Wet morning kitties

Well, I got quite a lot of walking done this morning, checking road conditions out. It was also another late night, partly to keep checking the old basement and sweeping the water into the floor drain and to the sump pump, partly because… well. I’m a suck for the kitties. I noticed Broccoli had been using the shelf shelter just outside the sun room, because every time I came through the door, she (and sometimes several other cats) would explode out of there and run off. She has been so bedraggled, and is still very pregnant, I wanted to do something to help keep her warm and dry. So I stole some of my husband’s yarn (my own stash doesn’t have much plain yarn in it) and crocheted a bed for her. I used 4 strands on my hook, to make it night and thick, and the base is a double thick, with low sides. So newborn kittens can’t accidentally roll out of it if she decides to give birth in it. By the time I was done and went out to put it in the shelf shelter (I neglected to take pictures), it was about 2 am.

Alas, when I came out this morning, a couple of pieces of the rigid insulation used to create the shelf shelter was on the ground. Since I made the openings narrower, when the cats get startled and run out, they’re more likely to bash into the sides now, and it looked like they finally knocked some pieces off. With the shelf shelter so open, there were no cats using it at all.

After putting out food and warm water, I took the time to fix the shelf shelter and, hopefully, made it more secure.

Broccoli wouldn’t let me get her in any of the pictures I took this morning! Junk Pile didn’t even come out, staying with her kittens in the cats’ house. The cat you see at the entry is her baby from last year, that looks so much like her.

After feeding the critters and switching out the memory cards, I went on to check the road conditions – more on that in another post. I was also able to check areas we haven’t been able to access for a while. More snow has melted away in the rain, but the standing water in the inner and outer yards has actually receded in most places.

One of the areas I checked out was the shed where my parents’ belongings are stored. There are several abandoned cars near is, one of which has a window that’s partly open. As I got closer, two cats exploded out of the window and ran off.

I could see another cat – I’m not sure if it’s Nutmeg or Toesentcrantz, but considering it didn’t run off, I’m guessing Nutmeg – watching me from the back window.

Then I saw Broccoli climb up onto the front seat!

So there were at least 4 cats in that car. I saw The Distinguished Guest sitting on the trunk of another one, so maybe he was in there, too, and I just didn’t see him leave. The car must be nice and toasty on days like today. I’m glad they are able to use it.

Once we’re finally able to get a scrap dealer to haul away all the junk cars, we’ll have to make sure there are alternative shelters available for the cats! No chance of that happening until our vandal’s civil suit against us is done. As you can see by the spray paint on the windshield, this car is one of the things he tagged and thinks he’s entitled to. Or at least entitled to $10,000 from me for it, and all the other junk he’s claiming are his. So for now, the cats can enjoy the shelter!

This area has a lot of burdock growing around it. I saw Potato Beetle in the area, too. This would explain all the burrs stuck in his tail!

Oh, I see my video uploads have just finished. I’ll include those in my next post!

The Re-Farmer

Snagged some kitties and, can you see them?

This morning, my morning rounds included snagging outside cats.

Not these ones.

The heat bulb inside the cat’s house is clearly working!

Nosencrantz was easy. When I go to fill the kibble tray under the shrine, she always goes to eat there, instead of the kibble house. The tray is there because Rosencrantz had Nosencrantz and Tosencrantz in the junk pile on the other side of the fence. We wanted to make sure they got some food and didn’t have to push their way through other cats at the kibble house to get food there. Nosencrantz still prefers to eat at her own personal kibble tray. 🙂

Butterscotch often joins her there, but not this morning.

She’s in the corner, on the left. After I finished with the food and water, she wasn’t there anymore. I finally found her eating at the kibble tray on the outside of the kibble house.

She is why we had to make sure to snag them early in the day. Nosencrantz hangs around but, after breakfast, Butterscotch will take off and we might not see her again until the next morning.

When I picked her up, she was pretty good with that and enjoyed her ear skritches.

Then I started walking to the sun room.

Oh, she did not like that!

I managed to hang on to her and get her inside, but she immediately started trying to get out. Nosencrantz was already settled and eating, but Butterscotch started jumping up the door to reach the window. I had both outer doors closed, and we’ll have to be careful to keep them that way. When we turned the sun room into a maternity ward a couple of years ago, bringing a very pregnant Beep Beep and Butterscotch in to have their kittens where we could socialize them, we still had the old, broken storm door on there. It had a screened window that couldn’t be closed. No matter how many times we patched that screen up, she would tear her way through.

