Got it done!

It was pretty mild when I came out to do my rounds this morning.

The older cats really prefer to eat kibble on the cat house roof, even in the snow!

Also, once it was pointed out to me, I just can’t unsee the fact that Caramel is plaid.

Also, also… I counted 30 this morning.

When I was done my rounds, I decided to stay out and get a weather dependent job done. There was no breeze at all, and snow on the ground, which meant it was safe to burn a branch pile.

When the big branch pile was chipped and cleaned up, they left a pile of debris that could not be chipped. While preparing branches for the wattle weave raised be, we added quite a lot of small, green branches to it. The conditions that made it safe to do a bonfire like this also made it hard to keep a fire going – especially with all those green branches – so I took advantage of the situation and started bringing over branches from the pile by the garage that was too decomposed to chip. Those have been sitting there for years, so the fire really got going once they caught!

I was even able to rake up most of the debris. I know there’s still some left, but I won’t be able to dig those out until spring.

By the time I was finishing up this pile, it had started to snow, but that didn’t last long.

Once that was raked up, I also raked up the path of twigs that got dropped along the way. 😁

After about three hours, I banked the fire by raking up more debris and soil. It should continue to smolder for some time, but should not flame up. Even if it does, there’s a large ring of bare soil around it, and beyond that, any grass and the other pile of wood that needs to be burned are far enough away and have enough snow on them that they are not at risk.

I’m glad to finally get this done.

Next is the logs the chippers set aside that I stacked around some garbage that was too much for the burn barrel.

That’s going to be quite the bonfire when we finally get around to it!

The Re-Farmer

Re-covered

When we first moved here, one of the things we noticed was the junk pile near the house, at the edge of the spruce grove. It’s one of the places mama cats would hide their litter of kittens, which is how Junk Pile got her name.

When we finally got around to cleaning it up, it turned out to not be a junk pile at all. It was a pile of salvaged boards, very carefully and neatly stacked. Some of the “junk” we found were the remains of tarps that used to cover it.

Years of exposure left the top board pretty rotten, and being salvaged from who knows where, a lot were full of nails. Still, we’ve been able to make use of them and, as we work our way deeper into the stack, the less rotten the boards.

After cleaning off the junk, we did use the original tarps to cover it up, and weighed it down with various things.

Then the groundhog that made a den under the stack decided the tarps would make good nesting material. Tore them to shreds!

With the horrible spring we had this year, we didn’t keep the yard as clear and mowed as we wanted, which meant one side of the stack got completely engulfed in thistles that reached nearly 5 ft tall in places.

Today, I finally got around to cleaning it up, so I could access the stack.

The kittens were very interested in what I was doing!

That groundhog did not leave much of those traps left at all. There was a blue one in there, as well as the orange one!

The grey tarp on the side is covering a pile of boards too rotten or full of nails to use; they’re laid over an old metal bed frame I found in the maple grove (there are still two more in there!) to keep them off the ground. I also found some old children’s toys, so I tucked those underneath, then covered the whole thing with yet another old tarp I found among the junk. This gives the yard cats yet another place they can tuck into for shelter, until we finally clean it out properly.

The hill the thistles are growing on is a bit of a mystery to me. It is one of those things that showed up in between our rare visits to the farm over the years. I think it might be where the ashes from the furnace got dumped, until the electric furnace was installed. It would take a lot of years of ashes to make a hill that big!

Also, I need better quality garden gloves. Thistles go right through them!!!

The next step was to take everything off the top for a few layers. There’s a lot of spruce debris in there. I would have to take the whole pile apart to get it all out, but I just wanted to get the worst of it near the top removed. Then the boards went back more neatly, making sure that any with nails in them had their nails facing down!

The stack itself is built up on some pallets, and there are more pallets, and other miscellaneous things, on the far side of the stack. They’re all pretty rotten, but only one of them was also in the way. I had to fight to get it out, as it kept getting stuck on the other two pallets one corner was in between, but it was so rotten, I could just tear it apart and drag it out! That went into our own junk pile that is waiting until we can hire someone to haul it to the dump.

Once that was all cleaned up and ready, I grabbed an 8’x10′ tarp from the 3 pack I bought at Costco a few months ago and brought it over to cover the stack. I’ve already used another one of them to replace the tarp I’d found in the barn to cover the post pounder by the garage. It was a huge tarp, but the wind tore it to shreds. An 8’x10′ tarp doesn’t cover it completely, but they’re heavier duty tarps, and I tied it down like crazy. I can see it on the security camera live feed, and absolutely nothing flaps around on that thing! With the stack of boards, I needed to do the same thing. I had to make sure the wind could not get ahold of it, once it was over the stack.

