Our 2022 garden: morning in the garden

Thanks to my daughters taking care of feeding the yard cats for me, I got to sleep in a bit, after a late night of getting the hard crab apple cider started. I’ve been pretty good about getting to bed at around midnight of late, so I’m not as used to being up past 2am anymore. πŸ˜„

I am really enjoying checking the garden while doing my morning rounds. The Red Kuri squash are ripening nicely, and the chocolate cherry tomatoes are slowing turning colour.

I’m a bit surprised these are taking so much longer, considering they get more sunlight than the Yellow Pear tomatoes, which we’ve been able to harvest for a little while now. My older daughter, for whom I bought this variety for, is really looking forward to trying them.

I remembered to get a picture of the newly supported kulli corn and Yellow Pear tomatoes. You can see some of the corn is still leaning way over. Those stalks are from the middle of the bed, and I wasn’t able to do much to add support in there. The tomatoes had all been leaning into the pathway, too, but I managed to straighten them up and add more support to their tops, and now the pathway can be walked in again!

I just love the look of these Ozark Nest Egg gourds! They are doing so well. I was even able to hand pollinate a couple more this morning.

While seeing what else could be pollinated, I was happy to see the G-Star squash I’d hand pollinated seems to have taken. I was able to hand pollinate another Boston Marrow and a couple Lady Godiva hulless pumpkins, too.

I was able to collect a far larger harvest this morning than I expected. The larger colander I use for harvesting was not available. Usually, that’s not an issue, as the smaller one is quite enough – but I didn’t expect to be picking more tomatoes this morning! I ended up having to use my pockets, too. πŸ˜„

There were more pole beans to pick than last time – and from the looks of some of them, a few got missed before! I was happy to pick more Magda squash, and to have one green zucchini ready to pick.

The tomatoes are all Cup of Moldova, and they went into the freezer with the rest. We still had some Sophie’s Choice that I picked yesterday, and they are now sliced and dehydrating in the oven.

Today is the last business day of the month: payday. Normally, I’d be in the city right now, doing more of our monthly stock up shopping. We are still good from the trip I did on the weekend, and we need to process the tomatoes in the freezer to free up space, so the trip can wait a bit longer.

I think, however, I might still make a jaunt into town. My husband’s birthday is coming up, and he wants a pizza night for his birthday. 😊

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: progress

With all the rain we’ve been having lately, the garden is loving it. Who would think, after all that flooding in the spring, that would even be an issue?

The Red Kuri winter squash is doing so well, and starting to turn colour. We have a little more than 3 weeks before our average first frost. We may just have enough time for these to fully ripen.

The other squash are blooming and growing like they should have, in the spring. I’m still holding out for a long, mild fall so we can at least get summer squash, if not more winter squash!

The variety of sweet corn we have is not particularly tall, but these are still quite a bit shorter than they should be – but they are putting out tassels, which means we should be seeing silks, soon too. Even the Tom Thumb popcorn is perking up. Those only grow to about 2 ft high, and some of them are almost there. They are sending out tassels, too. Their cobs only grow a few inches long.

We might actually have corn this year!

This is my big surprise. The tiny, barely making it, eggplants are blooming, too! Well. One of them is. I thought these ones were a complete loss. They probably still are, but one can hope!

The paste tomatoes are really starting to turn nice and red. We’re at the point where I’m wondering if I should start harvesting most of them and letting them finish ripening inside. Less chance of critters getting to them before we do, but then we’d have to find ways to keep the inside cats out of them.

I’ll be harvesting more tomorrow. It’s still mostly beans, but I should be able to pick a fair number of cucumbers, too. We don’t have enough to warrant trying to pickle them, but enough to make some cucumber salads! It’s the same with the beans. There’s more than we can eat in a day or two, but not enough to make it worthwhile to break out the canner. One of my daughters has just been blanching and freezing the excess for now. It’ll be when we do the tomatoes that we’ll finally get into some serious processing. 😊

What a mix of things doing well, things failing, and things struggling in the garden this year.

The Re-Farmer

Not very far

The scything done near the main garden didn’t get me very far.

It was enough to mulch 5 out of 6 squash in a new row. That leaves one, plus three more rows of 6 to do.

