Still a bit chilly, and unexpected things

We’re still on the chilly side these days, and will continue to be for a while longer. As I write these, we are just below freezing, and our predicted highs aren’t going to be much warmer. It’s like that mild weather we had, and my being able to do some clean up in the spruce grove, was just a tease!

I think the cats are still appreciating the kibble house, and not having to be on the frozen ground to eat. Their water is freezing solid overnight again (except for the heated water bowl, of course), and they’re enjoying the warm water they’re still getting every morning.

I look forward to when we can take that tarp off the kibble house and give it a good paint job! It’s still too cold for paint.

At least the snow is mostly gone, so I can extend my rounds, checking the fence lines, etc. Which is where I found this poor little pussy willow, desperately trying to develop its catkins! 😀 At least since we cleared this fence line, it is finally getting morning sun and warmth.

One of the things we will need to do today is go into town and retrieve my mother’s car. A bit late to help my mother, though! Yesterday, shortly after noon, I got a call from my mother. When I asked how she was doing, she told me she was “dressed”. Meaning, she was dressed up and all ready to head out. !!

We had been talking about me helping her with errands when I got her car back, and I was suggesting Wednesday or Thursday, hoping it would be done by then. Somehow, my mother thought it had been settled for Wednesday! So she was all ready to go for her errands, and for me to show up at the usual time. Of course, I didn’t show up because I didn’t know this! 😀 I told her I didn’t have her car, but she had quite a few errands to run, and didn’t want to delay them. So I headed out right away and, just in case, brought our little step stool for her to use to get in and out of the van. She has one just like it, but I wasn’t sure if she’d grab it or not. I’m glad I did, because she had forgotten hers. She realized this while waiting for me, outside the door where I usually meet her, sitting in her walker. She was going to give me her keys so I could run in and get hers, but it wasn’t necessary. It turns out she doesn’t need it so much to get out of the van, but getting in is much harder for her.

One of the stops she needed to make was at the Senior’s centre which, unfortunately, has stairs, so she has to leave her walker outside and hobble in. 😦 I helped her with the door and saw there was quite a few people inside, so I told her I’d wait for her outside. One of the social workers that I’ve been talking to about the horrible caretakers in my mother’s building came out to chat. She asked how my mother was doing, since my mother has a habit of saying she’s having troubles when she’s actually doing pretty well, but saying she’s doing well when she’s having troubles. Which isn’t all that unusual, I’ve found! 😉 One of the things I mentioned was that my mother was getting some serious cabin fever.

Which is when I found out something interesting. Not a good interesting, either.

When our province locked down even harder (which, as I predicted a year ago, actually caused an increase in deaths and illnesses; the first uptick of excess deaths our province had was during the annual winter increase, since the pandemic bypassed our province entirely until then, and no one in either of our municipalities has ever tested positive), buildings such as my mother’s locked their doors and only “authorized” personnel were allowed in, while residents were told to stay in their own apartments as much as possible, though they were “graciously” allowed to not wear masks within their own homes. :-/ “Authorized” personnel included the social workers, and people making deliveries. Because of the caretakers, my mother would sneak me or my siblings in through a side door, as we brought her groceries in. Yes, technically we were allowed in the building to do this, but the caretakers look for any excuse to harass people. Especially my mother, who is one of the few people to stand up to them.

Well, it turns out that my mother’s building is the only one that’s still locked up. All the other buildings run by the province are open. The social worker speculated on just who was responsible for keeping the residents locked up, and I half-joked that it made it easier to “control the inmates”. Unfortunately, the joke was too close to reality. She told me that one of my mother’s neighbours is considering putting a sign on her door to turn her apartment number to “Cell ##”, because she feels like she is in a prison. To be honest, in a real prison, they’d have more freedoms than the people living in my mother’s building, it seems. The frustrating thing is, there’s nothing we can do about it. The people living there are too afraid of the caretakers to complain, and since it’s a government run building, instead of a privately run building, getting abusive employees fired is pretty much impossible. The social workers have been trying to get the problem addressed for years – long before my mother has lived there – and had their own jobs threatened, instead.

It’s so frustrating. I was hoping my mother was serious about escaping to another building in town – one where meals are included, so she wouldn’t even need to do grocery shopping – but she chose this building because her church is right across the street. She wouldn’t be able to walk to church from the other building. That and she really doesn’t want to go through the hassle of moving again, even though this time I’d be available to help with our van. Truthfully, with the exception of the caretakers, this place is pretty ideal for her. She shouldn’t have to move, just to get away from crappy employees.

What a mess.

After my mother finished at the senior’s centres, we did the rest of my mother’s errands, finishing with some grocery shopping. After everything was brought in and put away, I was even able to stay for tea. Before I left, I gave my mother a big hug. She almost started crying. 😦

Just before I got home, I heard my phone going off, so I checked my messages before unlocking the gate. It was from the garage, letting me know my mother’s car was ready! It was too close to their closing time, though. I suppose I could have grabbed my daughter and left immediately, but since I had just finished helping my mother with her errands, there was no longer any rush.


Today, I need to focus and prepare for tomorrow. We finally have our court date for the restraining order against our vandal. I really don’t know what to expect. I think the most likely thing to happen is that they will run through the docket as quick as they can, and it’ll be rescheduled for a hearing at a later date. Of course, what I hope will happen is that the restraining order will be granted. A restraining order is just a piece of paper, but it does give the police more to work with and, more importantly, our vandal will have his guns removed, and he’ll have to stop drinking. The order is for a year, and then I would have to re-apply, if I felt it was warranted, but I would hope that a year of being dry, and having to prove it regularly, will make a difference in his mental state. It’s a faint hope, but it’s there, nonetheless. There’s still his vexatious litigation against me to deal with, but that court date is in July. If he were at all sensible, he would drop that, as he has no case. It’s basically just his way of getting back at me for applying for the restraining order after he tried to break the gate again.

What a mess.

As crazy at it is, I have no regrets for moving out here. The positives far outweigh the negatives, and it’s still better than what we left behind.

Still, it would be nice if all we needed to do was take care of this place for my family, which is why we moved out here to begin with!

The Re-Farmer

This and that, and… why have my fonts changed?

I did some unexpected running around yesterday and didn’t have a chance to post. Now that I am, I’m seeing that the title font in my editor has changed. I did not change the default font. I’m not even sure how I would do that!

Well, we’ll see if anything is different after I hit “publish”. So far, it looks the same as always when I hit “preview”.

WordPress gets weird at times!


For the last couple of mornings, I have been happy to see that the outside cats are using the cat house again. When I head out, I’ve been seeing a big mass of orange in the window and, as I come closer, three heads will pop out to look at me! Unfortunately, when I try to get closer to get a picture, Creamsicle Jr. gets spooked and runs off.

I’m still heating up water for them, which they really seem to appreciate!

Yesterday, the plan was to drive my husband to the clinic to get some blood work done. Unfortunately, he had another really bad pain day, and could not handle the trip. I should see if they will fax the requisition to the lab in the town closer to us. I think he would better handle a 15-20 minute drive, over a 40-45 minute drive!

