Changes in plans, and a little bit of everything

Yesterday, we got our quarter beef in!

We had to juggle a bit to be able to close the freezer lid. No, it’s not completely full of beef – there’s other stuff underneath – but I’d say over half the freezer is now packages of beef.

After I took the picture, I dug out a couple of packages of T-bone steaks to thaw out for today! It’s been soooo long since we’ve had a good steak!

I love how big the stew packages are this time. They’re not visible, but there’s also about two dozen 2 pound packages of ground beef in there.

Today’s plans, however, had already changed before I went to bed!

I got a call from my brother. He’d just talked to my mother, and he was asking if I could take her to the hospital today. !!! My mother thinks she’s got a UTI again (she is likely right), but she told my brother more than she told me, and it’s more of a problem than I knew. My guess is, she was hoping my brother would drop everything, drive all the way to her place, then take her to the hospital and sit with her, like he had done the last time this happened. She’s been suffering for more than a week, but had only just tried calling the community health number yesterday. She can’t handle the automated phone systems, so she just hit 0 and left a message. Twice. No response.

So today, my plan was to call our doctor’s clinic, which is in a town about 40-45 minutes drive from my place, as soon as it opened (after doing my rounds; head count of 27 this morning, and I couldn’t see the new bitty). I wanted to see if I could make arrangements with them, or see if I should take her to the hospital (our doctor’s clinic shares a building with the hospital).

Then I got a call from the home care worker that last assessed my mother. They got her messages from yesterday, and followed up. The person who normally answered the phone doesn’t work on Wednesdays. *sigh* My mother seemed confused about things, so he wanted to clear things up with me, but she had already told him about going to her doctor today.

One of the things my mother has been pushing to do is change doctors again. There aren’t full time doctors locally, which is why we now to go another town. Plus, the local doctor, who came in from the city once a week, was female, and my mother doesn’t like female doctors. Apparently, there is now a new doctor, though. He might even be there full time now, instead of coming in from the city. I’m not sure. Our doctor in the other town isn’t white, and my mother doesn’t like that about as much as she doesn’t like female doctors. Having a closer doctor would be better for her (but he’s Greek; not sure if that’s white enough for her), however there have been issues in the past with getting good care locally. The hospital just doesn’t have the resources. Whether she switches doctors or not, she won’t be happy. She’s convinced she has cancer or something, but the doctors are keeping it a secret from her.

Anyhow.

I called the clinic right after it opened, but the line was already busy, so I called my mom and told her what I was working on. She was already getting ready to leave! When I got through to the clinic, however, it turned out her doctor had an opening, so I was able to make an appointment for her this afternoon.

So I called my mother back and we worked out a plan. I’ll be heading over to her place early enough to have lunch (she requested Chinese food this time! 😁), and we wouldn’t be in any hurry about leaving. I will be using our van, as it’s better for winter road conditions, so we’ll have to remember to bring her little stool to help her get in and out.

Which means I’m going to be out for most of today.

Ah, well. At least it’s supposed to be a relatively mild day today. Things are supposed to get colder again tomorrow, and I’d rather not be driving my 91 yr old mother around in the cold! We still need to do at least one trip to the city for our monthly stocking up, but thanks to the trip I did manage to make – and the beef delivery! – plus our current state of supplies, there is no urgency on that.

I really like being well stocked. It takes a lot of pressure off. It wouldn’t be as big a deal if we were still living in the city, but it makes a huge difference living in the boonies, and winter is coming on!

In other things, I talked to the cat lady yesterday evening. She showed my pictures of the new bitty to a vet already. Given the size, they agree that it is younger than the other bitties. Once we are sure there are no siblings, she wants to take it in. Like the other cats, it probably already has upper respiratory issues, and being so young, they don’t expect it would survive the winter, either, even in the relative warmth and comfort of the heated cat shelter. The new bitty will join the other bitty. Things have changed there, too. He is not going to the lady that took the other two. Instead, he will be going to the cat lady’s cousin! He’ll be going to his new home after Christmas. Maybe, he’ll have a little orange buddy going with him? Wouldn’t that be cool! Also, she has managed to find homes for 6 cats she was fostering! She will have room for more, soon.

So we will continue to monitor and, if things go as I expect, we will have an orange bitty in the house tonight.

We shall see! It’s not like anything seems to be going to plan, today! 😄😄

The Re-Farmer

The bitties are gone away, and vehicle updates

Well, the transfer is done! The bitty kitties were picked up late this morning… but not before they had a good nap.

On me.

After filling their bellies, and cover themselves in kitty formula!

The grey and white tabby is male. He is a show off, so that was pretty easy to determine. It took more effort to check the black and white, but I’m pretty sure it was female.

The cat lady, meanwhile, came baring gifts! A big bag of dry kibble, a cat bed, some small cat blankets, a baggie of cat treats and…

… a toy for the outside cats!

We talked a bit about all the cats running around, with several of them coming right up to her. She noted quite a lot of them look old enough to be fixed, so after she gets the three we have in mind right now done (they will stay with her for a week after surgery, then come back, unless she finds adoptees for them), she will start looking into booking visits for more outdoor cats, and hopefully adopt some of them out, too.

