Dang it

Yikes!

According to the hourly forecast, we’re supposed to stay at -34C/-29F for a while, yet. Even as we slowly warm up, those -38C/-36F wind chills are supposed to hang in there all day.

The plan was to head into the city today, and finally do our monthly shop, before it got colder tomorrow, and started snowing again, the day after.

*sigh*

I guess I’d better see if the van will start.

The Re-Farmer

It’s a bit nippy out there…

Yesterday, I made sure to give the outside cats an extra feeding in the evening. With the cold temperatures, they need more calories. There was even a bit of kibble left in the trays when I came out this morning.

Very few cats came out when I gave them more food.

Smart kitties!

This one wouldn’t even move away from their window! Just gave me this “are you kidding me?” look through the frost and nose prints. 😀

It was viciously cold out there.

I took this screencap well after I’d come back in. -30C/-22F is bad enough, but that -41C/-42F wind chill was the killer! The wind is from the south right now, so we were feeling every bit of it. It’s not even a particularly brisk wind, but it doesn’t take much, at these temperatures!

With the driveway clear, we were thinking to go into town today but, after doing my rounds, I decided we could wait another day. Mainly, I do not want to risk our van in these temperatures. It does not do well with cold. Also…

That’s right. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to warm up to -6C/21F !!

That would be a good day for the girls to climb through their window and shovel snow off the low angled parts of the roof, too.

Ugh. Another down side to these temperatures. The sounds the pumps make in the basement change, and they worry me incessantly. If both the well pump and septic pump happen to be running at the same time, it drives my anxiety levels through the roof!! I was about to say this will be a good day to catch up on laundry, but there are times when I fear using our water.

The Re-Farmer

Welcome to March!

Can you believe this???

These are the temperatures, screencapped just minutes before I started this post.

That’s right. We’re at -28C/-18F with a wind chill of -32C/-26F. Actually, the wind chill was reading at -35C/-31F when I did the (short version!) morning rounds! I only saw Potato Beetle when I opened the sun room. Not a single other cat came out. He was more than content to let me put him back in the sun room and close the door!

This isn’t another Polar Vortex. This is Nature saying, “Welcome to March. Here’s a kick in the teeth for ya!”

In less than an hour from now, I’ll be leaving to bring the van in to get looked at. This isn’t an appointment. This is a drop off so he can look at it in between his appointments. Which means I have to hang out in town for who knows how many hours, until he’s had a chance to check it and gives me a call. And because of the flippin’ Schrodinger’s virus restrictions, the only place I can go to is the grocery store across the street, because there isn’t a coffee shop or restaurant or anywhere indoors where anyone can just sit anymore. Keep in mind that this municipality hasn’t had a single case. Nor has ours. Nor has the municipality my mother lives in. There was only one person who turned out to have a false positive in the entire area, back in the summer. In fact, in looking at the official government stats for all cause deaths in this province, the pandemic never hit us. 2020 is indistinguishable from any year from 2014 on.

And get this. Tomorrow?

We’re supposed to reach a high of 2C/36F

The Re-Farmer

Just one more…

I couldn’t resist one last post for today! I must be crazy, considering how hard it has been to upload anything, with our internet constantly flicking out, but I’m waiting for bread to rise, anyhow, so I’ve got time. 😀

I just had to get some photos of Fenrir, sitting on the light fixture over the seed starts! Thankfully, only the featherweight cats have been sitting on it, to warm their butts and cold little toe beans. 😀

I was able to head out and start up the vehicles and let them run for a while. That gave me time to get a meter reading on the power pole, as well as spend time with the yard cats. Potato Beetle showed up! I haven’t seen him in almost a week, so I was very glad to see him. He seems to have a runny nose, but no leaking eyes, like Nostrildamus and Junk Pile.

Butterscotch came over for pets, too. I was able to see her back leg a little bit. The wound has healed enough that I can’t see it at all. The shaved patch on her leg is just as nekkid as ever, unfortunately.

