Spring clean up: I couldn’t resist!

Okay, so I was supposed to take it easy today, so that I wouldn’t be too sore for manual labour tomorrow.

But I kept going outside because, aside from the wind (I’m so tired of the wind!), it was gorgeous out. Unfortunately, the wind limits some of what I could do.

No limits on feeding the kitties, though!

Not-Junk Pile kept watching me closely, but would not let me near her. From what little I could see as she moved around, it does look like she is probably nursing. I haven’t the slightest clue where her litter might be.

One of the things I ended up doing was tending the bed we’ll be planting peas into, a bit.

I just pulled the mulch back from the fence line to expose the soil to the warmth of the sun. There are a fair number of weeds and grass coming up. If I let them get bigger, they’ll be easier to pull up.

I also watered the beds we planted, as well as where the girls sowed the alternative lawn mix in the maple grove. That included pulling back the plastic on the hoops over the carrots to water them. I couldn’t see any carrots germinated, but I am seeing some weeds we missed, pushing their way through. I won’t try to pull those until the carrots have established themselves, so I don’t accidentally pull of carrot seedlings.

Since I had the plastic off anyhow, I improved the hoops set up. I’ve got a pair of bamboo stakes across the tops, and added two more pairs on the sides, just a few inches above the soil, to make sure the plastic doesn’t end up on top of the carrots planted closest to the walls. Then I zig zagged twine from the bottoms of the hoops, to the bamboo stakes at the top. I was noticing the wind was pushing the sides of the plastic inwards more than I liked, so that should help prevent that a bit. By the time it was done and the plastic put back, it didn’t really look any different, so I didn’t bother taking photos.

That was in the afternoon. In the early evening, after feeding the cats, I decided to extend my evening rounds in the outer yard. I went into the warehouse to look again at what’s in there, besides the many bags and boxes of my parents’ belongings and furniture. There’s what appears to be a folding table that we could make use of, but we’d have to move quite a few things to access it. Not as much as what we’d need to access what looks like good lumber and plywood in another corner.

I also went looking under the warehouse. Quite a bit of stuff had been shoved under there. Boards and beams of various sizes. Old drawers. Electrical wire. Lead pipes, some with taps still attached. Some is potentially useful, but others are looking like they’re breaking down, even though they are well sheltered under there.

I also made sure to check the area around our septic outflow. We’re going to have to do some clean up around it, as branches from nearby trees have been falling around it. There is a low spot nearby that, when I was a kid, had a pond in it most years. Since moving here, it had water during last spring’s flooding, but was otherwise bone dry. Right now, it’s full of water – and frogs, from the cacophony I was hearing!

While back there, I was looking around the back of the collapsed log building and noticed something half buried in the tall grass. I ended up pulling out a metal fence post. There were a couple of wooden fence posts under there, too, one of which was still quite useable, so I dragged both of those over to where I have two other metal fence posts leaning against the back of the garage. The one I found is covered in rust, but still solid – and the same length as the other two! Seven feet, I think.

I spent some time looking at stuff in the barn, too. It seems like every time I go in there, I see something “new” that I hadn’t noticed before. One of the things I wanted to look at were the “spare” windows that I’m hoping we can use to replace the windows in the sun room that have lost their inside pane, and the one where the inside pane is cracked. Looking at the larger windows, though, I realized we won’t be able to use them for the sun room. Taking a closer look at them, I realized they are much bigger!

There are a lot of old windows all over the place. Many have broken glass, but many more are still intact. I went into the shed near the barn; the one with the tarp on the roof. There are so many more old windows in there, some of which we could probably find uses for, as we build various sheds and shelters. There are also a lot of doors of various types, styles and ages. I took a closer look at some of them, and they turned out to be closet doors. One pair are a type that are made to slide on tracks. The other is a pair of folding doors, like we are already using as a table top for our transplants. What we used to hold the transplants to harden them off and keep them safe from cats last year are not available. If we can find solid supports that are tall enough, these closet doors would probably give us enough space to set out all the transplants for hardening off!

On the way back to the inner yard, I decided to start moving some things along the side of the garage, where we’re looking to have a shed offered to use placed and used as a chicken coop. There were some odds and ends, some boards on the ground, one of which was so rotted, it had grass growing through it in places, and a length of steel pipe buried in the tall grass. There’s also a small maple that was growing in the space between the boards, and a small red osier dogwood, that we’ll need to get rid of. But first, I grabbed a rake and did more clean up.

I’ll have to come back with the loppers to cut away the maple and dogwood. You can’t really see the dogwood in the photo. It just sort of disappears in the grass by the garage wall. I was finding bits and pieces of the branch pile that used to be here as well. We’ll have to come back with the wagon or wheel barrow to haul away the pile of dead grass and branches for burning – which will have to wait until the wind dies down!