And this is just focusing on around the plants themselves. The paths in between are not fully covered. As you can see between the rows previously done, grass and weeds will still get through, but at least those won’t be competing with the squash for nutrients as much.

While I was working in this, I was hearing the sound of cows that were a lot closer than usual. Usually, I hear them from the property across the road. Not this time! The renter has rotated his cows onto our quarter section! By the time I got out to take a look, they were back in the bushes by the gravel pit, so I couldn’t get any pictures.

We’ll have to keep an eye on the outer yard now. Especially at the “gate” in the fence by the barn. I noticed while I was scything there that one of the big gate posts is leaning way over. With all the water we got in that area this spring, anything already rotting at ground level would have been weakened considerably. The renter has an electric fence going around, but it does fail every now and then. The renter had been looking to replace the fences (responsibility for the fences is part of the rental agreement), but with this spring being such a disaster, I would not be surprised if they won’t be able to do it this year. They weren’t able to even plant anything in the field on this quarter, either. The other quarter they are renting is just hay and pasture, and much of that would have been under water this spring.

At least grazing and haying will be good this year!

The Re-Farmer

Intruder!

We put a twine “fence” around the squash and corn bed, with bells and whirligigs to discourage deer from walking through it. It wasn’t going to stop any little critters, but I hoped it would at least dissuade the deer from tromping on our plants.

I was wrong.

Well, maybe it did, for a while, but as you can see by the tracks, a deer simply stepped through, then walked along the length of the corn patch. Why it would choose to walk on soft ground where its hooves would sink, instead of the harder ground with grass on it, I have no idea.

Somehow, it managed to not step on any of the corn or bean plants, though. Nor did anything get eaten. It just walked through, so I can’t really complain.

I guess it’s time to put some net around it. I was hoping to be able to finish mulching the area with cardboard and more straw or grass clippings, first. The critter barriers make it a pain to get into the growing areas. I’ll need to find another something to use as a post, so we can make a “gate” into the patch.

The Re-Farmer

Wet, wet and more wet!

I am so, so glad the girls were able to get the clogged downspouts cleared yesterday! We had a thunderstorm last night, and are currently under weather alerts for more severe thunderstorms.

This is the one, draining into the north yard, that was causing the most problems. It is under this corner that the most water is leaching into the basement. This basement does have weeping tile, but they are not working as they should anymore, and are probably clogged at this end.

There is another downspout at the south end, but it had only the short piece of eavestrough at the end to divert the water away from the house. For some reason, we’ve got about a dozen or more downspouts in the garage, so I grabbed one for them, and they set it up to extend into the bed where the dwarf Korean lilac is. With how tall the grass is in the outer yard, it was actually a struggle to get through it, to reach the barn!!

I’ll put up with the extension blocking the path along the house. It’s not as bad as the north corner, but we do have water seeping into the basement a bit in the south corner, too. The wall is partly damaged by the roots from the Chinese elm my mother planted for shade in front of the kitchen window. 😦

While they worked on that, I worked on the trellises.

I decided I’m just going to have to buy more of those bamboo stakes once pay comes in. A pair of them was set up at each of the uprights for the two rows that need trellising. That left me with 4 stakes left. I lashed them to the bottoms of alternate A frames, for 2 on each side. To finish the job on both rows, I’ll need 10 more of these 6′ bamboo poles. Then I used the net from last year and set that up, lacing twine along the ends and at the bottom stakes, to snug it up. We need to get more of this type of net. The spacing is large enough that we can reach through to harvest our beans, peas or cucumbers. The other net we have is 1/4 inch mesh.

After this, I also put a simple rope fence around where we have squash, beans and corn planted. At this point, I just want to stop the deer from walking through it. They’re not after anything there – yet. You’ll see that set up in a photo below.

During the night, the skies opened and the rains poured down! I actually slept through it, awakened only by one exceptionally loud peal of thunder. While doing my rounds this morning, however, I could not believe how much water there is, everywhere! It must have been quite the deluge! I’m still holding out hope to be able to mow the west and north lawns, but that’s not going to happen today, that’s for sure! The west lawn is now mostly under water. Most of the north lawn as well. I’ve never seen that much open water in those areas before.

The squash patch is very wet – thankfully, the straw mulch is helping keep that under control. We’ve had paths between the low raised beds filled with puddles before, but not this much around where the grow bags and the small potato bed are.

