All gone, and looking ahead

The snow we had yesterday morning was gone by the end of the day.

Yesterday…

… and today…

I counted 29 cats this morning. Before coming back inside, I even had a chance to catch and cuddle the bitty baby!

The snow may be gone, but the temperatures are below freezing and staying there. At least it will be fairly mild for the next week or so before the highs are expected to start dipping below -10C/14F. I’m hoping the temperatures stay mild like this for a while. That will give the bitty baby more time with mama. We are fully expecting to bring this one indoors before the temperatures get really cold, but it’s definitely not old enough to be weaned yet.

We’re at the point where my morning rounds will now consist more of just switching out the memory cards in the trail cams, and checking on things. Today, I did finally move the stack of logs leftover from the giant branch pile getting chipped. These are logs that seem strong enough and straight enough to use somehow. I ended up restacking them in the old kitchen garden, between the double lilac and the honeysuckle. This is part of the space in that garden we’ve given up on, as it’s so filled with invasive flowers. I’d cleared away the creeping bellflower before they went to seed, but there’s nothing we can do about the low, creeping flowers that look kinda like periwinkle.

Okay, I just went and looked it up and confirmed, it is periwinkle, and yes, it’s considered an invasive plant! It’s been a real struggle to keep it out of the L shaped bed, because they spread through their roots, and my goodness, those roots are hard to get rid of!! I’m hoping turning it into a raised bed will help to at least keep it out of where I want to grow food.

I’d say having the stack of logs there will help keep them under control, too, but they are there to be used next year, and I expect the stack will be gone long before the flowers in that corner start reaching mature sizes.

There is another type of flower that grows in that corner, and all long the house, right through the rocks we put there when we built the path. These spread through their seeds, not their roots, so they’re not as hard to get rid of. I let those go to seed, then gathered most of them. I took them behind the storage house, where there are two rows of trees, all planted way too close together. It’s very hard to keep this area clear and tidy. This is where I’d scattered seeds from an alternative lawn mix we got, but with this spring’s flooding, that area was under water. None germinated, or if they did, they got drowned. So I’ve scattered the seeds from these white flowers in there. I don’t expect the coming spring to have anything other than normal spring snowmelt, so at least some of the seeds should take. I’ve been looking up invasive species in our province and, while I don’t know what these flowers are, I’m not seeing them come up in the lists. It’s one thing for something to be prolific, as these white flowers are, and another to be destructive, as the periwinkle and creeping bellflower are. At least the periwinkle are just in the old kitchen garden. The creeping bellflower is popping up everywhere that we’ve been clearing and cleaning up among the trees. We won’t be able to get rid of them entirely, but we’re hoping to drive them out by planting the things we do want growing there.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

With the weather turning chilly, we’re moving back into planning stages, thinking ahead to the next growing year!

The Re-Farmer

Last day

It’s 2C/36F as I write this. The projected high of the day is supposed to be 4C/39F. This will probably be the last day above 0C/32F for the year.

I counted possibly 31 cats this morning. Even the little bitty baby toodled out of the cats’ house to check things out, even though he could have stayed inside to eat. When I checked later on, he was back in his favourite corner by the window – and even played with me through the window, trying to “catch” my fingers as I moved them around against the glass. (Actually, I think it’s Lexan, not plexiglass.)

In the above picture, you can just see the scrap pieces of insulation I added yesterday, under the water bowls, and the kibble trays under the water bowl house.

With the temperatures, we’ve done as much as we can in the garden beds, so this morning I went around gathering any remaining tools to bring into the sun room, where they can be cleaned, oiled, sharpened, etc. at leisure. When things warmed up briefly, we brought the hoses back out so we could give the trees and bushes we planted this year, one last thorough watering. It’s not too cold to roll the hoses up again, so they’re going to be laid out in the maple grove. As long as the ends are open, they’ll be fine. There are just the hoses at the front of the house left. We have enough hoses now that we were able to use them from the front tap and still be able to reach every transplanted tree and bush, including the Korean Pine in the outer yard.

I brought the poles for the carport into the yard, and we’re going to try putting it together with one or both of the covers we found, and see if it’s something we can use somehow. I was able to use the snow and a broom to sort of clean off the cover that’s on the ground, since we never had the right conditions to hose it down.

I’m a bit frustrated with how little we got done this year. Yeah, we got progress with things like the wattle bed in the old kitchen garden, but there was so much that needed to be done, and it just didn’t happen. Half the beds never got weeded and mulched properly. We have trellis tunnels to build and I’d hoped to get that started this fall, but that didn’t happen at all. I wasn’t even able to cut down dead spruces that I wanted to use to build more high raised beds. We were also supposed to dismantle the shed with the collapsed roof, and hopefully salvage materials to build a chicken cook, and we got very little progress on that at all. This entire year felt like I was constantly behind on getting things done.

On another note, I heard from the cat lady yesterday evening. Cabbages is doing great, and so are the bitties!

We talked a bit about the lysine. She says it takes about 6 weeks for the results to be noticed. The first thing we’ll probably see is that their coats will start looking shinier and healthier. The coughing and sneezing should be reduced by then, too. A study done by a humane society she was working at at the time found the lysine resulted in an 80% reduction in respiratory issues. She has one cat that has continuous respiratory issues, and the lysine has saved her many vet visits.