I still wanted to take the van out on the highway, though, and see about blowing more carbon out of the lines at highway speeds. So I headed out to the Walmart in the small, nearer city to finally pick up the rest of the month’s supply of cat litter and dry kibble.

You can tell that spring is in the air, though, when you start seeing birds in the Walmart!

This little guy was checking out the bird seed aisle, and finding stray seeds to eat! 😀

While there, I hoped to pick up more 750ml canning jars, but there weren’t any. I’d picked up the last one, previously, and it doesn’t look like they got more. So I got more wide mouth 500ml jars (2 cups/half a quart). I think these are the two sizes that will be the most useful for us. The plan is to pick up a case or two every month over the summer, so that we’ll have a good stock available by the time we are harvesting from the garden. Assuming everything goes well and we actually have enough to preserve. I usually go with “hope for the best, plan for the worst” but in this case, we’re also planning for the best!

The van, I’m happy to say, ran well. I even loaded the heavy stuff in the back, rather than the middle, and didn’t feel any of the issues I’d noticed before, that had us splitting our trips and loading the heaviest things in the middle of the van.

Later on, I made sure to call my mother to arrange a grocery shopping trip for her. That was set for this afternoon.

If all had gone to plan, I’d be on the road to her place right now.

Does anything go to plan? 😀

It was quite late when I got a call from my mother. She had suddenly developed pain in her bones. Especially her already damaged knees.

My mother had received the vaccine for Schrodinger’s virus a couple of days before.

She was obviously quite concerned, but as we talked I suggested it might also be because of the fluctuating temperatures. That calmed her down, and she decided she would take some Tylenol, bundle up for the night, and keep the cordless phone by her bedside, just in case.

I’m happy to say she was feeling better today. When she got the shot, she had the usual adverse reactions everyone seems to be getting; her arm was sore, redness and swelling. Fatigue, as well. No allergic reactions, but I wouldn’t expect any from her. She has an iron constitution. Muscle and joint pain, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting are all on the list of adverse reactions that are being reported. We will have to keep an eye on her after the second shot, as reactions are reportedly worse after that one.

Though she was feeling better, she wasn’t up to actually going out, so I was going to do her shopping for her. We had a bit of a snow storm happening this morning; not unusually cold, but colder, with blowing snow, low visibility, etc. It was supposed to get worse in the afternoon, so I headed out in the morning. I popped in to go over her list with her and be really clear on what she wanted. I noticed things that were not on the list and asked her about them. It’s always hard to shop for someone else. Especially when shopping is often a “see what’s good” or “whatever’s on sale” situation.

There were a few things on her list she would have picked up at the pharmacy, but the pharmacy kicked me out because they don’t honour medical mask exemptions, so she said she would get those items, later. She’s not willing to pay the grocery store prices for the same things. 😀

Just me and her list did make for a very quick trip! I was even able to stay for a short visit, which I haven’t been able to do for a while.

So she is doing all right, but is very tired and will be getting lots of rest for the next while. My siblings and I are going to have to watch not to pester her with phone calls to check up on her! 😀

Thankfully, the local weather has actually improved; whatever was being forecast for this afternoon seems to be missing up.

I’m good with that.


The Re-Farmer

Of course…
Image source

Well, I’m back from taking the van to the garage.

I should be happy. I really should.

As I write this, we are still at -21C/-6F with a wind chill of -30C/-22F.

Before heading out, I made a point of starting the van, then headed back inside to give it a good 15 minutes to warm up. As usual, the power steering pump was whining loudly when I started the engine.

When I came back to it later, for the first time in weeks, the noise was gone.

Because, of course it was. I was finally getting it checked today.

As I was driving, I did hear a slight whine, but only while doing a hard turn, for example, but not if I were just changing lanes, and not at all while driving straight.

When I got there, I was happy to see he didn’t have other vehicles in the bays, which meant I wouldn’t be spending hours waiting for him to squeeze a check in between other jobs. He just had to deal with getting a vehicle outside loaded and hauled away. I had a chance to talk to him about the noise now being gone, even though it was there when I first started it. Yes, he agreed it could be just the cold causing it. He asked me other questions, and I told him that we’d had problems with the pump leaking before, but not for years (since I topped it up with a leak-stop fluid, it’s not been an issue). There’s no puddles under the vehicle, the fluid level is still fine, etc. Since I had the opportunity, I mentioned the power train error code that I got with the OBDII reader, and he also thought it was probably just the residual carbon from changing out the valve, and that it will clear itself after the van has been run a bit. Then I left the keys and went to the grocery store. Since I was stuck in town, anyhow, may as well get a few things!

It did not take him long at all to call me back.

He could find nothing wrong.

He could not recreate the noise. The closest he could get was when he turned the steering wheel as far as he could, and at that point, the noise was nothing out of the ordinary.

Everything checks out fine.

At which point I was saying, I should be happy to hear this, but the van has become like a Sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Thankfully, he took my concerns seriously, and told me to keep an eye on it over the next while, as things are warmer. If the noise comes back, he wants be to bring it back and he’ll check it again. If it doesn’t come back, then it was likely the cold causing it.

Now if only medical doctors took our mystery health issues as seriously when they don’t know the answers, as our mechanic does about our vehicles!

That done, I took the van back to the grocery store to load up the cart I’d left at the door, went to fill the gas tank, then headed home.

When we had the valve replaced, one of the things he recommended I do for the next while is floor it, every chance I got. I normally never do that. I tend to be a “gentle” driver. I do the speed limit. I don’t slalem back and forth between lanes. When I get on the highway, while I do try to get to speed quickly, I don’t gun it. I don’t even like passing people, if I can avoid it, and that is partly because the van has no get up and go.

Or should I say “had” no get up and go.

On the way home today, I followed his instructions and floored it whenever I could do so safely (clear road, no other traffic, etc.).

The van’s get up and go is the best it’s been since we bought it.

While the poor quality gas would have cause problems to escalate since the move, that build up of carbon probably started long before we owned it.

If I hadn’t been assured, long ago, that the vehicle was actually worth maintaining, we probably would have tried to trade it in for something else, instead of spending all that money on it.

Even so, with our need for a reliable vehicle that meets my husbands mobility needs, the constant issues cropping up are adding a level of stress I just don’t need!

However, having had it checked out, and with tomorrow supposed to reach above freezing temperatures again, I am finally going to try and make a trip to the city and do a full, much needed, monthly shop. I’m going to try going to Costco, in our usual location, which I’m told does accept face shields or Mingle Masks, and even complete medical exemptions still – though that seems to depend on who is on shift at any given time.

And if that goes well, I’ll later be able to pick up the replacement hot water tank and get it installed.

Just thinking about making these trips is stressing me out. Not just because of the vehicle paranoia, but because going out in public, surrounded by faceless people, is increasingly becoming the stuff of nightmares. As a student of psychology, I understand the effect it’s having and why, but knowing that, and feeling that, are two very different things.

Thank God we don’t live in the city anymore. If I were surrounded by this on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure I would have wigged out long ago.

The Re-Farmer

Problem found

What a lovely day we are having today!

