, to monitor things. We shall see.

I had done a small harvest from the garden yesterday, so I didn’t have to pick any beans this morning – though I did find a couple of cucumbers I’d missed!

I was able to do some hand pollinating, which is nice. Not with the luffa, though.

We still have only female flowers blooming. The clusters of male flowers are forming, but are still just tiny buds.

The nearby dancing gourds have so many flowers, I don’t even bother. What few pollinators we’ve got right now are more than able to get those ones done! There are many developing gourds, hidden among the leaves, to show for it.

The G-Star patty pan squash are really getting big and healthy, and I finally spotted a female flower today. When they were still struggling, I did see one squash starting to form, but there were no male flowers to pollinate it, so it fell off. Since then, until today, there have been only male flowers.

This is how they should have looked by the end of June and the first half of July. Not at the very end of August!

There were other summer squash I was able to hand pollinate. Most of them are not as far behind as the G-Star, though the green zucchini is sort of in between. I could have picked some summer squash this morning, but left them to get a bit bigger. I should be able to pick at least a couple of them, tomorrow.

Mostly, though, I wanted to pick tomatoes!

There are only 3 or 4 of the rounder Sophie’s Choice in there, and the rest are the Cup of Moldova. Most of those went into the freezer with the others awaiting processing, though I kept a few for fresh eating.

This is the first time we’ve grown determinate tomatoes. I kept hearing about how they ripen all at once, so be prepared to do a lot of canning and processing in a very short time. I was kind of counting on that, since the main reason we were planting these was to make tomato paste. A lot of tomatoes will cook down to a fairly small amount of paste. However, they seem to be ripening little by little, like indeterminate tomatoes do. Even with what I’ve already got in the freezer, I really don’t think there’s enough to fill the dozen 125ml jars we have waiting for them. (From what I’ve been finding, because tomato paste is so very dense, they should not be canned in even 250ml jars, as it’s so hard for the paste to come to temperature all the way through.)

We’re going to have to process them soon, though. In a couple of days, I’ll be doing the rest of our monthly stock up shopping, and we’re going to need the freezer space taken up the the bin with the tomatoes! So whatever we’ve got now is going to have to do.

Before we can do that, though, we need to finish processing the crab apples and get the hard apple cider started. At least the girls got the cider vinegar started, while I was helping my mom. When I told my mother about what we’re doing with the apples, she asked for a small bottle of cider vinegar to try, which I had already been planning to do – or at least offer. That she’s even asking to try new things like this is pretty surprising, after all these years since our move with her being so angry whenever I did something different from how she did things! 😁 She is still upset with me because there were cherries still on the cherry trees when she came out here with my sister. I was supposed to pick every single one of them, and make all the things she would have made with them. Any left on the tree is apparently a real tragedy. Just the fact that I froze the ones we did pick, rather than processing them right away, ticked her off. I told her I had other things to do and, since they’re frozen, I can do them at my leisure. All that got me as a grilling on what could I possibly be doing to keep me from processing them right away. I don’t have cows to milk! (That’s her current thing: we don’t have cows to milk, therefore we have no work to do.) When she was on the farm, she always processed this stuff right away. I reminded her that back then, there was seven of us, so she was able to do this stuff and the rest of the work still got done. Her response was to ask, what did I do while growing up on the farm? I started listing out how I helped in fields, in the barn, with the cows, with the chickens, and in the garden. I just wasn’t allowed to help much with the pigs, because I was so young, and they were so potentially dangerous.

She didn’t remember me doing any of that.

I told her that just because she didn’t see or remember something, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

I can’t really complain about her digs too much. It has actually gotten better compared to when we first moved here, and she was so very angry that we didn’t instantly do all the things she thought needed to be done (never mind what actually needed to be done), and didn’t immediately recreate the garden she had some 40 years ago, in exactly the same place (though much of that space is now taken up with trees or the shade from trees), and in exactly the same way she did it (never mind that we don’t have the equipment she did). It’s taken a lot, but she’s at least less critical, even if she still doesn’t understand the how or why of what we’re doing.

And even interested in trying new things, like asking for a Red Kuri squash, and some crab apple cider vinegar!

That’s some pretty huge progress, there! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Long day, garden damage and a fiscal heart attack

Oy, what a long, draining day!

While waiting for a call from my mother, I figured I should just go over to her place early. Better to be there and know what was going on, than having to stick close to the phone and not being able to start anything useful.

