Rescue!

While my husband and I were gone for our medical appointments, my daughter finished watering the rest of the garden beds and transplants, including the trees.

She sent use this sad photo.

One of the Korean Pine was gone! Not only was it dug up, but even the wood shaving mulch was gone! There was nothing left but a hole in the ground.

So disappointing.

When my husband and I got home, my daughter and I headed to town to see what we could find to protect the rest. My original plan had been to pick up some metal mesh garbage cans at a dollar store somewhere – it was a recommended suggestion I found when looking up how to care for the Korean Pine. Somehow, I just never found any.

The local Dollar Store was no different. They’re about half the size if the city stores, so that’s not a surprise.

I did find something else to try.

These are food covers to keep the bugs away while eating outdoors. I picked up 5 of the smaller size for each of the remaining Korean Pine. I used the last of our ground staples on a couple of the, and tent pegs in the rest, to secure them to the ground. Obviously, they won’t stop a determined critter, but they should be enough to keep away any that are not determined!

When I went to where the lost one was, I looked around the area, just in case it was just a critter digging, and that the seedling itself wasn’t eaten or dragged away. There was no sign of it, unfortunately.

With so much open water around this spring, and especially in this part of the outer yard, the mosquitoes are insane. All I could hear was the whining of clouds of mosquitoes. Since I wasn’t going to be long, I didn’t use any bug spray, so I was lunch! As you can imagine, I tried to finish up as quickly as I could. It wasn’t until after I’d covered the remaining Korean Pine and brought the support poles back to the house that I realized I’d forgotten the one by the lost pine. So I battled my way through the clouds of mosquitoes and went back to get it.

Since I was there anyhow, I looked around again. Because once you’re bitten a hundred times, what’s a few more?

I found it!

The poor little seedling was hidden in the grass, just a couple of feet away. I’d walked right past it, at least twice, while looking before!

I quickly replanted it and returned as much of the soil as I could – whatever dug the hole had certainly spread it far and wide! Then I went and grabbed one of the remaining tomato cages and filled a watering can. The tomato cage is now over the seedling, with the support post running through it for extra support, and it has been thoroughly watered.

I intended to get a picture, but I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes, so I ran away as soon as I could!

Hopefully, it will survive it’s brush with whatever dug it up. My thought is it was likely a skunk, digging for grubs, and it dug there because the soil was looser.

So we are back to 6 Korean Pine… and will hopefully stay that way!

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and critter damage

I headed out a bit late this morning, and this time, I had lots of kitties waiting for their kibble!

Potato Beetle and Rosencrantz were chill, but Toesencrantz did not like me being so close!

So he joined the party at the kibble house. 🙂

Altogether, I think I counted 10 cats, and saw more running towards the house as I continued my rounds.

While putting the bird seed out, I had a surprise.

It looks like a groundhog tried to dig under the steps again! That plastic had been wrapped around the mock orange to hold the branches back last year, when trying to make it so they wouldn’t dig here again. It did work – until now!

All these rocks and broken pieces of bricks had been used to fill the hole, with pieces of insulation slid between the steps and the basement wall.

Much to my surprise, when I cleared the pieces out of the hole, with the intention of putting all the smaller rocks in, I actually saw movement! I think the grog may actually have been stuck there, with the heavier pieces falling over the opening after it dug through.

In trying to fix this last year, it was a relief to find the digging did not go far. The concrete steps are hollow. In the past, cats have had their kittens under there. I am less concerned now, knowing they’re not digging deep against the basement wall. Unfortunately, they’re also digging up the roots of the mock orange. Mind you, I do want to transplant it to a better location. It’s too close to the house, and gets really dried out.

So I think this time, we will leave the grog to it’s hidey hole under the steps.

I saw another one, later, going under the old garden shed, which makes three spots with dens under them.

I did find another burrow, of a sort.

The wheelbarrow leaning on the bale had start all around it, with just a small opening leading under the barrow. This morning, it was very open, with the straw knocked down and flattened. Taking a closer look, I could see something had burrowed under the loose, fallen straw, around the rest of the bale. I don’t see any dirt, so whatever made this may have a nest deeper in the straw.

I was much more dismayed by this damage.

A bunch of tulips have been eaten!

Not all of them; mostly around one edge. Still, quite a few seem to be just gone; eaten all the way to ground level. They’re not dug up at all, which makes me think it was a deer, rather than a skunk or a racoon.

I don’t think groundhogs eat tulips.

Do they?

Anyhow, I grabbed one of the rolls of chicken wire we’d used to try and protect the Crespo squash last year and set it up as far as it could go.