I must say, this woman is amazing. She has a house full of cats right now that no one is willing to adopt because of health issues. She has one cat that was literally thrown onto the road by her house. Another was a rescue that had been dumped by a closed gas station in the winter. This is the one that needs continuous lysine treatment due to respiratory problems. When she found it, it was unconscious and frostbitten. It had to have its tail and a foot amputated, and lost its ear tips. Worse, there was evidence of substantial abuse, from a broken pelvis that didn’t heal right and can’t be fixed anymore, to cigarette burns, and even trachea damage. After he eats, they have to hold him up so the food will go down. The vet thinks that damage is from abuse, too. This cat is the worst case she’s ever seen. She and her amazing family are giving all these high needs cats their best life now. I’m just blown away. They are such awesome, amazing people. They’ve given up renovations on their house, to be able to give cats the medical care they need. And that’s on top of having her own health problems to deal with! I’m so glad to have connected with them.

The Re-Farmer

Re-covered

When we first moved here, one of the things we noticed was the junk pile near the house, at the edge of the spruce grove. It’s one of the places mama cats would hide their litter of kittens, which is how Junk Pile got her name.

When we finally got around to cleaning it up, it turned out to not be a junk pile at all. It was a pile of salvaged boards, very carefully and neatly stacked. Some of the “junk” we found were the remains of tarps that used to cover it.

Years of exposure left the top board pretty rotten, and being salvaged from who knows where, a lot were full of nails. Still, we’ve been able to make use of them and, as we work our way deeper into the stack, the less rotten the boards.

After cleaning off the junk, we did use the original tarps to cover it up, and weighed it down with various things.

Then the groundhog that made a den under the stack decided the tarps would make good nesting material. Tore them to shreds!

With the horrible spring we had this year, we didn’t keep the yard as clear and mowed as we wanted, which meant one side of the stack got completely engulfed in thistles that reached nearly 5 ft tall in places.

Today, I finally got around to cleaning it up, so I could access the stack.

The kittens were very interested in what I was doing!

That groundhog did not leave much of those traps left at all. There was a blue one in there, as well as the orange one!

The grey tarp on the side is covering a pile of boards too rotten or full of nails to use; they’re laid over an old metal bed frame I found in the maple grove (there are still two more in there!) to keep them off the ground. I also found some old children’s toys, so I tucked those underneath, then covered the whole thing with yet another old tarp I found among the junk. This gives the yard cats yet another place they can tuck into for shelter, until we finally clean it out properly.

The hill the thistles are growing on is a bit of a mystery to me. It is one of those things that showed up in between our rare visits to the farm over the years. I think it might be where the ashes from the furnace got dumped, until the electric furnace was installed. It would take a lot of years of ashes to make a hill that big!

Also, I need better quality garden gloves. Thistles go right through them!!!

The next step was to take everything off the top for a few layers. There’s a lot of spruce debris in there. I would have to take the whole pile apart to get it all out, but I just wanted to get the worst of it near the top removed. Then the boards went back more neatly, making sure that any with nails in them had their nails facing down!

The stack itself is built up on some pallets, and there are more pallets, and other miscellaneous things, on the far side of the stack. They’re all pretty rotten, but only one of them was also in the way. I had to fight to get it out, as it kept getting stuck on the other two pallets one corner was in between, but it was so rotten, I could just tear it apart and drag it out! That went into our own junk pile that is waiting until we can hire someone to haul it to the dump.

Once that was all cleaned up and ready, I grabbed an 8’x10′ tarp from the 3 pack I bought at Costco a few months ago and brought it over to cover the stack. I’ve already used another one of them to replace the tarp I’d found in the barn to cover the post pounder by the garage. It was a huge tarp, but the wind tore it to shreds. An 8’x10′ tarp doesn’t cover it completely, but they’re heavier duty tarps, and I tied it down like crazy. I can see it on the security camera live feed, and absolutely nothing flaps around on that thing! With the stack of boards, I needed to do the same thing. I had to make sure the wind could not get ahold of it, once it was over the stack.

My goodness, the kittens went nuts while I was going that! They just could not get enough of running around and playing on it!

Which made tying it down a real challenge!

I think I spent twice as much time tying down the tarp as it took me to clear away the thistles and clean up the top of the pile! Thanks to all the leftover pieces of wood that I brought over to do the wattle woven raised bed, I had plenty of sticks I could use for pegs.

At the far end, the tarp is tied to the old pallet still back there, and even the dead trees. In a few places where the tarp was tight around corners of boards, I added some bits of pool noodle foam (we used scrap bits on supports around some garden beds, to protect the netting they were holding up, and the last of the netting was removed today) and even some paper towel from a roll kept in the garage. I didn’t want the corners of the boards to rub their way through the tarp in the wind. The remaining three sides were pegged to the ground. While probably not needed, I returned the stuff we were using as weights before, just in case. I can easily imagine kittens playing with the twine and pulling pegs out of the ground. 😄

The boards may be old, but at least now they won’t get any worse over the winter. I have no idea what we might use them for – there is no consistency in lengths, thicknesses or even how the ends are cut – but better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!

By the time I finished putting everything away and got inside, it was full dark. It was very disorienting to look at the time and realize it wasn’t even 7pm yet! At least it was a more productive day today. The pile of garden soil is once again covered, and since I was out near the barn anyhow, I brought the frame pieces for the carport to the yard. I’m sure we’re still missing a cover piece, but even if we are, I’d like to find a way to set it up near the house, over where the old basement window is. It was warm enough to do one final watering of the Korean Pine; my daughter got the sliver buffaloberry and sea buckthorn done yesterday. We’ll have to be careful putting the hoses away, so they don’t crack in the cold. We even got a dump run in.