I’m sure she remembers being able to get through the closed door.

I left them be while I finished my rounds, making sure to message my family that they were there, and Butterscotch wasn’t happy. My husband came in to visit with them for a bit, where he found Butterscotch somewhat settled on a pillow. He was able to pet Nosencrantz, but that was it.

When I got back, she was prowling around. She even was standing on her hind legs, looking at the highest shelves we stuffed with gardening supplies, trying to see if she could jump up there.

We will need to check on them a few times and make sure they are doing well and getting along, then to take away the food and water bowls when it’s time for them to fast.

We have 2 carriers to bring them to the vet tomorrow morning. We’ll have to make sure Butterscotch goes into the hard sided one, because she’ll be able to tear her way out of the soft sided one. Thank you again, M, for gifting the kitties with that hard side carrier!

After finishing my rounds, I went through the trail cam files and was very amused by some files on the sign cam – aside from many files of the roads being cleared. They broke out the big plow, that’s higher off the ground and has a MUCH bigger front plow attachment. The snow was too deep to see clearly, but I’m sure the side plow attachment was quite a bit bigger, too. Beautiful machine!

The deer much prefer to use the nice, clear roads to move around!

I just had to put in the arrow to show where the second deer is. This is the mother and her little one we see outside our living room window all the time. Her little one is almost fully grown now, but still small enough that only it’s ears showed above the snow piled up on the sides of the road!!

The date and time on about half the files from this camera were completely wrong. It got so cold, the batteries “died” enough that the camera reset itself to the default time and date. When it warmed up enough that the batteries started working again, all the files after that started from midnight, Jan 1, 2020. LOL There were also a lot of black files, because there wasn’t enough power for the infrared flash.

It’s supposed to stay warm enough over the next while, that this should not be a problem.

I just got a phone call while I was writing this. The vet clinic was confirming tomorrow’s appointment for Butterscotch and Nosencrantz. Drop off time is 8:20, and no food after 8pm tonight. She did say water was okay. I double checked, because the cat lady had said no food or water. Which is good. I won’t want to be fussing with the heated water bowl, if I don’t have to.

We will be in touch with the cat lady tonight; she was planning to call us to follow up on these two. I look forward to hearing how Cabbages is doing, too. The fact that we haven’t heard from her means that Cabbages has not taken a turn for the worse, at least.

If you would like to read more about Cabbages and our fundraiser to surprise-reimburse her for vet expenses, click here. Or, you can go straight to the fundraiser page here.

Today’s focus will be to keep an eye on Butterscotch in particular, and try and keep her calm.

The last time we tried to bring her indoors was when we set her and Beep Beep up in the basement to have their kittens. When we had no choice was to send her back outside, with Beep Beep adopting her last, surviving kitten, it took months before Butterscotch would let us come near her again. I expect, after she is recovered and we can let her out again, it will be at least that long before she trusts us enough to pet her again. But it will be worth it. I get the impression she is so done with the whole “mother” thing! I’m sure she’ll forgive us. 😉

Eventually.

The Re-Farmer

Unshielded

Doing the morning rounds is much more pleasant! We’re at a mild (relatively speaking) -15C/5F right now, though the wind chill of -21C/-6F made it a bit nippy. The wind was coming from the south, so it’s basically funnelling between outbuildings.

Not that it stopped the cats, any!

I counted a total of 17 this morning.

I’m happy to confirm – now that there so no longer frost on the windows – that the cats are using their house. Yesterday, I’d seen about five faces watching me from the main window. This morning, however, I saw something different in front of the window.

Something shiny.

It was the disposable aluminum pan that we had mounted above the fixture holding the heat bulb. The cats had somehow knocked it down!

I had been wondering for a while now, if the heat bulb was still working.

It is.

You can see that cats have been sitting on the warm spot above it!

That spot is there, even with the heat shield in place. At least it is, if it isn’t so cold out, the bulb can’t make a difference to the outside.

