What a wonderful day!

Today has been such a great day!

And not just because we can use our plumbing again. 😀

When I checked the basement this morning, everything had dried up so much, I could unplug the blower fan. The house gets so dry in the winter, it doesn’t take long, even without the fan.

The highlight of my day, however, was being able to get together with a friend from out of province, who happened to be in town for a few days. We were set to meet for a late breakfast, and ended up spending many hours together. It was so fantastic.

This is also the first time I’ve eaten in a sit-down restaurant in more than 2 years. This wasn’t something we did often, to begin with, so when the restrictions started, many places refusing to recognise medical mask exemptions, and then organic humans getting segregated, it just wasn’t worth trying. We just did take out with the placed we new were on the green list, and will continue to stay away from the places that got on the black list.

It’s also been ages since I’ve had the chance to go to the lake, and where we were meeting was right near it.

The ice fishing huts are gone, but it looks like the ice driving track is still in use. Or perhaps those are the lanes to get to and from the huts. Normally, once the ice is thick enough to support the weight, this area has what looks like an entire village of fishing huts.

After my friend and I had a lovely breakfast, we checked out some of the shops that were open; there are a lot of “new” ones, and shops I remember are long gone. One of the “new” shops turned out to have been open for 3 years!

As you can tell, I don’t shop much.

We ended up spending quite a long time in one particular store and got to chatting with the owner, and I discovered we are “neighbours”. She has an amazing store but, unfortunately, it’s been very hard for them. It’s very much a tourist town so, like many shops, they pretty much close for the winter. They have a lot of really amazing clothing, including some in my size, so I will definitely need to come back when I have a clothing budget. Normally, I just by work clothes for myself, but it’s nice to have something not designed to survive heavy manual labour for a change. 😉

We hung out together long enough that we ended up going for a late lunch together, too. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get together again before she has to leave.

Chadiccus was happy to see me when I got home!

I noticed their water bowls were frozen, and the heated bowl in the sun room was almost empty again. This morning, I looked out the bathroom window and saw one of the ‘iccuses curled up in the empty water bowl, sleeping! I’m glad they can use it to keep warm, but with the outside heated water bowl not working right now, and everything freezing again, I don’t want them to run out of water.

We’ll have to pop open the roof of the cat’s house again and check the cord. It looks plugged in at the outlet inside the cat’s house, when I look through the opening, but it may have been knocked loose by wrestling cats or something. The bowl itself appears completely undamaged.

While I was out galivanting with my friend, my daughters were hard at work at home, catching up on all the dishes we couldn’t get done until the septic and drain was dealt with. It was a huge job. It’s amazing to see how many dishes, pots and pans get used in just a couple of days, when you suddenly can’t wash them!

On top of all that, we are finally feeling warmer again, mostly because the winds have started to die down again. Starting tomorrow, we’re supposed to warm up to just around the freezing mark again for a few days, then it’s supposed to go above freezing and stay there.

In preparation for that, the municipalities have finished cutting a channel in the snow in one of the ditches that stretches from the highway near our place, all the way to the lake, to prevent flooding. Driving in town today, I noticed a lot of the paved roads are already torn apart by the freeze/thaw cycle. Driving on the gravel roads is already a combination game of “dodge the pothole” and “dodge the big rocks heaved out by frost”. It’s going to get muddy.

It’s going to be great. Everyone is SO done with winter right now!

The Re-Farmer

Resilient!

The girls had gone out for a walk and excitedly told me I needed to go outside – with a camera!

You know those garlic in the snow I got a picture of this morning?

There’s more of them now!

The two on the left where not there this morning!

We also have a first appearance.

One of our muscari (grape hyacinth) has emerged! The first of (hopefully!) 200. 😀

Though today has stayed just below freezing, it was enough that a lot of areas warmed up and the snow melted. Including roofs.

Long before we moved out here, the storage house got a new roof, but the eaves troughs were never reattached. In fact, the other side has none at all. So most of the snow melting off the roof just drips straight down.

(Also, that wasp nest is a couple of years old and empty)

Which made for an interesting double layer of icicles on one of the step below. 😀

Unfortunately, ice has also formed directly on the grape vines at ground level.

If these have survived the winter, we really need to find a better spot to transplant them!

The nearby spirea can handle the ice just fine!