Now that everything is clear, we’ll have to bring a ladder over and clean the eavestroughs on the garage. They haven’t been done since we moved here. On this side, it was because of the branch pile in the way. On the other side, it’s just a lot harder to get to, with so many trees growing near the garage.

Then we’ll have to bring over the old tire rims I’ve decided to use to put under the shed, and level things off at the front of this area, in line with the front of the garage, as best we can. It needs to far enough forward to not shade the garden beds on the other side of the chain link fence. Then I need to contact the guy who offered the shed to use and work out when he can bring it over. Once it’s in place and gets the repairs it needs, and set up as a coop, we should be able to use those metal fence posts we’ve found for the chicken run we’ll need.

I’m looking forward to getting at it, so we can finally have chickens!!!

So that’s what I ended up doing today. I didn’t push myself, and so far, I don’t feel the need to take more painkillers, which is a good sign!

We’ll see how well that last, overnight! I don’t know how much outside work I’ll be able to get done tomorrow, though. I’ve asked the girls to work on cleaning up and de-catting the sun room, so we can start moving transplants into there. I’ll be heading to my mother’s in the afternoon, then hit the hardware store on the way home to pick up the lumber I need to make proper frames for the garden beds. The one thing I haven’t figure out for them yet is what to use across the middles, to keep them from bowing outwards. I don’t want to use wood, or anything larger like that, as I don’t want it to end up being in the way of any plants. I’ve been looking at threaded rods but, at the lengths I need, they are way too expensive. So I was thinking of a steel cable of some kind. I’ll have to look around and see what they have – and how much it costs! – to figure it out.

So that’s the slightly changed plan for tomorrow!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: winter survivors!

But first, the cuteness!

I was able to zoom in to get a shot of Brussel and Sprout, sharing the tray under the water shelter. When I first came out this morning, I saw only about a 14 cats, but more kept showing up, including these two. I think I counted 22 in total, with some of them skulking around in the distance, waiting for me to leave the food area.

While doing my evening rounds, I took the winter mulch, which was corn stalks, off the asparagus and sunchoke beds. There is still no sign of the sunchokes or the asparagus, but…

… the four strawberry plants that share the asparagus bed were looking great! I wasn’t sure if they’d survive the winter. Not only did they survive, but they are looking better now than they did at the end of the season, last year! I’m hoping they’ll put out more runners this year, that we’ll transplant elsewhere. Strawberries are among the plants we want to have a lot of. They’re so incredibly expensive in the grocery stores!

Of course, I had to check on the crocuses and found this little guy.

The very first yellow crocus! There are a lot of purple ones blooming this morning, and a lot of white buds showing up, but still just the one yellow buds visible.

I should make a point of checking the bed I inoculated with morel spawn more often. May is the time of year they usually fruit. It would be cool if the giant puff balls emerged, too, but if they do, it’ll be later in the season.

It’s a good thing today is Sunday, which I try to keep as a day of rest. I didn’t do a lot when reclaiming the bed to plant poppies yesterday, but it was enough to increase the pain levels. It’s turning out to be a really windy day, too. So, tomorrow will be my day to really get into the manual labour needed in the old kitchen garden. Hopefully, at the very least, the winds will die down!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: poppies are in (video)

Well, I wasn’t able to get progress images of what my daughters did, but I did get to set up another time lapse video later on. I was able to reclaim the bed by the chain link fence and sow one variety of bread seed poppies.

Having the rake handle break on me while I was clearing outside of the chain link fence was a bit of a downer! We had others I could have used, but I just kept using it, anyhow. It got the job done!

Also, I had a lot of cats visiting me while I worked!

I hope you enjoy the video. 😊 If you select to watch it on YouTube, you can hit the like and subscribe buttons, if you wish.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: spinach and alternative lawn mix

My daughters were out early, taking care of some planting for me, so here are some “after” pictures. 😊

The first area they worked on were the bald patches in the maple grove.

These are where the branch pile we got chipped last summer had been sitting for about four years. The first thing they did was use the thatching rake to break up and loosen the soil, then raked it smooth. For the patch in the foreground, they made sure not to get too close to where we’ll be digging a trench to replace the water line from the house to the garden tap. I ordered two packets of alternative lawn mix, which they sowed and watered and tamped down. From the website:

This mix contains annuals and perennials of daisies, poppies, sweet alyssum, soapwort, nemophila, viola, thyme, chamomile, clover and fine fescue. 

Hopefully, they will not only fill in the bald patches, but will also naturally spread themselves in the maple grove, and maybe choke out the bell flowers that have been so invasive here!

In the time it took me to finish feeding the outside cats and switching out the trail cam memory cards, not only had they finished this area, but they finished planting the spinach, too!