When I went back to check on the vehicles, the van was certainly sounding better. It didn’t want to start at all, but at least it didn’t stall. When I leaned over the steering wheel to check the gauges, however, it complained rather loudly! It sounds like the power steering fluid has frozen again. We’ve had that problem with this van before.

My mother’s car was sounding better, overall. When the time comes for us to head out, we’ll be using her car for now!

Tomorrow, we’re supposed to get as warm as -20C, so they should be fine, but I plan to run the engines again. Even just having the doors open to let the sun in helps warm them up a bit, since the winds are coming from the North. Hopefully, they will be running fine by the time we need to actually use them again.

Insulating the garage is rising higher on our to-do list! 😀

What a face! Those eyes!

Fenrir looks ready to bite my head off for disturbing her. 😀

For those who are new to following this blog, Fenrir is the first cat we brought in from outside. She showed up as a kitten, about the same age as the kittens our own yard cats had at the time. We suspect she was dumped. There is no way she came from any of the local cat populations. Even the little yard cats, like Beep Beep, are far hardier than she is. We called her The Outsider (a game reference) for the longest time.

Our own yard cats and their kittens absorbed her into the creche. We were never able to socialize all of the kittens from those two litters, and were barely able to get Fenrir to let us come near her. That winter, we turned the sun room into a cat shelter. It turned out to be a brutally cold winter and, unlike the local yard cats, she did not develop a thick undercoat. Nor did she put on any winter weight. We finally brought her inside, because we knew she would not survive the winter, otherwise. Eventually, she settled in, learned to get along with our two cats that had moved here with us, and is now quite settled. She can still be an ornery cat at times, but she’s a real sweetheart.

She is still incredibly thin under all that fur, so I can’t fault her for using the light fixture on the aquarium to stay warm!

The Re-Farmer

Wasn’t it supposed to get warmer today??

Yesterday, we never reached the predicted high of the day, though we did come close. Today, it looks to be much the same.

So much for starting to warm up!

It was -33C, with a wind chill of -39C (-27F and -38F) when I headed out. That didn’t stop the cats from being out and about! Even before I headed out, I saw Rolando Moon in a tree branch outside my window. It was good to see her today. She hasn’t been around for a while, so I was a bit concerned. When she joined me and the other cats, her only interest was in the fresh, warm water! She did, however, allow me to pet her briefly. She is such a snob! 😀

Poor Nosy is just miserable! After I finished with the food and water – which he had no interest in – he let me pick him up and snuggle him for a bit, then I put him on the warm(ish) wooden bench in a sun spot before going back inside.

Just as I started writing this (after many failed attempts, due to our internet still flicking out repeatedly), the weather icon on my task bar refreshed to -29C with a wind chill of -36C (-20F and -33F). The high forecast for this afternoon is now a couple of degrees lower than had been forecast yesterday.

Even the long range forecast has been modified overnight. They’re still saying we’ll reach 0C (32F) by the 22nd, but the rise to that temperature is no longer expected to be as quick and smooth. We’ll be chilly for a little bit longer.

This polar vortex just does NOT want to move or dissipate!

While I will probably go out later this afternoon to run the vehicles for a while, I no longer expect to go into town at all. It isn’t a necessity, but was more about running at least my mother’s car for a while.

I am glad we will be getting my husband’s prescriptions delivered, though it will be on Tuesday instead of tomorrow, because of the holiday (February’s statutory has different names in different provinces). My husband is trying to stretch his painkillers out to last until it comes in. The refills will have his updated and changed prescriptions. Hopefully, that will help him manage the pain better. He’s really struggling right now, and the cold – even though he is set up in the warmest room of the house – is making it much harder to cope. 😦

On the plus side – and I’ll take any positives I can get right now – I have an announcement to make.

Drumroll, please!

We have onion sprouts!

Little bitty sprrrroooooooots!!