The next couple of days are supposed to reach highs of just above freezing, then a couple of days of slightly warmer temperatures. After that, our highs are going to be below freezing, and staying there. At least that’s what one app is telling me. Another weather app is a bit different – and forecasting colder temperatures. About the only thing that really needs to get done in the next few days, though, is to cover the hole in that shed roof with the large tarp I got for it. Getting it up and over is not going to be easy, never mind fastening it down. What we could really use is scaffolding! Ah, well. I’ll just add that to the list… 😉 Anyhow, we’re looking at possible rain and snow a few days from now, so we really need to get that taken care of. There are too many things in that shed that are useful. I don’t want the roof to collapse, if I can avoid it!

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Wattle weave bed – it’s finally done! Next!

I was going to post progress pictures, but I need to conserve storage space on WordPress until I go back and resize more old photos. I might do a start-to-finish photo video, instead. Until then, here it is! The L shaped wattle weave bed in the old kitchen garden is DONE!!

The insides of the woven walls were first lined with grass clippings. It turned out to be a very windy day, which made that job more challenging then it should have been!

Next, I used a hoe to make a trench down the middle, pushing the soil up against the grass clippings. The cardboard from the sun room I’d set aside for the burn barrel came in handy, as it was suitable for lining the bottom of the trench. With the bed being so narrow, the size of the boxes didn’t matter as much, since I had to cut them to fit, anyhow. The cardboard then got a soaking.

Next came a layer of corn stalks reserved from the garden clean up, which got a soaking. I raided the compost pile of half rotted kitchen scraps to put on top of the corn stalks, followed by a soaking. Then I raked some leaves off the grass nearby and added that on top, which then got a soaking. At this point, I climbed in and walked back and forth over it, to crush the organic materials. Whatever we decide to plant here next year, I don’t want the roots to be finding big gaps in the soil and drying out.

Finally, I headed out and uncovered the pile of garden soil we bought a couple of years ago. The cover kept the pile from washing away, but didn’t keep the light out, so the pile was covered with a matt of weeds!

I also realized the “tarp” I’d found to cover the pile had channels in it. We’d noticed them when we first dug it out, but only recently did I find the carport support peaces my brother said was in the hay loft. Some time after that, I’d dug out a tarp I thought we might be able to use to cover the hole in a shed roof, but when I unrolled it, I saw it was part of the carport. I figured it was a roof sheet or something, since it isn’t that big. Now I realize that this piece was part of it, too. So I dragged it off and lay it out on the lawn, with weights to keep it from blowing away. We’ll hose it down and see what we can do with it. The first sheet I’d found had a row of tears in it. This one does not.

I’ll have to find something else to cover the garden soil pile with.

It took 4 1/2 wheelbarrow loads of sifted soil (to get as many weed roots out as I could!) to cover the whole thing. In the process, I had to stuff more grass clippings higher up the wattles, so the soil wouldn’t fall through the gaps.

No, this time I did NOT give it a soaking! I didn’t want to compact the soil.

By this time, several hours had passed, so I took a break for a lunch the girls prepared for me, then it was back to work. There was a little bit of grass clippings left, so that got scattered over the soil – at least what the wind didn’t blow away while I was trying to spread it evenly! I then raked up and added a mulch of leaves. That did get a soaking, to keep the wind from blowing it away. Finally, I grabbed the wagon and filled it with as much wood chips as it would hold without spilling as I pulled it back. It turned out to be just barely enough to cover the entire bed with a thin layer.

Once that was done, the entire bed got a very thorough soaking. I wanted all the layers to be good and damp. I might even soak it a couple more times, before our highs start dropping below freezing. We hit a high of 18C/64F today (though with that wind, it didn’t feel like it!), but tomorrow our high is expected to be only 6C/43F, and that’s the warmest day we’ve got left. We are expected to have less than a week with highs above freezing. Which isn’t too bad, for November.

Anyhow. The more the bed gets moistened before things start to freeze, the better it will be for spring. With all the layers, the bed got filled to the top of the shortest walls. My intention was to have it a bit lower, and that will happen as the layers settle and the organic matter decomposes. I expect it to drop at least a couple of inches over time.

While working on this bed, I spent a lot of time going over and around the rectangular bed we’d planted beets in. Once the L shaped bed was done, I decided to work on that one, too. It is framed with logs, and I’d like to raise it a bit higher. This is how it looked, at the start.

The first year we had a bed in this space, it was a sort of triangle shape that was too wide at the end near the house. My daughter and I changed the shape of it, then grabbed some pieces of smaller dead spruces that had been cleaned up, to frame it on three sides and keep the soil in place. We planted carrots here last year, which the groundhogs decimated repeatedly. Amazingly, we still got a crop out of it. This year, we planted beets, which failed. Sort of. I’ll talk about that in a separate post!

There is a pink rosebush on the left, and this year – after pruning away more branches from the ornamental apple trees – it finally had substantial growth and huge numbers of flowers.

It’s amazing what a little sunlight will do!

This year, when we covered the rectangular bed, I had a board across the end by the rose bush to hold the mesh down, but otherwise, there’s nothing there. The ground slopes downwards from the house, so that end is lower than the end closer to the house.

That will be built up.

