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

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

Chipping away, and a sick kitty update

Yesterday I got a call back from the third roofing company we want to get an estimate from for my brother, and arranged for him to come by today. With the gate having to be unlocked and open anyway, I took advantage of it to mow the driveway.

And then keep mowing.

And mowing.

And mowing some more!

As for the roof, we will get the estimate tomorrow. While chatting with him, I mentioned getting estimates several years ago, and what a difference it is, now. He told me that some things have gone up in price by 100% since then!

Once I get the numbers, I’ll pass them on to my brother and after that, it’s in the hands of him and my mother. Hopefully, she won’t decide to string us along again and back out of her promise to pay for it again. Prices will only keep going up. The north side of the roof, where the ice and snow melts away last, is looking really bad right now. If would be really good if we could get a new roof before winter.

I asked my daughters to switch from sleeping during the day and being up at night, so we can get more things done faster during the day. As I write this, my younger daughter is outside building a mini-kibble house for the water bowls. It’ll be nice for the cats to not have water bowls buried in snow in the winter!

That gave me the time to finish mowing the outer yard.

“Finish” being a relative term. Basically, I’ve just been chipping away at the overgrown areas, little by little. Whenever I started working on a area that hadn’t been mowed or scythed before, I’d have to go back and forth with the mower at least three time, to actually get the grass cut properly.

I got the area in front of the shed with the collapsed roof done, expanding from what I’d been able to do when I used the scythe. We need space to get in, but also to set aside the lumber we will be salvaging. There is an old metal garage door leaning against a wall in there. Once the roof pieces over it are clear, I want to set it on the ground nearby. Salvaged wood can go on top of it, and be kept off the ground. We can then cover it with a tarp or something for the winter.

I was also able to widen the area along the driveway and to where the branch pile used to be. I want to mow around that area more, as we will be doing scrap wood burns there.

What I really need to do is get a path mown to the barn. I went into there to grab some stuff I thought my daughter could use in building the kibble house. Dragging it through the tall grass – even the area I’d scythed earlier – is not easy! There are things under the collapsed shed roof that need to be moved to the barn to protect them, and there’s no way I’m going to drag those though the tall grass.

I also started to push further beyond the pump shack. Normally, there would be a lane wide enough to drive in, all the way to the back gate from here. Last year, all I managed was a walking path. At some point, I want to get at least a path mowed. I still need to do some repairs on the back gate. One side of it got ripped away from the gate post, likely by a startled deer, in the winter. It’s up again, but not repaired.

I also got good progress getting a path cleared to the storage shed. I wasn’t up to fighting that tall grass all the way, when there were higher traffic areas that I needed to finish, first. Still, it’s going to make a big difference.

We’ll give the grass clippings a day or two to dry in the sun, the rake it up for eventual use in the garden.

I so wish we could use that shed as a workshop, which is what it used to be. With my parents’ belongings stored in there, there is just no space. We can’t even get at the back of it. It’s all blocked by bags and boxes and furniture.

My sister had been digging around in there, trying to find boxes with photos to take, so I tried looking around a bit. The boxes are stacked on top of each other, and the stacks are starting to collapse. We’re going to have to get in there and figure out what to do. Part of the problem is, when it started to be used as storage for my parents’ stuff, no one had a grasp of just how much there would be, so the first things put in there were not done with any sort of plan in mind. They were just sort of stacked wherever. Soft things, like the bags of clothes (so many clothes!!!) are filling spaces that should have been left open as paths – and would have been if we’d known about all the large items that would have to be squeezed in among the boxes and bags. Even as we were moving things over there, the girls did try to rearrange things to fit more efficiently, but there was only so much they could do.

The one shed that has a good roof and isn’t rotting away, and we can’t use it.

Frustrating.

Meanwhile, my mother still gets these moments of urgency, asking me if the door is locked (we don’t have a key), and worried that someone is going to steal all her stuff. As if anyone wants her bags of old clothes that she doesn’t even want herself, or dozens of (mostly salvaged) mirrors we kept finding all over the place! For all that she left the farm years before we moved here, leaving so much stuff behind for others to deal with, she is still so attached to her belongings. Which means we’re stuck hanging on to them.

*sigh*

On a less pleasant note, I called the vet clinic this morning, asking to talk to one of the doctors. I got a call back shortly after I got back inside from mowing.

We are in a very frustrating situation.

Leyendecker seems to be doing better. His appetite is improving. He’s more active. He seems like he’s better in so many ways, but one.

He’s still not voiding.

Every time we see him try and use the litter, at best, there are just a few damp spots. The girls have seen him trying to pee in other places, too, and not succeeding. There has been nothing to clean up.

After describing this to the vet, she said the only option left would be the surgery to make him a “girl”, but there is no way we’re doing that to him. It would just leave him with other problems, and he’d still have a short life, and a much less pleasant one. The longer he can’t pee, though, the more the potassium levels will be building up again – and he was already at “potassium levels of death”, to quote the vet, when they first saw him.

There is only one option left.

The added problem?

Keith has suddenly started having problems, too.

Yesterday, my younger daughter and I watched him try and use the litter, unsuccessfully, and start yowling in distress. My poor daughter was so upset, she started crying.

