Our 2023 garden: Heritage Harvest seeds have arrived!

These came in really fast!

The top row is all stuff we tried to grow in 2022. The only change is that the Candy Roaster seeds we got for last summer was from Veseys. We should still have some of those left, so if we wanted to, we could try both and see which does better here.

The middle row is also all stuff we tried growing last summer, except for the Chamomile, which is new for 2023.

In the bottom row, the Little Finger Eggplant is a repeat, while the Red Wethersfield onion and Mammoth Sandwich Island Salsify are new.

The Lemon Cucumber are our free package of seeds with this order. (Image belongs to Heritage Harvest) I had actually been eyeballing these as something new to try, but had decided against them for now. In fact, I wasn’t sure if we’d try growing cucumbers again at all this year. We did actually get cucumbers, and they would have been enough for our own use – but then my sister gave us massive amounts of cucumbers from her own garden, and we were overwhelmed.

We like cucumbers, but not that much!

Anyhow, if we were to order more cucumbers, it would be another dual purpose type, good for both fresh eating and canning. Now we have these, so we will at least have a fresh eating type! Plus, it’s something we’ve never tried before. I’m looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: first Veseys seeds are in

There were two seed orders waiting for me in the mail today. The first had the seeds I’d ordered with some trees from Veseys, earlier.

I don’t know if we’ll plant the Caveman’s Club gourd this year – it depends on how well we manage with building trellises in the spring – but we will definitely start a few of each variety of peppers. We’ll have so many varieties this year, we won’t need to start many of each, and should still have a lot.

Assuming we have a good growing year in 2023!

The Re-Farmer

Three! And a surprise mom?

I ended up spending a longer time with my mother than expected, partly because it took an hour for her new prescription to be filled. She was looking very good today, and even was getting in and out of the van much more easily than the last time I drove her in it.

I was still able to head for home in time to pick up a parcel at the post office before it closed (more on that in my next posts). I also remembered to message my daughters to ask them to bring the new bitty into the house.

I checked my phone before leaving the post office, and there was a message informing me they had not brought in the bitty.

Any of them.

There were three!

When I got home it was starting to get dark, but I still tried to see inside while feeding the outside cats.

I found this little one, looking back!

I couldn’t see any others. My daughters both saw the orange bitty. One could see this one, while the other saw a dark, tuxedo looking kitten.

It also seems that the mother is Brussel.

This long haired calico is Brussel (the short haired one is Sprout). They are Broccoli’s kittens.

They were born just this spring! Yes, they were one of the earliest litters, but I would have thought they were way too young to go into heat early enough to have kittens in the same year!

It’s possible the girls are wrong, but from their observations, she seemed to be the mama. The little bitties are definitely not abandoned.

My goodness. We’re still going to have to bring them in before things get too cold, but… well, I turned out to be right. The orange bitty was just the first of a litter being brought to warmth and safety in the cat house. It just took longer than I expected.

Which means there’s a possibility that more might still appear.

All we can do is continue monitoring!

The Re-Farmer

Changes in plans, and a little bit of everything

Yesterday, we got our quarter beef in!

We had to juggle a bit to be able to close the freezer lid. No, it’s not completely full of beef – there’s other stuff underneath – but I’d say over half the freezer is now packages of beef.

After I took the picture, I dug out a couple of packages of T-bone steaks to thaw out for today! It’s been soooo long since we’ve had a good steak!

I love how big the stew packages are this time. They’re not visible, but there’s also about two dozen 2 pound packages of ground beef in there.

Today’s plans, however, had already changed before I went to bed!

I got a call from my brother. He’d just talked to my mother, and he was asking if I could take her to the hospital today. !!! My mother thinks she’s got a UTI again (she is likely right), but she told my brother more than she told me, and it’s more of a problem than I knew. My guess is, she was hoping my brother would drop everything, drive all the way to her place, then take her to the hospital and sit with her, like he had done the last time this happened. She’s been suffering for more than a week, but had only just tried calling the community health number yesterday. She can’t handle the automated phone systems, so she just hit 0 and left a message. Twice. No response.

So today, my plan was to call our doctor’s clinic, which is in a town about 40-45 minutes drive from my place, as soon as it opened (after doing my rounds; head count of 27 this morning, and I couldn’t see the new bitty). I wanted to see if I could make arrangements with them, or see if I should take her to the hospital (our doctor’s clinic shares a building with the hospital).