My mother had got up early to prepare, expecting the exterminator to come fairly early. By the time I called her, she was ready for a nap! So I took my time getting there, stopping to gas up her car and pick up some chicken and wedges for an eventual lunch.

I did try to let her sleep, but conversation kept happening. I found out she’d called my sister about coming over – at 8am this morning, rather than last night, when I suggested she call. My sister works until 1am, and her husband is retired, so my mother woke them up with her call!

She told me she also called someone to try and find out when the exterminator would come, but they didn’t know and asked her if she’d called a different office. I eventually found out she had called the senior’s centre, and I had to explain to her that they have nothing to do with running the building my mother lives in. It’s owned and managed by the provincial government. My mother thought that, because they do so many things in the building (mostly centered around social activities), they were somehow part of it. I had explained this to her the last time her place got sprayed for bed bugs, but it was all new to her again. :-/ Then she wanted me to call the appropriate office, and I had to explain again that the people in the office don’t now where the exterminator is at any given time, because he goes from place to place within and area. She was not impressed by this.

After a couple of hours, my mother suddenly remembered her daily Mass was on TV, so she got up to watch. I suggested we have lunch, but at first she said no, but told me to go ahead. I had had a very early breakfast (I actually remembered to have one!), so I started putting a plate together for myself.

Of course JUST as I took my first bite, there was a knock at the door!

Yup. At almost 2pm, the exterminator arrived.

When he saw the food on the table, he said he would do the apartment next door so we could finish eating. My mother quickly joined me and we hurriedly ate a bit, then put the rest away. My mother also quickly put some other stuff away including…

Putting her toaster in the fridge.

It took me a while to figure it out, but it actually is a great idea. They have to spray in the kitchen, too, and by putting it in the fridge, there is no chance of the spray getting into the toaster and coating the parts and pieces as would still be possible if she, say, put it in a cupboard. It’s not like you can wash the inside of a toaster!

I had a chance to meet the exterminator, and he was such a sweetheart! The most gentle mannerism, and so very kind. He was apologetic about how long it took for him to get there, and when I mentioned my mother needing to be away for 12 hours, and he realised she had respiratory issues, he said that if he had to come back, he would make sure to start with her. My mother was asking if this could be the last time her place got sprayed, but all he could say was that it depended on what he found today.

Then we were off, along with my mother’s overnight bag – just in case she ended up staying the night with my sister. Which, from what I could tell, she had not brought up with her; just the possibility of a visit. We were leaving so late, though, I knew my sister would probably be getting ready to leave for work. My mother had an errand with the office for the department that runs her building – it just happens to share the building the courts and court office area in, so I was quite familiar with getting there. Meanwhile, I was trying to send message to my sister to let her know what was going on, and if I was right about my mother not saying anything to her about it, warn her that my mother was expecting to spend the night. My sister has tomorrow of, so my mother thought it would be quite convenient for her to take my mother home – but it turned out my sister had company coming. I passed things on to my mother as I was able, and she eventually decided it would be just too much to go to my sister’s, so we went to the Walmart to do a bit of shopping. By then, we were literally about to go to my sister’s place, so I was happy to park and message her that she was in the clear!

After we got what we wanted, my mother told me to take her to the hotel she had stayed at before. Which she had told my brother she was going to do, but then told me she didn’t want to. Frankly, I think the hotel, so close to home and with a 24 hr convenience store right next door, was better for her, anyhow. If nothing else, she wouldn’t have to take stairs to get to the bathroom!

By the time I got my mother settled in and I was heading home, it was coming up on 6pm. Traipsing around with my mother is very draining, even though everything did go very well. I mean, she’s 90, and I’m no spring chicken, myself, so we were both pretty tired!

When I had left home this morning, we’d already had some heaving rains, and some periods of high winds. When I did my evening rounds and checked out the garden, I found some of our whirligigs to startle deer had been blown away. Then I found the sweet corn looking like this…

The stalks aren’t actually broken, though, thankfully. If I can find something to use as supports, I will see if I can run lines through to hold them up again.

Then I got to the ground cherries.

Again, they don’t seem to be actually broken, but one side of the patch is quite flattened!

The super tall kulli corn, meanwhile…

… also had stalks blown down.

On the other side of the bed, the corn was pushed over enough to create an arch over the path!