One of the things Keith likes to do is run in front of us into the bathroom, then fling himself onto the mat in front of the toilet, so we can pay attention to him. Last night, I came in and found him lying on the mat and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure he was still alive until I pet him for a while and he started purring a bit and eventually shifting position. I checked him again during the night, and found him loafed around the side of the toilet, looking miserable.

I haven’t seen him yet during the day, but my husband has been keeping an eye on him, and says he is looking in really bad shape.

I brought this up with the doctor, and we’re looking at the same situation as Leyendecker – and my daughter already used up almost all her savings to pay for his treatment. Right now, she might have enough left for them both to have one final appointment with the vet.

It’s been decided, though. We’ll keep monitoring Keith. If he starts voiding again on his own, it should work out, but if not, tomorrow, I’m making an appointment for them both.

Talk about brutal.

Which really, really sucks. They are the sweetest boys. But the more time goes by, the more internal damage is happening, and the worse it will be for them.

There is no real choice.

F***

Meanwhile, we’re trying to figure out what the heck is going on. We even looked up to see if there were any recalls on cat food we didn’t know about (there is only one brand so far this year, and it’s a brand I’ve never heard of before). We make sure they have a variety of both wet and dry cat foods, and they have access to water at various points around the house. Most of the litter boxes are downstairs, but there are some upstairs, too. We did not allow the cats access to the basement until we cleaned it out, disposing of all sorts of potentially dangerous substances in the process. And yet, somehow, Cabbages was getting into something none of the other cats was getting into, that slowly poisoned her over a long period of time before she finally became sick (and is now thriving, thanks to the Cat Lady’s efforts). The vet said the toxin was either from anti-flea chemicals (which we don’t have) or fertilizers (which we don’t have in the house). So how did it happen?

Leyendecker did not have crystals in his urine, so the vet says muscle spasms, but if that were it the muscle relaxants – and he’s on two of them! – would be working.

And now Keith is having problems?

What the heck? These are all younger cats, too. Keith is the oldest of the sick kitties, and he’s only about four years old!

I just don’t know what to think.

The Re-Farmer

Leyendecker and the new meds

Yesterday afternoon, I picked up the new muscle relaxants we will be trying on Leyendecker. Last night, we gave him his first dose about 15 minutes before he got the rest of his meds.

I was VERY happy to discover there are no needles on those syringes. When I first saw them, I thought they were injections – and wondered just how it was to be administered into the cheek pouch!

Happily, we just need to squirt it into the side of his mouth.

Which he seriously did not like.

In fact, he’s fighting us off a lot more when it’s time to give him his meds. He’s a big boy, and that size is mostly muscle!

I made sure to check, and there is no change in his other medications. After he gets those, he soon passes out for hours.

This new stuff says it “may cause sedation or hyperactivity”.

Last night, we got hyperactivity.

That boy went nuts!

It made him much harder to dose with the rest of his medications, that’s for sure! He’s caught on to what we’re about to do and tries to fight us off. I don’t blame him for having trust issues right now!

He even clambered his way to the top of my metal shelf! He didn’t stay there long. Mostly, he tried to claw his way out of the room. He also hunted down and tackled Nosencrantz, completely ignoring all my efforts to stop him.

I ran out of the special wet cat food that came with him from the vet. He doesn’t really like it, either. I split a can between the three cats, and the other two don’t like it all that much, either. They don’t particularly care for the special dry cat food, either. I’ve been able to feed the ladies separately from Leyendecker, which means I can give them regular kibble. Today, I split up a can of wet cat food, and wow! did Leyenecker tuck into it! He emptied his bowl, but turned his nose up at my refilling it with dry cat food!

As for how he’s doing, so far, the problem has not been solved. He seems to be doing well in all respects, but he still is barely able to pee. He keeps going in and out of the litter box, leaving little spots of wet, and yowling.

Today, he got his second dose of the new meds. This time, we gave it to him after the rest of the meds were done, and letting him stop to eat or try to use the litter a few times in between pills.

Changing the order seems to have made the difference. He didn’t go hyper this time, and is now curled up on my bed and ignoring the other cats.

I might actually get some sleep tonight!

Ah, who am I kidding. I probably won’t! 😆

Here’s hoping the meds finally start to work.

The Re-Farmer

Some garden stuff, and a run-around day

Just a few growing things to share from this morning!

The spruce grove next to the board pile where the smaller kittens are living has been overtaken by spirea again. Hard to believe I pulled those all out, just a couple of years ago. They are blooming like crazy right now, and just buzzing with insects, so I am leaving them for the pollinators. They can be pulled up later, when we need access to cut down the dead spruces.

This is one of the hulless pumpkins; a Kakai variety. So far, there’s just the one. I’ve seen another, much smaller one. We shall see if it got pollinated and gets bigger or not.

There is also just the one giant pumpkin growing. I made sure to hand pollinate this one, when I first found it! I am not seeing any other female flowers on the giant pumpkins at all, yet.

I was able to make a tiny harvest of shelling peas this morning; more of the pea plants have had hair cuts by a deer, it seems. Just at the one end, where they are already all spindly, though, so it’s not actually much of a loss. I was able to pick a small handful of raspberries, too. Not as much of either, as yesterday.

