Wet, wet and more wet!

I am so, so glad the girls were able to get the clogged downspouts cleared yesterday! We had a thunderstorm last night, and are currently under weather alerts for more severe thunderstorms.

This is the one, draining into the north yard, that was causing the most problems. It is under this corner that the most water is leaching into the basement. This basement does have weeping tile, but they are not working as they should anymore, and are probably clogged at this end.

There is another downspout at the south end, but it had only the short piece of eavestrough at the end to divert the water away from the house. For some reason, we’ve got about a dozen or more downspouts in the garage, so I grabbed one for them, and they set it up to extend into the bed where the dwarf Korean lilac is. With how tall the grass is in the outer yard, it was actually a struggle to get through it, to reach the barn!!

I’ll put up with the extension blocking the path along the house. It’s not as bad as the north corner, but we do have water seeping into the basement a bit in the south corner, too. The wall is partly damaged by the roots from the Chinese elm my mother planted for shade in front of the kitchen window. 😦

While they worked on that, I worked on the trellises.

I decided I’m just going to have to buy more of those bamboo stakes once pay comes in. A pair of them was set up at each of the uprights for the two rows that need trellising. That left me with 4 stakes left. I lashed them to the bottoms of alternate A frames, for 2 on each side. To finish the job on both rows, I’ll need 10 more of these 6′ bamboo poles. Then I used the net from last year and set that up, lacing twine along the ends and at the bottom stakes, to snug it up. We need to get more of this type of net. The spacing is large enough that we can reach through to harvest our beans, peas or cucumbers. The other net we have is 1/4 inch mesh.

After this, I also put a simple rope fence around where we have squash, beans and corn planted. At this point, I just want to stop the deer from walking through it. They’re not after anything there – yet. You’ll see that set up in a photo below.

During the night, the skies opened and the rains poured down! I actually slept through it, awakened only by one exceptionally loud peal of thunder. While doing my rounds this morning, however, I could not believe how much water there is, everywhere! It must have been quite the deluge! I’m still holding out hope to be able to mow the west and north lawns, but that’s not going to happen today, that’s for sure! The west lawn is now mostly under water. Most of the north lawn as well. I’ve never seen that much open water in those areas before.

The squash patch is very wet – thankfully, the straw mulch is helping keep that under control. We’ve had paths between the low raised beds filled with puddles before, but not this much around where the grow bags and the small potato bed are.

I’m actually surprised the mosquito netting has held out. Their purpose is to keep the plants from being pounded by rain or hail, while still letting the water through, and it seems to be working. They’re only held in place with wooden clothes pegs!

I’m standing in water to take the above picture. There is even a large puddle next to the remains of the straw bale. The melons are likely good with the wet – they do need a lot of water, normally – but I’m concerned that some of the potatoes might get drowned.

This is the patch I “fenced” off last night. I used some old conduit pipes I found in the barn and pounded them in place as fence posts. They’ve got 2 lengths of twine running around them, far enough apart that we can just bend down and step through to get to the plants. I also dangled lengths of bells in different places, so even if a deer decided to step through, it would hopefully make a noise and distract it away. I added one of the pinwheels we have to the top of a pipe for the distraction. Little by little, we’ll set up more distractions and noise makers around the garden beds. Eventually, we will probably have to put a hardware cloth fence up, to at least protect the corn.

Assuming the corn and beans survive. As you can see, the sprouting corn is under water in places. The north end of the row with the popcorn in it is all under water. Still no beans coming up next to the sweet corn. Will they survive? I have no idea.

Even the area where the trellises are is full of water. This corner of the yard has been notorious for being incredibly dry and baked hard by the sun. Thankfully, the rows themselves are slightly elevated with the addition of garden soil and mulch, and even our digging and weeding before planting means where the plants are growing, the soil has better drainage.

The nearby sea buckthorn is high enough to not be in puddles – and they are finally unfurling their leaves! Nice to see they all took.

The silver buffalo berry is also doing surprisingly well. Moving south, the land slowly slopes downwards, so the last 10 or so silver buffalo berry are in pools of water. At least three of those have been in water for quite a while, and are still okay. They seem to be quite resilient!

The beds in the east yard are almost surrounded by water. Remarkably, the ground cherries are doing all right. I think that grass mulch is acting as a sponge, keeping them from being drowned out completely. There are pools of water right next to the mulch.

The paths between the low raised beds, and the entire lawn in front of them, is full of water. There is basically a pond in front of the outhouse. Thankfully, the raised beds are making a difference. There is increased growth visible in the Kulli corn, and the beans between them are looking very healthy. The tomatoes and onions are also looking strong – and those onions are really taking off! The 6 transplanted garlic at the far end of the third bed may not all make it, but the rest of the garlic is finally looking like they are taking off. I figure they are at least a month behind the garlic in the main garden area.

The other beds in the south yard are all high enough to be out of water. It looks like all 10 of the sunchoke tubers planted are now sprouted; some of the tubers have multiple stalks coming up. The asparagus and strawberry bed are right next to the vehicle gate, which is full of water, but the bed is doing well. Likewise, the beds along the chain link fence, on either side of the people gate, are above water and doing well. Still no signs of white strawberries.

