Happy Mother’s Day!

My darling daughters have treated me to Chinese food today!

They got enough to last us a couple of days, at least! We can’t order often, so when we do, we order a lot!

The Chinese restaurant we order from is right next to the lake, which is still covered with ice. What a refreshing breeze coming off the lake! Here, we are at 24C/75F, and tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. So I really, really appreciate that we don’t need to do any cooking for a couple of days!

There is only one downside for today. I had some friends let me know that the thief that stole my personal Facebook account is at it again. The first scam they tried was to give away a PS5 in revenge for a cheating boyfriend. Today, they used the same pictures, but claimed it was meant for “my” newly deceased son. Of course, I have no son, and most people on my friends list would know that. But some whom I only know online through mutual interests might not. The first friend that let me know about it reported my old account as hacked (again!), and left a comment telling people my account was hacked and recommending unfriending me from that account. Since then, I’ve had another friend let me know about the scam post, which was at least flagged as false information by FB, but there’s nothing to show that there are any comments, so the first friend’s comment likely got removed, and I imagine she’s been blocked as well.

Some people are just slime.

But, I will not let that ruin my mother’s day!

Excuse me while I enjoy some delicious Chinese food!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: transplanting shallots

We’re in that time when we can start transplanting things that can handle frost which, for us, is the onions and shallots. I started hardening them off earlier than the other transplants. It’s going to be very hard to resist transplanting more before our last frost date! Not only are we having a very warm May (today was supposed to reach a high of 18C/65F, but as I write this, at almost 6:30pm, we’re still at 20C/68F), but the long range forecast is showing warmer overnight temperatures well above frost risk. The problem is, long range forecasts are notoriously unreliable!

So, we continue to take it slow and continue to harden off the transplants. There is still lots to do to make room to plant not only all the transplants, but all the direct sowing we have planned, too.

This tiny little bed in the old kitchen garden is where the shallots are going, because we have the fewest of those. This is a new variety of shallots, and the first to actually really survive to the transplant stage.

Keeping the cats out of the living room made a bit difference!

I planted fairly densely, but there were still a few plants left. After taking this picture, the bed got a thorough watering. We will have to add a mulch as soon as the transplants are strong enough.

The last little transplants went into one end of the wattle weave bed. It has a thick layer of wood chips on the top that I had to move aside to reach the soil. Protected by the wood chips, the soil was nice and damp!

So those are now in.

I foresee only one problem.

The cats have gotten used to using the garden beds for napping and playing!

I’m hoping to avoid having to cover the beds, but we might not have a choice. For now, they have no interest in the wet ground.

In other things, I went through our collection of feed bags, and had more than I thought. We’ve got 11 bird seed bags (20kg size) and 8 deer feed bags (18kg size). More than enough for the remaining potatoes. The only difference between the bags, besides the label, is that the bird seed bags are longer.

I’m still not sure where to set them up. The best place I can think of is at the far side of the main garden area, but I really don’t want to be hauling garden soil that far, if I can avoid it! Ah, well.

I can use the exercise.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: Irish Cobbler potatoes planted

The girls and I are still trying to figure out the best place to set up grow bags for the potatoes, where they would get full sun, but also be closer to the house for watering. We don’t have a lot of the old feed bags left to use as grow bags, so we decided to use one of the Old Kitchen Garden beds that was recently fixed up.

The bed still needed topping up, so I started by adding some of the sheep manure I recently purchased. I didn’t add a lot, as this bed was filled with purchased garden soil, and it should still be pretty rich in nutrients. What’s missing is organic matter. This is a blend of compost and composted manure, so that will help a bit. This got worked in with a rake.

Also… do you see that bit of green poking out of the wattle weave bed?

It’s a stray onion!

I have no idea where that onion came from. This bed had never had onions planted in it.

I’m not going to complain, though!

Next, it was time to raid the garden soil pile and do some soil sifting.

Three wheelbarrow loads of the garden soil was brought over. The weeds are already starting to grow under the cover on that pile!

Some of the Irish Cobbler seed potatoes were very small, so to fit them all in the bed, I put some of the smaller ones together. Then they got buried as deep as I could, so they don’t need to be hilled.

As this area slopes away from the house, the far end of the bed is somewhat deeper than the end closer to the house, to level it off. Still, with this bed being newly rebuilt, and the layers of organic matter below, the top layer of soil still isn’t very deep.

