Well, so much for new glasses… again

Would you look at this round, round mama!

She looks ready to have a litter any day now! Way, way too early!


Looks like my tax return is not going to be used as planned.

We had some issues with the toilet being partially clogged yesterday, but I was going to fight with it after my older daughter had her “morning” shower (she works at night). I did decide to go into the old basement and check the well pump and pipes, just in case.

The first thing I saw was a bit of damp near the sump pump reservoir.

There shouldn’t be any moisture there, this time of year.

Then I heard the dripping.

We have water dripping from under the bathtub.

Pretty much since we’ve moved here, the hot water tap in the tub has leaked while in use. It has gotten worse over the years. When we had the plumber here to auger the drain pipe to the septic tank, he also took a look at it for us. He thought he could fix the taps, but I’d like to replace them, so we got an estimate of about $400 for that – and that’s with us buying the replacement faucet set. He mentioned replacing it with the kind that is one lever rather than two taps to control the temperature. None of us like those things, and I’d want to replace it with basically the same style that’s already there. I told him we’d likely buy the faucet set ourselves, so the estimate did not include that. This was a couple years ago, so I would expect it to be higher, now.

The problem is that he’d have to take off the tub surround to access it – it can’t be reached from the other side of the wall, and the last time they were replaced, it would have been done from the front. The tub surround is one of those inexpensive 5 pc surrounds, where there are three flat pieces, then the corner pieces with moulded shelves. With our incredibly hard and iron rich water, it all looks like crap. No amount of scrubbing can get these clean, just like we can’t get the iron stains from the leaking tap completely off. So I have no problem with replacing those completely.

But if water is getting through enough to leak into the basement, the problem is not just the tap. It is likely the degrading caulking, too.

Which leads us to another issue.

When we finally got an indoor bathroom, my dad choose to cover the walls with bathroom panelling that was made to look like tiles. This was in the early 70’s, and there are areas of it, like behind the sink, where the panelling has been water damaged. The tub surround is mounted on top of the old panelling, which means there is caulking behind the caulking around the tub.

Chances are, the old caulking is also degrading, and the paneling under it may be molding or rotting. We won’t know until we take the surround off.

If we do end up having to replace the panelling behind it, we have another question.

What’s behind it?

Two of the walls are the original log walls; one is still exterior, while the other now has the sun room on the other side of it. The third side is the interior wall between the bathroom and my husband’s bedroom.

What we don’t know is of the panelling has something behind it, or if it was nailed directly to the log walls and joists. I know in the “new” part of the house, the panelling was nailed directly to the one long wall, and I’m pretty sure they were nailed directly to the joists on the other walls, with nothing between them and the insulation. But I’m just guessing on that, based on what little I can see from the places where the panelling has started to warp.

Talking about it with my daughters, they are suggesting not going with another tub surround at all, but to tile it, instead. Which would indeed be preferable! But is that even an option?

So right now, we’re looking at, I’m guessing, $500 for the plumber. Inexpensive tub surrounds like what we have now cost from $250 – $275 – or we could get just the flat panels for about $67 each (we’d likely need three). I have no idea at all how much it would cost if we tiled, instead. Depending on the size, they can be a couple of bucks each, or are sold by the square foot. Plus the backing material that would replace the current wall panels, plus the grout…

Then there’s the cost of the taps and faucet set (even the faucet is so encrusted in minerals, it’s affecting the seal on the shower diverter). I’ve looked around and did find a set that’s like what we have, at only $100 – and that includes a shower head. We just got a new shower head for our hand held shower, but having a spare is never a bad thing.


I guess I’m not getting glasses again this year. We should, at least, still be able to get my younger daughter her glasses, since she can’t wear hers at all anymore, and her sister has offered to help with the costs as much as she can. She needs to do her taxes, too. Last year, she did them and ended up owing money – only to have it paid back, plus a return, a month or so later!

And no. We are NOT going into the funds being set aside for the replacement vehicle. That’s just not an option.


Well, at least this is happening at a time when we will have the funds to pay for it. The main thing is to get it fixed before water damage gets worse. The last thing we need is for the tub to fall through the floor into the basement! It would land right on the well and sump pumps.

