Looking good!

I’m happy to say that when I came out to do the cat stuff this morning (bringing 2 gallons of warm water, since we now have such a large heated water bowl), there was still liquid water left in BOTH heated water bowls!

The smaller metal ones were, of course, frozen. At this point, I think maybe we don’t even need them anymore, other than it allows for more cats to drink at the same time. It’s less of an issue with the water than the kibble. They don’t usually all try to drink at the same time, so having the four water bowls so close together works out. When the kibble comes out, though, they are all after the food at once. Not only do they not all fit in the kibble house (I counted “only” 25 this morning), but some of them don’t get along with the others. To avoid aggressive behaviour, along with the trays in the kibble house, I put a couple of handfuls of kibble into two of the shelf shelter shelves, a long line of kibble on the cat house roof – sometimes two, if I can reach – handfuls at three openings to under the cat house, the two trays under the water shelter, a tray just inside the entry into the cat house, a tray just under the eaves of the water shelter (the same spot it was in when the kibble house was there), and finally into a bowl under the shrine across the yard. Rosencrantz in particular prefers to eat at under the shrine, well away from any other cats. She’s gotten meaner to the other cats this year!

It sounds like a lot, but it’s still just a gallon sized container of kibble that’s spread out. This way, even the littlest, shiest and most picked on cats still get some food.

When I was finishing up my rounds, I found the bitty baby and Broccoli in the water shelter. Those ramps are being well used.

Broccoli got her name because she looked so much like Cabbages. This year, Broccoli had two calico kittens. (I think they’re both hers, plus a tortie. I’ve lost track!) I’m thinking we should call the new calicos Brussel and Sprout.

But I digress!

The bitty seems to be handling the colder temperatures really well, and has no hesitation about going outside and playing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what the temperature was inside the cat house. The two south facing windows were frosted over on the inside, and the big east facing window…

… was full.

Actually, there was too much reflection in the window that I couldn’t see past, but it was really funny trying to peer in and realizing just how many kittens were crowded at the window! Including both of Broccoli’s calicos. Several had run away when I came close, but I can still see at least seven in the photo.

One of the things I made sure to do this morning was stir around the smoldering ashes from the branch pile, then bank it up again. The pile is slowly getting smaller! What’s interesting is that some of the cats have figured out that they can sit near it and keep warm. When I was first starting the burn, they were a problem, because they were so used to going into the pile and playing. Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep it lit, and had to keep chasing them out of the branches. Once it really got going, though, there was enough heat that they kept away. Now, it’s just a warm, smoldering heap, and every now and then I’ll look over, and see a cat or three, loafed on the snow-free ground around it, enjoying the warmth.

Speaking of warmth, I was just looking at the 10 day forecast on one of my weather apps. Apparently, we’re only going to have one day with the high dropping down to -10C/14F – but 10 days from now, we’re apparently going to get highs above freezing!

That would be a good time for the roofers to show up. So far, no word on when that is going to happen.

The Re-Farmer

Rearranged

Well, it’s all done. The girls and I got things fixed up, moved around and set up with the cat shelters.

The first job was to open up the cats’ house and get things taken care of in there.

There was a whole bunch of incredibly shocked kittens looking up at us when we lifted that roof!

While one daughter was on safety duty to make sure the roof didn’t fall back, the other crawled in to put the heat shield back, then attach the holder for the thermometer.

Safety duty is extra important with so many cats crawling all over.

Including straight up the open roof to play gargoyle!

While they did that, I plugged in the second extension cord and got it through the entry with the other one, then checked to see if we could plug in the new heated water bowl.

As expected, nope! The bowl’s power cord wasn’t long enough.

Which meant a daughter and I did some shelter shuffling, while the other kept kittens distracted.

We really need to put handles of some kind on the water shelter and kibble house. They are really awkward to pick up and carry!

Here is the new set up.

I’d say they like it!

I’m going to have to get larger hooks to hold the cords up, but the small ones will have to do for now.

Once everything was in place, they were given their evening feeding and the water bowls were filled. The container we use to bring warm water out holds about 1 gallon/4L, and that was enough to fill the new bowl, with room to spare.