The only thing left to do by the time I came out was to add the floating row cover. I bought a couple of these from a dollar store to try out. I’m not sure we’ll get more. It seems very fragile. At some point, I should buy a whole lot of tulle fabric. For the spinach, however, it’s more about keeping the critters from eating them than for insects. I just hope the cats will stay off of it. Otherwise, we’ll have to add hoops. I’m still shooting to build proper covers for these beds soon, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to pick up the lumber I need, so this will do until then!

The next cool weather crop I need to get in is at least one variety of bread seed poppies. I keep forgetting about them! I’ve decided to clean the vine off the chain link fence and put them in the bed we unsuccessfully tried to grow white strawberries in, last year. That can be the permanent spot for one variety. The other cool weather crop we can get in this early are peas, which will be planted along the chain link fence where we had tomatoes last year.

After that, things will need to wait until closer to our last frost date, so we’ll have time to prepare and finish more beds.

It feels so good to be able to get stuff into the ground!

Oh, and I got my first shipping confirmation from Veseys, for the smaller order that got processed a couple of days ago. It is our 3 pack of raspberries!

Royalty raspberries; image belongs to Veseys.

The expected delivery date is May 8, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they arrived earlier. I look forward to getting shipping notices for the apple, mulberry and potatoes!

The Re-Farmer

Hello, Kitties!

I had a HUGE and wonderful surprise yesterday evening!

Now that things are nicer outside, I’ve been able to do more extended evening rounds after feeding the outside cats for the night. My first surprise came as I was putting kibble out in the sun room. The Phantom was there, as usual, and I’ve been able to sneak some pets while she eats. I tried again, and she actually let me pet her more instead of running away! She was quite enjoying them until I left to her finish eating and continued me rounds.

I was just finishing up and about to come inside, when I saw Broccoli had finally come over to eat, and was on the cat house roof.

So, while she had her back to me, I decided to try and sneak a pet.

Not only did she not run away when she realized I was petting her, but she wanted more! She was absolutely all over, rolling around and pushing against my hands, wanting more pets. This is a cat we’ve been trying to socialize for more than two years, with no progress, and suddenly, BAM!

But would it happen again?

This morning, she came out for food later again, and much of the kibble on the cat house roof was gone, but there was still enough for her nibble. When I came over, she happily accepted pets again!

She was also clearly very, very hungry, so I didn’t bother her too much.

She is such a beauty!

She is also very skinny and bony.

Yesterday, I tried to touch her belly, to see if she was nursing, but I couldn’t tell. Yes, I could feel nip, but none seemed more prominent than the others. Without actually seeing her belly, though, I can’t say for sure. Given the time of year, it would not surprise me if she lost a litter. I don’t know. I’m happy to see her eating well, though, because this girl needs meat on her bones!

This girl, however, is fine.

Marlee is a solid slab of compact muscle!

While I’m sitting at my computer in the evenings, she comes over and demands I reach down to pet her, but she will NOT let me pick her up. She’s also been spending more time on my bed, even with other cats beside her. There’s quite the difference, though. Where the other cats are relaxed and tend to turn into big puddles on the soft, comfy bed, she is a tight little ball, with everything tucked in, and looking very alert, even when she’s asleep. She’s still got those survival habits in place, that’s for sure. She still won’t leave the room. I did try taking her with me into the living room while I was working on potting things up, but she just hunkered down at the barrier door and wouldn’t move until I opened it, and then she went right to my bedroom door, wanting back in.

Ah, well.

All in good time.

The Re-Farmer

Monthly grocery shop: this is what $688 looks like

Well, the Costco shopping trip is over and done with.

Dear Lord, was it busy!

Things did go well, in general. It does make me shake my head when I’m lumbering around with my loaded flat cart, and people with near empty carts seem to think that cutting me off or whatever is a good idea. Like, Dude. I can’t stop on a dime, here. Or trying to make my way down an aisle with pallets of inventory all down the middle, leaving just narrow spaces on either side, and people with small carts seem to think I can steer around them, better than they can steer around me. Annoying.

There’s a reason I like being a hermit.

Still, I did have an excellent exchange. The first things I load up on are the bags of kibble. The 11kg bags were on sale, too, which was bonus! There was an older gentleman that was loading several into his cart when he saw me starting to add several bags to my flat cart (I ended up getting six altogether). He commented on having a lot of cats, and before we knew it we were having a grand conversation! It turns out that he and his wife have been caring for a colony as well, including providing warm shelters and heated water. They’ve currently got 12 indoors, including three kittens. Outdoors, they’ve had as many as 72!! When he found out we were caring for a colony, too, he started asking me questions, and I ended up telling him about using the stove pellets for litter, and about the help we’ve had from the Cat Lady. Turns out, they’re selling their house and moving to an apartment, and have to rehome their cats! He told me about his experiences with rescues and the humane society, which have been pretty touch and go. For the last few months, none of the places he’s left messages with have called him back, and the humane society won’t deal with people outside the city at all anymore, using the mandates restrictions of the past couple of years as their excuse. Some have told him they’re overwhelmed with dogs from the reservations up north, so they’re not accepting any cats at all. I ended up sending his contact information to the Cat Lady, and she recommended a rescue he hadn’t heard of yet. Hopefully, they will be at least more receptive. All in all, it was a great conversation, and he was the sweetest guy. I hope it works out for him and his wife!

