Boxes, tubers, broken tools and… cows!

We’re having another lovely, mild day with sunny skies. A perfect day to get more done outside!

My main goal for the day was to finally build the third low raised bed box and set it up.

The ground is starting to freeze, though, so I couldn’t make quite as deep a “foundation” as with the other beds. It should be all right, though.

This is as much as going to be done with it, for now. Things are supposed to get warmer of the weekend, so I might get a chance to bury stuff from the compost pile down the middle, then top it up for the winter.

While I was building the bed, my younger daughter started working on beds in the old kitchen garden.

Beds that were more shaded than other areas.

Beds that were more frozen than not!

Alas, it was too much for our garden fork; one of the few useable tools we found that hadn’t been “disappeared” while the place was empty. It had a tendency to bend in that spot, and when my daughter tried to straighten it, it broke! The poor thing felt so bad.

The old kitchen garden got left for warmer days, and my daughter moved on to clean up the remaining bed at the chain link fence. The chicken wire protecting the cucamelons and gourds had to be removed, the plants pulled, and the soil moved to prepare for the block planters.

The cucamelons did not to well in our drought. The plants grew, there were many, many flowers, with teeny little fruit, but very few of them ever matured. Very likely, they just didn’t get polinated.

As my daughter dug the area up, however, she discovered they did much better below the soil!

Cucamelons produce tubers. I’d read that, in colder climates like ours, they can be dug up, put in a pot of soil and overwintered indoors, then transplanted in the spring. I tried that last year, but the tubers just disappeared in the soil. They, however, were nowhere near as big and thick as these ones!

My daughter set aside the biggest ones, and we will try overwintering them. Maybe at this size, they will have a better chance of surviving to be transplanted.

When my daughter was done cleaning out the bed, she headed inside and I continued working on it.

We had four of these chimney blocks waiting. My daughter had already moved the soil, and I just needed to level it for the blocks.

I found more cucamelon tubers in the process!

I ended up moving the blocks a little bit further away from the fence, so that when we bring up the remaining blocks and lay them down, the fence post won’t be in the way. I put leaf litter in the bottoms of the blocks before filling with the soil, since there is so much of it handy.

It was around this time that I could hear the sound of a utility vehicle nearby, so I headed over. The wife of the couple renting the property had come over to check the electric fence. I have spoken and messaged with her quite a few times, but this is the first time I met her in person! She brought their little daughter along, too, and she was a great help with holding the wire for Mom. It did take quite a while to find one of the ends; it must have gotten caught on a cow’s leg when it got spooked. Not only was it well away from the fence, but a couple of the support poles were pulled right out of the ground!

There was just enough slack that she could twist the wires back together, then we went around to another section where she said she had found a cow had gotten through, in a very unusual spot. She agreed with me, that something must have spooked the cows into going through areas they normally don’t.

While we were walking around, the cows were intensely curious about us humans – and looking for another grain treat!

Just look at those adorable faces!!

Unfortunately, they were a bit TOO interested in Tiny Human, who was starting to get scared. With just cause. Cows may look docile, but they can be aggressive and dangerous to an adult, never mind a wee one. Tiny Human was much more comfortable being carried by Mom!

I took the opportunity to tell her about where we are looking to put a fence through the old hay yard, so we can plant trees for a wind break against the south winds. She let me know that they will likely take out the old fences completely, and put in new, because of the cows getting through so often. We also talked about redoing the fencing around the septic field, so we can still access it from our side, rather than filling in those gaps the cows got through this time. She said she would pass on the things I brought up, and hopefully her husband will soon be able to find the time to come over and we can do a more thorough walk about and discuss it in more detail. They are such good renters. With all our long term plans, I don’t want to be doing anything to make it more difficult for them. That’s part of why I wanted to make sure they knew about where I want to add the fence and plant a windbreak, since it takes away some of the land the cows graze in.

So, all in all, it turned out to be a very productive day, on several levels. 🙂

The only down side, is we how have to replace a garden fork. 😀

The Re-Farmer


Last night, while I happened to be near the live feed to our garage security camera, I was distracted by movement. I looked over just in time to see…

… this cow, making her way back up the driveway!

