More good news!

I left really early to take my mother’s car to the garage. It was a pleasant enough day that I didn’t mind having to find something to do for a few hours, and with the history of my mother’s car, I would not have been at all surprised if the tire blew out on the way.

There’s a reason I’m paranoid about tires.

As I headed out, I paused to look around for the bitty baby that had been under the cats’ house earlier. As I looked around the entry, I startled Junk Pile, who was in the cat bed inside, next to the window. She jumped out of the cat bed, and I could see she had been nursing two of her white and grey kittens.

And a bitty baby looked up at me, smacking its lips.

She was nursing him, too!

We may not know who the mama is, but it’s good to see that a lactating mama with an older litter is willing to take care of another cat’s baby!

The trip into town was uneventful. The tire held its air and didn’t blow out on me. 😄 After dropping off the key, I headed up into the “downtown” area. Since it was about lunch time, I was thinking of going to a particular restaurant, only to find it was partially boarded up and closed! From the damage to the door and frame, clearly someone had broken in. Such a shame! I hope they will be able to reopen. Most of the restaurants along that strip are only open in the summer, for tourist season. This one is normally open all year. They only have five or six tables. Most of their business is take out.

So I decided to have lunch at the Chinese restaurant I used to go to when I was driving my younger daughter to her previous job at the pharmacy for a Sunday shift. They were only open for 4 hours, so it wasn’t worth driving home and back, so I was stay in town, and usually had Chinese buffet for lunch. I was thrilled to see their buffet was open again. This place is also where we will sometimes get a special occasion take out. When we do that, we order enough to last the four of us a few days, so it’s a pretty big order! The owner actually remembered me when I came in, commenting that it’s been quite a while. Yes it has! I didn’t realize how much I missed them until today. It’s not like we ever go out to eat often in the first place! I haven’t had an actual sit down meal here in about three years.

While I was there, I took advantage of having good signal coverage and messaged the cat lady to let her know that I saw the bitty baby being nursed by the one lactating mom that’s still hanging around. She was very happy to hear it. 😊

On my way back towards the garage, I was able to stop at several places for errands. One of them was the pharmacy. We’ve been getting our prescriptions delivered, but have skipped for the last few weeks. One of my husband’s medications, a weekly injection, which I am now also on for a different reason, has only limited coverage with his private insurance. It covers 90% of the cost, but only up to a certain “reasonable dose” amount. At 90%, we were still paying about $70 for one injection pen, which means the retail cost per pen is almost $700. Each pen comes with 6 needles, which gives an idea of what doses are typical, but my doctor had me building up to a dose that is basically the entire amount in the pen. Double what my husband was on! So for my husband, he’d need a new pen every two weeks, while I would go through a pen a week at maximum dose. Even with insurance, my prescription alone would have taken up almost our entire prescription budget for the month – and we already had to increase it because of rising costs! I was on the maximum dose only once when we found out it was no longer covered by our private insurance.

Now, this province has its own public coverage for prescription medications, though it’s something that has to be applied for. After a deductible is paid, the province’s health care system covers the cost. For those prescriptions that are covered by both the provincial and our private insurance coverage, the private insurance covers the 90% cost until the annual deductible with the provincial system is reached. Then it switches to the provincial insurance, which covers the costs 100%. These injections are not normally covered, but when our doctor found out we were having problems, he applied for special coverage. When I went to the post office to pick up the replacement phone, my husband and I both had letters letting us know it was approved.

So I stopped at the pharmacy and got it double checked. Their system showed it was good to go – and they had the prescription in stock, so I was able to get both our prescriptions. I’ve been off it for so long, though, I’ll probably have to build up from a low dose again. Which I don’t mind doing, since it means one pen will last a month, instead of a week. Also, when I last spoke to my doctor about it, he reduced my dose to what the insurance company will cover, so now I’m on the same dose as my husband.

What I’m not looking forward to are the side effects I had from it. It took me a while to figure out that this prescription was the cause of my… volatile intestinal distress, shall we say. The doctor wants to try me on this medication for a year, but if these problems come back, I’m going to ask him to put me back on the old medication. Not only is it cheaper, but I didn’t have any side effects from it.

It took a while for that to get cleared up, and my husband also had his bubble packs ready, so I was able to get our prescriptions done. While waiting for the injection prescriptions to be filled, I used the time to look for some lecithin powder for the outside cats. I did find some, in capsules, but only one brand of supplements. It was also soy based, which is NOT recommended for cats. When the prescriptions were ready, I asked about it, and that was all they had available.

I’ll have to ask the cat lady where she gets hers, because she said she got it as a human supplement (rather then from a vet) for really cheap – and the capsules I found were not very cheap! So many of the kittens have gooby eyes, but there’s no way we can get them to a vet or treat them. The ones with the worst of it are too feral.

So, that will have to wait.

One of my other errands was to get my driver’s license renewed, which required a new photo this year. The vehicle insurance and registration for both our van, and my mother’s car, needed to be renewed as well. So that is now all taken care of, well before our deadline.