There’s a second, smaller piece that I hope is long enough to cover the rest of the space. It won’t stop any digging creatures, but hopefully it will be enough of a deterrent that critters in general won’t bother, and go for easier food elsewhere.

Along with the usual morning routine, I also checked out the road conditions, which will be in my next post.

The Re-Farmer

How’d that happen?

While doing my morning rounds, I walked through the feeding station a couple of times before I noticed.

Something was missing.

The suet feeder was gone.

I spent some time walking around, trying to find it, but a dark green wire cage on mud isn’t exactly easy to see.

It wasn’t until I paused to take this photo that I spotted the basket in the background. Minus the chain. A bit more searching, and I found that, too. The white arrows in the photo show where they are. They were actually easier to see from the side like this, than from directly above!

Something yanked it down with a fair bit of force! I was able to bend it back again, though.

The feeder was almost empty last night. Whatever did this may have been after the last little bit.

In other things…

The temperatures were below freezing when I headed out this morning, with the sun room at 5C/41F. The onion and shallot seedlings seem to be fine, as much as I can tell. They’re not doing very well to start, so we’ll see. I still left the lights on for what little warmth they can give. I should find a small thermometer that I can put in the shelf to better monitor that space.

Later this afternoon, though, I glanced into the sun room, and the thermometer on the wall was reading about 25C/77F! That’s just too much, so I opened up the inner door to outside, allowing air flow through the screen on the outer door. It’s only open a few inches, but that would be enough. The lights got turned off, too, of course.

Then I chased away the skunk that was in the kibble house.

*sigh*

The outside cats were happy to see me this morning, as there was no kibble at all left.

Gee. I wonder what could be eating it all?

Cats…

skunks…

deer…

One thing about the cooler temperatures – it’s a lot less muddy around the kibble house!

I counted 14 cats in total, this morning. I’m happy to say that Ghost Baby seems to be more accepting of human presence. While I was putting food in the tray outside the kibble house, she actually came close enough that I could have reached out and touched her!

Not that I tried. Too soon for that!

Among the things on the to-do list this morning was to get the burn barrel going again. Even in the outer yard, things are less muddy. Even the “lake” around the garage had receded a bit. The moisture is actually being absorbed by the ground, which is exactly what we need.

We’re at 5C/41F as I write this, which is warmer than predicted. The “real feel” is supposedly 3C/37F, but while I was outside, chasing off the skunk, it felt a lot warmer. That side of the house is sheltered from the current wind direction. The next couple of days are supposed to get even warmer – but a week from now, we’re supposed to get a high of -5C/23F, with “isolated flurries”! We’re supposed to have highs of 0C/32F over Easter weekend.

But if I look at another weather app, which gets its data from a different station, we’re supposed to have a high of -6C/21F on Holy Saturday and -5C/23F on Easter Sunday. The 30 year historical average for Easter Sunday is 10C/50F.

But I can’t complain. The record low for Easter Sunday is -24C/-11F, set in 2014. The record high is 20C/68F, set in 2005.

We are, if nothing else, a region of extremes when it comes to temperatures!

I think I’ll take our current, moderate conditions we’re having, thankyouverymuch!

Since we’ve unplugged the sump pump, I’ve been checking the old basement regularly. It’s dry, and the sump pump reservoir’s level doesn’t seem to have changed.

We’ve had some minor plumbing issues. When I checked the floor drain, it didn’t have any water in it at all, but I ran the hose through to the septic tank, anyhow.

Or tried to.

That bottleneck was clogged again.

It took a while, but I was able to get the hose through and washed the pipe out as best I could, but we’re going to have to get a plumber back to find out what’s going on. Judging by how much of the hose is through before I hit the bottleneck, I’d say it’s located outside of the basement, between the house and the tank. At that point, it may even be different pipe. The pipe in the concrete is cast iron, but at some point, it switches to PVC. I don’t know where, though. Perhaps it is at the join, that this problem is happening?

I don’t know, but I think we’ll be running the hose through every couple of weeks, rather than once a month, as I’d originally planned.

I sometimes feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, here.

😦

Nutmeg isn’t impressed, either.

The Re-Farmer

Twenty fuzzy butts, and what’s with the deer?

Yesterday, my daughter and I opened up the cats’ house and set up the extension cord I found that is safe to use in there. The heated water bowl had been knocked over again, by the time we got out there, which meant the cats had no liquid water available. They hovered around us the entire time we worked, then when everything was set up and the bowls refilled, they came running! They were so thirsty. I made sure to put water in all the bowls, so more could get at water at the same time.

