We got a break in the snow, so I went outside to do some more digging. All the paths I dug this morning, plus what my daughter dug out, had to be redone, as they were already filling with snow and, in a couple of places, were drifted over.
The main goal was to be able to get to the garage.
Unfortunately, right in front of the garage is where it tends to build up with extra snow blown off the roof.
And I needed to dig out the far set of doors.
Which I did. Both doors can be fully opened, to access the equipment inside.
Which is basically little Spewie. My thoughts of trying to fire up the old gas power snow blower disappeared rather quickly. Since it wasn’t working, it got shifted to the back and never got shifted forward for the winter, so it is blocked by the push mowers, the broken riding mower, the chipper, and little Spewie.
Which I won’t break out until tomorrow. That little thing takes a long time to do the job, partly due to the small size and partly due to having to drag 200 ft of extension cord behind me, to be able to reach the road.
That thing was made to clear things like short sidewalks, not entire country driveways! 😀 Still, it does the job quite well, and sure beats trying to manually dig out the driveway. Thank God our driveway isn’t very long!
I didn’t realize until I was inside, that I forgot to get a picture of the main sidewalk, so I took this photo from inside the house.
Yes, the snow was coming down again by then!
To get this photo, I opened the inner door of the main entry, reminding myself of why we don’t use that door anymore. I’d really hoped my fix would last longer (if you’re new to the blog, you can read about how that was done here, here and here), but I’m not bothering to take off the hinges to find out what happened. The entire door and frame needs to be replaced, so there’s no point in trying to fix it again.
I am a total suck when it comes to the cats.
When I first headed out this morning, Potato Beetle managed to dash into the sun room when I opened the door. I left the doors partly open so he could come out and have some food once I cleared the kibble house. He didn’t come out, so I left a bit of food for him in the sun room.
I came back later to check and didn’t see him, but I did startle Rolando Moon off of my husband’s walker seat. 😀
It’s a very comfortable seat.
Thinking Potato Beetle was out, I closed up the doors, since we’ve got plants in there and I didn’t want it to get too cold, then continued digging. Coming back in later, I found him tucked in a corner under the swing bench. So I left him be, and made sure he had food and water.
When my daughter went outside to dig some more, I checked the sun room again. I thought he went outside after her, only to catch a glimpse of him.
He was in the plant shelf.
On the tray under the small light fixture that we’re using as a minor heat source for the plants above. He was actually wrapped around the fixture!
Every now and then, I’d check on him to see if he was ready to go out. After a while, he moved away from the fixture, but still next to it. When I went out to dig again, I found him one shelf down.
He is absolutely content in there.
So I made sure his food and water was topped up, then dragged out the extra litter box and put some litter in it. And made sure the box bed with the pillow in it was handy. He can stay in there all night, if he wants to.
Because I am a total suck for the cats.
Oh, yeah… while digging out the snow that drifted around the kibble house again, I also dug out the cat path to the storage house, too, so it’ll be easier for the cats to get to and from the kibble house.
This afternoon, I went to the post office, where I was able to get a money order made out and mail it off, along with an improved printout photo of myself, to the RCMP for my PAL application. Hopefully, that means I’ll have my PAL certificate soon.
Since I was there, I took the opportunity to pick up a few things and…
I couldn’t help it.
I got sucked in.
There was a new seeds display.
We don’t need more seeds.
I got some, anyhow.
The peas we have now are shelling peas. Which would have been enough, but I do like snap peas, so I went ahead and got some. We also have a variety of beets already, but I decided to try the cylindra variety, too. The elongated shape is apparently much easier for getting consistently sized pieces for canning.
At least they aren’t something that need to be started indoors!
I think this is the first time I’ve picked up seeds from Lindenberg. Unlike a lot of other seed companies, they don’t have all their products viewable at their website, but had a downloadable catalog you can scroll through, instead.
I might just have to spend a bit of time ogling their selections now.
