Apparently, I”m a “ringleader”

Oh, what I day.

At least I got to start it with cows!

When I went to unlock the gate, the renter’s cows (and bull) were in the old hay yard. The grass is too high to see, but it looks like there is still water in the low spot where you can see a bunch of them gathered. They did seem to be drinking, rather than grazing.

I just love the renter’s cows. They make me smile!

I left very early for my court date with our vandal today. I did forget on detail until I went over the paperwork again last night. He’s not suing me for $10,000. He’s suing me for $13,000.

I’m glad I left as early as I did. Aside from stopping to get gas on the way out, when I got to my usual route to a place I knew I could park without time limits, I found the road was torn up. There was only 1 lane of traffic, away from where I wanted to go, and it was several blocks before I was able to take a turn back to the main road and go around another way.

When I got there, I did have a bit of a heart attack when the security guard told me there was no court today. ???!!! The court office was open, though, so I went in to ask. At first, it was confirmed: no court today. Then I showed her my case file and she said, “oh, yes. There’s court for you.”

🤯

Because this was a civil suit, it’s Court of Queens Bench – a federal court, not a provincial court. When I filed for a restraining order against our vandal, it was all provincial, and in a different court room. The court rooms are just down the hall from each other, though. There are some benefits to small city courts!

After some time, I could hear our vandal’s voice, talking to the security guards at the door. When he and his witnesses came around the corner, they saw me sitting by the doors and just stopped, taking seats at the other end of the hall.

He had said he would have two, then four, witnesses, but three were there. His wife, of course. A mutual friend whose voice I recognized, and another guy whose voice I could not recognise at all. They had bright windows behind them, so I couldn’t see him. In the end, it turned out to be a neighbour of ours that we both grew up with. Not someone I would have expected to be there, though.

No matter.

Because he was the claimant, when we finally got before the judge (about 15-20 minutes past the scheduled time), he got to talk first, with an opening statement, then calling in his witnesses, one at a time.

The first thing the judge asked him, though, was how he came up with the $13,000 he was after. He rambled about how much he thought things were worth, and that some things had sentimental value, but in the end it came down to “that’s what I think it’s worth”.

As for his opening statement, my goodness, he rambled on. Then stopped. Then rambled some more. Then stopped. Then rambled some more. The judge was good at keeping a poker face, but even she was starting get that “are you done yet?” look.

In a nutshell, everything is my fault. I am the “ringleader” in trying to destroy his life. I have cameras because I want him in jail. I locked the gate because I want to keep him from his stuff. I call the police on him, over and over and over, and the police came to see him, like, THREE times, and he was fingerprinted and everything. I pressed charges for no reason (his vandalizing the gate was him “opening” the gate). I applied for a restraining order for no reason. I was using the police and the courts against him because I’m so very mean and don’t want him to have his stuff. The farm’s ownership went to my brother “behind [his] back” and “in secret”. He still seems to think he has some sort of claim to the land itself, not just the stuff he claims is his. Lots of rambling about how he and my late brother did SO much to take care of the farm, and how he went to auctions and stuff to buy things that were stored on the farm because he didn’t have room out of the elements to start it, etc. My other siblings did nothing. It was just him and my late brother. And I’m mean for not letting him onto the property.

Then his witnesses came in, one at a time, and basically said the same thing. He did lots of stuff on the farm. He helped my dad a lot. He had lots of stuff on the farm. My dad wanted the farm to go to him. !!! He should be able to go onto the farm and take “his” stuff at any time. His wife even tried to make it sound like he brought his own tools over here and left them, if my father didn’t have a particular tool. Which is hilarious, because when we moved here, all the functional tools and supplies were gone.

Funny. Other than passing mentions, it was as if my mother, who actually owned the land when we moved here, didn’t exist.

The witnesses really didn’t make his case. But then, he doesn’t have one.

