So many! and… no wonder we were having problems

I counted 26 this morning!

It always amazes me how many of the cats have a preference for eating under the water bowl shelter. At one point, I counted 5 under there.

They also really appreciate that sheet of insulation under the kibble house in the winter. Every now and then, I’ll walk past the back of it and see a whole bunch of noses peaking out from under the back wall, where there is a much smaller gap.

I’ve been seeing Rosencrantz again and, unfortunately, she is looking pregnant, too. She had a really early litter last year, though not as early as Junk Pile did this year, and lost it. She went on to have a late second litter with 3 white and greys, Pinky, with his unique patches of mixed orange and grey fur, and a tortie.

For the third day in a row, Junk Pile followed me around while I was doing my rounds, all the way to the sign cam, and let me pick her up and carry her back to the house. She rode calmly in my arms, the back of her head nuzzled against my face. What a massive change in personality! I’ll take it, though. Hopefully, it means we’ll be able to catch her and get her spayed this year.

On a completely different note…

I made it to the Walmart with my mother’s car yesterday. I’m happy to say it ran well, and the roads that were so treacherous just a few days ago are now clear.

One of the things I was able to pick up was a universal fill valve and flapper kit for the toilet. We’ve been having issues for a while now, because … well… see for yourself.

That bit of white hose is almost completely blocked. It was taking forever for the tank to refill after flushing. The flapper would also get stuck slightly open, which meant the water was draining almost faster than it could be refilled. We would have to hold the lever down until the bowl was completely emptied, or the flapper wouldn’t close properly. The flow of water was so slow, it often wouldn’t finish flushing, so we’d have to wait 5 or 10 minutes to flush again.

The flapper couldn’t be replaced; there is something very different about it, and my daughter couldn’t even see how it was attached, but her sister scrubbed out as much of the gunk as she could, and it is working much better. The tank refills so much faster now! The only thing we have to tweak is how much water is in the bowl. For some reason, it has always been very low, and this old valve doesn’t seem to have any way to adjust water levels for the bowl; just the tank. Getting that adjusted will help a lot with reducing the clogs and slow drains we’ve had the entire time we’ve lived here! My daughters are also planning to scrub the inside of the tank as best they can, but it’s lines with Styrofoam insulation, which we have to be careful not to damage. I’ll have to look for the septic safe anti-iron tank tablets again. The last few times I’ve looked, they were out of stock. I’m hoping to avoid having to order online.

Oh, that reminds me. I made a quick stop at the post office on my way out, yesterday, and my new, low limit credit card was in. Once I was home again, I had to call the toll free number to activate it. Of course, the guy I spoke to had a whole spiel he had to give after activating it, to try and sell me insurance, so if I loose my job or something, the balance will be paid. Of course, I was laughing at that, since I cannot get a job. When I mentioned that I want to keep the limit low and just use the card to rebuild my credit rating, he finished off the call with some advice. He gave me the date for my billing cycle, which is the 7th. My intention was to use the card at the end of the month, for gas and groceries, when we do our city shopping, then pay it off right away. He suggested I wait until about 2 days before the due date, which would still be within the 21 day interest free grace period. Waiting to pay until just before the next billing cycle improves the credit rating faster. It would also be helpful to include regular automated payments taken from the card. This shows that the card is actually being used regularly. With the card I have, gas, groceries and automatic payments have a 1% cash back, while everything else has a .5% cash back. I don’t have anything I want to put on automatic payment, though. With our utilities, I like to pay manually, because I always over pay a bit, to build up a credit. That way, if we are ever in a pickle or things just get really tight for some reason, we could have a month or two of reduced payments, or even no payments at all, to free funds up in the budget.

Well, we’ll see how it goes.

Just a few things (updated)

We continue to be teased by spring. We had high winds yesterday and through the night, and while this morning, we are at a rather okay -16C/3F, the wind chill is at -24C/-11F. During the night, we had wind chills down to -28C/-18F! Today, we’re supposed to be sunny and reaching a high of -5C/23F, and a few days from now, we’re supposed to start getting consistent highs above freezing. The first official calendar day of spring is in only two days, but it’s going to be a while before real spring finally reaches us.

It got chilly enough in the sun room for this little guy to take advantage of an empty heated water bowl!