The first thing I did was dig a shallow trench across the bed near the rose bush. I still had some short logs I’d brought over for tiny log bed and border that didn’t get used (you can read about that here, here and here. Links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place. 😊) I placed one of the shorter logs across, in the trench. Then I pounded in three stakes at each corner, to create upright supports. When I find logs long enough, they will be placed between the stakes. I want the long sides to go on top of the cross piece closer to the house, with a second cross piece to fit in between them, but have it the opposite way on the low side. One of the current side logs is a fair bit shorter than the other, but I think I find find something to fill the gap.

Though I plan to make the bed only one log higher, with the rose bush getting so big, the wall beside it is probably going to be three or four logs high to keep the branches out of the garden bed. I forgot to take a picture, but I’ve already added another log to that end. It’s slightly longer than the one in the photo, so that it is overlapping the longer side log. When I find a gap filling piece for the bottom, it will be tucked under that second log. The second log isn’t as thick as the bottom one, so I tied off the pair of uprights on either side of the ends, to secure them, and will do the same with each log that gets added. I made sure those pairs of upright supports where the tallest and strongest, since they’ll be holding the most logs.

And that was enough for today! I need to go hunting for long enough logs for those sides. If I can’t find any that are suitable, we might add more of those support stakes and use shorter logs instead. We have plenty of short ones that couldn’t be chipped, that were cut to roughly four foot lengths. The bed, however, is about nine feet long, so that might not work. We’ll see.

That done, I had time to work on emptying the rain barrel, which had enough water still in it to do the Korean Pine and Ash tree seedlings in the outer yard, as well as the haskaps and a currant bush in the south yards. So that’s now empty and ready for winter. Usually, I tuck it away in the old kitchen garden for the winter, but I think this time I’ll leave it where it is. It’ll get snow in it, which should be fine. I just don’t want to be chipping it out of the ice and snow again, to set it up to catch the snow melting off the roof in the spring.

While I was doing all this, I had the attention of so many yard cats! Even the ones that don’t like people, like to hang around while I work.

While I was putting things away for the night, I spotted this…

He was napping in the wheelbarrow at first, but I interrupted him while taking a picture. 😊

What a handsome boy! We have managed to pet him every now and then, but he isn’t a fan of attention.

I did get to give the bitty baby a cuddle, though! He came out to explore, and after several attempts, I was able to cat him. He put up quite a fight until I got him into snuggle position and started scritching his ears and he finally calmed down. I hung on to him for quite a while before putting him down, and he didn’t run away. Hopefully, he will become more accepting of cuddles as time goes by. We’ve had others that became less accepting of cuddles and attention over time. Ah, well. We do what we can!

The Re-Farmer

Medicated kitties, and the sunroom is basically done

I’m planning to do our final (hopefully) trip into the city for a Costco stock up shop for this month, so I would normally not have gone anywhere today. Especially with it being Halloween, and I would expect the stores to be filled with last minute shoppers.

I did, however, want to pick up some lysine for the outside cats, to use until the powder I ordered comes in. Since I was going to be in town anyhow, I remembered to grab the empty 5 gallon water jugs for refilling. We have four of these for our drinking water, and try to never go less than one on the go, and one full one waiting, though sometimes that doesn’t quite work out.

Once at home and my daughter took care of hauling the water jugs inside, I started getting ready to give the outside cats some lysine with their evening kibble top up.

*sigh*

I got my daughter to bring me a mortar and pestle. I was expecting to be opening up gel caps with powder in them, like the cat lady was telling me she does.

I even got the same brand she gets!

As for getting it on the amount of kibble I put out at once, which almost fills a gallon sized container, I stole one of the bins we used for taking transplants outside for hardening off in the spring. I put the measured amount of kibble in the bin, ground the tablets into powder and sprinkled that on top, then tossed it until I was sure all the kibble was coated.

I think, the next time I do this, I’ll give the kibble a very light spray of water first, so the powder will stick to it better.

Then the treated kibble got poured back into the gallon container, and I fed the kitties.

They didn’t seem to notice any difference with the kibble, and ate it without any hesitation.

The kittens are already mostly improving with all their leaky eyes, stuffy noses, coughing and sneezing, but this should help them get better faster, and hopefully prevent them from getting sick again. It’s especially dangerous if they get sick in the winter, and with so many really young kittens this year, they are the most at risk.

Speaking of kittens…

I couldn’t get a photo, but when I headed out to town I could see a ludicrously big pile of kittens on the new cat bed I’d put in front of the east facing window. It was hilarious! With the other cat bed at the corner by the south facing window, that entire side would have been packed with babies! They all started moving around and looking to come outside when they saw me, so I hurried away. The last thing I wanted was to have kittens following me to the garage, when I can’t see them while backing out.

After adding the lysine to the kibble, I stayed out and worked on the sun room. This meant leaving the doors open, much to the joy of many kittens. Not all of the kittens are interesting in exploring the sun room, though. At least not yet, but I was very happy to see this!

The bitty baby was out! He was hunting leaves and making friends with some of the cattens. Aside form the one time I saw Junk Pile nursing the bitty, along with her own kittens, we still have yet to see an adult cat mothering this little spitfire. Yet, clearly mothering is happening. He does look bigger, and he’s getting more active, exploratory and playful. All good signs.

I had quite a bit of furry company while working on the sun room. They were into everything!

One of the first things I had to do was clear the wall under the bathroom window, then clean the cube shelf and set it up. Because there’s the possibility of water getting onto the floor, I made sure to put it on some scrap pieces of rigid insulation. Once that was in place, I could start working on the other side.

