First monthly stock up shop: this is what $393 looks like

More specifically, $392,96, after taxes.

I was feeling well enough to finally get our first stock up shop for December done. I am no longer sick, but still feeling pretty weak. Honestly, I would have stayed home if I could. I didn’t want to be driving in that wind, when the roads are in that “is that melted snow, or is that ice?” stage! I had intended to take my mother’s car, because it needs an oil change, but our van has winter tires, so I took that, instead.

Even so, I wasn’t sure how far I was up to driving. I reserved judgement until I reached my mother’s town. She has a cold now, too, and was complaining about coughing badly at night, so I went to her pharmacy and got some cold medication for her, then swung by to drop it off. By then, I knew I was up to making the rest of the drive.

My mother looked quite miserable, and had had another rough night of coughing. One of the medications I got for her was some NeoCitrin so, before I left, I got the kettle going, cut apart all the pairs of packets for her, because I knew it would be harder for her to do herself, then got a cup ready for her before I left. We also went over the directions for how much to take of the cough syrup I got for her, which would be best for her to take before bed, since that’s when her coughing is the worst. When she found out where I was going, she asked me to pick up some milk for her to drop off on the way home.

Once I was done at her place, I got some fuel (local prices are now 158.9/L) then headed to a small Walmart at the nearer city.

There were two things I especially needed to get, and those made up most of the bill. I got four 10kg bags of kibble for the outside cats, at just under $26 each (a really good price for our area) and a case of 32 cans of wet cat food for the inside cats (we still have dry kibble for them). The canned cat food is now $28.47, which is about $10 more expensive than just a few months ago. Altogether, this is about half the cat food we’ll need for the month. When we do our Costco trip, I’ll get more kibble (how many depends on what size bags they have available at the time), and a 48 pack of canned cat food.

Then I got some cold medication. There are shortages of cold medications across Canada right now, and there was less of it at the Walmart than in my mother’s pharmacy! Still, I was able to get both day and night time NeoCitrin (at my mother’s pharmacy, they only had the day type), and a big bottle of liquid cough medicine. I also picked up some vitamins my doctor has me on, and at checkout, I grabbed 4 different flavours of cough candy.

Since our quarter beef should be ready for pick up this week, the only meat I got was some chicken breasts and, because none of us are up to cooking very much right now, a big box of Pizza Pops. There’s some Havarti, mozzarella and marble cheese in there, coffee for my daughters, some clementines, a couple of loaves of rye bread, a 4L of milk for us and a 2L milk for my mother. I also remembered to grab some popcorn seasonings, in three flavours. Oh, and a box of Vanilla Rooibos tea.

I also picked up a couple of t-shirts for my husband. The cats climb him a lot, and all his t-shirts are getting filled with holes from their claws! I went looking in the craft section for little things I could use with the Christmas ornaments I’m making this year, but there was absolutely no Christmas themed or coloured crafts items available. None. It’s like Christmas doesn’t exist in the Walmart craft department. It’s been like that for a few years now, I’ve noticed. I used to work in a craft store. Christmas craft materials started showing up in July, at the latest, because of the time it takes to make things in time for Christmas. I did find some replacement blades for my Xacto knife, though. I have some, but just can’t find them right now. Then, while waiting in line, I went ahead and bought some caramel filled chocolates, as a van snack.

My husband had suggested I pick up some McRaunchies burgers as a treat for the sickies, so after I finished paying for my stuff, I ordered 4 double quarter pounders with cheese and bacon. That came out to almost $44, after taxes! You know it’s bad when McDick’s burgers are $10 each. Ah, well. Beggars can’t be choosers! The girls really appreciated the treat when I got home. Even a barely warm, kinda soggy from being in an insulated bag, treat.

So there we have it. Thirty four items, and almost $400 later!

Of course, I did stop at my mother’s on the way home to deliver her milk. What a difference! That one dose of cold medicine I’d made for her earlier, and she was feeling – and looking! – so much better! She was so very happy at how well it worked, and how quickly. I’m really glad I did that on the way out, rather than getting the medication for her at the same time as ours, as I’d originally intended. She was breathing clearly, feeling stronger, and was in much, much better spirits.

Amazing what a bit of the right medication can do!

The Re-Farmer

Thirty One

This morning, when I did my morning rounds, I did a head count and reached 29 cats. They get really hard to walk through, first thing in the morning, when they’re all crowded at the sun room food, eager for kibble!

I was feeling well enough to do a shop today, including stocking up a bit on kibble. Of course, I had to feed them when everything was unloaded, if only to get them away from the van so I could drive it to the garage!

Before I moved the van, I did another head count. There were thirty of them!

Then, as I was closing the garage door, I spotted Rosencrantz running over from the direction of the barn, so I counted again when I got to the house.

Thirty one.