While putting their food out, I tried petting Junk Pile, but as soon as she realized I was touching her, she got startled and moved away. I was hoping, after being able to pet and carry her yesterday, she would still be okay with contact, but apparently not.

Then, as I was returning from the sign cam, there she was, coming up the path through the garden! I tried to pet her and she acted skittish, but kept coming back until she finally let me pet her. After a while, I tried walking again, but she wouldn’t let me! I finally picked her up so I could get back to the house, and she was quite okay with that. She kept snuzzling the back of her head against my face and making this noise that was kind of like a quiet growl! While holding her, I could feel her teats were slightly swollen, from not having any kittens left to nurse her, but they lived for so short a time, she should dry up quickly. She was not in any discomfort. When I got to the house and she wanted to jump down, she still wouldn’t move away from my feet, so I had to pick her up again and deposit her onto the cat house roof, just so I could walk!

Today, I plan to take my mother’s car for a run to Walmart; the kibble bin has reached the point where it’s mostly the cheap brand we got from the feed store, and they’re actually picking out and eating the other brand and leaving the cheap stuff behind. They do eat it eventually, but they clearly don’t like it. This gives me an excuse to see how my mother’s car is doing for a longer run, since we have to go to the same city for her follow up appointment with the specialist on Monday.

I’m happy to say that my tax return came in this morning, which means that we can finally call the plumber to fix our leaking taps, as well as pick up a replacement tub surround, since he’s going to have to rip the old one off. Not that there’s much besides the arm bars holding it in place, as it is. We’re going on the most likely assumption that the last time the taps were replaced, it was done from the tub side, then covered over by the surround. I highly doubt the person that I know was hired to do it would have gone through the bedroom wall on the other side. There’s no hole in the paneling, and no sign that the entire panel itself was removed.

We don’t know how much getting all this done in the bathroom is going to cost in the end. The girls and I talked about the possibility of not putting another tub surround up at all, but taking out the old paneling and tiling it. That would be a lot more expensive, though. Plus, I’m still hoping we can at least get my daughter her new glasses right away, now that she’s got a prescription. While she was getting tested, I looked around at the frames in the clinic, and the cheapest I could see was about $180. Most were in the $300+ range, and I wasn’t even looking at the fancy brand names. She is going to try getting glasses from Zenni, which was recommended to me (thank you!), as they do have a Canadian site. I need progressives, so those were the frames I went looking at in the site, and the prices are SO much better. Apparently, “premium” progressive lenses start at about Cdn$70, so my daughter’s very basic prescription should be quite affordable.

We shall see how that goes soon enough.

The Re-Farmer

Update:

I just asked my daughter about her glasses order, and it turns out it’s already done! She was even able to order a second pair of prescription sunglasses, and even with shipping, it was still under Cdn$100! I look forward to seeing what the quality is like.

Don’t let the cuteness fool you!

Check out Nosencrantz, all tucked up on her window shelf.

She had her face tucked into her front paws, but my trying to take a picture disturbed her.

This is her, in abject terror and anxiety. She freezes like this, and hardly moves.

I was vacuuming, and all the other hiding places were filled with other cats, so she just stayed on her shelf, frozen into an adorable loaf of anxiety.

She got lots of love and comfort after the vacuuming was done!

The Re-Farmer

Strange Behaviour (sad update)

I tried to do a head count while feeding the outside cats this morning, and I think I counted 23. What concerned me is that I couldn’t see the mama cat anywhere, nor could I make anything out through the windows of the cats’ house. I think I may have heard a squeak, but it could easily have been something else.

While switching out the memory card on the gate cam, a whole bunch of cats came running up the driveway to follow me around. Including one that had me doing a double take.

It was the mama.

(I’d thought she was one of the ‘iccuses, but now I realize she’s Junk Pile!)

This is a cat that I’ve only ever been able to touch by sneaking while she ate, and that was rare. Today, however, she was coming right up to my feet. I reached out to pet her a few times and at first, she nervously backed away, but when I finally got to stroke her back, she stopped and let me pet her.

While trying to walk back to the inner yard, she kept running ahead, then stopping and blocking my feet, then running ahead, then blocking my feet, over and over. Finally, I picked her up – and she let me! I started walking again, which was too much for her, so she jumped down, but was running ahead, then blocking my feet, all the way to the house.