When I finally got to respond, it was pretty basic. I don’t claim ownership of the property or anything on it. It was my mother’s, and now it’s my brothers. He has submitted additional documentation that I wasn’t able to go over in full until later, but it didn’t add to his case. I submitted the Statement of Declaration, sign by myself, my brother and my mother, explaining why we moved out here and what my role here is – and that includes keeping things from disappearing. Because of some of the things he said, I included the transcript of a phone message he left with my brother that basically admitted he took all that stuff, and that he was going to keep suing us, even if it meant he had to sell his farm and be homeless. With lots of swearing. I also had a transcript of my dad leaving a message with my brother, shortly before he died, saying he wanted my brother to take over the farm.

My affidavit included an old email I’d sent back in 2018 to our vandal and my family where, among other things, I’d told him that if he could take stuff if he could provide proof of ownership. He never responded.

I also had the chance to say what he actually did to the gate, and that I had cameras because we found locks glued shut and the barn doors boarded up. I mentioned I have a disabled husband, and if we needed to suddenly go to the hospital, that would be a major issue. I also had the chance to mention I have no income; we live on my husband’s disability, so what does he think he can get from me?

There was lots more, of course. As expected, without someone there to keep him on a short leash, he stepped in it a few times. One of them was when he said I was using the police and courts against him and got away with it with a sob story that had the “judge wrapped around [my] fingers”. That was one moment where the judge’s poker face broke, ever so fleetingly.

Oh, one other time I think he stepped in it. He started rambling on about how this farm is apparently “worth a fortune”. And the house, too. Ha! The numbers he threw out wouldn’t even buy a “handyman’s special” house in the city. His own place, and all the stuff he’s got on it, is probably worth three times as much, if not more.

Also, apparently I have ruined him financially, because I pressed charges against him and riled a restraining order, and he had to pay a lawyer $4000. But he’s “financially ruined” because of me? Even on his pension, not to mention the golden handshake he got, he’s probably bringing in more than my husband’s disability payments, and if it isn’t, his wife’s job certainly is. But he was clearly very obsessed with the monetary value of this property, and that fact that I “control” it.

We used to be so close, years ago, but now his hatred of me is palpable. It’s remarkable.

What’s done is done, though. It’s now up to the judge. She will make her decision and we will get it in the mail within 30 days.

I am glad for that, as it means she’ll have a chance to go over all the documentation. Even after going over the stack of papers he submitted (and it was quite a stack, though mostly of photos), he still doesn’t have a case. It all comes down to the fact that 1) I don’t claim ownership over any of it and 2) he had plenty of opportunity to take his stuff, and he didn’t. It’s not like I gave him a time limit on that.

She explained at the end that if she rules in his favour, it would be for the $13,000 plus potentially the court costs, and did he want to include that? He asked what that meant, and it could be up to $500 more.

If she rules in my favour, she asked about court costs, and I said yes, too. So I might get awarded up to $500 if she rules in my favour.

It should be interesting to see what her ruling will say. Whichever direction she goes, if we don’t agree with it, we have up to 30 days to file an appeal.

*sigh*

I find myself wondering how it ever got to this point, but then I see how he still sees himself as a victim, taking no responsibility for the consequences of his own actions, and realize… it got here because for the first time in his life, someone actually stood up to him, and he can’t handle it. So he escalated it.

I think the judge could recognize that, though. We shall see.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: evening harvest

At the time this scheduled post is published, I should be on the road, headed to court. Because I have to leave so early, I won’t be able to do my usual stuff in the garden until later, but I wanted to have something positive to start the day with!

So here is an evening harvest to share in the morning. 😊

I was checking on the ground cherries while doing my evening rounds when I noticed one that had ripened since I checked them this morning.

I ate it.

Then I started weeding and found several others that had ripened enough to fall to the ground.

I brought those in for the family to taste test. 😁 I know they’ve had them before, since we grew them in a container in the city, but when the first of my daughters tried one, she sounded really surprised when she commented on how good it was. Looks like I’ll be fighting over them, as they ripen! 😂

There were a couple of Magda squash I could have grabbed, but I left the smaller one to get a bit bigger.

I picked the red onions because they were starting to fall over. Though they look the same, the bigger one is a Red of Florence onion, while the other, smaller one, is a Tropeana Lunga.

