First bloom!

Well, I did NOT finish off the cover for shallots I started yesterday. I did, however, get quite a bit accomplished. That, however, is for another post. For now, I’d like to share this…

Our very first tulips are blooming! When my older daughter and I checked on them this morning, these were still buds, but just starting to show colour. By evening, they were like this. 😊

The grape hyacinths in the maple grove have also exploded into bloom. Every time I try to get a picture of one, though, my phone keeps focusing on anything else but the spike of flowers right in front of it! 😄 My daughter daffodils that bloomed last year are coming up in lovely bunches right now. We’ve also found the leaves of some of her irises that barely made a showing last year. She’s absolutely thrilled, as she was sure they had died. Even the raspberries we got her for her birthday a couple of years ago are showing the tiniest of leaves. I thought they finally died last year, too. We managed to protect them from the deer, but couldn’t protect them from the horrible, no good growing year. The raspberries we planted this year are leafing out nicely right now, and even the newly transplanted apple tree has leaves unfurling. The mulberry, which are still in the house, have tiny leaves on them, too. The two surviving sea buckthorn have lots of leaves on them, as so the silver buffalo berry. The highbush cranberry are also showing leaves, though the one the deer got twice is a bit behind.

Near the tulips, the plum trees that didn’t get cut away are in full bloom. I love trees that bloom before their leaves come out! They will, eventually, need to be taken down, but I would rather not do that until we have something to replace them with. Like an edible variety of plum. For now, they are one of the few things in full bloom that the pollinators can enjoy.

We are most definitely well into spring out here in the Great White North!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: winter survivors!

But first, the cuteness!

I was able to zoom in to get a shot of Brussel and Sprout, sharing the tray under the water shelter. When I first came out this morning, I saw only about a 14 cats, but more kept showing up, including these two. I think I counted 22 in total, with some of them skulking around in the distance, waiting for me to leave the food area.

While doing my evening rounds, I took the winter mulch, which was corn stalks, off the asparagus and sunchoke beds. There is still no sign of the sunchokes or the asparagus, but…

… the four strawberry plants that share the asparagus bed were looking great! I wasn’t sure if they’d survive the winter. Not only did they survive, but they are looking better now than they did at the end of the season, last year! I’m hoping they’ll put out more runners this year, that we’ll transplant elsewhere. Strawberries are among the plants we want to have a lot of. They’re so incredibly expensive in the grocery stores!

Of course, I had to check on the crocuses and found this little guy.

The very first yellow crocus! There are a lot of purple ones blooming this morning, and a lot of white buds showing up, but still just the one yellow buds visible.

I should make a point of checking the bed I inoculated with morel spawn more often. May is the time of year they usually fruit. It would be cool if the giant puff balls emerged, too, but if they do, it’ll be later in the season.

It’s a good thing today is Sunday, which I try to keep as a day of rest. I didn’t do a lot when reclaiming the bed to plant poppies yesterday, but it was enough to increase the pain levels. It’s turning out to be a really windy day, too. So, tomorrow will be my day to really get into the manual labour needed in the old kitchen garden. Hopefully, at the very least, the winds will die down!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: garlic and crocuses!

When doing my evening rounds today, I decided to do a walkabout, which I will post about separately. I was just finishing up when I got a message from one of my daughters, who had gone out while I was going in, with a picture of purple snow crocuses! She said there was garlic up, too.

They were not there when I did my morning rounds!

So I went back outside and checked it out.

While trying to find the purple crocuses she took a picture of, I found a couple of white ones. They’re so small, it was hard to get a good photo while zooming in, so this is the only one good enough to post.

I’m so thrilled to see them!

As for the garlic, I had been thinking about whether it was time to move the winter mulch aside, or to wait a bit longer.

Well, now’s the time!

I found the one garlic that had pushed its way through the mulch and began clearing.

Marking each end of the rows with sticks when we planted helped a lot!

In the process, I found quite a few more garlic sprouting. They will do much better, now that they will be getting more light and air circulation.

I am just so happy!!!

The Re-Farmer

Morning flowers and not quite enough!

Look what I found blooming this morning!

This is the flower of an apple gourd. Usually, the flowers are some shade of yellow, leaning towards orange or white, but these are almost brown in colour!