Must. Not. Imagine. Worst. Case. Scenarios.

Too late.

The Re-Farmer

Unexpected progress

What a gorgeous day it is today! As I write this, we are at -2C/28F, with beautiful sunshine and next to no wind. Snow is melting all over the place! Including our nice new roof – with not a single leak into the sun room!

I’m not sure how many cats I saw this morning – I lost track after 20. That long haired tabby even let me pet him, as he followed me up the driveway. On the way back, I spotted The Distinguished Guest, tucked into a path in the snow, waiting his chance to come closer to the house and get some food.

I got a message from the garage, letting me know our van was ready to pick up. The final bill was $216 and change. It meant setting a little bit less aside for our “car payment”, but not by much.

We got to talk about his trip to the auction, and no, he was not able to find anything, and he was able to explain the issue.

We actually got approved for a larger amount loan than the cost of the vehicle we were interested in. The problem was that the monthly payments would have been $750 a month, because of the interest. As my credit score is so bad, the interest rate would have been 29%. Which is insane. To get a vehicle that meets our needs, with payments we could afford, that was also 2014 or newer, with a maximum 180,000 km… well, it just doesn’t really exist.

Of course, right now, we have nothing to improve our credit rating. We have no debt. No rent or mortgage. Nothing that would improve our credit rating.

His suggestion?

Get a credit card.

More specifically, get a card with a $300 or $500 credit limit. Max the card out every month, and pay it off every month. Which we could easily do with a single Costco shopping trip. In 6 months, we’d have a good credit score. Together with the money we are setting aside every month towards a down payment, he’d be able to get us a much newer and better vehicle, with payments within our budget.

While we were talking, his mechanic joined the conversation. He knew full well what we were going through. Thanks to the lockdowns, he lost his small trucking business 2 years ago. It wiped him out completely and, of course, his credit score was wrecked. He wanted to get a loan for a truck to start over, but couldn’t get one. He got himself a $500 credit card, maxed it out and paid it off every month, and it repaired his credit rating enough that he was able to get a lone for a truck – and those things go for about $200,000!

It’s basically the only way we have available to us to repair my credit score, so when I got home, I went online with my bank and started looking up what was available. Once I got to a certain point, though, I decided I needed to talk to someone, so I called it in. As I spoke to the representative, he told me the main issue was that I have no income – it will be based on household income. My chances of being approved was pretty low, but I could apply for a secured credit card. That, however, had to be done in person. He recommended I do that, rather than continue trying to apply over the phone.

Well, it was early enough in the day, so off I went to the nearest branch, in the town my mother lives in. I tried calling my mother to see if she would need groceries, but got no answer, so I took her car just in case.

I got in to see someone fairly quickly and explained our situation. We started the application for a secured credit card. The down side of this is they work it by locking the amount – in this case, $500, which is their minimum – in our account, so that if we ever reneged on a payment, they would get their money out of the locked funds. However, she suggested we go ahead and try for an unsecured account, first, and see how it that went.

Much to my shock, I got approved for a $1000, unsecured credit card!

I asked if it could be reduced to $500, which she was able to do.

I should be getting my card in 7-10 business days.

The whole thing was shockingly painless!

Once it comes in, it will be used only for gas and groceries, within our usual budget, that’s it!

With that done, I finally managed to connect with my mother and popped in for a visit. She only needed a few things, so I just ran out and picked them up for her. She commented that she wasn’t feeling that well, after the procedure – then started to tell me again that if they couldn’t do what she was there for, because she was on blood thinners, then what was the point? I told her, she was there for the scope; the taking of samples would have been only if they found something of concern, and for that, they would have had her come back. She started to get angry and insisted she never left the room and never had the procedure. She watched other people come and go, but not her. I explained the light sedation to her, and told her I don’t remember getting my bronchoscopy, either. Turns out she’s working herself up to thinking that the stuff they sprayed in her mouth, and lying about doing the scope on her, and her now not feeling as well is them trying to kill off old people to save money.