My goodness, the kittens went nuts while I was going that! They just could not get enough of running around and playing on it!

Which made tying it down a real challenge!

I think I spent twice as much time tying down the tarp as it took me to clear away the thistles and clean up the top of the pile! Thanks to all the leftover pieces of wood that I brought over to do the wattle woven raised bed, I had plenty of sticks I could use for pegs.

At the far end, the tarp is tied to the old pallet still back there, and even the dead trees. In a few places where the tarp was tight around corners of boards, I added some bits of pool noodle foam (we used scrap bits on supports around some garden beds, to protect the netting they were holding up, and the last of the netting was removed today) and even some paper towel from a roll kept in the garage. I didn’t want the corners of the boards to rub their way through the tarp in the wind. The remaining three sides were pegged to the ground. While probably not needed, I returned the stuff we were using as weights before, just in case. I can easily imagine kittens playing with the twine and pulling pegs out of the ground. 😄

The boards may be old, but at least now they won’t get any worse over the winter. I have no idea what we might use them for – there is no consistency in lengths, thicknesses or even how the ends are cut – but better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!

By the time I finished putting everything away and got inside, it was full dark. It was very disorienting to look at the time and realize it wasn’t even 7pm yet! At least it was a more productive day today. The pile of garden soil is once again covered, and since I was out near the barn anyhow, I brought the frame pieces for the carport to the yard. I’m sure we’re still missing a cover piece, but even if we are, I’d like to find a way to set it up near the house, over where the old basement window is. It was warm enough to do one final watering of the Korean Pine; my daughter got the sliver buffaloberry and sea buckthorn done yesterday. We’ll have to be careful putting the hoses away, so they don’t crack in the cold. We even got a dump run in.

The next couple of days are supposed to reach highs of just above freezing, then a couple of days of slightly warmer temperatures. After that, our highs are going to be below freezing, and staying there. At least that’s what one app is telling me. Another weather app is a bit different – and forecasting colder temperatures. About the only thing that really needs to get done in the next few days, though, is to cover the hole in that shed roof with the large tarp I got for it. Getting it up and over is not going to be easy, never mind fastening it down. What we could really use is scaffolding! Ah, well. I’ll just add that to the list… 😉 Anyhow, we’re looking at possible rain and snow a few days from now, so we really need to get that taken care of. There are too many things in that shed that are useful. I don’t want the roof to collapse, if I can avoid it!

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Medicated kitties, and the sunroom is basically done

I’m planning to do our final (hopefully) trip into the city for a Costco stock up shop for this month, so I would normally not have gone anywhere today. Especially with it being Halloween, and I would expect the stores to be filled with last minute shoppers.

I did, however, want to pick up some lysine for the outside cats, to use until the powder I ordered comes in. Since I was going to be in town anyhow, I remembered to grab the empty 5 gallon water jugs for refilling. We have four of these for our drinking water, and try to never go less than one on the go, and one full one waiting, though sometimes that doesn’t quite work out.

Once at home and my daughter took care of hauling the water jugs inside, I started getting ready to give the outside cats some lysine with their evening kibble top up.

*sigh*

I got my daughter to bring me a mortar and pestle. I was expecting to be opening up gel caps with powder in them, like the cat lady was telling me she does.

I even got the same brand she gets!

As for getting it on the amount of kibble I put out at once, which almost fills a gallon sized container, I stole one of the bins we used for taking transplants outside for hardening off in the spring. I put the measured amount of kibble in the bin, ground the tablets into powder and sprinkled that on top, then tossed it until I was sure all the kibble was coated.

I think, the next time I do this, I’ll give the kibble a very light spray of water first, so the powder will stick to it better.

Then the treated kibble got poured back into the gallon container, and I fed the kitties.

They didn’t seem to notice any difference with the kibble, and ate it without any hesitation.

The kittens are already mostly improving with all their leaky eyes, stuffy noses, coughing and sneezing, but this should help them get better faster, and hopefully prevent them from getting sick again. It’s especially dangerous if they get sick in the winter, and with so many really young kittens this year, they are the most at risk.

Speaking of kittens…

I couldn’t get a photo, but when I headed out to town I could see a ludicrously big pile of kittens on the new cat bed I’d put in front of the east facing window. It was hilarious! With the other cat bed at the corner by the south facing window, that entire side would have been packed with babies! They all started moving around and looking to come outside when they saw me, so I hurried away. The last thing I wanted was to have kittens following me to the garage, when I can’t see them while backing out.

After adding the lysine to the kibble, I stayed out and worked on the sun room. This meant leaving the doors open, much to the joy of many kittens. Not all of the kittens are interesting in exploring the sun room, though. At least not yet, but I was very happy to see this!

