One last post for the day – just for fun!

How can you tell it was nice out today? I got so much done outside to post about! 😀

I just wanted to share some of my finds today. Like this adorable little guy.

The tree frogs seem to really like the sacks we’re using to grow potatoes! I keep finding them, all tucked in and napping. 🙂

Though we have almost no grapes at all this year, the few we do have are managing to survive and ripen.

I am just loving how the colour is changing on this squash! Our one and only winter squash. Though there are many little ones growing, even if they don’t all die off as they have been, I don’t think there’s enough growing season left for them to fully ripen.

The melons, on the other hand…

The Halona melons turn orange as they ripen! I’m sure that was obvious on the seed packet photo, but I didn’t even think to look.

There was something I missed completely when I took this photo, though.

I saw another one that was starting to turn colour, too, and lifted it to check the weight, only to see the stem come off. So I went back to the first one and realized it was completely detached from its stem already!

Aren’t they adorable?? ❤

After picking one of each melon type to taste test, and they both turned out to be under ripe, I look forward to seeing how different these ones taste.

The Re-Farmer

Flowers and friend

Today is supposed to be the hottest day of our current heat wave.

Of course, forecasts remain all over the place.

We’re going to hit 34C/93F but it will feel like 40C/104F

No, we’re going to hit 37C/99F and it will feel like 37C/99F.

We’re going to get thunderstorms today.

No, tomorrow.

No, the evening of the day after and into the following morning.

No, we’re going to get thunderstorms today – but only a 60% chance, with less about 5mm of rain.

We’ll see what actually happens! As I write this, we are at 30C/86F, and there’s enough wind to make it rather pleasant in the shade. While I was doing my rounds this morning, it was a very comfortable 17C/63F.

One of the few non-garden areas we’ve been giving at least some watering has been the spirea next to the storage house – the one area we are allowing the spirea to grow – and the grape vines (there are only a couple of clusters on the vine this year). More specifically, right at the corner of the house, where these flowers are growing.

When we first saw these flowers, it was a real surprise, because the plants were completely buried by the spirea. Since then, we’ve been cleaning up the spirea, taking out the dead bits and keeping it under control, but it still hid the plant and we wouldn’t see anything of it until the flower spikes shot up.

This spring, with the warm May we had, the spirea had been leafing out and starting to show flower spikes. Then that -8C/18F night hit and killed off the flower buds and damaged the youngest leaves. So the spirea is a lot thinner this year, even with our watering. Which means, for the first time, we could actually see the plant this flower is from, and it has grown much larger. You can tell by the flowers, though, that even with watering, the heat is getting to it. The flowers are smaller and shriveled looking compared to how it usually blooms, even when buried by spirea.

The spirea, meanwhile, has recovered to the point that it is starting to bud again. This will make the pollinators quite happy!

We have more poppies blooming this morning, too. About 4 of them were open, or partly open. I gave the old kitchen garden a bit of a watering this morning, too, making for some very photogenic flowers. 🙂

Yesterday evening, after the girls were done watering the garden beds, I filled the rain barrel at the house, so that we would can water the old kitchen garden with a watering can, while the hose is running. I don’t expect to get any rain to actually fill the barrel. :-/

While at the barrel, I saw something scuttle across the two kohlrabi plants in the carrot bed that are covered with netting. It turned out to be this little friend.

That’s the downside of using floating row covers to protect our plants. The frogs have a harder time getting under the cool leaves. The netting isn’t stopping the flying insects from getting under them; they just cant’ figure out how to get out again. Which should be a big foggy buffet, if the could just find the edges that they can crawl under! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: first harvest!

Today, we harvested all three spinach beds!

Looking at them this morning, I thought we could just harvest the plants that had started to go to seed and leave the smaller ones, but when we were ready to start, we realized that the smaller ones were going to seed, too!

We ended up using our three biggest baskets to hold it all.

Yes, these are our Easter baskets, and one of them still has its decorations. The flower garland is woven through the basket, so it doesn’t come off. 😀

Each of those baskets is filled with a different variety of spinach, though to be honest, I can’t tell any difference. They were even supposed to mature at different rates, but between the deer, the heat and the lack of rain, they all matured at the same time.

Nutmeg was hanging around while we were working, and my daughter noticed he was playing “cat and mouse” with something. It turned out to be a frog!