As I write this, we are at -5C/23F, and are expected to get a bit warmer. After the deep freeze we just had, this is feeling downright tropical!

I meant to post this picture yesterday, but I just didn’t have the brain space to do a blog post, so I’m sharing it today!

Their matched, angry looking expressions make me giggle. 😀

There were lots of kitties out while I was doing their food and water this morning.

The Potato Beetle brought luggage.

This was attached to his tail! A whole lot of stuff, stuck to a couple of burrs, stuck to his tail. The blue is from the tarp covering the kibble house. It looks like there’s some jute cord in there, too, and I have no idea where that would be from. I haven’t used any outside, yet. You don’t get a real sense of perspective on the size in the photo. It was like he had a small birds nest stuck to him!

Nostrildamus was quite eager for attention this morning.

He was trying to climb onto me while I was taking is picture. I am so happy with this shot!

Butterscotch was out and about, too, and followed me around. She let me carry her back to the house, and I took advantage of the cat house roof. I put her down on it, then kept petting her, and was finally able to get a really good look at her wounded leg. The gash is completely closed and barely visible. If there were not a suture in the middle of it, I probably would not have been able to spot it, as she moved around.

The whole area is still nekkid. The fur is not really growing back at all, yet. Which means she’s cold, all on the inside of her thigh. Which is better than a gaping wound, of course, but I can tell she’s uncomfortable when she sits in the snow.


I took the van in to the garage yesterday. When I got there, I went over again with him about what the van was doing (he sees so many vehicles, I’m not going to assume he remembers everything I told him before! LOL), and he asked a few questions.

When I had come to the front door I saw, for the first time, a sign about masking. Most other places have them plastered all over, but he had just the one on the door. So I paused to put on my Mingle Mask before going in. There was no one else inside and, while he had his back to me when I came into the office, I could see he wasn’t wearing a mask, so I asked “can I take this thing off?” He said yes as he turned around, then saw the Mingle Mask. He had this “wtf is that?” look on his face, so I told him, I can’t wear a mask, but I can breathe with this.

As we were talking and I gave him the keys, I mentioned I was going to go to the grocery store across the street, but might have to come back. There’s no place else to go to wait. He told me to take my time at the grocery store, because he’s not allowed to have people wait in his office anymore. Which is ridiculous, considering how much space he’s got in there.

I did take my time with the groceries, but still ended up sitting outside and waiting. Thankfully, the grocery store has a picnic table in a sheltered corner, where the staff takes their smoke breaks. While I was there, a woman came by for a smoke and we chatted for a bit. After a while, I walked into the parking lot to check, and saw that my van was outside the garage door. I asked if it might be okay to bring the cart over there to unload it, but she saw I had two of the big water jug refills and said it would be really hard to get the cart through the snow. Instead, she helped me bring it into the vestibule, moving a divider for me, so I got get it nearer the exit doors. There was a staff member in charge of cleaning the carts, and she ended up keeping an eye on my groceries for me, while I went back to the garage. She even offered to help me load the water jugs when I came back with the van! They were so sweet. 🙂

As for the van…

The mechanic was outside when I came over – it turned out he had just tried phoning me, but I never heard my cell phone ring! As I came up, the first thing he asked me was, where do I buy my fuel?

We always but our fuel at either Costco (usually once a month, though we haven’t been to Costco for quite a while) or at a co-op. As members, we get a check at the end of the fiscal year, with the amount based on how much gas or groceries we buy, though I haven’t tried to shop at the local co-op grocery store since the restrictions went nuts.

As soon as I told him it was at the co-op, he just shook his head.

My EGR (exhaust gas re-circulation) valve needs to be replaced.

I had no idea what that was, so he explained it to me. It’s no wonder I didn’t know what it was. It’s been so long since I’ve tinkered with engines, they didn’t even have these, yet. I was aware of the EGR valve’s function in newer vehicles, but not as part with a name to it.

Gosh, I suddenly feel old.

He told me the co-op gas stations have the worst quality fuel available. This is something I’ve heard others saying, too, but I didn’t seem to be having any problems, so…


It turns out he sees this a lot, and every time he does, it’s people who buy their gas at the co-ops. The crappy fuel leaves behind a lot of carbon, and these valves end up completely clogged. He said they can sometimes be cleaned, but usually need replacing. I figure, by the time he sees the vehicles, they’re long past the stage where the valve can be just cleaned out!

This is in line with my brother’s thoughts when I described what the van was doing, though he hadn’t specifically mentioned the EGR valve. It might even be why our van sometimes doesn’t want to start at all – something it did with the mechanic one time, as he tried to drive the van into the garage when I had the winter tires put on. That was a problem we’ve had every now and then, since we got the van. Whoever owned it before us did not maintain it well, and we spent an awful lot of money getting it fixed up after we bought it. Considering we got it at a price low enough, I could use my debit card to pay for it, I suppose we can’t really complain!

So while it’s only been a little over 3 years that we’ve been buying this gas, if there were already a build up in the valve before, it would have gotten a lot worse, a lot faster.

As I think about it, I realize that if we weren’t in the habit of doing a monthly shop, with the van being so heavily loaded, we probably would not have noticed it was becoming a problem, and likely would have kept going for months, if not years, before catching it.

The part is being ordered, and I am bringing the van back on Thursday morning. It’s going to cost $425, plus taxes.


I won’t be getting my new chainsaw this month! 😀

While we were in his office, booking the next appointment, he saw someone coming in and quickly put a mask on, so I quickly put my Mingle Mask on, too, so as not to get him in trouble. We were both muttering under our breath about not being able to breath without a mask, never mind with one. I think he he’s medically exempt, too, but is being forced to wear one when customers are around. This town has an awful lot of Covid Karens that would eagerly phone the snitch lines, or the police, on anyone they deem non-complaint. At least he’s alone in the shop, most of the time, and can take it off to breathe.

(Which reminds me; my doctor is going to refer me to a respiratory specialist. The puffer he got me to try has made no difference, and this is now something for the specialists. Hopefully, I will get someone better than the last respiratory specialist I saw, when we lived in the city. His conclusion had been, I’m fat, so that must be why I’m coughing, and he would react with open surprise when test after test came back showing me normal and healthy. :-/ Then he just gave up and sent me back to my regular doctor.)

Meanwhile, the van should be okay to drive, though I will be avoiding heavy loads until after the valve is replaced. He assured me that, while it might keep stalling on me, I would be able to restart it and keep on going. Once it’s replaced, that sluggishness I was noticing should go away, as well. It seems quite a few little things I was noticing, including the fuel economy dropping and the idle starting to sound rougher, were probably all warning signs of this problem.

Now I’m wondering about my mother’s car. She always bought fuel at the co-op, too, and I’ve noticed it has terrible mileage.

After booking the appointment and loading up the groceries, I filled the gas tank on the way home.

At a different gas station!