Then I had to get back to shopping. *sigh*

This is what $688.62, after taxes, looks like.

That’s only 42 items.

This is one item I did NOT buy.

This wasn’t even the most expensive cut of meat, at $44.99/kg !!!! Good grief!

I got most of what was on my list, dropping a few non-essentials that can wait until next month.

This is what we did get:

Two bags of Basmati rice, in the brand my husband likes, for $17.99 each.
Large jar of regular Hellman’s mayonnaise: $10.99
Canned chicken, 6pk: $18.99
Peanut Butter, 2kg size: $10.49
Pasta, 6pk with 3 different types: $15.99
Goat cheese, 2pk: $10.99
Crimini mushrooms: $4.99
Strawberries: $8.99
Extra strength acetaminophen, Kirkland brand: $10.99
Extra strength ibuprofen, Kirkland brand: $9.99
Bacon, 4pk: $21.99
Polish sausage: $18.99
Whipping cream, two 1L cartons at $4.79 each
Cheese; both Mozzarella and Old Cheddar, at $14.99 each – they still don’t have the big blocks we used to get all the time
Cream cheese, 4pk Kirkland brand: $9.49
Sour cream, Kirkland brand: $5.49
Pork loin: $29.97 (I used to be able to get roughly the same size loin for under $20, not long ago!)
Top sirloin: $31.14 These were the cheap steaks! Four steaks in the package.
Pork chops: $22.64 At least this had a lot of chops in the package for the money!
Ground beef, lean: $29.41 (remember when ground beef was the cheap meat?)
Bathroom tissue: $22.99
Butter, five at $5.49 each. Costco’s butter is about the only butter I can find for under $6 a pound.
Cat food, 11kg bags, six at $29.99 each. Regular price is now $37.99, which is about what a 7kg bag size costs, locally.
Vinegar, box of two 5L jugs, $8.99
Rotisserie chicken, two at $7.99 each
eggs, 60 count, $17.29
wraps, 2 packs of 36 for $9.99 each
Ziploc freezer bags, size medium, 3pk, $17.99

Subtotal: $657.68. I paid $30.94 in taxes.

That was just painful.

But, between the three trips, we are well stocked for the month, plus a bit set aside to top up our stockpile that we always need for the winter months. After this, we’ll still need to make local trips for fresh produce, and of course for getting fresh eggs from the egg lady. We just started our last 18.9L jug of drinking water, so I’ll need to head into town with the two clean and dry ones for refilling. The siphon pump can’t quite get all the water out, so we’ve got a jug with a couple of inches of water still in it to finish off, then set aside to dry out.

One thing about all those bags of kibble; I think this is the heaviest I’ve ever loaded my mother’s car, which had me a bit concerned. I made sure to load the heaviest things more to the middle, and spread the weight out as evenly as I could.

When it comes to my mother’s car, there are a couple of things in particular that has always driven me nuts. One is how noisy it is. There are always things rattling around in the back, and I’ve never been able to find what’s making the noise. The other is that it’s a much lighter vehicle than our van, so it constantly feels like I’m bouncing all over the road, either from bumps on the highway, or gusts of wind.

All that weight in the back, however, sure made a difference! It was the quietest, smoothest ride I’ve ever had with this car! Not a rattle to be heard from the back, and even when I drove through a downpour briefly, that little thing stayed hugging the road. 😄

I had intended to tank up while at Costco, but the lines were so bad, I took the route to town to tank up, instead. Costco was at 156.9/L today, but in town, the gas station I go to is still 155.9/L Nice!

So all in all, it was a good and productive day. Just very draining, to be around all those people. I’m glad to be home, that’s for sure!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: new growth!

I’m back from doing the Costco shopping today, but before I post about that painful trip, here’s some good news!

While doing my rounds, I found new growth in various places!

There are more purple crocuses up and blooming, plus more white crocus buds are up.

There is no sign of the muscari/grape hyacinth yet, but I did have a wonderful surprise nearby.

Okay, I know they’re hard to see, but there are at least 14 tulips coming up here! Before resizing the photo to post here, I looked at it at full size to try and find them all. Some of the green is blades of grass, but I spotted the leaves of a few tulip plants piercing through the dried leaves above them. I’ll have to keep an eye on those. I remember last year, seeing some of them getting taller, but not able to break through the leaves they’d grown through, so they were all squished together. Once they get taller, and I know where not to step, I’ll go in and pull the dead leaves off, so they can spread out and grow properly.

