Morning kitties, and checking beyond the outer yard

It’s a good thing we normally keep kibble, water and a litter box in the sun room. When I closed the door last night, I made sure to check for kittens and saw none. This morning, I discovered I’d closed the three amigos up in there overnight!

I was able to get a picture with Rosencrantz’ tortie! It is the shiest of the bunch. I was able to pet the one at the pack a little bit, at least. Rosencrantz herself acts like she wants to be petted, will stretch out to sniff my fingers, bump her head against my hand – then try to bite and scratch me, too! She used to be much more friendly.

While doing my rounds, I kept hearing cows and calves, very loudly. The renter has rotated his cows out and took away the power source for the electric fence to use in the other quarter he’s renting, so if for some reason there are cows in this quarter, there is nothing to stop them from getting into the outer yard – and we’ve opened up the gates to the inner yard.

For all that I could hear them, I couldn’t see them. I decided to do a walkabout, though. I haven’t gone beyond the outer yard since last year, and I really wanted to see how the gravel pit was looking, after the renter hired someone to dig it deeper during the drought last year.

Wow. What a difference!

September 2022

I couldn’t even go to where I had tried to consistently take pictures last year, because it’s under water. You can see a whole bunch of ducks swimming around, too!

Just for comparison, this was last year.

August, 2021

That was the most water it had all of last year. The clay held what little rain we finally got.

September, 2022

Only the deepest part was dug deeper; it extends quite a bit in one direction, and forms a sort of marsh in the other. Last year, this part didn’t even really get muddy.

This is what it looks like in July of last year.

July, 2021

If you look in the trees, there’s one that is distinctively bent up. If you look in the photo I took this morning, you can find that tree, further away. The spot I stood in to take the picture in July of last year is underwater now, too.

I wish I’d thought to head out and see how high the water was when things were flooding in the spring!

I followed along the marshy bit to where it ends at a sort of roadway, with a pond on the other side.

It has water, too!

When I was a kid, I remember there being enough water in here to float makeshift rafts in, but it has filled in a fair bit over the years.

I was surprised to see this, not too far away.

This tree is still alive! The trunk is even more split open, with the middle rotted away, than when I first found this tree broken after high winds.

Since I was in the area, I decided to head towards the field, which the renter has prepared for next year already, so check on things. There’s an old junk pile there, too. All during my walkabout, as much as possible, I was picking up junk and scrap pieces of metal the cows had scattered around, and put them onto the nearby piles of junk.

I really look forwards to being able to get a scrap dealer to clear away some of this stuff!

I found more pieces of junk scattered about near the fields and cleaned them up a bit.

And found this.

It’s completely intact. Not even a chip, though it was full of dirt.

I brought it home and added it to the table of other found objects. 😁

My daughter came by as I was working on this post, and I showed her the photos I took this morning. She was happy to see the cup! She’s found it last year and had intended to bring it back, but her hands were too full of other things. It’s now sitting exactly where she’d wanted to put it, herself! 😊

I found another surprise in the area.

More water!

Normally, this area has water only during spring melt. There is a sort of “river” that heads off to the right in the photo, all the way to the road, where there is a large culvert, and continues north in someone else’s property. To the left, it goes into the field and joins up with the municipal drainage ditch. The group of trees in the middle become an island, but right now, we have another pond!

While chatting with the renter, I’d commented on how glad I was that they were able to get the gravel pit dug out. He mentioned that, in this quarter, getting enough water for the cows has always been difficult. Not this year, that’s for sure! And with how deep the pit was dug, and the heavy clay bottom, it should not be a problem again, even in dry years.

While heading back, I spent some time checking out the car graveyard, which has all sorts of old farm equipment as well. In the process, I think I found a solution to a problem.

One of the things I want to get built this fall is a chicken coop, so we can get chicks in the spring. We can’t get away with the basic chicken tractor that is so easy to find plans for all over. We need something suitable for our winters, so a lot more substantial. However, I still want to be able to move it to different locations, so that we can incorporate chickens into our garden plans. I’ve been doing some research and have seen mobile chicken coops that are more or less what I have in mind. Basically, they are build on a wagon chassis. I’ve looked around, and even second hand, those can be pretty expensive.

I think I’ve found one.

Among the junk is an old, wooden wagon of some kind. It’s got sheets of aluminum in it, and the wood walls are rotting away. It has all steel wheels and, as far as I can tell, the chassis is completely intact.