Then I got a call from the home care worker that last assessed my mother. They got her messages from yesterday, and followed up. The person who normally answered the phone doesn’t work on Wednesdays. *sigh* My mother seemed confused about things, so he wanted to clear things up with me, but she had already told him about going to her doctor today.

One of the things my mother has been pushing to do is change doctors again. There aren’t full time doctors locally, which is why we now to go another town. Plus, the local doctor, who came in from the city once a week, was female, and my mother doesn’t like female doctors. Apparently, there is now a new doctor, though. He might even be there full time now, instead of coming in from the city. I’m not sure. Our doctor in the other town isn’t white, and my mother doesn’t like that about as much as she doesn’t like female doctors. Having a closer doctor would be better for her (but he’s Greek; not sure if that’s white enough for her), however there have been issues in the past with getting good care locally. The hospital just doesn’t have the resources. Whether she switches doctors or not, she won’t be happy. She’s convinced she has cancer or something, but the doctors are keeping it a secret from her.

Anyhow.

I called the clinic right after it opened, but the line was already busy, so I called my mom and told her what I was working on. She was already getting ready to leave! When I got through to the clinic, however, it turned out her doctor had an opening, so I was able to make an appointment for her this afternoon.

So I called my mother back and we worked out a plan. I’ll be heading over to her place early enough to have lunch (she requested Chinese food this time! 😁), and we wouldn’t be in any hurry about leaving. I will be using our van, as it’s better for winter road conditions, so we’ll have to remember to bring her little stool to help her get in and out.

Which means I’m going to be out for most of today.

Ah, well. At least it’s supposed to be a relatively mild day today. Things are supposed to get colder again tomorrow, and I’d rather not be driving my 91 yr old mother around in the cold! We still need to do at least one trip to the city for our monthly stocking up, but thanks to the trip I did manage to make – and the beef delivery! – plus our current state of supplies, there is no urgency on that.

I really like being well stocked. It takes a lot of pressure off. It wouldn’t be as big a deal if we were still living in the city, but it makes a huge difference living in the boonies, and winter is coming on!

In other things, I talked to the cat lady yesterday evening. She showed my pictures of the new bitty to a vet already. Given the size, they agree that it is younger than the other bitties. Once we are sure there are no siblings, she wants to take it in. Like the other cats, it probably already has upper respiratory issues, and being so young, they don’t expect it would survive the winter, either, even in the relative warmth and comfort of the heated cat shelter. The new bitty will join the other bitty. Things have changed there, too. He is not going to the lady that took the other two. Instead, he will be going to the cat lady’s cousin! He’ll be going to his new home after Christmas. Maybe, he’ll have a little orange buddy going with him? Wouldn’t that be cool! Also, she has managed to find homes for 6 cats she was fostering! She will have room for more, soon.

So we will continue to monitor and, if things go as I expect, we will have an orange bitty in the house tonight.

We shall see! It’s not like anything seems to be going to plan, today! 😄😄

The Re-Farmer

Still there!

I was hoping it could wait until tomorrow, when the wind is supposed to die down, but I had to go out and secure the shed roof tarp as best I could. Just on the door side, which is where the wind is hitting the hardest today. The tarp at one corner was starting to tear to the point the line securing it was barely keeping that corner from blowing away completely. We’ll have to go out again to see how we can better secure the other side on a calmer day. At least the far side is secured all the way across the bottom, so a tear at the corner can only do so much.

The kittens were absolutely fascinated by the whole thing and a bunch of them even managed to climb onto the roof. When I had to go back to the house for another tool, I spotted one had even gone under the tarp, where the wind had blown it free of the roof edge, creating a billowing shelter! Thankfully, they all followed me back to the house and when I left the sun room door open, took full advantage of being able to go in instead of following me back.

When I was done, I topped up their kibble, which also got them out of the sun room. This time of day, the sun shines right into the smallest window of the cat shelter, lighting up the whole room inside. So while all the bigger cats and kittens were busily going after the kibble, I had a clear view.

The orange bitty was parked next to the largest window, just sitting there, watching the commotion outside!

There is just the one kitten. It doesn’t seem to be in any kind of distress, that I can see. From the photo, it looks like its eyes are no longer blue, so it’s at least 6 weeks old, if not a bit older.