I found 2, yesterday afternoon, and a third one showed up by evening. They are so tiny, I didn’t even try to take a photo. They are all in the peat pellets, not the K-cups, which we have had to spray daily, because they’re drying out on the tops. I will be working on the shallots today, starting by saturating the peat completely, before I put it into the starter trays. Which will be the cardboard trays from flats of eggs. I just have to make sure they are on something that will allow me to lift them later on, when the cardboard will be soft and damp. Depending on how long it takes the peat to get saturated, the actual planting of seeds might not happen until tomorrow.

Meanwhile.

We have sprrrrrooooooootttsss!!!

Yes. I am a silly child at times! 😀

So that’s a bit of cheer on another bitterly cold day.

Happy Valentine’s Day. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Having a rough time!

I was able to head out and get both vehicles running for a while. It’s a good thing I trust my brother so much, or I would never have left the engines running for any length of time, from the noises I was hearing. The van stalled right away, but did eventually start.

Since I was leaving them to run – with the garage doors wide open – for some time, I took the opportunity to finally switch the memory cards on the trail cams. I had to take the new camera inside and switch the batteries to warm ones to get it working again. The batteries from when I last did this were fine, once they reached room temperature, so I’ll be switching the same two sets of batteries back and forth, as needed.

When I first came outside, my brother’s dog was here. He really wanted to play with the cats! Nostrildamus would have nothing to do with him. When I was heading out to the trail cams, he was in the driveway, trying to get Junk Pile to play with him.

Junk Pile hissed and scratched at him, and he was the one to back away, but he didn’t go far. She stood her ground, but I think it was more because she was so cold and didn’t want to move!

I haven’t been able to get a good look at her for some time, so I was dismayed to see that one of her eyes is leaking and stuck mostly shut. There is enough fluid that it was leaking down the side of her nose. She has the same plaintive meow as her boy, Nostrildamus!

After I shut down the vehicles (both sounded much better by then; the van was still making more noise that usual, but the engine was warmed up, while my mother’s car sounded almost normal, but the engine warmed up only half as much in the same time frame) and closed up the garage doors, I tried to see if Junk Pile would let me come close.

She did not, but in getting away from me, I managed to steer her towards the garage, when she squeezed under the door. There, she would no longer be sitting in the snow, or bothered by a big dog!

We have to build new doors for the side of the garage my mother’s car is in. When we do, I’m hoping to put windows near the bottom, to provide sun spots and passive solar heat for the cats. 🙂

When checking the files from the trail cams, I found that the new camera had stopped recording after about a day and a half, but the old camera kept recording the whole time. The next time I have a chance, I will switch the cameras, and have the new one on the post in full sunlight. I think that might be enough to keep it going. The old camera used to be where the new one is now, before our very first camera finally died, so I already know it has no issues in the shaded location.

All sorts of things are having a rough time in this cold, both mechanical and biological!

The Re-Farmer

Frosted!

Thanks to my dear brother and his wife, I had plenty of kibble to feed the kitties this morning. I would have emptied the bin this morning, otherwise.

Ginger was out and about, and covered in frost!

While the tips of their fur makes them look chilled, when I pet them or pick them up (at least the ones that allow me to!) feel surprisingly warm. Their winter undercoats are doing the job of keeping them somewhat insulated.

Once again, the heated water bowl was almost completely frozen over! I made sure all the water bowls were filled with warm water, before doing the kibble. Their food bowls are full, but even dry kibble must get pretty hard in these temperatures, as they definitely prefer the new kibble, which would be slightly less frozen! 😀 The thermometer in the sun room has shown it to be typically half the outside temperature or warmer, so when we are in the -30’s C outside, it’s at about -15C. (-22F and 5F). So everything in there is definitely frozen, but the cats seem to find it better.

While filling the water bowls, I made sure to look into the cat house.