We didn’t stay long after she left with the bitties, heading out to pick up my mother soon after. It was supposed to be a warm day today, but there was a chill wind, and my mother wasn’t too happy about that. We picked up some fried chicken and wedges for a picnic lunch, though, and she was very happy about that! After we ate, the girls took the short hiking path around the marsh, while my mother and I made our way into the interpretive centre. She wanted to visit the gift shop. I ended up buying a cookbook of recipes submitted by volunteers. We left soon after the girls caught up with us again. My mother is noticeably having a harder time walking. It’s a shame we couldn’t load her little power chair into the van for her. The ramps we have are fine for loading snow blowers and riding mowers. Not so great for something more delicate! Mind you, just getting in and out of our van was really pushing it for her, too. My mother was more than happy to go home and get some rest.

The girls and I took advantage of the outing and went to a different town. They wanted to hit the grocery store. Our mechanic’s garage is across the street, so while they did that, I went in to talk to him.

After booking an appointment for my mother’s car, to get the leaking tire looked at (I expect it will only need to be patched), I talked to him about our van. He sells vehicles, too, now, and I was suggesting maybe using it as a trade in – he’s done enough work on it to know it very well – and talked about what we might get. It would have to be another older vehicle, because we can’t afford much, but once the quarter beef and the branch chipping are paid off, we can use that money towards a slightly newer vehicle.

He actually recommended we try selling our van privately. At best, he’d be able to give us $300 for the van, and it would be sent for scrap. On a private sale, we might be able to get about $500. (Or, he suggested, we can just keep it as a back up vehicle.) For someone who has the tools and knowledge to do most of their own repairs, it could still do well by them. The problem is all those little things that go wrong on an older vehicle – it’s a 2005 – that is the issue. There are just too many little things that should be fixed, before they become big things, but taking it in to get them all fixed at a garage is still more than we can afford.

We talked about what sort of vehicle we are looking for; the Grand Caravan we had before did well by us, and this Uplander is doing remarkably well, considering how abused it turned out to have been before we bought it. The Uplander hasn’t been made and sold in Canada since 2010, though. He still finds some decent Caravans, though. The other possibilities we are looking at are an older F150 or Ram1500 – both vehicles that are highly rated for winter driving, and that my husband would be able to get in and out of all right. He happened to have an F150 in one of his bays that was for sale that he could use as an example. It was a 2010 and well out of our budget, but my goodness, it was in fine shape!

Because he’d mentioned scrap dealers, I brought up that – now that our vandal can no longer try to claim the junk here on the farm – we can actually have it sold as scrap. He said to wait. This past spring, the prices where the highest he’s seen, but right now, the prices are down again. They go up again in the spring.

So we will wait.

I think we’ll be waiting with replacing the van until spring, too. Whatever we get, I’d want to be able to have it paid off within a year, and that might not be easy.

Ah, well. We do what we can!

The funny thing is, after the girls and I were back at the van and were about to leave, someone came knocking at my daughter’s window, wondering if he could ask us about how we liked our Uplander. I recognized him as an employee from one of the local hardware stores, so I just got out and went to talk to him. It turns out he needs to replace his wife’s car, and was thinking of getting an Uplander, but had been hearing conflicting reports on how good they are. So we had plenty that we could share with him! I think he found it helpful.

We did get a laugh about his asking about the van, just as we were talking to someone about trading it in for something else!

We shall see how things work out. I’m glad I finally had the chance to talk to our mechanic about it.

Oh, and guess what?

He also hauls scrap. Which makes sense. With all the cars he works with, he’d have plenty to send to the scrap dealer. One of these days, I’ll have him come out to our place and look at what we’ve got and see what he says about it.

All in all, it’s been a very productive day, even though we were away from home for most of it!

The Re-Farmer

Kitten progress, and… Oh, Mom. *sigh*

After several delays, my mother was finally good with my coming over to help her with some errands. I used our van, as I don’t want to drive her car with the slow leak in one tire. Neither of us remembered to bring a stool for her to use to climb in and out, though!

While I was gone, my daughters were able to go outside to check on the bitty babies. They actually quite liked the attention. Even the one that would hiss and spit came running back for more attention after being put into the cat house!

When I got home, I topped up the kibble trays, and three of them were out and about.

That little grey and white one in the foreground REALLY wanted attention! As for the black and white clones, you can see one of them peeking out from under the kibble house floor, behind Judgement.

These two started very enthusiastically eating kibble! I’ve been putting kibble into the entry of the cat house (the only area that can be reached without opening the roof), so they’ve been around kibble since they showed up, but this is the first time I’ve seen them actually eating any!

The fourth kitten was in the cat house and, aside from peeking out the entry, seemed content to stay there.

I still have no idea who the mother is. Of the adult cats we see around (all the adult males have disappeared again), none of them seem to belong with the babies.

We’re going to have to check on them as the day winds down and things get chillier, to make sure they are safe and warm in the cat house. I do wish we could reach into there without lifting the roof, so we could pop food and water in the main area, instead of just tossing kibble through the entry.