I didn’t spent too much time in the garden, though, as I had a lunch date in town. I met with my SIL for lunch, after she picked up the sleep test machine in the city for me, saving me the trip. After lunch, I tried calling my mom from the parking lot, but got a “user not available” message. So I made a stop at the hardware store and picked a paint for the benches. I went with a dark red. I got a gallon, so there should be enough for both benches, with some to spare for future projects.

That done, I tried calling my mom again, and discovered she had called the farm and left a message for me. She had just gotten word that her sister passed away this morning. My aunt would have turned 99, this fall. My aunt had gotten to the point where, when my mother recently visited her, she could not recognize her at all, and didn’t seem to know my mother was there. We were expecting this for some time, now.

I told my mother I had her sleep test machine and was on my way to her place. I was really looking forward to seeing it. The little storage bin it was in was about the same size as the machine I got, when I had a sleep test done years ago.

My goodness, has it ever changed! The test is the same; a pulse oxymeter to be worn on one finger, a hose with nasal prongs, and a heart rate monitor worn the chest. The small box strapped to the chest was the entire unit, with both the air hose and pulse oximeter attached to it. No machine sitting next to the bed, making things like rolling over very challenging to do!

There was a questionnaire sheet that I helped fill out on one side. The other side is for after the test is done. Then we went over the instructions.

Yeeeeeaaaahhh….

No.

It’s actually very easy to use, but the instructions were well beyond my mother. Especially when it started talking about what to do if you turn it on and get red lights instead of green ones. Just the nasal prongs, and putting the air hose around her ears, was too much for her. She was more than ready to not do the test at all, and expressed regret for agreeing to do it.

So I’ll be giving her a hand. The machine needs to be returned on Tuesday. I’ll come over on Monday night to help her put everything on and get the machine going, before she goes to bed. Then I’ll come back in the morning, go through the shut down procedure, finish off the questionnaire with her, then take the machine to the city and drop it off. It’s already been arranged with them that, when the specialist has gone over the readings and is ready with his report, he’ll call me to go over it, not my mother. I can then explain the results to her in a way she can understand, later on. The report will also be sent to her doctor to go over.

Then, since I’ll be in the city anyhow, I’ll stay to do more of our monthly stock up. I will be using my mother’s car again, though, so still no Costco trip, but there is a liquidation store near where I have to drop off the sleep test machine that I want to check out. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, and their inventory can change quite dramatically from shipment to shipment. I should be able to get deals on things to stock up on that I might not find at the other wholesale places I go to.

So that is all arranged.

There was one odd message my mother passed on to me while I was there. When her niece called about her sister’s passing, my mother was told that our vandal would be at the funeral, therefore I could not be there.

Which is completely backwards. If I go to the funeral, it’s our vandal that has to leave. I have a restraining order against him, not the other way around. Not that I would do that to him at a funeral. I would make and exception. He, obviously, would not. I have no idea what he told my cousin, but I suspect she doesn’t want me there, anyhow. When I later had a chance to pass on my condolences to her husband, I explained it to him, but also said that I will just keep things easy and not go. Our vandal might cause a scene, and if my suspicions are correct and my cousin doesn’t actually want me there, she would be upset with me, not our vandal. I have other ways to honour my aunt’s life without all this theatre.

Since I was in town with her car, I was able to take my mother on some errands before heading home. She is not at all impressed with how expensive things have gotten. I’ve been trying to warn her for months that this was coming, but she brushed me off. Even now, she thinks that the prices are high because the local stores are cheating people. She found an error on her grocery receipt a couple of times (in the 8 or so years she’s been living there), and is convinced the errors were actually deliberate. She still doesn’t get that cashiers don’t actually put prices in manually as they scan her groceries, and that the prices are set into the computer system by the franchise the store is affiliated with, not the store itself. For all my warnings, she seems to think these higher prices are just in the local stores she goes to, not something that’s happening across the country. Frustrating.

I had noticed a weekly farmer’s market was on today, so before heading home, I swung by to see what was available. There was one booth with fresh vegetables. The selection was more sparse than I remember from last year, but I was able to get some fresh yellow beans and a bunch of carrots. The market itself had a lot fewer booths, too. My bee keeping cousin was there, though, and I was looking to get a bucket of honey, but he had none, and will not be having any of his largest size at all this year. The long, cold winter took out his bees. He’s down to only two hives! They would have already been struggling after last year’s drought, too. This horrible start to the year we had must have been just too much for them.

It explains a lot, though. I’ve heard from a lot of people saying they’re not seeing any bees this year. At the time when the bees would have been coming out of hibernation, not only was it cold, but things that normally would have been blooming, were not. There would have been nothing for them to eat.

I had just been talking to a woman selling chokecherry jam (among other varieties of jams and jellies) about how we had plenty of chokecherry flowers this spring (when they finally could bloom), but no berries, and she had said she had the same thing. Especially with Saskatoons. The flowers just didn’t get pollinated. Bees would not have been the only pollinators affected by our horrible spring, either. I’m glad we have so many pollinators now, but the timing of it is just wrong for most berry bushes.