The sad thing is, I can’t fault her for thinking that. However, our “wonderful” health care system is now using MAiD – Medical Assistance in Dying – for that, so there’s no need for the elaborate scene she’s building up in her mind. So far, no one has tried to talk her into offing herself, at least. It’s a good thing we don’t live in BC. 😕

Anyhow, I temporarily mollified her, but I know it won’t last long. Aside from that, it was actually a really good visit, and I even got to talk to her about our plans for getting chickens (which she enthusiastically supports), and to make it so that if things happen, like the power going out for a long time, we’d be okay. Every time I bring that up, she starts talking about being able to use the old wood cookstove in the old kitchen, and I had to explain to her again, how badly damaged it is, and why it would be wildly unsafe to use it, even if we did manage to repair it. We may some day be able to fix it up, but until then, there are other things that we can do that we can do ourselves, at little cost, like building and outdoor kitchen under a shelter. In the past, she would have mocked me for the things I was talking about, but she doesn’t do that anymore. Since we’ve moved here, she gave us the hardest time over our plans, because they were so different from how she did things, and she didn’t believe we would actually do them. One example being the retaining wall I wanted to build at one end of the old kitchen garden. When I described to her what we had in mind, she laughed out loud. Then she told me how the family that used to live across the road from here (no one lives there now) had all sorts of grand plans for how they wanted to fix up the property, with retaining walls and garden beds and more. In all the years they lived there, they never did any of it. Therefore, neither would I.

Then I build the retaining wall, and we did several other things I’d told her about that she laughed at me over, or even became angry over, because she would not have done things that way. But they worked. So now, she no longer laughs.


For now, anyhow.

So it’s been a pretty productive day, even if not in the ways I expected or planned on!

I’m okay with that. 😁

The Re-Farmer

Finally getting rain – and, ouch

Things have been hot for the past few days, and will continue to be hot for the next while. It’s not even noon as I write this, and we’re already at 25C, with a “real feel” of 29C. We’ve also had a lot of thunderstorm warnings, but aside from one quick pass, they have been missing us. We have, however, been getting some decent rain. I haven’t heard locally, yet, but the municipality next to ours announced their burn ban has finally been lifted. I expect ours is, too.

This afternoon, we’re supposed to get temperatures of 29C (feeling like 36C) and thunderstorms through the evening. If rain is all we get again, I’ll be quite happy.

The grape vines are quite appreciating the moisture.

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A memorable anniversary

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary.

Well. As much as we could!

I drove my daughter to work in the morning, which meant I was in town late enough for the grocery store to be open, so I picked up a few things before going to see my husband.

I found the tiniest little sheet cake for us to share – making sure to check if he was allowed to eat cake before I brought it in!


It was just big enough for 4 pieces, so he and I shared half, and I brought the other half home for the girls. 🙂

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Wait… what?

Today, I sent in our meter reading. Now that it’s been over a year since we’ve had the electricity switched over to our name, we currently have a full 12 months of billing history, beginning in December of 2017. Keeping in mind that our scheduled meter readings are taken around the 13th of every month (it’s not the same for everyone), with the new bill coming in around the 20th of the month, this means that a bill for December covers our usage from the middle of November, to the middle of December. Also, electricity is our only source of energy, including for heating. There’s no oil or natural gas or anything else like that.

Our first bill in December of 2017 had an energy consumption of 4797 kW.h.

Our December of 2018 bill had an energy consumption of 4799 kW.h

A difference of only 2.

The difference in the cost of electricity?

2017 cost us $434.40

2018 came to $452.14

Those 2 extra kW.h cost $17.74

I don’t recall any notification about the cost per kW.h going up, in the past year.

It’s a good thing we’re on the equal payment plan. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Looking back – a year ago today

Well, here it is.

A year ago today was the last day of getting ready for the movers to arrive.  My husband and younger daughter were already out here for several weeks.  My older daughter and I spent those weeks continuing to purge and pack and get ready for the movers.

We were exhausted.  In pain.  Ready to drop.

cost-benefit-analysiscba-3-638Thinking about the past year, I sat down and crunched some numbers.  When we were deciding whether or not to accept my mother’s request to move out there, with her offer to pay for the movers, I sat down with our budget at the time, and tried to compare it with what we might expect to be paying out here.  I thought I was erring on the side of caution as much as I reasonably could.  Basically, we had to decide if the increased costs out here would be made up for by not paying over $1400 in housing charges.  Living on a fixed income while expenses kept increasing meant we were slowly falling behind.  Being overly cautious with the numbers, we felt we would be ahead of the game by about $450 a month.