The board that was used for a ramp into the water shelter is too long for where it is now, so I found a short piece of scrap wood that I could set up near the entrance to the cats’ house. After I took this picture, I found a slightly longer one that is now set up in the middle and braced against part of the sledge under the cats’ house. The ramps are mostly for the bitty baby, since its the only one so small, it would have difficulty climbing our jumping up into the water shelter. Once the ramps were in place, they immediately had kittens using them.

After everything was done and the girls went inside, I hung around for a while longer, seeing if anything needed to be changed and playing with kittens. I ended up shifting one end of the kibble house closer to the water shelter. I’m debating shifting it more, to close that gap a bit more, but I haven’t decided yet.

When my daughter set up the thermometer in the cats’ house, she angled it so it could be seen from all three windows, so we can read it at different times of the day. This time of day, for example, the light is coming in through the smallest window in the entry, and reflecting on the plastic cover on the thermometer, so I couldn’t read it from the window you can see in the photo, but I could see it from the small entry window just fine. After being in there for a while, the thermometer was at about 5C/41F, which is what the temperature in the sun room was when I came inside. The outside temperature was -4C/25F. It should be interesting to see the temperature in there when things get really cold outside.

I think this new arrangement will work well. Everything is still easy to reach for refilling, and the two heated water bowls should make a big difference in the coming winter.

The Re-Farmer

Water shelter is done!

My daughter and I were able to get the metal roof onto the water bowl shelter, and it’s now all set up.

We cut the sheet of metal roofing in half, which was a challenge. We started off using an angle grinder, which did NOT work well at all, and was insanely noisy. The cats and kittens were very alarmed by it. We ended up using tin snips. Later on, when attaching the metal to the top edge, we had to use a drill. Not as loud, but still enough to scare many of the kittens. Not all of them. Gooby, the most socialized one (the friendly grey and white tabby has gooby eyes) would actually try climbing my daughter while she was working! Half the time, one of us would be trying to keep kittens away, while the other one worked.

Once the roof was done, we moved it right up against the kibble house. Then we had to pop open the roof of the cat house, so we could unwind the slack on the extension cord out the door. I put some hooks under the kibble house roof to hold it elevated. Unfortunately, the working heated water bowl has a shorter power cord. I ended up having to move the whole thing in about half a foot to get the power cord out of the way. The good thing about it being tucked so far under the overhang is, we don’t need to put a waterproof case around the plugs, like we do with the cord powering the cat house.

When we opened up the cat house roof, there were only two bitty kitties inside – the two we had been trying to snuggle and keep warm, before we could put them into the cat house and they would actually stay there.

I’m hoping the other two were hidden under the cat house, along with several other kittens I later saw peeking out. When topping up their food for the night, I put kibble at the various spots they use to get under there. Not a lot of kittens showed up when I topped up the food; most were still in hiding from all the noise and activity. I really hope the bitties are okay!

Once the snow starts accumulating, I’m hoping the set up will shelter the inner “courtyard”, and keep it from drifting in front of the kibble house, as it sometimes did last winter. We’ll still be shoveling the space out, of course, but it would be good if there will be less of that!

We shall see how the kitties like the new set up!

The Re-Farmer

Kitties’ first snowfall!

We’ve had the odd snow flurries before now, but this morning is the first real snowfall, where some snow actually stayed on the ground.

Most of which is already got at the time of this writing, but we’re still supposed to get more tonight and tomorrow.

For most of the yard cats, this is the first time they’ve seen a real snowfall!

There are at least two, maybe more, kittens hiding under the kibble house, where there is a sheet of rigid insulation to help keep their tootsies warm. It isn’t visible, but there is another sheet under the floor boards, so under the kibble house is a good little shelter for nervous babies.

A bit more work needs to be done on the water bowl house, but there will be no more coats of paint this year. I moved it to roughly where it will go to stay, and put the water bowls inside. Now the cats just need to figure out where the water is.

After the roof is done (you can see the piece of metal roofing for it, held down by stacks of rejected shingles to keep it from blowing away, behind it), I want to put hooks under the roof of the kibble house, and at least one under the water blow house. Once things are in place, we’ll run the extension cord that’s plugged into the cat’s house, up and under the roof edges, to power the heated water bowl in the water bowl house.