Once the potatoes were planted, I scattered some stove pellets over the top, then began watering. Once the pellets had expanded into sawdust, I used a rake to spread it out evenly. This is not at all for the potatoes, but to protect the soil and help reduce soil compaction. Over time, we will continue to add grass clippings and wood chips as mulch. The potatoes will easily be able to grow through a mulch. With this bed being higher now, and not using straw for a mulch, hopefully, that will reduce the slug problems!

After spreading out the sawdust, I gave it a deep watering, and plan to water it again a couple more times, today. I want the water to go through all those bottom layers that were added, which will speed up their anaerobic breakdown, while also acting as a sponge to retain moisture. Once those bottom layers are good and moist, this bed should not need much watering at all.

Now comes the hard part.

Keeping the cats from digging in the bed!

The Re-Farmer

Finally done!

I put together a video of the work I did yesterday. No audio, so I wanted to add music to it today.

I spent so much time trying to find public domain music that fit the mood I wanted. Then my daughter came in and helped me pick music that was already in the software I’m using, in a matter of minutes.

She’s now interested in making videos. I have no doubt she would do a better job than me! So at some point, you might start seeing better quality videos getting posted.

For now, this is what I got done yesterday.

We settled on this location for the new Liberty apple tree for several reasons. The main one is, it is a zone 4 tree, which means it will need more protection in the winter. Where I was thinking of planting it originally is far more exposed, and will remain so until the silver buffalo berry reaches maturity.

Here, it will get full sun, but also be sheltered from the north by the lilacs. It also needs another variety of apple tree for pollination. While I took down the one crab apple tree, there are the ornamental crab apples in the old kitchen garden, plus another crab apple tree, though we’ll see how well that one does. It will likely be taken down, eventually.

The little plum trees were also removed; we’ll see how the larger ones do this year. These are not edible plums, though my father did use them for wine making sometimes. They have almost no flesh around their pits.

If all goes well, we’ll start having apples to harvest in a few years. The new apple tree can reach a mature height of 18-20, so if we do plant any other fruit trees here, we will need to keep that in mind. If we do end up taking out the one crab apple, and possibly the remaining inedible plums, I figure we have room for one more fruit tree here.

My parents planted so many things in this little area over the years; I remember there being mountain ash (there are none left at all now), a pear tree, other crab apple trees, plus I thinned out caragana and lilac. Oh, and there’s the big linden tree at one end, now. It’s one of the few things that is doing well! I’m sure there were other things that came and went in the 30 or so years I’ve been away.

Now that I’ve cleared as much as I have, the lilacs will hopefully grow better. When I first cleared the area of dead stuff back in 2018, I found most of the lilacs had stretched to very unusual heights. They had leaves pretty much only at the top, as they struggled to get sunlight. They are recovering, but still a lot lankier than lilacs normally would be.

The main thing, though, is that the new apple tree and the tulips have that barrier around them. It’s small enough that I hope no deer will consider it worth trying to jump it. Over time, we will add things to the wire to blow, flash and make noise in the wind.

One thing I noticed only after watching the time lapse video I took.

I had a LOT of cats running around while I worked!

The Re-Farmer

Bad pain day

I didn’t overdo it yesterday. Honest. I have done far more physical labour than I did yesterday, without much problem.

So why am I hurting so much today?

It’s not muscle pain, either. It’s my joints. My knees are a mess… well… more of a mess than usual… but worst of all are my finger joints. They had been getting better, but are much worse again.

Makes it rather hard to type, that’s for sure.

I got the girls to feed the cats this morning, but did eventually get outside to switch out the trail cam memory cards, check the planted garden beds, do a bit of watering. Even that was difficult.

So today is going to be a pain killer and recovery day. I’ve got some computer stuff to work on, like another time lapse video to put together.

I’m also still trying to recover my personal Facebook account that got stolen. I got zero progress on that. However, I am still getting emails from Instagram, which is linked to that account. When I got one last night, I decided to check it out.

Of course, I couldn’t log in and following the links from the email resulted in error messages. However, since my personal email address was still attached to this account, I was able to recover the account and change the password.

So now, at least, I have my Instagram account. Not that I was using it, but it’s something!

If only recovering my original account were that easy. It just blows me away how useless Facebook support is for this.

On the plus side, it seems all my friends that have been also reporting the account, and the posts being made selling crazy stuff, calling the account out as hacked and even playing games and stringing along the thief, apparently there is no longer any activity coming out of my original account anymore. Hopefully, it will stay that way!


Time to pain killer up and ingest some sustenance.

The Re-Farmer

Brothers, and some progress

It’s not often I’m able to get these two brothers in one shot so well!

We’ve got Gooby, with one gooby eye, then Adam and Driver. Gosh, those two look alike! When the girls named them, the patterns in their fur hadn’t finished growing out, and they were really hard to tell apart. It’s easier now, only because Adam has enough white fur to not be a tuxedo.