Then I topped up the kibble trays and even more cats came running! I counted 19. Only Ghost Baby was unseen.

Not this morning!

I counted 20 furry butts this morning! All are accounted for.

Also, the heated water bowl had just an inch or two of water in it when I came out this morning, and no ice. Awesome!

I decided to leave the chimney insert where it was. The cats like to climb up and sit on it, plus the little ones can even go inside it for extra shelter, if necessary.

While doing the rest of my rounds, I noticed deer tracks all over the yards around the house. In some areas, it seems they are checking out the different crab apple, and even the plum trees. There is no fruit on any of them for the deer to find, this winter.

They are even digging into the compost pile. I would not have expected them to try and eat the potato plants in there! Do deer normally try to eat things in the nightshade family???

You can see from the tracks that they’re walking right through the half-finished low raised bed. That one was left with a trench down the middle, where we will add more compostable scraps before the bed gets finished in the spring. That’s where most of the frost damaged aloe vera plants ended up, though there are kitchen scraps in it, too. The deer are not digging in this bed, though. Just walking through it! The garlic beds, at least, are being left alone.

I had an unfortunate surprise, though. While looking at the deer tracks in the trees at the south fence along the spruce grove, I saw them going past the little cedar tree we’d found, and the remains of the mulberry tree we’d planted in the spring (only for it to get killed by that one cold night in May that is also why we had no crab apples, plums, chokecherries or Saskatoons this year). I’d asked my mother about the cedar tree, and she knew nothing about it, so I don’t know who planted it there or when, but it had clearly been there at least few years longer than we have been living here.

This year, for some reason, the deer decided to eat it. The twigs and branches are completely stripped. Not only that, but it looks like they even ate the remains of the mulberry tree! We had left it alone, so it was still in between support stakes, but the deer still managed to get at it.

Even the pile of bush bean plants in the garden that was waiting to be buried in garden plots next spring has been dug into more. There doesn’t seem to be much left at all.

We’ve had such a long, mild fall and, even with the one blizzard we’ve had, things have still been very mild and there’s not a tremendous amount of snow, by any means. This early in the winter, there is still lots of food available for the deer that is easy for them to get at. We haven’t see the deer in our yard, just their tracks, but we do see them along the roads or the occasional trial cam file, and they are still quite plump and hearty looking.

So why are they acting like they are starving? And going for things like the cedar, which they completely ignored for years?

I suppose it’s possible the cedar will still survive and regrow in the spring, but it seems so strange that they would have gone for it now.

One thing is for sure. When we finally do start planting our fruit and nut trees and berry bushes, we’re going to have to make sure they are well protected from the deer!

Also, it gives us even more incentive to plant forage trees, beyond the outer yard, so the deer will have less reason to come after trees closer to the house.

The Re-Farmer

Morning Mystery

Well, it looks like we’re down another bird feeder.

This is all I could find this morning. The top cap and the base.

There is no sign of the seed canister and the frame.

The canister is somewhat understandable. It’s just clear plastic, so it would be harder to see if it ended up under the lilacs or something. The frame, however, is red. It should be easily visible.

There is no sign of either.

I’m sure we’ll find them eventually, but I am curious what happened to them. With the winds we’ve been having, I’m almost willing to accept that the feeder was blown apart in the wind. On the one hand, that doesn’t make too much sense, since at least the top would still be on the hanger, and the pieces would be nearby. On the other hand, it seems very unlikely that critters did the damage, because of the weather conditions we had last night. Critters would have been taking shelter, not climbing posts for bird seed. Especially since there are still piles of sunflower seeds on the ground from when the big feeder fell down and broke apart.

Curious, indeed!

The Re-Farmer

Well, that’s it for that one

This morning, I came out to this.

*sigh*

That feeder was almost completely full, as of last night.

I’m actually surprised it took until now for the hinged lid to break apart, considering how many times it’s landed upside down and open.

At least I can say the base finally held!

The screws tore right through the old wood of the feeder’s platform.

I don’t see any point in repairing it at this time, but I’ll be keeping some of the parts and pieces, should we find ourselves with the materials to build a new one.

As for the base still on the post, it’s so secure, I’m leaving it for now. Who knows. I might just make a quick platform to put on there for a simple feeder.

Frustrating, but considering the condition the feeder was in when we moved here, it really is amazing it didn’t happen earlier.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: fixing the beet bed, and last things

One of the things we’ve done to protect some of our garden beds from the groundhogs and deer was to use mosquito netting as row covers. The edges were weighed down with whatever was handy; rocks, bricks, pieces of wood… that sort of thing.