While doing my morning rounds and tending the garden beds, I can’t push back on a feeling that everything is really “wrong” this year. Added to that, I’m seeing people in my zone 3 gardening groups posting pictures of how far along their gardens are right now, and they are WAY ahead of ours.

So I just went and looked at garden posts I made around this time, last year. I did a tour post on July 3 or last year, but mostly I compared to posts closer to 1 year ago today.

This year, our purple Kulli corn is starting to grow more enthusiastically, but last year’s purple Mountain Morado corn, which was also started indoors and transplanted, where producing silk by now.

Last year, we had bush beans starting to bloom, and the King Tut purple peas were blooming and growing pods, in spite of the heat. This year, even the first bush beans we planted with the Kulli corn are not yet blooming, and the peas are really just starting to actively grow. The King Tut peas we started indoors are much larger and climbing the chain link fence, and there are a few flowers on those.

Our summer squash is all pretty small, though some are starting to bloom, anyway. Last year, I posted a picture of our first yellow pattypan squash that was of a size we would normally harvest.

Last year at this time, the Crespo squash was looking as big as the Giant Pumpkin plants are this year, and just days later, things were starting to eat it, but this year’s Crespo squash is still quite small.

This year, our beets are just a couple of inches high. Last year, we had lush leaves we could harvest for salads, and had to use a row cover to keep the critters from eating it all.

This year, we have a tomato bed that was started indoors very early, and those determinate varieties are growing fruit. Of the tomatoes we started indoors at about the same time as what we started last year, the Yellow Pear are starting to bloom but nothing on the Chocolate Cherry yet. Last year, the cherry tomatoes already had sprays of fruit forming.

So it’s not just in my head. The garden really is far behind, when compared to our own garden last year. A summer of heat waves and drought, no less. This year, things that should have been planted before last frost didn’t, because everything was under water, and even things that needed to wait until after last frost date were a bit on the late side.

We’ve got rain and hotter temperatures coming up, with a possible thunderstorm tonight. Conditions that are actually better than at this time last year. I hope this means that what we’ve got will start catching up soon, though from the looks of the melon patch, I think we’ve lost most of them. Especially the Kaho watermelon, which has actually gotten smaller instead of bigger, and it looks like something ate a few of them.

At least most of the potatoes are finally coming up, though there are some blank spaces. As these are in groups, I think they ended up in water for too long and rotted before they could sprout.

There is little I can do about things. All I can do is be glad for what growth is happening, and pray we will have another long, mild fall to make up for the cold, wet spring.

We do the best we can.

In other things, while putting the kibble out, I’ve started to leave some in front of the pump shack door, and on the metal table in front of it (where the skunks can’t get at it). As I came around towards it, I saw the black and white kitten, the tuxedo and a tabby looking kitten, just as they say me and dashed into the pump shack. Which is encouraging, as I was concerned most of the litter didn’t make it. I also saw the tiny little calico, playing in the big branch pile, by itself.

Yesterday evening just kept getting hotter and hotter, but I decided to head out and see if I could get the new clothes line up. I was able to remove the tightener from the old line, then had to set up a step ladder at the post opposite the laundry platform, to be able to reach the pulley. Then I walked both ends of the line back to the laundry platform.

Except… not.

100 feet was not enough.

I got to about 10 feet short of the post. Which means I’m about 20 feet short in clothes line.

I don’t want to start splicing ends, so I’m just going to get another 150 feet. They sell them in 50 ft rolls that are still attached to each other. I’ll get 3 rolls and should have roughly 30 ft extra. Plus I’ll have a spare 100 ft of clothes line. I don’t mind having extra. I’m sure we’ll find a use for it at some point.

I was also able to finally undo and re-wrap the excess cable from our StarLink dish. When my brother helped install it, there was still a lot of snow on the ground, so he just quickly wrapped up the excess and used zip ties with screw holding heads (I forget the proper name for them) to hold it all together against the outside wall. It was pretty tangled and messed up. I finally picked up more of those zip ties. After removing what my brother used, I re-wrapped the cable nice and neat, making sure there was slack available in strategic places, just in case. Since I didn’t want to leave holes in the wall, I use the same number of zip ties that my brother did, then screwed them into the same holes as before.