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! 🙂
When we find the skunks in the kibble house, we have been chasing them away with the hose. Today, I went out to do the watering and saw a couple of skunks. One immediately ran off and I saw it head under the storage house. The bigger one kept on eating. When I sprayed it with the hose, it disappeared behind the cat shelter, so I went around the kibble house to spray it away.
Instead, I saw her run off, but something looked very different. She had something in her mouth, and… a second tail?
It was her babies. She ran off, carrying one in her mouth, while a second one stayed close beside her.
I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t chase off hungry babies!
They’re not hurting the cats, nor being aggressive. They’re digging up the yard for grubs, but that doesn’t bother me. The only real issue is that kibble is bad for them, but not nutritionally. It’s about how their jaws are hinged. But we have hungry mamas that feel safe enough to bring their hungry babies to the kibble house! How can I possible keep chasing them away?
After having to get creative to prepare our first tray of seed starts, we left the tray overnight to give the peat in the K-cups more time to absorb the water.
I didn’t check it until late morning, and the peat was still dry in the middle! The water was basically staying on top. It was better than before, though, so I went ahead and planted our first seeds of the year!
I used a skewer to make holes for the seeds and sprayed more water into the holes in the K-cups (the peat pellets were fully saturated). Then I poured some of the seeds into a small dish and used the dampened, flat end of the skewer to pick up seeds and transfer them into the pots and lightly cover them. Using the skewer works really well! I ended up using only about half the seeds in the package to fill the tray, and that’s with 2 or 3 seeds each! Then I sprayed the tops with more water – especially the K-cups – before getting a daughter to help me transfer it into the big aquarium.
I am not going to use the tray’s dome to cover them, as the high humidity can promote mold growth. Instead, we will be checking them every day, and probably spraying them daily. The tray is designed to water from below, to encourage the roots to grow downward, so we won’t keep up the spraying for too long. It’s mostly the dry peat in the K-cups that concerns me. I will also be leaving the light on all the time until the sprouts are emerged for a few days, then reduce it to about 16 hours a day. Hopefully, we will soon have a tray of shallots in here, too! Before filling any pots (if I can’t get more pellets), I’ll have to make sure to use a container to saturate the peat in, first, then fill the pots.
I’m a suck.
I’ve mentioned that a few times, usually in the context of cats, but it turns out I’m a gardening suck, too.
Last night, the girls and I were pouring over a satellite image of the property. We marked out the current garden beds, and we have been using it to figure out where we are going to plant various things.
One thing is for sure. If we aren’t able to get a load of soil this spring, we’re lining ourselves up for some back breaking labour, and probably a lot of failed growth. Last year, we basically dug small holes for everything we planted, filled the holes with a soil mix, then planted or transplanted into these in-ground “pots” we created. That’s fine for the small garden we had last year, but not so much for this year! The soil is so hard and filled with rocks, it’s difficult to use a spade or hoe. Even sticking wire flags into the ground left me with several bent flags from hitting rocks. We have so few tools here, we don’t want to break what’s left of what we’ve found! My mother still goes on about how we could get one of the tillers fixed and using it, but I’m pretty sure we’d just break a tiller, trying to use it! I couldn’t even use the soil auger drill attachment when we planted all those bulbs in the maple grove last fall. The original plan had been to slowly build up areas and increase our garden size over several years, but… well, then the world went crazy.
We have so many more things we’re planning to grow compared to last year, it’s going to be a huge job. Especially the area where we want to plant the tallest things – 3 of our corn varieties, and the giant sunflowers. We’re wanting to start going into an area that has never been part of the garden before, and has only had grass on it. Two of the reason we grew giant sunflowers last year was for a privacy screen and wind break. We’re still keeping that in mind for this year. Between tall plants, using trellises, and whatever we come up with to keep the deer out, we should be able to make a pretty decent privacy screen. We may be in the boonies, but the main road goes right by the garden. Aside from vehicles slowing down to watch the deer at the feeding station, through the lilac hedge, we’ve got our vandal and his creeping about to contend with.
