Garden stuff update, and shortened term plans

With this being our first attempt to do any gardening since we’ve moved back to my family farm, we are learning quite a lot.

One of those things is, there are a lot more rocks in the old garden than I remember as a kid!

I had broken up some of the hillier parts that were making mowing more “damaging” than “difficult”, and the girls had a chance to go at some of those spots with hoes, to break them up and flatten them out. They were only able to do a few before the heat drove them inside.

Even so, they managed to also collect these.

When I was a kid, picking rocks out of the garden was a regular and constant thing we did. It kept things manageable. I don’t know how many years ago that particular chore stopped. I know my parents would not have been able to keep it up, and my siblings that were able to go to the farm more often certainly would not have had time to pick rocks, when there were far more urgent things for them to take care of, while they were there.

We are definitely seeing the difference. It’s one of several reasons why I want to go with raised garden beds. Being on the bed of a ancient glacial lake means there will always, always be rocks working their way up the soil with every frost and thaw. It’s also why we are working on using mulch and layers of material to build up the soil. In the old garden area, mulching where we have the squash beds now is the only reason the area is at all manageable.

The squash seem to like it! Here is another type that has started to bloom. Since the other ones turned out to be sunburst squash, that means this is one of the summer surprise variety pack of zucchini. Not a variety I’ve seen grown before; we grew different types of squash when I was a kid, but never one with these mottled leaves. It should be interesting to see what they are!

The cucamelons are now trellised. I did it in stages, adding the bamboo stakes that wouldn’t be needed in one of the squash beds into the openings on the sides of the chimney blocks, then coming back to add the horizontal lines. Finally, I added a vertical line at each of the cucamelons. I didn’t bother for two of the blocks, as it looks like the cucamelons in them are not going to make it. They’re not dead, but they’re not really growing, either.

Once the vertical lines were in place, I placed tendrils around them, to start training the cucamelons to grow upwards. On one side, I added a line up to an overhanging tree branch to keep the whole thing from sagging from the weight. If necessary, the same can be done on the other side.

This is not where we originally planned to grow the cucamelons. I don’t think they can get as much sun as they need in this location, but we couldn’t delay transplanting them anymore. If we grow these again in the future, we will have to be sure to have a sunnier location ready for them.

I am continuing to build up the old flower garden here, and have been adding layers of straw, leaves and grass clippings mostly at the lower end, closer to the retaining wall. Where the soil has been added is where we transplanted the few fennel that came up, and a couple of those have since died. So we have a whole 3 fennel still growing in there! 😀

For all the layers and additions of mulch, things are still working their way through. The rhubarb and some of the flowers, we are good with. Those horrible invasive vines keep coming up, and there’s a type of flower my mother suddenly decided she didn’t want me to get rid of (after I’d already gotten the okay from her and started the layering) that wants to take over the whole area.

What I had hoped for this garden is to use it as a kitchen garden, to grow things like herbs and the like, as well as some flowers. Maybe some lettuces. My mother keeps going on about how she’d planted onions here, and keeps asking me how her onions are doing, then complaining that I killed them all by mulching the area. :-/ The only place I ever saw onions coming up was along one edge, where I’d taken some fencing and car tire planters out, so I’m not sure what she’s taking about. One has actually come up again, this year, but there was never more than a couple, since we’ve lived here. From the state of the rest of the garden, there was no way she had more than those growing, even going back in my memory to what was there when I was a kid. She only ever had onions growing along that south side, but when she talks about it, she makes it sound like most of the garden was onions and garlic.

The ornamental apple trees had been planted to provide shade, I’ve been told. Then there’s the double lilac, the honeysuckle and the roses. One of the roses finally bloomed this year, but being under one of the apple trees the way it is, it’s really struggling. The Cherokee rose, on the other hand, is spreading like a weed.

Those apple trees are going to cause problems for anything we try to grow there.

I suppose they wouldn’t bother me as much, if they were at least an edible apple. How ironic that the pretty much only apple trees we’ve got that don’t show signs of fungal disease, are the ones that we can’t eat from!

The girls and I have been talking about what we’ll do next, when it comes to growing and planting. They really want to start planting flowers. We’re also talking about finding a way to get the nut orchard collection I’d found, earlier rather than later. Trees take so long to grow, that it would be worthwhile for us to start that as soon as possible. The package deal I’d found is for 100 trees, and we were planning to use the old garden area, including the spaces that have always been a mowed border, for that. The package is over a thousand dollars – and that’s with the bulk discount! With that in mind, they will be working to come up with funds to contribute, so we can get it earlier. Maybe even as early as next spring!