I’m actually surprised the mosquito netting has held out. Their purpose is to keep the plants from being pounded by rain or hail, while still letting the water through, and it seems to be working. They’re only held in place with wooden clothes pegs!

I’m standing in water to take the above picture. There is even a large puddle next to the remains of the straw bale. The melons are likely good with the wet – they do need a lot of water, normally – but I’m concerned that some of the potatoes might get drowned.

This is the patch I “fenced” off last night. I used some old conduit pipes I found in the barn and pounded them in place as fence posts. They’ve got 2 lengths of twine running around them, far enough apart that we can just bend down and step through to get to the plants. I also dangled lengths of bells in different places, so even if a deer decided to step through, it would hopefully make a noise and distract it away. I added one of the pinwheels we have to the top of a pipe for the distraction. Little by little, we’ll set up more distractions and noise makers around the garden beds. Eventually, we will probably have to put a hardware cloth fence up, to at least protect the corn.

Assuming the corn and beans survive. As you can see, the sprouting corn is under water in places. The north end of the row with the popcorn in it is all under water. Still no beans coming up next to the sweet corn. Will they survive? I have no idea.

Even the area where the trellises are is full of water. This corner of the yard has been notorious for being incredibly dry and baked hard by the sun. Thankfully, the rows themselves are slightly elevated with the addition of garden soil and mulch, and even our digging and weeding before planting means where the plants are growing, the soil has better drainage.

The nearby sea buckthorn is high enough to not be in puddles – and they are finally unfurling their leaves! Nice to see they all took.

The silver buffalo berry is also doing surprisingly well. Moving south, the land slowly slopes downwards, so the last 10 or so silver buffalo berry are in pools of water. At least three of those have been in water for quite a while, and are still okay. They seem to be quite resilient!

The beds in the east yard are almost surrounded by water. Remarkably, the ground cherries are doing all right. I think that grass mulch is acting as a sponge, keeping them from being drowned out completely. There are pools of water right next to the mulch.

The paths between the low raised beds, and the entire lawn in front of them, is full of water. There is basically a pond in front of the outhouse. Thankfully, the raised beds are making a difference. There is increased growth visible in the Kulli corn, and the beans between them are looking very healthy. The tomatoes and onions are also looking strong – and those onions are really taking off! The 6 transplanted garlic at the far end of the third bed may not all make it, but the rest of the garlic is finally looking like they are taking off. I figure they are at least a month behind the garlic in the main garden area.

The other beds in the south yard are all high enough to be out of water. It looks like all 10 of the sunchoke tubers planted are now sprouted; some of the tubers have multiple stalks coming up. The asparagus and strawberry bed are right next to the vehicle gate, which is full of water, but the bed is doing well. Likewise, the beds along the chain link fence, on either side of the people gate, are above water and doing well. Still no signs of white strawberries.

The old kitchen garden has a slightly different situation. We’ve deliberately built it up over the past 4 years and have the retaining wall at one end, so it’s above the water that is in the lawn surrounding it. The house itself also usually keeps parts of it from getting rained on as much, not to mention the ornamental apple trees. However, the sump pump hose drains into the sun room garden, and that pump is going off quite frequently. It drains next to the bed where we’ve got the beets planted. I shift the end every now and then, so it’s either draining straight down a mulched path between the bed and the laundry platform, or it’s draining into the mulch at the end of the bed, and partly down the path on the other side.

These are all areas that are normally drier than everywhere else. Until this year, the sump pump basically never went off, because we’d been so dry. Now, not only are we getting more rain, but there’s all that nice, clear water from the sump pump reservoir being added. There is currently so much lush growth along the house side of the old kitchen garden that the path we made using salvaged cap stones, bricks and rocks along the house is almost hidden. The high end of the beet bed is almost overgrown with mint – and I dug up and transplanted as much of the mint from there as I could, last fall. Then again in the spring, I pulled up more of it when getting the bed ready for planting! The path is also full of mint at that end, along with loads of crab grass. Moving north along the house, it’s more of those invasive wildflowers, some of which my mother planted deliberately, not knowing they were invasive, and some are the same ones we’ve got taking over all over the place. I don’t mind them in the paths too much, but they’re coming up in the L shaped bed, too, and choking out the lettuce.