Dang it. One of our favourite places to stop on the way to the city was the co-op gas station in my mother’s town. There are such wonderful people working there, plus they’ve got an excellent convenience store. But getting a few bucks a year back isn’t anywhere near enough to make up for having to pay over $400 to fix the damage it causes. :-/

We’ll probably still stop there, just to go into the store for snacks, home baked by one of the gas jockeys. ❤

So that’s where we are at, with the van situation. It’s going to be an expensive fix, but knowing what’s wrong is actually a huge relief.

I must admit, though; I’m getting really, really tired of vehicle problems. It’s a lot more stressful, when living in such relative isolation, because we depend on having a vehicle so very much. That’s one of the more major downsides of living out here. 😦

The Re-Farmer

Cute stuff, and some productivity

Before I get into various things, I want to share some cute stuff with you, first!

Our collection of baskets that had been stored in the big fish tank ended up on top of the piano for now. The cats love to go up there, so I fully expected them to take advantage of the situation.

It wasn’t long before I found Tissue and Leyendecker among them!

Tissue is in three baskets at once! 😀

The largest baskets, with decorations on them, are the ones we use for our family Easter basket. There are some smaller ones in the collection that we found while cleaning up the house, including a basket that used to be my very own basket to take to church for blessing on Holy Saturday, along with the family basket, when I was a child!

Here is some more cuteness for you to enjoy…

This piece of foam is what was inside the new washing machine when we bought it. Our old mama cat, who moved out here with us, immediately adopted it as her favourite bed, and now Cabbages loves to join “grandma” for cuddles!

The cats also like to bite off pieces along the edges and spit them out.

Our living room carpet is continually covered in cat fur, foam from this thing, cardboard from their scratch pad, and the dirt they’re still managing to dig out of some of our plant pots! The cats leave trails of detritus, everywhere they go. 😀

Our old mama cat has been quick to adopt any new cats introduced to the house, and is STILL allowing several of the kittens – now almost adults – to try and nurse on her, including Cabbages. Cabbages has been taking a long time to socialize but, thankfully, she is getting along quite well with the other cats. Grandma and Keith are her favourites!

Cabbages and Keith will spend hours like this, all snuggled together and napping on my bed.

Cabbages has finally reached a point where we can pet her regularly, and she doesn’t immediately run off. She seems torn between not wanting those big, clumsy humans clomping about near her, and wanting those scritches and pets. She will even tolerate being picked up and held, if only briefly. That is significant progress!

In other things, we warmed up enough today that I finally switched out the memory cards on the trail cams. That micro SD card I put in the new camera this morning, which had been used only once and did not require formatting in the camera when I put it in the first time, needed to be formatted this morning. *sigh* Why would it work fine the first time, after I’d formatted it in the computer, but need to be formatted in the camera, the next time it was used? The other micro SD cards I’d bought at the same time had done the same thing. I had assumed it was because they were not as high end, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem, after all.

Ah, well. I’ll figure it out.

With the bitter cold we’ve had for the past few days, I was not expecting to find much on the cards. Especially from the new camera, which has been just dying with the colder temperatures.

I was surprised.

The older camera was shut down when I switched out the memory card. When it gets cold and the batteries can’t handle it anymore, it shuts itself off. When I turned it back on, the batteries were still at half power, so it was just from the cold. There were still a few files on the card, though, all from one day.

The new camera had files recorded on each day of the deep freeze! This camera displays the temperature, and it actually kept on recording with an internal temperature of -25C/-13F !! Previously, this camera would die before reaching -20C/-4F! It did shut itself down during the nights; the only night files we did get, had a warning displayed in large red letters, saying it was low power. This camera will actually turn itself back on again when the temperatures warm up. I am totally shocked – in a happy way – that it kept working through the deep freeze. I have no idea why it would stop working before, but is working now, at these temperatures. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure! I did still have to warm up the camera with my hands, so I could see the screen, but that would only be a real problem if I had to do it during the deep freeze, because of the frost bite risk. Since I don’t even bother switching out the cards in temperatures like that, it’s a moot point.

This afternoon, we warmed up to -14C/7F, which made me a lot more comfortable about heading out to help my mother with her grocery shopping. She didn’t need much, but took advantage of having access to her car and stocked up on other things. I gave her some of my extra Mingle Masks, hoping she would use one instead of struggling with the surgical mask she normally uses, but she wasn’t up to it. Still, she has them, and saw on me how to use them, so I hope she gives them a try. She will actually be able to breathe in those. She still would have to use the type she struggles with at the pharmacy, though, so she might not bother. Frustrating.

After helping my mother with her shopping, I went back to the grocery store to pick up a few things to tide us over until we can do our big shop, whenever that will be. I had to pick up some bigger stuff, like cat litter and cat food, so there wasn’t enough room in her car for her shopping, her walker, and my shopping, all at once. Which is fine by me. The final bill was a shocker, though. I didn’t get very much, but it cost almost $270. Considerably more than if I’d been able to go to the city to buy the same things.

Bird tracks in the snow, found when I came home. This is nowhere near the bird feeders, but those are sunflower seed shells on the snow. Which shows just how windy things go!

There’s a reason we try to do monthly shops in the city. We save at least several hundred dollars every month by doing that, which means we have more budget left over to buy fresh foods locally. The more we’re forced to make smaller, local shopping trips, the more gets eaten out of our budget, and the less we can get overall, either locally, or in the city.

I did splurge on one thing, though.

I bought a 240 count bag of those red plastic beer cups.

I’m on several cold climate gardening groups, which are all busily talking about starting seeds indoors right now. I’ve seen people recommend using these as pots to start seeds in. They just need to have drainage holes punched into their bottoms. While I will be starting some seeds (like onions) in Jiffy pellets, and others (like corn) in toilet paper tubes, I learned from last year, that I need something bigger to start squash in. I did transplants outdoors too soon because they had gotten too big in their starter trays, only to lose most of them to one last late frost. By starting them in something bigger, even if the weather is not cooperative and they get in the ground later, they will have enough room to keep growing in their pots.

Ideally, I would be using biodegradable pots that can be put straight into the ground, with no disruption of the roots. That’s what I will be doing with the toilet paper tubes and corn. I’ve been looking at pots like that. The Jiffy peat pots are relatively inexpensive, and come in larger count packages. I would have ordered some last night, along with the seeds and plants I got for my daughters, but they were sold out. The alternatives were “cow pots” – the same idea, but made with cow manure instead of peat. They are way too expensive, though.

So when I saw the beer cups in the store, I went for it. They are the size I need, and can be reused. With 240 of them, I have more than enough to plant everything we have that need to be started indoors, and need the extra space.

Now I just have to figure out what to put under the the drainage holes. I can think of all sorts of possibilities, but they all require buying something, and that’s just not an option right now. Even if I could find them, they are “non essential” and stores still wouldn’t be able to sell them. (Like with clothes.) Maybe I’ll find something later in the month that I’ll be allowed to buy. The first seeds need to be started the second half of March, so I have a bit of time to find, or even build, something.

One more little step of progress towards our gardening. 🙂

Tomorrow, we take the van in to the garage and hopefully find out why it’s been stalling. What we find out then will determine what we do and when, in regards to getting the monthly shopping done, and picking up the new hot water tank on warranty.