As soon as I have the opportunity, I want to go back out there with some tools, pull out the metal sheets, dismantle the rotting wood portions and see what’s there. Once clear, we should be able to just roll it home. We should be able to build a pretty decent sized chicken coop on it, if it’s intact enough!

It’s remarkable what we have been finding among the junk, that can be salvaged. It’s a shame so much of this stuff was left to rot away in the first place.

It would be really awesome if we can salvage this!

The Re-Farmer

Water levels

I must say, we are really fortunate. The flooding issues have been around us, and not a threat to our home or safety. At most, it’s been an inconvenience. Not so, for many others!

The highway nearest us has flooded over in the south, part way to the town my mother lives in. Last I heard, it was still getting worse. No one I know can remember that highway flooding over. I think I maybe, kindof, sortof, remember the highway flooding over when I was a child, but I was so young, I don’t really trust the memory. If it did happen, we’re looking at 45+ years ago.

Not only is that section of highway flooded over, but the provincial road we usually use to cross from my mother’s town to the next highway has also flooded over. Which means, if I need to get to my mother, I would have to drive east to the next highway, drive south until I reach a crossroad to the south of where my mother lives, then travel north again on the highway we usually use. It would likely be an hour’s drive, instead of 20 minutes.

The highway near us runs to the north, ending at the town we pick up our beef packs at. The junction to that town has been closed down, as the highway is collapsing. This morning, I learned barricades have been put up at the junction of our own little hamlet. People traveling north will have to turn east to detour.

With so many road closures, I was going to phone my mother to tell her about them, but she called me first. It turns out our vandal had called her and went an a while rant about how she isn’t allowing him on the property, and all the other crazy stuff. As usual, she couldn’t get a work in edgewise. Then she found a picture on her walker outside her door, that he’d left this morning. A picture of him and my late brother doing work on the house we’re living in. I am sure of the message he intended to make by doing that, but it has completely escaped my mother. I wonder about what triggered him. We do have the conference call with his court case coming up soon, to decide when the first trial date will finally happen. I also saw him and his wife walking past on the road while I was working in the old kitchen garden yesterday evening, and seeing me might have triggered him, too.

Showing up at my mother’s door like that is creepy, but at least he didn’t try to come in.

Aside from that, things are okay with my mother. She’s in town and around people, with a grocery store just a couple of blocks away, and the town itself is not being flooded out.

This morning, I checked the washout to the south of us. I won’t bother posting photos I took of that, as not a lot has changed. Enough snow has cleared and water gone down that I could check out areas beyond the outer yard. Where I can, I will include past photos, for comparison.

That photo taken in August was the most water I saw there all of last year.

Sadly, we lot another large tree by this pond.

The trunk had been damaged by ants. Most of the spruces that I’ve seen fallen have ant damaged trunks. Weird, the way it split around that core.

Of course, I had to check out the gravel pit that the renter had dug out again last year.

As with the pond, the photo from last year is the most water we saw in there, when we finally got rain at the end of summer. Last year, when I took photos, I tried to take some from the same spot. I couldn’t do that today, because that spot was under water.

Here is another view of the old gravel pit. The only area that was dug out is where you can see the pile of gravel on the left. The rest was left untouched. Not only is the low area in the foreground full of water, but the marsh beyond the gravel pit is full, too.

There is a lot of clay under there, so I hope that means this will stay full throughout the year. This is a water source for the renter’s cattle, as well as for wildlife.

I also checked on where the “creek” that forms in the spring drains into the field, as well as where the water enters our quarter by the washed out road.

That is a LOT of gravel washed out from the road. It’s remarkably deep.

This water flows through the trees, and the terrain is very rough at the best of times. I didn’t even try to follow along it this time, though I’ve done so before.

Here is where it emerges from the trees.

I had to go back 2 years to find photos of the area, and still couldn’t find any from the same angle. In the old photo, there is some water from the spring melt, which didn’t happen in April of this year! That little “island” by the barrels could still be crossed to, but not this year!

Aside from some spring melt, this area is dry except for a few lower spot – and last year, everything was completely dry because of the drought.

At this fence line, the water flows into the field and eventually joins the municipal drainage ditch, which then crosses the neighbour’s field before crossing the road, near where it is currently flooded out.

It should be interesting to see how things go for the growing season. As I write this, we are at 14C/57F, which is already a bit higher than forecast. The next week is supposed to get downright “hot” at 20-21C/68-70F. Though more rain is expected about 5 days from now, the ground should be thawed out and dried up enough to handle it. Right now, though, we have both high water level and overland flooding alerts, for our region. Still, with the warmth we’re supposed to be getting over the next while, farmers should still be able to seed their crops, and gardeners to start direct seeding cold weather crops, and be able to do their transplanting soon.