Which means that more of the adult cats are coming back, hopefully for the winter. Considering I can’t tell which ones are the adults, that tells me some of the ‘iccuses are back. We never could tell all of them apart very well, and there are just enough grey tabby cattens to not not be able to tell which is an adult, and which is a teenager!

Nutmeg had come back for that one day, but I haven’t seen him since. Considering how healthy and well fed he looked, I’m hoping that means he has found himself another home at a neighbouring farm.

Hopefully, more of the adults will return for the winter. Granted, the last thing we need is to be feeding more cats, but it would make me feel better to know they are okay, and have access to shelter, food and water when it starts getting really cold!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: Veseys seed order is in

One more order of seeds is now done! This is actually our second order with Veseys for next year’s garden.

We had intended to order our potatoes from here, as they have varieties we tried two years ago we really liked. Unfortunately, all their potatoes are currently listed as sold out. There were issues with this last year, when no potatoes were allowed to be sold out of PEI. I’d hope that wouldn’t be an issue, this year! This order ended up being just seeds. No trees or other such things that would be shipped in the spring.

One thing I noticed with their new inventory for 2023 is that their seed prices have increased substantially. I’ve seen increased prices across the board and was expecting it, but the increase seems quite a bit higher here. High enough that it actually affected some of our purchasing decisions.

As with our other seed orders, we have purchased a few things we’ve bought before. This includes the Pixie melon that we enjoyed so much the first year we grew melons, but weren’t able to save seed for, Lakeside spinach, one of three varieties we’d purchased as a collection, Lewis green beans and Merlin beets.

These are the new items and varieties we’ve ordered this time. All images belong to Veseys.

Purple Queen Improved Bean

The first variety of purple bush bean we’d ordered before did very well, even under drought conditions. In fact, all the purple items we ordered did better. I didn’t see it listed anymore, so I decided to try this similar one. The description notes that it has “amazing flavour”.

Red Swan Bush Bean.

These are noted for their exceptionally high yields, and long production season. It can be used as a fresh bean or a cooking (shelling) bean. I will have to remember to leave some of them specifically for shelling, while harvesting others fresh, so we can try it both ways.

Custard Bean

A new variety of yellow bush bean to try that’s noted for being prolific.

Yeah, we’ve got a LOT of beans on order this year. I like to have the different colours, and a mix of types to try. With how prolific these and the other varieties are supposed to be, we don’t have to plant a lot of each. There tends to be quite a lot of seeds in each packet, so we can likely have enough to last us 2 or 3 years, at least.

Dalvay Peas.

This variety of shelling pea is noted for its long pods, well filled with at least 10 peas per pod, and sweet flavour. We’ve had poor results with peas for the past two years, due to weather conditions, and I’d really, really love to finally have more than a snack’s worth of fresh peas! 😁

Sarah’s Choice melon.

This variety is described as the most flavourful in Vesey’s trials, and matures in only 76 days. Our first year growing melons was better than expected, while the second year’s melons were flooded out, so I’m really hoping we have cooperative weather for 2023. We really like melons in this household!

Honeyboat Delicata Squash

I’ve been hearing rave reviews for Delicata squash, but I also saw warnings that they were not a good storage squash. So when I saw this variety was noted as high yielding and a great storage variety, I figured it was worth a try!

Talon Onion

I was planning to get the Oneida onion again, but choked at the price increase, so I picked these, instead. They are described as a great storage onion that does well in dry conditions, and matures 85 days after transplant.

Ambition Shallot

I was going to try the Conservor shallots again, but the price increase was even higher than the Oneida onions. There was another variety that interested me, but it was already sold out. We’ve had no luck growing shallots from seed so far. Our first attempts were destroyed by cats, and the second by flooding that even killed off the shallots we planted from sets. This variety is supposed to be easy to grow, and store extremely well. Here’s hoping we succeed this time!

Cheyenne Pepper

While we have quite a few varieties of sweet peppers, my daughter requested we get a hot variety, too. This is a high yielding variety of cayenne pepper that is ideal for growing in a pot.

Naval Carrot

I was happy with the Napoli carrots we’ve ordered before – I got two years out of the amount of pelleted seeds we got. However, their smallest size packets currently available was more than we needed, so I chose this variety, instead. It is described as keeping its sweet flavour even after months in storage, and as easy to harvest.

Espresso Corn

We actually discussed not doing corn again for 2023, and waiting until we had better soil conditions for such a nitrogen hungry plant, but I think I know where I want to grow these where they should do quite well – I hope! This variety matures in only 67 days, which solves another of our problems, too.

Classic Eggplant.

Yes, we have the Little Finger Eggplant, with their long, narrow shape, but I thought it would be good to have the more traditional type as well. It is described as having “tremendous yields”, and matures in only 75-80 days, so they should work out well.