There had been at least three cat in there, but only Nostrildamus is socialized enough to not run off when I come near. I got the picture of him in mid meow! 😀

In the upper left of the photo, you can see the timer the heat bulb is plugged into. It had been propped against some screws in the joist, so that the light sensor faced the window, but it keeps falling half off one of them. I have not tried to put it back, since it just means it will turn on earlier than if it was facing the window, and warm things up. The cats do love sitting in the sun of that one window! What I’d love to do before next winter is find a way to make another shelter for them that takes advantage of passive solar heat. I was thinking of making a smaller version of the kibble house to hold the water bowls. I’m sure we have some old windows in the barn that can be used as a roof and maybe even a back wall.

As I was coming back from putting feed out for the deer and birds, I found Creamsicle Jr had shown up in the kibble house. I only got a brief look at his injured eye, and while the fur is still dirty around it, the eye itself is looking almost normal again.

I did not run the van or my mother’s car this morning, as the cold was already getting to me. I wasn’t up to having to open up both sets of garage doors so I could run the vehicles, in a wind chill of -46C/-51F I’ll bundle up again and head out after I finish this.

Check out our long range forecast!

Look at that!!! Not only are we supposed to consistently keep warming up over the next while, but by the 22nd and 23rd, we’re supposed to be around 0C!! (32F) Things will actually be melting!

Assuming the weather actually cooperates, and this polar vortex doesn’t decide to just hang out even longer. It has messed up the forecasts a few times, now.

I’ve been thinking warm thoughts in response. Which has meant looking at the websites of seed companies. I’ve gone so far as to start an account with Heritage Harvest Seed, and have been filling my Favourites list! We don’t need more seeds, and much of what I’ve added are sold out, anyhow. It’s still fun to look. I love the little write ups that come with each item. Half the time, the thing that convinces me to add something to my Favourites is the words “extremely rare!!” I love the idea of keeping rare varieties going. We’ll have the space to do it, as we clean up and prepare more of the property and eventually expand into the outer yard. Even if we don’t necessarily grow things for our own use, they won’t go to waste, and we’ll have the privilege of space to grow them for their seeds. With this company, I can be sure that they will grow in our climate, too, since they are even further North than we are, though we’re in the same zone. From other cold climate gardeners I’ve been hearing from, the company has an excellent reputation.

I will just have to resist the temptation of ordering more seeds when we already have so many, and more on the way!

Our internet connection repeatedly cutting out should make that easier. Most of the time, it means pages don’t load well, or don’t load completely. Oddly, the most common thing that will not load, no matter how many times I try reloading a page, is the “like” button. !!

Now it’s time to see if I’ll be able to publish this post now, or have to try again later! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Awesome!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

I have the best brother in the world! And the best sister-in-law!

We were looking over our options on how to get some of the supplies we needed. I even put feelers out to see if there was someone local who could give me a ride or something. No responses.

The grocery store in town had begun offering delivery service when the shut downs started. Was that still happening? And would they deliver here? I looked it up and discovered they do deliveries 3 days a week, including Fridays – today. Unfortunately, orders have to be called in before 11am, and it was past that when I found that the service was still available, so I didn’t bother to call to see if they’d deliver as far away as us.

After failing there, I headed outside and started up my mother’s car, hoping to be able to use it to make at least a short trip to the general store/post office. Even before I started it, when the key was turned part way and the console fan turned on, it immediately started making horrible noises! The car did start, with all sorts of nasty, frozen belt and fan noises, and the engine revved itself way too high.

I shut it off.

In my head, I know I probably should have just let it run for a while and warm up, but every time I thought of doing that, I’d remember an engine block cracked from the cold, and dying on the side of a highway, all those years ago. At these temperatures, it’s just too dangerous to risk a breakdown and not even know if I’d have cell phone reception to call for help.

After trying a few other options that didn’t pan out (made more challenging with our continued internet connectivity problems), I finally sent an email to my older brother and his wife. Long story short, I emailed them a shopping list and, after my brother got home from the office, they went back into the city to pick the stuff up, then drove to our place to drop it off, tonight!

They are so awesome!

Then, because my brother wasn’t done being awesome, he checked on my mothers car.

