A bit of running around, and thank you, M!

I had a bit of running around to do after the morning rounds, but nothing that had to get me out earlier, or needing to rush through things. Which is good, because I got more done, too. 😊

It snowed lightly all night, so the cats at a bit more to deal with for their roof kibble by morning!

I counted thirty while putting out the food and water.

The branch pile I burned yesterday smoldered all night. I left my computer on with the live feed for the garage cam aimed at it, so it could be monitored. When the camera switched to infrared, I could see hot spots glowing through the falling snow. This morning, I broke it up a bit to stir the embers around, then raked it into a smaller pile. This will keep smoldering for days, if I keep banking it like this, which is what I want. We still have the other, bigger pile to burn, but there is no hurry on that.

After I finished my usual rounds, I decided to go ahead and do some shovelling. It wasn’t really necessary, but I would rather open up the paths now, while the snow it still light, than be trying to do it after the paths have been walked on and packed down. Aside from around the cat shelters and the paths to and from the main doors, I cleared the cat paths, the fire pit and access to the covered firewood pile, a path around the house, and paths to the compost heap, the back of the garage, and the outhouse. It sounds like a lot, but it was easy and fast to do. If we warm up at all, what snow is left in the paths is more likely to melt away, making it easier to keep them clear later one – as long as it’s just light snow.

When I was done with the shovelling, I spotted Shop Towel visiting the kibble house (making 31). You can really tell he’s the daddy of all those white and grey kittens!

What a barrel chested beast he is!

Once all that was done, it was off to run errands. First was a stop at the post office to pick up a parcel, only it turned out to not be in the mail. Our general store is now a Purolator drop off location. Which is good for us, because we used to have to go to the next town to pick up our Purolator parcels.

After that, it was off to town to the hardware store, and then the pharmacy. The company my husband’s insurance is with had some changes made that didn’t affect his coverage, but did affect how/where things were billed. Everything was supposed to transfer over seamlessly, but for some reason, his slow release insulin was suddenly no longer covered. This stuff costs more than $500 a box without coverage, so he hasn’t been able to get more. Once we found out there was a problem, he checked the insurance company’s app, and it said this was still covered, so he sent them an email explaining what happened. It took until yesterday for them to finally respond and it was basically just a letter saying, yeah, it’s still covered. Your pharmacy can still bill us. If they’ve got a problem, they can contact us.

So I printed off the letter and brought it in, since it had the information they would need. Their system still came up as not covered, so I left the letter with them and asked for his prescription to be delivered tomorrow, if they were able to figure it out by then. Then I went ahead with getting a refill on my own prescription, since I was there, which meant I had to wait a while. That turned out to be a good thing, because they got my husband’s billing issues fixed and I was able to get his insulin, too. It was a bit of a shock when the cashier scanned the tags on the prescriptions and there was an extra almost $150 on it, though! It turns out they already have my husband’s next batch of bubble packs in the system. These are now put together in the city and sent here, so whoever is doing it in the city just does the refills every four weeks and sent the packs out automatically. Meanwhile, we just picked up a month’s worth of bubble packs last week, so he won’t need more until next month, but because it’s in their system already, he got billed for next month’s refills! Once that got cleared up, it was removed, so I just had his insulin to pay for.

It gets confusing at times, that’s for sure!

That done, I was finally able to head home, and soon we will be setting up this.

Would you look at the size of that heated water bowl!!! I put the container in it for perspective. That’s what I use to scoop the kibble and it holds about a gallon.

Thank you, M, for your generous donation. The kitties are going to be so happy!

I snagged an outdoor extension cord from the garage, so we can plug in both working heated water bowls. Unfortunately, the cord for the new bowl doesn’t seem very long at all. The older, smaller bowl we’re using now has a longer cord and it just barely reaches from its corner. What we may end up having to do is moving the kibble house over to where the water bowl shelter is, and putting the water bowl shelter where the kibble house is, for it to reach. I don’t want to buy longer extension cords for this, because the excess will just be in the way. I will have to buy a replacement block heater cord, since I took the extension cord for that, but our temperatures are nowhere near cold enough to need to plug the van in, yet. That can wait until next month.