Then there are the two white and greys in the picture. They are among the unnamed ones, because we can’t tell them apart well enough to give them any! In the morning light, the one next to Gooby looks like it has an orange ear, but nope. It’s grey fur.

I got a decent amount of progress this morning. I started taking the transplants out to harden them off. The onions are still out right now, as they’ve been taken out for a while now, but the others were just for an hour. We weren’t able to make a dedicated surface for them, so the trays got laid out wherever I could find stable space. The laundry platform was covered and, with a couple of boards to support one side, others were put on the kibble house roof. The angle of the roof is pretty steep, so the cats don’t usually go on it.

The smallest trays went onto the shelf shelter by the sun room door. Only the more recent seed starts stayed inside – and I can see one Lady Godiva hulless pumpkin working on germinating!

Alas, while I was bringing things out, one of the white and greys went into the sun room and jumped up on the table, knocking things about, including the mini tray with the Classic Eggplant. Those were already struggling, and it looked like only one was surviving, and now even that one has been damaged. So frustrating! But we have so many things to grow this year, the loss will not be a problem, and we still have the Little Finger eggplant seedlings.

The good thing about starting to harden off the transplants is that it allowed me to arrange the trays more efficiently in the sun room when bringing them back.

Once they were back inside, I started the next big job, which I’ll be making another video of. The area around my daughter’s tulips has had the chicken wire fencing removed, the dead, dying and non-productive trees removed, and the new apple tree has been transplanted. I planted it closer to the lilacs, which will shelter and protect it from the north, while it will also get full sun – and be close enough to the ornamental apple trees for the cross pollination it needs for better production. Of course, it’ll be a few years before we get any apples from it!

By then, it was 22C/72F (as I write this, we’ve reached our predicted high of 23C/74F), and way too hot to keep working outside. Later on, the girls will clean up the branch pile for me, and we have to figure out how to put the fence wire back up, to protect the tulips and new apple tree from the deer. The wire had been held in place by the trees and stumps that I removed, so we’ll need to set up posts. We do have wooden fence posts, but they are being used to keep things from blowing away right now. There are also T posts we’ve found, but I have other plans for those. It’s not like we’re putting up permanent fencing, here, so that gives us some flexibility on what we can use. We’ll figure it out.

For now, though, we’re staying in the cooler indoors – even the sun room feels cooler than outside right now! – and staying hydrated, until it’s time to make a dump run and pick up a package at the post office. Things are supposed to start cooling down by then, so we can continue working around the tulips when we get back.

My daughter and I were also talking about the mulberry trees. Because they are so tiny, they should probably be kept in pots until next year, but we’re pretty terrible at keeping trees alive inside. The question is, would we be any better at keeping them alive outside?

Meanwhile, we need to get those potatoes planted soon!

Lots of work to do. The problem, aside from the heat we’re not used to yet, is that we’re all pretty broken, and can only work in short spurts to avoid hurting ourselves more, and rendering ourselves useless for days. Frustrating.

Well, we do what we can and adjust!

Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Quick morning update

Check out the fur babies!

There was a milling crowd at the door when I came out with the kibble! I counted 20 this morning. Lots of hungry babies!

Yes, I consider them all babies. Including the old timers! 😄

We had a thunderstorm roll through at about 2am last night. I actually slept through it! My older daughter was up working, though, so after it ended, she went out and checked for any damage. Everything looked okay, thankfully.

While I did my rounds this morning, I spotted these.

Some of the tulips have flower buds!

Where my mother lives, just a 20 minute drive away, people have tulips that are already blooming, but we’re not quite there, yet!

It’s so nice to finally see things leafing out, too. Some of the silver buffalo berry have leaves showing, but their silvery colour makes them hard to see! Most other things just have leaf buds getting bigger, but not opening yet. With the rain we got, plus more in the forecast, things should start getting green soon.

I won’t be getting much work done outside today, though; I’m heading to my mother’s to help with errands. By the time I get back, we’ll be expecting more storms. We’ll see how things work out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: peas are in!

Our peas are finally in! They could have been planted as soon as the ground could be worked, which was a couple of weeks ago.

This row is about 20 feet long. We could succession sow peas elsewhere, but I think that this might actually be enough. Assuming a high germination rate, of course.

I really like fresh peas, though, so if we have the space to grow more elsewhere – together with some corn, perhaps – they certainly won’t go to waste!

The Re-Farmer

For an unknown cat

Well, it’s done.