Of course, when he started it, it wasn’t making the noises or revving like mad for him, like it did for me! We popped the hood and he checked things out. It still ran rough, but he assured me everything was okay. He told me to leave it running for about half an hour, and it should be fine. Then they left, unable to stay for longer. By the time I went out again to shut the car off, it seemed to be running smoothly again.

So I guess I should make it a habit of starting both vehicles and just letting them run for a while, as I do my morning rounds. At least for the next few days.

*sigh*

While my brother and I were fussing with the car, the girls put away the groceries, so I didn’t see what they got until later. They did get everything on the list I sent them, but more of it! So we – and the cats – are going to be just fine for the next while. Plus, because they were able to go into the city to get it all, their getting more than I asked for, still cost less than if I’d made the trip into town. When I sent an e-transfer to pay them back, I made sure to add extra to cover the cost of gas, and we still have an ample budget left to buy locally, when we are finally able to emerge from our frozen cave and do things like refill our water jugs.

I am just to grateful that they were able to do this for us, and willing to do it so late in the day (waiting until tomorrow would have been just fine!), making the long drive and even taking the time to check on my mom’s car.

My brother and his wife are the best!!!

The Re-Farmer

ps: as an aside, as I write this, we’ve dropped to -37C (-35F), with a wind chill of -45C (-49F). All the forecasts telling us when things are supposed to start warming up seem to keep getting pushed further ahead, as this polar vortex stubbornly hangs around!

Really?

We weren’t supposed to be getting even COLDER!

This is what we were at, when I would normally be heading outside to feed the critters. -40C/F At least the “real feel” was a bit warmer, though when I did go outside, there was enough of a wind to prove that wrong!

As I write this, several hours later, my phone’s app has us at -33C (-27F) with no wind chill. The app on my desktop has us at -36C (-33F) with a wind chill of -44C (-47F). Thankfully, what wind we do have is from the North, and our door faces South. As long as we’re sheltered by the south, it’s not too bad, but once I went around to the feeding station, what a different story! Even a slight breeze is brutal at these temperatures.

That cats were out and about, though! Mostly to sit in the sun, curled up like Nosy over here.

Last night, I was prepping a turkey for the crock pot (I’ve never done that before; I hope it turned out!) and made sure to keep some bits as a treat for the outside cats. It was probably about 10:30-11pm when I popped out to scatter it among the food bowls in the kibble house. I could see through the window of the cat house, the red light on the timer showing that the ceramic heat bulb was on. I also saw some white fur moving around, so there was at least one cat actually using it last night. When I came out this morning, I saw Junk Pile in there, and I think Nutmeg was in there, too. Ginger and Nosy were out by the house, and even Butterscotch popped up from somewhere while I was tending to the food and water. I saw Creamsicle Jr, too – he ran off just before I could catch him in the above photo. I was later able to see that his eye is looking almost normal again.

They’re active, they’re eating and drinking, and it’s too cold to fight, so they’re good.

We’ve been seeing a pair of deer showing up at the feeding station during the day, so I’m hoping we’ve got some good pictures. I think it’s a mom and her baby, though they are very close to the same size. Their fur is so dense right now! I know we have deer coming by during the night, but it’s nice to actually see them.

Meanwhile…

We got the call from our doctor this morning. After going over my husband’s file and the pain clinic recommendations, etc., he’s changing things up slowly over the next few months. So he’s got a change in one medication for this month, it’ll be changed again for the next two months, and then another medication the pain clinic talked about will be added. There will be no change to the opioids right now. All of this has already been faxed to the pharmacy, though he suggested we call them later, just to make sure they got it. They would be ready to pick up today, if we could get there.

As it is, I’m going to see if I can get my mother’s car going and try to make a trip to the post office/general store this afternoon. We’re almost out of cat food. 😦

The Re-Farmer

It’s wicked out there! (updated)

Nostrildamus is not impressed.

Once again, none of the cats were in their cat house, and I wish I knew why. They were all looking like poor Nosy, here, covered in frost and looking miserable!