She managed to get through the fence into the outer yard, but was foiled by the gate.

No road access for you, Lady!

I went outside to check and saw several cows in the outer yard, but they got spooked and ran off. I didn’t want to take a chance of them getting hurt in the dark, so I just closed up the gates to the inner yard. I then sent a message to the renter, rather than phoning, because it really isn’t an urgent thing. I’m glad I did it that way, because their small children were in bed already.

So when I did my morning rounds, I checked out the outer yard fence line. Usually, they break through the gate opening near the barn. I currently have a chain across it – the chain we used across the driveway until we could repair and return the gate our vandal damaged – that has reflective rope wrapped around. I could see hoof prints in the frost on our side of the fence, but not on the other side. The renter’s electric fence wire, however, was loose and clearly broken somewhere.

There was one other obvious place to check.

Sure enough, this is where they came through, as you can see by the trampled grass and tracks in the frost.

There is no barbed wire in this section of the fence, nor the one to the right. The wire starts up again at a post that is off frame. This is clearly by design, as the wire is wrapped securely around the post it ends at (you can sort of see it on the post on the left).

The white pipe coming out of the ground near the tree is where our septic tank’s grey water is expelled. It’s unfortunate that willow was planted so close to it. We will have to keep a close eye on the area, because the roots could mess up the buried pipes. The remains of a fence surrounds this entire low area, and my guess is that this section of fence was left open to access the septic field.

Which was a great idea, but no one maintained or repaired the fence around the septic field.

So now, the only thing keeping the cows out is the renter’s electric fence. You can just see the orange colour at the top of one of the supports for the wire, next to the fence post on the right. I couldn’t see the wire at all, so it would be somewhere in the grass.

The rent will come by to fix the electric fence when they can; I made sure to tell them there is no hurry. I don’t mind the cows grazing down the overgrown areas in the outer yard! I didn’t see them this morning, though I could hear them. They have not been back here for long. The herd is being rotated a lot faster than usual, as the renters are trying to keep them on grass for as long as possible, while the weather holds, but there just isn’t a whole lot of it. The grass certainly recovered well when the rains finally came, but nothing like what there would have been had we not gone through such extreme heat and dryness this past summer. Part of the deal with the renter is that they maintain the fences. It’s such a mess here, though, just to access it. The cows don’t even usually go here at all, so it was very unusual for them to break through here, and they only would have done that if the electric fence stopped working. Which happens every now and then.

I look forward to when we can finally clean up in this area. This is mostly a “hire burly, able bodied people with equipment” sort of job, though, and other things are higher on the priority list.

The Re-Farmer

Looking good!

We got more rain yesterday evening and during the night, so I wanted to check out the old gravel pit, to see how the water levels were.

I don’t know that the water level had gotten any higher, but the renter’s cows are using it! Which s really awesome. I didn’t want to spook the cows away, so I made my way through the trees to check on it.

I’m even noticing, as I walked around, that the crunchy grass is starting to show new green growth. Just barely, but enough to see.

I did check out the old pond, to see if there was any water there, too. There was no standing water, but from the new, muddy holes at the bottom, the cows have been walking through it. It’s got pretty much the only green grass around in there.

In an average year, that pond would be full enough to use the small boat we found the remains of nearby, and even more in the gravel pit. In the photo, you can see the lower area that’s greener. That area would also have had water in it, and there would be at least mud in a marshy area that stretches from the gravel pit to towards the pond. For now, I’m just excited over the big puddle!

The Re-Farmer

We have cows!!

The skies have been teasing us with the possibility of rain, all day today! The weather app says we’re at 26C/79F, with the humidex at 30C/86F, but we’ve been getting some wonderful breezes that are making it feel cooler.

It was while we were outside, enjoying the breeze, that I noticed we were being watched.

The renter rotated his cows to the home quarter today! I am so happy to see them. 🙂

While we were out, we even got a few spatters of rain and could hear thunder in the distance. I really hope we get a decent rainfall! Particularly since we’ve decided not to water the garden beds this evening.