It’s like the cross bar on the grape vine support is exactly under the drip line! 😀

The cats, meanwhile, are wisely staying out of the wind! I was surprised and pleased to see Butterscotch in there, with her boy Nutmeg. 🙂

It’s so awesome to be seeing anything growing in the weather we’ve been having! Talk about resilient! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Yup. Still snowing

The weather system has stalled over Ontario which, for us, means that the winds have actually reversed; Instead of coming in from the west and slowly cycling to the north, it’s swooping in from the east and swinging to the south. The entire system is covering the south end of three provinces (well, four, really, but it’s just barely touching one) and at least three states with snow, switching to rain to the east.

We’re just on the norther edge of the system, and seem to be getting more gaps between snowfalls, but there is still heavier snow expected.

The winds have increased, but we’re still at a very mild -4C/25F with a wind chill of -14C/7F.

I saw Junk Pile watching me through the window when I came out, but had to take a photo when I saw through the other window, that Nutmeg and Creamsicle Jr. were snuggled up under the heater bulb, I just had to take a picture! By the time I got my phone out, though, Nutmeg was at the window, checking me out. 😀

Smart kitties know where the warmth is!

I saw Butterscotch, too. I don’t know where her hiding spot it, but it’s not usually in the inner yard.

While switching out the trail cam memory cards, I remembered to get this picture.

We had started out with rain, but these icicles formed on the bumpers only on one side of the gate. There’s even icicles inside the gate post, at the ends of the hinge bolts!

The temperatures are expected to stay pretty constant, dipping only a degree or two overnight. By the end of today, they’re saying we may have a total of 20-35cm of snow. (8-14 inches) We have about 8 inches now.

The sun room, meanwhile, is staying steady at around 10C/14F. The onion seedlings, with their heater bulb below, are doing just fine in there. Of the various seeds that needed to be started this early, they’re easily the hardiest.

As I write this, the snow has stopped, but from the looks of the weather radar, we’ve got a patches of heavy snow about to hit us. Mind you, according to the radar, we should be snowing right now, so… we’ll see what happened.

Either way, I’m glad we don’t have to go anywhere, we’re warm inside, well stocked, and hunkered down. This is a good time for me to catch up on some crochet! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Iced

We are still in a polar vortex induced cold spell right now. I delayed doing my rounds outside until it had warmed up to -32C/-25.6F

I skipped switching out the memory cards in the trail cams again! Just the extra time to refill both bird feeders this morning was pushing it.

The heated water bowl was covered over even more than it was yesterday. Not just in frosted surface area, either.

This is after pouring off the old water. That’s a pretty solid layer of ice, left behind! Yesterday, it was more frost than ice.

The other water bowls were, of course, frozen solid. I had to do a fair amount of kicking to get them loose from the snow. When fresh water is added, the metal warms up enough to melt the snow around it, creating bowl-shaped pockets of ice that hold them in place.

Another reason why using old, broken frying pans make excellent water bowls. They can handle being kicked around, then bashed against things to knock the ice out. I used to use a wooden hand rail by the sun room to bash them against, but I didn’t like how much I was damaging the wood, so now I’m bashing them on the saw horses I’ve stored nearby. They’re old and damaged already, and I need to build new ones, so I don’t care if they get more beat up. 😀

Creamsicle Jr. didn’t move from his spot the entire time I was there! He’s under the terrarium bulb, but with the dusk-dawn light sensor, I don’t think it was actually on at the time. I don’t see the red glow of the indicator light, which would visible about 6-8 inches under the outlet.

I did get joined by Ginger, but he was the only cat I saw outside, braving the cold!

With our main entry door falling off it’s hinges, I’ve been going through the sun room to go outside. Which means going through the old kitchen, which is unheated and probably not insulated; at least not by any modern standards. We go into there as little as possible in the winter.

The old kitchen is where we had our crab apple cider vinegar fermenting, and where I now have the mother stored.

It’s almost frozen solid! You can’t even see the mother, which is in the middle of the jar, immersed in vinegar.

I have no idea if this will kill the mother or not.

Does anyone know?

When I was a kid, this room never really got cold, since the wood burning stove was kept going almost constantly, as much to help heat the house as for cooking, so lack of insulation was never really an issue. The old kitchen is an add-on to the original log part of the house, though I don’t know when it was added on. I only know it was already there when my parents bought the property.