The beet bed near where the garlic had been planted has been recovering very well. So well that the greens were tall enough to pull the netting out from under the weights that were holding it in place, in spots.

More specifically, out from under this board and the rock that was weighing it down. A grog took advantage of the gap and had a bit of a snack.

There wasn’t a lot of damage. The netting still did its job.

I took advantage of the situation to do some weeding and pick the onions that had been planted around the beets as a deterrent.

The down side of adding the netting was that the onions were rather squished, as they were planted so close to the edges of the bed. A few ended up on the compost pile, but there were still a few good enough to harvest! These last onions joined the others that are curing under the canopy tent right now.

I picked the beets that had the most of their greens eaten, plus a few more while I was weeding, which left me with some greens to harvest as well.

They got to join the corn I’d picked earlier.

This is pretty much the last of the Dorinny corn. There are still a few little cobs out there. I figure I’ll just leave those, and when we clean up the beds in the fall, we might have some seeds to save for next year, perhaps.

I just wanted to share how the first Mongolian Giant sunflower to start blooming is progressing, too. 😀

Back to the beets!

They are looking a lot better for a bit of clean up! There are some pretty big ones forming in there, too. It should be interesting to see what we get when it’s time to harvest the entire bed.

Then the netting was returned. I made good use of the bag of tent pegs I found in the garage, and pegged the sides down snug along the length, but close in to the beets, so that there would still be slack over the bed, with room for the beets to continue to fill out. I rolled boards into the excess netting at the ends and tucked them close under the leaves as well, so there would be no gabs in the corners for critters to get through.

The beets in the big L shaped bed in the old kitchen garden are starting to lift their floating row cover as well. I spotted a small gap where the rocks weighing the edge down had rolled off, and there are a few nibbled on greens at the very edge. There are heavier weights on either side of the gap, so a critter the size of a ground hog isn’t getting any farther. Tomorrow, I plan to uncover the bed, give it a thorough weeding, pick some more beets, then peg the netting down like this one, so it is more secure.

The beets planted against the retaining wall in the old kitchen garden don’t have this problem. They have not really recovered from when they got eaten. I think it has more to do with low light levels. That area is more shaded by the ornamental apple trees than the rest of the old kitchen garden. I’ll be uncovering them to at least weed them, and get a better look at how they are doing in the process.

As for what was picked today, the corn was added to the summer squash and teeny tomatoes the girls had picked earlier, and roasted in foil with some olive oil, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. The beets got roasted in another foil, with some chive blossom oil, salt and pepper. That way, I could roast both at the same time, in the same pan, without the beets turning the other vegetables all purple! 😀 It turned out very well!

The Re-Farmer

Grog determination

We have been rather entertained by our resident groundhogs under the junk pile of late.

The grog actually managed to drag some of the tarp down into the den entrance!

This tarp is one of several that I found when cleaning the junk off this pile of wood. They had clearly been used to cover and protect the wood, but had been blown aside and torn apart by the elements, along with all sorts of things being tossed into the area. Torn up as they were, I was still able to use them to cover the wood pile a bit, but the groundhogs are taking advantage of the deteriorated state. They are trying to gather it into their den for nesting material.

Last night, I cleaned it up a bit and tucked the tarp under some boards.

This is how I found it this morning.

I was able to see the groundhog in action through the living room window.

That little bugger is really working at it! 😀

I put together the videos I took from the window, too. 🙂

These next photos were taken after the video was made.

It got quite a lot of that tarp down and into the den entrance!

In taking this photo, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.

There is now a third entrance to the den in the back of the pile!

I cleaned up and tucked things away again. It should be interesting to see how long this lasts.

While I was working in a nearby beet bed (which will be in my next post), I could hear the grog trying to drag a corner of the orange trap around the back, too.

The gravel you see at the bottom of the photo is from the second entrance to the den.

I don’t think you can see it in the photo above, but there is the nose of a grog in their main entrance. It was watching me.

You’ll notice the gravel is different in this photo. I took advantage of their hard work and used it. I’ll be posting about that after I’ve processed the photos I took.

We seem to have made a truce with the groundhogs. I’m relieved, because we were getting to the point of taking some rather permanent steps. Something I won’t even consider right now, as they are nesting, and I don’t want to end up depriving babies of their mother. The cayenne pepper and covers are working, overall (more on that in my next post), and they seem content with eating the bird seed, grazing on whatever they’re finding in the grass, and leaving our garden beds alone now. From what I’ve been able to find about them, they don’t actually like to have overlapping territory, so if there are any babies, they will not stick around once they are big enough to live on their own.