Roma VF Tomato

Yes, we saved seed from the Cup of Moldova Paste tomato, and we do want to keep that rare variety growing, but they weren’t exactly a flavour power house. At least that’s what my daughter tells me (I can’t eat non-processed tomatoes). I still want a paste tomato, so I chose this Roma variety. I don’t know what the VF stands for, but they are supposed to be quite prolific, and mature about 75 days from transplant.

Lemon Grass

Another request from my daughters, for our culinary herb garden. It has a hardiness zone of 8-9, though, so this is going to be grown in a pot, and in a very sheltered area. I know just the micro climate spot to put it in!

German Winter Thyme

This culinary variety (they also had ground cover varieties) is a bit hardier, but still a zone 4 – 8, which means it will likely be in a pot, too.

And that’s it for this order – and for any other orders until next month’s budget! Those most of what’s left that we want to get is stuff like potatoes, and more sea buckthorn to replace the ones that died – stuff that won’t be shipped until spring. Still, we don’t want to wait to long to order them, as I expect things will be selling out quickly.

We’re ordering a lot more seeds than we actually need, but if there’s one thing we learned from our 2022 garden, it’s that it’s well worth planting more than we think will be enough. In fact, we planted with that in mind, and it still didn’t cut it!

Nature can be brutal.

The Re-Farmer

Silly kitty – and I got to pet the boy!

While doing my morning rounds today, I found myself having to fight off Plushy quite a few times. She was determined to have my full attention!

One of the things I decided to do was a modification to our outhouse, in the off chance it needs to be used in the winter. That seat is shockingly cold at the best of times. I’d see a video of someone building and outhouse in the woods, and what interested me was that their “seat” was actually a sheet of rigid foam insulation with a hole cut in it, that covered the entire seat box top.

That might actually be worth doing, but for now, I decided to just cut some insulation to fit the seat that’s there, and see how that would work.

Which was difficult, because Plushy would NOT leave me alone! She even climbed me and got up on the shelf.

She didn’t want me to take her picture, though!

I ended up fighting off a whole crowd of kittens, so I rushed through getting the piece cut, so I could close the lid before a cat fell in. Then I came back later with a tall piece to put against the wall, where the seat hits it when opened.

Even as I was taking the picture, Plushy jumped up and yes, she was about to jump in, but I managed to snag her in time!

What a silly kitty!

On a more pleasant note, while I was doing my rounds, I found myself being followed by this beautiful boy.

I tried to reach out to him and let him sniff my fingers, but Plushy kept bashing her way in between! I did, however, manage to get a few pets in.

Well, that was it for him! After some decent scritches, he went from being stand-off-ish, to running in front of my feet while I was walking, demanding more! I was even able to pick him up and carry him for a bit.

He is such a soft, thicksome boy! He and Plushy are siblings, but he is quite noticeably larger than she is. In fact, I think she’s the smallest of the litter. Especially considering she’s mostly fluff!

The Re-Farmer

First Sunday of Advent: Hope

Normally, we would have started more decorating for Christmas by now, but none of us it up to it, yet. As of now, I’m the least sick person in the household!

I did want to get our Advent wreath set up, though.

Normally, it would have tiny decorations added to it, and a white candle in the middle, but the ornaments are still in their boxes. So I added its mini light string, and stuck our miniature nativity scene in the middle.

We also usually set it up on a counter between the dining room and kitchen, but for now, it’s on the dining table.

We’ll catch up on the rest, later!

May this first Sunday of Advent see your heart rise up in Hope.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Baker Creek seed order is in

For most things, I try to order from Canadian seed companies. The chances of success is higher, for starters. Plus, there’s the dollar difference. Baker Creek has some pretty incredible stuff, though, so I’m ordering from them again this year. I don’t know if I’ll keep it up, though; orders higher than $20 will now get charged customs duty. I’ll see how much that turns out to be before I decide if it’s worth buying from the US again.

As with our Heritage Harvest order, there are some things I am ordering again. This includes the Red of Florence onion, Uzbeck Golden carrot (last time, these were the free seeds our order came with), plus both the Kakai and Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins.

New with this order, we will be getting:

Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify

Yes, you read that right. The same variety of salsify that I ordered from Heritage Harvest. And yet, they look quite different, as is the taste description. I figured we can try both and see if there really is a difference, and which one we like better.

Indigo Blue Chocolate Tomato

An indeterminate variety for my tomato loving husband and daughter, for fresh eating.

Black Beauty Tomato

Another variety for my husband and daughter for fresh eating. The description neglects to mention if it’s a determinate or indeterminate variety, but apparently they are extremely tasty, and only 80 days to maturity. The description even says the flavour even improves with room temperature storage.

Sweet Chocolate Pepper

We’re going to have a lot of varieties of peppers this year! These are supposed to mature in 75 days, which should not be a problem for our area. I figure if we grow a few of each variety, we’ll know which ones we like best to narrow it down to in the future.