Thankfully, my beekeeping cousin has other stuff to sell in his booth, not just honey. It might take a long time for him to build his hives back up again.

This has been a hard year for all kinds of produce!

Still, I did get a large jar of honey, some fresh vegetables, a couple jams and jellies, and some individual sized pies to take home. Not too bad.

It’s been a long run-around day, though, and I was more than happy to get home!

The Re-Farmer

Staying out of the rain, and taking a chance.

We had thunderstorms pass over us during the night, and it was still raining when I headed out to do my morning rounds.

The girls heard cat’s arguing with each other last night. When they went out to check, Potato Beetle came into the sun room, where he got to spend a nice, dry night, with his own food and water. Thankfully, that meant he had no interest in the food when he went out in the morning, because there’s a very wet and bedraggled TDG looking back at me in the photo – and he’s the one Potato had been threatened by!

All the cats were looking so wet!

And you can certainly see why. All the areas that had finally been almost dry are wet again, including this spot the cats normally use to get under the storage house. Even though they can’t get under there right now, because of the water, they still run through here. So do the skunks. The grass is so tall, you can’t really see that the whole area is under water again.

That lilac bush is struggling so much! It’s basically drowning. It still managed to bloom, though!

The main garden area has got a lot of areas with standing water. If we are to loose anything we planted at this point, it’s going to be from being drowned!

Along the bean tunnel, however, I saw both types of beans have started coming up!

I didn’t look too closely at things because, even though it was raining, I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. They don’t mind being out in the rain!

I was keeping a close eye on the forecasts and weather radar. They were predicting a series of thunderstorms throughout the morning and afternoon, including at times when I would expect to be on the road with my mother, to take her to her doctor’s appointment.

So I left early. I figured, I could fill up the tank on my mother’s car and find something to do before it was time to pick up my mother. I’m trying to spend as little time at her place as possible, right now.

Which reminds me… my brother used his Power of Attorney to speak on my mother’s behalf and get her place treated for bedbugs. It’s a good thing he did. She could never have navigated the calls or followed through on them. It was totally beyond her abilities.

Her building is owned by a the provincial government, but the department that administrates it was almost impossible to get to. He got numbers to call from the senior’s centre in my mother’s town, chased a few of them down, found that the contact person he normally would have talked to was away for the week, sent some emails (because he was doing this from work and couldn’t be on hold for 20 minutes, over and over!) and eventually found out that the province is aware there are bedbugs in her building. It’s a problem with quite a few buildings they run. So much so, that they are being treated on a schedule. The next time they are in my mother’s area, she will get a note slid under her door with date and time and instructions. Which my mother won’t understand. My brother was supposed to get a copy of that note and its instructions emailed to him, but he never got it. All he knows for sure is, she’s supposed to be out of her apartment for 6 hours while they take care of the rest. When he told my mother this, she said she would just hang out in the lobby.

For 6 hours.

While her apartment – and any others in the building – are getting sprayed.

My mother, who has respiratory issues…

Yeah…

No.

We’ll find other arrangements.

Once I got to my mother’s, we headed out again soon after. We got to the clinic quite early, but she ended up getting called in early, too!

Oh, the poor doctor.

We were there to talk about breathing issues she’s been having, but when he came in, instead of telling him about it, she started saying things like, “please help me with my breathing…” as if he already knew everything. She and I had been talking about it, and it was as if she thought he somehow heard and knew everything she had said to me!

Between the two of us, we managed to drag out enough information from her that he could figure out what sorts of tests to have done. Any tentative conclusions we both reached by the end of it may be correct, but other things need to be ruled out, first. It will take a few weeks, at least, before all the tests are done and he gets the results.

So that worked out fairly well. Even as we left, though, the doctor commented to me that my mother’s symptoms are quite strange – and they certainly are! Hopefully, we’ll have some answers, or at least a direction to look, after the tests are done. The one that will take the most time will require a call from the city, then someone has to pick up some equipment for my mother to use at home, then the equipment, and the data collected, returned. It may take up to 3 weeks, before all that’s done.

The rain continued off and on, and there was still severe weather on the radar, so we didn’t do my mother’s usual stop at a restaurant (I made sure to ask if she’d had lunch before we left!), and I took her home, with only a stop at the grocery store first. Since I was there with her car, it allowed her to pick up and stock up on a lot more, so she took advantage of it.

I feel much better, knowing my mother has at least some food stocked up, even if it’s just for about a week or so.

It had stopped raining for most of my drive home, more or less, but I’m glad I didn’t linger. The gravel roads are being destroyed by all the rain again. My mother’s car handled it well so far, but we’re supposed to get more storms tomorrow, and that spot near our place is already only passable on one side again. The road past our driveway is still closed, too, for all that I regularly see traffic going by, including small cars. One of these days, I should make the walk to the washout to see how it looks.

On a completely different topic, I found a site before I left for my mother’s, and sent some links to my family to check out while I was away. It was one of those “is this too good to be true?” places. It’s a clearance site for Lowe’s, with various sheds at massive discounts. As in, insanely massive. They were all in the same price range, roughly between $85-$90 Cdn, regardless of original price. It seems that these are all abandoned orders – stuff people already bought and paid for, but never picked up.

