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

Morning head count!

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the US! I hope you have a wonderful day today. 😊

My goodness, this group really loves it when I put kibble on the cat house roof!

It’s mostly the older kittens and adult cats. I even got to pet Broccoli! But only because she didn’t want to leave the food. The kibble I leave up there gets inhaled pretty quickly!

The younger kittens mostly prefer more ground level food. The kittens under the cat house take “ground level” to the extreme. 😄

Altogether, I counted 29 heads this morning – and I never had a chance to peek into the entry of the cats’ house. Usually, there’s at least one more in there, eating at the tray just inside, but not always.

Meanwhile, the self-sequestered cats in my office are very obviously happier, now that Bitty is gone. Amazing how such a little fuzz ball could stress the other cats out so much. Butterscotch, I can sort of understand. By the time we got her fixed and discovered her uterus was “tattery and falling apart”, kittens must have meant nothing but pain to her. But Nosencrantz? Why was Nosencrantz so freaked out? But then, everything seems to freak Nosencrantz out, hence her alternative name, Anxiety Bear.

We need to find her a home with no other cats. She likes people. Oddly, most of the other cats don’t like her, either. When even David will suddenly up and attack her – David!!!! – while she’s just up on her favourite perch by the ceiling, minding her own business, there is something odd.

We’ve got some very nice weather happening for the next while. Today, we’re supposed to reach a high of 1C/34F. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to reach 4C/39F! Then 3C/37F the day after.

My brother heard back from the roofing company. Because the weather is so good, there’s still a chance they’ll be able to get a crew up here. Fingers crossed!

In other things, I’m feeling somewhat better today. Some pain killers and lying down for a couple of hours yesterday helped. I even went to bed “early” and got almost 7 hours of sleep. Which is about 3 hours more than I usually get. 😄

Still, I’m going to be taking it easy today. When visiting my mother to do errands, we talked so much, my throat was sore by the time I left. I’m not used to talking much, so that didn’t take long. 😄 Now, that sore throat is worse, and I’m starting to feel like I’m coming down with a cold. A good day to stay inside, and drink lots of hot drinks with lemon and honey, while getting crafty! I found most of what I needed at the dollar store to make our annual Christmas decorations, but I’m not willing to drive to the city for the stuff I couldn’t find, so I’ll make do with what I’ve got on hand.

These are my first experiments. They’re called “berlingots”, which is the name of a hard candy of a similar shape, or sometimes Dragon Boats. These were made on a cardboard form that started off as a rectangle of 2″ x 6″, but I’ll be making ones for the tree probably from a 3″ x 9″ strip. I don’t think I want to get any larger than that. Or I’ll make both sizes, with the smaller ones for the top of the tree, and larger for the bottom. We have a pretty small tree. It is currently hanging flat against the dining room door, several feet above ground, to get the cats used to it being there. I was able to bring the tree up from storage in the basement, but I had to get the girls to haul the bins of decorations up. I can’t carry those up the stairs; my knees aren’t stable enough anymore. I think I’ll be leaving most of the decorating to the girls, since pretty much all of it will involve climbing up and down the little step ladder to hang things out of cat reach! 😂

Anyhow; for the decorations, I’ll be using more seasonal yard to wrap on them, and I want to find things I can pin to the points, such as beads, or maybe I’ll make some tassels. Each one will be different.

So that will be my project for today, if all goes to plan.

For now, though, I think it’s time to get the kettle on again, and make some more hot lemonade!

The Re-Farmer

Goodbye, Bitty, and the kindness of strangers

Well, it’s done.

Cheddar was willing to cuddle, but when Bitty started trying to get under him to nurse, it was a bit too much!

The cat lady now has the bitty baby. She plans to put him on antibiotics right away, since his eyes are leaky (I don’t include the lysine with the inside cats’ kibble). She showed me pictures of his siblings, which is when I discovered even more good news. When she told me she found someone who worked in a vet clinic willing to adopt Bitty, I figured this was someone different, but it turned out that this is the same person who is adopting the other two! This is someone who had lost her two cats after 18 years, not long ago. For her to now adopt three yard kittens from the same litter is just amazing! I had sent photos to the cat lady, so I’m guessing she at least saw pictures of him, but that’s it.

I had an extra surprise when the cat lady and I met up in town.

Another donated cat bed, more blankets, and 6 bags of kibble! Plus treats.

The cat bed will go into the cats’ house. Maybe the blankets, too. Those are knitted and donated by volunteers.

As for Bitty, he settled into the cat carrier and never made a peep until just before he got transferred over.

I gave him the hat he likes to sleep in to keep. I can make another one!

Previously, we had talked about getting the last 2 indoor females done, plus one outdoor male. The cat lady would have come to our place, driven them to another city, further away, to get done, then hung on to them for a week to recover, then bring them back here.

Clearly, something had happened, and she never got back to me on that.