At that point, went down another path to cross the main garden area, and switch the memory card on the sign cam. There is just a narrow, hard packed path through the snow, and if my feet slip off the packed snow, I find myself sunk up to my knee. I often have cats following me, running ahead, and trying to trip me up, and this morning, there were the usual 3 or 4 of them.

On my way back, there she was.

She was doing the same thing; getting under my feet, then running ahead, getting under my feet, then running ahead. On this path, that’s actually kind of dangerous, so I picked her up again and tried to carry her.

Not only did she allow me to carry her all the way back to the house, but she actually snuggled up against me!!!

This from a cat that wouldn’t even let us touch her, without being sneaky about it, before.

It wasn’t until I got in front of the house that the finally wanted to jump down, but allowed me to lower her closer to the ground, first. She ran ahead of me towards the cat shelters, then ran into the cat house.

I tried looking through the windows, but it’s so hard to see into there. The larger windows have too much reflection, and the small one is too dirty on the inside. I tried moving the strips of carpet over the entrance and could finally see her. The larger cat bed in there has been moved (and it pretty torn up!) and is now next to the litter box (which has not been changed in months, because we can’t easily get at it; I doubt the cats are even using it anymore), and I could see other cat blankets pushed around. While I was looking, she moved to the cardboard box with the pillow in it that’s still in the other corner, and where I saw movement yesterday morning, when I first heard kitten noises.

With this very unusual behaviour, I can’t help but feel that she is asking for help.

The problem is, with the snow around the back of the cat house, the counterweight will probably not be able to drop as far as it should, which means needing someone to actually hold the roof open. My daughter and I will be doing that soon; I want to wait until it’s a bit warmer (it was -17C/1F with a wind chill of -28C/-18F while I was out this morning). We’ll bring the hard sided cat carrier out, in case we need to move babies, and hopefully be able to straighten things out inside the cat house a bit as well.

If we do end up moving the babies, then what?

With her strange behaviour this morning, I’m guessing Junk Pile would be willing to come along. The question is, do we set up a “cave” for her in the sun room?

Or do we take her inside.

I still have the baby jail cage in my room. The other cats like to go into there for naps, or just when they want to be left alone.

Well… we’ll make that decision after we see what we find in the cat house.

The Re-Farmer

Update: warning; some graphic details to follow

well, it’s done. After having to chip the packed snow away from the crates supporting the counterweight, my daughter and I were able to open the cat house roof, with the cat carrier nearby for any babies we found.

My daughter is absolutely devastated.

What we found were pieces.

Nature at work. When mamas lose their babies, they “clean up” by eating the remains. If it wasn’t the mama, any of the other cats could have done it. I hadn’t mentioned before, but even yesterday, when I found the second dead kitten in the shelf shelter, it was missing its head, so the cats had already been at that one.

While my daughter looked away, I got the large pieces out, then had to use the snow scraper to bring the smaller bits close enough for me to reach them. A couple of times she looked back, only to be telling me where I’d missed another piece. Once we were sure I got all the bits, we straightened out the cat beds and blankets, then closed the roof up again. At that point, my daughter took the cat carrier in while I finished up.

After clearing the snow out of the hole and putting the crates back under the counterweight, I got a bucket to pick the bits up out of the snow to add them to the other remains awaiting cremation (it’s too windy to start a fire now). Only then did I realize there were two tails parts. These were the remains of two kittens, not one.

*sigh*

I guess the mama coming to me for attention this morning was her looking for comfort after losing her babies.

We knew the chances of survival for kittens born this early in the year was low, but this is the first time we’ve had to clean up the bodies. My daughter is very tender hearted, and having a hard time with it. She was totally unprepared for what we found.

*sigh*

Our 2023 garden: last seed order has arrived

The last seed order I made, with Baker Creek, arrived this morning!

This was a last minute order that was not at all part of our garden plan for the year.

Interestingly, while the website warned that Canadian orders are now subject to duty, I did not have to pay anything when I picked up the package. There is a customs label on top of the original package label, and it says something about an exemption with a code on it, so I’ll assume that has something to do with it.

The Merlot lettuce we got as free seeds with our order are a variety we’ve grown before. We weren’t planning on growing lettuce in the garden this year, but still ended up with several packets of lettuce seeds! Now that we’ve got the cat barriers up, though, we might try growing some lettuce indoors, instead. That would probably be far more useful for us than trying to grow them in the garden and having to barricade them from critters.