Anyhow…

Once we’ve got the water bowl situation figured out, we’ll have to make sure to put something beside the new water bowl for the kittens to climb on. It’s so tall, and some of them are so little, they’ll have a hard time reaching the water, otherwise!

Hopefully, with this new bowl, there will be enough liquid water to last until morning. Right now, the smaller heated water bowl is pretty much empty every morning, even though we refill it at least a couple of times during the day. It does make me wonder what creature is coming over during the night and drinking that much water! It’s certainly more than just the cats drinking it. One of these days, when we have a spare trail cam, it would be interesting to set one up facing the cat shelters to see what goes on when we’re not there to see it!

The Re-Farmer

There is a down side

We have been working hard to socialize as many kittens as we can.

There is, however, a downside to that.

The more socialized the kitties, the more likely they are to hang around us, even when we are doing things that are potentially dangerous for them. It goes beyond deciding to run around our feet while we’re walking and accidentally getting themselves clocked in the head. I had a couple of examples, just this morning.

While doing my rounds, there was no wind at all, and the ground was covered in frost. I decided it was a good time to do a burn in the fire ring (the burn barrel is too old and damaged to use anymore). The fire ring is where we put the used stove pellet litter. It has time to dry before we do a burn, along with any paper garbage we have that can’t be composted so we don’t have to drag it to the dump, plus a few branches or whatever wood that’s around to keep the fire going stronger.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to tend a fire while kittens are trying to climb your legs, or even wanting to climb into the fire ring to find out what the noise is?

I managed to keep them safe and away. Here, Baby is sitting on the remains of the burn barrel that was here when we first moved in, staying warm. He, at least, wasn’t really trying to get any closer.

Most of the time.

After the fire was burned down enough that I could cover it and let it smolder (the litter sawdust doesn’t like to flame up, but it will smolder for days while covered), I worked on the cats’ house a bit, as they were done eating and it would no longer scare them away from food.

Here is an old picture of what it looks like while open.

As you can see, there are chains to keep it from opening too far and breaking, and the counterweight both helps open it smoothly, but also makes it less likely to drop unexpectedly. The cinder block alone wasn’t enough, though. We’ve added four more bricks into the openings to make it heavier. Even with that weight, though, that roof is heavy enough that if it started to drop, there wouldn’t be much to even slow it down, never mind stop it. As you can imagine, we’re pretty careful while working around it.

The problem?

While setting up the new cat bed and cleaning the windows, curious friendly kittens would jump up and walk around the top of the walls. Which is what the frame of the roof rests on. If that thing dropped for some reason…

*shudder*

So there I was, working in and around the cat out – and trying to chase away the kittens that are no longer scare of us, or anything we’re doing, anymore!

Today, we will continue working on the sun room. It’s going to be warm enough and dry enough for the next while that just about everything can be taken out, including a couple more shelves and the table saw, so give the concrete floor a more complete cleaning. My daughter has already cleaned up the worst of it, but it could use a good bleaching now!

Something else I’ll have to keep the friendly kittens out of while I’m working!

The Re-Farmer

Change in plans (and fire update)

Plans for today have changed a few times! 😀

But before I get into that, we had some activity in the feeding station yesterday evening!

Two pairs of deer came by – but they were NOT together! They kept fighting each other and chasing each other away from the feed. I do try to spread it out, but by the end of the day, there isn’t much left.

I managed to get some video, since I had to use my phone to take the pictures anyhow, and put them together. I’m trying to move away from YouTube, so I’ve uploaded to Rumble. Please let me know how this works for you.