As we talked about what seeds we have now, and what will be shipped in time for spring planting, we ended up talking about other things we’d like to plant, and I showed the girls some things I’d found on the Baker Creek website. We have a lot of things that are purple (corn, potatoes, sunflowers, beans, carrots…). We had a blast looking up other purple things, and talked about having a purple themed garden. So, of course, I was adding all sorts of things to my wish list.
I really ought to know better. 😀
Yeah, you guessed it.
I made another order this morning!
Thankfully, seeds are still cheap.
When I placed the order, there was a highlighted note telling people that, because there are so many more orders this year, things are taking longer to process. For us in Canada, that means it could take up to 3 months for our seeds to arrive. That would be too late for anything that would require starting indoors, but that’s okay. I’d rather order them now, while they are still available.
So, this is what we’ve ordered (all links will open in a new tab, so you don’t lose your place. 🙂 ).
Spoon Tomato: this is the one that I really wanted to show the girls – and then we got sucked into the vortex! We are not big tomato eaters; my older daughter enjoys eating them, and we have ordered a mix of cherry and grape tomatoes for her, but when I saw these “micro mini” tomatoes, I just had to show them to her. While they are incredibly small (possibly the world’s tiniest tomato), they’re supposed to be big on flavour. They’re adorable!
Chinese Pink Celery: this is a new variety for Baker Creek, and one that was already on my wish list. I was thinking for next year, but I went for it. These are supposed to be easier to grow than other types of celery, and seem to be well suited for our climate. Hopefully, we’ll get them early enough to plant them this year.
King Tut Purple Pea: This was another one already on my wish list, and since we’re going with a purple/pink theme, I included them. We only have 1 variety of peas right now, anyhow, and I felt it wasn’t enough. I’d resisted ordering more, since we already have so many other things, but… it’s peas. Can you have too many peas? I don’t think so. I highly recommend checking out the link and reading the story included about them. 😀
Merlot Lettuce: lettuce is one thing I had not included in previous orders for various reasons. We’ve tried growing lettuce before, in our balcony gardens, and never had much luck with them. Plus, they just seem to go bad quickly. But as we were looking at the purples and dark reds, these stood out. Not only do they have an amazing colour (they are well named!), but they are bolt resistance and cold tolerant.
Lunix Lettuce: Every time I see the name, I want to say “Linux” instead of “Lunix”. LOL These have such deep, dark red leaves! Bolt resistant, and apparently great for hydroponics and off season low tunnel growing. We’ve been looking at ways to use poly-tunnels to extend our growing season, so it would be good to test these out.
Lollo Rossa Lettuce: This is a very dramatic looking head lettuce! Also noted for its great flavour. I’ve had no luck growing head lettuce before, but maybe now that we have the spaces that we do, we can make it work.
Dishcloth or Luffa Gourd: this one’s for me! We have so many squash already, the last thing we needed was one more but, like I said, I’m a suck! Chances are, we won’t be able to start them this year, but they seem to be having a surge in popularity, so I figured I should get the seeds now, while I can. Young squash are edible and tasty. Left to fully mature, the gourds are dried, peeled, the seeds shaken out, and the remaining sponge is great for washing with. I don’t think I’d use something that size as a dishcloth, but in the shower, they are great for exfoliating the skin. You’ve probably seen them in stores, along with the back scrubbers and such.
Along with these, we will also be getting some free mystery seeds that Baker Creek always includes with their orders.
This really should be the last of the seeds we order, but I’m pretty sure I said that after our first two orders for this season! 😀
I was very happy to see our first order from Rare Seeds (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) come in. With so many delays in deliveries, I was more hoping than expecting.
Also, I’m a suck.
More on that later. 😀
Here is what came in: (click on the images to see them better)
We’ve got 2 varieties of carrots in. We’ll have 2 more varieties in our Vesey’s order, too. I would love to plant all of them, but that will depend on what we will be able to prepare for garden plots. There is basically just one place where we have soft, deeper soil, and that’s where the hard neck garlic is currently planted. I have room to make one more bed over there.