I had another pleasant surprise in the old kitchen garden, too.

We have one Egyptian walking onion that’s been trying to grow every year since we moved here. Last year, it actually survived long enough to form bulbils. After building a new, little raised bed, I took those bulbils and planted them in front. Here, you can see two of them have sprouted! There were several more, too. I can’t remember how many were planted, but I’m pretty stoked that they survived the winter and are now emerging through the mulch. I didn’t see if the “parent” onion has started to emerge, but think I might have seen, maybe, possibly, leaves from one of the flower bulbs my daughter planted along the edge of this garden. Last year, some leaves came up, but none bloomed. There’s another spot, at one end, where she planted daffodils which did bloom last year but, so far, no sign of them.

I did also check the carrots, and there are no sprouts that I could see, but I was just peaking under the edges of the plastic and couldn’t see very far in. I need to put a priority on building covers for those beds, as the current set up is very temporary, and not as functional.

We’ve got highs of 9C/48F predicted for today and tomorrow, with a bit of rain now and then. After that, we’re supposed to warm up a bit more and have sun for at least 5 days. Great weather to get work done out there!

But maybe not today. City trips three days in a row has sucked all the energy out of me! Right now, I just want to crawl into bed and sleep for a week.

I really dislike shopping. 😄

The Re-Farmer

Monthly stocking up: this is what $270 looks like

Okay, it wasn’t my plan for the day, but there’s a particular grocery store we go to that started a case lot sale today. Since I’m planning to go to Costco tomorrow, and don’t want to drive in the city on the weekend, I wouldn’t make the trip until Monday at the earliest, and by then, inventory will be low.

So, I made the trip today. A lot of what I got is to top up our pantry supplies.

This is what $270.84 after taxes looks like. Almost.

Not in the picture, because I already loaded them into the car, is a 12 pack of double roll toilet paper and a case of canned baked beans. The receipt lists the regular price of the sale items, then under the name of the item it prints the sale price or promo, and under the regular price is shows the discounted amount. Which makes for a very long receipt! At the bottom, however, it listed my total savings, which was $90.07

The receipt also printed out in alphabetical order, by brand or item name/description, so that’s more or less the order I’ll be doing below…

I happened to be shopping while they had their “happy hour” flash sale. Today, it was for in house made fresh sausages in the deli, so I went ahead and got 4 each of two different flavours. One of them was Apple Pork, and the other was Tuscan. Their regular price is $3.49 each, so I paid $13.96 for all 8 of them.

It wasn’t on sale, but my daughters like to cook with coconut milk, so I got a 1L resealable carton for them, which was $4.39, instead of the cans we normally get. I got some bananas for $1.88 (they were $1.095/kg). Bernardin snap lids were 10% off, so I got one each of regular, at $4.04 and wide mouth at $4.49 for our supply. We have mostly wide mouth jars, but it’s always good to have extra of both sizes of lids.

I got a boneless pork half loin for $11.22. That was not a sale, but a very good price for a big hunk of meat. I also got a wheel of brie for $8.99, which was more than half price. It was also the last one in the display! The case of 12 bakes beans was on sale for $17.99. Alfredo pasta sauce was on sale, so I got three different flavours for $2.99 each. The 20 pack size of Coke Zero was on sale for $9.49, and for my husband I got four pomegranate flavoured Crystal Light, because that flavour was being cleared out at $2.99 each.

I had a bit of a splurge with a bottle of apple cider vinegar. We still have, but aside from a really cool bottle we can reuse, it was barrel aged. If we like it, it would be good to have some to use as the starter, the next time we make our own crab apple cider vinegar. That and it was only $9.99, which is pretty cheap for good apple cider vinegar.

I got a case of Mandarin oranges, which was on sale for $7.99, and a bag of mixed peppers at $4.99. I picked up a case of Kraft Dinner at $10.99, mostly for the girls. Kraft Dinner isn’t cheap anymore; the regular price was $17.99, and I’ve seen it higher.

There was a deal on ground beef, where all the packages were $7 each, so I got the two heaviest ones I could see. We’re starting to run low on our quarter beef ground beef supply. Although my daughter baked bread yesterday, I still picked up a couple of loaves of rye bread. They weren’t on sale, but at $3.29 each, it’s still a good price. I got more coffee for the girls’ supply, too, even though I just got them some yesterday. $10.99 for the size of container I got is a very good price.

Another pantry item was a couple of cases of Mr. Noodle ramen noodles; one chicken, one a variety pack that was half chicken and 1/4 each of beef and vegetable. They were $7.99 per case instead of $11.89. There were some good prices on a particular locally sourced variety of dinner ham – an actual chunk of meat cut off the bone, not the processed loaf – that was $13.18 for a good big piece.