While heading over to the furthest beds, we ended up chasing a woodchuck out of one of the corn blocks. He seemed to be just passing through, and wasn’t eating anything. In looking at the developing head on this Mongolian Giant sunflower, I can see something has been eating it. This would be the grasshoppers. Thankfully, those seem to be fewer, though compared to the clouds of them we had not long ago, that might not be saying much.

The sweet corn in the middle block seems to be developing the fastest. It’s interesting to see how a few stalks just shot up (relatively speaking!) while the others are staying small.

I don’t know how much corn we’ll actually get from these, given this year’s conditions, but it does look like we’ll at least have some for fresh eating, if not for freezing or canning.

Dang. Looking out my window, it seems the clouds have moved on. I think I’ll pop outside and enjoy the breeze a bit longer, while there is still light. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Feline fun, and bonus critters

As I catch up with things I wasn’t able to post while our internet was down, I figured I’d start with some fun stuff!

(Also, whatever technical problems killed off our secondary account is also affecting our primary account – but at least that one still gets a signal! We will get a call in a day or two about when someone can come by to check the hardware.)

This first photo shows some impressive progress.

That’s Keith, reaching out to touch a napping Leyendecker.


Keith, the ball of stress and anxiety that would hiss and run away anytime a kitten came near him.

Now, he will actually curl up with Leyendecker for a nap.

He still doesn’t do much with the kittens overall, but at least he isn’t freaking out anymore.

Which leaves Fenrir as the remaining problem cat. She is more aggressive than Keith was, and will hiss and bat at them. But then, she’ll hiss and bat at some of the adult cats, too.

Then there’s Cheddar. This is him in his usual state.

He has managed to take up half of my king sized bed, with his stretching and splaying!

When he came indoors, almost a year ago, I never imagined he would grow into this big beast!

Then there is David…

What a goof!

He, too, has changed a lot since we brought him in, little over a year ago.

He used to be so tiny! 😀 I’m so glad we were able to get his eyes all healed up.

And now some bonus critter pictures!

Much, much bigger critters.

Our renter’s cows came by the barn for a visit. 😀

In the middle foreground, walking away, is the bull. What a massive, meaty beast he is!

It won’t take long for them to eat up all that grass, and it’ll be shorter than our lawn, after being freshly mowed!

I just love hearing the cows when they’re nearby. We’re not in a position to have cows ourselves, so I get to enjoy them vicariously through the renter! 😀

The Re-Farmer

They’re BaaaAAAaack!

We’ve had ourselves an afternoon of kittens and cows! 😀

My daughter and I had to head into town this afternoon, but as we left the house, we got distracted by a Doom Guy.


Who is starting to get used to this whole “being held” thing, and enjoying head scritches.  Oh, was he purring up a storm!

The girls had gone out to see the kittens this morning, too, and he allowed himself to be picked up.  It has been quite chilly, so I think he is appreciating the body heat that comes from being held by a human! 😀

I think this is having an effect on the other kittens, too.  They’re starting to come closer, even if they don’t let us come near them.  Though they also seem to be begging for treats, too.  More on that, later! 😀

When we got back from town and pulled up to the gate, we found cows!  Just a few of them in the outer yard, while others were in the old hay yard.  There was no surge of the entire herd coming in like last time.

The vehicle and people gates to the yard were open, as was the garage door, when we left.  !!

Thankfully, no cows were in the garage.  While I closed the vehicle gate to the inner yard, my daughter got her stuff from the van and closed up the garage.  Then I went to check the electric wire gate by the barn, because I could see that the insulated wire holders were still upright.  I found the wire broken and dragged into the outer yard, so I paused to move it aside, so no cows would get tangled in it. As I did that, one of the cows came walking past me, through the gate.


This immediately concerned me, because she was limping very heavily on a front leg.  I followed her a bit and managed to get a picture of her looking back at me on her right.  This allowed me to zoom in on the photo and read the number on her ear tag.

I then went in (making sure the people gate was closed up) and phoned up the renter to let him know his cows had come through again.  We both think the recent rains (another thunderstorm came through last night) has been causing problems with his electric fence.  I let him know the tag number on the injured cow, though with how heavily she was limping, she would be hard to miss.