You can tell by where there is no snow on the roof of the cats’ house, that the heat bulb is doing its job! I am still putting kibble on the roof, usually on either side of the peak near the entry, but now I’m making a point of putting some over the warm spot.

I will no longer be putting kibble by the pump shack door. The kittens seem to have all moved closer to the house, so at this point, it will just attract things like skunks or raccoons. I brought over the kibble tray and will later tuck it just inside the entry into the cats’ house.

I’m seeing kittens inside the cats’ house through the windows, but they really seem to prefer the shelf shelter. I think they like the smaller, more enclosed spaces.

I’ve had to brace all three levels with some scrap fibre board, because they break the insulation when they get startled and rush out. I throw a handful of kibble into each opening, including the top shelf where one corner has been boxed off with insulation to form another little shelter. I’ve left us with about 2/3rds of 1 shelf for storage!

I’d like to find something sturdy to put at the top of this shelf. What I rigged up for last winter worked, but slowly broke apart over time. I want to put something more weather proof up there, that can also handle having cats jumping all over it. Every now and then, I’ll come out the door and startle a pile of 4 or 5 kittens all curled up and napping!

Who knew, when we took this shelf out of the house but found it too heavy and awkward to easily move to storage, that it would be used like this! It has come in incredibly handy.

The tuxedo was just loving playing in the snow on the water bowl house roof! Every now and then, he would start sliding down. 😂 I don’t think they’ll be playing up here as much once the scrap piece of metal roof is installed. The metal will be a lot colder in winter, and hotter in summer!

Looking at the security camera live feed right now, I can see we still have flurries, but I can no longer see any snow on the ground, anywhere. According to my phone’s app, we are at 2C/36F with a ReelFeel of -5C/23F. We’re still expected to get 3-6cm/1-2in of snow accumulation by tomorrow afternoon, before it turns to rain.

Hopefully, things will dry up enough that we can finish that water bowl house roof, and all the other little things that need to be finished up outside! I had hoped to continue working on that L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden yesterday, but it was just too wet and windy for the work. So I got my day off after all. Today will be another write off for the outside stuff, but we still have lots of tomatoes ripening faster than they can be eaten, so this morning, I started cooking them down for a tomato sauce. It’s mostly made with yellow pear tomatoes – it’s amazing how prolific those ones were! – but I used all four types of tomatoes we grew this year in it, including one last little Sophie’s Choice tomato.

I’d really rather be working outside, though!

The Re-Farmer

Garden bed and kibble house progress

Today’s high was supposed to be 19C/66F. I don’t know if we reached it, but with the blustery winds, it never felt that warm. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather, and my app on my desktop includes historical data for each day, including 30 year record highs and lows for various data. I noticed that today had a record high for snow of 14cm/5.5in in 2019. In fact, we set record highs for snow on the 10th, 11th and 12th, all in 2019. We were just coming to the end of our second year here, so I went looking at my blog posts for those dates.

Ah, yes. I remember that blizzard!

The amazing thing is that, just days later, all that snow was gone, and while we were still cleaning up storm damage, everything was back to green and sunny!

Depending on which app I look at, however, we might be getting a mix of snow and rain starting tomorrow night, and by Friday afternoon, we’re expected to get between 3-6cm (roughly 1-2 inches) of snow.

That meant my focus was preparing to build up walls around the L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden.

I went through the maple pieces I’d cut yesterday and started cutting them to size, cutting points on them, and debarking some of them.

I had lots of furry help. So much help, one of the kitties got plumb tuckered out!

From the longest, straightest pieces of maple, I cut three into 4 foot lengths. Then I went through some of the strongest pieces to cut four 3 foot lengths, then four 2 1/2 foot lengths. After that, I just cut as many 2 1/2 foot lengths from the thinner straight pieces as I could get out of them.

I used a hatchet to cut the points on all of them. That was probably the most unpleasant part of the job. Not so much for the thinner pieces, but for all the thicker ones. I’m ambidextrous for most things, left handed when it comes to fine motor control, but for some things, I am completely right handed.

Using a hatchet is one of those things, and my right hand has been in terrible shape lately. I had difficulty gripping the hatchet, and had to stop frequently to give my hand a break.