Some other things, however, will be ordered for planting this fall.

One of the things we’ve decided to do is use the bed currently filled with the beets and carrots for garlic, after everything in it now has been harvested. We’ll be ordering a collection of 1 pound each of 3 different types.

Aside from the garlic, we will be ordering lots and lots of flowering bulbs.

As much as I enjoy mowing, there are some areas in between the trees that I would rather not be mowing at all! In fact, if we can not mow in between any of the trees, that would be great. It’s really bad for the mower in there!

So I took a bunch of pictures of different areas, then we went through them to discuss what we would be planting and where. The plan is to fill some areas with naturalizing flowers, and other areas will be kept open as paths, with some sort of ground cover that can be walked on, instead of grass.

Next month, along with the garlic, we will order muscari (aka grape hyacinth), a collection of snow crocuses, a double tulip collection, and various other flowers. The muscari and snow crocuses will be mixed together and basically scattered in select areas where we want low growing plants. The taller flowers, the girls will decide on the exact places. Other areas we want to have low growing plants will have things like creeping phlox in them, or hostas in the shadier areas, and even ferns, eventually, but the areas we want to walk on will have things like different kinds of thyme, while others will have mosses. There are some areas we need to keep flower free, so that my husband, who is allergic to stings, can go into them and not worry about bees.

For our zone, once we order our selections next month, we should expect them to be delivered around the end of September.

I bought an auger attachment for my drill with plans to use it when we did the sunflowers. I decided against using it, because of how rocky the old garden area is. It’s actually sold as a tool for planting bulbs. The muscari alone will be 200 bulbs (we’re getting 2 packages), so that thing is going to get a workout this fall! 🙂

At least, that’s what our plans are. I’ve long since learned that no plans are written in stone, so we shall see what we actually get to do when the time comes! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Gathering Data: future cheese cave?

Among the many things we are interested in doing in the future is making cheese.

We already make yogurt cheese (see here and here) whenever we make yogurt, which can be used right away, but we’re interested in making cheeses that need to be aged.

Which requires a place to age them. Like a cheese cave.

Well, we do sort of have a “cave” in the basement. The old root cellar.

In the research I’ve been doing (watch out for a future “Recommended” post for a home cheese making resource!), the aging cheeses need temperatures and humidity to stay within a certain range.

I don’t know that our root cellar has that range. For starters, I think it might actually be too cold, but that can be helped with appropriate insulation. I think our greater challenge will be the humidity.

Since this is not something we’ll be able to do for quite some time, that means we have time to gather data.

Which begins today.

I went to pick up a cheap thermometer at the dollar store and found a hydrometer right next to it, which was great, because I didn’t even think of such a device existing. At least not in household form. These are not mounted just inside the door of the root cellar. This is probably the warmest part of the room, but the best location for hanging them. Ah, well.

As you can see, the temperature gauge had already dropped quite a bit.* The humidity is about the same as it was upstairs, so I don’t know if that was the actual reading, or if it still needed time to adjust for the new location.

There were already huge nails hammered into the floor joists of the entry above (I’m finding nails like this all over the basements, garage, sheds, barn – anywhere there is wood, there are nails hammered in for hanging things), so I used one that was accessible, but still out of the way enough to not bash my head, for the clip board. I printed out some chart sheets to record date, time, temperature and humidity. The plan is to come down here once a week, at different times of the day, and record the gauge readings.

This would be why it’s so cold in here. This vent duct goes directly outside. The only thing at the end is a screen to keep the critters out. While I was down there, I felt an actual wind coming through this duct.

Over the next year, we will get the weekly readings and slowly empty the room out and give it a good cleaning. I figure, in a year we’ll be able to chart the data and use that to determine how much would need to be done to make it functional as a cheese cave, or if we have to go with something else. Like a modified refrigerator.

If the room turns out to not be appropriate as a cheese cave, I already know it works well as a root cellar. 🙂 So either way, it will be used in the future!

The Re-Farmer

*edit: for some reason, my brain just assumed that, like every other thermometer I’ve seen, the 0C was at the top, so when I looked at it, I saw 2C instead of 12C!! Which is a bit of a relief, because while the temperature did continue to drop, it was not as severe as I originally thought.

Recommended: Cordwood Construction

Welcome to my “Recommended” series of posts. These will be weekly – for now – posts about resources I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. 🙂 Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.

I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!