When first walking into the vestibule of the store, where the shopping carts are, there was a huge display of triple roll toilet paper in 8 packs that were on sale. I was going to get two of them, missing that they were triple rolls, but when I got to the actual toilet paper aisle, I found the 24 packs of double rolls were also on sale. So I got those at $13.89. What was funny is that, as I was loading it onto the belt, the woman ahead of me saw it and suddenly remembered that toilet paper was the reason she’d gone shopping, and she’d forgotten to get it! So she just ran into the vestibule to get a couple of the 8 packs.

I also got a 10lb bag of Russet potatoes. Yes, I did get two 5lb bags of yellow and red potatoes yesterday, but at $4.99, that 10lb bag was cheaper than either of the 5lb bags. I also made sure to get two bottles of the Philippine soy sauce my husband prefers. Not on sale, but still cheap at $4.59 each, and they are quite large bottles. I also picked up some locally sourced smoked applewood slab bacon, for $11.34 I don’t know anywhere else that carries this brand, but they are the same one that made the dinner ham I mentioned earlier. Excellent flavour, and very reasonable prices.

Another one for my lactose intolerance girls was a 4L jug of “soy beverage” I knew they were wanting to try. It was not on sale, and the jug cost $6.39 I did spot a good sale on loose leaf black tea. At $6.99, it was a big, resealable bag at almost half price. Having both tea and coffee in the pantry is always a good thing, because water can get boring, fast! The one frozen thing I got was a couple of bags of Black Tiger prawns, which were 2 for $20. They were normally $16.99 each. Last of all, I got a cold bottle of vitamin water (sugar free) to drink on the way home, which was on sale for $2.25 Normally, I would have gotten an energy drink, but before I did my shopping, I picked up some dim sum for lunch and had a sugar free energy drink to go with it. That’s another thing I love about this store. They have hot food and a dining area, and their dim sum is excellent!

So the sub total before taxes was $265.29. Oddly, $46.32 was GST taxable, while $46.12 was PST taxable. Why the 20 cent difference, I have no idea!

Once I was done loading the car, I did make a quick run into the nearby Dollarama. I didn’t bother taking a picture of what I got there, but I got 4 more of the taller, thicker plant support stakes I found so useful for the apple gourds last year. What I really wanted to get was more of the shorter ones, though, but they only have one size right now. Specifically, I’m looking for ones that are only 2ft long. These are metal rods coated in plastic, and I was wanting to use them to support the hoops we put over the garden beds. We’d been using sticks, but any that fit into the hoops tend to break easily. Anyhow, the ones I got were $3 each. I also got a couple more packages of ground staples, at $1.25 each, so we’re not having to use tent pegs all the time. I also got some plastic coated plant twist ties that are stronger than what I already have, at $1.50, and more label markers for $1.25. One last thing I got was a blue pool noodle, for $2 We’ve been using these as bumpers on the gate, but we’ve lost a couple of the ones that were protecting the hinges. They’re starting to get a bit crunchy as they degrade from the weather, so I might end up replacing all of them. Grand total at Dollarama was $24.36 after taxes.

Since there are other stores along this strip that we like to go to all in one trip, I had originally considered doing more shopping, but by the time I was done, I was DONE, and more than ready to come home. I did take a different route home, though, to hit the town closest to us to get gas, because it’s still 167.9/L regular in the city, while the gas station I go to in town is at 155.9/L It makes a big difference! It might mean I won’t need to get gas while at Costco. I just did a quick check, and found that Costco is at 154.9/L for regular right now, so not enough to make much difference.

The only down side about my running around today is that I’d hope to go to the post office. When I left, they were closed for lunch, so I wouldn’t be able to pick up any parcels, and by the time I got to the gas station, they were already closed for the day. So I will have to make a point of timing when I leave tomorrow to get the mail before I head to Costco.

One thing I know will not be in yet is our live plant order from Veseys. Two transactions went through this morning. I haven’t received the shipping notifications yet, but I expect those to come soon. From the amounts, I think one of them is the mulberry and apple trees. The other thing we’re expecting from them is potatoes, but if it is potatoes, it’s not going to be all three varieties. I’ll see what it turns out to be once the shipping notification comes in.

I look forward to being able to plant those trees in particular!

The Re-Farmer

Foggy morning, and minor wind damage

This morning, we had new weather warnings – this time for fog!

This is taken through my bedroom window, and the phone camera automatically cleans up the image, so the visibility was actually for less than this. We had no wind, so it hung around until past 10 or so, and as I write this, it’s nice and clear. In fact, I’m seriously considering making another trip to the city. Not for the Costco shopping. That trip is going to be big enough, I’ll wait for my husband’s private insurance disability payment to come in, but the international grocery store we try to go to regularly has a case lot sale starting today. There are a few things we find only in this store (I’m not willing to drive around the city to find other stores that might carry them), so it would work out. However, it would also mean making trips to the city, two days in a row, plus yesterday’s trip to the smaller city.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, I had a bit of a surprise when I headed out to do the morning rounds.