Speaking of which, I was able to reach parts of the main garden area, too. That will be in my next post.

The Re-Farmer

Sign progress, and checking the water levels

One of the tasks I got a bit of progress on yesterday, was the sign I am making to replace the one with my late father’s name on it, that identified this farm.

Before adding the second coat of paint, I cut a scrap piece of 2×4 from the wood we found in one of the sheds and brought to the basement a while back, and made “legs”. They are short, but they are something I can work with when we are finally able to put the sign up. Mostly, I wanted them screwed in place before the second coat of white paint was added. That way, I could brush over the screws to make them less visible, while making sure not to fill in the holes for the screwdriver, so they can be taken out easily, if necessary.

They also did a better job of keeping the sign above the top of the freezer while I painted, than what I was using before. 😀

There is one problem with working in the old kitchen, though.

The wasps are somehow getting in from the hive in the crawl space.

So far, they are staying at the north window, trying to get outside; the south window faces into the sun room, and the west window is covered with foil, so there is actually more light from the north. Plus, the old kitchen is not heated in any way and is always a few degrees colder than the rest of the house, so the wasps were pretty groggy. Still, when I first came in to start working on the sign, I did have to move a wasp off that had landed on it, while the paint was still a bit wet. If it had been warmer and the wasp less groggy, it probably could have flown off on its own. As it is, when I gently brushed it loose, it just fell to the floor, where I could no longer see it.

They won’t last long, as wasps die off over the winter, but it does mean my husband has to be careful going into there, since he is allergic to stings.

With the second coat of white paint done yesterday, the next step on the sign for today will be to take it outside and use the reflective spray paint on it. I’ll have to read the label on the can again, to see if it should have more than one coat or not.

I can do this part outside, as we are not expected to have rain again for a while. With how much we got recently, this morning I decided to check out the old gravel pit that the renter got dug deeper, so see how it was. Along the way, I checked a pond, and there was no standing water at all, though the bottom has a lot of green growth at least.

The old gravel pit is wonderfully full of water! This is the most it has had all year. Thankfully, there is a lot of clay to keep it there, too.

The hill created when the pit was deepened has been noticeably affected by the rain, as well, and I could see where actual rivulets had formed, washing things away.

This is the bottom of one of the rivulets, where you can see a deer had made its way through the clay and silt. All around the bottom of the hill, there are now patches of clay and silt like this, but this is the only one that had tracks in it. 🙂

I’m really glad the renter was able to get this pit dug deeper. Even with all the rain we’ve been having, the water table has not recovered yet, so this is the only water around for wildlife. Of the dugouts in the area that I can see from the roads, only one, about two miles away, has any water in it, and it was also dug deeper this year, too.

Well, things have warmed up nicely – it’s currently 15C/59F right now! – and it’s time to get outside and get some manual labour done! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Checking things out

After all the wonderful rain we’ve been having, I just had to go and check out some areas beyond the outer yard.

Of course, that included the old gravel pit! Here’s a slideshow, covering just over 3 weeks, from being newly dug out to today.

The first photo was taken the day the pit was dug, on the 7th, though it was deepened slightly a couple of days later. The next photo of the first puddle of water was taken on the 10th. By the 14th, it was noticeably lower, and by the 20th, looking almost gone. The next photo was taken on the 21st, and the last was taken today, the 23rd.

There’s a nice little pond started in there, thanks to the wonderful rains we have been having. Had the renter not had this dug deeper, there would have been little more than a muddy puddle, only slightly larger than the pond not far away. I checked that out, too, and for all the additional rain we’ve had, there really isn’t much more water visible there than the last time I checked it out.

Since I was in the area, anyhow, I decided to check out another low, almost marshy, area close to the road that is partly in where the renter has his corn. Driving past, the feed corn looked pretty good, but this was the first time I got a real look at how it was doing.

What a mix! In some areas, the corn was taller – though still only about 4 feet high – with swaths of shorter corner, here and there.

This spot was the most extreme in corn shortness! Not far past this, it started getting tall again. Especially right in the corner, near where the low area I wanted to check out was. While walking along the fence line, I could see where deer had chomped off the tops of some of the developing corn cobs.

Our views while driving by on the road was deceptive. While most of it seems to be doing okay, if shorter than normal, there is a lot where the feed corn isn’t much better than our own sweet corn! Though even the smallest of the feed corn is sturdier than ours. That would be the difference in soil nutrients. The renter has been good about amending the soil with manure, composting in old hay and straw – even the stalks from last year’s crop – and keeping up the nitrogen.