Of course, with all the other cats outside and eating, there is nothing at all to tell me who the mama is. There are no new adults hanging around that I can tell, either. Clearly, there’s a mama tending to this bitty. It’s just a mystery, who it is!

We will continue to monitor the situation and see how things go!

The Re-Farmer

Morning stuff

When doing my morning rounds, I made sure to check through the cat house windows repeatedly, looking for the new bitty baby.

I counted 27 cats this morning, but no sign of any bitties. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any – just that there is no longer a kitten next to the window I can see through. The largest window has way too many reflections this time of day to see anything unless it’s right at the window inside, and while the smaller window by the entrance, where their favorite cat bed is, is better, it’s still hard to see very far. We did clean the windows on the inside when we prepped the cat house for the winter, but between the frost and greasy little faces, it doesn’t take long for it to get hard to see through. Then there’s the smallest window in the entry (an addition my brother had later added to the dog house, to make it more weather proof), which is completely frosted over on the inside. Because it’s in the entry itself, which has its own roof, we couldn’t really reach under to be able to clean it from the inside. It wasn’t a priority, and we typically forget it exists.

So… if the bitty is still in the cat house, which I believe it is, it is somewhere further from the windows. There is a box bed against the wall furthest from the biggest window. If the mama put her kitten(s) in there, I would not be able to see them at all, just because of their size.

I was messaging with the cat lady last night – she actually contacted me about the possibility of getting some of the outside females done elsewhere, because a certain vet clinic is having their annual extremely discounted spays and neuters – $75 instead of $350, each! She’s going to see if she can book us for 4 females. I imagine the spots get filled up really fast, so we’ll see if she can manage it. She suggested we could meet somewhere half way; I would deliver cats to her, she’d have them at her place for their fasting period, then we’d get them back later.

I was going to wait until I checked today, but since she contacted me anyhow, I told her about the bitty I found. She asked if I thought it was part of the same litter the other bitties came from, and if there was a mama around. I’m sure it’s from a different, younger, litter. She was willing to take it, if we felt there was no mama around – it would keep Bitty (now named Oskar) company until he finishes his vet treatment before going to his forever home. I still think that I will end up finding more bitties in the cat house, later on. The mamas tend to have litters of 4 kittens – Rosencrantz was an exception with her 5 this year – at a time. The question is whether or not such tiny kittens survived being brought over from wherever they were before, into the warmth and safety of the cat house. We shall keep an eye on things!

Once I was done with my rounds this morning, I had to run to the town my mother lives in to do some errands. I wanted to get that done early because, late this afternoon, we’ll be picking up our quarter beef! I wasn’t sure if I’d get the first errands done right away, as we had a lot of blowing snow – almost storm level – while I was doing my rounds. There wasn’t much snow, though, and it’s cold enough that the roads would be dry. Our expected high of the day today is -12C/10F, with wind chills of -17C/1F. As I write this, we’re already at the -12C/10F, with a wind chill of -23C/-9F. We’re supposed to warm up to -8C/18F tomorrow, which will be a good time to see if we can fasten down that tarp on the shed roof a bit better. On the far side, where the roof is covered with metal roofing materials, the trap has been cut by the roof edge a bit, thanks to the winds, so it’s getting loose. Today, the wind is coming from the other direction. We were able to secure it only at the corners so far, and the wind is really tearing at it. We need to secure it along the edge more, but in such a way that we can still open the door, so basically tucking the edge of the tarp under the roof’s edge. The problem is being able to reach.

We’re going to have to invest in scaffolding at some point. I’ve been eyeballing some rolling scaffold platforms that are only about 5 feet high that would meet most of our needs, and are relatively affordable. I think they’re actually meant for indoor use only, but I believe they can handle outdoor use every now and then, too. At least the ones that I’ve been pining over! 😁

As for this morning’s drive, just a short distance from our area, and I drove out of the blowing snow! It was still windy, but clear and sunny. On the way home, I drove back into blowing snow, but since I’ve been back indoors, the snow has stopped, and it’s all clear and sunny out there. Still windy, though. I’m going to have to keep an eye on that shed. The good thing is, I can direct the garage cam towards it and keep an eye on it from the comfort of my desk!

Looking at the forecast into December, I am thinking we’ve lost our weather window. I don’t think the roofers are going to make it out here before the cold really sets in. I don’t imagine any crews would be willing to come out this far north and work in these conditions.