The draw knife was awesome for debarking the wood. It’s still quite green and came off easily. I don’t have a way to secure the pieces I’m working on well, so there were quite a few times when I was pushing instead of drawing the blade – and it works just as well that was, too. For some of the thinner pieces, though, it was easier to just use a knife to debark them.

Also, no, that is not rust on the blade of the draw knife. It’s stained with tree sap.

The stack of the thinnest pieces did not get debarked. It would have taken forever and, at their sizes, it would have been awkward. The pieces that will be taking the most stress, however, have been debarked.

That all took a few hours.

Then it was time to get to the garden bed. I pulled the lettuce I’d left to go to seed (it looks like we’ll get seed from just one of them) and got ready to prep the bed. Without walls, soil was falling into the path and the inside of the L shape, and I don’t like wasting good soil!

I used a hoe to draw some of that soil back into the bed, and level off the edge, where the uprights will be going.

The three longest pieces will form a triangle at the inside of the bend. When we start weaving branches through the posts, these will be taking the most stress. Working out from there, one 3 ft piece will go along the short end, and three down the long end. If I have enough materials to do it, I plan to build up the wall higher at these posts, as much to wall around the lilac as to create a wall for the bed.

The four 2 1/2 ft pieces are for the corners at the ends of the bed.

To install the posts, I used the pencil point bar and hammered it into the ground.

Unfortunately, that old hammer doesn’t have the right handle on it, and the head fell off again. I had to switch to a sledge hammer.

I really didn’t want to switch to the sledge hammer.

Ah, well. It worked better. I’m just going to be in a world of hurt, tonight!

I started by placing three posts in, then tied twine between them as guides for the rest of the posts. Then I laid out the spacing for the remaining two 4 ft posts, and the four 3 ft posts.

At this point my daughter, who had been working on putting salvaged shingles on the kibble house, ran out of roofing tar. I’d only picked up a small can for patch jobs, never expecting to need more.

So I left my daughter to continue pounding in the posts while I went into town to pick up more tar, and a few other things while I was there. When I came back, I found my daughter lying on a tarp on the ground surrounded by kittens. She is having much more success at socializing than I am!

She had even pounded the other two corner posts at the ends of the L shape.

The weather was starting to get worse, so I quickly filled in the gaps with the smaller 2 1/2 ft posts.

The long end of the L shape will be only 2 feet wide, so the end posts needed just one more added in between them, plus three more along the north side. The short end of the L shape needed only 2 more to fill the gap. Since this end can be accessed from three sides, we’re okay with it being wider than 2 feet, so the end posts there got two more in between. The rest of the posts will be for the outside of the L shape.

From the looks of it, I’m going to need to find more pieces to be able to finish the outside of the bed, but I’m not concerned about that right now. It’s the inside of the L shape that I need to get done first.

By this time, however, dark clouds were rolling in and it was starting to look like rain, so I left the job at this point and focused on cleaning up and putting away anything that might blow away. My daughter, meanwhile, finished the roof of the kibble house.

The green shingles are almost 50 years old and are in pretty rough shape. The brown ones are better, but they’re almost 30 years old.

The water bowl house roof is thinner plywood, so we’ll be using pieces of metal roofing that we’ve been scavenging for various things since we’ve moved here. If we used shingles, the nails we have would go right through by nearly half an inch, and that would be a problem! I dragged a piece of metal roofing out from the barn that we can cut in half and lay side by side to cover the roof of the water bowl house, but I also spotted a stack of corner pieces. I brought one over, and helped my daughter put it on the edge of the shingles on the kibble house. I found a bin of metal roofing screws in the warehouse, so I grabbed a bunch for when the water bowl house is done, and my daughter used a few of those to install the metal cap on the edge of the roof, using the screw holes that were already in the metal – after making sure to put some tar under each hole, first.

Almost everything about the kibble and water bowl houses has been done using scavenged bits and pieces we’ve found around the property, and a lot of it is pretty old and starting to rot. We don’t expect these to last long, but using paint and even decades old shingles will help them last longer. At some point, it’ll be nice to be able to build versions using new materials, all well measured and cut and leveled, etc. But this will do for now.