The old kitchen garden has a slightly different situation. We’ve deliberately built it up over the past 4 years and have the retaining wall at one end, so it’s above the water that is in the lawn surrounding it. The house itself also usually keeps parts of it from getting rained on as much, not to mention the ornamental apple trees. However, the sump pump hose drains into the sun room garden, and that pump is going off quite frequently. It drains next to the bed where we’ve got the beets planted. I shift the end every now and then, so it’s either draining straight down a mulched path between the bed and the laundry platform, or it’s draining into the mulch at the end of the bed, and partly down the path on the other side.

These are all areas that are normally drier than everywhere else. Until this year, the sump pump basically never went off, because we’d been so dry. Now, not only are we getting more rain, but there’s all that nice, clear water from the sump pump reservoir being added. There is currently so much lush growth along the house side of the old kitchen garden that the path we made using salvaged cap stones, bricks and rocks along the house is almost hidden. The high end of the beet bed is almost overgrown with mint – and I dug up and transplanted as much of the mint from there as I could, last fall. Then again in the spring, I pulled up more of it when getting the bed ready for planting! The path is also full of mint at that end, along with loads of crab grass. Moving north along the house, it’s more of those invasive wildflowers, some of which my mother planted deliberately, not knowing they were invasive, and some are the same ones we’ve got taking over all over the place. I don’t mind them in the paths too much, but they’re coming up in the L shaped bed, too, and choking out the lettuce.

We have a drainage hose for the sump pump, but it’s currently being used for the washing machine to drain outside (it sounds like whatever is causing the water to back up in the pipes is still a problem). I’d like to add an extension so that the sump pump drains further away. With the length these hoses come in, we could even move the end to different areas of the old kitchen garden that might need more water, if we wanted. The area it’s draining into right now is getting to be too much of a jungle! πŸ˜€

We had already determined that we’ll be building high raised beds for mobility reasons. For some crops, like corn, tomatoes and vining plants, we would still want to have low raised beds. High raised beds are notorious for drying out quickly and needing more water, which is why we are using modified hΓΌgelkultur methods to fill them, with all those layers of wood and organic matter acting as a sponge to hold water. This spring has shown us that even for a wet year, there are benefits to having raised beds, as they are keeping things from being drowned, too. Even a few inches of elevation or a mulch is making a difference.

When we get around to building permanent high raised beds in the outer yard, from what I’ve been seeing so far, water like this will be less of a problem. There are patches with water collecting in them, but where we are planning to build the beds seems clear. We’ll see better once we finally get that overgrown grass cut. It’s about 3 ft high, at least! I almost feel like asking one of our neighbours if they have a grazing animal we could borrow. Otherwise, it feels like such a waste to cut it all!

We’ll figure it out.

The Re-Farmer

We have berries! and stuff I forgot

While bringing the plants indoors, my daughter remembered to shake the blooming Wonderberry plants against each other, to give them a chance to pollinate. I still don’t know of they’re self pollinating our not, but we’re doing it just in case. Then my daughter commented that it seems to be working. We have berries.

What????

It turns out all three of the plants are starting to form berries!

Of course, my camera didn’t want to focus on the ones I was trying to get a picture of. After the photo was uploaded, I noticed more I hadn’t seen.

The instructions I found for these said to start them indoors very early, which we did. Now it’s looking like they were started way too early! I have no idea how they will handle being transplanted outdoors, which still won’t happen for at least a week and a half.

They are looking strong and healthy in their pots. Though we did pot them up into larger pots that can be directly buried into the ground, they’ve gotten quite large, and now those pots look so small!

There’s not much we can do about that for now. We’ll just have to see how they do.

While uploading the picture of the berries, I realized I’d forgotten another picture I took of something I FINALLY managed to get done, while tending the burn barrel. I cut away the trees that were growing around, under and through the old Farm Hand tractor sitting in the outer yard. My brother thinks it can be fixed up, so I wanted to make sure it doesn’t end up like so many other old and abandoned antique equipment lying around.

I was able to get most of it cleared with a pair of loppers, including one surprisingly large maple that was growing through the engine compartment. There was one large maple in the back that I had to come back with the mini-chainsaw to cut away. This one was not only larger than all the others, it had formed around part of the tractor.

The dents in the trunk piece are from growing around the bottom corner of the hydraulic fluid tank, and the hose attached to it.

Maple suckers will grow back, but it will be easier to keep clear, now that the big ones are out.

It’s a shame no one’s been able to keep this old crank-start tractor up. It’s been sitting so long, you can see lichen growing on the tank! There’s lichen growing all over it. As you can see, the hoses are degrading, too, and it’s all rusted. The front end loader attachment is so covered with moss and grasses, I can’t even tell which attachment is on it.

I’m glad I managed to at least get this job done. It’s been on my to-do list for three years!

The Re-Farmer

Finally broke it down

Just a bit about some of the clean up we did yesterday, since I didn’t get back to the computer until much later.