We have a drainage hose for the sump pump, but it’s currently being used for the washing machine to drain outside (it sounds like whatever is causing the water to back up in the pipes is still a problem). I’d like to add an extension so that the sump pump drains further away. With the length these hoses come in, we could even move the end to different areas of the old kitchen garden that might need more water, if we wanted. The area it’s draining into right now is getting to be too much of a jungle! πŸ˜€

We had already determined that we’ll be building high raised beds for mobility reasons. For some crops, like corn, tomatoes and vining plants, we would still want to have low raised beds. High raised beds are notorious for drying out quickly and needing more water, which is why we are using modified hΓΌgelkultur methods to fill them, with all those layers of wood and organic matter acting as a sponge to hold water. This spring has shown us that even for a wet year, there are benefits to having raised beds, as they are keeping things from being drowned, too. Even a few inches of elevation or a mulch is making a difference.

When we get around to building permanent high raised beds in the outer yard, from what I’ve been seeing so far, water like this will be less of a problem. There are patches with water collecting in them, but where we are planning to build the beds seems clear. We’ll see better once we finally get that overgrown grass cut. It’s about 3 ft high, at least! I almost feel like asking one of our neighbours if they have a grazing animal we could borrow. Otherwise, it feels like such a waste to cut it all!

We’ll figure it out.

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

Morning kitties, and yes, spring really is trying to arrive

This morning, I got to pet Nosencrantz’s mother, Rosencrantz.

Not for too long, though, as she stops eating when I pet her, and I knew she was hungry.

Her boy, Toesencrantz, was hungry enough to come to the corner of the tray, but not hungry enough to let my near him!

Altogether, I counted a dozen cats this morning.

While switching out memory cards on the gate cam, Rosencrantz came RUNNING up to me for pets.

She’s so… elegant looking… πŸ˜€

It’s April 9 as I write this. Spring has been with us for a few weeks now.

Honest.

In about a month and a half, we’re should be starting to plant some things in here.

Honest.

See? Spring!

No, these are not pussy willows. There are leaf buds on a huge poplar at the fence line.

Getting very tired of snow.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: first seeds started

Though it is very early in the year, we have our first seeds started indoors today. A lot of people in our zone have already got seedlings, while still others are saying, it’s way too early.

So which is it?

I happened on a video today, talking about planting peppers and eggplants, which we are doing for the first time this year. Both are plants we never grew when I was a kid, so I have zero familiarity with them.

This particular video mentioned something I’ve never heard before, yet had wondered about.

When reading the seed packets, they say things like “start indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost date”.

Last year, we had a lot of issues with some things not germinating. Some took forever to germinate. Others never did at all. This was particularly true of various squash, plus all the Hope Black Dye sunflowers – with did finally all germinate, when I started taking the trays outside, while hardening off other seedlings.

What got mentioned in this video, is that when they say “4-6 weeks before last frost,” it’s actually from germination, not from planting the seeds. So if you have something that needs to be started, say, 6 weeks before last frost, but the packet says the seeds take 7-10 days to terminated, then the time to start them indoors is 6 weeks, plus 7-10 days.

That actually makes so much more sense to me.

I’d already made a list of which seeds needed to be started when, and these were the ones that needed at least 8 weeks.

The gourds were started first, as they needed extra steps. Among the things recommended that I wanted to try was scarification and pre-soaking.

So that’s what I started this morning.

Of the gourds we will be trying to grow this year, I chose the Canteen gourd to start early, as the gourds are supposed to get quite large. The other gourds I want to grow are smaller at full maturity.

Which lead me to another thing. With the luffa, we’re not after “days to maturity”, which is 110 days, if I remember correctly. We’re after the sponges, so we need for those mature gourds to dry out. That puts them at 200 days. Even starting now, we might not have that long for them. It will depend on whether or not we get another really long summer again. Of course, in the end, everything depends on the weather.

I chose 6 of the plumpest, healthiest looking seeds from each, then carefully snipped their outer shells with a nail clipper, before putting them inside the folds of a paper towel.

Then they went into sandwich baggies, and the insides were sprayed with water, before being sealed and left to sit. Most places recommended leaving them overnight, but I left them “overday” instead. πŸ˜‰

Then they went into planting pots filled with pre-moistened seed starting soil. My daughter used a chopstick to push them the inch into the soil they needed to go. Once covered, the tops of the soil got sprayed with water.