The bitty baby was out! He was hunting leaves and making friends with some of the cattens. Aside form the one time I saw Junk Pile nursing the bitty, along with her own kittens, we still have yet to see an adult cat mothering this little spitfire. Yet, clearly mothering is happening. He does look bigger, and he’s getting more active, exploratory and playful. All good signs.

I had quite a bit of furry company while working on the sun room. They were into everything!

One of the first things I had to do was clear the wall under the bathroom window, then clean the cube shelf and set it up. Because there’s the possibility of water getting onto the floor, I made sure to put it on some scrap pieces of rigid insulation. Once that was in place, I could start working on the other side.

I’m still debating putting rigid insulation against that big window in the corner. These are double pane windows, but the inner pane on that one has been gone since before we moved here, so it gets covered in frost in the winter. I do want to let the light in, though, so maybe we’ll get one of those clear plastic window kits, instead.

This half is mostly garden related stuff and, of course, having a place to sit.

We used to have a large cardboard moving box behind the door for tall stuff. After digging around, I found a tall aluminum garbage can I could replace it with. It had been sitting outside for who knows how many years, and the bottom of the inside needed to be scraped of… something. After cleaning it as best I could, I cut a piece of insulation to fit the bottom. That way, it’ll be quieter if we drop something hard or metallic inside. Eventually, we’ll have more garden tools stored in there for the winter. Another piece went on the floor under it, for those times when the floor gets wet.

It’s not quite finished, of course. Some things, like the tool box, will be moved out of the sun room completely, when it’s no longer needed for outside stuff. We found a set of legs to make a folding table, and I’ve got those behind the swing bench until we can find and cut a piece of plywood to size and attach them. The folding chairs get stored in the old kitchen.

This side… still looks like a disaster! *sigh*

When I found the metal garbage can to use for storing tall things, I also found a smaller plastic garbage can inside it. It was intact, so I gave it a cleaning, and now it’s sitting upside down by the walker to dry. I’m not sure where it’ll finally go, but this room does need a garbage can. There’s a bucket to catch drips if we get rain and the roof starts leaking again (still no word on when the roofers will be coming out). I had some square buckets on the counter shelf I was using for small hand tools, only to discover water in the bottom of one of them, and the tools inside were starting to rust. *sigh* So I cleaned the tools as best I could, then left the bucket to catch drips. We don’t have rain in the forecast anymore, but it did start raining a bit while I was in town, so until the roof gets done, we’ll just leave the drip catchers where they are.

I would love to find a better place to store the bin of insulation pieces. They come in so handy, though, I want to keep them accessible. There’s a few other things that need to be organized better, but that can wait. The main thing is that everything that was outside is now inside, the room is more useable, and it’s easier to get at things like the table and miter saws. Even the electric chainsaw now has a spot on a shelf. However that, and the battery powered mini chainsaw, will be going into the house for the winter, though. Things get too cold for batteries or chainsaw oil in the winter.

So there we have it! The sun room is pretty much done, and mostly winterized. At some point we’ll set the food and water bowls and a litter box up in there, for when we need to use it as a kitty recover room again, but aside from little things like that, it’s finally done.

Now I can get back to working on garden beds again! 😁

The Re-Farmer

Sun room progress

I was able to get at least a bit of progress in the sun room today. This is what where it was left off after my daughter worked on it.

The only thing different is the addition of the new kibble bin that doesn’t fit on the shelf. The room has been slowly becoming a disaster, and using it as a recovery ward for the cats certainly hasn’t helped. Where the swing bench had been was the worst of it, with so much stuff fallen behind, and the messes the cats made. The rest was going to be easy after that!

Because of the mess the cats made on this side of the sun room, it needed extra cleaning after being emptied out.

It got emptied, then vacuumed, including around the windows and walls – lots of cobwebs! The windows finally got washed on the inside. The shorter extension cord could finally be wrapped on its hooks (there are no outlets in this room), and I added some hooks so the longer extension cord that is powering the kibble house is now running through the tops of the doors rather than the bottom.

Then the kittens got kicked out and the door closed so that floor could get a thorough washing. Some areas needed to be scrubbed by hand, and I still couldn’t get all the stains out. Last of all, it got rinsed of cleaners, with the ceiling fan running to help it dry faster.

It was getting pretty dark by the time I starting to bring stuff in again, though mostly to protect some things from critter damage. The floor is still damp, too.