As for the outing with my mother, that went well enough – aside from her struggle to get into the van! It’s easier for her to get out, and I keep having to tell her to wait until I get her walker out and over to her before she climbs down. She frequently ignores me, of course. 😁 I’m just concerned that she might fall while I’m getting her walker out of the back of the van.

Along with errands, she took me out for a late lunch, and then we made a quick stop at the grocery store. She didn’t even try to get out of the van for that one, and just asked me to run in and pick up some milk for her.

After getting her home and putting things away, she gave me a bag of stuff that she didn’t need anymore, including a couple of pairs of jeans. My sister had bought them for her, but she said they were too big, and thought they might fit me. I looked at them when I got home and had to laugh. My mother completely forgot that my sister had not only taken them in for her, but also hemmed them for her. My mother has shrunk quite a bit over the years, so the pant legs are really, really short!

As she was telling me what was in the bag, she mentioned she had some yarn for me, and told me to look into her storage closet. There were things in the way from reaching it, but I could see the balled yarn in a bucket. My cousin had given her a shawl, you see, so she undid it and saved the yarn…

Two things came to mind when she said that. The first was the memory of her doing the same thing to a shawl my daughter had crocheted for her, using some lovely Peruvian wool yarn she had bought specially for this gift. My daughter was so very proud of the finished shawl, as well she should be. Her stitches are always so perfect! She was so happy to gift it to her grandmother. Years later, we were able to make a road trip out and my mother wanted to give us some yarn. We both recognised the yarn immediately. When asked about it, she said she had undone the shawl so that the yarn could be use for “something useful.” Like slippers. The look of hurt on my daughter’s face still sears my heart. We still have that yarn, and my daughter still refuses to even look at it. Though she has since had it explained to her, my mother remains oblivious to the pain she caused, or why it was such a hurtful thing to do.

The other thing that came to mind was recognizing the yarn and realizing what just happened. I asked my mother when my cousin had given her the shawl. It was very recently. My aunt passed away not long ago, and my cousin brought some things of hers to my mother after the funeral.

I was the one who made the shawl, and had given it to my aunt as a Christmas gift, several years ago. I especially chose the pattern to make something she could wear over her shoulders while in her wheelchair. The yarn I’d chosen was bamboo silk, because I felt she deserved something was both warm and luxurious. It had an amazing drape to it.

And my mother undid it. She thought the nursing home had given it to her, because there was a label with their name on it. A label they would have added to all my aunt’s garments, to keep track of who they belonged to while being laundered. My mother thought the yarn would be good for some slippers or something.

I told her that I had made the shawl, and that this yarn was not at all appropriate for making anything that would be walked on. Yarn for footwear needs to have certain manmade fibres in it, or they wear out and get holes very, very quickly. My mother seemed to think it was quite funny that she had undone a shawl I had made for her sister. She even commented that it took a lot of work to unmake it. I told her it was a lot of work to make it!

She remains completely oblivious.

*sigh*

She still wants to give me the yarn, though when she asked, I did tell her that I don’t crochet much anymore. My hands simply hurt too much for that kind of fine motor control. Especially when it’s chilly out. Winter is usually when I can get back into crochet and crafting, but these days, that just hasn’t been happening, and this year, the pain in my hands has never been worse. I’ll take the yarn, though. I’m sure I can make something “useful” out of it that won’t also completely destroy it.

What a send off before heading home!

Well, at least I had some kitten therapy when I got home!

The Re-Farmer

So tired…

Who knew that sitting around all day could be so exhausting?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was up early to do my rounds before heading to my mother’s, timing it so I would get there before the official time range for the exterminator guy. The hope was that he would start at my mother’s town and building early in the day. Then we’d do some stuff around town, have lunch together, and she was even considering staying in the lobby for a few hours at the end of the day, until she could go back into her apartment. Maybe after only 6 hours, though she is supposed to stay away for 12 hours, due to respiratory issues.

So we waited.

And waited.

And had repeated visits from a neighbour that was also waiting – with her cat in a carrier in the lobby/ A neighbour that is one of those people that will wander in and start talking, and not leave. Even when I finally got some Chinese take out and we were eating, she swung by twice – first to tell us the guy was there, then she came back to tell us she’d made a mistake. As we chatted, I found out she’s someone who should be staying away for 12 hours, too, but she never has. !!

After hours of being ready to leave at any time, my mother was really tired and tried to nap several times. Of course, the neighbour tried to come in while she was napping, too. By the time the guy arrived, my mother was fighting a wicked headache that Tylenol couldn’t touch.

It doesn’t take long for him to spray an apartment as small as these ones are, so we waited until he was done so we could lock up and go. This gave him a chance to explain to things to me, which I could later explain to my mother.

The first part is good news.

This is the 4th time her apartment has been sprayed, and the first time he saw zero trace of any bed bugs.

Now the not so good news. They don’t go with just one clear month. They go with three.

Sort of.