The write up for the Mountain Morado corn now says these can be planted up to 2 weeks *before* last frost, so I might actually plant these this year, even though I have several other types of corn. It will depend on whether we can prepare a large enough plot for them, on top of all the other work we need to get done, like building trellis tunnels for the climbers. I intend to plant the popcorn in one of the low raised beds this year, and want to plant a variety of sweet corn, too, so this would make at least 3 varieties of corn we would need to make space for. We shall see.

We’ll be planting at least a few of the Spoon tomatoes, for sure; they did well for us when we grew them a couple years ago and, this time, we will be sure to keep seeds.

We’re still figuring out where we want to plant the two varieties of bread seed poppies we have; the only caveat is to plant them well away from each other, to reduce the chances of cross pollination, as we intend to treat them as perennials.

The salsify, we will definitely be planting this year, though they will be planted in deep containers – likely garbage cans we will be salvaging from the barn and garage, or in feed bags – so we can compare this variety with the others we have. With these, we won’t need to be concerned about having garden beds ready for them. Our top soil is way too shallow for salsify.

The sunflowers are still a “maybe”. If we do plant them, they will be direct sown. In the past, we grew giant sunflowers to act as wind breaks and privacy barriers, but we are starting to plant trees and bushes in those areas now, so we may not plant these this year at all. We shall see how our spaces work out. Plus, the deer really like sunflowers, so they need extra protection, too.

We’ve been expanding our gardens every years since we started – this will be only our 4th year of gardening since our move – but this year, we’re going to be building a lot more permanent structures, now that we have a better idea of what has been working, and what hasn’t. Most of that work has to be done by the middle of May, since the earliest direct sown seeds will go in at about that time or shortly after.

Here’s hoping the weather cooperates this year!

The Re-Farmer

Well… the first ones are here (sad update)

There was quite a crowd when I came out this morning. I think I actually counted 26 cats, though it’s possible I double counted one of the white and greys.

It was while I was by the cat house that I heard it.

The tiniest of squeaky noises.

It took a moment of standing completely still to listen, but the noise was definitely there, and definitely repeating itself.

After going around the other side of the cat house with the kibble, I was able to peek into the small window facing south. The window is half covered with frost, but there was enough visibility that I could see across the inside of the cat house, were we put a box with an old pillow inside for the cats.

Yes. There it most definitely was.

Movement.

Our first litter of kittens of the year have been born.

I was pretty sure it would be soon, as when I saw the pregnant mama yesterday, she looked rather damp in the back. She is actually in the photo above; the tabby at the very top of the picture.

Alas, she apparently did not have her kittens in the cat house. At least not to start. We have the shelf shelter up against the shelf shelter, and the bottom two shelves have rigid insulation inside, and in front, along with extras like a cardboard box and cat beds inside. I always put a handful of kibble into the openings of each. The bottom one isn’t as open anymore, as the cats have slowly broken the insulation forming the front “walls”, making the opening larger and larger, and the top one has been used as a scratching post in one corner so much, the insulation is torn away with only the cardboard box inside keeping the weather out from the hole!

Going past the shelf shelter later on, I saw one of the white and greys in the bottom shelf, batting at something and looking very startled and confused.

It turned out to be a dead, newborn kitten.

It must have been further back in the shelf when I put the kibble in, because I couldn’t see it at all at the time. Other cats came around to check it out, also looking rather confused over the poor thing.

As the ground is too frozen to bury it, I wrapped it in some paper towel, and we were cremate it later. Poor baby.

I can say for sure there is at least one surviving kitten that I could hear and see moving, and one that didn’t make it. If there are any other survivors, I have no way of knowing. We’re not going to pop open the roof of the cat house to see, because the last thing I want is for the mama to get spooked and move them away. For a litter born this early in the year, their chances of survival are very low, but their best chance of survival is right where they are now. It’s unfortunate the mama is one of the more feral cats, or we’d find a way to bring her and the babies inside.

I suppose I ought to let the cat lady know about it, but she’s recovering from surgery right now and has enough on her plate. There’s nothing more we can do about them right now, anyhow.

One a completely different note, I found this interesting, while doing my rounds.