We had several cats trapped in the sun room. The wind had blown the outer door closed. Since we keep the pair of doors just barely open for the cats to squeeze in, but still keep the weather out, we couldn’t tell when checking through the bathroom window that it was closed.

They did have food and water, but the litter box that used to be in there is in the cat house now.

Yeah. I could tell when I walked in!

The cats that were stuck outside were very hungry! The food trays outside get emptied a lot faster than the sun room trays that they could no longer access. I still counted only about a dozen or so cats, including Sad Face, skulking away.

Considering how high the winds got yesterday, I was rather impressed with how little damage there was. The girls did check repeatedly while I was out yesterday, so this is stuff that happened after I got home. The diverter over the rain barrel was knocked right off, which means the rain barrel was overflowing during the night. The diverter being knocked off isn’t all that uncommon, but this hasn’t happened in a long while…

The metal roofing sheets got blown off the garden shed! You can see the strap that held them in place, dangling off a tree branch.

We tried to fix these permanently to the roof, but just couldn’t do it. Not only is there too much rot, but there are too many odd… things… that were attached to it to cover the leak. It is also no longer flat, which I think is also due to a rotten section.

We really need to get another garden shed built!!!

So those metal sheets were just laid out on top and held in place with the strap. They used to get blown out of place all the time, when winds came from the north, until we overlapped them differently and found a way to get them to lie somewhat flatter. Yesterday’s winds, however, were from the south. Still, that strap didn’t break. It somehow got unhooked.

Well, one of my goals for this year is to finally haul away the junk from around this shed, add it to the pile that will get taken to the dump, and store away stuff that we can use again, like that roll of snow fencing. It’ll be good to get this clear. Once we build the new shed, I will quite happily tear this old thing apart! I’m curious to see what it looks like underneath. At the very least, I know we’ll find a groundhog den. The whole thing is sitting on top of rocks, which I think my daughters will find useful for the forge shelter they’re planning to build. I believe they plan to build mostly rock walls, to keep things as fire proof as possible.


So getting those metal sheets back on top of the garden shed roof is a multi-person goal for the day. It may leak and be falling apart, but we’re still using it.

Other than that, I found a few small fallen branches, and that’s it! Those first few years of cleaning up dead branches has been paying off! Best of all, the cover on the carrot bed held just fine. I’m quite pleased!

Meanwhile, the 10 day forecast has changed again. We were supposed to warm up, then cool back down again, but now it’s saying we will warm up, and keep getting warmer. We’ve even got a 20C/68F day in the forecast!

We’ll see if that actually happens! 😄😄

The Re-Farmer

Stocking up: this is what $282 and $110 looks like

First, the cuteness!

I only saw about a dozen cats this morning. It was quite lovely out there, with little hint of what was to come!

I knew we were supposed to eventually get rain. The high today is supposed to reach 7C/45F. This morning it was already quite windy, so I made sure to tend the smoldering burn ring so the cover lay flat over it. Normally, I set it so the slight gap faces the wind, to encourage the smolder, but this time I made sure it was facing away.

Turns out I didn’t really need to worry about it.

As I write this, we are at 3C/37F, with the wind chill at -1C/30F, and not only is it raining, but snowing, too!

I’m glad I have those carrots I planted yesterday under plastic! The cooler temperature and snow isn’t the problem. Though I covered the seed tape with soil, the wind would probably still have blown some of it away, and whatever didn’t get blown away would have been bashed about by the rain.

Today, my husband’s CPP Disability came in, so I was planning to go to Costco. By the time I headed out, shortly before 11am, the winds had increased to the point that I was thinking I would be changing plans. When I got to the town my mother lives in and gassed up (168.9 cents per liter, there!!!), Costco was off, but I decided to head to the smaller, closer city for the Walmart and Canadian Tire part of our regular shopping. Honestly, though, I seriously considered just getting a few things where I was and heading home. If the price difference wasn’t so dramatically different, I probably would have. Even while parked next to the gas pump, the car got buffeted by wind gusts, and I was facing into the wind!

The route from my mother’s town to the smaller city takes me on a several east/west stretches of road. The wind was coming almost directly from the south, and I was fighting it the whole way. It was better when I was driving into the wind, though the gas gauge sure was dropping faster! I took it slower at times, and wasn’t even getting passed, which is saying something!

Still, I got there safe and sound, and my first stop was at Canadian Tire.

This is what $110.67 looks like.

There were two things I went there for. The stove pellets for cat litter, which were $7.29 each, and another 4 fire bricks, which where also $7.29 each. The plan is to pick up a few fire bricks each month until we have enough for our outdoor kitchen, when we are ready to build it.