The yellow onion is from sets. Somehow, a few Black Nebula carrot seeds ended up around the onion, so I pulled all of them. The carrots were just wisps, so I tried pulling the biggest one I could reach, and… well… that’s what you see in the picture. Really long, really skinny.

The pale yellow carrot is an Uzbek Golden carrot that we got as a freebie. The two orange ones are napoli carrots using seeds left over from last year. I tried pulling a Kyoto Red, too, but it turned out to be really tiny. There are so few of them, I didn’t want to try another.

The shallot is one of the “spare” sets we planted in the retaining wall blocks of the old kitchen garden. Sadly, we lost most of the shallots in the bed by the chain link fence. Though the bed was raised a few inches when we added the bricks around it, it wasn’t enough at one end. There was just too much flooding this spring, and they rotted out. The ones planted in the retaining wall blocks aren’t doing much better, but that probably has more to do with cats rolling on them. The one I picked had lost most of its greens, so I decided to pick it before it started going soft. The other that was planted with it had lost all its greens and had gone mushy.

A nice little variety of things to try! Still lots of growing to do, though. 🥕🧅

The Re-Farmer

Scrap wood bench is done! Or… maybe not

This morning, I moved the painted scrap wood bench back to it’s spot under the white lilacs.

For all that the salvaged wood had damage to it, this is a VERY solid bench.

And heavy. Much heavier than it looks. I don’t know what kind of wood they are, but the true-to-size 2×4 board I used for the legs, plus the seat board, are dense and have a lot of weight to them. With care, this thing should last many years.

Once I set it in place and sat down on it, I gave the seat a good look. I think it could use one more coat of paint. There are cracks and old nail holes that I’d filled with paint, but once the paint dried, they’re not quite filled anymore. Especially that big crack you can see on the left. When I give the stairs a second coat of paint, I’ll go ahead and add another coat to the bench seat, too. There’s no reason not to.

This is an ideal spot for a bench. Nice and shady, but also open and airy. There have been many times since we’ve moved here, where I’ve been working in the heat of the day and wished for a nice cool place to sit for just a few minutes. We do have a few places to sit down, but they are all in full sun.

Over time, I hope to have seats and benches scattered all over the place. Nice little spots where one can take a break and enjoy a bit of shade on a hot day. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: mulching done! Mostly.

Here is the pile of grass clippings my daughters hauled over last night.

This is actually just what they raked up along the driveway, where it was thickest. There were other parts of the outer yard they hadn’t done, where the clippings were much thinner.

I didn’t even try using the bag on the lawn mower. I would have been stopping to empty it way too often. It is more efficient to just rake it up after.

It was enough to FINALLY finish mulching the squash patch! Just on the cardboard around the plants themselves, though. As I’m able, I will continue to mulch the paths in between, to keep the grass and weeds down.

There was enough left over to mulch all but one end of the summer squash bed. Since I had continued to mow around the main garden area yesterday evening, I didn’t have to go far to rake up more clippings to finish mulching the bed.

I was also able to thoroughly mulch around the Styrian hulless pumpkins, out by the trellises.

At this point, any other mulching that gets done is bonus. The Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins could use more mulch to fill in the spaces between the plants, and I also want to mulch more around the sweet corn and green beans, as well as the popcorn, if I can. I still have more scything to do, so I should have enough to get all of that done, too.

It has been a very rough year for most of the squash. They are a fraction of the size they should be. Finally getting them all mulched should help them at least a little bit! Whether or not there is enough growing season left for them – especially the winter squash – it still in the air. Some varieties should still have time but with others, I don’t expect anything at all anymore.

That’s not going to stop me from trying to help them along, though!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden

While most of our garden is behind, with a few outright fails, we do have a few things doing well.

So far, we have five Red Kuri squash developing, and I just pollinated a new female flower this morning. The plants themselves are doing well in this location, growing in the chimney block planters. I really hope we will have more of these, and that there it enough growing season left before first frost. We quite liked the ripe one we were able to taste test last year.