The girls were able to get the sheets of metal roofing that blew off the old garden shed out and strap them back on, but weren’t able to screw them into place. We don’t really have a way to reach the top. Too much stuff around the building. Will have to get back to it another time.

They also picked up some of the fallen branches around the yard. When I went out again later, I picked up some more. There are still a few areas that are are so wet, we’re not trying to get into them to do any cleanup yet.

The main thing I’m happy to have finally gotten to, was cleaning up that piece of tree that fell on the canopy tent. With the BBQ moved away, it was easier to get at, and the picnic table made a convenient saw horse. I was able to use the mini-chainsaw to cut most of it to size, then used a buck saw on the rest. I didn’t fill like dragging an extension cord across the wet lawn to use the electric chainsaw.

I cut it to fire pit lengths, and the whole thing fit into the wheel barrow, except for the little branches that went onto one of the branch piles. I kept the bark the fell off, though. The inner bark in particular is good for starting fires.

You can see the hole in the ground from the tent leg that got driven in when the piece of tree fell on it.

This was some nice maple wood, so it went into a pile we’ve got that’s almost all maple and apple wood we’ve been cleaning up, to use in cooking fires.

We’re looking forward to the winds dying down so we get get the fire pit going and finally test out that cast iron Dutch oven. We should get some excellent cooking coals out of this. Can’t let it go to waste! πŸ™‚

As much as I look forward to the winds dying down, they are certainly helping dry things out. Even the water seeping into the old basement is visibly less, for all that we still got rain. Still, I want to get the platform set up again, so we can go back to hardening off our transplants. Theoretically, we can just put them on the ground, or even just on the platform bed frame, but they’d be in reach of the groundhogs if we did that. I’ve been seeing them running around in the yard, and on the garage cam live feed. I imagine there will soon be little ones, and hungry mamas would make short work of our transplants.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Receding, and signs of spring

The area is still on blizzard watch. Everything looks fine right now, and we’re only a couple of degrees below freezing. Looking at the weather radar, the system is crossing the Canada/US border, but it’ll be a while before anything reaches as far as we are now.

According to The Weather Network’s hourly forecast, we’re supposed to start getting snow around 3am, and the blizzard will reach us by 10am. What I’m seeing on the weather radar, however, doesn’t seem to match up with the alarming alerts we are still getting. My phone app’s “looking ahead” still claims we will reach an accumulation of 40-60cm/15-24in of snow in our region, but looking at the hourly forecasts on both apps, it just doesn’t at up. I added up just the hours that were under “blizzard” conditions, since the hours before and after that time slot showed under 1cm/0.4in. Using the highest amount forecast, I only got about 15cm/6in in total.

I don’t think a lot of people are looking at the hourly forecasts and adding it up, though. The alerts are telling people to expect an extreme blizzard and to stock up now. My mother called me today and told me that some of the folks in her building had gone to the grocery store, where they described standing in line outside for 20 minutes, just to get through the door – and there are no occupancy restrictions right now. Even when people were all panic buying in 2020, they didn’t have line ups like that out here. Meanwhile, in the city, my SIL told me they’d gone to Costco yesterday and described it as busier than the week before Christmas.

Well, you can’t go wrong by stocking up, as long as people aren’t panic buying. There’s a difference between prudence and ridiculousness!

When I headed outside this evening, while there was still enough light out, you would never know there’s supposed to be a storm coming. Though we only reached a high of -1C/30F today, it was still warm enough for things to keep clearing up outside.

The snow has finally receded enough that I was able to get to, and clean up, this pile of fallen dead branches that conveniently fell near piles of branches waiting for the chipper.

Before I’d gone out, I saw some deer on the garage cam’s live feed, so it was no surprise when I saw our usual three visitors, including the piebald, just past the chain link fence. I’ve no doubt the piebald was heading to the kibble house or shrine for some snacks! All the trays were empty, though, so after I startled away the three deer in the outer yard…

… and the one by the outhouse…

… then the other two at the feeding station by the house!

… I refilled the kibble trays. The cats were quite happy for it!

So was the skunk I had to persuade to leave the tray under the shrine, later on.

I took a closer look at this area in the old hay yard, near the driveway. This low spot is not as deep as it used to be, from what I remember as a kid. It was more like a small pond or dugout. I remember being able to skate on the ice. The darker areas showing where water is accumulating under the snow is larger than it was when I went by this morning, and probably the largest I’ve seen it since we moved out here.

This is where we would eventually like to have someone come in and dig it deeper for us, and have an actual pond again. Not too far away is where we plan to build our permanent fire pit area and outdoor kitchen, as well as comfortable – and sheltered! – seating areas.

I will be very happy when we can finally take out the old fencing.

That’s a few years into the future, though.

I saw deer making their way along the south side of the spruce grove again, so I headed that way to discourage them. The snow has cleared enough that I could finally check the damage to that poor little cedar we found while cleaning up the area. I could only see it from the driveway before, but it looked like the deer had eaten every bit of green on it. Which they had.

Much to my surprise, it’s still alive!

It’s sending out fresh shoots!