The cast iron frying pan was a serendipitous find. For starters, the 10″ size was 80% off! Cast iron anything has become extremely expensive, so getting this for $19.99 was something I did not want to pass up. Even so, I would not have bought it if it weren’t for one other thing: the bottom of the pan is flat. The cast iron pans we have all have a slightly raised ring around the bottom. Which isn’t an issue with a typical electric stove, but we’ve got a glass top stove now. It actually affects how the pan heats up. This one does still have a ring on the bottom, but it is indented, which solves that problem!

It says it’s pre-seasoned, but… we’ll probably season it a few times ourselves, first!

The other thing is that blue metal bar. There used to be a pencil tip bar like that here on the farm – I even remember it from when I was a kid – but it is among the things that disappeared before we moved here. These don’t tend to be in stock very often and, when they are in stock, they’re usually out of budget. This one is a 60″ chisel tip pry bar, which will meet our needs quite nicely. Best of all, it was 40% off, which brought it in budget!

I then made sure I left very quickly, before I found something else to spend money on!

Hardware stores are a very dangerous place for me to be, which money! 😄

That done, it was off to Walmart. This is what $283.38 looks like.


Part of that total was a donation to the Children’s Hospital, for which I was given a lanyard as a gift, which you can see sitting on the case of wet cat food. That case cost $28.77 The 10kg bags of dry kibble cost $29.97 each. I don’t usually get a 16 pack of facial tissue, but it was on sale at $17.97, instead of something like $23 regular price. There is also a 6pk of double roll paper towels at $18.97; another sale price. One extra, off list, thing that I got was a pair of sweats for myself, at $18. The other was a hanging scratch pad for $4.97. The cats in my room tend to ignore the small scratch post I have for them, in favour of the carpet, so I’m hoping a hanging scratch pad of similar texture will better appeal to them.

For my lactose intolerant daughters, there are two 2L cartons of soy milk at $4.78 each, as well as coffee, at $8.97, though that had a $1 off coupon attached to it. There is a bag of mixed frozen berries at $12.97 and four different cheeses at 2/$10. There’s a 4L jug of 3% milk for $5.88, a large jar of green olives for $8.97, and 4 things of liquid Crystal Light drink mix for my husband, at $3.37 each, which is more than a dollar cheaper than locally. There’s a giant pack of wieners for $5, but there was only one package of hot dog buns left, at $3.37. There’s a 5lb bag of yellow potatoes at $5.97, and a 5lb bag of red potatoes for $4.97. Finally, there are two bottles of distilled water for my husband’s CPAP humidifier, at $1.87 each, and bottle of a Coke Zero for the road at $2.27. Of course, all the bottles and jugs also had their 3 cent enviro fee which, in this province, we don’t get back when we recycle them.

The grand total, before taxes and donation, was actually $256.86 However, I see on the receipt that the quantity sales – the Crystal Light was 2 for $6, and the soy milk was 2 for $8 – got deducted at the end, so that brought the subtotal down to$253.82 before my donation. Taxes totalled $19.56

So this was a smaller – though heavier! – shopping trip than the Costco trip I intended to make. Between the 40 pound bags of pellets and the pry bar that weighed more than one of those 10kg bags of kibble, I wasn’t going to get too much more while using my mother’s car. We’re not using the van until I can get that noise in the engine checked, and we won’t have the budget for that until June.

Still, I was appreciating that weight on the drive home. By the time I finished shopping at Walmart, it had started to rain. Between the extra weight and having the wind at my back, the car was not being buffeted around anywhere near as much. I was still fighting the whole drive home, though, this time with all the rain accumulated on the highways that wasn’t draining off.

I took a different route home. Instead of going back the way I came, I took the highway to the town closer to us, which is a more sheltered route. It also runs through several small towns, so the speed limit is lower for most of it. When I got to town, I topped up the gas tank again – this time at 155.9 cents a litre! – before the final stretch home. I kept the family updated with where I was, every chance I got, and my daughter kept me updated on what the weather radar was showing. The last leg of my trip was driving east, which meant I was getting broadsided by the wind again, as well as the rain. For most of the drive, I was doing 80km in a 100km zone and, once again, no one was passing me! I did my shopping just in time, though. According to the weather radar, after I left the Walmart area they got hit with the brunt of the storm, and I was safely home before the worst of it hit our area.

And in the time it took me to finish writing this, the rain and snow has stopped! From the looks of the trees outside my window, the wind has died down dramatically, too! Even on the live feed from the garage cam, I’m not seeing the trees in the distance moving at all. Not even the tarp on the shed roof near the barn is flapping anymore, and that thing was billowing when I left!

Ah, weather. If you don’t like what you’ve got at the moment, just wait 5 minutes and it’ll change! Especially in April!

The Re-Farmer