One thing I really liked was how much information is on the backs of that packages.
Which Tissue decided she needed to investigate.
In fact, ALL the cats came over to investigate!
The Kyoto red is supposed to be a “winter” carrot, but that does not apply to our climate. For our Zone 3, this is a summer carrot! Customer comments on the website included someone who very successfully grew it in another province, but also Zone 3. It was really that review that convinced me to try it.
Unfortunately, the Montana Morado corn’s package has no growing information on it. It is a black corn that is also a good flour corn. I am really glad I ordered it when I did, because it is now out of stock! These are both varieties we will be saving seeds from. We’ll have more corn coming in with our Vesey’s order, but whether or not we plant those ones as well will be decided by how much garden space we can prepare. Particularly since they have to be planted well away from each other, to avoid cross pollination.
I am so excited to have these poppies! I have no idea where we will plant them, but we will find a place! Saving seed with those will also be a priority. The strawberry spinach should be interesting. I’ve tried them before in a balcony garden, with limited success.
I had to laugh when I saw the free seeds they included.
We had decided not to try and grow Kohlrabi again, until we could figure out how to protect them from cabbage beetles and deer. Who knows. We might be able to figure something out by spring. I would really love to grow some! For me, these are a “treat” vegetable. 🙂
My husband also got a package and, along with round sharpening stones for serrated knives, he had my Christmas present.
He didn’t bother waiting for Christmas. 😀
Yup. My darling, wonderful, thoughtful husband got me SPORES!!!! Oh, I am so excited!!! My husband is the best!
Both of these are native to the area. I haven’t seen morels since I was a child, and that was on the other quarter section, which is rented out. I’ve never seen them on the home quarter. As for puff balls, I actually saw some growing along the side of our driveway last summer! Not this giant variety, to be sure, but it was good to see them. Large ones like these can be sliced and grilled or fried like steak. Big steaks! They can also be battered and fried.
Growing these outdoors will be touch and go, but I am really looking forward to trying it. The morels package mentions elm as a tree to plant them under (the other trees mentioned don’t grow here), and we have plenty of elms around the yard.
Meanwhile, I’ve gone and placed another order with Rare Seeds!
Because I’m a suck.
I got a promotional email from them saying something along the lines of “hey, we noticed you looking at these, so we took the liberty of adding them to your list” and it included a link.
It wasn’t my wish list they added it to. It was my shopping cart.
Normally, I would have just blown it off, but…
I just couldn’t resist. It was affordable, and I really, really want to try these, even if we can’t plant them this spring. Plus, they are still in stock.
I do not expect to plant these next spring. The Birdhouse gourds take so long to germinate, they would have to be started much earlier than we did last time. And in bigger starter pots, because of how late our last frost date is.
Mind you, nothing says we have to plant entire packages. We could try growing just a few seeds and see what comes up.
Oh, this is going to be an interesting growing year! 😀
I had a very enthusiastic crowd when I gave the outside cats warm water and kibble. 🙂
The one potential down side of the kibble house I’m building is that there will not be as much room for the cats themselves to spread out. The very shy one in the back, for example, is not just shy of humans, but some of the other cats, too. Then you get Butterscotch, who has been getting more ornery in her old age, and will randomly start hissing and batting at the other cats – including her own kittens!
No Rolando Moon this morning, but she’s another one that has been hissing at the other cats, though the other cats have been going after her, as well.
However, they do tend to tone it down when the weather gets cold. At that point, I think they’ll take the extra body heat over their usual aggressiveness.
I was able to pet Butterscotch’s kittens this morning. Creamsicle Jr. wasn’t too keen on it, but I was actually able to pick up the little calico and hold her. She stayed in my arms, looking at me like I was crazy, but purring. I didn’t want to keep her from food for too long, though, so I put her down and finished my rounds.
Before going inside, I visited the cats again.
I was able to pick up the little calico again.
She was willing to settle in my arms, purring away.
I took blatant advantage of the situation.
She’s now in the basement.
