Morning Critters

Evening critters, too!

It’s getting to the point where I can start doing my evening rounds again, if in a limited way, since most of the places I check are still inaccessible. Last night I heard a noise when I came out and spotted a deer, in the outer yard, out by the collapsing log cabin, getting up from where it was lying down. After watching me for a bit, it ran off.

Later, I also heard the sounds of what I at first through was a cat fight. Nope. It was one of the ‘iccuses, busily getting pregnant.

Which is probably why Sad Face cat is back and hanging around.

*sigh*

I saw these two out my bedroom window this morning. While checking out the one deer that was just standing there, chewing, I realized I was seeing the ears of a second deer, lying down!

They clearly feel pretty safe over here.

Which is probably not a good thing, but… ah, well.

This morning, Sad Face was around, but would not come closer while I refilled the kibble trays. The boys in the above photo were getting along this morning. Nutmeg and The Distinguished Guest actually booped foreheads affectionately. He even let me pet him.

I suppose the Distinguished Guest isn’t a Guest anymore!

The ladies seem to prefer to wait until I’m away before they’ll go into the kibble house, and would rather all crowd around the tray on the ground, instead.

In the above photo, we know that Ghost Baby and Caramel (next to each other in the middle left, and Broccoli (on the right) are female. Bradiccus, with the white tail tip, in the front, is male. The ‘iccus next to him, and the one in the back left, I’m not too sure of, but one of them is female.

Altogether, I think I spotted 13 or 14 cats this morning.

After feeding the cats, including the kibble tray out by the shrine, I realized I had what was either a cut or a sliver, so I went in for a while to get my husband to take a closer look. It turned out to be a sliver. In the time it took to get it out and bandage it up (it was rather large!), then grab the last of the deer feed from the bin, I came out to find two deer at the shrine, with one of them eating the kibble! There were about 6 cats surrounding them, watching the deer stealing their food!

What cheek!

So I chased them off, then poured the seed at the feeding station (still feeling a little miffed that we can’t use the new bird feeder because the deer just pull it down). The ran off across the road as I walked that way to get to the path to the sign cam.

Sometimes, when checking the files, something dark will trigger the motion sensor, but is too close to know what it is. Usually, it’s a bird or a squirrel on the fence post it’s attached to.

This morning, I confirmed the most recent of such files was a squirrel.

It enjoyed a nice spruce cone on the post, triggering the camera with its tail! LOL

One my way back, I could see the deer watching me from the spruces across the road. As I continued on to the driveway cam, I could see them running over to the feeding station, looking so excited!

When my morning rounds were done, I made a quick trip to the post office/general store to pick up more deer feed. I had expected to be switching to the black oil seed by now, but decided to stick to deer feed for at least one more bag.

The frustrating thing is that, over the next couple of days, we’re supposed to get more snow. Not a lot, but it should be rain by now. At least, that’s how it feels. If I look at the historical weather data, though, we’re actually supposed to be warmer than the 30 year average, and getting snow is not that unusual. Just as it’s not unusual to get one last blizzard in April. We’re supposed to warm up for the next week, then drop down to just above, or just below, freezing, depending on which weather app I’m checking. I feel like I’m gnawing at the bit, because we need to be starting more seeds indoors, but it’s still too cold to move seedlings into the sun room to free up cat-proof space. Even just yesterday, the sun room only reached 10C/50F. Pleasant enough, but too cold for seedlings that have only known the warmth of their cat-proof set ups.

Though I was happy to finally see some new eggplant seedlings in the large aquarium greenhouse beginning to emerge this morning. Still no new peppers, though. At least we do still have some survivors of both n the mini-greenhouse, but I don’t want to chance killing them by moving them to the sun room too soon.

I love the cats. Really, I do. But having to keep them from destroying our plants and seedlings got real old, real fast!

The Re-Farmer

Morning destruction and rearranging the mini-greenhouse

So I was all concerned that the cats would somehow go after the mini-greenhouse and wreck our new transplants.

I was wrong.

This morning, I came into the living room to find our big Jade Tree on the floor.

*sigh*

That thing needs to be repotted into a bigger, wider pot, but right now the only thing keeping the cats from digging in the soil is a combination of how little space there is for them to get into, and cayenne pepper. The plant is too big to cage, the way we have with the others.

As for the mini-greenhouse. it was fine, but it wasn’t getting any real sunlight. It was getting light, certainly, but was too far back from the window to get full sunlight. Putting it by the window is not an option, because it’s too cold.

So things got rearranged.

After cleaning up and clearing out the spot the big Jade Tree was in (the replacement band for our vacuum is probably waiting to be picked up at the post office, so it was mostly a crevice tool job), I emptied the mini-greenhouse.