When we had that wind storm blowing snow two days ago, there was no new snow. Just what the winds picked up off the ground. Yesterday we actually reached 0C/32F, so things started to melt a bit. Now, you can really see that, along with snow, the winds picked up all sorts of dirt, too. Since most of the fields are still covered with snow, that would consist mostly of sand picked up from the roads. The blown in snow is incredibly hard packed, too. Part of my path to the sign cam was filled in, and the blown in snow is so hard packed, it actually holds my weight when I walk on it, just like the packed snow on the bottom of path!

We’re expecting more winds today, from the northeast instead of south/southeast, as it was during the wind storm. Nothing as severe as before, thankfully. We’ll still be taking the van instead of my mother’s car to my daughters eye exam this afternoon, though, just to be on the safe side!

The Re-Farmer

Update: Well, my daughter and I are back from her eye exam (and saying hello to some goats while picking up more eggs on the way home). As I was walking up to the house, I saw Rolando Moon start to go into the bottom of the shelf shelter, then back off strangely. I went to check but couldn’t really see anything, but I was able to reach in and pull out a cat bed we have in there. Sure enough, there was another dead kitten in there. Crud. I wrapped it up with its sibling for later cremation. Poor baby.

I topped up the kibble for the evening and tried to see through the small window of the cat house again, but no luck. The window is just too dirty on the inside. Wherever the surviving kitten is in there (however many there may be), it was no longer anywhere I could see. I was not about to keep mucking about, though. I saw the mama in there, then she went into the sun room to eat. The last thing I want to do is spook her into moving her surviving babies away.

More yard cats is the last thing we need, but we adore them anyway, and it’s always sad when the little ones don’t make it.

Our 2023 garden: new seedling set up

After a bit of adjusting, our new set up for the seedlings rotated out of the aquarium greenhouses is figured out.

The seedlings that need more warmth are inside the mini greenhouse, which is set up over a heat vent. The plastic cover is there to help trap a bit more heat, and protect them from the cold window.

It looks like we’ve lost one luffa, likely due to the chill, and one drum gourd, but there are still 2 luffa left, and 3 drum gourds. There are also several pots that had nothing germinate in them, but I’m leaving them for now, because who knows? Now that it’s over here, maybe something will happen.

The rolled up door in the cover is hiding them, but the thyme is looking like it could be potted up already!

The onions and shallots get to be on one of the shelves, as they can handle the cooler temperatures better. They look ready for a hair cut!

We were able to use some paracord to bring the lights down lower, and their heights can easily be adjusted. With just the two areas with seedlings, only one light is needed for the space right now. The shelves are closer to the window than the lights, so the seedlings are getting lit up from both sides. That was a major problem with our seedlings last year, and I was using aluminum foil to try and reflect light back to the shadowed side of the trays.

Also, you can see the trays of gourds from last year, in the mini greenhouse. They’re one shelf level above the heat vent; the bottom level won’t be used at all, since it’s right over the heat vent and very dark. If, for some reason, we need the space, we’d have to elevate the entire greenhouse frame somehow. The Tennessee dancing gourds are drying up nicely, but it looks like the Ozark nest egg gourds may still have been a bit too green when harvested. There wasn’t much choice about harvesting when we did, since we were starting to get frost, and that would have wrecked them completely. I still have seeds, though, and we will likely be starting them with the batches we’ll be planting before the end of this month.

With the cat barriers in place, and the living room rearranged for the seedlings, it’s actually made the room more useable. The girls have taken to actually having their meals in there, and even watching shows on Tubi. At the moment, they are enjoying some birthday cake in there! I’ve actually allowed myself one exception to my Lenten fast from sugar/starchy foods, to have a piece of birthday cake. It’s been long enough since I’ve eaten any sugar or starch, it’s actually making me fill a bit dizzy!

Anyhow. That’s our garden progress for the day! πŸƒπŸŒΏπŸŒ±

The Re-Farmer

The aftermath

My older daughter has a birthday this month. We don’t typically celebrate birthdays on the day, but kinda spread things out for at least a week. One of the things we like to do is have the birthday person choose where to order food from as a treat, and my daughter chose Pizza Hut. The closest one is in the smaller city, and of course, there is no such thing as delivery out here. The plan was to do that yesterday. With the high winds, we discussed postponing it, but in the end, I decided the drive would be okay. We did take our van instead of my mother’s car, though; for all its problems, my mother’s car is a fair weather vehicle, and while it has new all season tires, the van has good winter tires. When I got to the garage, though, I found that the winds had managed to blow open one of the doors to where my mother’s car is parked! That door had a tire on a rim leaning against it to hold it closed, and the tired had been knocked a couple of feet away!