I’m really impressed with the ground cherries! I had my doubts that they would make it after transplanting, as this spot got so incredibly wet, but survive they did, and are now wonderfully robust. The first time we tried growing ground cherries, it was in a container on our balcony. It did well, but these are doing even better. There are so many fruits forming! While watering a couple of nights ago, I noticed something light coloured on the ground that turned out to be a fallen ground cherry that had ripened faster than all the others.

I ate it.

It was delicious.

My daughters are surprised I like these so much, as they are related to tomatoes. Whatever is in fresh tomatoes that makes me gag is not in ground cherries, I guess. I find they have such a wonderful sweet-tart flavour. I don’t think the rest of the family are big fans of them. That’s okay. More for me!

Part of the reason we chose this location is because I’ve read they self seed easily. I’ve even seen it on lists other gardeners have made for “things I regret growing” because they can almost be invasive.

I just don’t see that as being a problem. I would love it if we had more! And if they fill in this area, that’s okay, too.

In the background, you can see the kulli corn and the yellow bush beans. Both are doing very well in that new bed. The corn took quite a while to recover from being transplanted, so I’m very happy to see how well they are growing. No sign of silks or tassels yet, though.

The Yellow Pear tomatoes, on the other side of the corn, are also doing well. The plants are much taller and fuller than the ones in the main garden. Their fruiting is not as far along, though. Which makes sense, since they were started indoors at 4 weeks before last frost, while the ones in the main garden area were started 10 weeks before last frost.

Speaking of which…

While checking to see if any suckers needs to be pruned away, I noticed one of the Cup of Moldova plants seem to be falling over, even though it was staked. Looking closer, I found the clip had come loose – and had a tomato trying to grow into it! I tried to be careful about removing the clip, but the tomato fell off in the process. The plant is now once again secured to its stake.

As for the tomato, slightly wounded and deformed by the clip, I brought it inside. It should continue ripening.

The Cup of Moldova and Sophie’s Choice tomatoes are looking quite prolific! The Sophie’s Choice plants are much shorter and stockier. One of them is so short, there is no way for me to clip it to its stake. The stake is basically just there for the plant to lean on, but the bigger the tomatoes are getting, the more it’s leaning in the other direction.

Ah, well.

We are greatly anticipating being able to start processing tomatoes. Mostly, I want to make tomato paste, which takes a long time to cook down, so we will probably do crushed tomatoes, too. Pretty much the only thing we use other than tomato paste is crushed tomatoes in chili.

I’ll have to go over how to save tomato seeds again. It’s more complicated than with other seeds. My mother had always saved seeds from her tomatoes, but she just dried them. None of that letting them ferment in water, thing! 😄 It worked for her, but my mother always did have two green thumbs!

With our average first frost date being Sept. 10, we have just over a month of growing season left. There is still time for productivity! In the end, it all comes down to the weather.

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties

It is so fun to putter round the yard, and see kittens playing all over the place!

Some of the mamas are pretty ornery towards them, too. Especially Junk Pile, who just hissed at the cringing black and white kitten. It had jumped up into the kibble house and she did not like that at all!

Junk Pile looks like she’s pregnant again. Which might explain the orneriness, except she’s usually ornery at the best of times.

I’ve also seen the toms spending way too much time following Broccoli around.

This is a really bad time of year for any more kittens. It’s unlikely they would survive the winter. 😥

Junk Pile’s kittens are hanging out more often, along with their second mom. They made short work of the kibble on that tray!

After we’ve finished painting the stairs, that insulator water dish will be moved back beside them. I missed the shot, but that black and white kitten had been balancing on top of it, drinking water. It’s easier for them to reach while sitting on a step.

I haven’t yet looked to see if there are paw prints in the paint or not. 😁

The Re-Farmer

Stepping up

This morning, before giving the scrap wood bench a final coat of paint, I spent some time scrubbing the stairs in front of the storage house.

This is how they’ve been looking since before we moved here.

I just used water and a scrub brush on it. I discovered the surface, once wet, became green and slimy. It felt like an algae. Very strange.