She rescued it.

We see frogs fairly regularly in the garden beds. That makes me happy. More frogs means less bugs eating our produce! 🙂

We used shears to cut the spinach, so all the roots, along with the plants that weren’t suitable to harvest (like the teeny ones the deer got to), are still there. The beds will get a thorough clean up, probably tomorrow, so we can plant lettuces, next.

We dragged out the screen “door” that fits at the top of the old basement stairs, and covered it with the mosquito netting we’d been using to protect one of the beds. We also brought out a couple of our largest bowls. The spinach got washed in the bowls in batches, which also gave us a chance to start taking out any weeds that came along for a ride, and removing some of the yellowing or damaged leaves. After being washed, they got dumped on the mesh and got another rinse with the hose.

Then it was time to start picking over the spinach and destemming them. I set up the wagon to hold the screens I’d washed earlier, to dry spinach on.

My daughter and I then started going over the whole pile, picking out the best ones for dehydrating or into bowls, and dropping the rejects with the snipped stems for composting. We worked for about an hour, hour and a half, before my daughter went in with a filled bowl, to start supper while I kept working on the rest of the spinach.

The filled screens were left on the roof of the kibble house to drain for a while. They went into the sun room when it started to rain a bit, though we never got more than a smattering.

After about three hours, here are two of the three bowls that were filled. They are all really big bowls. Big enough to mix a 6 loaf batch of bread dough.

I’m hoping to be able to set up more batches to dehydrate out of this, but it depends on how well it works in the sun room. I’ve got the light I used to keep transplant trays warm on for the night, plus the ceiling fan. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get really hot, which means the sun room will be even hotter. I’m hoping that means they will dehydrate fairly quickly, and I can set up at least one more batch.

As for the rest, we might blanch some for freezing if we can’t use it up fast enough, but mostly, we plan to just eat it. 😀 The girls have been looking of recipes for things like spinach soup to try, or maybe make another batch of their modified palak paneer sauce. We don’t have paneer, though.

I’m rather happy with our first garden harvest – and with being able to have one so early in the season!

While it may have taken a long time to clean it all, we were most entertained.

By skunks.

We had a whole parade of them, coming and going, including the mama and her babies.

All SIX of them!

I don’t know where she’s getting them all from! She started coming by with two. Then we saw her carrying a third. Today, she showed up with five – or so we thought. I took some video and, after I uploaded it and watched it, I realized there was six.

If you wish to see the video, click here. 🙂

Gosh, they are so adorable! They came back several times, including just to run around an play.

As for the other skunks that showed up, I did end up stopping to take a hose to them. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see them in the kibble house, but I could hear them, and they were not getting along. It turned out that only one of the containers had kibble left in it, and they were all trying to get at it. Then there was the one greedy guts that just wouldn’t stop eating.

Oh, and a question I had was answered. In the mornings, when I would go to refresh the cats’ water bowls, I would find one of them with kibble half dissolved in the water. It was always the bowl closest to the kibble house, but they’re far enough away that it couldn’t fall in by accident, as I had assumed was how it got into the heated water bowl, when we were still using that. The skunks, of course, use the water bowls, too. This evening, I saw one of the skunks come up to a water bowl, drink some water, then basically pick its teeth with its claws before drinking some more.

The reason it isn’t good for skunks to eat kibble is because of how their jaws are hinged. But they’ve got that figured out. The skunk was getting kibble stuck in its teeth, and was using water to get it out. The kibble would then fall into the bowl it was drinking from, for me to find in the morning.

They’re smart little buggers!

They also made what could have been a long and dreary job quite fun. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

A little friend, and change of (medical) plans

While picking cucalmelons this morning, I found a little friend!

We’ve been seeing LOTS of frogs about this size, every time we to go through the garden beds. Usually, they hop off too quickly for me to get photos, but this one didn’t move!

He was even okay with the cucamelon leaves being pulled aside.

I am very happy to see so many frogs in our garden beds. I’m sure they’re doing a great job of eating up things that would be eating our vegetables!

On a less cheerful note, the original plan for today had to change. This was the day I was supposed to bring my husband into the city for an appointment at the cardiac clinic. They want to discuss the possibility of implanting a defibrillator in him.