I am not too concerned about the shield being down; it was more an extra layer of protection, and to reflect heat back downwards to the cats. Like the smoke detector we also installed in there, it’s more just that one extra “just in case” bit. The bulb itself has a limited heat range, and the fixture has a steel “cage” to protect the bulb itself. The girls and I will still go out and fix it. In the summer, I could do it myself, thanks to the counterweight making it easier to lift the roof, and keeping it from dropping down again. This time of year, it’s a 3 person job; two to carefully lift the roof and hold it open, since the snow prevents it from being opened completely, and one to climb in and put the shield back.

Until then, it remains unshielded.

In the summer, we’re going to have to give this a thorough check and repair. It’s getting old, and when we lift the heavy roof, I can feel it twisting and cracking. The down side of the heat bulb is, it’s very dry in there, and I found the wood of the frame, at one of the roof hinges, has already split. It’s been screwed together again, but that was just a stop gap measure until we can work on it later. Once we do as many repairs as we can, I want to at least give it a new paint job on the outside. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to replace the shingles. They’re getting a bit beat up and worn out.

I’m so thankful to my brother for giving us their old dog house. He really went all out, with all the windows, as “porch”, the power outlets inside, the light fixture, and so on. The cats just love it, and it may well have saved a few lives. Farm cats tend to have short life spans, but at least we can keep the cold from getting them!

The Re-Farmer

Well, it was bound to happen some time!

While heading out to do the food and water for the kitties outside, I discovered the heated water bowl.

Frozen solid.

A quick glance through the entry, and I found the cord wasn’t just knocked loose from the outlet, but the hook I put in to hold the cord and keep the cats from knocking the plug loose.

Which meant I needed to lift the roof.

*sigh*

At least it happened on a warmer day, and not when we had our deep freezes!

I could take the weight of the snow off, easily enough, but there’s nothing I could do about the ice. The roof was much heavier to lift, because of it. For me to lift the weight is not the issue. The problem is that, as I lift it, I can hear the dry old wood the roof is made up, creaking and cracking. Thank God we found a way to put on a counterweight. The beam it’s attached to runs the length of the roof, so it takes a lot of that strain off.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to shovel under the counterweight after moving the milk crates that support it. The roof was just barely open enough for the centre of balance to keep it from dropping right back down again.

As you can imagine, I got that heated water bowl plugged in as quickly as I could!

Then the snow had to cleared to the ground, so I could put the crates back under. The brick is tied off so that the crates support it’s full weight, without having to lift it more than the few millimeters needed to clear the outer edges of the crate. Any higher, and the entire block needs to basically be picked up.

The heated water bowl was half filled with ice, so I didn’t even try to get it out. Any attempt to knock the ice out would shatter the frozen plastic, so I just topped it up with warm water.

We had some very thirsty kitties!

They do all seem to prefer drinking from the old frying pans we’ve repurposed as water bowls. One is steel. I think the other two are aluminum.

The aesthetics of using old pans for their food and water may leave much to be desired, but they work a lot better than anything else we’ve tried, except for the heated water bowl.

After finishing up from putting out bird and deer feed, I heard a strange scrambling noise.

Nostrildamus had clambered up the side of the kibble house, and was playing with the string! 😀

The good thing is, with the layer of snow on top now, the string is no longer needed to hold the tarp in place. Funnily enough, the tarp is there to protect the roof from snow until we can paint it. 😀

It wasn’t until I uploaded the picture that I noticed there was a spice boy in the kibble house, glaring at me. 😀

The girls and I have talked about the state of the cat shelter. In the summer, we will have to look at how we can reinforce the roof and attach a handle of some sort, to lift it from the side instead of grabbing it under the the edge at the top. Along with replacing a few more damaged pieces, maybe redoing the roof (I found a box of leftover shingles in one of the sheds) we should be able to keep it usable for many years.

The Re-Farmer

Just a bit of snow…

Our first blizzard of the season has passed us by. The weather system is still going, though. On the weather radar, I can see that a swath of the US, Ontario and Quebec are being hit as the storm makes its way to the East coast.

As I write this, we are at -22C/-7.6F, with a wind chill of -36C/-32.8F (I usually round the Fahrenheit down, but decided to include the decimals today. 😀 ) Our high of the day is supposed to reach -19C/-2.2F with a wind chill of -30C/-22F Tomorrow is supposed to be a couple of degrees colder.

Then on Christmas day, we’re supposed to reach a high of -9C/15.8F with a wind chill of -14C/6.8F We’ll have these mild temperatures for a couple of days, then it’s supposed to drop around the -20C’s for a couple of days, before going back to mild temperatures in time for the new year.