Last year had been such a bad year for crops, and this one has been even worse. Depending on the next few weeks, though, it does look like the renter will have something to harvest, at least.

As for the low area I had gone to check out, there was no sign of water there at all. Not even where it merged with the ditch along the road. It was, at least, looking a big greener than the surrounding areas, but that was pretty much it.

The Re-Farmer

After the rain

Oh, what an amazing rainfall we have had!!!

During a break in the rain, yesterday, we were able to bring in the onions that were still on screens under the canopy. They at least were dry enough to brush off the remaining soil, before their roots were trimmed and I strung them on twine, the same way I did the garlic.

The strings of garlic are cured and now in a cardboard box, while the braid of onions are now in the kitchen, making room for these to continue curing. It’s cool enough, but unfortunately, the humidity was at 77% at the time we hung these up. Which is still better than outside! With the fan going, I hope they will cure okay. I kept the tops on, so that they could later be braided.

While doing my rounds, I found several clusters of mushrooms had sprung up in front of the cucamelons and gourds, over night. An encouraging sign of soil health improving. 🙂

There were a lot of hungry kitties! Junk Pile’s kittens are showing up at the kibble house more often, but I only see them because they heard me coming out of the house and ran off. One has been running under the cat house, whiel the others dash out of the yard. Our chances of socializing these ones seems rather low, unfortunately.

We are still leaving kibble further out for Butterscotch’s and Rosencrantz’s babies. There seems to be a bit of territorial disputes happening, and this ensures everyone still gets some food.

We didn’t get the predicted thunderstorms, but we did have high winds along with the driving rain, resulting in this wind damage to some of the sweet corn. This is the middle block, which has the tallest of the sweet corn.

I think some of those cobs may actually be ready to pick!

With so much rain overnight, I decided to go and check the gravel pit dugout. This is how it looked yesterday morning.

This is how it looked about 24 hours later.

That is so amazing!!!!

For a bit of perspective, though, look at the green parts to the right of where I’m standing to take the photo, then at the top left, where there is an opening in the trees.

The green part on my right is part of the original gravel pit. While it wasn’t as deep as where the dugout is now, it would normally have been part of the pond that had developed in here. The area in the background on the left is basically mash, and would at least have been muddy. Which means, when we get an more average year of moisture, that entire pit should be full of water, with water extending into the low area on the right, and the marsh in the background. Where I am standing to take the photo would be a few feet from the water’s edge.

With so much water here, I just had to go and check the pond, too.

Yes!!! There is even water at the bottom, here!

That is just so awesome to see!

Okay, it took me a while to find, but I knew I’d posted photos of the gravel pit. Here is a photo of the old gravel pit, taken in June of 2019.

All that area of water that’s furthest away is where the new dugout was made. The area to the left is the shallower area that was left alone.

What a huge difference!

So appreciating the rain we got. For the cows and the wildlife, too!

The Re-Farmer

It’s raining again!

This morning, I woke to the sound of a light rain. I was so excited! I honestly didn’t expect the predicted rain to hit us.

Of course, by the time I went out to do my morning rounds, it had pretty much stopped. Which I suppose was good, since switching out memory cards on the trail cams in the rain isn’t really a good thing. 😀

While checking on the garden beds, I was quite thrilled to see this.

The baby luffa gourd’s blossom is opening!

So far, it’s still the only gourd I’m seeing developing.

Check out that orange colour in the background. The Red Kuri squash is ripening up nicely!

While I was out and about, it did start to rain a bit, and I decided to do a quick check of the gravel pit dugout.

There is so little water left in there, form the last time it rained. No doubt, the renter is still needing to bring water to his cattle here.

The rain has continued, and even gotten heavier, throughout the day. If the forecasts are accurate, it will continue to rain all through tomorrow, too, with a 100% chance of thunderstorms overnight. I’m even getting a weather warning on my desktop app I’ve never seen before. “Overland Flow Flood.” It’s for our region, but at rivers that are not anywhere near us. We have no rivers near us. Not even creeks.

The rain is still desperately needed, and it looks like even the areas where the most wildfires are will finally get some rain.

The Re-Farmer

A quick pit check

Starting today (Sunday), we’re supposed to get hit with high temperatures again, and the thunderstorms that were predicted for Tuesday are now forecast for Wednesday or Thursday, depending on which app I check.

Yesterday evening, I decided to check on the gravel pit and see if there was still water from our last rainfalls.