It looks much better now!

Unfortunately, in the few minutes it took me to do that, I was just baking! The hottest part of the day has been hitting well after 6pm.

Keeping that in mind, I tried to go to bed early last night, so that I could get up much earlier and get things done before things got too hot.

Instead, I ended up having a sleepless night with all sorts of distractions, issues, and just plain not being able to fall asleep.

Which means that right now, when I should be doing things outside, I’m sitting here typing, and trying not to fall asleep on my keyboard. I’m feeling to tired, I actually feel ill.


Well, at least I got some things done this morning, but right now, I’m feeling pretty useless.

We’ll see what I manage to get done before the thunderstorms start. If they even hit us at all, rather than going around like the often do!

The Re-Farmer


The mock orange is blooming beautifully right now!

I pruned away a lot of dead branches this spring, but the rest is just thriving!

The other one at the side of the house is still just budding. It doesn’t get as much direct sunlight as this one. I’m actually amazed it’s still alive. The groundhog has dug a tunnel behind it, damaging and exposing quite a lot of roots in the process. I keep filling the hole in, pushing back the dug up soil with a hoe, sometimes taking a hose to it, too. It can stay filled in for days. Then the grog will suddenly be back. I happened to be at the door above the steps when I saw it going by with a mouth full of nesting materials.

Despite all the root disturbances and damage, that mock orange looks like it’s going to have massive blooms, too.

At some point, I’d like the move both of them. The one by the house doesn’t get enough sunlight, and is far enough under the eaves to get hardly any water when it rains. This one is right up against the laundry platform. It gets in the way when we try to use the clothes line, even with all the pruning. Plus. we need to paint the platform. We have not yet decided on a new new spot for them, though. I still want to keep them close to the house. Just not too close!

All in good time.

The Re-Farmer


I am just amazed at how the pink rose bush is doing this year!

There are dozens of flowers, and dozens more buds developing. This is the first year we’ve had more than just a couple of flowers!

The leaves are looking awfully yellow. I don’t know much about roses. I’m not sure if that’s from the type of rose, if there’s a nutritional deficiency, or if there has just been too much water this spring. It could also be lack of sunlight, still. We’ve pruned back the ornamental apple above it, but unless we take it out completely, it’s still going to have shade for at least half the day.

And to think, when we first moved here, it was in such poor shape, it could barely be seen against the stick that was supporting it. The same stick you can see in the photo above! I’m so glad we were able to save it. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Summer growth

Yesterday, forecasts said we were supposed to have a couple of dry days. While I was out and about with my mother, I saw lots of people mowing, so when I got home, I decided to do some preparatory weed trimming. The beans and peas are coming up nicely, and some of the cucumber plants are getting pretty big, so we need to get those A frame trellises up. I picked up some 6′ bamboo stakes to use as supports. I’d hoped to use pieces of poplar, like the frames are made of, but of what we have, any pieces long enough were too thick or too crooked. If it was straight enough, or thin enough, it was too short. So, bamboo stakes it is. Unfortunately, they cost a fair bit; just under $10 for a bundle of 6. I was only able to get 4. Not enough for what I was thinking to do.

Before we could set those up, I got out the weed trimmer and a whole lot of extension cord, and trimmed the paths as close to the ground as I could.

Which is about when I started hearing thunder.

I did get the trimming done, then 4 pairs of stakes lashed together and set up at the trellis with the cucumbers. I had planned to set up 5 pairs – one at each upright support – then have cross pieces at the bottom, to help support the netting. With only 4 pairs, I don’t think they’re long enough to join with cross pieces.

I was able to lash together 4 more pairs of stakes before I was driven inside by rain. We ended up with quite a thunderstorm with heavy rain and strong winds. We even lost internet and had power fluctuations.

Still, when I headed out this morning, I thought we might at least be able to do some mowing in the west yard, but no. There’s water all over, and even the usually drier spots are squelchy. :-/

Quite a few new flowers are blooming. The ornamental poppies have exploded along with the dwarf Korean lilac, and even some wild columbine is blooming. The yellow lilies near the fire pit that I keep intending to divide and never quite get to, are in full bloom.