It’s going to feel like spring.

The girls did some shoveling yesterday, so things wouldn’t accumulate too much as it continued to snow.

I was seeing this on the live feed from the security camera last night.

The storm came in from the west, but it was swirling so much, the winds in the image are actually coming from the east!

When one of my daughters had to take the bag of cat litter they cleaned out last night to the bin we have for it outside, she had to push the door open through a snow drift.

You can see signs of that, below.

This is how it was this morning.

You can almost see the path the girls shoveled down the sidewalk! 😀

They also shoveled in front of the cat shelters.

Do you see those icicles hanging from the cat house roof? You know what that means?

It’s warm in there! Warm enough to melt the snow from underneath.

I’m so glad that aquarium bulb is working out as a heater! It’s not enough to warm it up too much, either; too warm, and it will affect their ability to acclimatize to the winter and put them more at risk from the cold.

Some snow did get into the kibble house, unfortunately. We’ll have to clean that out later, when we’re doing more shoveling. This morning, I just did the minimum I needed to do to feed the critters.

The other water bowls were completely buried, but the heated water bowl was doing just fine!

You can see tracks in the background, between the two shelters. Those led to the storage house, so we know that some cats are still sheltering under there, too.

Once I cleared enough snow to give the cats fresh food and water, I continued clearing a path to the feeding station, where the smaller bird feeder is hanging. That will do for now. Eventually, we will need to dig paths to the compost pile, down the sidewalk and to the electricity meter, and to the garage. The girls had cleared all three doors of the garage, including where the snow blower is stored. I can see on the security camera that it isn’t completely filled it again. 😀

I was going to take pictures of the shoveling I did this morning, but I just wanted to get back inside! Plus, my glasses were frosted over and I couldn’t see. 😀

Aside from the paths, we will need to clear the driveway to the road, of course, but we will also need to clear into the yard, for when we need to drive up to the house. That has to include space for a turning radius. Plus, we will need to make paths around the house, so we can reach the septic tank, if needed, and it would be good to have a path to the fire pit, too. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take the big snow blower in to see why it won’t start and get it fixed. So all we’ve got is the little electric one. We do also have an “electric shovel” that my dad used to use. We used it our first winter here. So we won’t have to do all of it by hand, at least!

All that clearing does not have to be done right away. We are well stocked and don’t have to go anywhere, so it can wait until it warms up a bit.

The last couple of winters, our first blizzards were in October, so this one was very late in the season. It may be a lot more snow than we’ve had so far, but it’s actually not too bad. We still only got hit by the edges of the storm. The more severe parts of the storm moved across the Canada/US border, so the south of the provinces all got hit a lot harder. We are doing pretty good where we are. I’m also happy to have more snow in general. Having this stored water will be essential in the spring, for gardens and fields. Lots of snow with a nice, gradual spring melt, would be ideal conditions for planting in the spring, whether it’s farmers’ crops or garden beds. Our first two summers here were drought conditions. Last year, we had a wet spring, followed by a hot, dry summer, and that wet spring was enough to keep crops going through the heat later on.

We shall see what the rest of the season brings us. I’ve seen predictions for both severe cold and mild temperatures for this winter. So far, it’s looking like the mild prediction is the one that’s panning out.

Until then, we’ll enjoy our Christmas while snowed in, all warm and cozy!

Including the outside kitties. 🙂 Relatively speaking!

I hope anyone reading this that got hit by this storm, too, is also safe, warm and well!

The Re-Farmer

It’s working!

There was a light snow overnight, and while I was out doing my morning rounds.

I noticed this, on the roof of the cat shelter.

Melted snow on the roof of the cat shelter, above the ceramic terrarium heater.

You can certainly tell where the heat bulb is!

There is no insulation on the walls or under the roof at all, so it wouldn’t take much for there to be heat leaking through, even with the aluminum shield between the bulb and the roof.

The cats are quite enjoying their warm shelter! There’s usually several that can be seen, watching me through the window closest to the heater. 🙂

They will also sit inside the kibble house, even while not eating. Sometimes, I’ll spot one of the more skittish ones under the floor, watching to see if I come closer, before squeezing out again.

We still have very little snow right now. When it starts getting to where we need to shovel it, I want to make sure the cats still have access to under the shelters, as well as into them. They have claimed every bit of shelter these structures provide! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Progress: kibble house is done!