By the time I made it back to the garage, they had my mother’s car in, and the tire off, early. My timing was just right; they were in the process of examining the rim.

The tire had nothing wrong with it. It was the rim that was leaking air. With the type of rims my mother’s car has, the chrome starts to peel after a while, and that compromises the seal. It just needed to be cleaned up and smoothed out. After they explained it to me, I was able to drop my bags off in the car, then head across the street for one last errand; a quick stop at the grocery store across the street. By the time I was done, so was my mother’s car.

It cost less than $35 to get it fixed! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a low car repair bill! 😄😄

Before I left, I messaged the family to let them know, and ask someone to leave the wagon by the garage so I wouldn’t have to back up to the house to unload. When I got home, my older daughter was sitting on the front step, absolutely enveloped with kittens running around and climbing her, as she tried to pet them all at once! I think she had something like six kittens, all at once, when I came up with the loaded wagon!

She helped me bring things inside, then I stayed out to refill the kibble bin, then top up their kibble trays outside. I wanted to get all the kittens out of the sun room, so I could close it up for the night. I don’t want any more racoons getting in and eating all the kibble I’d just added to the bin!

I then stayed out to pet as many kittens as I could, do a head count (the number kept changing, but I counted anywhere from 21 to 26!), and look for the bitty baby.

I thought I spotted him, so I stuck my phone past the carpet strips covering the entry to the cats’ house and tried for a photo.

There he was!

After a while, I spotted him climbing the carpet strips again, and I was able to reach in and grab him.

Oh, he’s still a spitfire! That little one was really trying to fight back! I’m happy to say, though, that once I had him in my hands, he does look like he’s grown a bit. He did eventually calm down, and after a good little cuddle, I put him back inside the cats’ house.

I’m so happy he’s doing well and being taken care of!

I think I’ll have to ask one of the girls to take a flashlight, get down on the ground, and look under the cats’ house, though. I was hearing some noises from under there that didn’t sound very catlike to me. It didn’t sound skunk like, either. I did hear one of the cattens making a similar noise later, though, so maybe I’m off base, but if there’s a racoon or something that has made a den under there, I’d like to know about it! It seems unlikely, since when I put kibble on the ground where they go under the cats’ house, I usually end up seeing at least three, sometimes five, little kittens faces at the food. I don’t think they’d be under there, if there were something other than a cat under there, with them!

So today has been a good day. We have good news about the bitty kitty, good news about my mom’s car, good news about our prescription coverage, and even good news about getting my driver’s license and vehicle paperwork taken care of early.

And while I was working on this, the girls made supper, and the house smells delicious! Time to go eat. 😁

The Re-Farmer

Racoons, kitties, and new phone goofs

Who’s that judgey boy?

Judement is that judgey boy!

Yeah, I’m going to like the camera on this phone.

We’ve been allowing the kittens to stay in the sun room overnight, propping the doors so that they’re just barely open, since cleaning up the glass in the broken windows. The down side of that is, other critters get in, too. It used to always be skunks, but we hardly see the skunks anymore.

I think the racoons have chased them off.

After deciding to let the kittens use the sun room for the night, I put the extra kibble bags in the old kitchen, the used my husband’s walker, with the brakes on this time, to block the kibble bin into its shelf. This morning, my husband chased a racoon out of the sun room from the old kitchen, but he never actually went into the sun room. The walker looked like it was where it belonged and he didn’t think anything of it.

Well, they did get into things.

When I tried to open the door, I had to push away some things that had been knocked in front of it. The walker almost worked, but was half pushed aside.

The racoons had got at the bin from the side of the shelf, and did this to the lid, managing to get the bin partly off the shelf in the process.

*sigh*

At least the bin was already mostly empty. I’m glad I didn’t refill it instead of putting the bags away.

As for the kitties, they were more than happy to see me with the kibble container! We top up their kibble in the late afternoon, but not too late, because we want to feed the cats, not the racoons and skunks. This time of year, the other critters will clean out every crumb by morning.

I tried to do a heat count and I got to 28! I might have counted some twice. It took a while, but I did see the bitty baby. It was under the kibble house again. I’m concerned the racoons might have scared it – and all the other cats! – out of the cat shelter. I could just see it, but couldn’t catch it. It just exploded with spitting noises at me, and went further under the cat shelter.

While doing the rest of my rounds, I took the time to pump the tire on my mother’s car. After 4 or 5 days, it was completely flat again, but it should handle the trip into town this afternoon, though I plan to leave quite early, just in case I end up on the side of the road or something.

The good thing is, we finally got my new phone set up and activated. Last night, I’d been able to get pretty much everything I needed going, but the one thing I couldn’t get working on the phone was… the phone. The instructions were simple enough. Go online, find the mobility options and activate the new phone. Simple enough.

Except the option wasn’t there.