After I called him, I went to walk around the yard, just in case a cow got in and no one noticed.  We do have a couple of gaps in the fence by the old log building that a determined cow could get through, even if the gates were closed.

Walking around was much more challenging than expected!  Butterscotch came over and kept winding herself around my legs as I walked.  As much as I tried to avoid it, I still ended up kicking her in the head, at least twice.  Do you think that stopped her?  Not a chance!

Beep Beep and several kittens followed along, too!

They were most definitely begging for treats. 😀

Even the shy kittens were following me along.


Rosencrantz, or Gildenstern, came along, then the bigger orange tabby came running, too. 😀

Even pausing to take the photo was an unexpected challenge. 😀

Butterscotch may not like being picked up, but she was certainly willing to try climbing my leg!

About an hour later, I could hear an engine, letting me know the renter was here, so I went out again.  The cows were nice and co-operative about getting back to the barn side of the fence.  We stopped to talk for a bit, and it now looks like I’ll be buying a round bale of straw from him. 😀  I had made arrangements to get 6 small square straw bales delivered a few days ago from someone else.  I only need enough to cover the top of the septic tank, then plan to layer the rest on the smaller garden by the Old Kitchen.  Unfortunately, the person never showed up, and hasn’t been answering my messages, so I don’t know what’s going on.  I asked if he could recommend someone I could buy from, and after asking what I needed, he said he could sell me one.  A round bale will have much more straw than we need, but it won’t go to waste, that’s for sure.  When things dry up later, he’ll deliver one into our yard for us.  Unlike smaller straw bales, there’s no way we’d be able to get it into the yard ourselves!

I also let him know how much we are enjoying his cows, and made sure to let him know we didn’t mind them getting through the gate.  My only concern is that, with all the stuff around, they’ll get hurt.  Which I’m hoping is not what happened to the limping cow.  It could just be a rock in her hoof, but until he gets a look, there’s no way to know.  There was visible sign of an injury other than her limping.  We did joke about how curious they are, and get into everything.  Do they ever!  They are so interested in the cats, too.

A unexpected bonus with the cows breaking through the fence.  I’m getting to know the renter more, and he’s a really nice guy. 🙂

The Re-Farmer


The cows have stampeded!


They broke through the gate by the barn and rushed right into our outer yard, mooing and running around.

The cows that were in the hay yard got all excited, then ran around the barn to join the first bunch.

They all went over to the gate to the road, which we thankfully always keep closed now.


Then they just as suddenly turned around and ran the other way.

The first thing I had to do was close up the three gates into the inner yard, and close up the garage door.


Unfortunately, the small gate promptly fell of its top hinge as I closed it.  The posts need to be straightened, so it doesn’t close properly anyhow.  There’s a bungee cord on the fence to hook onto it so it’ll stay closed, and I found some wire to reinforce the top hinge.


I had to do the same at one of the hinges for the larger gate by the garage.


They were quite curious about what I was doing!

Rather amusing that the one gate I didn’t have to reinforce somehow, is the old barbed wire gate by the fire pit, even though it’s half falling apart.

I then phoned up the owner of the cows to let him know.  I found myself having the most adorable conversation with a tiny child who let me know that no, I could not talk to his father.  And no, his mother could not come to the phone.  She’s changing. LOL  There was no way I could leave a message with so young a child, so I told him I’d call back later, but it was less than a minute before our phone was ringing.  It was his mom. Call display is a handy thing.

I explained what happened, and made sure to let her know there was no rush, since they were very enthusiastically eating the grass I couldn’t cut.  The inner yard is closed off, and they can’t get onto the road, so they’re fine.  This worked out, since the guy that would be coming to get the cows was out combining.  She asked if it was okay if he got them in the morning, before he started combining again, which works out just fine.  As we were talking, I mentioned how enthusiastically they were eating the grass.  She said that wasn’t surprising.  It’s been a poor year for them.  No doubt; the lack of rain this year would affect grazing as much as anything.