!function(r,u,m,b,l,e){r._Rumble=b,r[b]||(r[b]=function(){(r[b]._=r[b]._||[]).push(arguments);if(r[b]._.length==1){l=u.createElement(m),e=u.getElementsByTagName(m)[0],l.async=1,l.src=”https://rumble.com/embedJS/ubwqqr”+(arguments%5B1%5D.video?’.’+arguments[1].video:”)+”/?url=”+encodeURIComponent(location.href)+”&args=”+encodeURIComponent(JSON.stringify([].slice.apply(arguments))),e.parentNode.insertBefore(l,e)}})}(window, document, “script”, “Rumble”);
Rumble(“play”, {“video”:”vcq2ed”,”div”:”rumble_vcq2ed”});

If that doesn’t work for you, please try clicking here.

They were really cool to watch!

Anyhow…

I had considered going to my mother’s church this morning, to have our Easter basket blessed, but the church was needing to have people register and so on, in advance, so we decided to skip it this year. At least they had it this year. Last year, it wasn’t allowed.

So we were to assemble our basket today and just bless it ourselves. I did want to take advantage of things being open to make a run into town. I was going to do it in the afternoon, but I got a phone call from my brother. He and his wife had found a new recliner chair small enough for my mother and wanted to bring it over. I agreed to meet him and help assemble it, in the afternoon.

Which meant I headed into town earlier today, then went straight to my mother’s town to meet my brother before we headed to her place together.

The main thing I wanted to do today was get a second battery for the baby chainsaw. I also brought in the little corded chainsaw we found a while back. It should hopefully just need to have the chain sharpened. Otherwise, it should just need a new chain.

After starting a work order for the chainsaw, the lady tried to find a battery for me. After confirming they had none in stock, she went to the Stihl site to check their inventory.

They had none.

Zero.

Anywhere.

Which I suppose makes sense. Most people buying a battery operated tool will order a second battery so they can set one battery to charge and continue working with the second battery. This little thing has a matching little battery, so a lot of people buying these would not have a matching battery already and be getting a second one at the same time. Since this thing is so popular, they can’t even manufacture them fast enough to keep up with the demand, they would probably be going through more of that type of battery than the cordless pruner itself.

She did place an order for one for me, but has no idea when it could be fulfilled. They will call me when it comes in, though. Until then, I’ll just have to make do with one battery.

Since I was there anyhow, I picked up an extra bottle of oil for the bar, plus an extra chain. These fall into the category of “better to have them and not need them, then need them and not have them!”

Once the little electric chainsaw is in cutting shape again, it will be enough to meet most of our needs. We won’t be taking down any big dead trees with it, but it will go a long way in helping cut up the already fallen ones to make them easier to clear away.

That was taken care of rather quickly, and I had time to visit the beach for a little while.

The ice fishing shacks are long gone, but the ice is still thick enough for people to walk on it, and do a bit of ice fishing without a shack.

Then it was off to my mother’s town. I made a stop at the grocery store there, because I remembered seeing them carry the same type of deer feed and bird seed we usually get.

Not today, it turns out. All sold out! We at least still have some deer feed left, and the birds like that, too, so it can wait a bit. 😀

It did give me a chance to pick up a few things for my mother that I noticed she runs out of very quickly.

Then my brother and I met up, heading to my mother’s and surprised her with a new non-electric reclining chair to replace her old arm chair that she’d been complaining about. Of course, she had nothing nice to say about it, complaining that it was too big (it was the smallest they could find!), or that she didn’t need it, etc. The complaining was less than usual, however, which tells me she was actually very happy with it! 😀 I am hoping she will be able to use it to sleep on, every now and then, as she still has breathing issues when she sleeps, and being slightly upright should help her with that.

So that worked out well, and we even stayed for a short visit. Then we loaded all the packing materials, and my mother’s old chair, into my brother’s truck, so my mother had nothing to worry about. Since the chair needs to be further forward, to have room to recline, than her other chair, things needed to be shifted around, and she now actually has slightly more space to walk around than with the smaller chair. 🙂

On the way home, my route took me past where the recent fire was.

I am happy to say that the house tucked in the trees I was concerned about untouched by flames. There’s a drainage ditch that cuts through that quarter section, and it acted as a bit of a fire break that kept it from spreading to another house in the same quarter. The only thing that burned was open field. It was “just” a grass fire.