She will have her apartment sprayed again next month, just in case anything got missed this time. If there are no signs of bed bugs for a second time, she will get another notice a month later, but he will not be coming in to spray again. He will just do a visual check. If there are still no signs, she is officially done!

So it all hinges on there not being any evidence of bed bugs next month.

At least we know it’s going to happen, because my mother is so frustrated with the whole thing, she stopped telling us about the letters.

Because he came so late, my mom has to stay away until at least 2am. Once things were locked up and we could leave, we went to a nearby park where she could sit and get some fresh air, which did wonders for her headache. She was too tired to do any of the things she wanted to do, or even go to a sit down restaurant for the late birthday dinner I was planning to treat her to. She decided to get a hotel room again, and that was it.

She didn’t have a bag packed, so she basically had the clothes on her back, and the contents of her walker.

Once she was checked in, I made sure she got her complimentary coffee and a couple of muffins to eat when she took her evening and morning pills. She keeps some in her purse at all times, just in case she happens to be out when she’s supposed to take her medications. I offered to get her anything else – even buy her a nightgown or something – but she said she was fine. She just wanted to take her meds and go to bed! She was so tired, she was struggling just to move around the hotel room, even through everything is close at hand.

I’ll be coming back tomorrow morning to help her check out and take her home. She insisted I don’t come too early, because she wants to sleep in! So I’ll time it to be there just before check out time.

Even my mother commented on how it felt like such a wasted day. Neither of us got anything useful accomplished. And there’s no way to get around that. The guy shows up when he shows up, depending on how many towns and buildings he was to do.

At least there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 – 2023? garden: preparing the garlic bed

Well, the soil sifter I made really got a work out today! I’m actually quite impressed. It got beaten and battered, and that janky thing withstood the abuse and did the job.

The half inch mesh works out well. The soil was very full of worms, and most of them fell through the mesh quite easily. Any pebbles small enough to go through will not be a problem. In fact, they will help with drainage. Unfortunately, it’s also large enough that roots can fall through, too, so I still did most of the picking of roots by hand, tossing them on the path to be trampled on, pushing through the soil until I reached a point where I could just shake the rest through. What got left behind were the larger rocks and weeks, and small clumps of soil. I didn’t want to break those up too much, as it would have hurt too many worms.

I laid out the black landscape-type fabric/tarp we’ve got to put the sifted soil on until I’m ready to put it back into the bed.

It took many loads as I worked my way down. You can see the crab grass rhizomes I pulled out on the grass. You can’t see all the other roots and weeds that also got pulled out.

Using the wheelbarrow and soil sifter really helped a lot. I have a long handled garden claw that I used to break the soil up in the sifter, pulling up the longer roots, and using the back of it to help push the soil through the sifter. It was a real back saver! Plus, when I stopped to work with my hands, I could brace the garden claw on the ground, or even into a corner of the sifter, to lean on as I worked. The logs around the garden bed allowed me to raise one leg, relieving even more pressure from my back. Without all those little things to help out, I would not have been able to finish the soil sifting today!

This is where I stopped, after several hours.

Oh, wow. I just looked at the time stamps between the first progress photo I took, and the last one. I was working on this for four hours. !!

Basically, I removed the top four inches or so of soil. After that, I was scraping the shovel over rocks.

There are still a lot of rhizomes along the edges, but the run under the log border, and I wasn’t up to moving those out to get rid of them.

The sifted soil is now so light and fluffy, it looks like there’s so much more than what could fit into the space in the bed!

What got left behind in the sifter got dumped among the nearby trees. Plenty of rocks, clumps of soil, worms, and the occasional sticks, rusted nails and even bits of glass!

I am so glad this is done.

Tomorrow, I plan to add a layer of wood chips into the bottom of the bed, top it with the summer squash vines I’ll be pulling from the next bed over, and then the soil will be returned, ready for garlic planting and mulch. I hope to get that all finished tomorrow, because the day after, I am expecting to go into the city for a much needed stocking up trip to the city.

While I was writing this, I got a call from my brother. He had just made the trip out to my mother’s to get the battery from the motorized chair he got for her (which she refuses to use) that isn’t holding a charge for some reason. She just let him know that they’re coming to spray her apartment for bedbugs again, the day after tomorrow. She hadn’t mentioned a thing to me when I called her last, even though she’d told me about some other stuff, even though I’d really stressed with her to let us know right away if she got another letter of notification that they’d be coming in to spray her place again, so that we would have time to help her prepare. She started talking to him about staying in the lobby, even though she has to stay away from her apartment for 12 hours after spraying.

*sigh*

My brother took a picture of the letter she got and will send it to me. Hopefully soon, because I’d like to read it before I call her. It looks like I will be helping her book a room at the motel again, as she doesn’t want to stay at my sister’s overnight. Too many stairs in her house. Which means I’ll be using her car to go into the city, which means not a Costco trip.

At this point, I don’t even know if they are spraying her place because they’re actually finding bed bugs, or because they’ve just decided to keep spraying the same apartments every month. The guy did leave a trap, but no one comes to check it.

What a pain.