One of the girls very noisily scattered cat treats upstairs to lure the other cats away and close the door. Keith and Cheddar wouldn’t leave, though, being far more curious about the new addition. They’re pretty safe around the newbies, though, so that was okay.
Then I opened a tin of wet cat food, and Turmeric magically appeared from somewhere under my work table! 😀
I spread out blobs of wet cat food in the kibble platter to get the other cats interested, then brought the rest of the can near the calico and lured her over with the spoon.
It’s her first time eating wet cat food, and she was quite enthusiastic about it!
Turmeric, unfortunately, kept wanting to chase her around. I think it was more playful than aggressive, but it’s just too much for the little one. I was eventually able to escape the basement, bringing Turmeric out with me and managing to NOT let any other cats down. There was a whole crowd of them at the door, wanting to see what was going on!
She ignored Cheddar sniffing her while she ate, and he seemed pretty laid back while checking her out. Then he very slowly, casually, batted at her!
So today, we’ll be taking turns going to the basement, bringing the “safe” cats for introductions, and paying lots of attention to the new addition. That will mostly be on the girls, since I need to get outside to work on the kibble house. Not until late afternoon, though, when the temperature is expected to finally get above freezing.
I am such a suck. I have been so adamant about not bringing more cats into the house, and now we’re up to 16!! The problem is, bringing the females inside is the only way we can keep the yard cat population down. It costs about $260 to get a female fixed out here, and we’d have to bring them inside anyhow, since we’d have to make sure they don’t eat at least 8 hours before surgery, then give them 2 weeks to heal. Males cost half as much, so we were able to get the few males inside fixed. I have to admit, though, I would have loved to see David kittens! 😀 Anyhow. No chance of more kittens if the females are inside.
Now that Tissue is socialized, we have 9 cats available for adoption, but so far, no takers!
Well, what can we do but keep taking care of them as best we can?
This morning’s tending to the kitties was truly an adventure!
It started when I opened the door and found Leyendecker and Saffron lying on the top step. Just chillin’! They didn’t even try to run upstairs right away. Unfortunately, in my attempts to step over them, Beep Beep and the other kittens had time to run over. It took a couple of minutes to get everything under control so I could close the door, with Two Face and David also in the basement.
Note to self. Do not visit kittens while wearing shorts.
Both my legs ended up rather bloody, by the time I escaped. Then one of my daughters slathered me with antibacterial cream, after I washed all the blood off.
I tried, and failed, to get a photo of Nicco in a sun spot, up on his back legs, trying to catch dust motes. Two Face was her usual aggressive groomer. The kittens also love climbing that piece of maple tree! 😀 Big Rig going after David was just hilarious.
Then, I made a mistake.
I sat down.
It started with Leyendecker and Saffron. They climbed up on me and played for a while, then settled down for a nap.
Then Beep Beep jumped on top of them, pushing them around while settling. Saffron squirmed her way out from under Mom, found a nip and sleep nursed. Leyendecker passed out, until Big Rig jumped up and joined the fray. Leyendecker ended up pushing Saffron aside to find his own nip to sleep nurse on.
At some point, I felt a kitten clamber up my leg and settle on my lap. That left some damage!! It turned out to be Nicco.
By this time, I’d been trapped by them for about an hour, before I was finally able to alert a daughter for assistance. Which is when Two Face joined the party. Turmeric had earlier climbed onto the work table and played with Leyendecker over my shoulder for a while, but didn’t have any interest in joining the pile in my arms. You can just see her in the background of one of the photos, under the platform bed frame.
It took quite a while to extricate all the cats, but we managed to do it without shredding my clothes too badly, nor adding any new scratches.
Tending to the babies may be adorable, but my goodness, it can be painful, too! 😀
It was my turn to do the evening cat routine last night. This includes going into the sun room to top up the food and water for the outside cats, as well as cleaning out the two litter pans we have out there.
As usual, once they heard me in there, cats started streaming in. Two-Face was already there, and I was soon joined by Keith. Then Big Jim and Keith came in and…