I waded through the tall grass and water to check on the Korean pine. A couple of them are in puddles of water! Five of them are showing new growth, but the one that got dug up by something looks like it has not survived. A lot of the needles have turned brown.

While checking one of the pine trees, I kept an eye out for the strawberries I saw before. They are now mostly hidden by the tall grass, but I could still see them. They are still blooming.

The corn we recently direct sowed are starting to come up! The popcorn seems to be a bit slower in germinating than the sweet corn. No sign of the green bush beans, yet.

The garlic that is doing really well in the main garden area is now starting to grow scapes. The other garlic, that seemed to have been set back badly by the extended winter, are finally starting to really perk up and grow, though they are still quite small. I’m seeing carrots coming up in the various beds, but a lot of the turnips that I saw before now seem to be gone. One variety seems to be holding out, even if the tiny leaves are riddled with holes.

No sign of the bare-root white strawberries starting to grow. Those might be a total loss. The red strawberries we transplanted with the asparagus are still blooming, though.

Everything is so wet, wet, wet – and we’re supposed to get more showers tonight! In fact, now the forecasts are saying nightly showers, or thunderstorms, for the next 5 days. This is frustrating. One of the down spouts is clogged. Normally, the girls would go out onto the roof to clear it, through one of their windows. Their windows, however, are pretty much coated with mosquitoes. Which means using a ladder, but the ground is so wet and mushy, there’s no place solid to set a ladder. The eaves over the north side of the old kitchen also need to be cleared. That area is difficult enough to set up a ladder at the best of times. With how slick and muddy things are now, it’s just not an option. The ground needs to dry out at least somewhat, but that’s not going to happen. I think the girls are going to have to brave the mosquitoes to at least do the one over the living room. Too much water is seeping into the new basement.

One of these days, we need to pick up one of those small, mobile scaffolding set ups. Too bad the scaffolding that was here before we moved in grew legs and walked away. It would be so useful – and safer – with scaffolding.

The rains we’ve been having are certainly a mixed blessing. The saturated ground and open water prevents us from being able to do some things, and makes it harder to get to different parts of the year – but things are growing and blooming and, with a few drowned exceptions, fairing much better than last year! Things definitely prefer the damp, over the drought.

The Re-Farmer

A couple days break?

We had quite a lot of rain yesterday, with temperatures much cooler than forecast for the first day of summer. The cool was much appreciated! It was nice being able to open up more windows again.

The problem is how wet everything is. Even the new part basement now has water pooling in places. Unlike the old basement, we can’t sweep this into a drain or a sump pump cistern. All we can do is keep a fan on it, really.

We’re supposed to have a couple of days that are warmer and without rain. Hopefully, that will be enough to let the grass dry out enough that I can finish mowing the lawn tomorrow. No chance of being able to get it done today, even if I wasn’t going to be at my mother’s for her home care assessment appointment. After that, however, we’re looking at possible thunderstorms and more rain for several more days.

While doing my morning rounds, I saw a couple of the kittens under the cat’s house again. I’m glad to see them, after they got so frightened by the lawn mower. I caught a brief glimpse of the little calico’s face. Her one eye still seems gooby, but otherwise all right.

The garden plots seem to be holding out all right, though I noticed a lot of pole beans at the trellises seem to have lost their leaves. I can’t tell if it’s because they were eaten by something, or because they wilted and fell off from excess moisture. There are still lots of plants, though, so we should still be good.

I’m pretty sure one of the lilacs at the corner of the storage house has been totally drowned. The few leaves it managed to grow are gone. If it survives, I’ll be amazed. There are others that aren’t quite as bad, and I think they’ll make it.

The Kulli corn seems to finally be recovering from transplant shock, looking more green and actually growing. The bush beans growing with them are progressing nicely. The first planting of spinach and one type of lettuce are getting big enough we should be able to start harvesting leaves and thinning them out.

As much of a problem the excess rain is, after last year’s drought and having to water every day, twice a day, throughout the summer, I’m really happy with how things are growing right now.

Still, it’ll be nice to have a couple of days break from the rain!