Driving around that quarter, however, showed that a LOT of that field was burned! When controlled burns are done, they tend to focus on specific problem areas, not entire fields. I could see where it had burned out of control, and the tire tracks from the emergency vehicles going in.

It was after I’d turned onto our road that I saw just how far it went. Plus, oddly, there was a burned out car in the middle of the field. ?!? Yes, farms tend to collect old cars, but they don’t leave them in the middle of fields they grow crops in!

As I got closer to the quarter we are on, I saw where the fire had actually jumped the road to our neighbour’s field. It didn’t go much beyond the ditch, thankfully. Another thing to be thankful for; the renter plowed the field he’d grown corn on. It would have acted as a fire break, since there wasn’t enough fuel available.

What I also saw was that the fire had actually burned past the fence, into the quarter section belonging to the younger of my brothers. Not far, thankfully. His quarter is mostly hay, so there was plenty of fuel available for a grass fire!

Which means the fire reached less than half a mile from our place, and my brother’s.

So thankful that no homes were lost!

Meanwhile, while I was away, the girls took care of assembling our Easter basket. Well. Except for the stuff that needs to be kept refrigerated. 🙂

Looking forward to celebrating Easter tomorrow!

I hope you are, too. May your Easter be a blessed say of peace and great joy.

The Re-Farmer

Wasps, fire and other things

Yesterday was a day of running into town a couple of things, but I did manage to get one important – if rather late – job done in the evening.

I burned a fungus.

I really should have done it earlier in the year, but just didn’t have the chance until last night. Mostly because of winds. Yesterday evening was finally calmer. The fungus seemed to be growing anew on the remains of a stump, so I really wanted to get that burned away. Because this was under tree branches, I used the sheet of metal to prevent the flames from getting to high, even though I kept the fire small. It ended up being handy. I found that, by moving it around, I could basically direct the fire to around the stump area more easily, making sure to get all the fungal bits.

I had found the fungus almost a year ago, while taking photos of various mushrooms around the yard. The ones growing on the old apple tree stumps were so pretty and unusual, I looked them up – only to find out they are a deadly disease called Silver Leaf, and likely what is killing our crab apple trees. To get rid of it, at its worst, it is actually recommended to take out the tree, roots and all. I have no way to take out the roots – and this stump is in between two other trees, which are so close together, I wouldn’t be able to do so without damaging the other trees, anyhow.

The larger stump I’d burned earlier shows no signs of growth on it. I still need to burn it the rest of the way down to ground level, just because it’s sticking up so high. I could cut it flush to the ground, but this way, I can also burn the stack of diseased branches we’d pruned away, too.

Reading up on this disease again, I find myself thinking of the fruit and nut trees we intend to plant in the area, in the relatively near future. We might have to get brutal to eliminate the disease, and simply cut down any tree that shows signs of the disease. This includes inedible crab apple trees closer to the house, where several have already died. Even the plums (also an inedible variety, but one that my dad used to make wine out of) show signs of it.

*sigh*

That would be a job for next year. For now, we will just burn away what we can, including the pruned branches.

This morning, I headed over to do a meter reading on our power pole. I’ve stayed away, since it’s got a wasp nest under it, so I haven’t actually looked at the nest for a month.

Hhhmmm.

It… looked pretty quiet in there.

Was that spider webs I was seeing in the opening???

Yup.

There was a dead wasp in the opening, too.

I am guessing this nest, being as exposed as it is, did not survive that frost we got not long ago. The tree by the house is still buzzing, so the wasps inside it are still active, but I can probably remove this nest safely, now.

I don’t want to destroy it, though, so I’ll think about how to take it down with as little damage to the nest as possible. I should be able to peel it away from the box and the post easily enough. That power cable it is built around will require greater care.

There was also a snoozing moth next to it! 🙂

In other things…

The reason we had to go into town a couple of times yesterday was because the girls had arranged for a vet visit for Leyendecker. The boy is now snipped!

