Frosty morning, and… stuff (updated)

I headed out to do my morning rounds a bit on the late side, yet there was still frost in the air!

It was looking downright foggy, in fact.

Everything looked like a fairy tale, sparkling away!

Even the ugly wires used for fencing looked beautiful. I love how the lichen on this fence post looks, all frosted up!

Taking photos was a bit of a challenge at times, though!

They just wanted to keep their paws warm. Butterscotch didn’t even growl and hiss at Potato Beetle when he jumped up my back!

While checking out the garden areas, I could see from the tacks in the snow where the deer have been going around. I knocked some of the frozen crab apples they can’t reach, down to the ground. The sunflower stalks have been completely denuded, except for the tallest ones. Those were denuded as high as the deer could reach! 😀

The birds are eating the sunflowers a little bit.

I bent all the taller ones that still have leaves and seed heads, so the deer can now reach them to nibble on.

Part of the reason I was out later was because I got a phone call from my older brother this morning. He called me back while I was out, and he is keeping my updated.

He got a call from my mother, very early this morning. Her stomach has been hurting since Friday, and she wanted him to drive her to the hospital.

Keep in mind that, for him, it’s a 1 1/2 hour drive to her place, but only 20 minutes for me – and I have her car. She wanted him to drive her, though.


Getting information out of her was like pulling teeth, of course. In the end, though, it sounds like she has been eating too many oranges. It also sounds like she has really bad gas. She has acid reflux, which she doesn’t understand no matter how many times I’ve tried to describe it to her. I’ve given her easy to read, colour coded lists of what she can safely eat, and what she should avoid. The lists have disappeared. All citrus fruits, tomatoes and onions are things she should avoid, but she loves them and eats them anyway. Small amounts wouldn’t be an issue, but mandarins are in season now, and cheap, so she’s been buying them by the box full. She does think it might be the oranges that are causing her grief, but she thinks that, because the price went down and they’re from China, she had to have eaten a bad orange.


Anyhow, after updating me on the situation, my brother called the health line, since it’s been made clear hospitals really don’t want people going in right now. The health line couldn’t tell him much, since they were not talking directly to my mother, but in the end he was told to take her in, simply because of her age.


My brother called me back on hands free, while we was on the way to pick her up to update me.


I just got a call back from my brother. He has dropped our mother off at the hospital. It seems she also had breathing issues at night (which she often has, while trying to sleep) and nausea (also not unusual for her). They were able to take her right in, but he couldn’t come in with her. He did have a chance to explain things to the person at the entry – particularly about our mother’s difficulty in understanding the questions she is being asked. My brother was told he could go home, but with how long the drive is, he’s just going to hang around town until it’s time to pick her up or they call him. He was satisfied that they were taking her seriously and taking good care of her, so there’s that, at least.

So today will be a day when I stay close to the phone. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Update: Well that has to be the fastest ER visit ever! My brother called the contact number to check on our mother, only to be told they were just finishing with her and he could come pick her up. She’s got some anti-biotics, and she’s good to go.

Well… I suppose that’s one way for my mother to get my brother to “visit” her… :-/

Almost to plan

Well, most of what I intended to get done today, happened. Plus, some unplanned stuff got done. 🙂

There was quite the crowd around for breakfast – and not all of them are in this photo! Most of them came out of the cat shelter, which was quite gratifying to see.

They were hungry enough that the little kittens allowed me to pet them while they were eating, including the calico. I was also able to finally confirm that both orange tabbies are male. That leaves the two bigger kittens (behind the food bowls in the photo) that we don’t know the gender of, yet. We’re really hoping they are males, because we have had zero progress in getting those ones more socialized. At least with the little calico, there is some hope we’ll be able to get her inside before she goes into heat.

The water bowls were all frozen this morning, so I brought out some warm water for them. The cats really appreciated that! I’ll have to get that heated water bowl set up soon.

While doing my rounds, I remembered to try and get a photo under my mother’s car. It took quite a few tries!

The last time I drove it, I noticed something was loose underneath. I only saw it because of how I happened to be parked in an otherwise empty parking lot, as I walked to the car from a store. From a distance, I could see something hanging down near the front passenger tire, but once at the car, I had to look through the tire rim at just the right angle to be able to spot it.