We’ll have to put something around it to protect it from the deer.

I even checked what was left of the mulberry tree we planted last spring, only to have that one cold night in May kill it off. I would still water the dead stem, just in case, throughout the summer, but the deer ate that, too. There’s only about 6 inches left of it sticking out of the ground. Oddly, I find myself thinking it might send out new shoots, too. It just doesn’t seem as brittle as I would expect, if it were truly dead. It’s highly unlikely, but… well, that cedar was well chewed up, and it’s surviving!!

What I really appreciated was seeing this.

This area had been almost completely under water, not long ago. Even just this morning, I was walking through a couple of inches of water. It has all been absorbed!

The lowest spot behind the garage has also receded significantly. It no longer reaches even half way up the path to the outhouse.

This is so encouraging. All that wonderful moisture being absorbed into the ground, instead of washing away. This will be much benefit to the water table.

Any snow we get from the oncoming storm would be just as helpful. While I certainly don’t want to see the sort of destructive blizzard that is being predicted, and God knows we’re all pretty tired of the snow, the area has been low in precipitation since before we moved out here, and it takes a lot for the water table to recover.

Well, we’ll see what happens when it happens!

The Re-Farmer

Well, that was disgusting

It’s just past 2 am as I start to write this. Normally, I would be going to bed around this time, but I actually went to bed before midnight, for a change.

Before I did, I checked the old basement. Not only was there no increased flooding, but things had actually started to dry up. A good sign. I covered the drain with the plastic sheet that keeps the gases out and went to bed.

Not long ago, I woke to go to the bathroom and heard a strange, quiet rumbling from the basement. It didn’t sound like the well pump, nor the septic pump, neither of which should have been on, anyhow.

It was the sump pump.

The basement was flooded even more than before, the reservoir had filled, the pump was running so long, it was sounding wrong, but the reservoir wasn’t draining.

I threw on some boots and a coat and ran outside with the flashlight. There was nothing coming out of the sump pump hose in the old kitchen garden. I yanked it out from along the house, and it was flexible the entire length. I finally found the blockage, right by where it attached to the pipe from the basement.

I was able to flex the hose and could hear ice breaking up inside, but that did nothing for the rigid bit of pipe through the wall.

So back to the basement I ran, this time with a couple of large buckets. I had to unplug the sump pump, which had been running so long, it was hot.

By this time, my noise had awakened the rest of the family. Even my husband could hear me over the sound of his CPAP.

The girls came down to help. I used the small bucket with a wire on its handle that we used the last time this happened, and a broom handle it sink it, and started bailing water into a large bucket. That went to one daughter, who took it up the stairs. My other daughter took that outside to empty it, while I filled the next bucket.

That reservoir holds a remarkable amount of water.

After many trips, we got the reservoir bailed out as much as could be done with the small bucket.

Once that was clear, I checked the drain in the floor. It had disintegrating toilet paper in it, but not more than before, from what I could tell. I was going to hose that away after the septic tank was done.

The first time we had septic problems in the basement, that my brother and I worked on, we hooked an old hose to what used to be the cold water tap for the washing machine and used it to try and clear the pipes. The last time, when the plumber came with his drain auger, it came in very handy, so I’ve just left it there, with most of the hose rolled up and hanging. I pushed the end of it through the drain, and could get quite far. There is no blockage, that I could feel.

Once the drain cover was off, I could see water from the floor starting to slowly drain away.

Grabbing a long handled scrub brush, I tried to clear the drain opening, and it didn’t seem to make much difference in how quickly things drained.

What concerned me was that I started pulling up thin tree roots. That’s what the plumber had cleared out if there, not that many months ago.

After the tank is emptied, I should be able to run water through the drain in the floor and be able to see better. I’ll also open up the access pipe, near the septic pump, and take a better look, but that requires tools.

The drain cover has been left off. The sump pump remains unplugged. We will have to keep checking the basement more often, and if it starts filling again, start bailing it out again.

My daughter’s and I, meanwhile, have scrubbed up, though we still feel really gross. It’s not like we can take showers right now, though at least we can flush the toilet and wash up.

Now we have to get some more sleep while we can.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to fall asleep anytime soon, which is why I am sitting here, tapping out a blog post on my phone.

*sigh*

The Re-Farmer

Scrambling to catch up, and a court update

Today turned out to be a lovely day. Sunny, and at a high of 8C/46F, warmer than predicted. It made it very hard to believe that there is a storm and blizzard coming our way, starting tomorrow! While my phone’s weather app has been saying a blizzard was coming since yesterday, it was only until early this afternoon that my desktop app changed its forecast and began giving weather alerts.

After losing so much time yesterday, today was a day to scramble and get the essentials done. The rest will wait until spring.

Last night, the girls lifted the roof on the cat’s house, cleaned it out and replaced the old straw with fresh. Unfortunately, the heated water bowl had to be removed; the cord’s sheath had cracked, right where it contacted the bowl itself, exposing wire. That is unfortunate, as the heated water bowl made a huge difference last winter! So far, however, we are still expected to have mild temperatures, so we won’t need to plug in the electricity to the shelter. Which is good, because I forgot to buy a new 9V battery for the fire alarm we have in there. The ceramic terrarium bulb we have in there for warmth is well shielded, but we still want to have the alarm functional as a safety precaution.