Now, a year later, I can look at our actual expenses and compare.

Keep in mind, I am just looking at our regular budgeted expenses, since there’s no way to account for things like the hot water tank dying, or the van suddenly needing hundreds of dollars of work done on it.

In the end, we are ahead of the game by just over $320 a month.

Some things are not quite reflective of actual costs.  For example, we are paying $20 a month more for our vehicle insurance and registration, but before the move we were only paying for the insurance; the registration was paid for annually, and we could shop around for private carriers.  Here, there’s no choice.  Just the public insurance company, and both are paid for together.

Then… there’s the rest.

Our electricity bill has tripled.  In my previous comparison, I had expected it to quadruple.  Still; painful.  At least now we’re on an equalized payment plan, so starting this month, the payments will be the same, and we won’t be getting any more almost $600 electricity bills!

Before the move, our TV and internet were bundled.  Out here, the only way to get internet was by satellite.  It took a while, but with the new satellite the company has available, we now have internet speeds and reliability, as well as a data package, comparable to what we had in the city.

At triple the cost.

We also have to have a land line now, since we’re in a cell phone signal dead zone, so that is a completely new expense.  With a long distance plan added to it, it ended up higher than I had worked it out to be when we first tried to do a comparison.

Our cell phones, on the other hand, are now combined in a bundle with one company, and that’s one bill that is actually lower by over $100.  Our grocery budget has gone up by $400 (note that this includes not just food, but personal care items, household needs, pet supplies and bird/deer feed).

Our gas budget has stayed the same, but only because we ration our trips as much as we can.  Our prescription budget had to go up, but our content insurance went down.

Now, normally this would mean that we’re ahead of the game.  But when we start taking into account the things we need to do here, and how much it will cost, we’ve not actually gained anything financially by moving out here.

It’s a good thing finances were not the only reason we agreed to move. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: firepit area, gate and fence line start

This evening, I decided to be methodical about clearing the west yard trees, and get right into the fence line.

It was a lot more work than I expected!

This is what it looked like when I left it last time.

I didn’t get photos from this angle today, but if you look behind the dead trees I cut down, that’s the area I focused on.

I had not really intended to start on the fence line on this side yet, but the mess was starting to get to me.

I am using the row of elm trees as my guide line for clearing the fence.  Anything between where those trees are and the fence line will be taken out.  This will leave a walkable path to access the fence.

I started at the gate post and made a discovery.


There’s two of them.

From what I can figure out, as the older gate post started to become unstable, a second post as added, and new and old were tied together with a loop of barbed wire.

It was most likely a temporary fix that ended up a permanent one.

The problem is…

Both posts are rotten and broken at the bottom.

The hedge that had grown into the fence was pretty much the only thing holding it up.

I don’t really want to replace this fence.  I’d rather take it out completely.  I am wanting to install new fencing that will include both driveways, instead.  So for now, this old fence will remain for as long as it holds up.

As I worked down the line, I also discovered that there’s not just two gate posts, but two fences!  Somewhere along the way, the old barbed wire fence got a mesh wire fence added with it.  Then other cable type wire was also added, along the bottom.  You can see part of it at the bottom of one of the gate posts, above.

This made clearing away the lilacs more challenging, because it was woven through both the barbed and mesh wire.  For many of them, I had to cut them at least twice, so I could get the pieces out of the fence.

A surprising amount of the lilac was already dead.  Most of the living lilac is on the other side of the fence.  Which I will leave for now.  It’s keeping the fence from falling over.

In the end, it took me almost two hours to clear barely 8 feet of fence line!


I’m also clearing in between and around the lilac and caragana that is in line with the row of elm trees.  That included taking down a dead lilac that was a thick as a tree!

I’m going to have to change up when I work in the yard.  We’re getting heat wave weather warnings for the next week.  I like to do the work in the afternoon or evening, but the hottest part of the day tends to be around 5pm.  It’s almost 9pm as I write this, and we’re still at 25C, with a “feels like 29C”.  I’m going to have to start working on this stuff in the morning, instead, when it’s cooler, because by afternoon, it’s supposed to reach 29C, and feel like 34C, but be only 18C in the morning.