Then it was time to take a look at the rest of the seeds and see what we had to work with. None of the packets have a lot of seeds in them, but we are not after a lot of individual plants.

The Sophie’s Choice tomato was a conundrum for me. Everything I read about them said they needed to be started very early; a couple of weeks earlier than other tomatoes. Yet they are an early tomato, with only 55 days to maturity. At only 55 days, we could start them outdoors and they’d have plenty of time to mature. Odd.

For all but the Wonderberry, we decided to plant about 5 seeds per pot, and three pots each. With the gourds, that filled an entire tray.

The Wonderberry got planted using the double cup method. I reused some of the Red Solo cups we used last year, with the inner cups having drainage holes in the bottom, so they can be watered from below, using the outer cup.

We still had seeds left over, even with how little was in each packet, so that’s nice.

We used more boxes to bring the tray and cups closer to the lights, inside the big aquarium greenhouse. The heat mat fits under the tray. I’m hoping that just being near the mat as well as close to the light fixtures, one of which does warm up, will be good enough to adequately warm the Wonderberry in their cups.

The double cups got water in their bottoms before they were put in place, and water was added to the tray once it was settled on the heat mat. We do still have a little fan blowing into the tank, though it’s over the orchids and aloe in the other corner. We won’t be able to cover these with a plastic dome, as typically recommended, so I’ll be making sure to use a spray bottle to keep the tops moistened, since the smaller seeds are so much closer to the surface. There’s quite a bit of water in the tray so, with the heat mat, that should help increase the humidity levels, with the fan hopefully keeping things from starting to mold.

The heat mat doesn’t have a thermometer, nor do we have a soil thermometer, so we’ll have to monitor these fairly closely. Everything is plugged into a power bar, which gets shut off every night, so there will at least be that break. If it seems to be getting too warm – unlikely, for what we’ve got planted in there – we can put something under the tray to elevate it. Once the seeds germinate, we can probably take the mat out entirely.

The next things we’ll be starting are the onions, which won’t need the heat mat, but when it comes time to start the rest of the tomatoes, and all the squash, we’ll need both the heat mat and space – and space is going to be harder to come by! We do have a mini greenhouse, the frame of which we are currently using in the sun room to hold the heater bulb for Butterscotch and Nosencratnz, as they recover. We did try to use it in the living room last year, as it does have a zippered cover, but the cats still managed to get into it. If we could find some way to keep the cats out of it, it would go a long way to helping with our space issues!

We’ll figure something out.

The main thing is, we’ve got stuff started that need that extra time indoors.

Yay!!

The Re-Farmer

The good, the bad, the “someone just shoot me now”

What a day.

What a long day that started really well…

I had a very enthusiastic crowd waiting for me this morning. Including the new edition. I was even able to pet her a few times, though she kept moving away when I did.

But yes, I was able to confirm. Our new addition is a she.

I just hope that, wherever she came from, she’s already fixed.

In the end, I counted 19 cats this morning. Only Rosencrantz was missing. πŸ™‚

My morning rounds now include going to the very corner of the property to check on the sign. No vandalism! (yet?)

What I found interesting is that the squash tunnel was shaded. It is only this time of year that the shadows from the spruce grove reach this far. In the summer, the squash tunnel gets full sun, all day. The main garden area’s beds, meanwhile, are now in pretty much full shade all day. What a difference, time of year makes!

The transplanted mint is looking just fine; not at all droopy from being moved.

One of the empty blocks, however, seems to attracted a critter. Possibly a skunk digging for grubs. Whatever it was, it lost us some of the soil in those openings around the edges! I want to fill those with sand or gravel.

After I finish my rounds, I spend some time going over the trail cam files. We had a long list of things to work on outside, while it is still relatively warm in the afternoon. I was going to head out right after having lunch, then calling my mom to arrange to bring her to see the sign tomorrow.

She called me first.

She wanted to come today.

I told her I was thinking of tomorrow, because it’s such a warm day, and we have lots to do outside. She said the warm day was why she wanted to come today, because it would be harder for her when it was cooler. And I could spare an hour for her, couldn’t I?

Which would mean just driving her over to see the sign, taking some photos of her next to it, then driving her home. Was that what she was wanting to do?