I don’t know of the cats are happy with the clean up. I haven’t seen them in there, yet!

When I headed out this morning to do my rounds, I counted 20 cats.

But only Nosencrantz was willing to pause for a photo! πŸ˜€

One of the things I took care of while doing my rounds was to finally scatter some wildflower seeds.

I had two packages of wildflower seeds that were meant for the area outside the yard, in front of where the new sign is. Eventually, I want that entire strip to be filled with wildflowers for the pollinators – and so I don’t have to mow it anymore! I used a bulk sized spice shaker and some soil to scatter the seeds evenly.

This was something I expected to do in the middle of September, but it was just too warm. I didn’t want to risk the seeds germinating too early, and getting killed off when winter temperatures arrived. With the storm coming, these will get covered with snow and should be good to lie dormant until things melt in the spring.

Last night, the girls also used the insulated tarp we found in the garage a while back and used that to cover the septic tank, instead of straw. It’s large enough that it could be used, folded in half. It was full dark by then, so they just weighted it down with some fence posts. This morning, I shifted it a bit to get it right up against the house, then pegged it down.

As you can see by the two pegs on the right, I hit some rocks in the process!

By the time I pegged that down, I was done my rounds and headed inside to go through the trail cam files while eating breakfast. It was rather funny to see all the files of my mother and I, when I took pictures of her at the new sign. It feels so weird to see myself on video! πŸ˜€

By the afternoon, things had started to warm up nicely, so I headed outside.

The first thing I wanted to get done was scatter a different wildflower seed mix in the yard.

This one was an alternative lawn mix, for shade and partial shade, of flowers native to Western Canada. This double row of trees is really hard to tend, so I settled on this as the location for the seeds. Unlike the area in front of the sign, though, this one needed to be raked, first.

The first raking was to remove the leaves and debris, then it got raked again to loosen the soil surface a bit. There were some maple and willow suckers coming out of old stumps that needed to be pruned as well.

Then the packet – one larger packet of seeds – got added to the shaker with some soil and thoroughly mixed before being scattered on the raked ground.

Then, the leaves got raked back, as a mulch.
I look forward to seeing if this works in the spring!

One of the priorities on our to-do list was to finally repot our house plants. They’ve been hit with overnight frost, but amazingly, the aloe vera was still alive! They were overgrowing their post, though, so most of them ended up in the trench of the third low raised bed, to break down, except the biggest one that was too big to be buried in there, so it went to compost. I ended up transplanting 4 or 5 strong, healthy little aloe vera for the girls to bring inside later. The umbrella tree looked dead, but I pruned it back and repotted it, because it does actually seem to still have life to it! I would hate to have lost that thing. It had been doing so well, even with the cats constantly trying to get into it!

One of my daughters was working on commissions, so she could only come out to help briefly. My other daughter tried to help, but she was feeling sick and looked so horrible, I sent her inside. Poor thing felt so bad! She did, however, get the last hose put away for me, and was kind enough to run into the basement to shut off the water to the taps.

Once the water was shut off, I opened the back tap and put one of the new insulated hard covers for the taps on it, then finished putting up the rest of the insulation we put around the bottom of the house. This area had been left until we were done with using the taps, and the septic was covered. The front tap still needs its cover, but it is much more convenient to get at, so it can wait a bit.

Along with some other clean up, I did finally make it to the squash tunnel to prepare it for next year, but was only able to do one side before I had to go in for an expected phone call. The rain barrel was turned on its side and weighted down, the long tools and rolling seat went into the old garden shed, and the storage bin we kept to hold shorter tools and various other things we might find handy, went into the sun room. The things we have left undone are all things that will be okay if they wait until spring. It was just time to finally put the tools away!

Then I made a quick run into town to get a few things we thought we might run out of. The predicted storm is supposed to hit the south of our province, but it’s hard to know if we’ll get hit by it as well, or just catch the edges of it. At the very least, we expect to lose internet more often. That happens any time there is bad weather to the south of us. Though it is supposed to start with rain, we might get about a foot of snow, over two days, at which point we won’t be going anywhere for a while! I had already planned on tomorrow to be a baking day, and the last thing I wanted was to runout of ingredients in the middle of something!

Meanwhile…

I got an email from our vandal’s lawyer asking if I were available for the case management session on Monday. That went back and forth for a while. It turns out it will not be with just me, him and our vandal. It will be with the same judge that we’ve been in front of, this whole time.

My brother will not be able to make it, but we don’t want to delay this any more, so I took it. I feel more confident knowing that the judge will be there. The unfortunate thing is that it is going to be at 9am – in the big city, not the closer, small one we’ve been going to all this time. Worse; the court offices are downtown. So not only will I have to leave unfortunately early, just to make sure I have time to get lost among all those one way streets, but it’s going to cost more in fuel, and I’ll have to pay for parking. Minor things, but with costs going up, there just isn’t much wiggle room in the budget! Very annoying. But, it’s that, or wait a year for a trial. :-/

So that has been confirmed.