Ah, that reminds me. I asked around about how this location has been about medical mask exemptions and things like shields and Mingle Masks. It turns out they’ve gone full mask nazi, even to the point of staff following people around, harassing them and kicking them out.

That is going to be a problem. At the very least, I need to go to the customer service desk with the sticker from the hot water tank, and warranty authorization number.

I did find out another location has been safe to go to. As far as I have been told, I need to go back to where the tank was purchased, but that may mean only the franchise, not the specific store. The first tank we got was from a location in town that told me they don’t do warranties, so I had to go to this other location. The one that was recommended to me is actually a bit closer; just in a town to the north of us, that we almost never go to.

I’ll have to make some phone calls.

What a hassle even the simplest things have become.

The Re-Farmer

It’s still cold out there, and… on a more serious note

One of the first things I do in the morning, before heading outside to do my rounds, is check the weather.

This morning, at a time when I would normally be starting to head outside, it was -36C/-32.8F

Yeeeaaaaahhhhh…. No.

I waited a couple of hours before heading out, but it was still -28C/-18.4F At least there was no windchill, and the “real feel” was -25C/-13F

The wait meant I had a whole lot more cats to greet me when I came out! There were none at all, inside the cat shelter. They were all out and about.

They have quite a lot of food out, but still prefer the fresh kibble. Which they quickly abandoned, once they saw there was fresh, warm water!

One of them was eager enough to take a short cut through the snow! LOL

Once again, I skipped switching out the memory cards on the trail cams, but I did head out to the garage to double check that the vehicles were plugged in, and grab some sheets of insulation. We had used these to line the windows in the sun room last winter, when we were keeping the doors propped open so the cats could shelter in it. With the outer door fixed, and that cats having a lovely warm shelter of their own, we didn’t insulate the sun room this winter. That leaves the pieces available to use inside the fish tanks to help keep the seed trays warm.


It wasn’t a lot of extra time to do that, but even so, I could feel the cold in my lungs. Thank God I’m already a shallow breather, due to my chronic cough. In temperatures like these breathing deeply can injure the lungs.

Image source – available on t-shirts and mugs! (not an affiliate link)

There may have been no wind chill this morning, but as I glance at my weather app, I see we’ve almost reached our high of the day, at -24C/-18F – but the wind chill is now -30C/-20F!

Thankfully, tomorrow we should be back to more normal temperatures, and be warmer than -20C. Which is good, because tomorrow afternoon, I am heading out to help my mother with her errands, and have to do a bit of grocery shopping for ourselves, too.

It should be even warmer on Friday, when I take the van in to the garage to get checked over. I really hope he finds why it has begun to stall and have troubles when fully loaded. We were already splitting our monthly shop into a couple of trips, and if the van has problems with just a half load already, and have to make more frequent, even smaller shops, we lose all the benefits of bulk shopping. Plus, our province has kept up a lot of restrictions, loosening some but increasing others, with no change in the mask mandates. There are still a lot of places that refuse to accept medical exemptions, and going out to shop feels like going out to battle, every time. Being surrounded by faceless people is also starting to freak me out more and more. I’m even playing Pokemon Go less. The game has things you can do right from home, without having to go places, and among the thing you can do is exchange gifts with people that are on your friends list. You get to see each person’s avatar in the process, and people are putting masks on their avatars. It’s bad enough that the option is even available, but it’s like a punch to the gut, every time I see a masked avatar. Every avatar represents the person playing, and that person just turned themselves into an NPC.

It’s one thing to know, intellectually, the sort of psychological damage this sort of dehumanization causes. It’s quite another to feel it. And rather surprising, considering how little we go out anyhow. I don’t even want to imagine how wigged out I would be, if I had to be surrounded by it every day. I completely understand my friend who has self isolated for months, because being surrounded by masks triggers her PTSD!

At least I know what the cause of the discomfort is. Most people would have no idea. And why would they? All they would know is that their stress and anxiety is increasing, and there are so many things contributing to that right now. Unfortunately, that cognitive dissonance would cause all sorts of anger, even rage, towards anyone without a mask, and they wouldn’t understand why.

A bit of a rant, there, I suppose, but that lack of awareness directly affects people like myself, who can’t wear a mask. Even in places that recognize medical exemptions, it’s the other customers that become more aggressive and abusive. I have been fortunate so far. I may have been kicked out of stores that refuse to honour medical exemptions (which is illegal, but then, so are the mask mandates), but I haven’t been harassed by other customers, yet. It has, however, affected familial relationships and friendships in a negative way.

I have never enjoyed shopping to begin with. Now, it’s like walking around with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head, never knowing if it’ll drop.

The Re-Farmer

Happy Three King’s Day, and digging out the fire pit

Happy Three King’s Day! Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, which is our last day of Christmas. After today, we start taking down our decorations. 🙂

It was another mild day today, so when I finished my rounds this morning, I decided to go ahead and dig out the fire pit.

I considered breaking out Spewie, our little electric snow blower, but for the amount of snow we have, I figured it would be easier to just shovel it!

I shoved the snow off what I’m using for a cover, but didn’t bother moving it, yet.

On our warm days, the snow melted enough to create a layer of ice on the surface of the picnic table. We’ll be staying at these mild temperatures for a while, so now that it’s uncovered it should melt away on its own.

I cleared a path to the organized wood pile. That cover did not need to have snow removed from it. I didn’t bother shoveling to the big pile of branches. The little pile has kindling and should be enough for our needs. We may not use the fire pit at all, but at least now we have the option! 🙂

I made sure to dig the path to the fire pit wide enough for my husband’s walker, should he feel well enough to join us if we do a cookout.

I was being watched the whole time!

You can see the cats’ favorite way to get under the storage house. The path that goes around the back branches off to a partially broken window they also like to use, as well as through the trees to the path they’ve made to the storage building outside the yard. Well worn little footy paths in the snow! 🙂

I also had to dig a wider path around the kibble house. There is a lot of overhang on the roof that is working quite well for the cats, but not so well for a human with a walker! 😀

While clearing around the cat shelter and kibble house, I found this.

It’s a frozen little cat treat! 😀 Next to the slab of ice that slid off the “porch” roof of the cat shelter.

Rolando Moon looks like she’s thinking of that delicious frozen treat! 😀

So we will now be able to easily get at the fire pit if we feel like having a cook out, or just a nice fire. I still like the idea of using a fire to thaw the ground out, so we can set up the fire pit grill my brother and his wife got for us!

We do have the BBQ they have us, and the propane tanks does have fuel in it, but I am much more interested in the fire pit, instead! 😀

In other things, I was able to get through to the clinic to make an appointment with my doctor about my breathing issues. After hearing the messages about restrictions before it ever got to a human, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make an appointment at all. The messages say nothing about medical exemptions to mask wearing, of course. Which sucks, since not being able to breathe properly is why I need to see a doctor in the first place. I was able to make a telephone appointment for Friday afternoon, and then it will be up to my doctor to decide if I should come in or not. I made an appointment for my daughter for right after mine, so when he’s done with me, I can just hand the phone over to her. This is the first doctor’s appointment either of our daughters have had since we moved. After seeing how difficult it has been for my husband and I to get good medical care, they have developed a strong distrust of doctors. I can’t say I blame them, either.