It still blows me away how expensive it is to get that done – and it costs twice as much for females! Thankfully, the girls are taking care of that, as they are able.

I took advantage of being in town to pick up some scrub brushes, including for just outside stuff. This morning, I finally was able to give the outside cat water bowls a thorough scrubbing. I was even able to scrub the bird bath. I’m amazed we got another year out of that thing! It developed such big cracks in it over the winter, and yet it still holds water!

Oddly, this year I have found a couple of drowned frogs in it. We’ve been seeing a lot of little frogs in the garden plots this year, which is great, but why would we have drowned frogs in the bird bath? I keep a brick in it, so the smaller birds can more easily reach the water. Plus, with all those cracks and not expecting it to hold water very well, I haven’t been keeping it as full as I used to. Any frog should have been able to get out of the water, easily.

I’ll have to keep a closer eye on it, now that I’ve cleaned it and refilled it. So strange!

The Re-Farmer

Fungus fire

Yesterday afternoon, we had a constant, light rain.

The perfect time to light a sketchy fire!

Of the several fungus infected tree stumps we need to burn out, I started with the only one that isn’t cut flush to the ground. I figured I should get the bigger one done first; the rest will get done very quickly, in comparison!

The metal ring I rolled over from where I found it by the storage shed was just the right size.

You can see some of the fungus from last year, dried up on the side of the stump facing me. On the other side is the remains of an ants nest. When we cut what was left of the tree down and left the short length of trunk next to the pile of diseased branches we’d pruned earlier this summer, the ants moved with it!

So no killing of ants involved. 🙂

Of course, I made sure to have a hose handy, even with the rain. The wood used as fuel is from the stack of diseased branches, which all need to be burned.

I set myself up with a chair and an umbrella, too. 😀

It took a while to build the fire around all of the stump, partly because I needed to keep the fire small. It wasn’t directly under another apple tree, but close enough to potentially damage some of the branches.

I’m not too worried about that particular tree. Of all the apple trees, that one has the smallest, least edible apples on it.

The birds and deer like them, though, so that’s good.

This tree is one of the ones I want most to protect.

It’s at the far end of the row of trees, and next to one of the stumps cut flat to the ground that we found fungal growth on, too. This tree already has tasty apples! It has the wonderful combination of sweetness and tartness that I love. There is one other tree, at the very end, that also has really good apples, though they take quite a bit longer to ripen. The main grafted part of that tree died, and it’s the suckers from the base that are producing such nice apples. Usually, it’s the other way around.

So I’m rather motivated to keep this fungal infection from spreading! We really should have done this in the spring, but the weather was not at all co-operative. Spores for these emerge in the fall, so we have a bit of time, yet.

When I stopped for the day, I scrounged for something to cover the stump with. The fire was out, but might still smolder, so I wanted to make sure it couldn’t flare up or spread.

That top of an oil drum is something I fished out of the edge of the nearby spruce grove when I cleared the north side of it. The metal sheet was just one of those things among the garbage we dug up near the old garden shed.

The fire got quite a bit of it cleared. I don’t know how far into the wood the fungal infection gets, but even if the fire killed that off, I still need to get the stump down to ground level.

For now, I’ve taken an ax to it to break it apart a bit. We’ll start another fire on it later and repeat the process as often as necessary.

We’ll see what the weather is like.

The Re-Farmer

Bonus critter, fire hazards, yard stuff and update

The last couple of days have been very windy. I’d hoped to start cleaning up the fallen twigs and branches around the yard by now, but we’re not quite there, yet.

While putting out feed for the birds and deer, I thought I would do one thing, though. There is a bird house on a post outside our dining room window that has a tree growing next to it. The tree has a couple of trunks growing out of its base, one of which is growing against the post, pushing it aside. I figured this would be a good time to try and shift the one trunk to the other side of the post. This way, it might start pushing the post straight again.

That didn’t quite work.

It broke off completely.