The Re-Farmer

Making the best of things, and shed order update

Hmm… I went to start this post and found a post I made yesterday was still in draft. I had used my phone to write it, since my keyboard was dying, but apparently I didn’t hit publish. That is now fixed.

At the moment, I am using my old ergonomic keyboard with the worn out keys. I’d traded with my husband quite a while ago, since he pretty much just uses the number pad and arrow keys. He can use a standard keyboard without hurting his hands, so he is now using the keyboard that came with his system. By the time we switched things up, I had not only lost the y u i o and enter keys, but also the 0 and delete keys! So that keyboard is in the recycling, to be added to the electronics garbage area at the dump. As for the keyboard I’m using now, I will just have to be really confident in my touch typing, because most of the letter keys are worn out. I know there are stickers you can get to put on the keys, but other than online, I haven’t seen them anywhere. At least not locally. And I try to avoid ordering online.

More on that later…

Yesterday morning, I’d been able to mow the south yards before things got too hot. The grass was so wet, it really should have waited for a drier day, but that was not going to happen, from what the forecasts said.

I’m glad I got as much of it done as I had, as we got some heavy enough rains last night, that we now have open water in the yard again. The areas I was able to mow tend to have the most water accumulating in them, compared to the west and north lawns. The main garden area, however, also collects a lot of water, too.

The dwarf Korean lilac sure loved the rain, though! It exploded into bloom overnight. Yesterday, it was almost all buds, with a scattering of open flowers. Look at it now! This type of lilac is extremely fragrant; more so than any of the other types. The regular lilacs are finished blooming now, and the double lilac is almost done. The white lilacs are nearing the end of their blooming period. Now we have the dwarf Korean lilac in full bloom, with one more lilac I can’t remember the name of, still budding. I like that there are so many different types of lilacs here, that bloom at different times. The ornamental poppies are also starting to bloom, and while the white roses are at their peak, I noticed the pink rose is starting to bloom this morning, too.

From the weather radar, we should be getting more rain today. The heavy rain is passing to the north of us, but it looks like we’ll be catching the edge of the system a bit.

I actually did not get a chance to do my morning rounds today. The girls made sure the cats were fed while I spent time on the phone, then had to make a quick run to a branch of my bank.

To get a replacement debit card.

There’s a reason I don’t like to order online. This is one of them.

A while back, I’d written about ordering a shed from a clearance site for garden sheds. The steeply discounted prices were due to them being abandoned orders – along the lines of things like airport auctions of unclaimed items. I was taking a chance with the order. I’d seen both positive and negative comments about the site; some places rated the site as a scam, while others rated is as legitimate.

A day or so after the order was placed (using my debit-Visa, because we have no credit cards) and I got my confirmation email, I sent an email with some questions. There was no response, so after a couple of days, I wrote again. Still no response. There was also no shipping confirmation email or tracking number, for something that was supposed to take 3-7 days to arrive (or 6-10 days under Covid restrictions, which still apply to shipping in Canada). So on Friday – 4 days ago – I emailed to cancel my order and requested a refund.

I really wasn’t expecting to get my money back, by that point. So it was quite a surprise when, late last night, my phone’s bank app sent me a notification for a credit in the amount of the shed order. Due to the hours, the line item wasn’t in my transactions yet, but the balance reflected the change. This is typical of how my bank works, and I knew the line item would appear during banking hours. Sure enough, in the morning, it was there.

However, I also got another notification. This time, for a debit from my account, in the same amount.

Yes, I got the refund – and then the amount was taken from my account again.

So I got on the phone with my bank, which pretty much always involves spending time on hold. When I finally got through, I explained the situation to the woman who took my call, and asked about having the charges reversed and to report fraud. Since we did have communication with them, however – even though they didn’t answer my emails, they did refund the amount – she suggested I email them again to ask why the amount was removed again, then go back to the site to have my data removed.

Okay. I was willing to try that.

I sent the email, then went back to the original order confirmation email to click on the link that would take me directly to my order page.

I got an error message. The usual “check your spelling” message and, if correct, run a diagnostic, message.

I tried the “go to store” link.

Same error message.

I tried going to the home page by using the link in my browser’s history.

Same error message.

The website was gone.

So I called the bank back to explain what happened.