I am not a morning person. 😀

Well, if I’m driving my daughter to her shifts that start at 8 or 9am anyway, it will work out for me to do yard work when I get back in the morning, instead of after I pick her up at 4 or 5pm.

She has a road test booked in September.  She’ll be able to drive herself to work, if we don’t need the van for something else.

It is becoming increasingly clear we are going to need a second vehicle for the girls.  That and our utter dependency on having a vehicle makes me extra paranoid about having only one.  It’s not like there are any buses we could use instead, or anything is close enough to walk to!  We went about a month not driving our van until we had the money to replace the fuel pump, to avoid causing more damage (which our mechanic really appreciated), and that was enough for us!

At least we’ve finally reached a point where we are caught up.  As of this month, we have no expenses left related to our move.  Yay!  It only took us 9 months. :-/  Starting next month, we can start diverting money to a contingency fund to pay for things like getting the trees cleared from the power lines and roof in the fall, or towards getting a second bathroom installed.  Or unexpected emergencies, like the van breaking down!

The problem is, there are SO many things that need work around the house and yard, it will be hard to prioritize.  We had hoped to get the second bathroom installed this summer.  It’s high on the priority list, but clearing the trees became the higher priority since… well… we’d really like to NOT have our roof damaged or have branches knock out our power lines.

Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

Blue for You

Alas, no pictures of deer today.  I did see one cautiously making its way towards the house, just a few minutes ago, but it saw me move in the window and dashed right off.


I did, however, manage to get a photo of a blue jay today.  For the past few weeks, even if I’ve been at the window, watching them for a while, the moment I get behind the camera, they all fly off!


This morning, I managed to get just one decent picture, through the sun reflected on the window.

I love how they collect so many seeds in their beaks like that, before flying off.

It was a fairly quite day today.  We’re still in recovery mode and pretty low on energy.  My younger daughter and I made a run to the dump with our garbage and recycling, before heading to town to find a new handle for our garage door.  In the process, I remembered to pick up some chain and a carabiner to replace the heavy duty wire that’s been used to hold our main gate steady.  It has a sliding bar across the top to close it.  I’m not sure why it also needed the wire to hold it closed, and one of these days, I’ll remember to ask a sibling about it. 😀  The chain and carabiner will be much easier to handle than twisting and untwisting the wire every time.  It’ll look better, too!  Plus, we’ll have the ability to add a lock as well, if we ever need to.  Sadly, there have always been people who seek out solitary farms as targets for theft and vandalism.  At best, the RCMP are at least half an hour away, and that assumes they can even find any individual farm.  My oldest brother and I are already talking about adding a security camera on the garage, which would catch anyone coming in or out of the driveway, and another on the house itself.

Such is life, even in the sticks!

My daughter and I went to two different hardware stores, looking for a garage door handle.  Both stores had only one option available!  They were even the same brand and style.  On the plus side, the second place we went to had a much, much better price.

On the down side, while driving to town, I went into a coughing fit so bad, I had to pull over and get her to drive the rest of the way.

It’s so nice having another driver available!

This cold has really done a number on my chronic cough.  😦

We had some other things happen that were polar opposites.  Such as my husband’s disability payment coming in early (they do that every now and then!) on the plus side, then getting a call from the tax preparer and finding out he’s now owing $3000 instead of the $1300 that came up when we tried using Turbotax at home.  I don’t understand how he can owe anything.  He’s supposed to be paid back taxes, retroactively, from two years ago!  And here we thought getting our taxes professionally done would mean it would be better, not worse.  On top of that, it’s going to cost us almost $70 in fees.


This has happened every time we’ve moved back to this province, no matter how late in the year we’ve returned.  We would be expecting a return, only to end up owing thousands.  This time, though, I am sure that has to be some kind of mistake.

Living here was supposed to save us money.  Instead, it’s been unexpected expenses, one right after the other!

Ah, well.  We’ll figure it out in good time.

The Re-Farmer



Watching Over Us

Today was a day when we could really tell that Someone is watching over us!

