Looking good!

I’m happy to say that when I came out to do the cat stuff this morning (bringing 2 gallons of warm water, since we now have such a large heated water bowl), there was still liquid water left in BOTH heated water bowls!

The smaller metal ones were, of course, frozen. At this point, I think maybe we don’t even need them anymore, other than it allows for more cats to drink at the same time. It’s less of an issue with the water than the kibble. They don’t usually all try to drink at the same time, so having the four water bowls so close together works out. When the kibble comes out, though, they are all after the food at once. Not only do they not all fit in the kibble house (I counted “only” 25 this morning), but some of them don’t get along with the others. To avoid aggressive behaviour, along with the trays in the kibble house, I put a couple of handfuls of kibble into two of the shelf shelter shelves, a long line of kibble on the cat house roof – sometimes two, if I can reach – handfuls at three openings to under the cat house, the two trays under the water shelter, a tray just inside the entry into the cat house, a tray just under the eaves of the water shelter (the same spot it was in when the kibble house was there), and finally into a bowl under the shrine across the yard. Rosencrantz in particular prefers to eat at under the shrine, well away from any other cats. She’s gotten meaner to the other cats this year!

It sounds like a lot, but it’s still just a gallon sized container of kibble that’s spread out. This way, even the littlest, shiest and most picked on cats still get some food.

When I was finishing up my rounds, I found the bitty baby and Broccoli in the water shelter. Those ramps are being well used.

Broccoli got her name because she looked so much like Cabbages. This year, Broccoli had two calico kittens. (I think they’re both hers, plus a tortie. I’ve lost track!) I’m thinking we should call the new calicos Brussel and Sprout.

But I digress!

The bitty seems to be handling the colder temperatures really well, and has no hesitation about going outside and playing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what the temperature was inside the cat house. The two south facing windows were frosted over on the inside, and the big east facing window…

… was full.

Actually, there was too much reflection in the window that I couldn’t see past, but it was really funny trying to peer in and realizing just how many kittens were crowded at the window! Including both of Broccoli’s calicos. Several had run away when I came close, but I can still see at least seven in the photo.

One of the things I made sure to do this morning was stir around the smoldering ashes from the branch pile, then bank it up again. The pile is slowly getting smaller! What’s interesting is that some of the cats have figured out that they can sit near it and keep warm. When I was first starting the burn, they were a problem, because they were so used to going into the pile and playing. Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep it lit, and had to keep chasing them out of the branches. Once it really got going, though, there was enough heat that they kept away. Now, it’s just a warm, smoldering heap, and every now and then I’ll look over, and see a cat or three, loafed on the snow-free ground around it, enjoying the warmth.

Speaking of warmth, I was just looking at the 10 day forecast on one of my weather apps. Apparently, we’re only going to have one day with the high dropping down to -10C/14F – but 10 days from now, we’re apparently going to get highs above freezing!

That would be a good time for the roofers to show up. So far, no word on when that is going to happen.

The Re-Farmer


Well, it’s all done. The girls and I got things fixed up, moved around and set up with the cat shelters.

The first job was to open up the cats’ house and get things taken care of in there.

There was a whole bunch of incredibly shocked kittens looking up at us when we lifted that roof!

While one daughter was on safety duty to make sure the roof didn’t fall back, the other crawled in to put the heat shield back, then attach the holder for the thermometer.

Safety duty is extra important with so many cats crawling all over.

Including straight up the open roof to play gargoyle!

While they did that, I plugged in the second extension cord and got it through the entry with the other one, then checked to see if we could plug in the new heated water bowl.

As expected, nope! The bowl’s power cord wasn’t long enough.

Which meant a daughter and I did some shelter shuffling, while the other kept kittens distracted.

We really need to put handles of some kind on the water shelter and kibble house. They are really awkward to pick up and carry!

Here is the new set up.

I’d say they like it!

I’m going to have to get larger hooks to hold the cords up, but the small ones will have to do for now.

Once everything was in place, they were given their evening feeding and the water bowls were filled. The container we use to bring warm water out holds about 1 gallon/4L, and that was enough to fill the new bowl, with room to spare.

The board that was used for a ramp into the water shelter is too long for where it is now, so I found a short piece of scrap wood that I could set up near the entrance to the cats’ house. After I took this picture, I found a slightly longer one that is now set up in the middle and braced against part of the sledge under the cats’ house. The ramps are mostly for the bitty baby, since its the only one so small, it would have difficulty climbing our jumping up into the water shelter. Once the ramps were in place, they immediately had kittens using them.