Well. My husband and older daughter will know. My younger daughter and I don’t like peppers.

African Drum Gourd

Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for punishment? And that I’m determined to grow gourds?

They can reach maturity in 90-140 days, so there is a possibility that it will work here. We have a growing season of about 110 days, on average.

On top of these, our order qualified for 2 free packets of seeds. It should be interesting to see what we get!

So that’s it for our Baker Creek order. I’ll be placing at least one more order for our 2023 before the end of November, but that order will include things that won’t be shipped until spring.

I think these planning stages can be some of the most fun in gardening!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seed order in

It may be the end of November, and I may still be sick, but I can still do at least some garden things!

I got two seed orders in today. This first one is from Heritage Harvest Seed. We ordered from them last year, and I was very happy with them. Plus, they grow their own seeds, and are located even further north than we are, so we can be assured that, barring unusual circumstances (like the flooding we got in 2022!), anything we order there should be able to grow where we are.

Though we do still have seeds leftover for some things, I went ahead and ordered a number of things we ordered last year. Among the things I have re-ordered are: Tom Thumb popcorn seeds (we got none last summer, due to flooding, so for 2023, these will be planted in a completely different location, in a raised bed), Little Finger Eggplant, Canteen, Apple and Yakteen gourds, and Zucca melon (because I’m a sucker for punishment and determined to grow more gourds), Styrian hulless pumpkins and Boston Marrow. I am also getting Georgia Candy Roaster. Last year, we ordered those from Veseys, but I want to try Heritage Harvest’s seeds this time.

New for 2023 are:

Red Warty Thing.

Gotta love that name! I wanted to order these last year, but they were out of stock when I was placing my orders. I wanted to make sure I had some seeds for this year. According to the description, they are great for soups and roasting.

Pink Banana Squash.

This is another one that I had wanted to order last year, but they were out of stock.

Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify.

My older daughter requested we try salsify, because it apparently tastes like seafood. More specifically, according to the description, this variety tastes like oysters. Apparently, they can be very difficult to harvest and break easily, so she plans to grow them in something deep, like garbage cans (we have a remarkable number of garbage cans around here), so they can be just dumped out to harvest.

Red Wethersfield Onion.

Last year, I was torn between ordering these or another type, so I’m trying these ones for 2023. They are noted as being a good storage variety. There are only 50 seeds per packet, so I ordered two.

We’ll be ordering a lot of different onions for 2023. We just can’t seem to grow enough of them!

Chamomile.

Lawn chamomile grows wild where we are, but this is the larger type that is what you would find in the chamomile teas you buy in stores. Over time, we will be planting a tea garden, and this is our first start!

I’ll be doing an assessment of our 2022 garden later, but we had a lot of failures, especially with the squash. It is unlikely we will have the level of spring flooding we had this past spring again next year, so I hope things will have a better chance of surviving. I was really looking forward to trying the different varieties of winter squash we’d planted, but we’ll just have to try again!

The Re-Farmer

Getting better, and it’s a smol cat!

Yesterday, the entire family spent as much time as possible in bed, getting plenty of rest and fluids to get over our colds. I’m happy to say we’re all improved quite a bit today. Yesterday, I had to get the girls to do the morning cat feeding, but today, I was able to do it myself again.

Look what I found!

So smol!!!

This is one of the kittens from what had been the youngest litter until the bitties showed up. We’ve had some progress socializing them, though it’s hard to tell at times. There are so many white and grey kittens from two litters – eight, altogether – and they run around so much, it’s hard to keep track of them. I think this is one that has allowed me to pick it up before, but I’m not sure!

This morning, I did a head count and reached 27. Then I counted again and counted 28. I get a different number, every time I try to count heads! 😄

Yesterday, we were predicted to hit 4C/40F, but ended up reaching at least 5C/41F. Today, we’re supposed to reach a high of 3C/37F. My husband’s disability payments come in on the last business day of the month (private insurance) and third last business day of the month (CPP Disability). However, then those days fall on a Monday, as the CPP Disability has this month, it actually shows up in our account on Saturday. So we got his payment today. Normally, I would take advantage of that, and the warm temperatures, and head into the city to do our first big stock up shop for the month. However, when I was cleaning out the ground floor litter boxes this morning (we were behind on that, with everyone being sick!), I actually broke into a sweat. So while I’m feeling a lot better today, I’m still weak as a kitten (a smol kitten!), and definitely not well enough to drive to the city. We’ll see how things are over the next couple of days. I hope I can make the trip tomorrow, because the forecast for the day after says to expect snow showers. I’d really prefer not to be driving on that. More because I don’t trust other drivers! 😁

So today is going to be another quiet day of focusing on recovery.

The Re-Farmer