We did it! We were able to finish the winter shelter for the outdoor cats’ kibble containers!

The only thing it needs now is to be painted, which will probably wait until spring.

Of course, things didn’t quite go to plan, but that’s pretty much how everything goes! 😀

One of the first things we did was raid the barn to see what we could find for a roof. There was a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood that we dragged over.

It had some mysteries on it.

On one side was a drawing of a picnic table, done with black marker.

The other side had what looks like the template for a shed roof!

My daughter was kind enough to take those boards off for me. Each of them had about 7 screws in them!

While she did that, I set up to assemble the rest of the frame, adding in the horizontal supports.

This was where things began to deviate from the plan. In putting on the bottom horizontal supports, I forgot I’d intended to put them on the inside of the vertical supports, instead of lined up with them. This made it longer than 6 ft.

Which is not a bad thing. It’s actually more stable this way, and there’s more room on the inside. However, I wasn’t able to match the top horizontal supports. Since the roof supports are at an angle, the screws that hold them in place are more staggered, so the chance of hitting one while screwing on the vertical support was pretty high. So I moved the top horizontal posts and attached them in front of the vertical ones.

Those horizontal supports, however, were supposed to be what the back wall was attached to.

Before we worked on that, though, we popped on the plywood to see how it fit, and if we needed to cut it to size.

We decided to leave it as is. I wanted at least some overhang. More just means more shelter for the kitties.

Then it was time to get creative.

We were going to use scrap wood from the junk pile for the walls and floor, but that idea quickly was discarded. Back to the barn we went, where we found a couple of pieces of 1/2 inch plywood that were almost 4 feet square.

We finally got to use the table saw I found in the shed! 😀

When cutting the frame pieces, I had cut two spare 2 ft lengths, and we made good use of them. I happened to have right angle plates I’d expected to use for something else and those were used to attach one length to support plywood roof in the middle. The other became support for the back wall. The bottom of the new vertical support could be screwed in place from underneath, but the top took a bit more creativity to get it attached!

We cut one of the squarish pieces in half to get the height of the wall, then cut one of the halves shorter to fit, and used them for the back wall. The pieced we’d cut off turned out to be the right size for a side wall, so we just traced that on the other squarish piece of plywood and cut a second one.

I dragged two buckets of nails from the basement to put the walls and roof one. One had roofing nails that were the right length for the walls, while the other had 4 inch nails that were perfect for attaching the roof.

That left the floor.

Cutting a wall piece off the second square of plywood left an L shaped piece. After taking several measurements, I cut the short part of the “L” off. The remaining longer piece got a notch cut out of it.

The smaller piece got a bit of a trim to fit the remaining space, and now we have a floor that can be removed, if needed.

And yes, I did want the floor to extend past the frame.

Time to test it out!

My daughter had to go in earlier, so I carefully maneuvered the whole thing by myself, to where I wanted it by the cat house. The containers we use for the cats’ food were pretty much empty, so I put them in and topped up them up.

A couple of cats were crawling around in it before I even came out of the sun room with more kibble! Once they heard that distinctive sound of kibble hitting the container, there was quite the rush of kitties!

I wanted the shelter to be close to the cat’s house, to provide shelter for the entry, but also wanted to make sure they had a path in between them. They already go around the cat house in that spot often enough that they’ve worn a patch in the grass. They can also fit under the kibble house and, if they really wanted to, they could probably get in from the back, through the gap under the roof.

One more thing to do!

It was time to open up the roof on the cats’ house and plug in the heated water bowl.

I also tucked their cat toy inside. They love that thing!

The cord on the heated water bowl is long enough that the bowl can be well under the overhang of the kibble house roof.

I then spent the next while putting everything away and cleaning up, which meant I could watch the cats checking it all out. They explored all over, including jumping up on the roof, and seem quite happy with their new shelter!

Since it’s unlikely we will paint any of it this year, we will probably cover the roof with a tarp for the winter. The rest should be fine.

I’m so glad we were able to get this finished today. It was just a couple of degrees above freezing, and we’re supposed to get a couple of centimeters of snow in a couple of days. Not the sort of weather I want to be outside, building stuff, if I can avoid it!

The Re-Farmer

Winterizing the cat shelter

After working on the sun room door frame and the bird feeder, it was time to work on the cat house.