After much discussion, we decided to take a chance.

This is what we ordered.

Image belongs to lowescheap.com

They have a 30 day trial period, but it’s unlikely we’d put it together within that time. We’d open the box to check, but would need to make a foundation for it before we could assemble it.

I was sorely tempted by their largest shed. That one did not come with a floor, which I could live with, but also did not come with shingles. Which is not a big deal, but for something that large, we wouldn’t be able to get them for quite some time.

So we went with a plastic one that was the largest, complete shed available. At 20’x8′, it includes two sets of double doors, 2 windows, 2 skylights, some shelves, shutters and a “foundation”, among other things. We’re a bit confused about the included foundation, because it also says a foundation is needed. Looking at the diagram, I think they mean what looks like a 4″ sub floor as the included foundation. We’d have to find and prepare a spot for a foundation, somewhere in the inner yard, where it would be most useful.

The total cost, in Canadian dollars, came out to just over $133 after shipping. Which is insanely cheap. Hopefully, we will actually get what we ordered, and it’s as good as the specs describe it. If it is, it will be a big help. If not… well, hopefully, we’d be able to get our money back.

The thing is, I’ve looked at other sites with deeply discounted products, including things like chicken coops, sheds, garage kits, etc., that I could quickly spot as scam sites. Seeing images stolen from other sites was usually the first warning! This one, however, actually looks legitimate.

Well, we’ll know soon enough. And if it does turn out to be legitimate, we will certainly get more! One that is currently on the site is a 12’x8′ cedar Cabana, with a split door and 2 windows with window boxes. It’s pretty much exactly what my younger daughter wants as the focal point of the peony garden she wants to plant, well away from the house. There’s currently a branch pile that needs to be chipped where she wants to plant it, so it’s not like we’re in any hurry! Looking around at some of the other sheds, there are even some that could easily be converted to a chicken coop, and cost far less than if we build one ourselves, even using salvaged wood.

Here’s hoping!

The Re-Farmer

Long day, but the trees are in!

Oh, my goodness, what a day. And it’s not even 4pm as I start writing this!

Since I was heading to my mother’s early, my morning rounds were on the short side. It was pretty chilly out there, with rain expected, so I didn’t take the plants outside, just in case. I’m glad I didn’t, because the “light showers” we were expected to get turned into a series of downpours. :-/

A grader had made its first pass before I left, which made it easier on my mother’s car on the gravel roads, including where the water is crossing over the road again, in two places. I left early enough to put some gas in the tank of her car. That was painful. Just the other day, the prices in her town went from 188.9/L to 197.9/L One US gallon is 3.78L, and at the current exchange rate, that works out to US$5.94/gallon. Other parts of Canada are now above $2/L, so we are by no means the most expensive gas in the country.

Still, it makes for a painful fill at the pump! Most of which got used up by the time I got home again.

The visit to the doctor went all right. Medical facilities are still forced to have mandatory masks. I probably would have been okay if I just needed to go to the clinic, but I also needed to go to the lab, and they aren’t allowed to accept exemptions. Which is illegal, but that hasn’t stopped our current government from doing whatever it wanted before, and they’re not stopping now. I wore my Mingle Mask. One of the receptionists – who had her own mask pulled down every chance she could – complimented me and said she missed being able to read lips. I got my bloodwork requisition then went to the lab, and they were fine with it, too. My mother, who shouldn’t be wearing a mask either, wore hers under her nose. No one said a thing. Not even while in the examination room.

My mom was very confused when we came in to see a young woman, and thought we were taken to the wrong room. It turned out she was a student who is working with our doctor as part of her training. I’d helped my mother make a list of what she wanted to talk about, then took a picture of the list. I’m glad I did, because she didn’t bring it, though she did bring another, completely different one. By the time the student was taking my mother’s blood pressure, my mother was saying, “so… Dr. ___ didn’t want to see me, then…” The student reassured her that the doctor would be seeing her; he was just with another patient.

He did come in later, and we talked for a while longer. Then he made sure to explain to me what he wanted to change up, because there’s no way my mother would remember any of it – and might even choose to ignore. I’ll pass it on to my siblings, and between us, we should be able to get my mother to understand. It just takes a while.

That done, with a quick side trip to the lab for my mother, we headed out. I had fasted for my bloodwork, so we were going to go for lunch, but we made a quick stop at a hardware store. I picked up a box of bed bug traps. Other apartments in the building she’s in have been sprayed for bed bugs, and now we’re finding out she has them, but she cleans her bed really, really well, so she’s fine… *sigh* The more I talk to her about it, the more details she brings up, the more horrified I am. Meanwhile, she’s all proud of herself for being so thorough in cleaning her bed and mattress, and squishing so many of them… *sigh* The traps are mostly as a check to confirm, and won’t get rid of them, but it’s a step forward. She’ll have something to show. My brother and I have been really stressing that she needs to call the housing department that owns her building so her apartment can be treated, but she thinks she can handle it herself.