But that is done. We shall see what the doctor has to say when the time comes. I am not expecting much of anything, to be honest. No one is getting real health care right now, and our premier has just put us under another 30 days of house arrest, even has many of our politicians have been caught ignoring those restrictions and have gone traveling to tropical places, visiting with their friends and family, and then pretending to be sorry after getting caught.

Thankfully, we are out here in the boonies, and I get to focus on more pleasant things. Right now, I’m working on a project to help me be organized about our gardening, including keeping track of what seeds to start indoors and when.

More to come on that, later! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Second shopping attempt and, what the heck is going on?

We are having another beautifully mild day today! Just look at this image I got off one of the trail cams.

What a gorgeous sunrise! So moody with the fog. I changed the batteries on the camera yesterday, so it’s slightly out of position from where I want the motion sensors to be focused, but that just put it in the best position to get the sun rising behind the tree.

On the down side, this was screen capped from a video, and in the video, the sun was actually flashing like a strobe light. 😀 I was able to catch a frame in between flashes. In other videos, the sun was a giant, blinding orb covering most of the frame.

The camera has since been adjusted. 😉

It was a gorgeous day for another trip to the city. In past winters, I would have appreciated the mild weather and dry roads for such a trip. It would make things more pleasant for someone who doesn’t like to shop in the first place.

Things are not normal, though, and I was dreading the idea of trying to shop at Costco, but we still needed to get bulk items in flat cart quantities.

It didn’t happen.

When I got to the Costco, the line up outside was actually longer than it was when I tried to go there on Saturday! As I messaged my family to let them know I’d arrived, the line got longer, even as I could see it moving forward.

Since I wasn’t even sure if I’d be allowed in the store with my shield, I wasn’t about to stand in line outside to find out.

I decided to go to the Walmart in the smaller city. I wouldn’t be able to get everything, as it wouldn’t all fit in a cart, but at least I know I would be able to get most of it.

So after about 2 hours of driving, I finally made it to a store.


On the plus side, I did get almost everything we needed. Also, it was not the least bit busy, which is what I had expected at the Costco on a Monday morning!

We’re going to run out of cat litter before the month is out, but we shouldn’t run out of either wet or dry cat food. I was even able to get the big bottles of hydrogen peroxide they were out of stock of last time, to treat the hot water tank when it gets that sulfur smell again. I got only about half the protein for the price that I would have been able to get at Costco, but I won’t be trying to shop there again this month.

So we are mostly stocked up for the month. The rest can be bought locally, though we’ll have less room in the budget than usual for that. We will manage.

At least we would be able to, if nothing breaks down.

Which brings me to the first, “what the heck is going on” topic.

There’s something wrong with the van.

In past trips, when the van was loaded down, I could feel that it was struggling with the weight. A month’s worth of cat litter and cat food for more than 25 indoor and outdoor cats adds up. Add in our own grocery items, and it becomes an issue for our vehicle. It’s get up and go just goes away! I found that loading the heaviest things in the middle of the van (we’ve taken out one of the middle seats and simply left it out), seems to help.

As I was heading home from the Walmart and was starting to leave a controlled intersection, the van just did not want to move! But move it finally did, and it even got up to speed normally.

I had intended to fill the tank at Costco, but never had a chance to, so I was going to stop at a station when I passed through the town my mother lives in. When I got there, however, something told me to just keep on going. We have jerry cans of premium gas at home for equipment we can’t use right now, so I figured I’d just use those up, rather than have it sit in the garage all winter. I just did not want to stop and get out of the van again, if I didn’t have to.

I’m glad I didn’t.

When I turned off the highway onto the gravel road, I slowed into the turn as usual, but when I tried to accelerate again, nothing happened.

The van had stalled.

It started again without issue, but when I reached the gravel road to our place and stopped at the stop sign, it stalled again. No stuttering or any kind of warning to show there was an issue.

When I stopped at the gate and then drove into the yard to unload, it was fine.

I have no idea why this has started to happen.

I had hoped we’d be able to have a winter without vehicle repair expenses for a change! I’ll have to take it in to get it looked at. Whether or not it’s something we can fix this month, or something that has to wait until next month, we shall see. Until then, thankfully, we can use my mother’s car.

Then there is the other “what the heck is going on” issue.

This is something that has actually been happening more often in general, but it was a real problem while I was driving today.

I couldn’t breathe.

I kept finding myself suddenly gasping for air.

I thought, perhaps, it was because my sinuses were a bit stuffy, but I’m a mouth breather, anyhow, so that shouldn’t be it.

This is something that I’ve had happen to me while I’m, say, sitting at my computer. I’ve never really thought of it as an issue, though. I thought it was that whole “oh, I forgot to breathe” thing that happens when you’re really focused on something (when my husband was still working as a programmer, forgetting to breathe or blink while coding was common enough to be a running joke). However, having it happen while I’m driving is something else entirely. I seemed to be better while walking around, so I thought maybe it had something to do with being in a sitting position; pressure on the diaphragm, perhaps? But then, as I was standing and telling my daughter about it, I found myself running out of breath while I was talking.

I have no idea what’s going on.

I feel fine. There is nothing out of the ordinary. There are no other symptoms. I’ll just be going along as normal, then suddenly find myself gasping for air.

I need to make a doctor’s appointment, but with all the restrictions right now, health care for non-Covid related things are rationed almost out of existence. I’ll call the clinic anyhow, and see what they suggest. Perhaps I’ll start with a telephone appointment, first. I don’t know.

Meanwhile, we had parcels to pick up at the post office. (My husband finally got the rest of his Christmas gifts from me! LOL) I got my daughter to drive and we used my mother’s car. With the restrictions, my daughter has not been able to book the 2 hours of driving with an instructor she needs to do before she can book another road test. I don’t think they’re even doing road tests right now. She does have a license, and is a very good driver, but it’s still a learner’s license, and I have to be with her when she drives.

We’ll have to go out again, tomorrow. We still need to do a dump run, though if we use my mother’s car, we won’t be able to fit much in there and will have to make several trips. Probably on different days that they’re open, rather than multiple trips in one day. The Mingle Masks I ordered should be in tomorrow, so we have to go to the post office again. Plus, they were out of deer feed today, so I’ll be picking that up at the same time, too. I’ll have to drag my daughter around and have her drive me, just to play it safe.

What I really want to do is just stay home and be a hermit.

Ah, well. It is what it is! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Low battery

I made it into the city today, to attempt our monthly shop.

I am definitely running low on batteries right now. I hate shopping at the best of times.

These days are not the best of times.

But before I explain that, let’s have some cuteness! How about some hugging kitties?

The cats have a habit of taking over my bed. There is always a row of them along my pillows, all mashed together. I just couldn’t resist getting a picture of Leyendecker and Keith all face-smashed together! Then there’s David, hiding his face in his paws… so cute!

Cabbages, I’m happy to say, is completely at home with the rest of the cats. Now if only she would be as comfortable with us humans! We can sometimes pet her and even pick her up, but she is not a fan of human attention, except for the occasional ear skritches.