I am both looking forward to getting it done so quickly, and dreading it.

At least, by then, wherever snowfall we get from the storm will no longer be an issue. There will be plenty of time for any road clearing needed to be done by then!

As for our scramble to get stuff done, no, we weren’t able to finish it all, but the essentials are done, and the rest should be all right to wait until next year.

Speaking of next year, we’re made progress there, today, but that will be the topic of my next post! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer

More garden clean up

With today looking to be our last warm day before winter, we wanted to get as much done outside as we could. This time, our focus was on the pea trellises, as they will be used again next year.

This is how it looked before we started. My older daughter isn’t working on commissions for the weekend, so she was able to come out and help, while her sister did bread baking.

I hate to think how long it would have taken me, if I didn’t have the help! My goodness, there were a lot of roots to dig up!

It took us a couple of hours, but we got it done! There was one five foot section that was so filled with crab grass and creeping charlie, it took me longer to do that one spot than it did to do several other sections, together!

Later, we will cover all the beds with a straw mulch.

It was so pleasant to be working outside. The high predicted for today was 8C/46F on one app, or 12C/54F on another. By the time we came inside, the temperature had reached 15C/59F! In fact, the last few days all turned out at least a few degrees warming that predicted. If that keeps up, it’ll make continuing the work over the next couple of days much more pleasant. Tomorrow is supposed to be a very decent 9C/48F, then a couple of days at 8C/47F, all with overnight lows above freezing, before things are supposed to get colder. There is much work to do, as long as the weather holds, and cooler weather is just fine when doing manual labour. The more we can get done now, the less we have to do in the spring!

Speaking of which, my first seed order should arrive by the end of the week, and I’m just itching to make my next order, in next month’s budget! Hopefully, by then, inventory for 2022 will start to become available, and I won’t be seeing so many “sold out” notices.

The Re-Farmer

Manual labour is good therapy, and a court update

I headed out early today, for my court date with our vandal. It’s been a year, minus a day, since my first court date regarding my application for a restraining order was scheduled.

It was a very, very long day.

No, it’s not resolved.

But before I get into that, I will talk about something more therapeutic. I was so mentally exhausted by the time I got home, I needed to do some good old manual labour to get some “rest”.

I feel so much better, now!

With the day being several degrees warmer than forecast, I focused on the area that caused problems before, because the ground was too frozen. The old kitchen garden.

Before our old garden fork finally bent from the mostly frozen ground, then broke when my daughter tried to straighten it, she did get a start on the retaining wall before moving to an area where the ground was not frozen. This is the area that gets the most shade, plus I wanted to transplant some mint out of another bed into some of these, so the blocks got first priority. The ground was quite thawed out, today.

After the groundhog ate the lettuce that was planted in these, they basically got abandoned until now. Happily, there wasn’t too many weeds and roots to dig out.

After I did the blocks from the chives to the opposite end, I dug up some mint and transplanted them into every other block, again starting from the chives. When I thought I was done, I walked back and found some mint that got dropped from the bunch as I moved along the retaining wall, so I cleaned up one of the blocks in the foreground and planted it there. We had buried a mystery bulb in it, earlier in the year, but there was no sign of it when I dug into that block, so mint it will be!

I don’t know if they will take, but we shall see. After they were transplanted, they got a thorough watering, and that section is now done, unless we decide to mulch it with straw, now that there is mint in the blocks. We shall see how things go over the next couple of days.

This is the somewhat triangular bed we had planted carrots in, and where the garden fork met its match. The bed is too wide in the foreground, and that is also where the mint was coming up. Mint was even coming up through the paths we covered in straw and were walking on! There was one mint plant visible in the foreground that looks frozen, so I didn’t try to transplant it.

For this bed, the carrots that had bolted got buried in the middle, while the wider end was narrowed.

I stopped before getting too close to the pink rose bush at the “point” of the triangle. We’ve pruned the ornamental apple tree that was overshadowing it, and last year it finally bloomed, but this year, like so many other things, that one cold night in May killed off any developing flower buds, and it did not bloom at all. Hopefully, next year, it will have a chance to do better!

These are the mint rhizomes I found while clearing and resizing the bed! Even the rhizomes smells strongly of mint.

I then moved on to the L shaped bed we planted beets in. This one end in the foreground was particularly bad for weeds, but the rest was much easier to clear out.

My older daughter was able to come out and give me a hand part way through. She brought the logs over to frame the resized bed. The log at the end was originally cut as an end piece for the high raised bed, but the measurement got goofed, and it was more like 3 1/2 feet long, instead of 4 ft. So it’s perfect for here! The other two logs were from the remaining tops of dead spruce trees we’d used in the high raised bed. They are too thin and wonky to use in a high raised bed, but they will work here for now. In time, this will get replaced with something more permanent, and higher.

Then my daughter helped me finish weeding the L shaped bed. Once that was done, a shallow trench was dug along the middle, and the beets that were too small to harvest got buried.