After five years, I think we’ve got a pretty good bead on how we need to use this space. The main thing is mobility friendly access. When we first moved here, my husband kept his walker in the main entry, folded up against the washer and drier. There were two problems with that. First, it was in the way of using the washer and drier, and second, it became increasingly difficult for him to get in and out with it. The door’s threshold is fairly high, requiring him to lift the walker wheels over it, and then there are two steps to go down. He didn’t mind it too much at first but, over time, his back just kept getting worse. Then we finally cleared and cleaned the sunroom, which was a HUGE job (I still can’t believe all the stuff my parents had in there!). My dad kept his own walker in the sun room, and now my husband’s walker is kept here, and it’s much easier for him to get in and out. I still want to get little door ramps for him, as he does still need to lift his walker a bit to get through the door, but it’s greatly improved his ability to get in and out by using the sunroom.

So access is a primary concern when it comes to how we want to set things up.

We also use the room a lot for keeping tools and supplies, and we need to find a better way to organize those. The table saw I found in one of sheds had been by the door into the old kitchen, but there it ended up blocking access to things, It’s now set up near the counter shelf by the doors to outside, with the miter saw I got at a garage sale sitting on top of it for now. The swing bench will stay where it is now – right in the corner, with no shelf behind it. The last time we moved things around, I’d set it up against the wall with the two windows, but my husband moved it against the shelf, so he could sit on it and see outside. That blocked access to the shelf and, before we knew it, all sorts of things were falling behind it and getting stuck – and of course, the cats took full advantage of that! So now the cube shelf will go against the wall under the bathroom window. I’m going to try and keep all the tool related stuff on that side.

We found using the room as a greenhouse was handy, but we need to figure out a more efficient way to do it. Being able to set up a surface to hold transplants over the swing bench worked out pretty well, even if it meant only the cats could use the bench! So this side is going to be organized in a way that we’ll be able to set transplants up again in the spring, including a better way of setting up the lights. For a “sun” room, it’s actually pretty dark in there!

One other thing we use this room for is an isolation ward for recovering cats. Which means we’ll be wanting to set up food and water bowls, and a litter box, which is currently in the cats’ house outside. It hasn’t been used yet but, once snow is on the ground, I think the kittens will figure it out! We’ll get another one for the sun room.

We will also be using this room to store things for the winter, until they’re needed again in the spring.

All of this, we will need to figure out as we bring things back inside. Now that that floor has been cleared and sanitized, we can work out how to organize things most efficiently.

While I was finishing up and things were getting dark, I was very happy to see how well the new solar powered motion sensor light was working out. When I checked on it last night, it didn’t turn on. It’s mounted to the top of the outer door, so it should have turned on when I opened it. It didn’t turn on, but I startled some critter out of the kibble house! I could hear it run across the yard, and slam into the chain link fence as it went under it. It sounded bigger than a skunk. I’m thinking racoon, but they usually freeze instead of running away, so I’m not sure. As I came out of the sun room to check, I heard more noise – from the four deer in the yard that got startled and ran out towards the barn! I grabbed a flashlight and went back out again. I could hear something was crunching kibble, but couldn’t see what it was. From the sound, I was pretty sure that one, at least, was a skunk, which turned out to be correct.

With all that going on, the new light would have been very helpful, but it just wasn’t turning on. I knew it worked, because when switching it from off to either high or low light, it turns on and stays on for about a minute before shutting itself off. I had turned it on just before starting to screw it onto the door. Thankfully, the way it is sitting, I didn’t have to unscrew it from the door, and could shift it enough to reach the switch and turn it on. I’m not completely sure why it was off, but my guess is that I switched it off by accident. While I was attaching it to the door, at one point it slipped and started to fall. I managed to catch it, but must have hit the switch in the process. Whatever it was, I got it going again, and set to the brighter light.

Which was really handy as I finished up! I had plenty of light to see what I was doing – and it even lights up as far as the inside of the kibble house. The cats running around also triggered the motion sensor, which means any skunks, racoons or deer will also trigger it. Hopefully, that will be a deterrent.

Ha! Who am I kidding! It won’t deter them, but it’ll make it easier for us to see what’s stealing the kibble!

If all goes well, we should have the sunroom organized and finished tomorrow. Then we can go back to putting the garden to bed for the winter. We’ve got some nice, warm days coming up, which means we can give the trees we planted one more deep watering before the temperatures drop again.

As long as the weather holds, there will always be a bit more we can get done!

The Re-Farmer

An awesome day!

I didn’t get to do much posting yesterday, because most of it was spent outdoors. We had our company come over, and we spent many happy hours around the fire. This will probably be the last really pleasant weekend of the year to do that, so we were really happy to be able to drag things out as long as possible!

My day, of course, started with feeding the outside cats.