Now, we are on a family plan, and it’s under my husband’s name. I can log in, but it’s his account, so I don’t like to mess around with it. That’s why, after I’d settled on a couple of possible replacement phone choices, I left it to him to actually go through the final details, then order the phone.

On top of that, my phone number is technically his. When he replaced his old phone, he took that opportunity to get a new, local number and was able to find one that was almost identical to my childhood phone number. So when his new phone came in, we traded sim cards. I got the new phone number, he got the new phone. That was a couple of years ago. Then we ended up trading phones – and sim cards – more recently because of the Bluetooth problem my older phone was having that was not an issue for him.

Odd that it would be the newest phone in the household that would develop a swelling battery and need to be replaced!

Unable to activate the replacement phone, I finally turned it over to my husband so I could work on other things. It took a while, but he finally found the activation option.

Under our daughter’s phone number.

Somehow, when he went through the upgrade process to purchase the new phone, he ended up doing it under her number in the group plan, instead of what the account sees as his number.

Once he got the new device activated, I got the sim card from the phone that was being replaced, my daughter got the new sim card, and her old sim card is now in the phone that’s been replaced. So we all have the same phone numbers, but I have a new phone with an old sim card, while my daughter has a new sim card with an old phone.

The main thing, though, is that we now all have working phones!

Because the new phone can’t support an external memory card, I wasn’t able to transfer everything over from the old phone. So last night, I started transferring everything on the micro-SD card onto my external hard drive. I expected it to take a long time, but it stalled at 16% and stayed there for hours. It ended up locking up my desktop, and I had to do a hard shut down. Even after restarting it, there were issues. After much fighting, I got everything unlocked, then started going through individual folders on the card and transferring them. I knew where the problem was – my photos! I simply have too many of them on there. When I’d set it to transfer everything, it got to the photos folder, and just froze. I have them organized into folders by year, then in sub folders by month, and I’m now having to transfer each month over, individually. Even then, it still takes a while, but at least it’s not freezing my computer!

So that’s something I’m going to have to slowly work on tonight, when I can be around to monitor it. Then, once that’s backed up, I’ll do the same thing with files that did get transferred to the new phone, and see how much storage space I can free up. It’s not an issue right now, but with how many photos I take, it’ll fill up fast. Especially if I’m also taking video.

For now, however, I have a few things to get done before I have to head into town and get my mother’s car in the garage. Thankfully, we’ll be having a nice warm day today, so I will be able to walk around town and do some errands while it’s being worked on.

I’ll be so glad to have that tire fixed, and not have to rely entirely on one vehicle again!

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

That was fast!

Wow, did my order from Lee Valley come in fast! After picking up my mother’s car from the garage, I swung by the post office to pick up the mail, and found this.

Only three days to get here – including the weekend!

Now we just have to wait for enough snow to melt before we can get into the old garden shed, bring out the scythe and get a good look at it.

I was doing a bit of research, and it seems the curvy handle design is called an American scythe. These are apparently known for being very heavy, but the one we have has an aluminum handle, and is very light. I remember having no issues with the weight when I was a kid and my dad was showing me how to use it. Being much older and more broken now, I expect to fully appreciate the light weight and more ergonomic design! 😀

As for my mother’s car, my daughter drove it home, and she reports it running just fine. Nothing out of the ordinary, and the check engine light stayed off. We also didn’t get charged for the check up. He did the check, cleared the codes and ran it for an hour, and found no issues. So it does look like it was simply triggered by the changing of the battery. That was best case scenario, too.

I am feeling much relieved!

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and various updates

Gotta love weather forecasts.

We are supposed to be warming up, and predicted highs and overnight lows were all forecasted to be above -20C/-4F at night, and around the -15C/5F range during the day. Pleasant stuff, really.

At the same time, the app on my phone had a warnings that the cold spell would through to today. I’d read that, look at the forecasted temperatures, and wonder what “cold spell” they were talking about.

This morning, the actual temperature was -28C/-18F before wind chill.

We’ve already warmed up to -16C/3F as I write this, but it’s frustrating to see such wildly different predictions, at the same time, within the same app.

For the outside cats, this is spring, already.

And by “spring”, I mean “mating season.” This morning, I looked out the kitchen window and saw Tuxedo Mask, whom you can see by the water bowls in the above photo, getting lucky with Broccoli.

We don’t know how many female cats we have out there right now; most of the newest cats that are reaching their first birthday in the next couple of months, are cats we haven’t been able to get close enough to see. Of the ones that we could, only Nosencrantz, who is now fixed and indoors, and Broccoli, whom we can’t touch, were identifiable as female. Of course, with the older cats, we know that Ghost Baby, Junk Pile and Rosencrantz are female. Tuxedo Mask is Junk Pile’s baby, while Broccoli is Butterscotch’s, and with both tuxedos and calicos showing up in litters only since we’ve moved out here, we’ve at least got some new bloodlines being introduced. When we first moved here, it was mostly orange tabbies.