After I finished painting the bench, I spent a few hours mowing the lawn. I focused on the areas I didn’t get to, the last time I was able to mow. I started with the outer yard, including the outside of the driveway gate, where I was finally able to mow the spaces I normally keep clear. The last – and until today, only! – time I mowed the driveway, I was only able to make a few passes on the sides, and that was it. Unfortunately, we’ve got lots of poplars spreading into the space, like crab grass. We can’t let those take hold. I’d love to find a way to kill off those roots, but as long as the mature poplars are nearby, they will keep sending them out.

Once that was done, I took a lunch break. The girls raked up the grass clippings for me – there was so much of it! – and hauled it to the garden. I’ll use it to continue mulching the squash patch, tomorrow.

Before I got back to mowing, I checked on the stairs.

They were fully dry and ready for painting.

I discovered how incredibly spoiled I was while working on the bench. It was resting on the saw horses, at the perfect height for painting.

Painting the stairs, however, was remarkably hard on the back!!!

First coat is done, though!

Wow, that’s bright.

Now we just have to hope the cats stay off of it until it’s dry!

I’m glad I had the paint to do these, though. The stairs were already starting to show signs of moisture damage and cracking.

I’m trying to remember how old these stairs are. To me, these are the “new” stairs. I know when the previous stairs were replaced, because one of the steps broke under me while I was stepping down on them. The bottom stairs were completely engulfed in weeds and likely had been like that for years. That bottom step was quite rotten, which was hidden by the weeds.

My goodness. That was the year we got our first minivan and made a road trip to the farm for Thanksgiving. It was the last time I saw my late brother before he died, which puts it at 2009.

These stairs are 12 or 13 years old. I’m not sure if they got replaced that fall, or the following spring.

I guess I can’t call them “new” stairs anymore! 😂

They have held up to neglect quite well!

Tomorrow, I’ll add another coat, and move the bench to its spot under the white lilacs.

I’ll also need to finish mowing the garden area. Yesterday, I’d scythes parts of it, which made it mow-able. With no more standing water at one end of the spruce grove, I finally got the space between the spruces and the crab apple trees mowed. I was really happy when mowing around the branch pile in particular. There is a thick, dense layer of moss growing under the grass. Just beautiful! I would happily have moss instead of grass for a lawn. With so much water this spring, the moss has actually spread, and I love it!

I worked my way from the outside, in, as the ground is less rough, and that way I could mow around the trellises early on, before fighting with the middle area.

For all that I know how rough the old garden area is from the last time it was plowed, it always surprises me when I actually try mowing in there. Just brutal. I finally got it to where there’s just a section of old garden area near where the squash and corn patch is before I finally just stopped for the night. I was too exhausted to fight with the uneven terrain.

I want to get the rest of the mowing done tomorrow (Sunday), though, as it is expected to be a relatively cool day. After that, we’re supposed to heat up again. However, I also have to do some preparation tomorrow. Monday is the court date for our vandal’s vexatious litigation against me; his retaliation for my filing a restraining order against him. It’s been more than a year, but with all the lockdowns, this is actually the first time a judge will finally see it.

I am expecting two possible results. One: the judge will see how ridiculous the whole thing is and throw it out. Our vandal has no case. Or two: the judge will want more time to go over the claims and set another trial date.

The things that I’m most unhappy with, however, is that my brother will not be there. He, as owner of the property, was supposed to be my witness. His job, however, has sent him to the States for a cyber security training course. Cyber security is a big part of his current job, and he really didn’t have any choice.

Which give another possible reason for the judge to set another trial date; my witness can’t attend.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, during the conference call “court” dates we have before, I heard our vandal saying he’d have as many as 5 witnesses. Witnesses to what, I don’t know. But it’s going to be me, alone, with him and his posse.

*sigh*

Ah, well. It will be what it is. I just pray we have a sane judge.

The Re-Farmer

2022 garden: morning in the garden

Just a little big of progress in the garden.

The sour cherry tree by the house has lots of ripe berries, ready to be picked. I’ll have to get the girls to do it, though. A ladder will be needed to reach the ripest ones at the top. This is the most cherries we’ve had since moving here.