This time, the fraud investigation was started. We went through the initial process, then he put me on hold to finish the process at his end.

While I was on hold, another notification came in; a calendar reminder that a telephone medical appointment for my husband with the cardiac clinic was due in 5 minutes. !!!

Thankfully, we finished up before then.

My debit-Visa card was cancelled, so there is no chance of more money being taken from our account. The fraud investigation has been started. We should get our money returned within 10 business days, but it would a conditional return as the investigation continues. If they find it was a legitimate transaction, the bank could take the money back again within 60 days.

The initial withdrawal would have been considered a “legitimate transaction”, since I did place the order. Basically, if it turned out they were illegitimate, it was on me for being duped. However, because they refunded the money – then took it out again – that changes things. The first debit from my account may have been an authorized transaction, but the second debit from my account was not.

As for my cancelled debit card, as soon as I was done on the phone, I then headed to the nearest town with a branch of my bank to get a new debit-Visa card.

Which I now have to set up again for online banking, on both my phone and my desktop, again. Which is not as urgent.

If this place had simply refunded my money and left it at that, it would have been the end of it. The only thing is that I would have been wondering if cancelling was the right thing to do, because if they were legitimate, we would have eventually gotten a nice big shed that would have been very useful. However, for them to take the money out again, they now have the fraud investigation happening. Hopefully, that will mean no one else will be taken advantage of.

So we took a chance and, from the looks of it, almost got burned. We’ll see how the investigation plays out. That means it might be a few weeks before we find out, and I should get an affidavit in the mail about it soon.

There is one other possible, though highly unlikely, outcome. The website said that a cancellation/refund could not be made if the order had already been shipped. It could be the money was refunded at about the same time as the order got shipped, so the money was taken again. If that turns out to be true, we obviously won’t get our money back, because there would be no fraud, and the shed will get delivered. Since I have not received any other emails from them since the order confirmation, and I can no longer access the website, I highly doubt that will happen.

The weird thing was when I was updating my husband about it, and he tried to go to the site on his own computer.

The site is still there.

My husband can browse the site all he wants, but if I try to see it using my desktop or my phone, I still get the “site can’t be reached” error message – and the “try running a diagnostic” link just gives me a pop up saying a diagnostic can’t be done. I would say there’s something in my cookies that is keeping me from accessing the site on my desktop, but until today, I’d never tried to visit the site while on my phone.

Very odd. I should see about removing the cookies and trying again. But not right now.

Aside from all that, we’ve had other changes. I should have been at my mother’s for the home care assessment right now, but then it looked like her apartment was going to be sprayed for bed bugs. So while my mother made arrangements with my sister to stay at her place, I tried to track down the home care department to change the appointment. Yesterday, the guy phoned my mom to rebook for tomorrow, because it turned out he couldn’t make it today, anyhow. As for the spraying, that turned out to be a mix up. My mother’s apartment is still on the list – my brother made sure of that, and also made sure they knew my mother might try to claim she didn’t need it, because she’s squishing them herself *shudder* – but we don’t have a date. All we know is that, some time before they show up, she’ll get a piece of paper shoved under her door with instructions. Apparently, the people who spoke to my brother on the phone have no way of knowing when that will be done. The whole thing is a disorganized and inefficient mess. Which is SOP for anything run by the government. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the provincial level or the federal level. With my husband being in the military, then years of working government contracts as a civilian, we’ve been seeing this sort of ineptitude for decades.

I did call my mother this morning, though. While I was driving my sister tried to contact me because my mother wasn’t answering the phone. She was trying to figure out if she was picking my mother up today or not. She did get through to my husband – who was still waiting for his phone appointment with the cardiac clinic (which never came) – and he was able to update her. Apparently, my mother never told her she didn’t need to come out anymore. As for my mother, she was resting before there was a meeting in her building this afternoon, by the housing department. They used to have these regularly, until the pandemic restrictions stopped everything. The irony of that is, those “health” restrictions would have a lot do with why so many of the provincially run buildings now have bed bug problems all over the province. They weren’t caught and treated right away, and now they’re a major issue that just kept on spreading.


So that’s my morning’s adventures.

What fun!


The Re-Farmer