The water level is definitely lower. Between the cows drinking from it, and the return to hot and dry conditions, I’m almost surprised there’s water left at all. There may even be groundwater seeping into it by now, too.

I sure hope so!

The Re-Farmer

Looking good!

We got more rain yesterday evening and during the night, so I wanted to check out the old gravel pit, to see how the water levels were.

I don’t know that the water level had gotten any higher, but the renter’s cows are using it! Which s really awesome. I didn’t want to spook the cows away, so I made my way through the trees to check on it.

I’m even noticing, as I walked around, that the crunchy grass is starting to show new green growth. Just barely, but enough to see.

I did check out the old pond, to see if there was any water there, too. There was no standing water, but from the new, muddy holes at the bottom, the cows have been walking through it. It’s got pretty much the only green grass around in there.

In an average year, that pond would be full enough to use the small boat we found the remains of nearby, and even more in the gravel pit. In the photo, you can see the lower area that’s greener. That area would also have had water in it, and there would be at least mud in a marshy area that stretches from the gravel pit to towards the pond. For now, I’m just excited over the big puddle!

The Re-Farmer

So exciting!

I’ve just got to share this, first thing!

Yesterday, it started to rain. Off and on, all day, we got real, solid rain.

During a break in the rain, I went out to check the newly dug out old gravel pit.

I had heard the sound of heavy equipment earlier, and found that the pit had been dug a bit deeper.

Some of the big rocks in there were definitely not helping! One I’d noticed earlier was completely shattered, while others had big scrapes on them, or were shifted slightly, but would not move. That’s the sort of thing that will damage equipment, so I don’t imagine it’ll be dug any deeper. At least, not with a front end loader. While everything was damp from the rain, of course, there was no accumulation of moisture at the bottom at all.

The rain continued overnight, sometimes with heavy downpours, and continued through this morning. While we also heard/saw thunder and lightning during the night, we didn’t get an all-out storm over us. In other parts of the province, particularly in the far south, there were hail warnings, too.

This morning, after doing my rounds, I just had to go back and see.

We have water!!!

It’s barely more than a puddle at the bottom, but that doesn’t matter.

We have water!!

Given the clay layer at the bottom, it should actually stay, rather than drain away. We’re supposed to continue to get a bit of rain, off and on, over the next few days, though whether that will continue to reach us, I don’t know. Every little drop we get, however, will be a blessing, and with the pit dug deeper, a boon for the renter’s cows and the wildlife.

I’m just so excited!

The Re-Farmer

Gravel pit dugout

This evening, I just had to go out and see how things were in the old gravel pit. It looks like the dugout is done!

The first thing I saw, coming through the trees, was our new mountain.

I’m guessing, at its peak, it’s getting close to 20 feet high.

Check out those rocks!!

And there it is. The deepened dugout.

The guy said he’d seen a bit of moisture as he was moving the gravel, but if there was any, it’s completely dried up, now.

My hopes that water may seep in have gotten lower.

There were quite a few large rocks, loosened, scraped or, like this one, shattered.

Once there is water in here, the cows and any wildlife in the area will have an easy time getting to it.

What amazed me is that, for all that this was a marshy area and sediment had collected, making the original dugout shallower, the top soil is still amazingly thin. Barely six inches, from what I could see.

Of course, I had to check out the patch of fine sand that was uncovered. Just look at that! So soft!

Just a couple of feet away, the sand was much coarser, but still most definitely sand, not gravel.

Here’s the view from the top of the new hill.

Do you see those divots in the gravel, between the tread marks?

Yup. The cows have already been up here! Silly things!

The treads left behind some compacted clumps, and when I first saw this, it made me think of petrified wood.

It’s just clay and sand and a bit of soil. I think how the outside was compacted to such a smooth surface is really neat.

So here we now have access to such beautiful sand and gravel, and I’m at a loss of how to get it. Even if we were able to get a floor on the trailer frame and hook it up to the riding mower, which does have a tow hitch, we could never get it into the pit to where the fine and coarse sand is. The riding mower just couldn’t handle it. The trailer would be too big to maneuver in there, anyhow, but even if we had a small trailer, it would be too much for the riding mower to handle in there.

The only thing I can think of, based on what we actually have, is to bring our folding wagon (lined with plastic) over.

Man, wouldn’t it be nice if we had access to something like a Bobcat, with a front end loader?


Must. Not. Be. Bitter!

Now, we just need this pit to fill with water. Even just a little! For the cows and all the other critters around.

The Re-Farmer