It would have been knocked flat, where it not for the netting around it!

From the looks of the things that got blown down, it seems they were hit by sudden gusts of wind. Even one of the winter squash vines got blown around, and a single Chocolate Cherry tomato plant got broken, but not the ones on either side. Even sections of tall grass in the outer yard showed patches that were newly flattened, while others were not. Aside from the one broken tomato, though, it doesn’t look like anything in the garden was actually broken and killed off.

I hope I’m right about that!

Things are supposed to get hot over the next few days; even hot enough to match a record high of 30C/86F, set in 2007. Which I much prefer over the record low for the same day, of 4C/39F.

Along with all that, I came home to find a message on the answering machine from one of the roofing companies we got estimates from, back in 2019. When I emailed them, I mentioned the 2019 estimate and asked for an updated one. The guy that called remembered the place, and even remembered talking to me when he came out here. In 2019, the estimate was just under $9,000, plus whatever amount it would cost to repair any rot they found that can’t be seen yet, which gets charged by the square foot. That’s why I rounded up to $10,000.

I didn’t think to ask what the square part was. I was somewhat distracted by the new estimate. Based on what he saw in 2019, the job will now cost just under $16,000 – for now! Their suppliers are saying the cost of materials will go up another 20% in November.

My mother couldn’t accept a 10K estimate, 3 years ago. During a conversation we’d had fairly recently, I told her that today, it would probably cost about $15K, and she didn’t believe me. It turns out I was under estimating.

She has told my brother (not me) to find out the cost and she would pay for a new roof, but I don’t know if she would still be willing. She is so convinced that everyone is trying to cheat her, because she’s an old lady (never mind that they’d be dealing with my brother).

One thing that could be done is to accept the estimate and put down a deposit. Once a deposit is made, the price is locked, even if the work doesn’t get done until spring – though having it done before winter would certainly save us on more roof damage, and heating costs. He did ask if there were leaks right now, and I said yes, there are two of them (though one leaks only when the snow melts in the spring). He then said that they could do a patch job, instead, if that works out.

I’ve passed this on to my brother. We still have the other company to hear from.

I will be going to check my mother out of her hotel room and bringing her home in the late morning. Hopefully, they will call while I am home, but if I don’t hear from them, I will try phoning them myself.

My mother actually can cover the cost of a roof replacement; the question is, will she do it, or is she just teasing us again? The most she does that, though, the more expensive it will ultimately be, and the more hidden damage there will be.

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, small harvest, preserving – and another change in plans

I had plans for today.

Honest. I did.

But first, the cuteness.

My plans for yard work would have had to change, anyway, as we are now getting a steady rainfall right now, but there was plenty to work on indoors instead.

The kitties were getting pretty wet, so I left the sun room doors propped open. I’ve discovered why I’ve been finding things knocked out of the top shelf of the shelf shelter. Despite the two bottom shelves being set aside for the cats, some of the little kittens have been climbing up into the top shelf, where all sorts of miscellaneous stuff are kept, and sleeping on some pieces of rigid insulation in one corner! So I am leaving the sun room available for them to shelter in, more comfortably.

Because I’m a suck, when it comes to the kitties! 😁

Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to my brother on the phone, in between his attempts to call my mother. He started trying early enough to catch her before she went to church, but she wasn’t answering. It turned out she was watching her religious programming on TV and wasn’t answering the phone. Then she went to church, and stayed out for hours after.


I got a message from him after he finally got through to her, well into the afternoon. My mother’s apartment was going to be sprayed for bed bugs again.


She was wondering about staying in a hotel again, since she has to stay away for 12 hours.


So I called her, but her Polish program was on. It was almost 4, so when she said she would call me back when it was done to talk about the bed bug spraying, I said fine.

An hour later, I finally called her myself. I could hear the TV still going, and there was another Polish mass about to start. She wouldn’t have called me back until ALL her Polish shows were done! Meanwhile, I’d delayed working on supper so I could answer the phone without being in the middle of cooking – and I’d already skipped lunch (I lost track of time and forgot to eat).


My mother has zero respect for other people’s time, but expects everyone else to respect hers.

Ah, well.

We talked about her apartment being sprayed again. She did not want to stay at a hotel again, because it’s so expensive (it was actually very cheap, but she doesn’t know what hotel stays usually cost these days). So, she asks me… What was I going to do with her for the day?