By the time the Cat Lady is ready to start taking in outdoor cats for adopting, we’re probably already going to have more kittens. Which I don’t mind, really. If they got taken earlier, they’d probably still get spayed, and I’m not okay with kitty abortions any more than I am human ones. They can be spayed later.

While setting food out under the shrine, I found myself being watched! I’m not sure which if the ‘iccuses this is, other than it’s not Chadiccus, who was busily trying to trip me over by the kibble house, or Bradiccus, who it the only one with a white tail tip.

Speaking of trying to trip me…

Agnoos really wanted attention!

When I came into the sun room, he had the prime spot in the window, on the pillow lined box. 😀

We’re leaving the sun room doors propped open regularly now, with the heated water bowl in there kept on. The outside heated water bowl had ice across the top, but was not frozen solid, which suggests it is still working, at least a bit. Very odd. I look forward to being able to being able to pick it up and give it a thorough examination. Since we know the extension cords are fine and the water bowl is still plugged in, that leaves the cord to the bowl itself, and most of it is under packed snow. Maybe the deer stepped in it or something and damaged it somehow. There is nothing obvious that can be seen, without being able to actually pick up the bowl and looking under it. At least we’ve got the second one’s cord taped up and it’s working fine, inside the sun room. It just means we can’t close the outside doors completely! With things warming up (if we can trust the forecast), that should be okay now.

In other things:

We have our van back. The tensioner got replaced and, so far, that seems to be making a difference – though I get the sense that there is something draining our battery while the engine is off. No idea what it could be. The mechanic wasn’t seeing anything obvious.

Our wipers are working again. Something got misaligned somehow – possibly accidentally knocked about while the alternator was being replaced. With the wipers mounted so low and under the hood, that’s entirely possible. It took next to nothing for him to fix it, and there was no charge for it. The cost to replace the tensioner was on the low end of the estimate, so we are still under budget on that, which is nice.

As for my mother’s car…

We’re still hopeful it’s something minor setting off the check engine light. After I’d sent him the codes my scanner showed, he’d done his own research. If it is related to the transmission, he couldn’t do the work himself. With one code’s possibility, it would have to go into the city to get the work done. With the other, it might have to go to a Dodge dealership for recalibration after the part was installed – a part which he might be able to find second hand, for $1200.

That would be the less expensive of the potential problems.

Not going to happen.

Those are the worst case possibilities, and our mechanic knows we wouldn’t be able to afford that kind of work. It’s my mother’s car, but I already know she wouldn’t pay for it, even if I asked her to, which I won’t. I’m sure he remembers how difficult it was to get her to pay for the major work that needed to be done, the first time we brought her car in to him. He’d owned the garage for less than a year, at the time, and her car was stuck on a lift, with parts and pieces removed, for about a month before my mother finally agreed to pay for it. My mother firmly believes that all garages lie and cheat little old ladies like her, so even if work clearly does need to be done, she doesn’t believe it. My poor brother put up with a lot of abuse from her, when he was the one getting her car taken care of for her. He’s much kinder and gentler than I am, and her behaviour was very hurtful to him. I’ve become an old crone with very thick skin and, as frustrating as her behaviour can be, at least she can’t hurt me anymore. My brother is a much better person than I am! 😀

All that over a car. :-/

We shall see what the garage finds. I don’t have any expectations for when he can give it a thorough check, since he’ll be working it around the appointments he already has.

All in good time.

Meanwhile…

When we discovered the belt broke on our new vacuum cleaner (probably my fault… LOL), I ordered replacement belts from Hoover in early February. They sent me a USPS tracking number, but it always read, ‘information unavailable’. Once we got a running vehicle and I could check the mail, confirming it was not in, I contacted Hoover about it not being in.

I got a response saying that, according to their information, it was delivered. It turns out that, once the package got to Canada, it was shipped by Purolator. I got a new tracking number and…

According to Purolator, it was delivered to us on Feb. 28.

We did not get any deliveries.

I wrote back saying we don’t have it; wherever they delivered it to, it wasn’t us. I also mentioned we might not even be in their delivery zone.

This morning, I got a new email. They’re sending it to us again – with a different delivery company! I also got an order confirmation for the re-order. I made sure to write back to explain our physical address won’t show up on GPS because our road is not labelled on maps, asking that our land line phone number be available for the driver if they need to call for directions. I also made sure to mention we are in a cell phone dead zone, so a driver might not be able to get a signal in our area.

I recognise the delivery company name, though, only because companies my daughter has ordered from have used them. They are not common here. If I remember correctly, they were one of the delivery drivers that left her package tied to the gate.

We’ll see how that works.

I think it’s time for me to send another edit to Google Maps to get our road properly labelled.

The Re-Farmer

Well, that’s a concern!

After seeing a deer eating cat kibble out of the kibble house, it was no surprise to find the trays were completely empty and tossed about this morning.

What was alarming was the remarkable amount of blood, inside the kibble house!