Oh, and I just found out our vandal had called my mother again – at the beginning of the month! It was her birthday, so he used that as an excuse to call her, then start harassing her about the farm again until she finally hung up on him. I had hoped, after losing his court case against me, he’d finally give up, but apparently not. She never said a thing to any of us until now. So frustrating!

Well, we’ll figure it out. For now, I’m just going to focus on getting that bed done and planting garlic for next year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: harvesting squash and corn

Well, the last of the stuff that needed to come in before tonight is done – at least as much as possible. The girls and I put bottles with warm water under the eggplants in the grow bag (the only ones fruiting) and, since they were right there, with the sweet potatoes, too. The eggplant and one grow bag with sweet potato got covered, but the sheet wasn’t big enough to cover the other two grow bags. The apple gourd also got bottles of warm water placed beside them, but we could only cover two of the three plants, so we covered the two biggest ones. As I write this, we are down to 9C/48F, and it’s supposed to keep dropping until we reach 1C/34F at about 7am. Between 6 – 8 am tends to consistently be the coldest time of day.

While I was harvesting earlier, I went ahead and grabbed a bunch of the Latte sweet corn, too. I don’t think they are quite at their peak, but I think they’re about as good as we’re going to get. There are still cobs on the stalks that were pretty small, so I left them be.

With the summer squash, I grabbed all the little – but not too little – patty pans, and the last of the zucchini.

In the above photo, the six pumpkins across the top are the Baby Pam pumpkins. The others are all hulless seed pumpkins. On the far left are four Styrian, in the middle are six Lady Godiva, and on the right are two Kakai. Tucked in with the patty pans are two Boston Marrow. There are so many little Boston Marrow squash forming, but they are just too small and have no chance of ripening after being picked. I’m not even sure Boston Marrow does continue to ripen after being picked!

The pumpkins are now all set up in the sun room. We cleared a shelf in the window, and all but one of them fit in there. The last one joined the onions on the screen. I think it should still get enough light there.

The hulless seed pumpkins are grown just for their seed, not their flesh. The flesh is probably edible, but there would be less of it than for an eating pumpkin. I will give them time before we crack any open to see what the seeds are like. At least we do have the one tiny, fully ripe kakai pumpkin harvested earlier that we could try any time we feel like it.

We planted so many different winter squash, and it was such a horrible year, I’m thankful we have as much as we do. Hopefully, next year, we will have better growing conditions. I made the mistake of calling my mother before I started this post, and talking about our garden. I mentioned that our beets did not do well this year. She started lecturing me on how to grow beets, and how they need to have the soil loosened around them, etc. I told her I knew how to grow beets (this is not our first year growing them!); they just didn’t do well this year. We didn’t even get greens worth eating. My mother then launched into how she always had such big beets, and always had such a wonderful garden (this after she’d mentioned to be before, that some years things just didn’t work) and how she only grew the “basics” and everything was just so wonderful – and the reason my beets failed was because I don’t garden like she did, and that I shouldn’t be gardening “from a book”. Whatever that means. I reminded her that I tested the soil and it is depleted. We don’t have good soil here anymore. She got sarcastic about that, and basically made it like my not having a perfect garden like she did was because I’m not doing things her way. As she got increasingly cruel about it, I called her out on it. I told her that just because she can’t understand something like soil science – which she doesn’t need to – that didn’t make it okay for her to be cruel to me over something she knows nothing about. Nor would I put up with being treated like that. I even asked her, why couldn’t she try being kind for a change? Maybe say something like “I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems”, instead of basically saying “I’m better than you.” She went dead silent, so I changed the subject, and the rest of the conversation went okay. Then she cut the call short because she saw the time, and her program on TV was started, so she had to go.

My mother is pretty open on what her priorities are. 😕

Ah, well. It is what it is. I’m just so thankful she is no longer our “landlord”, and that my brother now owns the property. There was a point, before the title was transferred, that we briefly but seriously considered moving out because of her.

Funny how something as ordinary as gardening can bring out the worst in her, though.

The weird thing is, when I spoke to my brother after he’d visited her to talk about the roofing estimates, apparently my mother had lots of positive things to say about how well we’re taking care of things here.

I guess that doesn’t include the garden! 😄

Well, I guess I should go see what I can do about that corn! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Tree protector, and good roof news!

Last night, I finished off a section of chicken wire salvaged from row covers from last year’s garden, and made a protector for the ash tree sapling my mother gave me to transplant. I sprayed it with the high visibility paint last night, so it was dry and ready to set up, this morning.

You can’t see them, but it is pegged to the ground.

This should keep it safe from getting eaten by deer or something!

This afternoon, we were outside harvesting our potatoes, which I will share about in my next post. While we were out, I got a message from my brother, on his way home from our mother’s. Once he was home, we were able to talk on the phone.

The short version: my mother agreed to one of the estimates, and provided my brother with cash for the deposit.

We’re getting a new roof.

As expected, she did start to back off and starting saying maybe someone else could pay for half of it. My brother reminded her that if she started playing her games again, he would simply cancel the whole thing and the roof won’t get done. There is a possibility she’ll try again, but if it comes down to it, he will use his Power of Attorney to make sure the company gets paid. She can’t mess around with people like this, but has a long history of it. For now, she is following through with her promise.