Since we decided to try our hand with some cordwood practice buildings, starting this summer with what will be an outdoor bathroom, I’ve been doing a fair bit of research. I’m learning that this building technique has had some modern changes to it that have greatly improved the final result.

One thing I found, as I did online searches, what that time and again, I kept finding myself back at one site. Cordwood Construction: The Essence of Cordwood Construction. There are many, many sites, blog posts, videos and books about the technique out there, but I’m not finding anything else more informative and practical. There is so much information at the site – even house plans! – one could easily spend many hours there. (I’m loving their post about cordwood flooring, too!) Their blog seems to be kept up quite often, too. They also have a Facebook group, bookstore and newsletter.

They do have a YouTube channel as well. There are not many of their own videos there, but if you check their playlist tab, you’ll find lots more videos.

The information they have is very hands on. I find myself wishing I could attend one of their workshops but, alas, they are too far away.

They also get right into the basic, essential details in a way that is so very helpful.

My previous experiences with cordwood (aka stackwood) construction are historical buildings, and this resource is where I first heard of using an inner layer of insulating material between outer layers of mortar. It’s also where I first encountered the notion of bottle bricks, outside of Pinterest images that led to nowhere useful.

They provide so much basic information that I really feel that someone like me, who has never built anything major before, can do it. I’ve already downloaded their shed plans ebook, and it is so very thorough! I plan to rely on it heavily, and I’m downright excited about building some practice buildings over the next couple of years. Who knows. A few years from now, we might be using the technique when it’s time to build a barrier free house for myself and my husband!

Obviously, this is a resource useful for someone who is – or hopes to be – in a position to construct their own cordwood building, but I think the technique itself is a sort of “lost art”. Given some of its many advantages, which include lower costs, being fire retardant, and more “eco-friendly”, I think this is a building method that deserves a resurgence. Resources like Cordwood Construction are a fantastic place to learn more about it, and be inspired. Of all the other sites I’ve looked at, this one is, hands down, the best of the lot!

I’m really looking forward to putting what I learn from this resource into practice, and definitely recommend this resource for anyone to check out, even if it’s just to learn more about this fascinating building method.

The Re-Farmer

Walkabout – the East yard

I had done a walkabout yesterday, through our East yard, some of the areas just outside the fenced yard, and explored around the old gravel pit and pond.  I had my phone with me and took plenty of pictures, but then had technical difficulties uploading them to my desktop.  My husband was able to see them fine on his laptop via the USB cable, so the problem had to be with my desktop.  This morning, I tried one thing.  Usually, I have my USB cable attached to one of the front ports of the tower, but my husband had moved it to one of the back ports, so he could access the front ones for something he was doing.  Could that have made the difference?

Turns out, yeah.  That seems to have been the problem.  I was able to upload the pictures without getting the weird error messages I was getting before.

Unfortunately, in my attempts to access and transfer the photos yesterday, some were lost, while others were corrupted or damaged.

So today, I did the walkabout again, this time using the DSLR (Nikon D80) and an 18-55mm lens.

I ended up taking 308 pictures! 😀  And I didn’t even go into the other house in the yard, this time!

Basically, I am documenting the way things are right now, that we will have to deal with as time goes by.  Anything outside the house and immediate yard are lower on the priority list, but they will still need to be dealt with, eventually, so I want to maintain a photographic record of it all.

For now, I will just talk about the East side of our yard – and not even all of that.

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When I first came out, Nasty Crime Boy was there to greet me, but he did NOT like the noise the DSLR made when I took pictures! 😀

The first area I went to was around the other house in the yard.  This house used to be a church rectory, and my dad bought it and moved it when they wanted to build a new one.  It was put into our yard temporarily.  The plan was that it would be moved to one of the other quarter sections of the farm and be a home for whichever of the boys inherited it that section.

That never happened.

I’ll post about the house itself, another time.

This is next to it.

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When my parents’ freezer died, they gave one of my siblings the money to buy a new one, which we are currently using.  The old one, for some reason, got dumped in the yard.  They took the door off, so nothing could get trapped in it, but that’s it.

I hadn’t realized that even the baskets were in there until I came over to take pictures.

I could do posts of nothing but large household appliances, abandoned in strange places, and have no shortage of material.  Especially washers and driers.  It’s amazing.

Then I went around the back of the building.

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That largish black pipe you see?  It’s placed through a hole in a partially boarded up window.  That means it was deliberately placed there.  I find myself wondering if there is something under the house that is being propped up.

This house had had a full basement in it.  Now, the areas with the bricks are what used to be the top of the basement walls, and there is basically a crawl space underneath.