We got a pretty decent amount of yellow bush beans this morning. Not enough to make it worth blanching and freezing, never mind canning, but enough for a couple of meals this time.

The purple pole beans are getting more pods, though they are still very thin. I saw the first of the green pole bean pods this morning – tiny wisps of pods! Still no sign of pods, or even flowers, on the red pole beans, while the shelling beans still have lots of flowers, but no pods that I can see.

We should be able to harvest the garlic from this bed pretty soon.

One of the Baby Pam pumpkins is starting to turn colour. This variety doesn’t get much bigger than this. From the looks of it, these are going to be the only winter squash we get out of this patch, other than maybe one kakai hulless seed pumpkin. Even the Teddy squash, which are a very small variety with only 55 days needed to maturity, will likely not get a chance to produce anything. The green zucchini still isn’t producing; they did have female flowers, but no male flowers bloomed at the same time to pollinate them. We do have some golden zucchini developing, though, and some Magda squash I should be able to pick in a few days. Maybe even a yellow pattypan squash or two.

The paste tomatoes, at least, are coming along nicely, with more of them starting to blush.

I was able to harvest more green onions from the high raised bed. Most of these will be dehydrated, and there are lots more I can harvest.

The handful of pea pods are almost all from the second planting. The first planting is, amazingly, still blooming!

Most of the onions seem to be growing well. Some of the red onions have very different shapes, and they are starting to be noticeable. I’m thinking of picking one or two for fresh eating, just to see how they taste.

The one surviving type of turnips are finally starting to have visible “shoulders”. We might actually be able to pick some, soon.

I don’t know what to make of the potatoes. They’re done blooming and we should be able to harvest young potatoes now, but I want to leave them as long as I can. The plants themselves are nowhere near as large as potato plants normally get. There was so much water in that area, I’m sure it stunted the growth of the ones that survived. I still might dig one plant up, of each variety, just to see what there is to see. Will the lack of foliage translate into a lack of potatoes, too? I was really hoping to have a good amount of potatoes to store for the winter. It certainly wouldn’t be enough to last the entire winter for the 4 of us, but it will help us decide if these are varieties we will get again or not.

Every time I’m in the garden, I’m thinking of next year’s garden. One thing is for sure. It is nowhere near big enough to meet our goal of providing sufficient amounts of food to last us until there is fresh produce again. We planted so much, with the expectation of losses, but this year the losses are just too great. Which has really surprised me. I did not expect to get less productivity this year, compared to last year’s drought. Mind you, during the drought, we were watering the garden beds every day, twice a day. This year… well, adding water is easy. Keeping water out is not. Still, even if everything had gone well, we would still probably need double the garden size to meet our long term goal. Short term is to have enough to supply our needs for at least 3 months – the hardest winter months, when we might find ourselves snowed in or the vehicles frozen.

Every year we garden, we figure things out a bit more, from what weather extremes we need to work around, to how much of anything we need to grow, to what we like enough to grow year after year. More me, half the enjoyment of gardening is analysing the results and using that information to make decisions for the next year!

That’s one good thing about having hard gardening years. You do learn more from it, than from years were everything goes smoothly.

The Re-Farmer

Now and then

While putting about the yard and doing my evening rounds, I was seeing more kittens closer to the house.

In early July, we found this little guy, cold, wet and alone in the yard. He was reunited with his mother, and then we didn’t see him for many weeks.

Now he comes to the kibble house on his own!

So handsome! And so densely fluffy looking!

The kitten in the background is, I believe, from the same litter that has been hanging around the house for some time, sibling to the calico that preferred to hang out with the bitty kitties. Either that, or it’s a new kitten from a completely different litter.

I saw the tuxedo that is sibling to the black and white but couldn’t get a picture. He kept running behind things and hiding from me.

The important thing is, kittens are getting to know where they can find reliable food, even if their mothers aren’t comfortable being around us. In fact, I think I may have seen a completely new little tabby with more caramel colour to its fur.

By winter, we should finally have an idea of just how many yard cats we now have!

The Re-Farmer