I think I counted 21, or maybe 23, cats at feeding time. Quite a crowd!

The girls decided to take advantage of our plans to use the fire pit and went out several hours early. There was quite a build up of ashes, so that got cleared out to make room (getting dumped near the main garden area, so it can be used to amend soil in the beds). I’d found another fire brick and it was added to the others that were set in there previously, so there is now a sturdier base to put the Dutch Oven on, the next time we used it.

Once that was done, the girls started working on clearing away the branch pile that was against the collapsing log building nearby. It took about four hours, but it got done!

There were a few logs that are too big for the fire pit and need a saw to break down. Once the pile was gone and the ground raked up, I found a half buried metal pipe, with another piece of metal under it, both of which are now leaning against the wall. I also uncovered a surprisingly loose large rock. It came out of the ground quite easily, but I put it back so no one would twist an ankle in the hole it left behind. Since my daughter has plans to use rocks to create a wall to frame her daffodils and irises, along the edge of the old kitchen garden, I was quite happy to find it. We will be able to make use of several more that I could see, once we are able to start clearing the far side of the building. There are dead trees that need to be cut down, so it won’t be a small job!

While the girls were working on cleaning up the branch pile, they had a major breakthrough with Plushy.

This is Plushy.

We have been trying to socialize this one for ages, with little success, but yesterday my younger daughter managed to reach her ears for some scritches.

Ah, the magic ear scritches.

Before long, she was accepting pets and cuddles, and stayed with the girls as they tended the fire, even to the point of accepting belly pets! Even I was able to pet her, when I joined them!

Which hasn’t continued into today, unfortunately. I’ve been able to touch her, but she moves away before I can pet her.

Also, she is confirmed female.

Unfortunately, it looks like it’s too late for the possibility of adoption, as the potential adoptees have arranged to adopt a pair of kittens. But who knows. It might still happen, of we can continue the socializing!

When my BIL and his family arrived, they had quite a surprise for us – two big bags of kibble! My SIL said it was one bag for the cats, and the other for the skunks! 😄 We actually have not bee seeing skunks much at all for quite some time! We know they’re still coming around. I’ll even see one running by the garage security camera at times, but we’re not getting the sort of visits to the kibble house that we used to. They didn’t know it, but they’ve saved us from likely having to get more kibble before our usual monthly shop.

The socialized kittens, by the way, were in heaven. The entire family are cat people.

I’ve taken to calling this one Baby. He basically took my nephew over and claimed him as a bed. All the most socialized kittens got more human attention in one evening then ever before! 😄 They had a blast! Unfortunately, while she certainly hung around, Plushy was not one of them. She skulked about and watched, but once more people showed up, she was done with human attention. I don’t think it will take too much effort to get her more comfortable with people, though.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening, and we really enjoyed it. Even my husband was able to join us for far longer than he’s been able to previously, though when my daughter checked on him later, he was seriously medicated for it. It was worth it to him, to be able to spend time with his brother and family, though.

We’re already talking about doing it again in the spring – before the bugs are out in full force! The last time they were here for a cookout, the mosquitoes were so bad, even though we were all using bug spray, we ended things far earlier than we had wanted to. I’m quite looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer

Working on the sun room

There are a lot of jobs that need to be done before the snow flies, but some of them are more weather dependent than others.

Working on the sun room is one of them, because we basically have to empty it in the process.

So instead of working on winterizing the garden beds and yard, as I’d originally intended, I started on the sun room.

Well. Half of it.

The main thing was to clear the area in front of the pair of windows on the east side of the door, so that I could clear away as much broken glass from the inner pane as possible.

My daughter had already cleared the big pieces of broken glass from the bottom window – the top one has cracks, but hasn’t broken apart, yet. There were many jagged pieces left that she couldn’t get out. I tried using the glass cutter, but it really didn’t do much of anything. I ended up breaking most of the pieces off with a pair of pliers. Some pieces came out entirely, others broke away closer and closer to the frame, while still others just got crushed by the pliers.

After sweeping as much of the glass as I could, I used a vacuum to get the rest.

While doing the concrete floor, I spotted something that either I completely forgot about, or somehow managed to miss when we first cleaned out the sun room of my parents’ stuff.

Right in the corner, there are foot prints in the concrete. You can see one hand print as well, and there are just barely signs of a second hand print.

My late brother poured this concrete. My guess is, these are his son’s prints.

Awww…

Once the glass was cleaned up as much as possible, it was time to put insulation in place.

I covered both windows, as I’m hoping the insulation will prevent the top window from cracking even more. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s temperatures that are causing the cracks, though they certainly are a factor. The entire sun room is shifting, and sinking slightly, at the corner by the rain barrel. Likely because the barrel was allowed to overflow and, before winter, simply tipped over on the spot to be emptied.