The forecasts say we’ll have one more day of this bitter cold, though it will be a bit warmer tomorrow. Today’s high is predicted to be -25C/-13F, with a wind chill of -31C/-23.8F. Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be -21C/-5.8F with a wind chill of -28C/-18F. After that, we’re supposed to keep warming up for the next week. Check this out!

It’s like temperature whiplash!

Time to think of warmer things. Like gardening. I think I’ve figured out a way to raise our seed trays up closer to the light in the fish tank greenhouse. If it works, I might not need to line the sides with foil.

But first, another cup of hot tea!

The Re-Farmer

You know it’s cold when…

… the heated water bowl is starting to freeze over.

A few of the outside cats were out, but I didn’t get that morning rush that I usually do, that’s for sure! They were far more interested in the fresh, relatively warm, water than the kibble. No kitties followed me while I switched out the memory cards on the trail cams!

We have been spoiled by a very mild winter, so far. (Yes, I know: winter doesn’t officially start for another week.) We had been hovering around freezing temperatures. Some days, the weather didn’t know if it was raining, snowing or fogging.

Last night, the temperatures dropped significantly. When doing my rounds this morning, we were at -27C/-16F with a humidex of -32C/-25F. That’s about a 15 – 20 degree C drop within half a day!

We’re supposed to warm up to -12C/10F (man, Fahrenheit is weird….) by this afternoon, but I made sure to plug in my mother’s car this morning. We’re supposed to have this one cold day, and then it’ll warm back up to above -10C/14F range again so I didn’t bother plugging in our van as well.

Of course, the one cold day we get is the day I’m taking my mother in for a medical appointment, and to do some much needed grocery shopping. Much needed for her, I mean. She keeps telling me the social workers can pick things up for her, and get paid while doing it, but she doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of this at all. She also has to pick up her prescriptions and hit the post office as well (she told me just last night, that the mail box outside the post office got stolen! I think she meant the incoming package drop off box, not the outgoing mail box). It’s going to be a long day for her. I’ll have to make sure to bring along our folding wagon again, to make bringing her stuff in easier, since her building is still locked down. She even asked me to be sure to meet her at the side door, instead of the main doors by the lobby, because of all the nosy people that might give her grief.

She had talked about moving to another building in town. I do hope she can get into there (or at least get on the waiting list). She really needs to get out of this place. It’s actually ideal for her in many ways, but the people are just toxic!

Oh, look! It’s warmed up to -24C/-11F and the humidex is -28C/-18F. At least that’s what the weather on my desktop says. My phone app says it’s warmed up to -23C/-9F, humidex -21C/-5F.

Either way, it’s trending up. By the time I’m up and about with my mother, it should be a few degrees warmer. That will make things easier on her.

The Re-Farmer

Town stuff, and new fish set up

My day in town, after dropping my daughter off at work, turned into an all day in town!

I had a 9:30 drop off time at the garage for my van. As soon as he saw me, the mechanic came over to let me know that several other vehicles already dropped off ahead of me. I’d even come early! No worries, though. I was planning to meet my daughter for lunch, anyhow.

I did have some confusion when I parked next to what I thought was my mother’s car, though, and then saw my mother’s car in a different spot. I kept looking at the license plate, then back and the car, wondering how my mother’s car got so dirty? And why was there damage at the back?

And how did it turn into a Chevy?

It turned out to be another generic little black car with a license plate only one digit off from my mother’s! 😀 The car I’d pulled up next to really was my mother’s car! 😀

There were a couple of downsides to having several hours to myself, but no vehicle. With the shut down continuing (and extended once again, as of today, even though there have been zero new cases of the Wuhan virus in our province, which never got hit hard by it in the first place), there was no place to go just to sit for a while. No seating in restaurants or coffee shops available, and what stores are open are not open to simply browsing anymore. The other downside is that it rained most of the night and even the outdoor seating was wet.

Ah, well. I had a 5km goal in my Pokemon Go to meet, anyhow.

Which I hit rather handily.

One of the places I went through was a park near the lake, were I spotted this contented couple.

They were just fine ignoring me as I walked by. 😀

I also went to the beach.

Yes, there’s still some ice on the lake, some of which got blown into a corner against the main dock. The wind off the lake was freezing! That didn’t stop people from fishing off the dock, or families visiting the beach. There were plenty of joggers and dog walker, too. It’s the first day of a long weekend, and plenty of people were determined to enjoy it!