While talking to my brother, I told him about how, in her efforts to lure us out here, my mother insisted that this place was “perfect”. We didn’t need anything. We could leave everything behind and move right in, because everything we needed was here. Everything was “perfect”.

Of course, we knew that wasn’t how it would be, but we were still thrown by just how bad we discovered things had gotten. As I put it to my brother, my mother didn’t keep up her end of the bargain, in her efforts to get us to move out here. Now her habit of making promises, then backing out of them when it came time to follow through, is costing her thousands of dollars more than if she had followed through on the roof situation back in 2019.

There is one possible thing we can do to help with that, though. Since the court ruled against our vandal (and he now owes me $500 in court costs), he had 30 days to appeal. I’m not sure if that was 30 calendar days or 30 business days. Either way, I’ve not been served with anything. Which means we might be able to get a scrap dealer out here to get rid of the old cars and other metal junk our vandal was trying to get money from me for. I don’t expect we’d get more than a few hundred dollars out of it, but who knows. It’s not something we’d do until spring, though.

The main thing is, we’re getting a much needed new roof. The work will likely be done in November, though their schedule might allow for something in October. We shall see.

I’ve sent an email and phoned the company to start the ball rolling. I hope to hear from them tomorrow, though they might contact my brother directly for the financial part of it, first.

I wish I could say I feel relieved, but I probably won’t feel that until the work is done and paid for!

The Re-Farmer

Newfound baby, and a follow up

I have been avoiding going into the pump shack for the past while, because I was pretty sure there was a litter in there, and didn’t want to disturb the mama. They tend to move their litters further away when that happens.

Last night, I figured it was long enough to check things out.

Look what I found!

I only saw one, but could hear others. This one looks a lot like most of Rosencrantz’s babies, except smaller. Which makes it pretty clear who the daddy is! I’ve been calling him Sad Face, because he has this permanent tragic expression. I found out recently the girls have another name for him.

Shop Towel.

Because he is the daddy of Tissue…

*face palm*

Given the size of the kittens, I decided to bring one of the kibble trays over. I was going to leave it in front of the hole at the bottom of the pump shack door, but it was still raining and the roof overhang isn’t enough to keep it dry. So I tucked it inside for now.

I still think there is at least one more litter we haven’t seen yet, either in the collapsing log building or the threshing machine, near the fire pit. All I heard was maternal “mama is here” type noises, though, not kitten noises.

Being born so late in the year, these babies are going to be at much higher risk over the winter, no matter how many shelters we provide for them. Hopefully, we will be in the area expected to have a mild winter this year, rather than the area expected to have exceptionally cold temperatures. We’re in a sort of ambiguous border between the two areas, and the lake effect can change things dramatically.

On another note, my brother is taking the roofing estimates to my mother today. I pray my mother will actually follow through with her promise to pay for a new roof, and not choke once she sees the numbers and back off, as she has in the past. She still thinks things should cost what they did, 50 years ago. I well remember how, as part of our deal to move out here, she agreed to pay for the movers, only to try to back off when it came time to actually fork over the cash. Even when she finally did, she refused to pay the full amount, and my brother was kind enough to cover the balance. My mother can be very cruel and manipulative. My brother has already told her that if she starts doing that sort of thing again, he will not put up with it, and will stop the process completely. The last thing we need is to hire a company to do the roof, only to have her refuse to pay after it’s done. Neither my brother nor I can afford to cover the cost if she does that sort of thing again.

If she does follow through, we are looking to have the roof done in November. Which would be so amazing. I am afraid to hope it will get done, though. I’ve got too many knives stuck in my back as it is.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden, and a follow up

My mother wanted me to check her out of the hotel as late as we could, so this morning I actually got to sleep in a little bit before doing my morning rounds! I’m happy to say, my mother is now settled in at home and really hoping not to have to go through this again! While helping put fresh sheets back on her bed, I noticed the exterminator left a trap in the corner, to monitor things. We shall see.

I had done a small harvest from the garden yesterday, so I didn’t have to pick any beans this morning – though I did find a couple of cucumbers I’d missed!

I was able to do some hand pollinating, which is nice. Not with the luffa, though.

We still have only female flowers blooming. The clusters of male flowers are forming, but are still just tiny buds.

The nearby dancing gourds have so many flowers, I don’t even bother. What few pollinators we’ve got right now are more than able to get those ones done! There are many developing gourds, hidden among the leaves, to show for it.

The G-Star patty pan squash are really getting big and healthy, and I finally spotted a female flower today. When they were still struggling, I did see one squash starting to form, but there were no male flowers to pollinate it, so it fell off. Since then, until today, there have been only male flowers.

This is how they should have looked by the end of June and the first half of July. Not at the very end of August!

There were other summer squash I was able to hand pollinate. Most of them are not as far behind as the G-Star, though the green zucchini is sort of in between. I could have picked some summer squash this morning, but left them to get a bit bigger. I should be able to pick at least a couple of them, tomorrow.