I was happy to see the transplants are looking nice and strong, still. The metal tray had no water left in it, so that’s working like it’s supposed to.

The mini-greenhouse then got moved, chair and all, to the spot the Jade Tree was in, where it does actually get some sunlight.

But only on the bottom shelf, so I set the light with the full spectrum bulb up above the higher tray. It’s the best we can do right now. There’s a mirror on the wall, so there’s at least some reflected light, too.

The cats, of course, were very curious, and “grandma” immediately claimed the sun spot.

The Jade Tree got set up where the mini-greenhouse was. Since there’s no need to access a zippered front, I could move it close enough to get some direct sunlight – then reapplied the cayenne pepper. I was messy about it, too, with pepper on the tray under the pot (I decided to use one of the oven liner trays I got for the aquarium greenhouses), and the little table it sits on, just to discourage them from coming anywhere near the pot!

After that, I was finally able to go the morning rounds.

It was only -25C/-13F, bright and sunny, and the cats were loving it! There’s 12 visible in the photo, with a couple in the sun room, and more running around. The only ones I didn’t see where Rosencrantz and Ghost Baby.

While out, I opened up the garage for when the tow truck came for my mother’s car. Just for a lark, I tried starting it again. Nothing. Only the electrical stuff turns on, so I get the console display and the fan turns on, but nothing else.

Then I came inside and found Tissue INSIDE the mini-greenhouse! There’s just enough of a gap at the bottom, from the cover being over the back of the chair, that she got in. The lamp and the shelf it was on were knocked askew, as was one Sophie’s Choice tomato, but not damage.

That gap is now filled.

That done, I called CAA to arrange the tow for my mother’s car. I was warned that it could take 48 hours! It was arranged, though. I don’t expect it to take that long. I’m still waiting for a call from the driver, though, and the online tracker still only says “received”, not “dispatched”. The ETA is still listed as an hour from the time I’m writing this, and I don’t expect that, either!

However, I did get a message from the garage. Our van is ready. The tow truck is my ride in, though, so I have to wait.

Though I’m seriously considering finding someone I can get a ride from. I really want our van back!!! We’re warming up enough for the next while that I’m not as worried about the van not being in the garage, as long as we can still plug it in. Especially since we don’t know when the tow truck will get here.

Gotta figure something out!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 Garden: leveling down, and unrelated destruction

Last night, while checking on the onion seedlings, I decided it was time to lower the shallot and bulb union seedlings in the big tank. The seedling tips were looking a little dried out, likely because they were getting too close to the warmth of the light fixture.

Doing that required removing the trays and the “floor” they were resting on, then shifting the boxes holding them all from standing on end, their tallest position, to standing on their narrow sides, which is their second tallest position. Later on, if it seems necessary, we can turn the boxes onto their broad sides to lower the plants even more.

So that worked out rather well. For the trays, anyhow. Unfortunately, being the suck that I am, I tried to do it without removing a kitten that was staying warm on the light fixture. Saffron is a tiny thing that gets cold easily, and she’s taken to using the light fixture to stay warm. So I just slid the whole thing to the back of the tank. It wasn’t enough to get the “floor” out, so I pushed one end a bit further. And a bit further…

The next thing I knew, the whole thing fell behind the tank as a Saffron launched herself across the living room in a panic.

And the lights went out.

At first, I feared I had broken a bulb, but no. The light in the small tank had gone out, too. As the fixture fell, it swiped the power bar’s plug into the wall.

This house does not have many power outlets. In the living room, there is an outlet behind the big tank, though only one plug in it works. We can access the outlet through the cabinet tank’s cabinet, as it is completely open in the back.

Which requires getting down on my knees and crawling half into the cabinet to reach.

My knees did not appreciate this at all.

After straightening out the prong on the plug that got bent when the fixture landed on it, I managed to get it back in and everything was working fine. Nothing broken.

Phew!

Then I put everything back in place.

Almost.

I had been keeping a small plant pot in the tank with the trays. We’ve had to put various types of barriers on, over or around all our house plants that can’t be hung from the ceiling, to keep cats from digging in the dirt. One small succulent was completely covered with a clear plastic dome, like a mini greenhouse, but the cats kept managing to knock the cover off. The last time that happened, I found the poor little succulent on the carpet, along with a pile of soil that had been dug out of the pot. I replanted it and stuck the pot in the aquarium, so it could get the light and the protection the seedlings were getting and, hopefully, recover.

When I lowered the trays, I forgot to put the plant pot back.

This morning, I discovered my error.