After picking up the trap, we had lunch – breakfast for me – then started home. I had mentioned to her that I had live trees to pick up at the post office, but suddenly she was wanting to make side trips to other towns. I said no; if we’re going to do stuff like that, we have to plan for it ahead of time. I started getting the lecture of how when I am with her, I need to make it a “holiday”, to spend just with her. By which she means, do anything and everything she wants to do. It’s not “holiday” for me at all, nor do I want it to be. I have too much work to do to lose entire days at her beck and call. At least today, it was rainy, so there’s little we can do outside right now, but those trees need to be picked up, and we need to get at them as quickly at possible, even if the holes we dug for them are too full of water to do any transplanting today.

She still got me to stop at another hardware store and pick up some soil for her, to top up her houseplants. The bags are all in outdoor garden centre displays, in the rain, which meant I got my nice white hoodie and new coat all muddy. :-/ Ah, well.

Once I got her home, I set up the traps, then went over her medications with her before finally heading to the post office, driving through a few more downpours along the way, then home.

Can you believe there are 41 trees in here? !!! I’ve got it next to the box that the highbush cranberry, sunchokes and sweet potato slips came in, for perspective.

Looking at the forecasts, we’ve got three more days where the overnight lows will be too cold to transplant any of our vegetables, but we’ll be able to work on these trees, instead. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get them all done in one day.

So much to do; so little time to do it! Especially with the weather not co-operating!

The Re-Farmer

A few surprises today, and wet, wet, wet!

Since I was wanting to go to my mother’s early, my morning rounds were cut a bit short.

That and the ground was just too wet for all of my usual checks.

It wasn’t raining quite yet, but I decided to NOT put our transplants out. With all the pots in bins and trays to water them from below, the bins already had more water in them than they probably should have, just from what rain we got yesterday. Some of them are on baking trays, which are easier to tip and drain at least some of the water out. With the bins, we’d have to remove all the pots to be able to drain it, and I would rather we didn’t knock them about too much. Especially the pots that are made to be planted directly into the soil. When they get wet, they are a lot more fragile and basically fall apart.

So today, they stay indoors.

I did remember to grab the bag with what’s left of our wood shavings to put a light mulch where the peas were planted yesterday. After switching out the memory card on the corner cam, I popped through the barbed wire fence to check on things.

The most obvious was that the “road closed, local traffic only” sign is gone.

The stand is still there. Just the sign has been removed. The stand had already been blown to the side of the road by wind, heavy as it is. I guess they’ll come back for it later. I don’t think the road has been repaired, though. I think the water levels have just finally dropped low enough.

The area in front of where the corner cam is, is where I’d sown a western wildflower mix in the fall, and I was hoping to see if anything was coming up.

I’m still not sure, but…

… we have strawberries! There are quite a few, all around. We don’t mow this area often, but I’m sure I’d have noticed strawberries if I’d seen them before, and deliberately not mown there. There were a few other things growing that didn’t look familiar, but it’s hard to say. With last year’s drought and heat waves, following even more years with lack of spring rains going back well before we moved here, it’s entirely possible that our current wet conditions mean that things that had been dormant are now finally sprouting. When I had the chance, I looked up the description for the seeds I got. It has 16 varieties native to Western Canada, but only 7 are listed.

Well, we’ll find out eventually! I’m just happy to see strawberries growing there.

I then checked out that really bad spot on the road that’s close to us. It was very muddy, and it’s getting longer, but it still looked like I could drive around it on one side. It did convince me to use our van instead of my mother’s car. Her car is lower to the ground, and I didn’t want to drag her undercarriage on some of the muddy ruts left behind by heavy trucks.

The funny thing is, I got a call from my brother later this morning. He was at work but, he knew I planned to go to my mother’s. Having driven through that spot himself just a couple of days ago, he called to recommend I take the van instead of my mother’s car, because it’s so much lower and we wouldn’t want to catch anything in the undercarriage on those ruts…

I love my brother. 😀

I also wanted to leave early enough to hit the post office first. While at the store, I picked up another bale of wood shavings and some black oil seed for the birds. Then I remembered to ask about bale twine. We’ve been using some light sisal cord for most things, but I wanted something more durable. There wasn’t any bale twine in the store, but the owner went to check in the house behind the store (I guess inventory is stored there now; the previous owner used to live there), which gave me time to load the big stuff into the van. While I did that, a Canada Post van arrived. As I went back to the counter to wait, the post master brought a package to me that had just come in, even though she hadn’t had a chance to process all the deliveries yet! That was very sweet of her.

It was also sweet of the owner to go check for me, as she came back with a pair of bale twine rolls. I hadn’t realize that size came in pairs. I’d always seen the larger ones. I asked for the smallest size; only 2800 yards. 😀

We’ll be set for a while!

The package I got was our perishable stock order from T&T Seeds, including two highbush cranberry trees. As I was writing the above, my younger daughter came by to talk about them, and now she’s outside in the rain, transplanting them!

What a sweetheart!