Mostly, though, I wanted to pick tomatoes!

There are only 3 or 4 of the rounder Sophie’s Choice in there, and the rest are the Cup of Moldova. Most of those went into the freezer with the others awaiting processing, though I kept a few for fresh eating.

This is the first time we’ve grown determinate tomatoes. I kept hearing about how they ripen all at once, so be prepared to do a lot of canning and processing in a very short time. I was kind of counting on that, since the main reason we were planting these was to make tomato paste. A lot of tomatoes will cook down to a fairly small amount of paste. However, they seem to be ripening little by little, like indeterminate tomatoes do. Even with what I’ve already got in the freezer, I really don’t think there’s enough to fill the dozen 125ml jars we have waiting for them. (From what I’ve been finding, because tomato paste is so very dense, they should not be canned in even 250ml jars, as it’s so hard for the paste to come to temperature all the way through.)

We’re going to have to process them soon, though. In a couple of days, I’ll be doing the rest of our monthly stock up shopping, and we’re going to need the freezer space taken up the the bin with the tomatoes! So whatever we’ve got now is going to have to do.

Before we can do that, though, we need to finish processing the crab apples and get the hard apple cider started. At least the girls got the cider vinegar started, while I was helping my mom. When I told my mother about what we’re doing with the apples, she asked for a small bottle of cider vinegar to try, which I had already been planning to do – or at least offer. That she’s even asking to try new things like this is pretty surprising, after all these years since our move with her being so angry whenever I did something different from how she did things! 😁 She is still upset with me because there were cherries still on the cherry trees when she came out here with my sister. I was supposed to pick every single one of them, and make all the things she would have made with them. Any left on the tree is apparently a real tragedy. Just the fact that I froze the ones we did pick, rather than processing them right away, ticked her off. I told her I had other things to do and, since they’re frozen, I can do them at my leisure. All that got me as a grilling on what could I possibly be doing to keep me from processing them right away. I don’t have cows to milk! (That’s her current thing: we don’t have cows to milk, therefore we have no work to do.) When she was on the farm, she always processed this stuff right away. I reminded her that back then, there was seven of us, so she was able to do this stuff and the rest of the work still got done. Her response was to ask, what did I do while growing up on the farm? I started listing out how I helped in fields, in the barn, with the cows, with the chickens, and in the garden. I just wasn’t allowed to help much with the pigs, because I was so young, and they were so potentially dangerous.

She didn’t remember me doing any of that.

I told her that just because she didn’t see or remember something, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

I can’t really complain about her digs too much. It has actually gotten better compared to when we first moved here, and she was so very angry that we didn’t instantly do all the things she thought needed to be done (never mind what actually needed to be done), and didn’t immediately recreate the garden she had some 40 years ago, in exactly the same place (though much of that space is now taken up with trees or the shade from trees), and in exactly the same way she did it (never mind that we don’t have the equipment she did). It’s taken a lot, but she’s at least less critical, even if she still doesn’t understand the how or why of what we’re doing.

And even interested in trying new things, like asking for a Red Kuri squash, and some crab apple cider vinegar!

That’s some pretty huge progress, there! 😊

The Re-Farmer

Long day, garden damage and a fiscal heart attack

Oy, what a long, draining day!

While waiting for a call from my mother, I figured I should just go over to her place early. Better to be there and know what was going on, than having to stick close to the phone and not being able to start anything useful.

My mother had got up early to prepare, expecting the exterminator to come fairly early. By the time I called her, she was ready for a nap! So I took my time getting there, stopping to gas up her car and pick up some chicken and wedges for an eventual lunch.

I did try to let her sleep, but conversation kept happening. I found out she’d called my sister about coming over – at 8am this morning, rather than last night, when I suggested she call. My sister works until 1am, and her husband is retired, so my mother woke them up with her call!

She told me she also called someone to try and find out when the exterminator would come, but they didn’t know and asked her if she’d called a different office. I eventually found out she had called the senior’s centre, and I had to explain to her that they have nothing to do with running the building my mother lives in. It’s owned and managed by the provincial government. My mother thought that, because they do so many things in the building (mostly centered around social activities), they were somehow part of it. I had explained this to her the last time her place got sprayed for bed bugs, but it was all new to her again. :-/ Then she wanted me to call the appropriate office, and I had to explain again that the people in the office don’t now where the exterminator is at any given time, because he goes from place to place within and area. She was not impressed by this.

After a couple of hours, my mother suddenly remembered her daily Mass was on TV, so she got up to watch. I suggested we have lunch, but at first she said no, but told me to go ahead. I had had a very early breakfast (I actually remembered to have one!), so I started putting a plate together for myself.

Of course JUST as I took my first bite, there was a knock at the door!

Yup. At almost 2pm, the exterminator arrived.

When he saw the food on the table, he said he would do the apartment next door so we could finish eating. My mother quickly joined me and we hurriedly ate a bit, then put the rest away. My mother also quickly put some other stuff away including…

Putting her toaster in the fridge.