I also discovered a half empty pot, and a pile of soil on the shelf and scattered all over the carpet.

What I didn’t find was the plant. There is no sign of it. It’s likely under another shelf, but it could just as easily have been dragged down to the basement.

I had to do my outside rounds, though, so I rescued as much of the soil as I could – it’s a soil mix specifically for succulents – then moved the pot to the dining table. The table is covered in stuff. Partly because all flat surfaces just seem to invite things to be piled onto them, partly on purpose, to keep the cats off when we’re not around. I tucked the pot against some other stuff, then dashed outside to do my rounds.

I came back to another pile of soil on the dining table, and on the floor.

*sigh*

So, that’s another plant lost to the cats. I am pretty sure the culprit is Cabbages, as she’ has been caught many times, trying to get into other plants, but others have been caught, too, so I can’t say for sure.

I really hope the temperatures warm up overnight and stay warm, soon. When we start having to get larger numbers of seeds started, they’re not all going to fit in the two tanks. We’re going to have to use the sun room as a green house. Right now, I’ve seen it reaching as warm as 20C/68F during the day, but it does go below freezing overnight. We’ll be able to fit some things in the big tank with the onion trays (like the tomatoes we will be starting very soon), but when it comes time to start the corn and squash seeds, those onion trays are going to need to be moved to the sun room. This won’t happen for probably another month, at the earliest, so we should hopefully be okay by then.

We shall see how it works out.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 Garden: more damage control

Awww. Aren’t they sweet?

So adorable! So sweet.

So destructive.

Well. Maybe Big Rig, in this case. I am sure David and Keith are not responsible for the latest damage.

I had issues with the small tank being used as a greenhouse for the bunching onions. With cats trying to get at the seed trays through the back, we’ve been diligent about catching them coming even close to that tank and chasing them off.

Unfortunately, with this tank having its hard lid with just a couple of openings I’ve had to block off, it’s been too moist in there. Yesterday, I spotted mold starting to grow on the egg carton trays and onto the peat; one patch on each tray, closest to the front, where there is the least air circulation.

So I took the mini fan out of the big tank and set it over the opening in the back of the small tank. The seedlings are getting big enough to need a fan on them, anyhow.

Several hours later, I came back to find the fan on the floor, the lid askew, and one of the trays half on top of the other.

*sigh*

This is what I’ve done.

I took out the box that raised the trays closer to the light. They’re now just a few inches from the bottom, on top of 18 count egg cartons. That puts them lower from the light than I would want them to be, but they are now also out of reach. I also turned the trays, so the areas with the mold were to the back instead of the front.

I had already replanted some of the plugs with more bunching onions, from the last time a cat messed them up. I still have some seeds left, so I could replant more, but some of the cells in the trays are so badly damaged, they’ll no longer hold the peat. I’ll see how it looks over the next few days, then decide if it’s worth replanting more. These poor seedlings have taken quite a beating!

Apparently, we only managed to train the cats to stay off the tank while we are not around to see them. :-/ I’m pretty sure it’s just one cat. I’m just not sure which one!

After doing as much damage control as I could, I was happy to find everything still intact by morning. One of my daughters accompanied me to the city to do the second half of our monthly shopping (though we only went to one place, so I’ll still need to get more cat litter and kibble, but I will go to the smaller city for that). When we got back, everything was still intact. Also, putting the fan on seems to be solving the mold problem. It’s barely visible now.

Oh, you might notice a single tall blade of green growing out of one of the trays. We have one growing in one of the trays in the big tank, too. They are oats! The peat bale was stored near the deer feed in the sun room, so a few seeds managed to fill into the packaging. When I used the peat, I did take out the ones I could find, but clearly missed a couple!

As an aside, the van’s check engine light is still on, but it’s behaving beautifully. While I thought the mileage was getting worse, based on watching the fuel gauge wile I was driving. Yesterday, it seemed to be dropping way faster, but during today’s drive, we burned about as much gas as I would have expected. When I checked the onboard computer, the average mileage has actually improved since before the EGR valve was replaced. Which I would expect, but it was still a bit of a surprise. If the valve were stuck, fuel efficiency would be expected to drop. So far, so good. I’ll have to talk to the garage about giving it a quick check, and manually resetting the codes.

But that will wait. We got back from the city early enough that I’ll have time to hit the post office while picking up more deer feed and bird seed.

Oh, that reminds me. Potato Beetle came over while I was doing the cat stuff this morning. When I first saw him, I was rather alarmed by how dirty the wound area was; just plastered with plant matter and …

… then I realized it wasn’t the wound area. Just near it. Potato got himself into a patch of burrs! He wouldn’t let me pull them out, but I did get to check the wound, which is looking noticeably better. And so is he!