I assured here there was plenty for them to eat on this side, and they should be just fine.

After the call, I went and dragged out the old bathtub that is on the outside of the fence around the inner yard.  I’d asked my mother why it was there, and she told me that the younger of my brothers had used it for water for when he brought his horses here.  I figured I’d do the same.  There was nothing to block the drain hole, though, but I remembered seeing a roll of plastic in one side of the garage.

So I lined the tub with plastic.


It wasn’t even done filling before one of the cows found it.


Some of the younger ones found something else to catch their attention.


There are two kittens in the flowers.  You can just see the gray tabby, but the teeny orange tabby is in there, too.

As I write this, it’s now completely dark outside, but I can still here the odd rustling of the cows going through the tall grass by the tub of water, or knocking around something by the sheds.

Interestingly, when we came back from the airport this morning, we found a calf on the wrong side of the fence.  As I walked over, it saw me, then ducked under the wire across the gate, back to the other side.  I found another calf by one of the sheds and got it going towards the gate, and it, too, just ducked under the wire.  I had thought the wire was electrified, so I was intending to call the renter about it anyhow.  With getting ready for company tomorrow, I just hadn’t gotten around to it, yet.

So I’m thinking something happened to shut off the electricity to the line.  Perhaps it didn’t turn back on when we had a power failure the day before, and the cows just took advantage of an opportunity!

I don’t mind.  I’m just glad it happened when we were around to see it, so we could close up the gates!

The Re-Farmer

Let’s face it. Cows are dumb

Today, I give you a story, in pictures and video.

I like cows.  Cows are wonderful creatures.

They are also not exactly intelligent creatures, though I know some breeds are smarter than others.

I was sitting in my office when I started to hear the sound of cows, mooing nearby.  I realize the renter has cycled his cows back to our quarter section, and they are nearby.  Happily, I go outside to see them.

The cows are spread out around the barn, including some in the old hay yard.

The hay yard is now cluttered with a number of abandoned vehicles and equipment.  Including several old snowmobiles, I’m told are being kept for their parts.

Hearing an odd sound, I look in between various items.

Can you see the cow’s nose in there?

It took me a few moments to see that the noise I was hearing was of that cow, trying to eat the snowmobile.

To be more specific, the remains of the seat on the snowmobile.

I ended up going through the barn to the hay yard, to get them away from the snowmobiles.  Which turned out to be a good thing, since I found the door to the lean to was open.  There is a tree growing near it that blocks us from seeing it from the house, so who knows how long it was open!

This is what the cow was chewing on and licking.  In the second video, you could see the cow going for something on the far side of the seat, too.  That would likely be the foam from the seat that it was trying to get at.

Afterwards, I went out the back door of the barn.  Some cows were around where an old shed had collapsed, and I could hear them getting into the metal roofing material that’s in there, so I wanted to check on things.

This is what greeted me out the back door.

Most of the cows and their calves avoided me, but these two were curious enough to stick around.

I then made my way over to the junk pile, starting to pick up and move over sheets of metal that had been blown over by the winds we’ve been having in the last while.  As I get around the back side of the collapsed shed, I see…

Yeah.  That black cow with its butt facing me is right on the junk.  There is no grass or weeds there, so I have no idea what she’s after.

I really look forward to when we can get rid of this pile of junk!!

I continue around, which convinces the one cow to get off the junk.  Some move away from me, while others come closer to check me out.  I pick up and re-stack some of the sheets of metal siding, finding things to put on top of the pile to hopefully keep it from blowing over again, and make my way around between the pile and the shed.

One of the cows is braver than the others, and starts coming closer to me, watching what I’m doing.

I quickly realized that she was not chewing on grass, nor her cud.

She was chewing on a foreign object.

You might need to turn your volume up to hear this…

Now, this is concerning, because as far as I can tell, based on what’s lying around, she might be chewing on either wood or metal.

I tried to come closer to her, little by little, hoping to be able to see what she’s chewing on.

That’s one heck of a side-eye she’s giving me!

I kept trying to move around and get closer, without chasing her away, still trying to look into her mouth and see what she’s chewing on.