I’m still debating putting rigid insulation against that big window in the corner. These are double pane windows, but the inner pane on that one has been gone since before we moved here, so it gets covered in frost in the winter. I do want to let the light in, though, so maybe we’ll get one of those clear plastic window kits, instead.

This half is mostly garden related stuff and, of course, having a place to sit.

We used to have a large cardboard moving box behind the door for tall stuff. After digging around, I found a tall aluminum garbage can I could replace it with. It had been sitting outside for who knows how many years, and the bottom of the inside needed to be scraped of… something. After cleaning it as best I could, I cut a piece of insulation to fit the bottom. That way, it’ll be quieter if we drop something hard or metallic inside. Eventually, we’ll have more garden tools stored in there for the winter. Another piece went on the floor under it, for those times when the floor gets wet.

It’s not quite finished, of course. Some things, like the tool box, will be moved out of the sun room completely, when it’s no longer needed for outside stuff. We found a set of legs to make a folding table, and I’ve got those behind the swing bench until we can find and cut a piece of plywood to size and attach them. The folding chairs get stored in the old kitchen.

This side… still looks like a disaster! *sigh*

When I found the metal garbage can to use for storing tall things, I also found a smaller plastic garbage can inside it. It was intact, so I gave it a cleaning, and now it’s sitting upside down by the walker to dry. I’m not sure where it’ll finally go, but this room does need a garbage can. There’s a bucket to catch drips if we get rain and the roof starts leaking again (still no word on when the roofers will be coming out). I had some square buckets on the counter shelf I was using for small hand tools, only to discover water in the bottom of one of them, and the tools inside were starting to rust. *sigh* So I cleaned the tools as best I could, then left the bucket to catch drips. We don’t have rain in the forecast anymore, but it did start raining a bit while I was in town, so until the roof gets done, we’ll just leave the drip catchers where they are.

I would love to find a better place to store the bin of insulation pieces. They come in so handy, though, I want to keep them accessible. There’s a few other things that need to be organized better, but that can wait. The main thing is that everything that was outside is now inside, the room is more useable, and it’s easier to get at things like the table and miter saws. Even the electric chainsaw now has a spot on a shelf. However that, and the battery powered mini chainsaw, will be going into the house for the winter, though. Things get too cold for batteries or chainsaw oil in the winter.

So there we have it! The sun room is pretty much done, and mostly winterized. At some point we’ll set the food and water bowls and a litter box up in there, for when we need to use it as a kitty recover room again, but aside from little things like that, it’s finally done.

Now I can get back to working on garden beds again! 😁

The Re-Farmer

More off the list, an anniversary – and that didn’t take long! (Updated)

I made it into the city today, but not for a Costco stock-up shopping trip. In fact, very little of what I got today was for stocking up.

After I got home and settled in to start this post, I found a notification from WordPress.

Today is our 5th anniversary since starting this blog!

Five years ago today, my husband and younger daughter were already here for almost a week, having left even earlier than planned when my FIL was suddenly hospitalized. My older daughter and I were downsizing, sorting, and packing things like mad before the movers arrived to finish packing, and we would make the drive out.

Somehow, in the middle of all this, we thought it would be a good idea to start a blog.

What were we thinking? 😂

Things sure have changed in five years!

Anyhow.

I’m happy to say that I took my mother’s car into the city and there were no issues at all with the repaired tire rim. Nothing else broke down either. That’s something I’m always grateful for!

All the stops I planned to make were along one strip, and all pretty close to each other, which made it very convenience.

Not any shorter, though!

My first stop was somewhere I’ve never been to before; Tool Town. I needed to get an affordable tarp large enough to cover that shed roof for the winter.

Oh, this is a dangerous place for me to be in!!! The location is actually pretty small but, my goodness, it was jam packed with so many things we could use!! I had to stick to my budget, though. I got a 20’x30′ medium weight tarp that should do well to cover the needed parts of the shed. Then I just walked through the aisles, ogling all the stuff I wanted to buy! I did get one more item that was on my list, though I was expecting to get it at Canadian Tire. Some time ago, we got a solar powered motion sensor light that’s facing the old kitchen garden, and it works quite well. We have a motion sensor light over the main entry door, but we use the sun room door almost exclusively now. That’s where the cat shelters are, and with things getting dark so quickly, we decided it would be good to get another motion sensor light for over the sun room door. There’s no wiring there, so it has to be solar powered. They had a sale on a larger size light, with two brightness options, for the same price as the smaller size, which was the same was what we already have. So I got the bigger, brighter one. The two items together was still under budget, so that was an added bonus!

My next stop was Canadian Tire, where I got a couple of bags of stove pellets for the litter boxes. I would have gotten more, but I didn’t want to put too much weight in my mother’s little car, and I still needed to get more kibble. I also went looking for a new kibble bin, since the racoons broke apart the lid on the one we have now. There was a sale on 80L bins, making them the same price as the 72L bins. It was the right size for our shelf, so I got the 80L bin. I also got a couple of little things, including a new pair of safety glasses. I bought some not long ago, but they’ve gone missing!

I also checked the prices on tarps. Canadian Tire didn’t have the same size as what I’d about, but the one I got was about a third the cost of their closest size – and that’s before the sale price I actually paid!

It was as I was loading the stuff in the car that I noticed a corner of the bin’s lid was cracked. So I grabbed the lid and went back in to customer service. I left the broken lid and my receipt with the employee after explaining what happened, then quickly went to grab a different one. I figured it would be faster that way.