The final step was to even out the soil in the framed bed, then I used the hose to wash the soil against the logs and level it out more. As gaps were found under the logs by the water, I stuffed them with straw.

These beds are now ready for next year. There is just the bed along the retaining wall to clean up, and later the paths will get a new layer of straw to keep the weeds down.

By the time I was done, I was feeling much rejuvenated and refreshed.

The day in court was so much longer than expected. Because of the fairly long drive, plus the need to get some gas, I left before 8am. It was still dark when I left, and there was one redeeming factor during the drive. I got to see a gorgeous sunrise. We do live in a very beautiful area!

On the down side, by the time I got home, I’d burned off all the gas I’d been able to put into the tank! 😦 I used my mother’s car, as it has not been driven much at all, lately. It does not have good mileage!

Anyhow.

I got there so early, I was the first person there, and the security guard didn’t even have the docket yet. We ended up chatting for a while, until the other security guard came with the docket. They both remember me by now! While we were talking the next person who showed up was our vandal. I almost didn’t recognize him at first, because of the mask (I wore my Mingle Mask, making me both recognizable and memorable, it turns out!). His lawyer was going to call in, so our vandal was on his own.

So we waited.

And waited.

Court started at 10, and they went through the docket.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

The security guard called our vandal over and told him he might want to talk to his lawyer about calling in, because he was next on the docket and I heard him say the lawyer was already on the phone, waiting, too!

An hour passed.

Two hours passed.

The second security guard, who was calling people in, came out and called for anyone who was there for the first time, but was not represented by a lawyer.

Someone else went in, and we waited.

Then someone else got called in, and we waited some more.

By the time we got called in, it was well past noon.

Our vandal was asked about his lawyer, and he explained that he had been on the phone for an hour already. The judge called into the mike, but the lawyer wasn’t there.

So they took the next files while waiting for the lawyer to call in again.

Several files later (they went by very quickly) and still no lawyer, so our vandal finally offered to text him, and they went on to the next file, with the understanding that it would be interrupted if the lawyer called in.

This one took longer, and then they moved on to another that was even longer. That one did get interrupted as the lawyer finally called in, with apologies.

The judge spoke to the lawyer for a while, then asked our vandal to clarify some things. I had agreed to suspend my application, if he agreed to seek psychiatric help. It turns out that his first referral was to the bigger city, but they are so backlogged, they are not accepting any out of town patients. His doctor then referred him to the smaller city we were in for court, but they are backlogged at least 3 or 4 months.

Given the way things are going, in my mind, it’ll be twice that, at least, but who knows?

So that left us in a quandary. The judge asked me how I wanted to proceed, and I told him that I understood the issues with backlogs, but until he is getting help, I don’t feel safe. He has already caused damage and been threatening towards me, which was acknowledged. I told them I felt that the only reason we have peace right now is likely because of my application, but it’s already been a year. The problem is, if it goes to trial, we won’t have a court date until…

A year from now.

All the previous cases that got rescheduled while we waited were going to November of next year, so I was not surprised by this.

Given how long it has taken, the lawyer suggested going to Case Management. The judge explained that this would be me, our vandal and his lawyer in a room, trying to work things out. I asked if I could have someone with me. The judge asked who, and I suggested my older brother, who owns the property. I had to explain that we are basically caretakers, and my older brother owns the property; the safety issue is about me, while the vandalism affects my brother. The judge agreed. So I won’t have to be alone and bullied by our vandal and his lawyer.

So, in the interest of speeding things up, the lawyer will have to show up in court a week from now, a date for case management will be worked out with the judge, and the lawyer will inform both of us.

By the time we left, it was nearly an hour, for what is normally a 10-15 minute session.

Near the end of it, our vandal tried to interject that there was a “bigger picture” involved and brought up his civil suit against me. He started to say how the property was transferred to my brother “behind his back”, that I’m keeping him from his possessions, and that I am using the courts against him. Which is a rich claim indeed, considering he is the one that caused damage and took so many things from this property, and he is the one who has filed vexatious litigation against me, in retaliation for applying for a restraining order. However, in his mind, he is the victim. He doesn’t even deny that he vandalized things. He just acts like it hasn’t happened, and my family and I are just persecuting him. He doesn’t deny that he’s taken things, either. He truly seems to believe he was entitled to it all. But then, he also believes he’s “maintained” this place for 30 years (my parents were still actively farming 30 years ago), my parents bought the property in 1952 (they weren’t even married yet), and they somehow managed to fun a fully functioning farm, without owning anything on it (he’s told me 90% of everything here belongs to him). It’s all part of why I want him to get psychiatric help.

The judge pretty much brushed his comments off as something to be dealt with in Case Management.

Given his mental state, I don’t expect anything to be accomplished by Case Management. But, at the very least, it will show the courts that we tried.

The year long delay for things to go to trial, though… good Lord! So much can happen within that year! Even then, ultimately it’s just a piece of paper. But it’s a tool that will, hopefully, get him help for his mental health, and maybe stop drinking (which hasn’t even come up, yet). The judge may even choose to have our vandals guns removed. Not that it would stop him from doing something like setting fire to the house.