Then there’s this.

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A toilet.  Just sitting there.

Another rain barrel.  I don’t know what the 6 sided plastic thing is.  A wire shelf.

Just.  There.

Why?

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This is some sort of mini garden, near the fire pit.  I can see no rhyme or reason to it being there, and can’t figure out what’s in it – that will have to wait until things start to grow.  It needs to go.  Seeing what’s there will help me decide whether it’ll just be torn up, or if there’s anything in it worth transplanting.

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The above picture is of what is directly North of the mystery planting.  There used to be a playhouse here, built by my oldest brother.  It was basically a shell of a building, with a door and windows in the front.  I was too young to remember it being built, but as a child, I helped my late brother, who was just a few years older than me, frame out bunk beds inside it, and we used old couch cushions as the mattresses.  In the summer, I would sometimes sleep in there, with a tiny kerosene lamp for light.  It was glorious.

I don’t know what happened to the playhouse.  For a while, one of my brothers had some bee hives here.  Now, there’s nothing.  I am thinking this is where we will start a wood pile from what we’re clearing out of the garden now, and what we’ll be clearing out of the trees around the yard.  I am looking forward to when we can have the fire pit going in the summer, and have some wiener roasts!

This is the fire pit that’s there now.

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Yeah.

Believe it or not, there is a metal ring in there.

It’s not where the fire pit was originally.  That was about where I was standing to take the picture.  It was made of loosely stacked bricks, on top of an old tree stump that had been cut to ground level.  I only discovered the tree stump when I took it upon myself to “rebuild” the fire pit, because the walls were being knocked out of place.

One thing I noticed that you can see in some of the photos, is that this area now seems to be mostly moss!  As I was the one who took on the chore of lawn mowing, I know there was no moss at all in there when I was living here.  I don’t know when the moss started taking over, but this is not a sign of a healthy lawn!

I am thinking we should move the fire pit back to where it was, and farther away from those trees in the background.

We will first have to trim away the a dead branch overhanging it, from one of the maples in the area.  There are a lot of dead branches that will need to be dealt with.

Eventually, I want to build a cinder block cooking pit in the area, but that’s a few years into the future.

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This old log cabin is near the fire pit area.  (note the amount moss in the foreground!  That used to be all grass) From what I’ve been told, the family that owned this area before my family bought it – the ones who built the original log portion of the house we’re living in now – had built this and lived in it.

I am hoping we can salvage it.  The one side wall has logs that are sagging in the middle, which may be a problem, but the rest of the walls seem sound.  The roof is almost completely collapsed, and it’s filled with junk – including large household appliances, of course.  At some point, I want to hire someone to empty it, including the remains of the roof, and haul it all away.  Then we can see what can be done with the remains.

There is one thing about it that has me wondering.

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See that tree at the corner?

When I was growing up here, there was a gooseberry bush growing there.  I used to love picking and eating the berries right off the bush.  I don’t know that anything else was ever done with the berries.  Which might have something to do with why, years after I moved away, I came back to discover it was gone. In its place were a couple of spruce trees.

Now, the spruces are gone, and there is this tree.

I don’t know if it was planted, or if it seeded itself, but it’s going to have to go, along with the other trees that are growing too close to the building.

I am seeing this all over the place; trees were allowed to grow right next to buildings.  No one bothered to cut them away.  Did no one consider how much damage they can do to buildings?  Did they not think of it?  Or did they just not care?

So much of what I’m finding around here smacks of “no one cared.”  I’m not talking about things that were left as they were, as my parents aged and weren’t able to take care of things themselves, either.  It’s really quite disheartening.

Well, that’s part of our East yard.  I’m expecting that, this year, we’ll be able to do some clean up and improvements in this area.  At least the smaller stuff.  The big stuff will have to wait, as they will require hiring people, and fixing up the main house is the financial priority.  Still, we should be able to get the East yard to the point that we can use it and enjoy evenings around the fire.

Well.  Maybe.  That will depend on how bad the mosquitoes are this year!

The Re-Farmer

Quiet – and critters

Oh, how I’ve learned to appreciate quiet, boring days.

Not that today turned out to be either quiet, or boring – but it was close enough!

The temperatures dipped a bit today, but the windchill made it feel so much colder.  I was glad not to be going out, that’s for sure!  It was still pretty mild in our area.  In other areas South-West of us, I heard they were closing down the highways in some areas.