This morning, my husband had an appointment to get a CT scan.  For this, we had to go to a small city that is an hour’s drive away.  The hospital is at the edge of town, though, so we didn’t have any extra driving beyond that.

He had to be there for 11:30, but with the winds the way they were, we decided to head out early, just in case.  Our route took us though another town where we stopped to fill the gas tank, then we continued on.

Through this.


When we tell people we live in the middle of nowhere, sometimes they think we are exaggerating.

The actual temperature today was quite mild – we warmed up to about -9C at home, and even warmer (-6C) in the city we went to.  The wind chills made it feel in the -26C range, making it potentially dangerous to be out in it for two long.

There isn’t a lot of snow, yet at times the road was almost completely obliterated, except for what I could see right in front of me.  I could always tell I was in the correct lane, for example.  The wind made it more of a challenge to stay on the road than the visibility did.

But the drive went well and even with our stop for gas, we got there early.  My husband got registered into their system and sent to the appropriate area of the hospital to wait for his test.

Unfortunately, an emergency came up and all the scheduled appointments got delayed.  He got in about 45 minutes late.  I could see he was really struggling, and by the time he was called in, his shirt was wet and his face beaded with sweat from the pain. pain.scale

I saw an “improved pain scale” being shared on Facebook lately.  I liked it, but decided to make up one of my own.  It’s annoying to be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10, when pain is so relative and subjective – something his previous doctor admitted was a problem.  Most pain scales I see are just smiley to sad faces, which doesn’t work.

So I came up with this version.

I’d say my husband lives in the 8-9 zone.  Seven, on a good day.  When my husband was asked to rate himself on the pain scale, my husband answered relative to how much pain he was in before, and put himself at a 5.

With the delay, I knew we would need to get some food before we headed home.  Seeing his obvious (to me, anyhow) discomfort, I did a quick search for a rare treat while he was being scanned; McDonald’s.  Yes.  It’s a treat.  It falls under the “comfort food” area.  Thankfully, there was one nearby.

When he was done, that’s where we headed.  It turned out to be inside a Walmart.  We would have preferred a drive through, but oh, well.

I tried to find a disabled parking spot for us.  This place has probably 18 of them, and they were all full!  As I was driving around to find I spot that was at least close, I ended up having a vehicle riding my bumper, enough to interfere with my ability to try and turn into any spots I found.

So I figured I’d just get away from the tailgater and go around.

Just as I accelerated, it started.

A sort of smacking/clapping noise from the engine.  Something was loose in there!

We quickly parked, shut off the engine and popped the hood, but I couldn’t see anything unusual.  Leaving it, we went inside to eat.  Once back in the van, I started it and…

… the noise was still there.

Leaving it running, I popped the hood again.  This time, I could see something at the belt smacking a hose.  Shutting off the engine, I could see a strip with a frayed end.


I took a picture of it, then we went back into the Walmart and their garage.  Showing the picture to the guy behind the counter, he said it looked like the fan belt, and that they couldn’t do that kind of work.  There was, however, a Canadian Tire across the road, and they could do it.

Just in case, I phoned up my cousin for his advice.

One option we had was to simply cut the loose piece, then drive home and hope the rest of the belt didn’t snap along the way.

Not an option we preferred!

The other option was to drive it across the street and, hopefully, get it fixed right away.

We took option number two.

He also mentioned that he had looked at the belt when he worked on our van, and it had looked fine. 😦

At this point, we had two things going for us.  One was that it happened while we were still in town.  If we had started to drive home, rather than stopping to eat, it would have happened while we were on the highway.  Instead, it happened right near a garage.

The other thing we had going for us was funds.  We had nothing in the budget for this, but the money we got from the moving company to pay for replacing our electric pole was there.  We could use that, and replace what we used at the end of the month.  If we hadn’t got that money when we did, we would have been hooped.  Big time.

So, off to Canadian Tire we went!

Once inside, I showed the picture to the guy and talked about getting it fixed.  Unfortunately, he only had two mechanics in that day; lots of people have been calling in sick lately.  However, he had a customer to call with info about a part.  Depending on what the customer decided, they might be able to fit us in, instead of working on that person’s car.

In the end, the decision was made for the customer.  The part needed couldn’t be delivered until tomorrow morning.

Which meant they could work on our van, instead!