Amazingly, though, Nosy is in a warm spot, here. When I picked him up, his fur actually felt warm, from the sun. I took a scraper to the packed snow and cleared the front step so the mat and concrete is exposed. They’ll absorb warmth from the sun at least a little bit, and be more pleasant on the kitty toes.

After such a mild winter, nature is really giving us one last wallop! When I got up during the night, I checked the weather, and this is what we were at, just before 3am.

We were at -38C/-36F! While there was no wind chill at the time, the warnings are for wind chills between -40C and -50C. That’s -40F and -58F. And we’re not in southern Manitoba or southern Saskatchewan. We’re north central.

I stalled going outside, and yet even later in the morning, we were still at -36C/-33F, with a wind chill at -40C

The Dust and Dander rating was “extreme”, though. ??? What are they measuring for, and where, to get that rating, in these temperatures?

It’s hard to believe right now, but by Monday – just three days from now – we’re going to be hitting -16C/3F. We’re expected to stay in that range for about a week, and then we’ll be above -10C/14F and staying in that range. I’m even seeing a -2C/28F, in the long range forecast!

Of course, there’s always one last spring blizzard, but after these few days, that should be it for extreme cold for the season.

When it warmed up to -32C/-26F, with the “real feel” being warmer rather than colder, I finally headed outside.

The cats had no interest in food. There is still plenty out there. While there was still water in the heated water bowl, and it wasn’t completely frosted over, it was the warm water I was bringing out that they wanted!

In talking to my husband about it later, mentioning that the vehicles would be frozen, he commented “I guess you won’t be going in to pick up my prescriptions tomorrow.”

!!!

No. I won’t.

They do deliver to our area, but we don’t have a credit card and their wireless debit won’t work out here. I’ll have to phone them and see what we can arrange. I should ask to make sure they have my husband’s new prescriptions, too. If he’s off the opiates, we won’t be forced to wait until the last minute to get refills all the time.

This is another time of extra frustration. After we moved here, we talked to my brother a lot about what should be here, and what’s missing.

There used to be a heater in the garage. It was a kerosene heater. I believe it was my late brother that brought it out here, and I think all my brothers used it so they could work in the garage in the winter and not get frost bite. It is, of course, gone. Along with the huge, heavy compressor that had been in the garage (and, I’ve learned, two other large compressors that were in the barn are gone). If it were still here, we could have used it to warm up the garage enough to keep the vehicles from getting so frozen that driving them is a risk. As it is, there is nothing here that is capable of warming up such a large, uninsulated space.

There’s really only one person who would have taken it, even if that person may not have it in his possession, now. He’s done things like take furniture and given them away to others, so who knows where it’s at now.

I don’t waste my energy getting angry over all of this, but it does get frustrating, knowing that we are having a harder time over the oddest things, because of other people’s greed.

Ah, well. It is what it is. It’ll work out in the long term. We’ll just have to use it to become stronger and more resilient.

The Re-Farmer

Update: well, at least I’ve got some good news!

I talked to the pharmacy about my husband’s prescriptions, telling them that he had got a call from the pain clinic to follow up on his new medications. They had nothing on file for new prescriptions. I explained that when we saw the doctor after the pain clinic visit, they hadn’t called him yet, but he had assured us that if they recommended different medications, he would send the new prescription directly to the pharmacy, so we wouldn’t have to come back or make other appointments. So the call from the pain clinic was a surprise. They will call our doctor’s clinic and look into that.

Then I mentioned that our van is frozen and asked about delivery, and payment methods. It turns out that they can now do debit Visa! So we can pay for the meds and they will be delivered. It won’t be until Tuesday, because Monday is a holiday, but that’s still faster than if we had to do it ourselves!

If all goes well, not only will we have our prescriptions delivered here at the farm – with directions on how to find us – but they should include the new medications. If there’s any problem getting the prescriptions updated, I know they’ll call us and let us know.

So we at least have one less thing to deal with! Whoot!