I decided to rearrange this side of the sun room to something I hope is more functional.

The shelf I had the kibble bin stored in used to be in this corner, and the counter shelf you see now was in the opposite corner. It’s on bricks, in case the floor gets wet. The roof leaks above this corner – which will hopefully no longer be a problem soon! We still don’t have a date for the roofers to come int.

The hanger on the wall was on the wall beside the door to the old kitchen, but it was too long, so it was mounted diagonally. It partly worked, but it’s in a more useful spot, now.

Then it was time to clean out this corner, by the bathroom window. That space on the left is where the hanger had been. The counter shelf was in the corner, with all sorts of stuff, including my husband’s walker and my crossbow target, blocking the front of it. The top had become a mess of tools and containers.

Unfortunately, by this time, it was getting late. The shelf went into the corner and I started out organizing things as I brought them back in. After a while, though, I got a daughter to help, and we just shoved everything into this corner, to be finished another time.

The other half is going to take more work. Aside from having to wrestle the swing bench out the door, that side is where the cats – and sometimes skunks – would leave messes in inaccessible corners.

Thankfully, we’ve got a couple more warm, dry days before the temperatures start to drop, and we have the possibility of rain. We won’t be able to get back at it tomorrow. In the morning, we’ve got the cat lady coming to pick up the bitty babies, then in the afternoon, the girls and I are heading out to pick up my mother, then going to the marsh to see the migrating birds, while we still can this year. So after tomorrow, we can get back to work!

Speaking of which, one of the things the girls did while I started on the sun room was head out to a stand of willows behind the barn, with the loppers. They were looking for branches appropriate to use on the wattle wall I’m building in the old kitchen garden. Unfortunately, the only long, straight ones they found were branches that died long ago, and were in no condition for use. The live branches were not suitable for wattle weaving. The best they were able to do was prune some small but straight maple suckers that can be used as space fillers. I’d already gathered some last night from the maples now clear of the branch piles that got chipped, that I hope can be used. I did not expect it to be this difficult to find suitable materials for that project!

Well, that last paragraph took a lot longer to write compared to the rest of this post. The bitties needed attention, and are now back on me. The black and white is content to curl up on my chest, but the grey and white tabby wants to explore!

Time to get off the computer and

Ow! The little bugger just bit my thumb!!!

Time to ten

3d o 7bia

bie7sl7

77777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777774

get a kitten off the keyboard.

The Re-Farmer

Almost clear

I was able to pop outside and work on the willows a bit more. I really wanted to get that power line clear.

After clearing a bit more from where we left off last time, I moved to the outer yard and worked on the willows behind the junk pile.

I’m going to be so happy when we can finally have that junk hauled away.

I used the wide angle on my phone to get this photo, which is why everything looks oddly distorted. The willows aren’t actually bent like that in their middles.

The power line is now clear of willow branches. What you see on the ground are the vines I pulled down from the trees in the process. After this picture was taken, I also cleared some of the branches that were growing over the junk pile. Working back here was a pain. The vines on the ground were a tripping hazard. The maple tree on the right was in the way of some cutting angles. I actually expected the junk pile to be more in the way, but it wasn’t. An unexpected problem was burrs. They were mostly hidden by the vines. I was pulling those off of my clothes by the handful!

The branches have been set aside for now. When it’s more pleasant out, we’ll go over them later to gather and strip the longest, straightest branches for wattle weaving. The rest will go onto the burn pile.

There are still some maple suckers that will need to be cut away, as they are getting tall enough to reach the power line. That will require different tools and more time. At some point, someone wrapped fencing wire around the maple, likely to protect it from cattle. The suckers have grown through the wire’s mesh. Since I have to work around that anyhow, I figure I may as well clear the tree enough to take out the wire completely. Hopefully, no sections of tree have grown around the wire itself anywhere.

I will also need to cut away those vines, and they will need to go into the burn pile, too, so they don’t root themselves and spread. This section of chain link fence is the only place we’re allowing vines to grow, but it still needs to be kept under control.

I feel much better now that the power line is clear again. Those willows grow back fast!

The Re-Farmer

Multipurpose clean up

Today did not work out at all as planned. My daughters and I were originally going to take my mother to a marsh in the area to see the migrating birds – something my mother tries to do every fall. Unfortunately, my daughters weren’t feeling well, so we’ll be rescheduling that. We only have today and tomorrow for good weather, though, so I was going to go over to deliver some thanksgiving dinner to her and, if she felt up to it, maybe head to the marsh anyhow. Before heading over, I pulled my mother’s car out of the garage to do a bit of fall clean up – and discovered a flat tire! I pumped it up, then used our van. I couldn’t see anything that could cause a flat, and when I came home, the tire was still holding air, so I don’t know what’s going on there. I’m just glad I decided to clean out the car first, which requires moving the car out of the garage. Where her car is parked is so tight, I might not have seen it before leaving, if I hadn’t. I’ve left it out so we can check the tire any time we’re outside.