Yes.

Okay.

So off I head to the town she lives in, and when I get there, she is cleaning out her purse and preparing a list of things she needs.

Since I’m there with her car, anyhow…

Okay, so we’ve added grocery shopping to the list. No worries.

We head back to the farm and as we come to our driveway, my Mom suggests we go straight to where the sign is from the road, not in the driveway. As we get closer, however, she suggested we keep going to look at the other quarter section, first. Just a drive by. This was something she had talked about wanting to go before, so I was expecting it. We did the drive, saw that it looks like the renter has moved his cows to that quarter, since there is a hay bale, salt blocks and a feeder set up near the gate. At the far end of the property is an intersection I can turn around at, then back we went to the sigh. I pulled over on the road, and there was thankfully a nice level spot she could go over with her walker. We got several pictures, and then back to the car.

Did she want to see what I did with the outhouse? I ask.

Oh, yes! was her enthusiastic reply.

I am such an idiot.

First, we drove over to the old workshop that is now completely filled with all my parents’ stuff we cleared out of the house. There was an old framed print she wanted. This was something else that had come up in past conversation, so we too the opportunity to grab that. Then we drove into the yard, and I backed up towards the outhouse.

My mother being ticked off that I did that, instead of parking further ahead, as usual, should have been my first warning.

To make it short, because I really don’t want to relive the experience, my mother decided to tour the inner yards, starting with the newly finished brick lined bed where the tomatoes were (she liked that, at least), but not until after making snide comments about the newly framed low beds where we have two types of garlic planted (so this is where you’re putting the garden now, is it? Uhm… no, Mom. It’s just the garlic).

I tried several times to redirect her to the outhouse, and she ignored me every time. As she worked her way around the yard, she made sure to give me a hard time about the garbage pile, which we need to hire someone to haul away for us (she didn’t have much to say when I pointed out this was garbage we found all around the yard that’s now in one place), acted surprised about the tire planters being moved, even though she’s been here since they were moved, and had just walked past the one that isn’t wrecked and could be used again), made sure to tell me to leave the spruce tree she planted at the chain link fence (I’s talked about transplanting it, before it gets so big it tears the fence apart, shortly after we moved out here, and she went ballistic on me, so I didn’t say anything this time). I commented on the second one that had been there dying, and she lectured me on how I should have watered it (it was killed by the cold, two winters ago), made numerous comments about the things I should have done around the yard (things I would have been doing, if she hadn’t asked me to bring her over), asked why I’d cut down the crab apple tree by the old compost, and when I told her it had died of diseased, lectured me about watering things again. Because, in her mind, if you water the trees, they won’t get disease. Then she mocked and laughed at me for building the high raised bed, the squash tunnel, the trellises and the low raised beds. No one does things like that, you see. They just plowed the whole thing.

Then she nagged me about various other things as she worked her way around the yard. When I thought she was finally going to the outhouse, she ended up going to the back door of the garage. She wanted to see the wood chipper.

That door leads to where her car is parked.

I tried to get her to go around, but she wrestled her walker through to door, so she could snoop in the garage. Which was have not even come close to cleaning up. I got the chipper out for her to see, and she really liked that, but then complained because there were still branch piles. Then she complained about how ugly they looked, and how ugly the post pounder my late brother built looked. I’d covered it with a tarp I’d found in the barn that was big enough, but after several years, the wind has torn it to shreds. We don’t have anything else big enough to protect it. But it looks ugly, and people can see it from the road, so it needs to be covered.

Eventually, we made our way back into the yard and…

She went to the car to leave.

By then, I’d opened the door to the outhouse, but hadn’t put the mat back because I wanted her to see how nice the floor looked, too.

She wouldn’t go near it. She just glanced over and said she could see it through the door. Then got into the car.

So, I put the mat back, closed up the outhouse, put her walker into the car, then we headed out.

Along the drive home, I tried to chat and mentioned the electric chainsaw we got. She mocked me about it, but in such a way that I didn’t understand her “joke” at all. Which then led to a whole slough of mockery.

I shouldn’t be using a chainsaw. I shouldn’t be doing men’s work. I need a man. Also, I’ve done nothing at the farm at all. Apparently, I’m a weak, useless, stupid woman who shouldn’t do actual work, except for the stuff that she used to do on the farm (while everything else magically did itself, apparently), which I am not doing right, because I haven’t done it yet, but she thinks I should have done it by now, or I’m not doing it the way she did, therefore I’m doing it wrong.