*sigh*

The police recommended I apply for the restraining order back on 2018, when I first laid charges. It was already stressful enough to press charges – which got stayed, anyhow – and I didn’t want to go through it all. On the one hand, it feels like I shouldn’t have bothered now. On the other, I wish I’d done it back in 2018, before the world went crazy.

*sigh*

What’s done is done. I can’t stop now, or things will just get worse.

Meanwhile, we just keep on going, taking care of this place, and improving it any way we can.

And protect what’s left of it it from our vandal.

The Re-Farmer

More fall clean up, prowlers, and there’s a stranger in town!

While it was a warm day today, it wasn’t quite warm enough to work on garden beds, so once the outhouse floor was done, I focused on doing a number of small jobs around the yard.

One of them was to replace the grass mulch on the garlic beds with a thick layer of straw. The grass mulch went into the newly framed bed, which has a trench in the soil for now. We’ll toss our kitchen scraps for the compost into the trench as well, before it all gets buried in fresh garden soil.

While I was getting ready to roll up the garden hoses at the back of the house, the cats were prowling all around me! It seems like, everywhere I turned, there was a cat, circling around me.

Except for Tuxedo Mask. The cheeky bugger planted his butt in a plant pot! The flowers in there are one of things my mother planted that turned out to be invasive. After telling me there was nothing in the old kitchen garden she wanted me to save, and I cleaned out and covered it all with layers of cardboard and mulch, she changed her mind and wanted me to keep them. They pushed their way through the layers of mulch, anyhow, so I transplanted some into this pot while preparing beds to plant in this spring. They’ve still managed to take over a section of the old kitchen garden, but it’s an area that is overshadowed by lilacs, honeysuckle and roses, so it’s not likely we’ll ever plant anything else in there. We’ll just have to keep them out of where we have built new beds, which looks like it’s going to be a challenge!

These flowers, which look a lot like periwinkle, are very hardy. They won’t have any problem recovering from a cat sitting on them, so I didn’t bother chasing Tuxedo Mask off!

I probably should have waited for a warmer day to put away the hoses, but it’s done now, except for one hose in the front of the house that I left for a bit longer. From the long range forecast, this weekend will be the last warm days, then the day time highs will slowly drop. Even so, we’re not expected to have highs at or just below freezing until past the middle of November.

I’m good with that!

After doing some other clean up around the yard, I got the burn barrel going for a while, then headed inside before the light failed. At the last minute, I decided to top up the cat kibble, which had been gotten into by that big skunk again. Of course, as soon as I came out of the sun room with the container of kibble, I had cats prowling all around me, crying like they were starving to death.

Including… hold on…

That wasn’t Tuxedo Mask over on the sidewalk. He’s busy trying to trip me on the way to the kibble house.

We had a stranger in our midst!!

After refilling the kibble trays, I was able to try and get photos.

What a handsome stranger!

The other cats didn’t seem the least bit bothered by his presence, either. I saw the kittens act more skittish around Creamsicle Baby than this guy!

He moved away from the food while I was trying to get a photo, prowling around the cat’s house and kibble shelter, and making his way back to the sidewalk, but he never ran away.

Even when my older daughter came out to see him, he stuck around. I went inside to let my younger daughter know. She was in between batches of bread baking, so she was able to come out, too. He did eventually start eating while my daughter was just a few feet away.

I wonder where he came from? This is the first time we’ve had a long haired cat come by, and the first time we’ve seen another tuxedo.

As long as the cats get along, he is more than welcome!

The Re-Farmer

Our “second bathroom”; painting the floor

As our day warmed up in the afternoon, I took advantage of it to get some stuff done outside. Now that the sign’s lettering is done, I used the paint, which I chose for its durability, to get the floor of the outhouse painted, first thing.

The first thing to do was remove the remarkably heavy piece of … whatever the stuff is called … out, then sweep and scrub the floor as best I could. Unfortunately, there are cramped spaces on either side of the door frame that I just can’t get into. At least not without making efforts I’m just not willing to make for an outhouse! LOL

I just painted over the crud. I figure, if it’s stuck to the point I can’t get it out with a brush, it can stay there.

Of course, in the time it took for me to turn around and set the paint can and brush down, a leaf blew onto the wet paint!!

I was able to reach it without getting into the wet paint myself, though. πŸ˜€ Then I quickly closed the door before more leaves blew in!

I don’t think I’ll bother with a second coat. If you look really hard, you can see some of the mint paint through the blue a bit, but most of this will be covered with the mat. I just wanted to protect the wood, really, and I think this will be just fine. If it isn’t, we can always add another coat next year, when we get more of the mint paint. The girls want to give it a final coat in semi-gloss.

It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to redo the roof before winter, so I’ll probably cover it with plastic before the weather turns, though at the state it’s in, it probably won’t make much difference if we don’t.

Which means that, once the paint is dry and the mat is returned, our emergency bathroom is now done for the year! πŸ™‚

The Re-Farmer