I was able to get a photo after I’d straightened things out and the cats had a chance to eat. This is the largest patch of blood, but there was blood all across to the other side, too.

You can even see spots of blood around – and in! – the water bowls!

None of the cats looked injured. I was worried when I couldn’t see Potato Beetle right away, but then he came running and went into the sun room to eat.

I noticed that the heated water bowls water was frozen, so I checked through the opening in the cat’s house, confirming that it’s still plugged in. I knew the extension cord into the house was still plugged in, which left one more place to check.

That required some digging.

We have the plug ends in a waterproof cord protector. While clearing the snow from along the sun room, so the sump pump hose could be put back where it belonged, the extension cord running under the door got snagged a bit. The door kept the cord from being pulled from that direction, so this cord protector got pulled, instead. I thought perhaps it might have been enough to unplug the cords a bit, inside.

They were fine.

I did, however, find this.

More blood drops, next to the deer poop.

There was a very small blood trail up the shoveled cat path to the storage house, then it continued down the path the cats made in the snow, along the side of the building. The cat’s path then splits, with one going around the back of the building, and the other continuing across the yard towards the collapsing log building. The snow was too deep for me to follow it, but I could see a few spots of red towards the collapsing building.

I don’t hear anything on that side of the house from my office/bedroom, but the girls never heard anything either, and they usually hear all of the cat fights. My husband’s window is closest, but he sleeps with a CPAP, so he doesn’t hear anything. It’s not loud, but enough to make a difference.

For the amount of blood in the kibble house, I would expect it to be really obvious if one of the yard cats was injured, but they all look fine, running around in the sun and enjoying themselves. I stayed out to do a burn, and had plenty of time to watch them as they checked me out. No visible signs of injury.

Which is both alarming and perplexing.

Since I was outside, anyhow, I left the door to the sun room open.

Which Rolando Moon appreciated!

They all like that box with the old pillow in it best. 😀

They will be most upset, when this corner gets converted to a greenhouse again!

I’ve left the doors open slightly, and let Rolando Moon continue to enjoy her sun spot. 🙂

Meanwhile…

I’m still waiting to hear from the mechanic about our van. When that’s ready, I’ll drive my mother’s car over and switch vehicles, so it can be checked again. The codes that came up for my mother’s car were not particularly informative. On the one hand, it could simply be that work was done, and the check engine like would turn off on its own after a few days. On the other, it could be transmission troubles. I’d been messaging with my brother as well as the mechanic, yesterday. My mother has had troubles with this car, with my brother getting things taken care of for her until we took that job over, for a long time. She’s told me to sell the car a few times. I mentioned this to the mechanic; he knows what budget I have left, the last of which is going towards the van right now, and that we are on a fixed income. He told me he would do a complete safety check and see what comes up, as well as looking up the value of the car. If it does end up needing more work than it’s worth, he said he’d be willing to buy it off of us for his lot. It turns out he has a few cars he sells, too. I had no idea until yesterday! I mentioned that we do need a small car for my mother, since it’s dangerous for her to struggle in and out of our van, he said he has a few smaller cars, and would be willing to take my mother’s car in as a trade.

That takes a load off. I would, of course, still talk to my mother and brother about it, if it came to that point. My brother is already up to date on the situation, but I’m not going to try to explain it to my mother, just yet. It’s entirely possible there’s no major problem at all, and all we’ll need is for the mechanic to reset the codes.

In other things, today is the first day of Lent. For the last few years, the thing I’ve given up for Lent has been Facebook. As I’ve been signing up on a number of platforms to try and move away from Facebook, I’ll be giving them all up for Lent. Even on platforms like Messenger, Signal and Telegram, I’ll be staying off groups and just using them for direct communication, and my video platforms will be reduced to research and learning videos only. Blogging will continue as usual, of course.

It’s not going to be easy. I spend way too much time online, though, so this will be a good thing. Besides, if it was easy, it wouldn’t mean much to give it up for Lent!

The Re-Farmer

Heavy sigh

First, let’s look at adorable cats.

Like this picture of Nosencrantz my daughter took.

She was very, very interesting in smelling my daughter’s phone!

While doing my morning rounds, I got entertained by Chadiccus.

Who just loves flinging himself onto the ground in front of my feet and rolling, trusting that I will somehow not step on or trip over him.

The morning rounds done and critters fed, my daughter and I headed to town to pick up my mother’s car and drop off the van again.

New batteries are a lot more expensive than I remember. The bill was over $200. Which was less than half of what we had budgeted, so that worked out. Getting a new tensioner for the van installed is going to cost between $100 and $150.

After paying for the work on the car, then dealing with the van, my daughter drove my mother’s car across the street to the grocery store to do some shopping. I caught up with her, but just needed to get a couple of our big water bottles refilled, so I was quickly finished and went to the car. Things being a bit chilly, I started it to warm up.

The check engine light was on.

*sigh*

I sent a text to our mechanic about it. He told me it was there when he’d started it, but hadn’t scanned it. He just assumed it had been there before, like with our van. Since we’d never been able to start my mother’s car after that “pop” happened, I’d never seen it before.