What we finally worked out is that I will wait until I get a call from her, letting me know the exterminators have arrived – which I am doing right now, as I write this. They can show up any time between 9am and 4pm. I will then go pick her up, and we will run an errand for her in the city near my sister’s place, and then she wanted to visit my sister.

Who works a 5pm to 1am shift today.

I told her to call my sister first, to make sure stopping by was okay.

Then we’ll have to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Even then, she’ll end up having to hang out in the lobby or something before she can go back into her apartment. Unlike her neighbours, who can go back after 6 hours, because they don’t have respiratory conditions.

But she won’t stay at a hotel again.


I also had a talk to her about letting me know right away, if her apartment is going to be sprayed again. She got the letter last week, and just didn’t bother telling anyone. I have no idea what she planned to do, had my brother not gotten through to her and then told me.

So my day today is completely gone. I can’t even start anything, unless I can drop it as soon as she calls.

One of the things I wanted to do was get crab apple cider vinegar going. I ended up having to ask my daughters to do it overnight which, of course, changed their plans, too.

They were sweethearts about it, though, and we now have three 1 gallon jars in the big aquarium, safe from cats, fermenting. This time, not only did we stick with just cheesecloth to cover the jars, but the apples are weighted down with slide lock bags filled with water to keep them submerged.

They didn’t use up even half of the apples I picked yesterday!

If I had more jars like this, we’d be making more. As it is, I did have a fourth jar, but after talking to my mother about what we were planning to do with the apples, she asked for a gallon jar so she could make sauerkraut. She wanted one of her old jars in the basement, but those have been sitting for more than a decade. I’ve actually gone through and washed the dozens of jars I found down there, and those particular jars are only being kept because we will used them to make bottle bricks for the walls of the cordwood shed we will be building. I would not consider them food safe anymore. So I’m bringing her one of our newer jars, instead.

So the apples will be used to make hard crab apple cider, instead – though that won’t be started on until probably tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I still did my morning rounds, which included a small harvest.

I had not yet washed these. They are wet from the rain.

There were some summer squash I could have picked, but I decided to leave them to get a bit bigger. I was able to hand pollinate some other squash, though. Which is interesting, when the flowers have puddles of rainwater in them!

According to the long range forecast, we’ve got at least a couple of weeks of hot, mostly dry weather. After that, the overnight lows are expected to be just a few degrees above freezing. I’m hoping that changes. If we have the month of September with no frost, there’s still a chance for some things to mature.

We have more red tomatoes that I should pick later today, or tomorrow morning. The paste tomatoes will go straight into the freezer with the others, until there is enough to start making tomato paste. The others will likely be dehydrated.

Our first attempt at dehydrating them worked, but took a long time. We kept needing the oven for other things. Though my daughter did not slice them super thin, they shrank so much, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get them off the rack they were on. They came off surprisingly well, though.

It was just one tray of tomatoes, so it’s not a lot, but I definitely think it is worth doing again.

Along with the red tomatoes, the Yellow Pear tomatoes have something to pick almost every day.

I did break down and taste on of them. After all, I’d been able to eat the tiny Spoon tomatoes without gagging. Maybe I could eat these ones, too?



The Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, meanwhile, are finally starting to turn colour, but it will still be a while before we can harvest any of them.

We most definitely need a mild September. Hopefully, a mild October, too!

Ah, well. Whatever happens, happens. We’ll deal with it.

Hmm. I really should be making myself something to eat before going to my mother’s, but… Murphy’s Law. The moment I start something, the phone is sure to ring! 😂

This is going to be a very long day.

The Re-Farmer

T200 Trail Cam unboxing


I actually made this video shortly after we got the camera, using the still-new-to-me Movavi software. There was a new update when I opened the software, which I downloaded first. I made the video – disappointed to discover music files I had been using before had been completely replaced with new ones, but everything worked fine.

Until it was time to export the finished video to a format that could be uploaded, and I kept getting error messages.

After many failures, I sent a message to customer support that never got answered. I also saw in their beta community that others were having this problem, and the recommended solutions did nothing.

Today, I opened the software to find a new update. I downloaded and installed the update, and now it’s working just fine again!

Since this was made, the camera has been moved slightly, but that’s about it. So far, everything is working just fine.

Winter will still be the big test, though!