When it was time to go to my mother’s to help her with errands, I left early so I could stop at the garage near her place. It is just a plastic shield, and it looks like a bolt probably vibrated off. Who knows when that happened, but it had to be recently, since I picked it up from the garage not that long ago. I have no way to get under there myself, but it’s such a small job, I didn’t even need to make an appointment to get it worked on. I was told to just give a call in the morning, then come on over. I will do that as soon as I can, so I don’t have to make my mother clamber up into our van anymore!

I was able to help my mother with several errands, and even get a bit of a visit. I was happy to see the mask exemption card I’d taped to her door was still there. Her municipality has a mask mandate right now, so we did get asked a couple of times if we had masks. Since I was with her, I was able to tell them we had medical exemptions, and there was no problem. Interestingly, while at the pharmacist’s counter, where they didn’t even bat and eye over our lack of masks, my mother did fish out a surgical mask from her pocket and put it on, saying she didn’t want any trouble – except no one was giving her trouble! I just cringed, because she has no ability to put one on properly. She only kept it on for maybe a minute, probably less. She didn’t even try to put it on when we got to the grocery store. I’ve helped my mother shop often enough, and the staff knows her well enough, that they talked to me about the masks, not her. It all worked out well. It was a real relief for me, given how much she struggles to breathe with a mask on. She still has a hard time understanding mask exemptions, and I could see she was concerned about being given a hard time, but the staff at all the places we went to were awesome. I did give her an exemption card to carry, but I have no idea what she did with that!

Once my mother was all set, I headed home and was expecting to hang the replacement door for the sun room back up. I wasn’t able to get another set of hands to hold it for me, so I instead worked on some cutting I needed to do. I had found a board in one of the sheds that I cut to length to make a couple of shelves in the entry. The pieces now just need some sanding and painting.

Then I started on cutting pieces that will be the frame for a cat kibble house. 😀

I’d made a rough and flexible plan for it. For the frame, I am using the pieces of wood from the frames I’ve been using to mark out garden beds. I also had a couple of extra long pieces we never used when we built the goat catcher.

I ended up changing the dimensions a bit, based on the wood I had available. All the pieces had one end slightly more damaged than the other, so I worked around that when making my measurements and cuts.

The short end pieces from the dismantled frames will be the upright pieces for the cat kibble house. The back pieces are 3 feet long, while I decided to make the front pieces 3 1/2 feet, instead of the 4 feet I was originally thinking of doing. The longer side pieces of the dismantled frames will be the length of the kibble house. I actually measured the group of kibble bowls and decided to make it 6 feet long, instead of the 5 feet I was originally thinking of. I then used the cut off pieces from those to cut cross pieces that will be the depth of the kibble house. They weren’t long enough to do the 2 1/2 feet I’d originally considered making it, so I cut them 2 feet long, instead.

I cut 4 of them, though I only need two, just in case I need extra.

The only pieces I haven’t cut yet will be the support for the roof. I will decide on the length of those later. I want a considerable overhang on the front of the roof. It can’t extend too far, though, because then it will be in the way when trying to reach the kibble bowls inside.

As for the roof itself, I’ve been finding sections of plywood in the barn and sheds that I should be able to salvage. Once I decide on how long of an overhang I want, I’ll have the dimensions I need to hunt out a piece that will fit.

The kibble house will also have a floor and three walls. For that, I plan to use wood salvaged from the junk pile. The pieces are pretty inconsistent in size, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be enough to keep the bulk of the wind and snow out. The roof will be the most important part.

As you can imagine, the noise of cutting the pieces spooked the cats quite a bit. Some of them, however, were spooked into the cat shelter. As I was putting things away, I looked to see that the indicator light for the timer was on. I could also see a little calico kitten, curled up under the heater! I am so glad the little kittens are using it. They are the ones I’m most concerned about for the winter!

Unfortunately, other critters have discovered the shelter.

Stinky came by as I was cleaning up! I had unhooked the hose, though it was too cold and stiff to put away, so I screwed it back on and used it to spray the skunk away. Long before the cats were willing to check out their new shelter, I could tell from the smell that Sir Stinks Alot had already visited. Nicky the Nose – the only one of the big toms that still visits regularly – has been seen coming out of it, too. We’re trying to discourage him from visiting, because he has been attacking our own male cats. Especially Creamsicle. 😦 If he’s in there, chances are he will chase away some of our own cats.

He’s also the daddy of way too many kittens!

I have come to the conclusion that Nicky the Nose is deaf, or at least mostly deaf. There have been a few times I’ve come towards him, even talking as I walked, while he was facing away, with no reaction. It isn’t until he turns his head and sees me that he reacts and runs off.