My OBDII scanner was in the van.

So I walked over to get it, and happened to cross paths with the mechanic as he came out to get the next vehicle he had to work on. We chatted a bit, and he’ll let us know an estimate on the wipers for the van as soon as he can, then I went to do a scan on my mother’s car.

The first issue was finding the port to plug the frikkin thing in. I knew more or less where it was, but just can’t see it. I took several flash pictures of the underside of the dash before I could finally see it, then I still had to find it by feel.

I finally got it in and did a scan, and got two fault codes with a message reading “2Gray fault codes might only be clearable by the ECU itself after ‘N’ fault-free drive cycles have completed.”

One of the codes was P161B and labelled “null”. When I did the web lookup, it came up as “not found.” Once at home I did a search, specifically for the code and my other’s make and model car, and got some information.

“… It is a check engine light code which indicates that the catalyst’s system efficiency is less than the required threshold. In simple terms, it means that more pollution is added into the air than what was supposed to be because of your car. Other symptoms that may indicate this problem are when the Check Engine Light illuminates and when there is a visible lack of engine power.”

For possible causes:

  • Rarely – faulty Powertrain Control Module (PCM-programming required after replacement)
  • Rough running engine due to misfiring plugs. Many engines have misfire codes to indicate the cylinder effected, such as P0307 for number 7.
  • A large vacuum leak would cause a massive amount of un-metered air to enter the intake manifold resulting in an overly lean mixture.

The engine is running smoothly.

The other code was: P0700 Transmission Control System (MIL Request)

The web look up had some pretty extreme possibilities, ranging from ‘work was just done’ to ‘transmission is worn out’.

Looking it up at home, I found:

  • Faulty transmission control module
  • Transmission valve body fault
  • Shift solenoid issues
  • Open or short in the wiring harness

This car has a long history of electrical problems.

Looking at the symptoms:

  • Check Engine Light displayed on the dashboard
  • Poor gas mileage
  • Transmission shifting problems
  • Engine stalling, running poorly, or dying

I’ve noticed poor mileage for as long as we’ve been taking care of the car for my mother, however it doesn’t seem to have any problems shifting that I can remember, nor does it have a history of stalling, etc. When we got the EGR valve replaced and our mechanic told us to stop buying gas where we were, we also stopped buying gas there for my mother’s car, and it has been running noticeably smoother, since.

Well, I guess when we pick up our van tomorrow, we will be dropping my mother’s car off again to get looked at. It may have a spiffy new battery, but we never did find out what that “POP” noise I’d heard was from.

My mother has been talking about selling the car for quite some time. My brother and I have both resisted, mostly because we do need a smaller car that she can get in and out of. It is very difficult for her to get in and out of our van, and I’m the closest one available to help her with errands. It’s also been our emergency back up vehicle.

It would be bizarre, indeed, if we end up having to sell and replace my mother’s car, faster than our van.

That’s a decision we’ll have to make, together with my mother and brother, after the garage has had another chance to check it out.

On a more entertaining note, my daughter came in while I was writing this and shared something she’d seen. When we got back with my mother’s car and parked it in the garage, my daughter went ahead to get the wagon to bring our stuff to the house. As she entered the inner yard, she startled a deer – in front of the kibble house! Our first confirmation that yes, it has been the deer drinking up all the water when we’ve found the heated water bowl empty. Because of where my daughter was, the deer started running down the cat path to the storage house, then cut through the West yard to go to the maple grove. The snow, however, is so deep, it had to repeatedly leap, as if jumping a fence, just to get through. It was quite a struggle!

No surprise we are seeing so many deer on the roads these days. They can actually move around.

The Re-Farmer

Looks like good news this morning

I heard back from our mechanic today.

First thing is that it looks like my mother’s car simply needs a new battery. !! He has no idea what made that “POP” noise I heard; possibly a backfire, though it didn’t sound at all like a backfire to me. He put in another battery and it’s running fine. A new one has been ordered and we should be able to pick it up tomorrow. A battery is much more affordable than I feared!

While we are there to get my mother’s car, he will check the belt and tensioner on our van. He said the tensioner did seem kind of finicky when they worked on it. I’ll talk to him about our wipers and the issues with the EGR valve when we are there tomorrow. With spring coming, we just can’t be without working windshield wipers!

We ran out of deer feed yesterday, so after taking care of the outside cats, I made a quick run to the local general store. I’ve got the onboard computer display on my van set to display voltage all the time, now. When I started the engine, it was at 12.2 volts or so, but very quickly went up to 14.3 volts, where it stayed. I kept the music off, but I did turn on the rear defogger, and it still held.

The trip is just 3 miles. I spent maybe 5 minutes – definitely less than 10 – inside, but when I started the engine, the display read 11.1 volts! It quickly went up to 14.4, but before I even drove my first mile, it dropped to 14.0 volts and stayed there – and I didn’t have anything but lights and heat running.