It turns out that she’s been having issues with vets cancelling appointments, lack of communication, and even people she’s trying to help making it harder for her. Plus, vet costs are getting astronomical. There isn’t much we can do to help, but I can at least drive the cats to the local vet, or meet her in town like today. Apparently, this is not common. 😥 However, our sun room is now winterized, and our nearest vet has moved to a new, bigger, location, so we can take care of things like driving the cats to and from, and have a recovery room for them.

She also has funds left from a generous donation specifically to have cats spayed and neutered in the area – and where we live is considered “in the area” because we are willing and able to drive them to town. It turns out there is a sports celebrity that has a cottage in the area, and after she was the only person willing to come out to help a stray in -40C/-40F, this is his way of saying thankyou. As long as she spends the money on spays and neuters, he will be making monthly donations!

I brought up that, because we had so many kittens this year, we really need to focus on getting outside females done. Once she was assured that we had a place for them to recover, and that we could drive them in, she said she would try the nearest vet clinic again. If all goes well, we will get two females, then two males, done before Christmas – and before the real cold is expected to set in! I’m still holding out for a mild winter, but January and February are typically the most several months (and the reason we work to have at least a couple months of supplies in stock, in case we can’t get out!).

So she will work to arrange that, then get back to me, and we’ll have to work on socializing more of the females! Calicos and torties are almost always female, but they won’t let us near them. The white and greys are getting friendlier, but we’re having a hard time telling them apart, and only a couple are confirmed male. When the girls were tending the fire pit yesterday, they had cats all over them, and every now and then would pick up a white and grey kitten, only to realize it wasn’t one of the friendlies they were expecting.

A good excuse to get the fire pit going more often! 😁

The only down side is, certain mystery health issues came back with a vengeance. My breathing issues came back a few days ago and it doesn’t seem to matter if I’m sitting or standing, lying down or leaning. Even when I was helping my mother with her shopping yesterday, I had to pause a few times because I was starting to get dizzy and ill. I made sure my mother never saw it, though! Then last night, the mystery pain in my side suddenly hit me while I tried to get into bed, making it difficult to sleep even after the spasms were under control. The pain hasn’t gone away, and at times I am having trouble standing upright.

I should go to the doctor about it, but I don’t see the point. Clinics still have to demand masks, and I can’t wear a mask. I mean, who thinks making someone with breathing difficulties wear a breathing barrier makes sense? Never mind that it’s been repeatedly demonstrated to have no benefit, while causing plenty of harm. The other thing is, I was referred to a respiratory specialist over 2 years ago, and have still heard nothing. My mother hasn’t heard from the kidney specialist she was referred to, either. Unless it’s the Vid, or an emergency, people just aren’t getting health care right now, and those testing positive for the Vid are being badly damaged or killed by the treatment protocols. Frankly, I don’t think it’s even safe for someone like me – old, broken and fat – to go to a doctor right now. I could barely get taken seriously even before all this BS. Nothing like being sent to test after test, scan after scan, procedure after procedure, with all the tests coming back normal to have doctors start looking at you funny and suggesting it’s all in your head. If they can’t find it, it must not exist.

Bah. I’m just venting right now. I’m having trouble sitting up in my chair and breathing properly as I type this, and it’s distracting.

So, back to the topic at hand!

The Bitty is now away with the cat lady, and will be reunited with his siblings in a wonderful new forever home.

I’m going to miss him, but I’m so very happy for all the bitties!

The Re-Farmer

Just too much cute!

Before I headed out to help my mother with errands, one of my daughters came over to do bitty baby supervisor duty while I was gone.

Bitty was curled up on my bed, napping at the time. My daughter had had a sleepless night, so she took advantage of the situation.

Bitty responded by being even cuter, and took advantage of having a warm human to cuddle up against!

Later on, I got a message from my daughter saying that he was twitching and making nursing motions in his sleep!

We reached a high of 0C/32F today, though as I write this, we’ve started to cool down a bit. It’s still sunny and feels warm out there, and things are melting in various places. A perfect day to help my mother with errands. I’m happy to say she is well stocked up on quite a few things now. Especially the heavier things, like laundry detergent, or bags of potatoes, that she can get while I’m there with her car to help.

It’s also a perfect day to do a burn. Just before I headed home, one of my daughters got the fire pit going. There is a branch pile near the fire pit that we we’ve been adding to faster than we’ve been able to use it up – it’s separate from the logs we use when doing a cookout, and just getting too big. So the girls are planning to get as much of that cleaned up as they can. Now that I’m home and on supervisor duty (Butterscotch really, really does not like Bitty, but Bitty really, really wants to cuddle her!), they are both outside and tending the fire pit.

This is what I found when I came back into the room.

I mean, can he get any cuter? 😄😄😄

He really, really likes that hat! Gosh, he’s so tiny. And most of that is fluff. He’s actually smaller than he looks.

I’m going to miss him when the cat lady picks him up!

Butterscotch and Nosencrantz, however, will be very happy to see him gone! 😂

The Re-Farmer