Oh, I forgot. At one point, when I told her that I’d lost a day of work by having to drive her around, she told me, what work? I don’t have cows to milk! What work am I doing? I don’t have any work.

Well, I called her on her behaviour, and pointed out that she shows no appreciation, gratitude or kindness. To which I got a sanctimonious, “yes, yes, get that off your chest” response. Because, clearly, I’m the one with the problem, and her cruelty and insults are neither cruel nor insulting.

*sigh*

Still, when we got back to her town, we were civil. I helped her with her grocery shopping, though she brought up getting an apple pie to have with tea when we got back to her place. I told her I didn’t have time to stop for tea, but she could get one if she wanted.

She didn’t.

Once at her place, I put her groceries away and she was going to give me some money for gas, which I do appreciate. She then brought out a bill (almost enough to cover the amount of gas spent in driving, but I do still appreciate it!) and told me, if I’d invited her inside for tea, I would have gotten more.

I told her, I didn’t realize that was an expectation.

By the time I left and put some gas in the tank, it was so late, I couldn’t even stop at the post office to pick up a package. My day was wasted. There was no time to even start anything when I got back, because I wouldn’t have enough time to finish before the light was gone.

I’m just so ticked off right now. After talking with my husband and telling him some of how it went, his response is, not to have her back here again. And at this point, I can’t disagree.

My mother is why we are living here. We came here to take care of the place for her. Now that the ownership has been transferred to my brother, I still try to respect her wishes as much as possible, and keep her informed of how things are going. In the end, though, she doesn’t own this place. My brother does. And he is very happy with what we are doing, and with our various plans for improving the place. He is our “landlord”. Not my mother. She has no actual say in how this place is run, and she certainly has no right to verbally abuse me.

I am lost past the stage where she can actually hurt me anymore, but my goodness, she can drain every bit of energy out of me. I feel more exhausted from a few hours with her – and it wasn’t even an unusually bad visit! – than I would have felt if I’d spend those same hours doing manual labour. Mental exhaustion is far more difficult to recover from than physical exhaustion. Still, to look at the bright side, at least there wasn’t a single racist rant or shouting about political issues she doesn’t understand, either.

Thank God my brother now owns this place. He and his wife more than make up for all the trouble my mother causes. They are such awesome people, and make it all worthwhile.

The Re-Farmer

The luffa is still trying! Plus, a bit of an update.

Our temperatures have been lurching around quite a bit, lately! Last night, we dipped to 3C/37F, but our high of the day is supposed to reach 23C/73F!

I’m watching our garden beds closely and had a surprise. Not only is our Ozark Nest Egg gourd trying to produce more gourds, so are the luffa!

This is our first – and until now, only – luffa that was developing. It’s withering away, likely due to lack of pollination.

Right near it I found these.

Three new luffa starting to develop!

There are even some male flowers blooming, too. With so few pollinators around right now, I am thinking of pollinating them by hand, to give them a chance to actually mature, but it’s almost October. Normally, I wouldn’t bother, but then, this year it looking like we will have a long, warm fall. I’d like to see how far along they get.

Though last night was chilly, we had no frost warnings, and when I headed out early this morning, to make sure the gate was open for the septic guy, I don’t think I saw any frost damage. I even was able to harvest a couple more zucchini this morning.

The overnight dip did make going to the outhouse during the night rather unpleasant! As I write this, we are still waiting on the septic guy to come by. All he could tell me when I called last night was that he thought he could make it in the morning.

Until the tank is emptied, there is no point in trying to unclog the pipe from the basement to the tank. So for now, we’re not only stuck using the outhouse, but doing things like using a bowl to wash up in, so the water can be dumped outside later, rather than going down the drain.

I’m really hoping we can get this is just a straightforward clearing of that pipe. Otherwise, we’ll be having to call a plumber, and that means dipping into funds set aside for other things. The good thing is, we have those funds if we need them, at least. :-/ As much of a pain as it can sometimes be, we’ve actually been able to set aside a bit of cash into a contingency fund. While we were living in the city, that was impossible to do. So I am thankful for that, at least!

The Re-Farmer