The Re-Farmer

No rest for the wicked!

My goodness, I can hardly believe it’s just barely afternoon as I write this.

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, isn’t it??

Things started off pretty routine. I did my rounds and the outside cats were very happy to see me. Well. Happy to see fresh kibble and water!

Potato Beetle joined me, as he often does. I caught this picture just before he jumped straight up me!

Doesn’t that expression look malevolent? 😀

The Potato, however, was not the walking disaster today. Oh, no! It was the cute, little adorable ones that were pure destruction!

I posted a while back about how we had to do an intervention to rescue our remaining avocado plants.

We had started off with 5 plants, and now we’re down to one poor, battered avocado… and a stick that still had live roots on it, so we’ve left it for now.

The cats did try to get in there, but the cage worked. I think the avocado is recovering, but it still looks pretty beat up!

Well, that didn’t stop the cats, unfortunately. They just moved on to other plants.

First, was the umbrella tree. After various barriers were tried and failed, I was able to put some 1/2 inch wire mesh around it that I had left over from some other projects. They still could get over it, though, and every now and then, we find a kitten sitting in the middle of it.

Yes, we have barriers in there, too. I made a spiderweb of cord to support the branches, and they still fit in between. This morning, I heard a strange noise and found Cabbages trying to climb the wire mesh to get at either Nicco or Tissue, half-hidden in the middle.

At least they’re not digging in it anymore.

They just moved on to other pots.

We have since lost a small pot with a jade plant in it – and it was one of the ones that was covered by a cloche to protect it! A while pot full of soil, all over a shag carpet… Fun times! A couple of succulents that were hanging in windows had to be moved, because they were still getting at them, including all my daughter’s orchids. The biggest jade plant got 4 hollow tubes (unused legs from a utility shelf) inserted into the soil, with cord wrapped around, because the cats kept sitting in the middle of it. That seems to be working, plus I found it works well to water it through the tubes. 😀

Then they moved on to another large jade tree. That one even got knocked off the shelf several times. For that one, I tried laying foil over the soil, but that does not deter any of our cats! We have some large plastic containers from Cheese Balls and pork rinds I would get at Costco. The containers make great cloches and I was saving them for spring planting. I ended up cutting one to get the straight middle part of the container, which I was able to fit under the jade plant branches and place around the edge of the pot.

That finally stopped them!

Unfortunately, I just discovered they have moved on again, and started digging in one of the aloe vera pots. This surprised me, because aloe vera is so splayed out, the soil is hidden. They had to actually dig out a couple of aloe babies to get at the soil. It wasn’t much, though, so I moved the plant pot to the dining table and finished my rounds.

Later, while I was on the phone with my mother, my husband popped his head through the door to tell me that cats had been digging in the pot.

*sigh*

When I finally came out, I found Cabbages, innocently sitting on the table next to the pot, and soil all over the table and floor.

*sigh*

The face of destruction!

As I cleaned up, I put a towel on a chair and moved the pot over. While working on the table, I happened to look up to see Fenrir on the chair, her front paws in the soil, starting to dig!

Another face of destruction!

I ended up having to put the pot with my husband, so he could guard it while I finished cleaning up.

So how do I stop the cats from doing this? After many years and many moves, it was a very long time before we lived anywhere long enough to have house plants, so having them is not only something I really enjoy, but it gives a feeling of stability for me. Unfortunately, the cats just can’t seem to resist them! They dig in the dirt like a dog digs for a bone!

What to do? If I protect one pot, they just move on to another.

Well, I did have a few more of those plastic containers left.

My poor, sad, beat up, cat chewed aloe vera!

I ended up using the flat side pieces to protect three aloe pots, including one rather large one. I have no idea how the plants will adjust to this, but it can’t be any worse than the damage the cats were already doing to them, just in going to and from the window ledge. I used the curved top of one of the containers around another jade plant. There is still one more aloe vera left without a shield of any kind, but that thing is so massive, there is simply no way I can do anything around that pot. Hopefully, the sheer size of it is enough to keep the cats from trying.

While I was doing all this, I kept finding kittens on the dining table. Mostly Cabbages! I hate having to chase her off. She still isn’t completely socialized, and this will set her back, but there are some places we just can’t let the cats get onto.

Hopefully, they will stop digging up our plants now. It would be great if we could set up a bin with soil for them to dig in, but they’d just use it as a litter box. I do wish I knew why they all suddenly decided that digging in plant pots was a good idea! We’ve never had this problem before.

*sigh*

The Re-Farmer