So there was no going anywhere with my mother, since it’s difficult for her to get in an out of our van. Instead, we had thanksgiving dinner together with the food that I brought. I am happy to say that she actually tried and enjoyed the peanut soup (after having an angry outburst over the fact that I brought soup at all), and even the roasted vegetables – though she did do a double take when she spotted a sunchoke, asking me what it was. When I told her, she started lecturing me about how I shouldn’t be growing “strange” things – after she had already eaten it! 😄

Overall, it was a good dinner, and I’m glad we were able to do it, in spite of some of the very strange attacks she came up with during conversation. 😄

It also meant that I was able to get home with the conditions still good enough to get some work done outside – though it did get very windy!

I need to build a wall along the “inside” of the L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden. Given what materials we have on hand, I was thinking of doing a wattle weave. I had intended to use lengths of maple suckers that I need to clear out of the maple grove, but after looking more closely at them, none of them were suitable for weaving, nor did they seem adequate for supports.

While bringing kibble to the tray in front of the pump shack, I took a closer look at some maple growing next to it. There was a maple that had been cut down, and suckers have been growing out of the stump for some years, to the point that they were getting into the power line running into the pump shack.

Lots of nice, straight and strong suckers, that would make good upright supports.

So that’s what I worked on today.

At some point, we should come back to the stump with a chain saw and try and clear it away even more. Maple stumps will send up suckers from the stump of a dead tree for ages, if something isn’t done to make sure it’s completely killed off. From what I could see, this maple has been cut down at least twice over the years, and been trimmed of suckers a number of times, too.

You can see where the power line attaches to the outside of the pump shack and runs in. That dangling board used to be attached to the side of the shack somehow. Something needs to be done about that, since it’s supposed to be supporting the line, not hanging off of it! Some of the suckers I cut away had branches tangled up in there. I’m very glad to have them clear of the shack!

I saved the straightest pieces. Hopefully, they will be easy to debark I wouldn’t want them to root themselves and start growing.

There was a lot of material that could not be used, too.

At first I put the cleaned up branches on the pyre stacked over the burnable garbage that’s too much for the burn barrel. On a calm day, we’ll have ourselves a bonfire! I ended up putting the last of the branches on the mostly composted bits that are left over from the branch pile that got chipped, just because there was getting to be too much on the bonfire pile.

I like being able to get more than one job done at once. I got to do some necessary clean up by the pump shack and it’s power line, and at the same time acquire materials to use for a garden bed or two!

As for the branches needed to weave around the uprights, I should be able to prune away suitable pieces of willow branches from the trees in the yard. Trees that have already been trimmed professionally to clear branches from the power line to the house, and that we need to keep trimmed. Willow is very enthusiastic about growing new branches after being pruned, and it’s been a couple of years. I’m just not sure we’ll have enough to do the wattle weaving I have in mind, but there are other willows in other areas in and around the yard that could probably use a good pruning, too!

I’m looking forward to trying to figure it all out, tomorrow. The temperatures are supposed to drop after tomorrow, but we’re also still expecting rain rather than snow, so it shouldn’t be too bad to get work done outside.

Now, if the wind would just die down, that would be great!

The Re-Farmer

Looking for things, and finding some surprises

The girls want to shingle the roof of the water bowl shelter. The paint I got was pretty cheap, and it’s so thin and watery, it doesn’t really cover well. The roof of the shelter is already mostly painted white, and the yellow just can’t go over it well.

We’ve been using some leftover shingles like what is on our roof now for replacing shingles that have blown off. We still have an unopened package of those in a tiny shed by the barn. However we also had shingled in the shed where the roof collapsed under heavy snow this past spring. I’ve been wanting to start cleaning that up so we can salvage some of the wood. Hopefully, we can salvage enough to build a chicken coop. I decided to start cleaning up in there until I could get at the shingles, and a couple other things I want to preserve.

I worked my way to the corner, taking out a LOT of rotten boars, beams and shingles, and was able to get out the antique plow, and the gadget my late brother made to help him install transmissions.

That plow is remarkably heavy to carry! And awkward.

Not as awkward and heavy as this thing I found under it.

I have no clue what it is.

Then I found this surprise, under an old window and sheets of what I think is fibreglass.