It took me a while to figure out where to start digging. I wanted to bury our stranger someplace with no chance of traffic. I decided on the end of the flower bed by the vehicle gate, near one of my mother’s specialty lilacs. There’s a tree stump near there, which we plan to convert into a seat.

I couldn’t dig too deep, as I was hitting tree roots and rocks pretty quickly, so I found a board I could put on top. Mostly, to prevent critters from digging things up.

Once the grave was dug, I went and got our stranger, and was able to use the garden fork to lift him out of the old dog house. It’s the first time I had a good look at him. Gosh, he was a beautiful cat. I wish we could have taken care of him.

Well, giving him a pretty resting place is the best we can do. Once the board was in place, I raided the rock pile for some stones to weigh it down. Soon, this area will have my mother’s tall, yellow flowers growing around it, and the lilac leafing out and blooming above it. Hopefully, fairly soon, we’ll also have a pleasant seat on that stump for when we want to enjoy a nice little sit-down.

Good bye, beautiful stranger.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 Garden: progress, frustration, and a sad find

First, the progress.

I just spent about two hours, working on this bed.

Last year, we had tomatoes against the fence, carrots down the middle, and onions along the bricks in the foreground to about half way, then shallots the rest of the way.

The shallots got drowned, as did most of the carrots at that end. At this time last year, the vehicle gate at the far end of the photo was full of water. While the slightly raised bed meant the surface was above water, it was still too wet for the plant roots.

I set up the tripod and my “spare” cell phone to do a time lapse video of getting this bed ready, which leads me to the frustrating part. When I finished and went to get it off the tripod, I found it was shut down. Low battery. I was curious to find out when it died. I did pause the time lapse part way through, while I went to get something.

I should have stopped the recording instead of pausing it. Then I would at least have had something!

I’ve uploaded the file, but it’s been corrupted by the battery dying. I can’t view the file. Almost 2 hours, inaccessible.

That’s what I get for starting at 73%!

Yeah, it’s charging now.

What I ended up doing was removing the wire “fence” and the dried grass mulch. Then it got loosened with a garden fork before I went back over it by hand, pulling out as many roots and rhizomes as I could. Surprisingly, I kept finding onions! Most of them were even starting to grow. I even found a single shallot that I’d left because it had gone to seed. The seed head was never able to fully mature, but the bulb was still looking viable!

Once I’d cleared the weeds and roots out (including roots from the nearby lilac and elms), the soil got raked back into place, with many pauses to pull out more weeds that got missed. Then I replaced the wire “fence”, planted the onions in the foreground, along the bricks, the single shallot at the opposite end, raked the path clear of grass mulch, weeds and roots. The last step was to water the bed, including the onions and shallot, and pressure spraying the bricks and the boards along the chain link clear of soil.

After I’ve taken a break, I’ll go back to plant peas along the fence. Since the peas will eventually shade anything planted in the rest of the bed, I’m thinking this might be a good place to try planting some of the lettuces we have found ourselves with, since they can also be planted before last frost.

Finally, there’s the sad find.

Before I started working on the bed and was setting up, I decided to check the old dog houses set up near the outhouse, in the off chance one of the cats decided to have their kittens in one of them. The first one I checked, I basically stuck my phone into the opening and took a flash picture, since I can’t actually see all the way to the back.

The entrance to the other old dog house faces the other way, and when I went around to look inside, I was started to find an orange cat lying in the opening, with its head right in the entry.

It was clearly dead for some time.

At first, I thought it was Rolando Moon. We haven’t seen her in a while, and she’s an old cat, but then I realized this cat had longer fur. We’d spotted a long haired orange cat a couple of times – once when my daughter ran out to break up a cat fight. Since then, I’ve found a whole lot of long orange cat fur around the van in the garage, so clearly this cat was being given a hard time by Shop Towel (aka: Sad Face). I actually looked around and under the van to see if I would find an injured cat, there was that much fur. No blood trails, though.

Well, it now looks like the cat found its way into the shelter of one of the old dog houses and succumbed to its injuries.


We didn’t know this cat and have no idea where it came from, but I still feel sad that it came here, only to end up dying. At least the ground isn’t frozen anymore, so we’ll be able to bury it.


I really wish Shop Towel wasn’t so aggressive with the other toms. We have a lot of males reaching adulthood right now. Hopefully, he won’t start going after them, too! I’ve been seeing him around for the last few days. He looks in rough shape, so he’s not getting out of these battles unscathed, but still not as rough as The Distinguished Guest – someone else we haven’t seen in a while.

Taking care of the colony is a joy, but it does have its sad times, like today.


The Re-Farmer