Once this was done, I set up a longer extension cord I found that was in good shape, and was able to plug in the cat’s house. We lifted the roof and put in the high density rubber mats I’d dragged out of the barn, which will help insulate the floor. There’s a thick scrap yarn crocheted blanket that is laid out on top of the mats, too. We will not be using straw this year. As much care as we have taken with the terrarium heater bulb, I would much rather not have straw in there! The heat bulb is working fine, with the heat shield still in place, and the timer is set to light sensor, so it will turn on when it gets dark, then off again when it gets light. The smoke detector was tested, too, and it’s working fine.

Once the water bowl house is done and set up where it will go, we’ll be able to plug in the heated water bowl through the cat’s house entry, too.

Tonight, the cats will have a warm and cozy place to stay if they start feeling too chilly. I especially hope the tiniest kittens will start using it!

As for me, I’ve pain killered up and hope I’ll be able to continue in the old kitchen garden tomorrow. For the weaving, I plan to cut the willow branches and use them right away, while they are still very green and flexible.

I really hope this works out. Otherwise, that’s a lot of work for nothing! Well. Not for nothing. Now that those posts are in, even if wattle weaving doesn’t work, I could still use them to hold whatever we find to use instead. It’s all fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants work, anyhow!

Which is half the fun. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Have I mentioned I’m a suck for the cats?

It was a gorgeous afternoon and evening yesterday. Not only a pleasant temperature, but even the mosquitoes weren’t as bad. I didn’t want to go back inside when I was done what I needed to do!

One of the things I did was re-do the shelf shelter for the cats. I noticed that the little kittens have been climbing all the way to the top shelf, which was actually use to store stuff, and have been snoozing in a corner, where I’d stacked some smaller pieces of rigid insulation.

The insulation over the bottom two shelves were getting ratty, so I decided to empty the whole thing, give it – and some of the insulation pieces – a hose-down and redo it.

Including making a next in the corner of the top shelf for the kittens, even though it meant not being able to fit everything back in again!

The sheets of insulation lining the bottom shelves were used again, since they fit the best and, aside from a few edges, still intact. When covering the fronts, I left the openings wider than before. When startled, the cats would dash out, catching on the edges of the insulation, sometimes hitting them hard enough to pull them right off the nails holding them to the shelf. I decided to try reducing the height of the openings. I want it open enough for them to easily get in and out, but small enough to let less of the weather in. Hopefully, they won’t get ripped right out by a startled cat!

As for the top shelf, I tucked a small pedestal plant stand in the corner and used it to support two levels with the rigid insulation for the kittens to lie on. There’s more space in front with an insulated floor, and there is insulation along the side and back walls, too. An extra piece across the front, and the kittens have their own little cubby hole to settle in.

Now I just need to clean up and redo the outside of the shelf. It had been wrapped in plastic to protect the wood from snow and rain, with an extended “roof” of rigid insulation, but the wind tore the plastic to shreds, and the cats have broken up the insulation. I’d like to find something sturdier to replace them with.

After I had emptied, swept and hosed down the inside, I had to give it time to dry before continuing, so I started another project.

A new cover for the rain barrel.

A couple of years ago, we made covers for the rain barrels out of window screen mesh and hula hoops. One for the barrel at the corner by the sun room, and the other for the barrel we fill with the host, at the far corner of the garden. The covers were partly to keep debris out, but also to make sure no critters fell into the barrels.

After a couple of years, however, the plastic hula hoops became brittle and started to crack. The cover for the garden barrel had been stored in the old garden shed for the winter, and it looks like something chewed holes in the mesh, too.

The sun room barrel’s cover is held in place with a board weighed down with bricks. When the barrel is getting full enough that more rain would cause it to overflow, the board and bricks hold the rain diverter in place.

Not long ago, I found the cover and its mesh broken up. Something had jumped onto it or something. The mesh had torn, but thankfully whatever did it, did not end up trapped in the water. Then we heard a commotion one night, and I came out to find the board and its weights, and the rain diverter, all knocked off the barrel, and the cover damaged even further. I put the board and its weights back, then found some pieces of rigid insulation to cover the rest of the barrel, with weights to hold them in place, to ensure no critter could access the water, until a new cover could be made. Even that ended up being pusher around a bit, as if some critter was trying to get at the water below – even though we have several bowls of fresh water critters can drink from. A new cover had to be made quickly.