My younger daughter came along with a birthday shopping list, so we left early for our scheduled pick up time. I figured we could stop at a grocery store along the way, making for less time for the food to get cold after picking it up. The drive is normally about 45 minutes, and we left about half an hour earlier than necessary.

Which turned out to be a wise decision.

The winds were coming from almost directly the south, so for the first leg of the trip, it was like driving into a wall, but except for one section on a curve, where the highway was running more east/west, the highway was clear. Then we reached the town my mother lives in, where we turn east on another highway.

My daughter tried to get a picture for me.

Don’t let this picture fool you. The camera on my phone cleans things up quite a lot. In reality, we could barely see the road. It was all white. Every now and then, we’d pass a shelterbelt around a farm house and the road would suddenly be clear for a short while, then back to blowing snow. It was actually quite mild out – just a few degrees below freezing – which meant the dark road surface on these clear spots got warm enough for the edges of snow to be melting. The van was being buffeted the whole way, and it was a fight for the entire stretch of road, until we reached another highway and were travelling south again. That highway was mostly clear, though some places were starting to have buildups of snow. The plows were out, at least.

After a while, we had to turn east again, and that section of road was even worse. In places, there was enough snow kicked up by the winds that it looked like a distant fog, half engulfing any stands of trees.

The last leg of the trip was a stretch of highway weaving south and east, so it was a mix of clear and covered. Once inside the city, the winds were blocked and there was no blowing snow at all! It was such slow going the entire way, we didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store first, and headed straight for our scheduled pick up. We made it just in time, too!

Once the hot food was picked up, my daughter and I stopped at the grocery store on the way out, and then it was time for the drive home.

Since emptying out the van, with the expectation of trading it in, we took out all our music CDs and still haven’t returned them, so we had the radio on a classical music station, instead. Normally, we don’t listen to radio, but this time, I’m glad we did. When the news and weather was on, there was a lot of talk about road conditions and road closures. Things were certainly a lot more severe, the further south things got, and the big city was being hit hard.

Considering what we drove into on the way home, that must have been really crazy! The winds had picked up, and were blowing even more snow, but it was the ice under it that really made things iffy. We were driving much, much slower and, at one point, the wind started blowing the van around, and we were fishtailing on the ice. Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic, and I got the van under control again without being blown into the ditch. It was very touch and go for a while! This happened a couple more times along the way, but not as bad as that first one. If I had known it would be this bad on the east/west roads, we would have done this another day!

It took us quite a bit longer to get home than the drive out, as we had to drive so much slower. Once we were travelling north, conditions were much better and I was even able to drive highway speeds, while the wind was at our back. The only east/west road we drove that was good, was the last two miles of gravel road to our place!

Yes, the food was mostly cold by the time we got home, but that’s okay!

As the evening wore on, the road conditions worsened. Parts of the Trans Canada Highway were closed, as was the entire ring road around the bigger city, as well as the major east/west highways leading into the city, while many other roads and highways had travel advisories. People were told to stay home, and there were many reports of vehicles in ditches and other issues.

I’d seen forecasts showing that the winds would continue for several days, but this morning, there was no wind at all! While doing my rounds, there were a few things that had been blown around to pick up, and once the snow is going, there’s going to be a lot of fallen branches to clean up! The tarp covering the shed with a hole in its roof was flapping around a lot in the wind, and there are now friction tears, but it did hold. It’s unfortunate that we had not been able to secure the sides of the tarp, even if it was just in a few places, but it still handled the conditions far better than I feared, based on how much I saw the wind tearing at it.

When I got to the sun room to start my morning rounds by feeding the outside cats, I discovered the insulation covering the cracked window about the counter shelf had been pulled down, along with the boards and even a 5 gallon bucket that had been helping to hold it in place. Things are mild enough now that I just set the sheets aside. Other things were knocked about, and I soon realized why.

The outer door into the sun room had been blown closed!