Well, not quite.

Despite there being so many of the 80L bins on display, there was only 1 matching lid left – and it had a chunk missing from one corner! This was a temporary display, and I knew they had some in the regular aisle for storage bins, so I went there, only to find there were no lids at all in that size.

I went back to customer service and told the employee there weren’t any other lids, except one broken one, on the floor. She called it in to get someone to look elsewhere, but after some time he called back to say he couldn’t find any at all, anywhere.

A bin isn’t much use without a lid, so I returned it. I just hoped I would find something somewhere else.

My next stop was at the international grocery store, where I could also grab a late lunch. There are a few things that we only find in this store, such as the big slabs of uncut bacon, which also happened to be on sale today. I even remembered to go through their pharmacy section and did find some lecithin for the outside cats that was NOT soy based. It was in capsules, but we can open those. I have to remember to ask the cat lady where she gets hers. We might have to order the containers of powdered lecithin online, which I would really prefer not to do, but for so many outside cats, we’d need containers with a whole lot more than what I found! I don’t want to be paying extra for capsules we’ll be breaking open, either.

Update: I messaged the cat lady, asking where she got her lecithin. You mean lysine, she asked?

Oops!

Well, lysine is a lot easier to find, and cheaper. She’s been buying the capsules for humans (the same thing marketed for cats is more expensive) and breaking them open. With so many cats, that’s going to get old fast, so I found and ordered a couple of tubs of the powder. Until it gets here, I can pick up the capsules and use that. So many of the little kittens are dealing with the gooby eyes and stuffy noses right now, I won’t want to wait before treating them.

That done, my last top was at Walmart, where I got a couple of 10kg bags of kibble, and a small cat bed for inside the cats’ house. I had looked through the window where the cat bed is set up, and it was full of bigger kittens, while the bitty baby was by the box bed it’s too small to climb into! I was able to find a small bed that should do nicely. I did also find a new kibble bin that was affordable – and with an intact lid! There weren’t a lot of options for the size and shape I needed. I would have preferred a semi-transparent bin, so we can see how much is in it, but I had to settle for a completely opaque one. After that, I just got a few small items.

When it came time to pay, I went to the single line for the cashiers, instead of the self checkout. There were plenty of tills, and one guy that kept an eye on them before telling the next person in line which till to go to next.

He goofed with me.

The till he sent me to had a couple with a very full cart. It looked like they had to do some price checks, too. They split their purchases into two bills, which made things take longer. The second bill included a microwave, which they got the extended warranty on, so that added more time, too. In the end, they had over $500 in stuff on the second bill alone. Which is fine, but while I was standing there waiting, the guy was sending other customers to other tills, instead of redirecting me to a faster till. At least 8 people who had been in line behind me were through with their purchases, before I was even able to start unloading my cart.

Then he sent a customer to wait behind me, and the couple in front of me wasn’t even paying for their stuff, yet!

It’s a good thing I wasn’t in any hurry, but I sure was glad to finally get out of there.

That done, I could finally start heading home.

While I was gone, the girls started working on the sun room, so there was quite a bit of stuff outside when I drove into the yard to unload. They didn’t get everything out, but they did get the swing bench out, which was the main thing to move. We haven’t been able to get around it to clean up, and when we’ve had yard cats in there for varying lengths of time, they don’t always use the litter box we had in there. Instead, they’d go behind the swing bench.

My daughter was able to get that mess cleaned up, and what a difference that made!

After unloading, I started setting up the new kibble bin, but discovered a problem. The bin just barely fits in the shelf – but only with the lid off! With the lid on, it’s too tall.

Ah, well, It will just have to sit on the floor.

We didn’t open the cat shelter to put in the new cat bed. For the time being, it went onto the swing bench.

It immediately had kittens in it, checking things out.

Then the tuxedo claimed it. That didn’t take long at all! 😄😄

Last I saw, he was asleep in it!

One thing I did make sure to do right away was set up the motion sensor light. I was going to put it above the sun room door, only to realize the solar panel would be shaded by the eaves, so I ended up attaching it to the outer door itself. There was just enough room above the window to screw it in place.

It’s full dark now, so I will be going outside to test the motion sensor later. Before setting it up, I put it on the brighter setting. If it works as it should, it will probably be triggered by cats a lot, but I don’t mind that! 😁 Mostly, I just want to be able to see when we’re topping up the kibble for the evening. It gets dark quite early right now!

So this trip is done, and we only have the Costco trip left for the final stocking up for the month.

That one can wait until after Halloween, though!

The Re-Farmer

Water shelter is done!

My daughter and I were able to get the metal roof onto the water bowl shelter, and it’s now all set up.

We cut the sheet of metal roofing in half, which was a challenge. We started off using an angle grinder, which did NOT work well at all, and was insanely noisy. The cats and kittens were very alarmed by it. We ended up using tin snips. Later on, when attaching the metal to the top edge, we had to use a drill. Not as loud, but still enough to scare many of the kittens. Not all of them. Gooby, the most socialized one (the friendly grey and white tabby has gooby eyes) would actually try climbing my daughter while she was working! Half the time, one of us would be trying to keep kittens away, while the other one worked.

Once the roof was done, we moved it right up against the kibble house. Then we had to pop open the roof of the cat house, so we could unwind the slack on the extension cord out the door. I put some hooks under the kibble house roof to hold it elevated. Unfortunately, the working heated water bowl has a shorter power cord. I ended up having to move the whole thing in about half a foot to get the power cord out of the way. The good thing about it being tucked so far under the overhang is, we don’t need to put a waterproof case around the plugs, like we do with the cord powering the cat house.