I look forward to getting that checked tomorrow!

Meanwhile…

… the outside cats are doing just fine. No signs of fighting this morning.

And I am amused by the one-eyed smiley face on the heated water bowl!

After I got back with the deer feed, I grabbed a couple of containers to put feed out for the birds and the deer – double what I usually do, because the entire bag doesn’t quite fit into the storage bin we transfer it to! 😀 When I came around the corner of the house, our usual two deer ran off – then stopped and watched me through the trees. Once I started heading away from the feeding station, they both came running, not even waiting for me to be completely gone.

They know who brings their treats!

I tried to spread the seeds out more, so they’re not fighting over one little spot, but… they seem to like to eat together out of one little spot! 😀

While checking out the deer through the window, I was enchanted by a rolling ball of fluff.

David is so adorable. When he sees us, he twists his head upside down, makes cutesy faces at us and start rolling around and twisting himself into a pretzel, to get us to pay attention to him.

It works, every time!

The Re-Farmer

I’m getting really tired of this van

*sigh*

What a day.

Things started off well enough.

Susan got to watch the piebald deer chasing the other two regulars away.

I discovered a strange, furry fruit in the Korean Lilac!

Once outside with the kibble, I was greeted by a very dishevelled Potato Beetle. He headed into the sun room to eat, as usual, so I closed the door to keep him in!

The Distinguished Guest was looking ever more dishevelled than Potato Beetle, making it clear who else was involved.

From the many tufts of long, black, with the occasional white, fur around the kibble house, I’d say Potato Beetle had the upper hand in this battle!

Yeah, that’s blood in the snow, too.

By the time I got back from shopping, several hours later, Potato Beetle was looking a lot better, though with some new scratches on his nose. So when he wanted out while we were loading things into the house, we let him be.

My trip to the city didn’t quite go as planned.

Our big city shopping routine now usually includes a stop at Canadian Tire, first, where we pick up the wood pellets we use for litter. While there, I got more seed starting mix and more trays to fit the mini-greenhouse shelves, and a few other things.

It was snowing lightly in the city, so when I loaded up the van, there was melted snow on the windshield, and the streets were wet and messy, so while going to the nearby international grocery store, I had to use my wipers.

They didn’t work.

All I heard was the sound of them moving lower down into their recess under the hood, and that was it.

When I parked, I tried again, and I could hear that they were trying to move, but they could do nothing more than wiggle a bit. I popped the hood, which is the only way to access them, and they were slightly overlapping each other, but I could see nothing obvious that would be a problem.

Thankfully, I have a long handled windshield cleaner. It’s meant for the inside of the windshield, but i had paper towel in the van, too, so I was able to give the outside of the windshield a good cleaning before heading into the store.

Costco, in another part of the city, would have been my last stop. Since I didn’t want to be driving on messy streets with no wipers, I decided to instead to go a nearby Superstore. It meant getting a lot less than I wanted to, since at Costco I have access to a flat cart and can really load up, but half a shop is better than no shop!

When I finished loading up the van and was getting ready to go, I noticed something.

The check engine light was back on.

That light has been on since we had the EGR valve replaced. It got looked at, the code reset, only to turn on again almost immediately. Our mechanic tried to clean the lines as best he could after replacing the valve, but there are still bits of crud he couldn’t get at, and those are likely tripping the sensor. Since we hardly used the van last year, we didn’t take it back in. Our mechanic reset the code when he replaced the alternator.

I hooked up my OBDII reader, got the codes, screen captured them, and texted them to our mechanic. It’s Sunday, so he’s closed, but he’ll at least be able to see them tomorrow.

Before continuing on, I went through the displays from our onboard computer, which I do fairly regularly.

There was something odd.

When I picked up the van, I went through the displays and the battery read at 15 volts. I don’t remember ever seeing it at higher than 14.4 volts, so that stuck in my mind.

It was now reading 13 volts.

I had the heat, lights and a CD playing. With a brand new alternator, it should still have been at full charge.

I decided to monitor it while driving.

It kept dropping.

By the time I reached the highway to home, it was down to 12.4 volts.

On a hunch, I turned off the CD.

It immediately began to increase, eventually topping up at 14.6 volts and holding.

On the trip home, I drive through the town my mother lives in, which is the only place the speed limit is reduced. Once I was clear and back at highway speeds, I turned the music back on.

It held at 14.6 volts.

Great! Just some weird glitch or something.

When I got home, I had to back the van up to the small gate for unloading. I pulled partially into the garage so I would have space to turn the van around and maneuver to the gate.

In the minute or so that took, the battery was down to 12.2 volts.

!!!

I shut the music off, then the engine, and we unloaded. Leaving the girls to put the groceries away, I parked the van in the garage, which did not require any manoeuvring. Just one wide turn, taking maybe 30 seconds.

With the music off, the battery was back up to 14.2 by the time I parked it in the garage.