The first thing I needed to do, though, was adjust the counterweight.

I sacrificed another crate to hold the block, then retied it. I had doubled up the rope before and this time, rather than cut it, I folded it into thirds. There shouldn’t be a lot of friction from the block, but I figure the more cords there are, the less likely they’ll end up breaking and falling apart. Of course, the weight being supported by the crates will help prevent that, too.

I then added a couple of bricks into the openings of the block to add more weight before I tried opening the roof up.

It’s a Potato Beetle!

Nostrildamus was in there, too, but he ran off when I opened it up.

Potato Beetle didn’t move, the entire time I was working on things!

With the roof fully open, the brick is resting on the ground. This is exactly what I was hoping for!

I then screwed in the terrarium heater, then used the aluminum lid of a take out container as a heat shield, with washers as spacers to keep it from being directly against the wood.

I then plugged it in and let it heat up, sticking my hand under it every now and then. I’m happy to say that the aluminum didn’t even get warm in the entire time I was testing it, though I could certainly feel the heat off the ceramic bulb.

Which was a good time to install the smoke detector.

At the very least, if something goes wrong and a fire starts, any cats inside will be frightened off long before we hear the alarm from inside the house.

Once I was satisfied that the heat shield was adequate, the safety cage was put back. With the heater being slightly wider than a light bulb, I used washers as spacers to make sure nothing was touching it. I ended up using 5 washers at each screw. It’s a good thing that was enough, because any more, and there wouldn’t have been enough of the screw sticking out to secure the cage!

I also put in the timer, set to turn on/off at dusk/dawn. The sensor is facing the largest window, which is facing East. This will likely mean it will turn on before actual dusk but, in the winter especially, that will be just fine.

Then it was time to set up the waterproof case for the electrical cords. I still intend to pick up a longer extension cord, so that it can be tucked under the roof and out of the snow, but at least we can start using it now.

Once everything was done, the counterweight was as much a help with closing the roof as opening it. The hard part is near the end. There is a notch cut out that has to line up with the roof of the entry that was added on later. Without the counterweight, and two people lifting, the person on the window side of the entry has enough to grip, but the person holding the other side of the roof has nothing to grip without risking smashed fingers – and at that point, the roof drops pretty hard! With the counterweight, not only can I easily open it myself but, as I close it, I can do so gently enough to line up the notch to the entry roof, and let it close gently instead of dropping it.

The only thing left in here will be to plug in the heated water bowl, and that won’t be needed for a few more weeks, at least.

Tonight, the outside cats will have their first night with a heated shelter! It isn’t much; the terrarium heater may get very hot to the touch, but that’s a large space for a small heater. This is okay, though, as being too warm would have a whole different set of problems!

It should be interesting to see how many cats I will find taking advantage of the new warmth, in the morning!

The Re-Farmer

A wonderful surprise!

I know I’ve said this before. I’ll probably say it many more times.

I have the best brother!

He and his wife are just amazing. Yesterday, we had a wonderful surprise from them. I got a message from my SIL that my brother would be coming over with their old dog house, for us to use as a cat shelter!

They have always had large dogs. When their last one passed away, they decided not to get another dog. With a new grand child in another province, and prospects of retirement and selling the property in the future, it just wasn’t something they wanted to do.

This left them with a large dog house in their yard that wasn’t being used.

And they know we’ve been using the sun room to provide shelter for the cats over the winter, leaving the doors propped open slightly.

What they didn’t know is that we were looking into building a larger shelter with a roof that could be lifted up, for easy access and cleaning.

Their dog house not only has such a roof, but it’s wired for electricity!

My brother, saint that he is, ended up taking several hours not only to move the heavy shelter (using tools like a come-along, and good old physics!) onto their trailer – something my SIL could not help with at all, having had surgery not long ago – but to replace part of the roof and paint it, too!

Just look at this thing!

He even brought the pallets that were under it.

With three of us working together, we got it unloaded and set up in only a couple of hours. We had to set up a fence post, at an almost 45 degree angle, to have something to attach a chain for the come-along to. The shelter itself is on top of a skid. Once that reached the edge of the trailer, my brother and I levered up the ends of the skid to go over the lip and clear the board he’d put on the ramps. The ramps were designed for wheels, with recesses in the middle to prevent them from going sideways. The skid would have fallen right into those, but he had boards wide enough to fit right in there.