Unfortunately, about a week ago, my husband discovered cats had peed under his hospital bed, and under the small table with the mini fridge he keeps some of his medications in. He cleaned it up himself, rather than asking any of us to do it.

He still hasn’t completely recovered.

When his pain levels didn’t improve by Monday, he called the cardiac clinic about his appointment. The letter he received said to expect to be there for at least 2 hours. He explained his situation. The choices were to either cancel the appointment, or they could find some way to accommodate his pain levels and disability.

The appointment got cancelled.

They way he put it, the response was along the lines of, how dare he mess with their system.

They will send another letter with a new appointment (I find it interesting that they make these appointments with zero input from patients), and after he gets the new letter, he can talk to them about accommodations. Of course, he has no way of knowing if he’ll have a good day or a bad day – or even a good week or a bad week – that far in advance. That’s why he was stuck phoning them only about 48 hours before today’s appointment. No matter; even if he’s having a good day, being able to lie down on a stretcher of something would probably be needed, just after such a long drive.

I understand why the province has a single cardiac clinic in a central location. It is probably much more efficient, and allows for things like better access to equipment. The problem is, like almost all Canadian provinces, we are geographically huge, and not everyone lives in or near this particular city. We’re just an hour away from the city (though it can take another half hour to reach the clinic, depending on traffic), and it’s difficult enough. I can’t imagine living in one of the fly-in communities and needing cardiac care. Sure, the small communities don’t have the population base to warrant their own cardiac clinics, but there are large towns and other cities that could serve these more remote communities.

The fact that it’s such and inconvenience for them to accommodate my husband’s disability is also frustrating. They’re in a hospital, for crying out loud. And with so many hospitals cancelling care to make room for all the pandemic hospitalizations that never materialized, there are plenty of stretchers and beds available that could be used for someone like my husband, without having to prearrange it weeks in advance.

Another unfortunate thing with my husband is that his pain levels have forced him to cancel a number of appointments. He has also done things like walked out after being forced to wait well past his appointment time, due to pain caused by the wait itself, and basically has stood up for himself. He is likely now considered a “problem” patient. I don’t think they realize that, when it comes to his list of health problems, his recently developed heart condition is actually not at the top of the list. Not even close. With everything else going on, this new development doesn’t even phase him, and certainly doesn’t frighten him, as it probably more typical. His pain needs to be gotten under control first. Some of his other health problems are caused by the pain itself, and will improve on their own, accordingly. They have not been able to figure out why his heart failure developed in the first place, and we’re pretty sure it has more to do with the large number of medications he is on, and has been for such a long time, than anything else. We already know that there is no surgery or treatment that can “fix” the physical source of his disability, and it will continue to cause further degradation of his spine. The only real thing that can be done is treat the pain. That’s the foundational thing. Without that being addressed, treating his other problems are little more than stop-gap motions.

This has been explained at heart clinic appointments a few times. I’ve watched notes get taken for his file, that the whole team looks at. There is no reason for them to not be aware of his disability, and what that means for his appointments. Even the fact that we have to drive so far and the affect that has on his pain levels has been duly noted.

Yet when he tries to address this with them, he’s made to feel like he’s inconveniencing them somehow?

Not impressed.

Well, next week he has his first appointment with the pain clinic. Hopefully, that will get the ball rolling on more effective treatment.

The Re-Farmer

A long, but good, day

Today we made a trip into the city to play tourist, run a few errands, then pick up some stuff for my husband’s birthday.

It made for a very long, but enjoyable, day.

We started off with an early lunch, taking advantage of being in the city.  It turns out that Le Burger Week started today (I’d never heard of it before), so I tried the burger offering at an Asian fusion type place.

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I can’t even remember what it was called, but it was SO good!  Even better after I realized it had jalapeño in it, and took it out.  I love the flavour, but don’t do spicy well at all, due to damage to my tongue. 😦  That spiral cut potato in the background was delicious, too!

It was really hard to choose from the menu, though.  I had originally intended to have a bento box, and as good as the burger was, I’m still not sure I made the right choice.

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My daughters both ended up choosing a sushi and sashimi bento, while our guest chose the shrimp one I had been eye-balling.  The only sushi we have available out here is grocery store sushi.  I’ve tried it.  It’s pretty… dry.