What the heck???

So I need to pass that on to our mechanic, too. This should not be happening! Not with a brand new alternator.

We have actually had something similar happen to us in the past, long, long ago. We bought an old car that had been sitting for many years, and one of the first things it needed was a new battery. We even got a high end one. Then we had some other work done to fix it up from being parked for so long, including a new alternator. The battery immediately started to die. If we had the radio, lights and wipers on at the same time, it would stall and we’d need a boost to get it going again.

Not fun while driving in downtown Victoria, BC, in a downpour, at night!

We took it to a different garage, the mechanic took one look and said, “that’s the wrong size alternator” and got us the right one. There was nothing wrong with the first alternator; it just couldn’t handle the power needs of the vehicle.

When we went back to the first place (a Canadian Tire), they said they would reimburse us if we could provide the computer printout to prove it was the wrong alternator, but the garage that fixed it was old school. They never hooked it up to a computer, because they could just see at a glance, that it was the wrong one for that car. So we never got our money back for the first mix up.

This is not the kind of mistake our mechanic would make. At least, I don’t think so! However, I have noticed odd electrical… gremlins… in the van, for some time. Things would start working, then stop, then start again. Loose wires, perhaps? The radio is particularly weird. It doesn’t always turn on or off until after several tries, and if we’re on a bumpy road, the volume will start adjusting itself up or down, and the knob for the volume doesn’t work right away. Which sometimes has us frantically spinning the knob, trying to turn down the volume, only to have it keep getting louder before it finally kicks in.

Whatever the problem is, it’s not showing up on the sensors.

We just got the van back, for crying out loud!!!

Can we win that lottery now? Please? 😉 😉

The Re-Farmer

Our van is home, the car is not… and the tree seeds are in!

We have transportation again!! Yay!!

While waiting for a call from the tow truck driver, we had gotten the automated call from CAA assuring us that they hadn’t forgotten about us; they were just really busy. The tracker on the website did change to “dispatched”, noting that a driver had been found, but never got to “en route”.

Instead, I got a phone call from the driver, telling me, “I’m in your driveway right now, looking at your car.” !!!

I’m glad I opened the door this morning. 🙂

I’m also glad we had moved my mother’s car to where we normally park the van, because the driver would have been hooped.

What he ended up doing was backing his truck up until he could hook up and raise the rear wheels, then set up a dolly under the front wheels. We didn’t even need to put my mother’s car in neutral.

One of the things involved in hooking up the front wheels was to use a long bar as a lever to lift the dolly – and the car – in place. He could do it on once side, but on the other, there wasn’t quite enough room.

If the car had been in its usual spot, he could not have done it at all. There just isn’t enough space in that area.

He did have to very carefully pull the car out of the garage far enough to use the bar – a touchy thing, with it not properly put together, yet!

Once it was pulled back, it revealed this.

This dark spot in the dirt floor looks new and fresh.

Not good.

What was good is that I was able to ride into town with the driver.

We saw SO many deer along the way! He mentioned scaring some away from our yard when he came in, too.

When we got to the garage, there was no parking spot for my mother’s car. I quickly ran in and let them know. He gave me the key to our van and I moved it, and the tow truck driver very deftly maneuvered my mother’s car into the spot I’d just emptied.

While he was doing that, I went back in to pay for the work on the van. After taxes, it ended up costing $600.30 Then we talked a bit about my mother’s car, and I told him no hurry on that, because we can’t pay for work until next month – the van took up the budget for this month!

Once I was done there, I drove across the street to the grocery store and picked up some deli pizzas for supper.

Because I wanted to. 😀

Plus a bit of groceries. My husband’s main disability payment comes in on the last business day of the month, which would be the expected day to go into the city and do our big shop. However, the last business day is a Monday, and sometimes it comes in on the Saturday instead. Which would be nice. I’m not a fan of shopping in the city on the weekend, but I’d rather get it over with if I can. We’ll see, tomorrow.

Meanwhile, on the way home, I was able to stop at the post office just before it closed, and pick up the mail. Along with a package for my husband, we got these.

Our tree seeds are in!

Mind you, they probably came in days ago, but we haven’t been able to go to the mail since before my mother’s car died.

These are already cold stratified, so we should be able to start them right away. We’ll go over the instructions again, first. Until we can work on them, I put them back in the bubble pack envelope and tucked them into a fridge drawer, until we can get started.

There was another nice surprise in the mail.

We got a rebate check from our vehicle insurance company. We’ve gotten one for the past 2 years, and for two vehicles, they were a little more than $100. When it was announced that we’d be getting rebate checks again, that’s what I was expecting.

Instead, it was more than $500.

I have sent a message to the garage, letting him know we got our rebates in, so as long as a fix is under $500, we can do it right away and not have to wait until the end of March. He said he’ll check it tomorrow and let me know.

Here’s hoping!

Now I think I’m going to spend some time reading instructions on how to start paw paw and tulip tree seeds!

The Re-Farmer