For all the predictions of rain we’ve been getting, I don’t think we’ll actually get anything of substance, so I will be applying more cayenne pepper this evening. If it rains, well, I’ll just have to do it again.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: assessing the corn damage

Well, I’ve cleaned up the mess in the Montana Morado corn.

There isn’t much of it left. 😦

I decided to shuck what cobs I could find.

Get a load of this little mutant corn!

There are three tiny cobs growing out the base of the main one – and they were all developing kernels!

What a loss. 😦

I considered the possibility that the damage was done by raccoons, but they would have actually eaten the corn, not just knocked over the stalks. None of these have been nibbled on. Which puts me back to thinking “cat fight” as the most likely cause of damage.

When I first ordered these seeds, I thought I was getting a variety of corn from Peru that was being successfully grown in the US. However, the info on the website changed, and it turned out this is a variety that was created in the US from glass gem corn. In the cobs on the left, you can see that some are more blue than purple, and others are more red.

I found a source for the Peruvian variety that I thought I was getting. For next year, I want to get those and try again.

With better critter protection!

That purple has some real staying power. It won’t wash off! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: onions harvested, first melons, and more carnage

Today has turned out to be – so far – not as hot as predicted. On the down side, the smoke came back with a vengeance this morning. It has gotten better since then, thankfully.

While heading out to move the sprinkler, yesterday, I spotted Butterscotch and her brood.

I’m not sure if this is Bradicous or Chadicous. Either way, he’s adorable!

While tending the furthest garden beds, Butterscotch and her babies went through the squash tunnel on their way to the neighbour’s farm across the road. So much space they could have gone through, and they chose the squash tunnel! 😀

I also saw a lot of birds in the garden. They were appreciating the water on the ground from the sprinkler!

I decided to pick the two biggest, oldest melons to check them out. The one on the left is a Halona melon, and the one on the right is a Pixie.

Here, the Halona is at the top, and the Pixie at the bottom.

First thing I could tell is that they were not fully ripe yet. So we knew, when we taste tested them, that they were harder and less sweet than they should be.

They were still very tasty, though. General consensus is that we like the Pixie a bit better than the Halona, though it was really hard to pick one as better than the other.

With the weather predictions including thunderstorms over the next few days, I decided it was time to harvest the rest of the onions.

The canopy has been moved over the picnic table, so that’s where we set up the screens to lay them out on.

The screen with the fewest onions on them are the ones grown from sets I bought locally. About half of those had already been harvested earlier and are hanging in the root cellar.

The red unions are the sets we got from Veseys, and the screen in the middle has the onions we grew from seeds. These will stay outside until the soil is dried enough to brush it off and trim the roots. At that point, I will decide if I will leave them under the canopy to cure longer, or set them up in the root cellar. It will depend on the weather.

This morning, we are finally seeing yellow petals on the sunflowers! Most don’t even have heads developing yet. The Mongolian Giants are the only ones with developing heads right now. Given we’re in the second half of August right now, I don’t know that we have enough season left for them to develop. The sunflowers in the fields we pass are not only in full bloom, but today I drove by a field where the seed heads are already past blooming and starting to dry up.

In checking the rest of the beds this morning, I found this carnage in the purple corn.

Quite a number of stalks have been knocked down to the ground. From the looks of it, I think there may have been a cat fight in here or something. This is not the damage of a critter trying to eat the corn. I had to head out, so I left it until later today, when we’ll head out to clean up the mess. Hopefully, when it’s a bit cooler.

*sigh*

Anyhow.

Today I made a run to the nearer little city to do a Walmart run and pick up some more cat kibble, among other things. The smoke actually got thicker the further south and east I drove; most of the smoke we’d been getting before was from fires to the north. We are now getting predictions of possible thunderstorms starting tonight, which would go a long way to helping with the wildfires. I’m debating whether we should do an evening watering of all the garden beds or not. Some beds, like the tomatoes, got done already. Though we didn’t reach the predicted highs, I still had to run the hose into the rain barrel for a while, to get rid of the hot water, first. Otherwise, it would have scalded the plants. After letting it run, our well water still is not getting cold like it usually does. Even our ground water is warm! Which means there’s no danger of shocking the plants, I guess. I watered the potato bags, and those looked like something went crashing over them, too. Those, at least, can handle it better than the corn!

This year’s gardening has certainly been a learning experience.

The Re-Farmer