Though I was looking forward to sleeping in today – and even stayed up much later last night as well – it seems my brain had other ideas.  I ended up waking up at about the same time as I have been for the past week!  Ah, well.  It could be worse; my husband is up even earlier, every day, because it’s just too painful to be lying down.  That’s the crazy thing about back injuries.  There is no position you can stay in for any length of time before the pain forces you to shift.  So there’s that cycle of getting up, sitting down, getting up, lying down, over and over again.

My older brother was going to drive my mother to the hospital today, had she needed to go.  Since she didn’t, he just had a visit with her, instead.  It’s quite a drive for him to come out here, so that was really nice of him.  He even texted me a photo of her eye, though it didn’t come in for almost 3 hours!  Ah, the joy of cell phone dead zones.

My mother’s eye is noticeably better today; amazing how quickly it’s recovering now that she’s off that one medication.  The new medication is considered a blood thinner, too, but it doesn’t lead to bleeding the way the other one did.  She even let my brother put the brace on her leg, too!  That is such a wonderful step for her.  Now I just hope she’ll be able to get home care to help her get it on.  Theoretically, she can do it herself, but it would be very difficult to get all those straps tightened on her own without the brace shifting out of position, and it’s really important to have that knob properly aligned.

After seeing my mother, my brother came over to our place and we had a nice visit.  Plus, we checked out the door on my van.  The door that he worked so hard to replace has started to drop again when I open it.  *sigh*  It isn’t much, but after what happened previously, I’m a little paranoid about it.  We tightened the hinges again and it’s better, but it looks like it’ll be something that will need to be continually monitored.

One of the things he and I have been talking about was setting up security cameras.  I had been thinking around the house (more to capture the visiting wildlife… 😀 ), but he was looking to put one above the garage door, too.  It’s the perfect spot to cover anyone coming in and out of our driveway.  So while we were still in the garage, he closed the door from the inside to look at where the cables would be coming in from a camera mounted outside.  Over there, he points out to me.  You see where that wasps’ nest is?

!!!!!

Turns out we have a fairly large wasp nest inside the peak of the roof, against the garage wall, plus there’s a row of 3 more new nests, just a couple of inches long, and what looks like the remains of other beginning nests.  It was fairly dark (since we don’t have the electricity to turn on the lights, thanks to our movers), so I couldn’t quite make out all of them.

We’d never seen them before because any time we go in the garage, it’s through the main door, which hides them when it’s open.

My husband is allergic to stings.

Those are going to have to disappear.  Preferably before it warms up enough for them to come out of hibernation.

So I’m doubly glad my brother came over!

He didn’t stay too much longer, though, as he was concerned about road conditions, but he still took the time to check out the barn, which also needs to have power restored to it again.  When we get our power pole by the garage replaced and electricity restored there, he’s arranging for the barn to get hooked up again, too.  At some point, we’ll look at restoring the water, too.  When we got running water in the house, with a new well dug in the yard, a trench had been dug towards the barn.  The pipes for the septic field, as well as for water to the barn, were installed all at the same time.  Along with a water pump in the barn, two heated water fountains had been installed for the cows, so they would always have water, even in the coldest of weather.  When, how or where all this got shut down, we don’t know, so there’s going to be some sleuthing to do before any of that is restored.

Add that to the list of things that needs to be worked on, now that we’re living here.

It’s a long list.

In the afternoon, my lovely daughters did some more bread baking, giving me a chance to catch up on my crochet.  With the blustery weather, we weren’t seeing a lot of activity at the feeding station, and what activity we did get was very quick!  I managed to get a cute bluejay photo…

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I love how they tilt their heads like that.

Hungry Girl and Barbecue came over as well.  They dashed in quickly, and seemed very antsy – probably eager to eat and then find some shelter from the wind! – so I didn’t try to take very many photos.  Seeing me in the window seemed to make them more nervous, and I didn’t want to startle them away from the food.

I did manage to get a very pretty profile picture of Hungry Girl.

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In going through my folders of photos, I’ve got quite a lot of photos like this; the deer frequently look behind the house while feeding, so many images are of them in this pose.  I never tire of seeing, them, though.  They’re so lovely!

Ah, but of course, I got some fun pictures, too!  This time, it was Barbecue to was sticking his tongue out (though from the lack of antler buds starting to show, I’m thinking he might actually be a she!).

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This one had me laughing out loud, but I think the next one is some kind of record…

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I think that’s the most tongue ever, in any of the shots I’ve managed to get over these months! 😀

They didn’t stay for much longer after this.

Tomorrow we’re technically supposed to warm up a bit, but the wind is supposed to increase, with more snow.  How much of that will reach us, we shall see, but it’s still going to be another chilly one.