What a remarkable window! And the glass is still intact!

It’s now stored in the garage with the van, where I think it will be safest. I would love to be able to clean this up and find a way to use it!

The wheelbarrow has all the shingles that were in there.

I recognise those shingles. They are the shingles from when the addition to the original log cabin part of the house. I spent many hours playing on the roof and remember the colours well.

That roof was installed in the mid 70’s.

They may not be useable. If not, I can go to the other shed, where there is an unopened package of the shingles that we have right now. That was installed in the mid to late 90’s.

Speaking of things that are older than expected…

I knew that shed was old, but I did not think it was “forged nails” old!

The wooden shingles were nailed in place with more modern nails, but the boards were nailed to the trusses with forged nails.

Hundreds of them.

They are all rusted out, with many all bent up or even broken, but I would like to save as many of these as I can.

Of the roof pieces I pulled out, there were only three lengths of wood that were potentially salvageable. The rest are incredibly rotted out. There’s still lots to clean up, but I’ve already got a substantial pile for burning – after I’ve salvaged as many of the forged nails as I can! It’s the walls that I expect to be able to salvage more, and it’s going to be a while before we can start tearing those down.

Whether or not there’s enough useable wood to build a chicken coop with it, I have no idea at this point -but I’m still hopeful!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: some growth, a first harvest, tree status, and no, that is not a funeral pyre

It was a very early morning for me today. The cats got active at about 4am and wouldn’t stop! I finally gave up and did my morning rounds while the girls were still cooking down the crab apple sauce for me to can later.

Parts of the province got frost warnings last night. We did not, thankfully, though the temperatures did go down to 5C/41F. It was still only 6C/43F while I was outside. I actually had to wear a jacket!

Today is our average first frost date and, while it was chilly last night, it is expected to warm up again over the next few days, and stay mild for the next couple of weeks, at least.

The garden is on borrowed time right now!

We actually have a few tiny little Purple Beauty peppers ripening! They are much, much smaller than they should be. These should look much like your typical grocery store bell pepper, in size and shape. That we got any at all still amazes me, though.

The one Little Finger Eggplant that is producing fruit is growing so fast!

No, I’m not pointing to anything there. I’m just moving a leaf while not blocking the view of an eggplant at the same time. 😁

The other plant sharing it’s space is blooming, but still no eggplants, while the plants in the low raised bed aren’t even blooming, yet.

As for this morning’s harvest, we got a first today!

We actually had grapes ripe enough to pick! There are still come clusters that are not ripe, yet. There isn’t a lot in total, but last year we basically had nothing, so that is no complaint at all. I’m not sure what to do with such a small quantity, though.

I finally remembered to go into the outer yard and get a picture of the Korean pine. Here, you can see three of the four surviving pines.

You can just see a mowed path going off to the left. That leads to the fourth surviving pine. The six pine had been planted in pairs on either side of the lane we want to keep open to the secondary gate that I normally would have kept mowed.

The chicken wire covers painted high-viz orange seem to be working out so far. My only concern is that chicken wire isn’t very strong. If the renter does let his cows through to graze in the outer yard, it couldn’t take much for a cow to crush one of them. I’m counting on them simply avoiding the cages, instead. Or deer, for that matter. We’re more likely to have deer going through here than cows.

You can see the other big branch pile on the right of the photo, with some fresh branches on top. Now that the other piles are chipped, any new prunings will be added to this one. Today, I pruned a bit around the stone cross, opening things up and even giving a bit more sun to the Wonderberry. I also started to break down one of the dead crab apple trees near the one that we harvested from. The dead branches are well entangled in the other trees, so it will be done piecemeal at first.

One of the other things I got done, though this was last night, was go through the pile of logs the chippers left next to the burn barrel. I’d already set aside a stack of pieces that are not rotten, quite straight, and useable. The rest of the pile of unsalvageable wood is now moved.

I laid it out around the pile of burnable junk we’d been stacking against the branch pile. Much of it is old newspapers and catalogs we’d cleared out of the sun room when we cleared and cleaned it out the first time. We intended to burn it in the burn barrel, but it’ll just be easier to do a bon fire! The straw is what was cleaned out of the cats’ house, so it’s not something we can use as mulch, or even for the compost.

Once we do have a day to start a burn, we’ll have to take turns keeping an eye on it. This will take a long time to burn through! This is something that could smolder for days. Plus, I plan to drag over branches from the pile next to the garage that the tree guys couldn’t chip, to clean that up, too.

When the girls saw this, the first thing they said was, “nice funeral pyre!” 😂

Yeah, it does kinda look like that! 😁

The Re-Farmer