My daughter’s lunch turned out to be perfectly timed. It was nice and sunny by then, too, so we were able to eat comfortably on a picnic table not far from where she works. After lunch, I walked back to the garage and arrived moments after they’d finished with our van. I still had some errands to run that needed a vehicle, and by the time I was done, there was no point in driving all the way home, so I stayed in town until my daughter was done her shift.

It’s a good thing my to-do list for the day was kept flexible and tentative!

I did get one big job accomplished, and it was one I’d started last night.

We have had issues with our 20 gallon fish tank. Part of the problem is that it was next to the kitchen window. Sunlight tends to promote algae growth. The other problem seems to be our well water. While it’s great that we don’t need to deal with chlorine, when I did a 20% water change last spring, we had all sorts of problems show up, from a suddenly algae bloom, to pond snails appearing.

No, we don’t drink our well water from the tap anymore. I’m hoping, now that the sump pump is draining well away from the well again, these issues will resolve themselves!

We’d managed to get control of the algae a bit, though over the past year it killed off some fish and most of our plants. We’re down to one fish – an algae eater that doesn’t eat this type of algae! – and I’d fairly recently added a bunch of new plants. The snails, we were okay with, since they seemed to be helping keep the tank clean. There was some concern that they might take over the tank, but I think the fish keeps the snail population under control!

Then a few days ago, the water, which had been turning increasingly green, suddenly turned completely green and murky. We hadn’t even topped up the evaporated water or anything. The only thing that has been changing is the angle and amount of sunlight.

That poor little fish.

What we ended up doing was buying several 15L bottles of spring water and, last night, we completely emptied the tank and cleaned it out. I’d put some of the water in a gallon sized jar and stuck in the heater to warm it up before adding the plants and that poor little fish. The water was so murky, I couldn’t actually see the plants. I got them out by feel. At the same time, I removed sheets of algae growth that we couldn’t see through the water. !!!

The next several hours was spent emptying the tank, removing the substrate and decorations, scrubbing, rinsing and scalding everything we could – with no cleaners, since we didn’t want to accidentally poison the tank. I even kept what snails I could find. 😀

The cats were absolutely fascinated by the entire process.

In preparation for this, we decided on a new spot in the living room, found a old table in the storage shed, and set it up.

The cleaned out tank was then set up in its new location and filled with the bottled spring water and the appropriate additives.

The fish and plants, however, had to wait. The heater was set up in the cleaned tank, but it took quite a while to warm the water sufficiently. I wasn’t able to get the plants and fish in until morning.

We have an extra 15L bottle of the purchased spring water to top off the tank, instead of using our well water. Hopefully, this will solve the main problems. I don’t expect to never have algae problems again, but we shouldn’t get the crazy growth we had been!

Also, the cats are obsessed with all this. Susan is sitting on top of the big tank that we can’t use, since the part that broke on the filter during the move apparently is not available for purchase, even from the manufacturer. We found a way to cover the top solidly, and it has become a favorite place for the cats to hang out.

Now, they’ll have something else to watch from above!

😀

Hopefully, the surviving plants will establish themselves and spread, like they are supposed to. I saw some pretty good root systems had started to develop. Once we get some good plant growth in there, we will get a few more fish again. 🙂

This turned out to be a much bigger – and longer – job than I expected. But it’s finally done, and I think the fish is much happier in clean water again! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Iced

With the warmer weather we’ve been having, I noticed something about the ice that had build up on the bird bath. The warmed concrete had melted the ice touching it, and a gap had formed.

I took advantage of that.

Instead of cutting a bowl into the ice for water, I was able to chop away the build up of ice, without damaging the bird bath itself.

Once the edges were clear, the middle part came out in very satisfying chunks!

I cleared enough that the brick could be used by the smaller birds to reach the water.

Another sign of spring on the way!

🙂

The Re-Farmer

On Ice

Oh, what a gorgeous day it has been, today! Warm enough that, after dropping my daughter off at work, I went and parked by the beach and actually went walking.

The lake and beach were very busy. There is an ice structure on the beach right now, and many people drive right up on the frozen sand to take pictures.

Why, I’m not sure, since the parking lot is, like, right there.

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Iced

This past Sunday, the weather was mild enough that I was able to spend some time on the beach.

It was really fascinating.

The sand was frozen solid, but you could see the effects of water and ice. One dramatic visual was at the outflow for storm drains.

At the time I was there, the tide was still going out. There was ample evidence of how high it had gotten.

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