Choices like this is one of the things we do miss about city living!!!

While playing tourist, one of the places we visited as a prairie garden filled with native plants.

It looks a lot like our outer yard, except with all the varieties in a much smaller space. 😀  Mind you, there were a few things I’ve never seen before, but most of it was quite familiar.  I’ll post some of the better pictures I got, later on.

As we ran errands before heading out, my darling daughters found, then got, something for me.

Meet my new friend.

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I think I will call him Yorick.

Alas, he is too big for my dash.  As I write this, he sits on my printer, looking at me.

He is soft and squishy and marvelous.

The Re-Farmer

Window Frogs and awesome brothers

My older brother unexpectedly came by today, and while I was outside with him, my daughter popped out to warn me that we cannot close the kitchen window right now.

We have a guest.

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It’s been sitting there for several hours, now!

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It is so CUTE!  I love my little green friend. 😀

A nice little surprise to add to a day with a much larger, amazing surprise.

One of the things that has been put on hold until the power is restored to the garage and barn is some work my older brother and his wife want to do in the barn so they can paint it.  So when my brother started talking about bringing over a compressor, I just assumed it was so they could use it in the barn somehow.  There used to be a compressor in one of the side sheds of our garage, and another in the barn, but both are gone – along with many other things, large and small.  Things have been disappearing for years, so even while my dad was still living here, my brother got into the habit of bringing everything he needed to fix things out here, because he couldn’t assume the tools and equipment he would need would still be around.

My brother ended up coming out to help our mom with something and, since he was so close and the compressor was already loaded in the truck, he came by to drop it off.

To my surprise, he didn’t want to unload it in the barn, but in the side shed of the garage.  This meant we had to move out the riding mower and a bunch of other things to clear the corner where the old compressor used to be, then he managed to back his truck in part way.  The space is just barely wide enough for the truck box, and my brother to still squeeze in.  I had intended to help at least somewhat, but I couldn’t fit.  I’m a fair bit wider than my marathon running brother! LOL  Which turned out to be handy, because I ended up being able to grab things for him from my side and pass it through.

Getting that thing unloaded was a huge job.  This thing is incredibly heavy!  But he got it in the corner and set it up.  Once he was able to, he moved the truck so I could come in, and he showed me various things about it, hooked up the hose and the new nozzle, with he had tested to ensure they worked (since we can’t test it here, until the power is hooked up).  He even drilled a hole through the wall so the plug could be passed through and plugged in in the main garage area, because it uses more power than is wired to the outlets in the shed.

At one point, we had to move things from the garage side of the wall, for access.  I have not done anything when it comes to cleaning and sorting the garage right now; we will probably work on that next spring.  So there is a lot there that I’ve never seen.

Including this strange thing with a hand grip, a long nozzle, and a hose.  I had to ask my brother, as I moved it out of the way; what is it?  Looking at it briefly, he said it was likely a torch.  Of the sort that was used to singe the hair off pig carcasses during butchering, though it could also be used for other things.  Very dangerous.  (At least it would be, if it were attached to a gas canister.)

So… It’s a flame thrower.

We have a flame thrower in our garage.  !!

Too funny!

As this was all getting done and he was showing me all these things about the compressor, I finally commented that I was surprised it wasn’t taken to the barn, since I though they were going to use it somehow when they cleaned and painted.

Oh, no, he tells me.  This is for me, in case we ever need to pump our tires.

!!!

I was totally stunned.  All that work to fix up the compressor, much of which was done after it was loaded into the back of the truck (it’s so heavy, it was easier that way), getting it out here, unloading it and setting it up, just so we could have a compressor, if we ever needed one!

I have the most awesome brother.

As we were talking about compressor, and how pleased he was with how little it ended up costing him to fix, I had to ask what a new one would cost.  One like this, he estimated about $1100, but the one that used to be there, he figured was worth about $2500.

!!!

On the one hand, I am so grateful for his generosity and amazed that he did this for us.

On the other, I am dismayed once again over the things that have grown legs and walked away over the years.

But now we have a heavy duty, industrial compressor, with working hose and nozzle (there are still hoses hanging on the wall, but some are missing their tips, and we’d have to test others to see if they were any good anymore; the good one that was being used, of course, is gone with the old compressor).

And I have the most awesome brother!

The Re-Farmer