The chain for the come-along had to be adjusted a couple of times before the shelter was at the end of the ramps, but at that point, the fence post was now in the way. My brother unhitched the truck from the trailer and, while I removed the post, drove the truck around to the other side and used it to pull the shelter off the rest of the way. He then had to move the trailer out, back the truck up to where the trailer was, then haul the shelter to where we had decided it should go.

Which is pretty much where one of the old doghouses, now set up near the outhouse, used to be!

There were three possible places we could put the shelter, and have easy access to an outlet. There’s the outlet on the side of the house, but with the fancy lilacs and cherry trees right there, that wasn’t really an option. We could have put it near the back of the garage, but it gets very wet there when the snow melts. So that brought us to the spot in front of the sun room. We should be able to run a cord through, and still close the doors, in the winter.

Check it out!

You can see an outlet that the light it plugged into. The light has a pool-grade cover over it, so nothing it getting at that bulb. It’s a 100 watt bulb, so it will also provide a bit of warmth. There is a second outlet just on the other side of where the cord goes through the wall. They had had a pet safe warming blanket plugged into there. My brother tested them out before bringing it over, and it all works. We will be able to plug in the heated water bowl in there. It has a long enough cord to be plugged in and still be outside.

The main part of the doghouse turned out to be too small for when they had two dogs, so my brother added the “porch” at the end – which now has a fresh new roof. The flax inside was still clean, so they left that.

Though my brother brought the pallets it was on, I wanted it on bricks. I’ve cleaned up way too many rotten pallets to go with wood directly on the ground again! And we just happened to have a stack of bricks I’d cleaned up from various places that we could use.

We will continue to add bricks for both support, and to level the shelter more. You can see the patch of dirt where the previous doghouse had been sitting. We went further out, where the ground was more level, but it’s still not flat.

Do you see that beam sticking out, with the decorative cut at the end?

The roof of this is very heavy, and my brother had included this with the thought to add a counter weight, or maybe a spring – anything to make it easier to open the roof up. He never got around to adding anything, though. It’s something we might do. Or not. We’ll see.

With the skid under the main body of the doghouse, the “porch” just sort of floats above ground. The top is starting to pull away from the main section, though – despite the many deck screws holding it in place! – so I intend to add bricks to support that, too.

There are two layers of shredded carpet over the opening to keep the weather out, while still letting critters in.

The skid is starting to look kinda rotten, even though it had always been on top of pallets, not directly on the ground, and I find myself looking at it and thinking…

Is that about the same size as the long frames we made for the goat catcher? If I cut the ends at an angle, one of those would make a very strong replacement skid!

Switching those out would be a huge job, but it would be worth it.

Aside from little things like that, and some minor repairs to old wood, we are now set for a winter shelter for the yard cats! One with warmth and light.

I hope the cats enjoy it!

On a completely different note, while going around and deciding where best to put the shelter, I decided to dig out the hose attachments and fertilizer and give our garden beds a good feeding. I was moving the hose at the front of the house, so I could reach the carrots and beets, when I suddenly lost water.

The hose end snapped off, right at the tap!

I hadn’t even pulled on it. The hose was just moving. It’s designed to rotate freely, and you can see the piece that was there to keep it from bending.

I bought this hose last fall. It’s less than a year old, and has seen hardly any use!

The more inconvenient part, though, is that the tap at the front of the house needs a new seal. We can’t turn it off, because it just sprays at the tap. Which meant that, when I discovered what happened, there was water flowing at full pressure right at the house, and while shutting the tap off did slow it a bit, I still had to yell for a daughter to dash into the basement and shut the water off from there. Thankfully, the pipes to the outside taps do have their own shut off valves, unlike the pipes supplying water inside the house.

A couple more things to add to the fix-it list!

For now, however, it’s time to shut down the computer. I’m seeing thunderstorm warnings flashing on my task bar! I expect the storms to miss us again, but we’ll likely loose internet, and possibly get power flickers, too.

That, and my daughters are taking me into town to pick up Chinese food for my birthday. They are so sweet! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Use Watcha Got cat condo!

Things warmed up a bit today, and we got a bit of snow. It won’t last long; tomorrow, the temperatures are supposed to dip again.

After some consideration of what materials I had available, today I finally built an insulated shelter for the outside cats, as an extra layer of protection in the sun room, for when things start to get really cold.

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