Her siblings outside are almost more accepting of human attention!

Well, okay. Maybe not.

That doesn’t stop them from following me when I do my rounds!

One of the bigger cats (Nostrildamus, I think) burrowed these hiding places in the snow. From the gate, all I see are little ear tips above the snow, twitching in pounce mode, waiting for another cat to walk past on the driveway. 😀

I got the rounds out of the way early and didn’t even go through the trail cam files, other than to verify that the new camera had thawed out enough to start recording again. Then it was off to the city to see if I could do the monthly shopping.

My first stop was at a particular Walmart where I’ve never had problems before, but I’ve heard of some people having issues every now and then. It’s at least twice the size of the one in the smaller city I went to last month, and better stocked, so I thought it was worth a try.

It wasn’t.

Now, one of the things that had become part of the monthly shopping routine is that we would have breakfast in the city. That’s not really an option anymore, but I figured I would pick up something I could eat in the van at Walmart. I know it’s said, never go shopping while hungry, because you’ll end up buying things you shouldn’t. For me, it’s the opposite. The hungrier I get, the less I want to eat. The less I want to be around food. I’m more likely to walk away without buying anything at all. And if I let it go for too long, the sight and smell of food makes me feel physically ill. I end up having to force myself to eat at least a little bit to get back to having a normal appetite. Along with feeling physically ill by the sight of food, I also start to become … less patient, shall we say, and oddly weepy.

I had not reached that point when I arrived, but my tolerance levels were definitely on the low side.

I came in with my shield, got a cart and, while I was using the hand sanitizer before going through their barrier, the staff from the sanitation station on the inside of the barrier came over and asked if I had a mask. I told her I was medically exempt and that the shield was my compromise. That went back and forth a bit, then she looked over to a little station on the outside of the barrier and said she would get someone. There were two people at that station and one of them came over and asked if I had a mask. I said I can’t wear one. He started to say something about the shield and a mask, but I honestly couldn’t make it out though his mask. :-/ I did hear him say he would get me one and he went back to the station.

I was blocking the way, so I moved over to where he was and told him, I can’t wear a mask. I have a medical exemption. The shield is the best I can do. He ended up handing me a paper ear loop mask and told me to just hang on to it in case the inspectors give me a hard time. Great. Whatever. I turn to the barrier, and there’s a woman on the other side – another customer – who’d been watching me and she started waving a mask still in it’s packaging at me. As best as I could make out, I think she was saying she just bought a mask and… she wanted me to take it? But she just watched me being given a mask just like what she was holding… and I was wearing a shield… so… ???

At that point, I just couldn’t handle it. I’d already put up with hassles from the staff who seemed to think that a person who can’t wear a mask and is wearing a shield instead, should be wearing both. I didn’t need to be hassled by customers, before I even fully entered the store. I turned around and left.

Once back in the van, I messaged my husband and, by the time I finished, I was in a better frame of mind.

The next stop on my list was an international grocery chain that I knew would be okay. And it was. I was able to go in, do my shopping, and no one batted an eye at my shield instead of a mask.

This is the place where I like to pick up our fresh produce in non-Costco sized quantities, as well as stuff in their international aisles that we just don’t find anywhere else. This place is awesome. Best of all, they still have their hot take out food section open, so I was able to get some Chinese food to eat in the van. By then, it was almost noon, and I was reaching the “so hungry I want to throw up” stage.

This is not the place where we pick up the cat food and litter, though, and we were pretty much out of both. Normally, I would have picked up part of that at the Walmart, with the rest at Costco.

I decided to try the Costco. Which is half way across the city from where I was.

When I got there, the parking lot was full, and there was a line all down the side of the building.

It was warmer today, but not that warm.

I found a place to pull over long enough to send an update to my family, letting them know I was going to go to the Walmart in the smaller city I’d gone to last month. They might not have as much inventory, but I knew I would at least be allowed to shop and not get hassled.

So it was, again. I had no issues at all I did get some odd looks from costumers, and at one point, while I was loading the cart with bags of cat food alongside the litter boxes, a couple of ladies in the same aisle were looking at me and whispering at each other. I could make out just enough to know they’d said something about the shield. I was going to be a while, so I shoved my cart into a corner and waited next to it, and they rushed past me. I kept running into them as I continued shopping, and every time we crossed paths, they would give me looks over their shoulders.


By the time I was at the cash desk, however, I was having a really hard time with shortness of breath. I hope those Mingle Masks I ordered come in soon; I’ve been told they don’t create that problem. I started chatting with the cashier and made a point of saying how much I appreciated that I don’t get any hassle there, and mentioned what happened at the other Walmart. Even with her mask, I could see how startled she was. Then she told me about her mother, who basically hasn’t left the house in 8 months. Her mother has PTSD and can’t wear a mask. They were going to try a shield, but haven’t been able to find one (they used to be available at that Walmart, but it looks like a lot of places have simply stopped carrying shields). I ended up telling her about the Mingle Mask and recommending it, based on the experiences of others.

I gotta say, I was really glad to get outside, where I could take the shield off an finally breathe again. I was so disoriented by the end of it, I almost walked away without paying!

By the time I got home, I was too drained for anything else. I must have looked it. As the girls were unloading the van, my older daughter took one look at me, and asked if I was up to going to the dump, or leaving it for later.

We left it for later. It was only open for another hour, and I would have needed more than that to recover enough for another trip out!

We’ll have to make another trip to get the rest; I got most of what we needed, but not necessarily in the quantities we need for the month.

I did splurge when I spotted a few things that I grabbed while I could.

One of them was this soil test kit. We had looked for one last year, and they were completely out of stock all summer. I couldn’t find them anywhere! This has enough to do 40 tests, so we will be able to use it on different areas as we decide on where to plant. It tests the pH, which I already have a meter for that just needs to be stuck into the soil, but it also tests for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. That will be useful information.

The other toy I got was a battery tester.

With the trail cams each using 8 batteries, and those batteries draining much faster in the winter, we have a LOT of batteries accumulating. The dump has a special shed to drop off things like batteries, so we don’t put them in the garbage. Plus, while some batteries may not have enough juice for the trail cams, that doesn’t mean they are actually dead.

The first batch of batteries I’d tested were the frozen one’s I’d switched out of the new trail cam.

They still had full power!

Then I went though the old batteries boxes.

This first batch is all of the batteries that are not usable. Some of which I didn’t even test, since they’d started leaking!!

And yeah, that’s an old DSLR camera battery in there.

Some of the batteries in there were ones that we found while we were cleaning the place up after moving here. I have no idea how old they might be.

The next batch are the batteries that are still usable.

All the batteries in here were either in the green zone, or the very small, yellow “low battery” zone.

All 276 of them.

They may not be usable in the trail cams, but we can use them for other things. Like the battery operated string lights we have in the hallway in place of night lights. We used to use night lights all over the place, but this house doesn’t have many outlets, and there are none at all in the hallway. We rather like being able to see well enough to not trip over cats in the dark, while also not having to turn on the hall light and blinding ourselves at night.