Tomorrow, barring some unexpected change in plan, I will continue to work on the cat kibble house, and hopefully be able to snag a daughter to help hang the sun room’s replacement door.

It’s starting to get pretty chilly out there, and there’s still plenty we need to get done before the real cold hits!

The Re-Farmer

Evening and morning critters, and going off the rails a bit

We continue to have frequent visits from deer in our yard. I got this photo out my window yesterday evening.

Of the 5 deer in the photo, 4 of them are a family group. One of them was part of a group of 3, two of which I could see through the trees near the old garden area, but they never came any closer to the house.

I don’t imagine there was much left at the feeding station, this late in the day, but they’re still coming by to snack on what they can find!

They are so pretty.

Speaking of pretty, check out this beautiful Potato.

Potato Beetle has gotten into the habit of dashing in front of our feet as we walk, slowing down, forcing us to step around him, dashing in front again, slowing down… then flinging himself onto the ground and rolling.

In other words, he’s trying to kill us by tripping over him. 😀

I was very late in doing my rounds this morning, and Potato Beetle was the only one around at first. That meant I got to pick him up and carry him – it was either that or constantly trying not to trip over him! – and he was very content to stay in my arms. Unlike Butterscotch, Beep Beep or Two-Face, who are in constant motion while being carried.

He so wants to come inside!!

There has been zero interest in our attempts to adopt the rest of the babies out, which is really frustrating. Two-Face is booked to be spayed later in April, which means we’re going to have to bring her inside, if only to make sure she doesn’t get pregnant, first.

But we already have 7 cats inside. It’s getting to be a problem. Part of the reason I did my rounds so late this morning is because of being kept up most of the night by cats.

Which reminds me. When topping up the outside cats’ food and water last night, we had an extra visitor in the sun room. Stinky is back! He stayed around, hidden behind the makeshift cat cave, while I was in there. Later, I could see him through the bathroom window, eating the cat kibble. When I looked again at about 2 am, he was still there and eating again! This might explain while, some mornings, all the food bowls have been completely empty, with barely a crumb left behind.

I was talking with one of my daughters this morning about the outside cats, and how we’re slowly getting them fixed as my other daughter has been able to afford it. We were talking about how the outside cats want in, but we just can’t do it.


There is a possibility.

If we can clear and clean up the new part basement, then find a way to make a door over the entry to the old part basement, we could do it. We could move the litter boxes downstairs, and they would have a huge amount of extra space if we keep that basement door open. The old part basement has the pumps, including the sump pump reservoir, so we don’t want to let them in there.

I guess that’s incentive to get the basements done faster!

We shall see.


Today, being Sunday, is our day of rest. Normally, I’d be in town right now, while my younger daughter is at work for her short shift. The pharmacy she works at is closed on Sunday now, due to the Wuhan Flu, so we are all home today. For a moment I thought that, hey! I could go to church! But the churches are all closed to services right now, too.

Which leads me to another topic entirely. Normally, I try to stay away from stuff like this, but this blog is about our new life here at my old family farm, and this is one of those things that is affecting us. Even as relatively isolated as we are.

I am just so frustrated about all the panic over the Wuhan Flu. People are being so stupid about it. This morning, my husband caught an article about a couple in BC that walked into a grocery store and bought their entire inventory of meat.

I have two immediate thoughts about that. The first is, who has the money to buy that much meat? The second is, why did the store allow it? Retailers have the discretion to limit purchases. Why didn’t they?

Meanwhile, I just read the updated protocols for the hospital my husband has appointments with in the city at the end of the month. His appointments have not been cancelled, but the hospital is now allowing access at only 2 entrances. The main entrance and one to the cardiac clinic, which is also the emergency entrance and the one we will be using. Everyone who comes in will be checked for symptoms and asked about their travel history.

The thing that bothers me so much about all this is the panic – largely induced by the media. I’m certainly not against precautions, but so much bad information is out there right now and, as mentioned earlier, people are being stupid about it, and their behavior is affecting everyone else, in a negative way.

Another part of my frustration is this.

We’re nearing the tail end of the annual flu season right now. While there is non-stop hyperventilating about the Wu Flu around the world, in the US alone, between October 1, 2019 and March 14, 2020, there have been an estimated 38 – 54 MILLION flu illnesses. There have been an estimated 17 – 25 MILLION flu medical visits. There have been an estimated 390,000 – 710,000 flu hospitalizations, and between 23,000 – 59,000 deaths.


And the annual flu season isn’t over yet.