That was the third thing going for us.

Once in, the first thing they needed to do was a diagnostic (about $70), to make sure the belt was the only thing that needed replacing.  Depending on what caused it to break, the serpentine belt might also be at risk.

It turned out to only be the belt.

It took maybe half an hour (labour rate posted: $112 an hour) to get fixed!  Altogether, it cost quite a bit less than we were afraid it would.

The guy talked to us afterward, saying that there was a leak in there; either oil or power steering fluid.  I told him it was the power steering, but that several people have looked at it already, and couldn’t find where it was leaking.  He told us we would have to find it, because it was getting right on the belt, which corrodes it.  It’ll happen again.  Which we knew.  I’ve got to get the van saftied, anyhow, so I’m hoping the leak will finally be found.  He said that one way it could be found is if someone puts a dye into the fluid.  They would then be able to spot the leak using a blacklight.


Since we were there anyhow, and the fix cost less than we thought it might, we took advantage of the situation.  I needed a new headline bulb, so we got a pair of bulbs, slightly brighter than what we already had.  I didn’t want to go to the brightest, as I have no desire to blind oncoming traffic while driving at night.  I’ve had that happen to me too often, and I would never want to inflict that on anyone else.

We also picked up a new gas cap.  Just a couple of days ago, my onboard computer started showing “check gas cap” warning.  That was another thing on my list of items to replace.  I’m guessing the seal on the cap finally degraded too much.  The cold certainly isn’t helping.  If changing it doesn’t fix the problem, it’ll be another thing on the list of stuff to get it to pass safety inspection.

I just have to figure out how to remove the old gas cap, which has a tether.  The new one doesn’t.

Changing the bulbs will wait a day or two, when it warms up a bit more.

That done, we drove the hour home.

All together, we ended up being gone 6 hours, when we expected to be gone maybe 3 hours.

I made sure to drive right up to the house to drop off my husband, and he went straight to lying down. 😦

What a day.

Then, this evening, I heard a knock at the door.

Which was very disorienting.  We never get casual knocks at the door out here!

It was the electrician.  He had intended to come out this weekend to check how frozen the ground is, but never made it.  He made it today, stopping on his way home from the city.  He’d tested his drill out, and the ground is just too solid.

We’ll have to wait until things start to thaw out, then contact him again to get it done.

Which is actually kind of good, since we would not have been able to replace what we used of the funds for another two weeks.

Yet another thing that worked out in our favour.

Yes, Someone is indeed watching out for us!

The Re-Farmer


Looking Back

It has been just past 2 months since all of us have been living here, in my childhood home.  Three months for my husband and younger daughter.

It’s been rather tumultuous, all things considered.  Hopefully, this will all have been worth it in the long run.  We shall see.

There are, as always, a number of things that we couldn’t know until we actually lived here a while.  Some of those things were budget related.

Living on my husband’s long term disability has changed a lot.  Thankfully, 60% of his previous income left us doing much better than others I know in a similar position.  Still, living in the city kept getting more and more expensive, while the income can’t change.  Our daughters had gotten themselves part time jobs, and my older daughter has been working on turning her art into an income, but they both gave that up to come with us, so that they could help their father and I as much as possible.  They gave up quite a lot of other things to come out here, too.  And with our van making noises it shouldn’t be making, and no money to get it looked at, all our options are severely limited.

So it’s 4 of us living on one fixed income, still playing catch up on the costs of the move and the bills we had to let slide a bit.

But we’ve been here long enough to get an idea of what some of those unknowns are going to be.

One of them was the electricity costs.  We knew, from living in the area before and heating with electricity, we would be looking at Hydro bills in the winter of about $400 or more.  Previously, our winter bills were in the $80-$90 range, while in the summer, it was closer to $150-$180.  We had to use an air conditioner all summer, for my husband’s health.  We won’t need an air conditioner here, but winters are another story.

Our very first electric bill came out to over $400.  I had actually expected it to be a bit higher, because of all the troubles we were having with the hot water tank, and needing to use the stove to heat so much water every day.  I knew the next bill would be even higher, partly because it covered the time period were we were heating the most water, but also because of the polar vortex that sent temperatures plunging and the furnace running.