When we opened up the cat house roof, there were only two bitty kitties inside – the two we had been trying to snuggle and keep warm, before we could put them into the cat house and they would actually stay there.

I’m hoping the other two were hidden under the cat house, along with several other kittens I later saw peeking out. When topping up their food for the night, I put kibble at the various spots they use to get under there. Not a lot of kittens showed up when I topped up the food; most were still in hiding from all the noise and activity. I really hope the bitties are okay!

Once the snow starts accumulating, I’m hoping the set up will shelter the inner “courtyard”, and keep it from drifting in front of the kibble house, as it sometimes did last winter. We’ll still be shoveling the space out, of course, but it would be good if there will be less of that!

We shall see how the kitties like the new set up!

The Re-Farmer

Bitty Baby update, and a bit of progress

I was really concerned about the bitty babies last night! We dipped at least as low as -7C/19F during the night. I knew if the bitties were inside the cat house, they would be okay – especially if they had a mama to curl up with – but if any of them got caught outside, and the board ramp was knocked over, they couldn’t get back in on their own.

The board ramp was knocked over this morning. The brick it was braced against was frozen to the ground. I suspect we are still getting skunk visits during the night. We don’t see them around anymore, though I’ve seen the odd one on the security camera live feed at night. They go into the cat house entry to eat any kibble that’s left there.

Thankfully, I spotted all four of the bitties through one of the windows. The board ramp is back, but I didn’t want to hang around too much, or they’d be tempted to go outside.

There was no mama. I didn’t even see an adult cat come out of the cat house when I went outside. The bitties have the cat house to themselves; all the other kittens seem to be leaving it to them, other than when they pop into the entry to nibble on some kibble.

All the shallow water bowls were frozen, and the big bowl had a layer of ice on top, but I had some nice, warm water for them. The board ramp I set up for the water bowl shelter is being well used, with lots of little footprints in the frost.

I tried to do a head count, and I think I counted 21, plus the four bitties. Rolando Moon came around later. If any of the mamas came around, it wasn’t while I was there to see them.

With all those growing kittens and cattens, and the temperatures dropping, they are going through the kibble faster. We’re going to have to pick up more before the end of the month. The cat lady is going to try and get some donated cat food for us, too, though we don’t know when she’ll be able to do that.

Before starting on this post, I sent an email to her through her cat rescue’s email address. We usually text, but that’s always a pain out here. Especially if I want to send photos. My phone is supposed to link up to the wifi for calls or texts, if there is no data signal available, but it’s never been good at actually accomplishing that. So I sent the email, with a few pictures, explaining the situation. Hopefully, she knows of a foster family that can take in kittens that aren’t weaned yet. While the kittens don’t look like they are starving or dehydrated, that may just be a “yet”. At least the clones have figured out kibble is food, but I don’t know about the other two.

Hopefully, I will hear back from her soon.

In other things, I got some progress on those willow branches I’d pruned. I dragged them all over to where we’re building up a burn pile where the big branch pile that got chipped used to me, and sorted through them there. Only a few of the branches went straight to the burn pile. With most of them, even if the branches were kind of wonky, most had enough straight sections that I could still use them in sections. It’s still nowhere near enough to finish the wattle weaving, but there will be at least a bit more progress.

Though both today and tomorrow are supposed to have highs just above freezing, with tomorrow slightly warmer than today, we are no longer getting rain and snow. We will be nice and sunny, which makes it a good time to get some things covered. I’m glad I picked up the 3 pack of medium duty tarps at Costco a while back. One of the things that needs to be covered is my late brother’s post pounder that he built. It needs to be refurbished, and that’s not a job we can do right now, but we can at least keep it from getting worse. The trap I’d wrapped around it before was torn to shreds by the wind, and I finally cut the remains away completely, not long ago. The plastic that was covering the motor was also starting to tear, so I made a priority of at least covering that, first. The tarps I have are only 8’x10′, but that should be enough to cover most of it, if I do it right. I’ve learned from how and where the old tarp started shredding, where I need to put some sort of padding, first. Between that and being more strategic on how the tarp is tied down, I hope to be able to reduce the damage from high winds.

The other thing I need cover is the wood pile – formerly junk pile – near the house. The groundhogs absolutely destroyed the old tarp that was over it before, for nesting material – then disappeared. The top boards may be pretty rotten, but the further down we go in the pile, the better shape the wood, and I’d like to keep them from getting worse. This year, however, we had not been able to mow, weed walk or weed a lot of areas as we normally would have, and one side of the pile is among those. It’s completely full of mostly thistles right now. I’ll have to cut away enough of that to be able to reach the pile from all sides, so it can be re-covered with a new tarp. The old tarp was held down by whatever heavy things where handy. This time, I want to actually peg it to the ground.

There is still much to get done before the snow flies – and stays!

The Re-Farmer

Winterizing the cat shelter

After working on the sun room door frame and the bird feeder, it was time to work on the cat house.

The first thing I needed to do, though, was adjust the counterweight.

I sacrificed another crate to hold the block, then retied it. I had doubled up the rope before and this time, rather than cut it, I folded it into thirds. There shouldn’t be a lot of friction from the block, but I figure the more cords there are, the less likely they’ll end up breaking and falling apart. Of course, the weight being supported by the crates will help prevent that, too.