Oh, how I’ve already been spoiled by the calm, warm days we’ve had for the past week.

I think I’ll go through those seed catalogs I got in the mail and dream of warmth and green, growing things.

The Re-Farmer

A long day – and yes, I got critter pictures!

It’s the last business day of the month – payday – so it was off to the city to stock up for the next month.  I rather prefer to be able to do that in an afternoon in the middle of the week.  As someone who hates crowds and shopping, it was a LOT less stressful.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I was actually able to get some photos this morning.  Much to my delight, we had 5 deer visitors this morning.

First to arrive were Mama and the twins.

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Her babies are getting so big!

And confident, too.  I caught on that Hungry Girl and Barbecue had shown up, too, only because I saw the twins chase them into the spruces!

At one point, while Mama and the twins were eating, I saw that something else was making Mama nervous.  Something close to the house…

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Yes, our very own cryptid, the Mothman, showed up this morning!  I saw her a few days ago, going by in the same area between the feed and the house, but other than that, we haven’t been seeing her at all lately.  It never fails; each time I see her, I am again struck by how big she is.

This was before I’d gone out to feed the critters, and so I popped out right away, hoping to see the Mothman.  Alas, she had disappeared, once again.  Not a sign of her, anywhere!

The other cats where happy to see me, though.

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Nasty Crime Boy, Beep Beep and Butterscotch dove right in.  Lately, the food bowls have been completely empty by morning – picked clean.  I’m not sure if it’s the cats that are finishing the food off.  I see enough tracks in the snow to know that some birds are eating the kibble, too.  Skunks come by, but they tend to be rather dormant this time of year.  I recall we briefly saw one before the snow, but not since.

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Squishum and Rolando Moon got a bowl to themselves.  Rolando Moon is why I tend to be surprised by Mothman’s size.  Rolanda Moon is so much bigger than the other cats, with a big round belly – we thought she was pregnant at first, but she is the one my brother had fixed shortly after my husband and younger daughter arrived.  She’s just big.  I see her and begin to think that she and Mothman are close in size.  But then I see Mothman again and… yeah.  Mothman is quite a lot bigger than Rolanda Moon.

Once back inside, I found Mama and the twins had gone, but soon after, Hungry Girl and Barbecue came out of the trees.

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Whatever was making them so skittish in the past week or so, seems to no longer be bothering them.  They seem a bit more relaxed, and tolerant of our movements inside.

2018-02-28.whitetail.deer.profile

I just really like this picture of Hungry Girl.  Such a pretty lady. 🙂

After this, my older daughter and I worked on our shopping list.  Last month, we got 3 big bags of dry cat food at Costco, as well as a bag of mixed bird seed to supplement the bag of bird seed we got locally.  I opened the third bag of dry cat food just this morning.  We decided to stay with 3 bags of cat food, but not to get more bird seed for now.  The mixed bird seed bag is cheap at Costco, but we decided to wait until we get the bird feeder cleaned out and possibly moved by the living room window (we might just get another feeder), and start getting bird seed in the spring.  For now, the birds we have this time of year are happy eating the deer feed, which has the same seeds as in the big bag of bird seed we got locally.  Last month, we got 2 bags of deer feed and there is still a bit left of the second one, so we’ll likely get 3 or 4 bags of deer feed, instead of both deer feed and bird seed.  At least for the next month or two.

We also decided not to get things like flour, as we can get a really good price locally, and I’d just got a big bag not long ago.  And we still have lots of canned cat food left, too, so we decided to skip that.  We also still haven’t even opened the laundry detergent we got last time, nor the container of cat litter, so a couple more things didn’t need to be added to the list.  We are well stocked up on quite a few things, still, so our list got to be focused a lot more on actual food! 😀

That gave us room to get things we pick up more rarely; a case of Coke Zero and a case of V8 – we don’t have bottle depots in this province to get our enviro fees back, but we’re keeping the pop tabs (pure aluminum) and the cans themselves separate from the rest of the recycling.  When we have enough, we’ll take them in to someplace that will pay us for the metal by weight.  It might take us a long time to have enough to make it worth hauling in, but we appear to have a lot of space to store such things now. 😉

Because I wanted to check out an aquarium store in the area, we decided to go to the Costco closest to us – the one with the pharmacy that didn’t know wtf they were doing, and the horribly designed parking lot.  It’s a smaller one, too.  I just didn’t feel like driving to one of the two locations farther away, then come back to a store that’s on the same street as the closer one.