We send in our meter readings in the middle of the month, and now have the new bill.  It’s just under $600.  And there was absolutely nothing we could have done to make it lower.


At least we can be sure that this is going to be the highest electric bill of the winter.  After this, it should start doing down.

Still.  Ouch.

The next unknown was the internet.  Our satellite package is only about $100 a month; less than the cable/internet package we had before the move.  Unfortunately, the maximum data available for non-commercial packages is 100 gigs.  Before coming out here, we averaged about 350 gigs a month usage.  Still, we can control that to a certain extent.  No more watching lots of Youtube videos, and no more World of Warcraft.  We take advantage of free WiFi elsewhere, as much as we can.

Reaching the limit on our package didn’t mean we would lose our internet for the rest of the month.  It would just be reduced in speed.  It would be enough to check our email or whatever.  Or, we could have the bottleneck removed and pay $2 a gig on top of our regular package.  There would be no slowdown that way.

That resulted in a bill of almost $300, even with reducing our online usage.

At the start of the month, there was a lot of downloading of updates and patches, which resulted in us reaching our limit before even half way through the month.  So options were looked at on how to get around that.

In the end, we got a second account, with a second satellite dish.  It was installed yesterday. By doing it that way, we’ll be paying around $200 + a month for internet, instead of $300 +.

We still haven’t received our first phone bill in our name, so that one is still an unknown.

Then there’s the fact that we’re feeding so many extra animals, including the deer.  We will probably be spending another $150 a month, just on that.  That wasn’t in our projected calculations at all.

The fact that we are no longer paying a housing charge of just over $1400 a month does give us the room to handle these extra expenses.  Or at least it would, if we didn’t still have to catch up on old bills, plus deal with additional expenses related to the move, plus we had to buy that new hot water tank, plus we have to get the van looked at, plus we’re going to have to put money into this house to make up for years of neglect…

It’ll probably be another 2-4 months before we get to a point were we can actually know if living here will be a financial improvement.

The next question becomes one of quality of life.  Did moving here improve that situation?

Well, for my husband, we’re not there yet.  First, there were the problems with not being able to get certain prescriptions, and the screw up with his insurance coverage.  So he’s been in massive amounts of pain.  Big drop in quality of life, there.  Then there is finding a new medical team to replace the specialists he left behind.  That will take time.  Still, there is the advantage of stress reduction in other areas, and stress = pain.  There’s also the fact that this house, for all its issues, is more accessible that the townhouse we left.  He’s no longer essentially trapped on the second floor.  Something as simple as getting up and going into the kitchen is something he can do now, without too much difficulty. The biggest plus is that we are close to his family again, but without reliable transportation, we may as well still be two provinces away.

For myself, there is a definite huge reduction in stress.  I’m still in contact with friends living in the co-op we’d been in, and I am so glad we’re not there anymore.  I honestly cannot recommend co-op housing anymore.  The concept is good, but human nature being what it is, it just doesn’t work unless the members are aware enough to get a good property management company in.  Otherwise, it’s just not worth the stress.

That stress was having quite a negative effect on my health, but since being here, for all the hassles we’ve had, there has been a huge improvement.  The pressure headaches are gone.  My sleep has improved.  I hardly ever need to take pain killers anymore.  My body’s aches and pains have reduced substantially, though I know they will never go away completely.  And I do still have my mystery pain in my side, and that chronic cough that no amount of testing could find the source of.   Unfortunately, while I’ve been able to set up the office part of things, I haven’t been able to set up my crafting side of things quite yet; not enough that I can get back to working on things or writing patterns, and I have not been able to get my photography area set up yet.  That should come in time, though I will have to evict the cats from what will be my work and photography area on my work table, which they have claimed for naps. 😀

And for our daughters?  They once again have an upper floor as their own space.  Sometimes, as I work in my office, I can hear them upstairs, singing together, and they sound so wonderful.  I know it’s been hard on them, but I do hope that, long term, this will be good for them, too.

We knew coming out here would be a mixed bag of positives and negatives.  We’re still figuring out what those are.  Plus, once we’re past those first few months of settling in, there will be new options ahead of us that we could not have done without coming here.

In the end, I do feel that we made the right choice.

The Re-Farmer