Aside from these, there were some AAA and D cells that had full charge, too.

That little meter has already paid for itself, many times over.

As for me, I’m looking forward to Sunday actually being a day of rest. After today, I need to recharge my own batteries!

The Re-Farmer

Clearing snow before it snows, and I think they’ve figured it out!

We had ourselves a very pleasant surprise today! Company!

Sort of…

I got an email from my older brother, asking if he could swing by this afternoon. Considering that it’s a 1 1/2 hour drive for him, this was a welcome surprise!

I got his message after doing my morning rounds, which included changing the batteries on the new camera with ones that weren’t frozen. The camera still couldn’t show a display on the screen inside, though; more than the batteries was frozen! So I had no way of knowing if it was even working or not. At least I was able to confirm how much easier it is to change the batteries on this thing. I did not have to take it down to do it!

Then, after things warmed up a bit more, we brought out Spewie, our little electric snow blower, and gave it a workout!

With a daughter helping by controlling the 200 ft of extension cord, so it wouldn’t keep getting hung up on the snow and unplugging itself, it was done much more quickly! We got the area needed to drive the van to the house, with turning space, widened the path to the compost heap, and even managed a path around the house, in case we need to reach the septic tank. I didn’t try to make a path to the fire pit or the barn this time, though.

Of course, it’s now snowing. We’re expected to only get a centimeter or so, so it should be fine. Even if it’s more, it’ll be easier to clear, later! It does seem funny to rush to clear away snow, before more snow arrives, though. 😀

The great thing is, when my brother got to our place, he was able to drive right up to the house, like he normally prefers to do. 🙂

He didn’t come into the house, due to the restrictions still in place, but we were able to exchange our Christmas gifts. 🙂 We gave him and his wife the olive server and cutlery I’d carved, using maple I’d cut away from the pump shack so I could reach and fix the window.

I will have to get a picture later, of what they gave us: a fire pit cooking grill! One that is mounted on a post, and can be swung off and on the fire! We are so excited! It can be used above the set up we have now, or replace it completely. I can’t wait to try it out! The ground it too frozen to install it now, though, so it’ll have to wait until spring. *sigh* 😉

While he was here, my brother took a look at my mother’s car. I had not hooked the trickle charger back up, because 1) the battery does not have + or – symbols on it, though I was pretty sure which was which, and 2) I could not figure out how the clamps would go on, while being flat enough for the cover to be put back in place.

While he was there, he ended up completely moving how the cords for the trickle charger, battery warmer, block heater and extension cord were set up. I had set it up as it was before, across the front, with zip ties holding things in place so nothing would drop onto the belts below (which had happened already, and I had to buy a new extension cord). This was not how he’d had it before, but how a mechanic had set it up, after some work was done. He’d had it set up tucked under the frame by the battery. He was able to get it to all fit into there again, and there are no moving parts they could fall onto in there!

While he was setting it up, and even double checking with a volt meter to ensure it was working, he searched and searched the battery for something to show with side was positive, which was negative. He did find the letters POS hidden under one of the clamps. I’ll have to take his word for it, because while I could see that something was under there, there was no way I could tell that it was letters!

So that is now done, and the trickle charger is finally hooked up. I try to use my mother’s car as much as possible, but over the winter, who knows how long that will be. We hardly use our own vehicle, this time of year!

Speaking of which…

After my brother left, I headed out to the post office – one of my husband’s Christmas gifts finally arrived! LOL – then into town to pick up a few last things before New Year’s. Normally, we would have done our monthly shop by now, but between the holidays and the weather, the end of December just doesn’t work out for that! With all the restrictions happening right now, we haven’t been able to stock up as well as usual, so we’re running out of things more than usual, too. Nothing essential, really, but I still prefer to stock up at least a little bit, just in case we can’t get into the city as planned. Last month, I didn’t even go to the city at all, but went to the Walmart of a smaller city, instead. It’s not as well stocked as the bigger stores in the bigger city, but at least I knew I wouldn’t be harassed for wearing a shield instead of a mask. As far as I know, 2 of the 3 stores we normally go to for our monthly stock up are safe for people with medical exemptions, and I’ve heard the one Costco location we usually go to is actually offering both masks and shields to people, and when people have gone in mask-less, they’ve only been warned if the mask nazi’s … er… inspectors where in the store. The inspectors are threatening stores with fines, even though the mandates expressly stipulate medical exemptions. But then, one store made the news for kicking a woman out for not wearing a mask, and she didn’t have hands to put one on. The exemptions clearly state that people who cannot put on or take off a mask themselves are exempt. It all seems so very arbitrary, which makes it difficult for people who can’t wear masks to know, from one day to the next, if they will be left alone, harassed, kicked out, fined or arrested.

I’m just thankful that we are isolated enough that it doesn’t affect us as much on a daily basis. Just in our own extended family, we’ve got people dealing with everything from trying to figure out how to get to work with the day-cares closed, to job losses, home losses, and dealing with severe depression as a result. I’ve always been grateful that my husband has such excellent private health insurance when he went on long term disability and, for all the challenges, happy that we left the city to live on and take care of the farm. Now, I am even more grateful for it. I honestly don’t know how we would have managed, if we were still living in the city we were in before. Our daughters could have stayed behind, too, but they chose to move out to help take care of the property, and their father, instead. They gave up a lot to do it, but it’s now turning out to have been worth it, for reasons we never imagined.

What a crazy world we live in, right now!

But I digress!

On a more fun note, after I got back from town, I was able to bring the van into the yard to unload it.

We were being watched.

Creamsicle Jr. was not alone at first. By the time I got my phone out to take a picture, Nostrildamus had come out to say hello. He had been sitting behind Creamsicle Jr.

Directly under the terrarium heater bulb.

In front of the light sensor on the timer.

I think they’ve figured it out.

If a cat is siting under the bulb, it is blocking the light sensor, which turns on the heat. While it’s unlikely that they made any sort of connection to the timer, it would be easy for them to figure out that if they sit in just the right spot during the day, that thing above their head starts getting warm again.

One thing about the yard cats; they do have to be smart, if they’re going to survive! 😀

I’m happy that the littlest ones are handling the cold as well as they are. Being born so late in the year, they were the ones most at risk from the cold. Not only are they doing all right, they’re downright playful in the snow! 🙂 They’re even regularly following me out to the gate when I check it, and switch out the memory cards. They still won’t come close to me, but they will follow me! 😀 (I’m happy to say that, while showing the new trail cam to my brother, I found it had thawed out enough to start working again! I didn’t even have to reset the date and time. 🙂 )

For now, judging by how often I’ve seen the red bar across the top of my browser, warning me that auto save didn’t work because I’m offline, I’d say the weather system has hit us quite thoroughly, and it’s taking our internet out in the process. That, and my weather app will not reload! The temperatures are still relatively mild, but I can see the snow falling on the security camera’s live feed. It seems to be enough to mess with our satellite. That secondary dish may have started working again after we pruned more branches, but it still doesn’t have a good signal at the best of times. It doesn’t take much to make it worse!

At some point, I’ll be able to post this… 😉

The Re-Farmer