After everything was done and the girls went inside, I hung around for a while longer, seeing if anything needed to be changed and playing with kittens. I ended up shifting one end of the kibble house closer to the water shelter. I’m debating shifting it more, to close that gap a bit more, but I haven’t decided yet.

When my daughter set up the thermometer in the cats’ house, she angled it so it could be seen from all three windows, so we can read it at different times of the day. This time of day, for example, the light is coming in through the smallest window in the entry, and reflecting on the plastic cover on the thermometer, so I couldn’t read it from the window you can see in the photo, but I could see it from the small entry window just fine. After being in there for a while, the thermometer was at about 5C/41F, which is what the temperature in the sun room was when I came inside. The outside temperature was -4C/25F. It should be interesting to see the temperature in there when things get really cold outside.

I think this new arrangement will work well. Everything is still easy to reach for refilling, and the two heated water bowls should make a big difference in the coming winter.

The Re-Farmer

A bit of running around, and thank you, M!

I had a bit of running around to do after the morning rounds, but nothing that had to get me out earlier, or needing to rush through things. Which is good, because I got more done, too. 😊

It snowed lightly all night, so the cats at a bit more to deal with for their roof kibble by morning!

I counted thirty while putting out the food and water.

The branch pile I burned yesterday smoldered all night. I left my computer on with the live feed for the garage cam aimed at it, so it could be monitored. When the camera switched to infrared, I could see hot spots glowing through the falling snow. This morning, I broke it up a bit to stir the embers around, then raked it into a smaller pile. This will keep smoldering for days, if I keep banking it like this, which is what I want. We still have the other, bigger pile to burn, but there is no hurry on that.

After I finished my usual rounds, I decided to go ahead and do some shovelling. It wasn’t really necessary, but I would rather open up the paths now, while the snow it still light, than be trying to do it after the paths have been walked on and packed down. Aside from around the cat shelters and the paths to and from the main doors, I cleared the cat paths, the fire pit and access to the covered firewood pile, a path around the house, and paths to the compost heap, the back of the garage, and the outhouse. It sounds like a lot, but it was easy and fast to do. If we warm up at all, what snow is left in the paths is more likely to melt away, making it easier to keep them clear later one – as long as it’s just light snow.

When I was done with the shovelling, I spotted Shop Towel visiting the kibble house (making 31). You can really tell he’s the daddy of all those white and grey kittens!

What a barrel chested beast he is!

Once all that was done, it was off to run errands. First was a stop at the post office to pick up a parcel, only it turned out to not be in the mail. Our general store is now a Purolator drop off location. Which is good for us, because we used to have to go to the next town to pick up our Purolator parcels.

After that, it was off to town to the hardware store, and then the pharmacy. The company my husband’s insurance is with had some changes made that didn’t affect his coverage, but did affect how/where things were billed. Everything was supposed to transfer over seamlessly, but for some reason, his slow release insulin was suddenly no longer covered. This stuff costs more than $500 a box without coverage, so he hasn’t been able to get more. Once we found out there was a problem, he checked the insurance company’s app, and it said this was still covered, so he sent them an email explaining what happened. It took until yesterday for them to finally respond and it was basically just a letter saying, yeah, it’s still covered. Your pharmacy can still bill us. If they’ve got a problem, they can contact us.

So I printed off the letter and brought it in, since it had the information they would need. Their system still came up as not covered, so I left the letter with them and asked for his prescription to be delivered tomorrow, if they were able to figure it out by then. Then I went ahead with getting a refill on my own prescription, since I was there, which meant I had to wait a while. That turned out to be a good thing, because they got my husband’s billing issues fixed and I was able to get his insulin, too. It was a bit of a shock when the cashier scanned the tags on the prescriptions and there was an extra almost $150 on it, though! It turns out they already have my husband’s next batch of bubble packs in the system. These are now put together in the city and sent here, so whoever is doing it in the city just does the refills every four weeks and sent the packs out automatically. Meanwhile, we just picked up a month’s worth of bubble packs last week, so he won’t need more until next month, but because it’s in their system already, he got billed for next month’s refills! Once that got cleared up, it was removed, so I just had his insulin to pay for.

It gets confusing at times, that’s for sure!

That done, I was finally able to head home, and soon we will be setting up this.

Would you look at the size of that heated water bowl!!! I put the container in it for perspective. That’s what I use to scoop the kibble and it holds about a gallon.

Thank you, M, for your generous donation. The kitties are going to be so happy!