Once I had everything bought and paid for, it was off to my mother’s, picking up some fried pierogi for lunch (it was too early for the usual fried chicken I get as our lunch treat) on the way. My mother was already waiting for her telephone doctor’s appointment! The appointment was at 11:50. She thought it was at 10:50. When she realized we still had about an hour for the call, she dove right into those pierogi – all the while telling me she should probably stop eating pierogi, because the last time she did, that night she had severe stomach pains. Which as never happened before, but every time she has some sort of physical discomfort, she blames it on whatever food she most recently ate. :-/

Then the phone rang. The doctor called almost an hour early!

It turned out to be a fairly short call. My mother’s back is feeling much better now, though she insists the painkillers she was prescribed, have not been helping her at all. The doctor asked the expected questions about if she had twisted it, lifted something heavy, or done anything that might have triggered it. He was looking at her Xrays and couldn’t see anything that would explain the pain. The way he described it, she just has a 90 yr old back! He mentioned arthritis, but I don’t think she heard him.

Ultimately, though, he wants her to come in, in person, as it’s been a long time since she’s been to the doctor. My mother was already talking about doing exactly that. Normally, she would have to phone the clinic and talked to a receptionist to book that – though I would have been the one to actually make the call – and he did start to say that, but then changed track and simply named a date and time. It worked for us, so in a few days, I’ll be driving my mother in for that.

Hopefully, using her smaller car instead of my van, though!

Once that was booked, that was it. We were done, and much earlier than expected.

So we finished our lunch, then headed out to run errands. My mother had three places to go, and was a real trooper about climbing into our van! Especially since the van has no hand grips, like her car does. Getting out was a lot easier, but I had to insist, each time we stopped, that she wait until I brought the walker around before trying to climb out. The last stop was the grocery store, and for that I go in and get a shopping cart and bring it over for her to use as a walker, instead.

Having looked at the weather forecasts, I took advantage of being there to pick up a few little things, too, just in case I’m not able to make the rest of our stock up shopping in the city. That should be tomorrow, but we’ll see.

You know what I didn’t buy today?

Tinned meat.

Because, WOW the prices have gone up!

Cdn$4.49 is currently US$3.54 Those tins are 156 grams, or 5.5 ounces
Cdn$4.99 is $3.94 Those are 213 grams, or 7.5 ounces
Cdn$6.49 is US$5.12, for 340 grams, or 12 ounces

Small town grocery stores tend to be more expensive anyhow, but this is almost double what I last saw them at.

When my mother was almost done her own shopping, I quickly went through the till with my own stuff to get those put away in the van first. While chatting with the cashier, the increase in prices came up. He told me the prices have been going up daily! This store is affiliated with a larger franchise, so they don’t control the prices, but the whole point of being affiliated with a franchise is to be able to get inventory at lower wholesale prices, so retail prices can be lower.

Which means the wholesale prices have jumped significantly.

Thankfully, my mother only needs to buy enough for herself, and with me there to help out, she got extra in a lot of things, to stock up. She didn’t even look at the meat section, though. She’s convinced herself that meat, especially red meat, is bad, but she’ll buy deli meats or sausages instead of fresh meat. *sigh*

The main thing is that she is now stocked up for the next week or so. With her back giving her grief, she might supplement with Meals on Wheels every now and then, too.

It was raining every so slightly when I left my mother’s, but I found myself driving through several areas of heavy rain on the highway home. I’m so glad I didn’t take the transplants out this morning! The gravel roads were just soaked, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more sections degraded until they were like the bad patch near our place. I messaged the family before heading out, and the girls were waiting for me at the garage with the wagon to help bring things in, since it was too muddy to drive up to the house to unload.

Just a few minutes ago, the girls came in – soaking wet! – to let me know they finished transplanting the highbush cranberry, as per the instructions that came with the trees. They planted them at the opposite end of the rows originally planned, because it has somewhat less water there, though they still had to shovel out as much water from the holes as they could. The holes they dug were mostly gravel, so the wheelbarrow of garden soil I had ready for something else was used instead of putting all the gravel back in the hole. The last of the bag of wood shavings I’d used to mulch the peas was used to mulch the cranberries. Hopefully, they will take root well enough.

It may be a couple of days before we can plant the sun chokes and sweet potato slips. The forecast says “light rain”, but it’s also supposed to be chillier than today. The sunchokes could probably handle it, but I’m not sure the sweet potato slips will. These are supposed to be a variety suited to our climate zone, but they’re still not a cool weather crop.

And we still need to get those potatoes in, but the package said not to plant them until temperatures are above 10C/50F. Looking at the 14 day trend, we won’t have overnight temperatures above that until June 7 – over a week from now! They will be under deep mulch, though, so that should protect them. I hope.

So much to get done, in a very short time, and the weather is not cooperating!

Well, we’ll do what we can. Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: peas, carrots, onions and more prep

One of things we started indoors were the four seeds we managed to save from the King Tut purple peas we tried to grow last year. All for successfully germinated, and were really needing to be either transplanted, or potted up.

Potting up didn’t make sense for these, so today, they got transplanted! Being peas, they are frost hardy, so we didn’t have to wait until after our last frost date.

I did change were they were meant to be planted. I was originally thinking of using the same pea trellis we used for them last year, but there’s just 4 of them, so we’ll save the trellises for the green peas we’ve got.

As the purple peas were already looking to climb, I decided to put them here.