*sigh*

I’m still hoping, but not counting on it.

Ah, well.

Talking to my brother and his wife about it, we were guessing how long it would take to get the job done. My SIL figures 4 days. I was thinking three. My brother was thinking only 2 at first – depending on how big the crew is – but then changed his mind. Once they’ve taken off the old shingles, we know they’re going to find some rot that will need repairing. There’s just no way to know how much, at this point, but I expect there to be rot in at least two areas. Plus, the old chimney for the wood burning furnace needs to be removed, and the hole covered over. The chimney to the wood cook stove in the old kitchen will remain; we may not be able to use that wood stove at all, but some day we will be able to replace it, with a properly installed heat shield and fire safe flooring, and will be able to hook into the existing chimney. That won’t happen for a few years, but at least we’ll have the option. There won’t be any option of getting a wood burning furnace going again, once the roof is done. That old chimney was supposed to have been replaced when my parents first bought this place, back in the mid 60’s. They had all the parts and pieces. It just never happened. And now I’m using those old chimney blocks that were intended for that, in the garden.

We will still have the old chimney running through the house from the basement. Someday, I want to have that removed and replaced with a dumbwaiter. It would make things much easier – and safer – to move things from floor to floor.

Lots of ideas and plans! We just need the funds to be able to do it! 😁😁

Hhhmm… when I picked up some gas today, I noticed the jackpot was won last night. I think I’ll go check my ticket now… 😉😉😉

The Re-Farmer

AAAAHHHH!!! I’m going insane!!

I just got back from topping up the outside cats food and water.

In the process, I saw something absolutely insane.

While adding kibble to the trays under the water bowl shelter and the cat house entry, I glanced through the cat house window.

It’s not very clean, gets frost on the inside and there’s lots of reflection, but…

… there was something strange looking back at me.

Something tiny and orange and fluffy.

This is the picture I took, but I used the auto-enhance on computer, to see better.

That, my friends, is another bitty.

It wasn’t there yesterday.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t there this morning, but I didn’t really look.

I thought I had to be going crazy, and was seeing things wrong.

After I finished setting out the kibble, I came back with the water jug. After topping up the heated water bowls, I looked again, but saw nothing.

There was a white and grey kitten eating at the tray in the entry, so I tried peaking past it, through the carpet strips in front of the door.

Nothing.

I looked back through the window and…

…watched as an orange fuzzy worm came running around and into the cat bad at the window. It looked at me, saw me move and started to run away again, so I moved away from the window.

I tried looking through the larger window, but there’s just too much reflection to see inside.

We have another bitty.

Another.

Bitty.

AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!

It looks about the same size, maybe smaller, than the bitties that got adopted out.

It seems to be alone – no other kittens – but it’s entirely possible the mama – whoever it is! – is in the process of moving her litter into the warmth and comfort of the cat house.

If I’m seeing things well enough, this looks like it will be a long haired orange tabby.

What the heck!?! Why are we having such super late kittens this year?

The Re-Farmer

Good kitties, bad kitties!

When I was done with my morning rounds, I paused to say hello to the kitties (I counted 29 this morning – never saw Rosencrantz).

The four in the foreground, plus Princess (who had climbed me while I was trying to take pictures), were absolutely all over me, fighting for attention! Those five – Plushy, Pointy Baby, Judgement, Gooby and Princess – are the friendliest of them all.

Caramel, in the background, isn’t. 😄 I’ve managed to touch her while she was eating kibble on the roof, but only by sneaking up behind her to do it, and she was hungry enough to not run away immediately.

The outside cats are such good cats.

Then, there’s the inside cats.

With being sick for the last while, I haven’t been working on this year’s Christmas ornaments, so everything has been tucked away on my work station.

Not well enough.

This morning, not only did I have to pick up the knocked over bin of Christmas decorations, but also gather up some of my mini yarn.

*sigh*

Clearly, the little bucket they were under was not enough to keep them safe!

Ugh. All that cat hair.

I didn’t even realize the tassel was in there until after I’d started untangling the colours. Only the metallic purple mini skein was still okay.

Bad kitties! I don’t even know which ones did the damage. Could have been several. They wait until we’re in be

I’ve got to finish those ornaments, so the stuff can be put away, out of harm’s reach!

The Re-Farmer

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