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As you can see from the stump, this is not the first time it has broken! Though the tree only put out 2 or 3 cherries – the only reason we figured out what the tree was – it was in full leaf and seemed to be strong and healthy, so it was a bit of a surprise to see how dry and half-rotted the base turned out to be. It makes me wonder about the one part that’s still there.

We shall see how it does, this year.

Before heading out to see my husband in the hospital, we had a new visitor.

Continue reading

Fire Status

First, thank you to everyone who has sent kind words and said prayers for us about the fire.  It is so much appreciated!

I have since learned that two homes were lost yesterday.  Sadly, one of them did not have insurance.  I hope to learn more soon, and see if there is someone organizing help for them.

Just another reminded, of house important it is to have insurance!  My mother has property insurance, though it is inadequate, so when we take that over at some point, we intend to improve it.  Plus, we have our own content insurance.  If anything every happened, we are covered.

One thing I found encouraging when we were preparing for the possibility of evacuating.  We now know that, if need be, we could probably be out of the house with our bug out bags and the cats in less than 10 minutes.  There just isn’t a lot that we would need to take with us.  It’s all just stuff.  As long as we have our IDs, medications, and some clothing, plus food for that cats, we’re good.  Everything else is replaceable.  About the only thing we’d add to the list, if we had time, is the computer towers and laptops.

I went into town with my husband for a medical appointment.  We got home shortly before noon.  I had to wait until after 2 to go and pick up a parcel in the mail, and my younger daughter came to get some driving practice.  We were thinking of going to town to play come Pokemon Go after, but when we got to the post office, there was smoke, everywhere.  The fire station parking was full of vehicles from the volunteer firefighters still, but the fire trucks were gone.  I asked at the post office and was informed that there is another fire to the North of us.

Of course, the winds are coming from the North, today. 😦

It’s further away and doesn’t seem to be a risk to where we are, but we decided not to go into town.  We did drive out to see the fire area before coming home, though.

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Here, you can see how the roads themselves can act as fire breaks.  This is 1 mile north and about 1 1/2 miles south of our home.

You can’t really see it in the above photo, but there is smoke in the distance, still.

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In this area, the fire mostly followed the road, but in some places, when further in.

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Every now and then, we’d see an opening like this, and smoke in the distance.  The fire is out, but still smoldering in places.

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One of the burned out homes.  I honestly couldn’t see where the house had been.

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It’s a good thing this area is rather marshy, and there are still ponds around as well, with how dry this winter has been.

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Still smoking in the distance.

The next videos were taken after the above photo, and while we were on our way back home.  Probably about 4 -5 miles from our home, as the crow flies.

Now, if only that predicted rain would actually show up!

The Re-Farmer

Fire in the area: Update.

Got a call from my brother next door, letting me know there is a fire in the area.  We couldn’t see it from our windows until I went out clear of the trees.  I then drove a mile south up the road to see better.

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This is to the south west of us.  The winds are from the south east.  It seems to be a few miles away.  I called the fire department and did get a call back to confirm they are on site, however we’ve got bug out bags partially packed.  The gate is open and the van is by the door.  If we need to evacuate, we can be out in a matter of minutes.

Meanwhile, we wait and watch out the windows.  I will be going out to see past the trees every now and then.

It’s supposed to rain soon.  Pray that it does!

The Re-Farmer

Update:

This fire has apparently been going on for much of the day.  It must have been the source of the smoke I was smelling earlier today.

One home has been lost.  The fire department has roads blocked and are monitoring, but there isn’t much else they can do.  Several farms in the area had done controlled burns in previous weeks, so there is only so far the fire can go before it runs out of fuel.  Fires, however, are so unpredictable!

It seems that someone had tried to do a burn on the side of the road, even in this wind.  There is an automatic fire ban if winds exceed 20kph, and we were well past that today.  From what I’m told, the fire kept jumping the roads and has already covered quite a distance.  My brother said he could still see it from a high perch at his place, whenever a spruce tree would go up.  Those pretty much explode, they go up so quickly.  He, however, was confident enough to go to bed.

I think I’m going to be a bit too wired for that for a while.