After a while, I start getting really concerned, because she’s got foam around her mouth from the chewing, and every now and then looked to be in some discomfort.

Then the object fell out of her mouth.

That, my dear friends, is a bone.

A beef bone.

I can’t say I was all that surprised.  This is not the first time I’ve seen a cow chewing on a beef bone.  When I was a kid, I remember walking past one of our cows and seeing her chewing with her head extended weirdly.  She was familiar enough with me that I could walk up to her and reach into her mouth, where I pulled out one of the dogs’ beef bones.  It was not as thoroughly chewed up as this one, though!

I have no idea where she found it, but I wouldn’t let her pick it up again.

She was displeased with that.

Ooh, this girl had attitude!

I proceed to kick the piece of bone away until I got it to the junk pile.

Once I was away, she started looking for it.

She wanted that bone back!  She just kept snuffling and snuffling the area.

At this point, I decided it was time to head out and went back around the junk pile to go to the barn.  Where I found…


This was not here, the last time I tried to clean up around the pile.  In fact, I don’t remember seeing it just a few minutes before, when I went past here to go around the pile and found the cow standing right on the junk.

It is, I believe, from one of the snowmobiles.

I took it into the barn when I went in and closed up the doors again.

As I come out the front doors of the barn, I look back and see…

Can you believe it?  That cow, with company, actually found where I’d kicked the piece of bone!

I’m hoping she wasn’t able to get it out, but she seems quite determined!

I know it’s a running joke that goats will eat anything.

So will cows.

Including the remains of other cows.

Herbivore fail!

The Re-Farmer

Good Moooorning!

So my darling husband (picture me speaking with a rictus grin) cheerfully comes traipsing into the bedroom and wakes me up with a “so, are there supposed to be cows in the yard?”

What a way to be awakened!

No.  There are not supposed to be cows in the yard.

He had been hearing the cows mooing and thought to himself, that sounds awfully close.

Then looked out the window.

That’s not good!

By the time I put my glasses on, they were at the opposite end of the yard, by the fire pit.  When I got outside, there were no longer any cows in our yard, but there were several just outside the barbed wire gate at the fire pit.

I closed the gate.

I could see from the gate the the electric gate at the cow fence was in place, so before we closed the other gates, I went over by the barn, where the second electric gate is.

Sure enough, the wire was down, looking like something went right through it, dragging it into the tall grass on our side of the fence.

That left us with the task of closing up the vehicle gate, and the people gate.


Yeah.  The pole was still there.

Moving a 30 ft pole is awkward, to say the least.  It wasn’t just getting it clear of the opening, but clearing the swing arc of the gate.  So there was a whole lot of rolling and pivoting, but it wasn’t enough.  He really shouldn’t have, but my husband was able to pull it a few feet away from the yard (yeah, I helped, but really… I wasn’t doing much) and it got rolled clear.

This is the first time we’ve closed these gates since we’ve moved here.


They’re broken.

On the vehicle gate, one side isn’t too bad, but had to be lifted to close.  It shouldn’t need to be lifted.  The other was off the top hinge and we weren’t able to put it back at the time (I will need to go back with a tool kit), but we swung it closed.

They are supposed to be able to latch together.

They don’t.

But we could at least sit the parts on top of each other and let gravity to the rest.


Then there’s the people gate.  I had been wondering why there was a bungee cord on the chain link fence.

Now I know why.

The latch parts don’t latch anymore.  So the bungee is used to keep it from swinging open on its own.

After phoning the renter and leaving a message for him (with apologies for calling so early), I went around the yard, just in case we missed a cow in the bushes or something, then went to see what was going on.


There were 6 altogether; 2 cows and 4 steers.  The rest of the cattle were on the other side of the fence near the electric gate.

I decided not to try and get them out.  They can graze all they want and, at some point, they may well wander back towards the barn and join the rest of the herd.

Granted, the rest of the herd might end up on the wrong side of the fence, too.  But I’m not too worried about it.  They can keep our grass down.

Now.  I wonder if I can get another hour or two of sleep…

The Re-Farmer