I then added a couple of bricks into the openings of the block to add more weight before I tried opening the roof up.

It’s a Potato Beetle!

Nostrildamus was in there, too, but he ran off when I opened it up.

Potato Beetle didn’t move, the entire time I was working on things!

With the roof fully open, the brick is resting on the ground. This is exactly what I was hoping for!

I then screwed in the terrarium heater, then used the aluminum lid of a take out container as a heat shield, with washers as spacers to keep it from being directly against the wood.

I then plugged it in and let it heat up, sticking my hand under it every now and then. I’m happy to say that the aluminum didn’t even get warm in the entire time I was testing it, though I could certainly feel the heat off the ceramic bulb.

Which was a good time to install the smoke detector.

At the very least, if something goes wrong and a fire starts, any cats inside will be frightened off long before we hear the alarm from inside the house.

Once I was satisfied that the heat shield was adequate, the safety cage was put back. With the heater being slightly wider than a light bulb, I used washers as spacers to make sure nothing was touching it. I ended up using 5 washers at each screw. It’s a good thing that was enough, because any more, and there wouldn’t have been enough of the screw sticking out to secure the cage!

I also put in the timer, set to turn on/off at dusk/dawn. The sensor is facing the largest window, which is facing East. This will likely mean it will turn on before actual dusk but, in the winter especially, that will be just fine.

Then it was time to set up the waterproof case for the electrical cords. I still intend to pick up a longer extension cord, so that it can be tucked under the roof and out of the snow, but at least we can start using it now.

Once everything was done, the counterweight was as much a help with closing the roof as opening it. The hard part is near the end. There is a notch cut out that has to line up with the roof of the entry that was added on later. Without the counterweight, and two people lifting, the person on the window side of the entry has enough to grip, but the person holding the other side of the roof has nothing to grip without risking smashed fingers – and at that point, the roof drops pretty hard! With the counterweight, not only can I easily open it myself but, as I close it, I can do so gently enough to line up the notch to the entry roof, and let it close gently instead of dropping it.

The only thing left in here will be to plug in the heated water bowl, and that won’t be needed for a few more weeks, at least.

Tonight, the outside cats will have their first night with a heated shelter! It isn’t much; the terrarium heater may get very hot to the touch, but that’s a large space for a small heater. This is okay, though, as being too warm would have a whole different set of problems!

It should be interesting to see how many cats I will find taking advantage of the new warmth, in the morning!

The Re-Farmer

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Before I start, I want to say Powitaninia! Dziękują za odwiedzanie! to my sudden spike of new visitors from Poland. To jest cudowne mieć wy tutaj.

Today is going to be a busy day for us – and it was a busy day of cats this morning!

On the list of things to do is clean out the eaves troughs (aka gutters), so I left the ladder out after bringing it to the well for the plumbers. The cats don’t seem to mind it there at all. 😀

The painted bird feeder stand is now ready to be put up again, so that’s another thing on the to-do list.

Can you see the little snoot of a hidden kitten?

There he is!

The little kittens now come out to the food bowls here, consistently. Though I have seen one or two explore inside the cat house, they prefer to hide under it, rather than in it!

Also, their mother is getting nasty! Butterscotch has been growling and hissing other cats away from the food bowls, which is not all that atypical. It’s when she goes after her own kittens that it concerns me!

Also on the to-do list is building a simple shelter to keep the snow off the food bowls. One that’s long enough that I can spread them out, instead of crowding them under the makeshift shelter I’ve made on the sawhorses to keep any rain off.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. While the holiday falls on Monday, we will be having our dinner tomorrow, and some preparations are starting today. I’ve got a turkey that should be thawed out by now, and I just finished preparing a brine. I decided to try something different this year, since I happen to have the ingredients. Along with the usual salt, brown sugar and herbs, I’ve added a generous amount of apple cider vinegar (the one that I used as a “starter” for our own vinegar that is still fermenting). Once the brine is cooled down, it will go into our giant stock pot with the turkey, adding enough cold water to completely immerse the bird. Then it will go into the old kitchen to chill for the night.

Having an un-insulated room has come in surprisingly handy for things that need refrigerating, but don’t fit in our refrigerator! It’s not quite cool enough in the summer, but this time of year, it’s perfect for the job.

Probably not too good for our fermenting vinegar, though! 😀

We never stuff our turkey, but I do like to add aromatics into the cavity. When it comes time to roast the turkey tomorrow, I will continue the apple theme. I like to rub the turkey all over with lemon, then put the pieces inside the cavity for extra flavour and moisture. This time, I plan to add apple pieces as well. The bottom of the roasting pan will have some celery sticks, onion slices and carrot pieces laid out to act as a roasting rack, while also adding flavour to the juices that will be used to make a gravy. The turkey itself will be topped with a woven mat of bacon – a trick I learned from my late mother-in-law.

I picked up some things yesterday, to help me with finishing the sun room door, so I will be heading out to work on that right away. I neglected to check the mail yesterday, though. It turns out our bulbs and garlic arrived, but with Monday being a holiday, I won’t be able to pick them up until Tuesday. So the girls and I will use the time to prep where the bulbs will be planted. Given how late in the season it is, and that we are dipping below freezing almost every night now, we will have to make good use of mulch to help the bulbs get the start they need once they’re in the ground.

Lots of work to do before the cold! But we will still take the time to celebrate the many things we have to be thankful for. For all the problems we are finding in this place, it’s still better than where we were before moving out here! 😀

The Re-Farmer