This is where we grew tomatoes very successfully last year, and tomatoes will be grown here again this year. It got completely reworked in the fall.

This bed was going to get a mulch of wood shavings, too, but I also did the concrete blocks on the other side of the small gate, too.

We’ll be looking at planting some climbers in here, that can use the fence as a trellis.

The bag of wood shavings left over from last year got finished off in the long bed, and most of the new bag got used up, too! There was enough to mulch the haskaps (the male haskap is blooming!) and there’s still a bit left over.

All the mulch got watered as I laid it out, as the wind was picking up and threatening to blow it away. Once it was laid down, all the mulch got watered again, multiple times, as I worked.

Of course, the bed didn’t stay looking pretty like this for long!

This bed is going to be intensely and strategically planted! Along with the purple peas, there will be tomatoes planted all along the fence. Just inside where the tomatoes will go, there will be carrots, as they are good companion plants. On the outer edge, near the bricks, will be onions, as a critter deterrent.

In the bowl are the last of the pelleted Kyoto Red seeds from last year.

Clearing out a row to plant the carrots was a bit of a challenge, as there were sticks in with the leaf mulch that had to be removed. With pelleted seed, the carrots could be spaced as they were planted. I still got only half way down the row before running out of seeds. The other half is now planted with Napoli carrots; another pelleted variety from last year. With the Napoli, there are still a LOT of seeds left, so we have the option of tucking them around other things, too. We have 2 other new varieties that are not pelleted seed, so I will likely use cornstarch gel to help plant those.

There were not a lot of the Oneida yellow onions we started from seed to transplant, but it was still close to the half way mark. Of the onions we stared from seed, we have one tray or red onions left, but there’s quite a few of those, and I didn’t want to split them up. We also had a few shallots started from seed – a whole 7 of them survived – so I used those, and there’s still half the row left. We have shallot sets, too, so I’m thinking of using some of those to finish off the row. That will be another job for tomorrow!

As for the peas, I cut some of the plastic bottles from distilled water we have so many of, to put around the peas, to protect them from the wind. One of them blew away while I was transplanting onions. I’d tried to push it into the soil, but there turned out to be too many little sticks in the leaf litter. 😀 Once I got that fixed, I added the sticks to help keep them from blowing away. They are the sticks sold for toasting marshmallows, broken in half. We got a package for cookouts last year, but I’ve been using them as supports for some of the taller squash and gourd plants that were starting to flop around a bit. They work really well for that!

This bed now has only tomatoes to be transplanted into it, and that won’t be until after our June 2 last frost date, just to be on the safe side. We will be adding netting after the tomatoes are planted. The decorative wire garden fencing that you see in one of the photos above will be placed right up against the bricks, to hold the net away from the net, which will be attached to the top of the fence. The tomatoes and onions should be fine, but the carrots will need to be protected from critters. The net won’t stop a determined groundhog, but between that, the onions and the carrots, we hope the greedy buggers will decide they’re not worth the effort!

While I was working on this, my younger daughter was working on one of the low raised beds in the main garden area.

The girls cleaned up these beds last year, and this one was the worst for crab grass.

It still was. It took my poor daughter hours to get it done, diligently and carefully pulling up all the roots she could. Unlike me, she’s agile enough that she can kneel down on the ground to work, but she still knackered her back in the process. Once inside, she ended up having to put on her corset she made for herself, to use as a back brace just so she could sit upright at the table! She plans to continue with other beds tomorrow, and will likely just wear the darn thing from the start.

Her sister ended up helping me bring the transplants back inside after everything we done. She was up sick much of the night, but was finally feeling better. It was a bit of a juggle, since the chitting potatoes were sitting on the platform the seed trays and most of the bins sits on. Those had to go outside and onto the roof of the cats’ house until all the transplants were brought into the sun room, then we had to figure out how to fit the potatoes back in! Some ended up on the swing bench under the platform. Potato Beetle has lost his favourite bed for now. 😀

I fully expect we will expand our garden again, next year, which means starting more seeds indoors. Having at least a small, portable greenhouse is going to be increasingly a necessity! We almost got one this year, but the funds ended up being reallocated. Mind you, we still haven’t gone into the old hay loft, where my brother tells me there is the frame for a carport. If all the parts and pieces are there, we’d just need to get the plastic, and we’ll have a polytunnel. I can’t get up into the hayloft anymore – my body is too broken to clamber up there – so I’ll have to ask the girls to do it.

Well… that last paragraph got quite the interruption. I hadn’t realized my mother had phoned and left a message while we were working outside. She called again. It seems the painkillers the doctor prescribed for her back pain are not helping at all, and she’s in a lot of pain. Can’t sit, can’t stand, can’t lie down… She’s convinced the doctor gave her the wrong medication. She called the pharmacist, and he assured her she got the right meds. I guess she now thinks the prescription was a mistake? So tomorrow morning, when the clinic is open, I’ll give them a call. Hopefully, either her doctor, or the doctor that saw her in the ER, will be available to call her today and talk to her about it.

My husband is feeling very sympathetic for her. She’s entering his world, and is completely unprepared for it.

My plans for tomorrow may be changing, if I find myself having to drive my mother somewhere!

The Re-Farmer