This is just in the US.

I’ve found the Canadian numbers. The Government of Canada website has weekly reports. The latest report, as of this writing, is March 8 – 14, or Week 11. From that last link:

Severe Outcomes Influenza Surveillance

Provincial/Territorial Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths

To date this season, 2,232 influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported by participating provinces and territories Footnote 1.

68% of the cases were associated with influenza A.

Of the 978 cases for which subtype was reported, 55% were associated with influenza A(H3N2).

The highest cumulative hospitalization rates up to week 11 were among adults 65 years of age and older (71/100,000 population) and children under 5 years of age (69/100,000 population).

273 ICU admissions and 97 deaths have been reported.

68% of the ICU admissions and 71% of the deaths were associated with influenza A.

With so many people coming in to be checked for the Wuhan flu, more cases are being diagnosed for the annual flu. Many cases don’t get recorded, because people just don’t go to the doctor or hospital and get diagnosed. (Side note, the annual flu strains are listed as Influenza A and Influenza B, with A having several sub categories.)

Now, please understand that I’m not trying to say that the annual flu is somehow worse than the Wuhan Flu, or anything like that. There are significant differences. The fact that the Wuhan Flu is spreading at the same time as when the annual flu was in full swing is taxing health care systems to the max. Proper care should be taken.

Wash your hands with soap and water frequently.

Stay home if your sick, if you can. My husband used to work in IT, with government contracts, so he spent much of that stage of his career in various provincial government offices. Government employees are paid by salary, not by the hour, and tend to have generous sick leave and insurance policies. Yet so many people would show up at work, sick, hacking and coughing all over the place, acting like they were some sort of hero for being soooo dedicated to their jobs, that they came in even while sick. The next thing you knew, dozens of people are having to call in sick because of that one plague person spreading their colds. If you can stay home, do it! Not just from work, but going out in general.

Also, wash your hands with soap and water, frequently.

If you can’t stay home, take precautions. That’s where those masks come in handy. Masks aren’t there to prevent you from catching a virus. They’re there to keep you from spreading it to others if you’ve got it yourself.

Wash your hands with soap and water. Frequently.

Keep your distance from other people – stay out of each other’s “personal bubble”.

Wash your hands with soap and water. Frequently.

Sneeze into tissues. Cough into a tissue or your elbow.

Wash your hands with soap and water. Frequently.

Don’t lick your fingers before handling money, paper, etc. That is a MAJOR problem in retail. An astonishing number of customers slobber all over their fingers to better grip their cash or cards, then hand their germ riddled item to some poor part time cashier, who doesn’t have sick leave or insurance, and can’t afford to lose any hours due to illness. Keep your spit to yourself.

Oh, and…

Wash your hands with soap and water. Frequently.

Seriously. It doesn’t take much care to reduce the spread of germs. It’s not like they can get around on their own.

(Do visit this post, Why yes, I am an Infectious Disease Specialist, by Insanity Bytes for an excellent read.)

The frustrating thing is not that people are taking the Wuhan Flu seriously (panic behaviour being another issue entirely). It’s that we DON’T take the annual flu just as seriously.

Every year, before flu season, people are given the exact same information for precautions to prevent the spread of the flu.

Every public washroom in places like grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and department stores have posts with instruction on hour to wash your hands properly. Seriously. People need to be told how to wash their hands.

And people don’t do it.

So many just use the bathroom and leave, without going near a sink.

It’s disgusting.

It gets people sick.

How many people would be protected, every year, if we kept up these basic hygiene practices, all the time? Especially at risk people, such as those with preexisting health conditions or the elderly.

How many productive hours would not be lost?

How many lives would be saved, every year?

Right now, we’ve got people panicking over the Wuhan Flu, with the media whipping it up to a frenzy. Emergencies are being declared. Economies are being shut down. Yet, we have the equivalent of the Wuhan Flu, if not worse, every year, around the world.

Again, this is not to make light of what’s going on right now. It’s just so frustrating that it took something like this for people do engage in simple behaviors we should be using all the time.

Of course you just know that, once this is over, many of the same people who went into a frenzy of toilet paper and hand sanitizer panic buying (all those survivalist and prepper sites are certainly being vindicated right now!), or doing things like buying up the entire inventory of meat in a grocery store, leaving nothing for those who actually need the food, will probably go back to business as usual; going to work sick, coughing all over their co-workers, and not washing their hands with soap and water throughout the day.

Sometimes, humans really suck.

The Re-Farmer