I snagged an outdoor extension cord from the garage, so we can plug in both working heated water bowls. Unfortunately, the cord for the new bowl doesn’t seem very long at all. The older, smaller bowl we’re using now has a longer cord and it just barely reaches from its corner. What we may end up having to do is moving the kibble house over to where the water bowl shelter is, and putting the water bowl shelter where the kibble house is, for it to reach. I don’t want to buy longer extension cords for this, because the excess will just be in the way. I will have to buy a replacement block heater cord, since I took the extension cord for that, but our temperatures are nowhere near cold enough to need to plug the van in, yet. That can wait until next month.


Once we’ve got the water bowl situation figured out, we’ll have to make sure to put something beside the new water bowl for the kittens to climb on. It’s so tall, and some of them are so little, they’ll have a hard time reaching the water, otherwise!

Hopefully, with this new bowl, there will be enough liquid water to last until morning. Right now, the smaller heated water bowl is pretty much empty every morning, even though we refill it at least a couple of times during the day. It does make me wonder what creature is coming over during the night and drinking that much water! It’s certainly more than just the cats drinking it. One of these days, when we have a spare trail cam, it would be interesting to set one up facing the cat shelters to see what goes on when we’re not there to see it!

The Re-Farmer

Testing, and Plushy cuddles!

While tending to the cats’ food and water this morning (I counted 30 this morning), I made sure to set up the big heated water bowl to test it out. After all, it spontaneously stopped working last winter. Maybe it’ll spontaneously start working for this winter!

The cord is shorter than with the other one, so I had to set it up in the kibble house. Which Tuxedo found very perplexing!

I’ll check it later on today to see if the ice along the sides has started to thaw.

I had to go in and out of the sun room a lot this morning and cats got in, so I left the doors open while I continued my rounds. I still ended up with 8 kittens, plus Rolando Moon, following me up the driveway!

At some point, we will be allowing the cats into the sun room more often, if only to use it as a recovery ward, so I moved a floor mat that had been outside, into the sun room, under the swing bench. The mat used to be in the entry of the house, by the laundry, along with another smaller one, but they were more in the way than anything else. When we moved them outside to beat the dust out of them, they never made it back in. In the sun room, the large mat will be enough to keep little paws protected from the cold concrete.

Or my husband’s feet, if he decides to spend some time in the sun room. He has a terrible habit of going in there bare foot. 😉

When I was ready to come inside, I didn’t want to chase the cats out. Especially the ones that aren’t really socialized, since that would make them trust me less. So I decided to sit on the swing bench for a while.

Plushy decided this would be a good time to test my tolerance!

Yeah, she looks so calm and adorable here. She lies! She kept twisting and turning and spinning around – and trying to eat my fingers! She hasn’t quite figured out the difference between a love nip, and a chomp!

She’d had a large matt in her fur between her back legs. I’m happy to say it’s gone now. I think some burrs got caught in her fur, and she got them out. That long fur is one of the reasons we really want to get her adopted out! I’d hate to see her fur get all matted, but it’s not like we’re going to be able to brush her regularly while she’s an outdoor cat.

Gosh, she’s such a beautiful cat! And, now that she’s finally been socialized, she just can’t get enough human attention!

The Re-Farmer

Morning finds, and a majestic visitor

There’s always a little something, when I do my morning rounds! 😀

My husband had been able to take care of the cats earlier, so when I got out, I just have to put out feed for the birds (and deer). By the time I came out, however, I found the new heated water bowl had been knocked over. There had to have been some sort of altercation at the entry of the cats’ house, because even the brick supports around it had gone flying, and the power cord to the bowl had been pulled out.

Not only was the new bowl empty, but the water in the other bowls was frozen solid!

Something better had to be found.

I quickly went to feed the birds, thinking about it, and noticed the chimney liners along the side of the house. Since cleaning up the pile behind the house, we’ve been using these to hold the insulation that gets put around the house every winter.

They were just the right size and shape. Was there one we could spare?

Not on that side of the house, so I came back around and looked at the ones along the back of the house. We have other things set up against the house to help keep the insulation from being blown away, so I was able to find one that looked like we could spare.

It’s the perfect size and shape!

The bowl is so big, I added bricks as spacers between it and the shelter. The cats immediately were all over it, until I refilled the other water bowls, too. They were very thirsty!

We will have to plug the bowl back in later, once there are two people available. With the snow accumulation, the counterweight doesn’t quite reach the ground, so one person has to hold up the roof while the other does what needs to be done, inside. When we do our monthly shop, we’ll pick up a short, appropriate extension cord that can be safely used, so we can at least not have to worry about the cord being unplugged. Not too short, though. I want to run it along the frame of the shelter, just under the roof, so there will be no issue with the cats knocking it about, and no critters chewing on it.