Thankfully, because of the time of day, it was not very busy.  A relative statement for a Costco, I know. 😀  We filled a flat cart with our shopping, this time using our hard sided grocery bags to help keep the smaller stuff from falling.  That worked out well.

One the the main things we are sure to pick up the most of at Costco is meats, because it’s so much cheaper than the local grocery stores – and mostly pork, because that’s even cheaper.  This time, we picked up a big bag of oranges, too.  Normally, we get fresh fruits and vegetables in smaller quantities at the local grocery stores, but my husband has been getting some dangerously low blood sugar readings, so he asked for some oranges. (Yes, we also have the glucose tablets.)  We got twice as much eggs as usual. I typically get the double trays with 60 eggs.  We go through a lot of eggs, yet never seem to have enough to boil up a whole bunch for quick snacks or to make egg salad. 😀   We also got an extra gallon of milk, to make more yogurt.

My daughter has a birthday coming up, so we picked up a big fillet of salmon for her birthday dinner, as well as a big bag of mixed baby potatoes (we will have lots of regular potatoes, thanks to my sister dropping off another bag).  I look forward to making a special dinner for her. 🙂

All in all, I think we’re well stocked for the month again.  We didn’t even have much we needed to get elsewhere, though we did stop at a Save On Foods in the area.   That was my usual place to shop before our move.  I even used to work there, many years ago, and found it a great company to work for, so I’m glad to support it when I have the chance.

On the way out, we found the aquarium and fish supplies shop I was looking for – it was kind of tucked away from the road, so I almost missed it. *L*

I talked to someone there about finding a replacement for a part I broke on our filter system, when trying to dismantle it for packing.  I was hoping to replace all the hoses, as they are getting old and stiff.  Unfortunately, no one in the city carries this brand, and the other brands use very different hoses, and none of that particular part.  And I’m not about to replace the whole thing, just for a missing part.  For the 90 gallon tank, the size we need cost about $380-$450, depending on the brand!  After talking to him for a bit, he had a suggestion for me to try and use it anyhow – it’s stuck in the hose, anyhow, so since the part broke while I was trying to remove it from the hose, it’s not like it will pop off.  I’ll have to take another look at it and see if it can be salvaged.  I would REALLY like to get our 90 gallon tank going again.  That 20 gallon tank was supposed to be much more temporary!

Which lead me to my next request from the guy I was talking to; to show me to their algae eaters!  I had got 10 neon tetras to provide the oxygen/CO2 balance for the tank I needed.  Unfortunately, after a week or so, I woke up to a mass die off!  I found 6 dead tetras, and there were two live ones left.  I never found the missing 2.  Unfortunately, 2 tetras really aren’t enough for the amount of plants I have in there, though there is certainly enough plants that I don’t need an aerator.  I’m also having a harder time with algae.  Partly because the tank is next to a window, which it shouldn’t be, but I have no place else that will hold it – another reason I want to get that big tank going.

The guy first lead me to some golden plecos.  Now, I love plecos, but they get BIG.  When we got our first pair of little plecos, one of them killed and ate the other.  Then it eventually grew to over a 18 inches long.  Regular plecos can get much, much bigger than that.  I want to focus more on plants when I set up the new tank, with just enough animals to have the right balance.  Long term, I want it so that I don’t even need a filter, and have a self-contained, ecosystem.  Plecos would be too big and active for this.

When I mentioned that I’d had two Siamese Algae eaters before, but that they didn’t survive the move, the guy lead me to the ones they had, and I got two of them.

Here is one of them.

20180228fish

Okay.  I wasn’t going to say anything at the shop, but I’m pretty sure these are Chinese algae eaters, not Siamese.  They are a lot smaller than the ones we had before, but the mouths are different, for starters.  Siamese Algae eaters do not have the suckerfish mouths to attach to the side of the tank like that.  We shall see as they get bigger to properly identify them.

The main thing is that they are algae eaters, and that’s what I need.  They will be good with my aquatic plants.

I must admit, even with the algae, it’s much easier to maintain a tank with well water than with treated city water.  I almost never need to use additives.

By the time we got home, it was almost evening, and I sure was happy to be back in our home in the middle of nowhere.

I didn’t realize just how much I’d come to dislike the noise and activity of the city until we moved away from it.  I don’t mind visiting it.  I just don’t want to live there.