So we had a bunch of cats trapped in the sun room over night, while others were trapped outside! There was still some food and water in the sun room but, outside, all the kibble trays were empty, and even the outside heated water bowl had somehow been knocked right out of the water bowl shelter, and was dangling upside down by its cord. We built that shelter with a board across the front specifically to prevent the bowls from being easily pushed out. It’s possible the bowl was knocked out by a deer, not the cats, considering the fresh tracks I could see in the snow!

The cats were very excited about my getting that door open again!

We’re supposed to have a nice warm day today, so hopefully the ice on the highways will melt away and dry off. Tomorrow, my daughter has her eye exam. It’s supposed to get a little bit chillier, and the winds are supposed to be back. Hopefully, not as bad as it was yesterday, but at least we’ll only have one short stretch of east/wet highway to be concerned about.

Spring may be on the way, but winter’s not done with us, yet!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: starting a variety of seeds

Today is another mild day – bright and sunny, with our high expected to reach -3C/27F, and we’re almost there as I right this. Unfortunately, we have insane winds today, and apparently for the next several days, too! My computers weather app is saying 32kmh/20mph winds, but to be honest, I think we’re getting higher than that. I’ve been eyeballing some of the trees in the spruce grove, wondering which one is coming down next, and I’ve already had to break trail through the main garden area to reclaim stuff that was being blown away. There was even a gust the blew the dining room door ajar! Not the storm door – that one stayed closed – but there was enough of a pressure change to force the inner door open. Thankfully, we have a bar latch on that door, too, so it couldn’t open very far.

Yes, the door was locked. We never use it except once in a rare while in the summer.

A daughter and I are going to be driving in this soon, as we head out to pick up some birthday pizza for her sister!

My main goal for today was to get some seeds going that need to be started much earlier. These were the ones that needed to be done.

I don’t have a “days to maturity” for the Crespo squash, which now seem to be gone from the Baker Creek website! Looks like I bought fresh seeds for this year, just in time. I still had 3 seeds left from last year, so I used those, plus three fresh ones, so there’s still some left for another year. We’ll see how the germination rate is.

I also chose only 6 Caveman’s Club gourd seeds. I took sandpaper to the large seeds to scarify them before setting them to soak. I had intended to start them soaking last night, but ended up on the phone with my brother and his wife for more than an hour, and it was quite late by the time I was done. It was worth it!

The other bowls are holding all the seeds from the packets, including both packets of Indigo Blue Chocolate tomatoes.

I had intended to use Jiffy pellets to start some of the seeds, thinking I had a full box of them, plus a partial box, from last year. I never found the full box, and the partial box had only one pellet in it, but I did have alternatives.

I was unable to find more of the larger biodegradable pots the last few times I’ve been shopping, so the 6 Crespo squash seeds were divided between my last two of those, while the smaller pots got two seeds each of the Caveman’s Club gourd.

These are my last two trays of biodegradable square cells. I decided to plant more of the Black Beauty tomatoes and give them a whole tray to themselves, while the Indigo Blue Chocolate and Little Finger Eggplant are in the second one. Each square cell has 4 seeds in it.

I made sure the soil was moist before planting the seeds, then once they were in the aquarium greenhouse, I spritzed their tops, then added water to the bottom of the tray. It’s awkward to get these long trays in, as there is a divider bar across the middle of the tank’s top. After this photo was taken, I put the covers and lights back, and plugged in the heat mat. The soil was feeling quite cold while I was working with it! “Room temperature” in our living room is definitely on the chill side.

It wasn’t until I settled down to write this post that I realized I didn’t need to put the covers back on the aquarium, since the cat barriers are now in place! Except when I came out this morning, I found Tissue sitting at the inside of the latched door, waiting to be let out. Yup. She managed to pull the bottom open and squeeze through! We’ve got it blocked in that corner for now, so hopefully, she won’t get in again.

As for the other seedlings, they’ve been moved to the shelves by the window. There’s a heat vent right there, so that will help, though now that I’m done with the new seeds, I’ll have to do some rearranging. The lights are too high, so we’ll have to find away to attach cords that will allow us to have them lower, and adjust the height as needed.

Hopefully, these will germinate within the next couple of weeks, because we’ve got another batch to start before the end of March, and they’re going to need that heat mat!

The Re-Farmer