Thanks to my daughter digging out more paths, I was able to get at the back of the garage and the outhouse. To clear access to the outhouse, my daughter had to break up that fallen piece of tree. It was warm enough to no longer be quite frozen to the ground, but that’s as far as it’s going to be moved until, most likely, spring.

When switching out the memory card in the trail cam by the new sign, I noticed these tracks. Something had walked towards the corner, stopped, then turned around. At first, I thought they were foot prints, they were so big. That didn’t seem likely, given the piles of snow from the plow. Not even our vandal is that dedicated to causing problems! The question was, did whatever made it go far enough to trigger the motion sensor on the trail cam?

The answer is, yes!

Would you look at that majestic beauty!!

While doing my rounds and seeing deer tracks, I had been noticing some hoof prints much larger than the others. I’d say, we’ve captured the beast that made them! And what a handsome fella he is!

I’m pretty sure we’ve been seeing this same buck visiting our place since we moved here. If it is, this would be the fifth winter of visits from him. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

This morning

First of all, I’m happy to say the new heated water bowl is working out just fine!

The power cord is slightly shorter than the old one. It specifically stated on one of the labels to not use extension cords with it, and there are no other outdoor power outlets we can use here, so we had to get creative. The bowl is not on a makeshift platform to support it. That made it too high for the cats to reach the water from outside the cats’ house, but a couple of buckets and bricks now serve as surfaces that cats can use to sit on – while also providing stability to keep the bowl from getting knocked over as the cats go in and out of their house.

The cats where checking it out and using it almost immediately! 🙂

Including this roly poly Potato, who followed me when I started my rounds. 😀

There were quite a lot of deer tracks around, but this was new this morning.

The dug up the pile of dried up bush beans that had been cleared out and set aside, to eat. These were waiting to be buried in the beds in the spring, but there might not be any left by then!

Today was pretty warm, so I took advantage of it to do a small burn. While tending the burn barrel, looking at the nearby deer tracks in the snow, I found myself trying to figure out another set of tracks.

It looks like a pair of animals leaped their way through the snow! Fairly recently, too. They are very fresh, and were made after the deer had gone by. I have no idea what would have done this. The holes left in the snow are not that big, but the space between them is pretty huge! Looking at the holes nearest where I was, I couldn’t see any prints inside them, as the snow had collapsed inward as the creatures leapt about.

Any hunters or trackers out there who might know what made these?

After the burn was done, I also took advantage of the relative warmth and broke out the ice chipper.

Then I finally got to shovel the main paths wide enough that my husband can get through with his walker.

Then, because I’m a suck, I shoveled the path along the garden bed that cats had been using. 😀 It’s not wide enough for a walk, but if my husband ever needed to, he can at least cane it through here.

After I came inside, the girls went out and cleared paths to the compost pile, outhouse and the back door of the garage.

Eventually, we’ll clear enough of the yard that we can drive in to unload the van, but that will be a job for our little electric snow blower. 🙂

All that done, I then worked on the cheese I’ve been making, which was really interesting. That will be in my next post! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Twenty – and a marvelous surprise!

Since the blizzard hit, I’ve been trying to get a head count on the outside cats, every chance I get. That we were consistently seeing “only” 17 or 18 at once had me concerned about the missing ones, but with how much they mill about, I couldn’t even tell which ones were missing!

Well, this morning, I am much relieved.

After topping up their kibble trays, I counted 17 again. Then another one showed up after they got their warm water. Finally, I saw Ghost Baby ghosting her way across the yard and disappearing behind the kibble house, for 19. Awesome! Just short one fur baby.

Then, as I started down the driveway, Rosencrantz emerged from under the garage door. Twenty!! Yes! For the first time since the blizzard, all 20 outside cats, including the Distinguished Guest, are all accounted for!

I am happy.

When checking the gate, I could see that the road was plowed, so I headed out to get the mail. There, I found an awesome surprise!

A dear, awesome, fabulous friend sent us a replacement heated water bowl – and that thing is HUGE!!!

One and a half gallon capacity! Thermostatically controlled, too, so it won’t stay on constantly.

Thank you, my awesome friend! You’re the best!

Later today, I’ll snag a daughter to wrestle the cats’ house roof open so we can plug it in and set it up.

The cats are going to really love having enough warm water to last all of them, all day!!

The Re-Farmer