The Re-Farmer

A morning harvest

While the girls worked on the cats’ house, I did my morning rounds. No harvesting in the garden today, but check out this pumpkin!

It’s almost completely changed colour! The second one is just beginning to show the tiniest change in colour at the blossom end, but is otherwise still very dark green.

Once the regular rounds were done, I headed out with some buckets and started our first harvest of crab apples. Mostly, I just shook the branches that I could reach, then picked up what fell.

I got about 10 gallons of crab apples that way. There are still lots on the tree, but I couldn’t reach the branches to shake them. Plus, I don’t have any more buckets available.

After bringing the buckets to the house, I used the hose to fill them with water to do a cursory wash.

I had curious company.

I help!

Then the apples got transferred out of the buckets.

These corrugated plastic bins are the handiest things!!

They have holes cut into the bottom, like what you can see on the sides, but a good layer of shredded paper made sure no apples fell though, while also absorbing water from their rinsing.

Shredded paper is something else we’ve been finding very handy. We shred only paper that is compostable, like fliers and the like. Printers switched to vegetable based inks decades ago, so they’re fine. Just no glossy paper or anything like that. Those go for the burn barrel.

We’ve used the shredded paper as mulch, as compostable layers buried in new garden beds, as a base under tomatoes ripening indoors, and now for crab apples. We even keep the shredder, sitting over a recycling bag on a wire frame holder, in the dining room all the time for convenient shredding.

The first thing we will be doing with the apples is to make crab apple cider vinegar again. That is the fastest and easiest thing to get started. Then we will be making more hard crab apple cider. We have so many crab apples on the one tree this year, we should be able to make more of both this time.

The “mother” left from our previous ACV is still around, but I don’t think it would be safe to use, so I bought some apple cider vinegar with mother to use as a starter. After experimenting with using an airlock or just covering the fermenting jars with cheesecloth, I’m just going to use cheesecloth this time.

The other thing we will be able to do differently this time is to use the big aquarium to hold the fermenting jars. It is already lined with rigid insulation from when we used the space as a greenhouse, so the temperature will remain quite even, and it has cat proof covers over it. It’ll be easier to keep an eye on it in the living room than in the old kitchen.

As for the hard apple cider, we should have enough crab apples to make it worth digging out the wine making kit and using the 5 gallon bucket and carboy for fermentation. We’ll make that decision after the vinegar is started, and we see just how many crab apples we end up with. We’ll probably need to break out the step ladder to pick more apples.

A good problem to have! Especially after having none, last year.

I’m quite looking forward to this!

The Re-Farmer

Cat House Cleanup

This morning, the girls opened up the cat house to give the inside a good cleaning.

Both daughters are in this picture. 😂

One is inside the cat house, clearing out the old straw and debris into the wheelbarrow by the side of it, while the other assisted as much as possible. Mostly by keeping kittens out of the way. The socialized ones REALLY wanted to get underfoot! Speaking of feet, my older daughter flipped a toenail and can’t wear closed toes shoes right now, so her sister banished her from going inside the cat house. Unfortunately, in the winter, the cats do crap in there, rather than going outside into the chill.

I tried to do my part in distracting kitties by putting out some cat treats. Which the kittens that were underfoot mostly ignored, in favour of being underfoot!

Once they did as much as they could and closed things up again, the less socialized cats started coming out of the woodwork, too. 😊

The old straw has been removed completely and, being full of cat poop, isn’t going into the compost. It was added to the burn pile, instead. The giant crochets blanket that was in there is now draped over the kibble house, where it had been hosed down on one side. After a while, it’ll be flipped so the other side can be hosed down. It get really, really heavy when wet!

We don’t have fresh straw to put inside, so for now there is another scrap yarn crocheted blanket in there. I am thinking of moving away from straw completely. Having the heat bulb is great, but even though it’s just a relatively mild terrarium bulb should be fine, I’m still paranoid about straw dust. There are some scrap pieces of high density rubber mats in the barn. I am thinking we might lay some of the rigid insulation we have left on the floor, then covering it with the mats. The cats love scratching the foam insulation, but they won’t be able to scratch those mats. Between the mats and the insulation, it should help keep the shelter floor comfortable in the winter.

I also want to give those windows a good cleaning on the inside, and before winter, we’ll be sure to switch out the battery in the smoke detector we have in there.

With so many kitties this summer, I suspect the cats’ house is going to be very full this winter!

The Re-Farmer