It took me a while to figure it out, but it actually is a great idea. They have to spray in the kitchen, too, and by putting it in the fridge, there is no chance of the spray getting into the toaster and coating the parts and pieces as would still be possible if she, say, put it in a cupboard. It’s not like you can wash the inside of a toaster!

I had a chance to meet the exterminator, and he was such a sweetheart! The most gentle mannerism, and so very kind. He was apologetic about how long it took for him to get there, and when I mentioned my mother needing to be away for 12 hours, and he realised she had respiratory issues, he said that if he had to come back, he would make sure to start with her. My mother was asking if this could be the last time her place got sprayed, but all he could say was that it depended on what he found today.

Then we were off, along with my mother’s overnight bag – just in case she ended up staying the night with my sister. Which, from what I could tell, she had not brought up with her; just the possibility of a visit. We were leaving so late, though, I knew my sister would probably be getting ready to leave for work. My mother had an errand with the office for the department that runs her building – it just happens to share the building the courts and court office area in, so I was quite familiar with getting there. Meanwhile, I was trying to send message to my sister to let her know what was going on, and if I was right about my mother not saying anything to her about it, warn her that my mother was expecting to spend the night. My sister has tomorrow of, so my mother thought it would be quite convenient for her to take my mother home – but it turned out my sister had company coming. I passed things on to my mother as I was able, and she eventually decided it would be just too much to go to my sister’s, so we went to the Walmart to do a bit of shopping. By then, we were literally about to go to my sister’s place, so I was happy to park and message her that she was in the clear!

After we got what we wanted, my mother told me to take her to the hotel she had stayed at before. Which she had told my brother she was going to do, but then told me she didn’t want to. Frankly, I think the hotel, so close to home and with a 24 hr convenience store right next door, was better for her, anyhow. If nothing else, she wouldn’t have to take stairs to get to the bathroom!

By the time I got my mother settled in and I was heading home, it was coming up on 6pm. Traipsing around with my mother is very draining, even though everything did go very well. I mean, she’s 90, and I’m no spring chicken, myself, so we were both pretty tired!

When I had left home this morning, we’d already had some heaving rains, and some periods of high winds. When I did my evening rounds and checked out the garden, I found some of our whirligigs to startle deer had been blown away. Then I found the sweet corn looking like this…

The stalks aren’t actually broken, though, thankfully. If I can find something to use as supports, I will see if I can run lines through to hold them up again.

Then I got to the ground cherries.

Again, they don’t seem to be actually broken, but one side of the patch is quite flattened!

The super tall kulli corn, meanwhile…

… also had stalks blown down.

On the other side of the bed, the corn was pushed over enough to create an arch over the path!

It would have been knocked flat, where it not for the netting around it!

From the looks of the things that got blown down, it seems they were hit by sudden gusts of wind. Even one of the winter squash vines got blown around, and a single Chocolate Cherry tomato plant got broken, but not the ones on either side. Even sections of tall grass in the outer yard showed patches that were newly flattened, while others were not. Aside from the one broken tomato, though, it doesn’t look like anything in the garden was actually broken and killed off.

I hope I’m right about that!

Things are supposed to get hot over the next few days; even hot enough to match a record high of 30C/86F, set in 2007. Which I much prefer over the record low for the same day, of 4C/39F.

Along with all that, I came home to find a message on the answering machine from one of the roofing companies we got estimates from, back in 2019. When I emailed them, I mentioned the 2019 estimate and asked for an updated one. The guy that called remembered the place, and even remembered talking to me when he came out here. In 2019, the estimate was just under $9,000, plus whatever amount it would cost to repair any rot they found that can’t be seen yet, which gets charged by the square foot. That’s why I rounded up to $10,000.

I didn’t think to ask what the square part was. I was somewhat distracted by the new estimate. Based on what he saw in 2019, the job will now cost just under $16,000 – for now! Their suppliers are saying the cost of materials will go up another 20% in November.

My mother couldn’t accept a 10K estimate, 3 years ago. During a conversation we’d had fairly recently, I told her that today, it would probably cost about $15K, and she didn’t believe me. It turns out I was under estimating.

She has told my brother (not me) to find out the cost and she would pay for a new roof, but I don’t know if she would still be willing. She is so convinced that everyone is trying to cheat her, because she’s an old lady (never mind that they’d be dealing with my brother).

One thing that could be done is to accept the estimate and put down a deposit. Once a deposit is made, the price is locked, even if the work doesn’t get done until spring – though having it done before winter would certainly save us on more roof damage, and heating costs. He did ask if there were leaks right now, and I said yes, there are two of them (though one leaks only when the snow melts in the spring). He then said that they could do a patch job, instead, if that works out.

I’ve passed this on to my brother. We still have the other company to hear from.

I will be going to check my mother out of her hotel room and bringing her home in the late morning. Hopefully, they will call while I am home, but if I don’t hear from them, I will try phoning them myself.

My mother actually can cover the cost of a roof replacement; the question is, will she do it, or is she just teasing us again? The most she does that, though, the more expensive it will ultimately be, and the more hidden damage there will be.

The Re-Farmer