I got a call from my mother this evening.  She was in the habit of asking me how the cats are outside.  Now she has started to ask me how the deer are, too!  They were never around when my parents were here; at least not regularly.  No one was feeding them, so they had no reason to.  She is really enjoying hearing about the antics of our regular visitors – and got a chuckle out of the names I’ve given them.  😀

I also mentioned to her my thought of adding a ramp to the outside of the house.  I’ve learned that my brother who lives next door was going to build one for my dad, after he’d had so many falls, but then my dad went into the nursing home.  My sister does freelance house designing, so she’s got the code book for that sort of thing and was able to give me the details.  My mom was okay with the idea, which is good, since it’s her house, after all.  It would make things easier for her, too, when she visits.  She has an awful time with those two steps right outside the main door, too.

All in good time.

I remembered to ask her about the stuff we found in the horror tunnel.  It took me a while to get her to remember where I was talking about.  She’d forgotten about it completely.  She said she was storing stuff.  I’m not sure she completely understood what I was describing to her, because “storing stuff” doesn’t describe what we found tossed in there!  Then she went on to talking about how she never threw away anything that might get used.

Yup.  And then some! LOL  Plus lots of things that would never get used again.  Plus things stored in places that don’t protect the things in them very well.  Plus storing things in places where it’s virtually impossible to get at them again!

I’m all for saving useful things, but my goodness.  A line has to be drawn somewhere!

Which, I admit, is much harder to do when you live somewhere that has lots of places to leave things and forget about them.

😀

The Re-Farmer

The Continuing Stoooooorry…

I finally have more progress on our saga with the movers.

A few days ago, I spent some time talking with a lawyer about our options.  One of the things he mentioned was that, usually one would start an insurance claim, then let the insurance companies duke it out.  The lawyer can send a letter to the moving company for me about it, if the moving company continues to give me grief about it.  How the company responds to that would determine our next move.

Hopefully, we will never have to find out.

Making a claim on my mother’s property insurance was not really preferable.  The deductible is a thousand dollars, so if the cost of replacing the pole is close to that, it’s almost not worth it.  However, my brother thought to contact our provincial vehicle insurance company, since the damage was done by a vehicle.  They said that yes, they do cover that sort of thing, so I called and started a claim. I spent some time talking to someone on the phone, then got an email address to send photos to.

As I prepared to send the email, I got an email from the moving company.  This after 10 days of nothing from them at all.

It was pretty short.  Basically, they wanted to know if I’d gotten an estimate on how much it would cost; if it was under $1000, they would cut me a check for it.  If it was over $1000 (the amount of their deductible), they would give me the information for their insurance company, and I would file a claim there.  (I’m paraphrasing a fair bit, since English is clearly not the first language of the person writing to me.)

Which really, the movers should be doing, not me.  Except I think I’d rather deal with the insurance company than with the movers.

No word on the money they said they would pay for our damaged goods a while back, which is a separate issue from property damage.

So I included their email with my email to the vehicle insurance company.  I was told it could take 2 or 3 days before I got a response, but I got one the next day.  Turns out that, because no vehicles registered in this province was involved, it’s out of their jurisdiction.  We would have to deal with the driver’s vehicle insurance company.  And I have no way of knowing who that is, since in the province we moved from, it’s private insurance companies, not one provincial insurance company.

So after I got that response, I got a phone number of a local electrician.  Someone I went to high school with, actually.  He’s a year or two younger than me, but we took the same bus to school for many years.  He has done work here on the farm for my brother before, and was highly recommended.  Since he works in the city, I was given his home phone number, and I left a message for him there.  Much to my surprise, not only did I get a call soon after (my timing was good, I guess; he came home from work shortly after my call), but he said he could come over right away!

He spent a fair bit of time checking things out, including making sure there was no damage to the cable itself.  I will get an estimate from him emailed to me, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be over $1000, so it looks like I’ll be dealing with the insurance company.

One of the things he mentioned was that he likely wouldn’t be able to install a new pole until spring.  The electric company has access to the machinery that can drill into frozen ground, but he doesn’t.  It’s unlikely the electric company would be willing to come out for a customer owned pole to begin with – and we’d have to prune those trees for them to get into the yard!

Pruning is something that’s going to have to be a bit of a priority, it looks like!  I’d like to get that done while the trees are still dormant, so February would be good.  By March, it might be too late.  Hard to know.  We might have a late spring.  Or an early one.

Anyhow, that’s where we are at now.  I will wait on the estimate, then go from there – and will ask about the coverage for damage to our goods in the process.  I’ll update my lawyer about how things are going, too.

What a long and convoluted process this is!

All because no one bothered to look up.

The Re-Farmer