Which is what I did while the shelf shelter was drying.

The materials used are much sturdier!

I considered using some chicken wire, but the openings are too large and the wire too easily broken. I went with some half inch hardware cloth I had, instead. The hoop is the same PEXX tubing I used to make arches to support netting over the old kitchen garden beds you can see in the background.

I used the barrel itself to measure the size needed to make the hoop, then cut a square of the hardware cloth to size, removing excess mesh from the corners to make it closer to “round”. The hardware cloth is a lot stiffer than chicken wire, but the extra strength is, I think, well worth it being such a pain to wrap around the hoop. Definitely glad for gardening gloves! The last step was to use a hammer on the underside to get the mesh right up against the hoop as tightly as I could.

There was, however, one problem.

The top of the barrel is not round. It’s more of an oval shape, and a wonky oval at that. The old hula hoop I’d used before was quite a bit larger than the top of the barrel, so it didn’t matter, but this hoop was cut for a more snug fit. The less sticking out, the less likely a critter will knock it off, even with the weights. I thought I’d still made it large enough to fit over, but the barrel’s shape was just too wonky.

I ended up tying some paracord around it as tight as I could, then used a metal tent peg to twist the cord even tigher.

Yeah. That bend up piece of metal was a tent peg.

Between the paracord pulling the top of the barrel into a more round shape, and the hammering of the hardware cloth tight against the hoop, I was finally able to get it in place. The board and weights were added to support the diverter when we need it, and the extra brick at the back, just in case something knocks the board off again, so the whole thing doesn’t flip off.

I might still add window screen mesh to this, since things like small frogs or insects, as well as small debris, can get through the half inch mesh. As it is right now, a cat – or even a racoon – could jump onto the cover and it’ll hold their weight without issue. The PEXX tubing will also last a lot longer, too.

All in all, I think it worked out rather well for using stuff I got for other projects! 😁 It didn’t even take that long to do. It took long enough for the washed out shelf to dry, at least.

So we now have a shelf shelter for the cats all cleaned out and ready for winter – on the inside, at least – and a cat and other critter proof cover for the rain barrel.

Ah, the things I do for the kitties!

The Re-Farmer

Cat House Cleanup

This morning, the girls opened up the cat house to give the inside a good cleaning.

Both daughters are in this picture. 😂

One is inside the cat house, clearing out the old straw and debris into the wheelbarrow by the side of it, while the other assisted as much as possible. Mostly by keeping kittens out of the way. The socialized ones REALLY wanted to get underfoot! Speaking of feet, my older daughter flipped a toenail and can’t wear closed toes shoes right now, so her sister banished her from going inside the cat house. Unfortunately, in the winter, the cats do crap in there, rather than going outside into the chill.

I tried to do my part in distracting kitties by putting out some cat treats. Which the kittens that were underfoot mostly ignored, in favour of being underfoot!

Once they did as much as they could and closed things up again, the less socialized cats started coming out of the woodwork, too. 😊

The old straw has been removed completely and, being full of cat poop, isn’t going into the compost. It was added to the burn pile, instead. The giant crochets blanket that was in there is now draped over the kibble house, where it had been hosed down on one side. After a while, it’ll be flipped so the other side can be hosed down. It get really, really heavy when wet!

We don’t have fresh straw to put inside, so for now there is another scrap yarn crocheted blanket in there. I am thinking of moving away from straw completely. Having the heat bulb is great, but even though it’s just a relatively mild terrarium bulb should be fine, I’m still paranoid about straw dust. There are some scrap pieces of high density rubber mats in the barn. I am thinking we might lay some of the rigid insulation we have left on the floor, then covering it with the mats. The cats love scratching the foam insulation, but they won’t be able to scratch those mats. Between the mats and the insulation, it should help keep the shelter floor comfortable in the winter.

I also want to give those windows a good cleaning on the inside, and before winter, we’ll be sure to switch out the battery in the smoke detector we have in there.

With so many kitties this summer, I suspect the cats’ house is going to be very full this winter!

The Re-Farmer

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