Summer growth

Yesterday, forecasts said we were supposed to have a couple of dry days. While I was out and about with my mother, I saw lots of people mowing, so when I got home, I decided to do some preparatory weed trimming. The beans and peas are coming up nicely, and some of the cucumber plants are getting pretty big, so we need to get those A frame trellises up. I picked up some 6′ bamboo stakes to use as supports. I’d hoped to use pieces of poplar, like the frames are made of, but of what we have, any pieces long enough were too thick or too crooked. If it was straight enough, or thin enough, it was too short. So, bamboo stakes it is. Unfortunately, they cost a fair bit; just under $10 for a bundle of 6. I was only able to get 4. Not enough for what I was thinking to do.

Before we could set those up, I got out the weed trimmer and a whole lot of extension cord, and trimmed the paths as close to the ground as I could.

Which is about when I started hearing thunder.

I did get the trimming done, then 4 pairs of stakes lashed together and set up at the trellis with the cucumbers. I had planned to set up 5 pairs – one at each upright support – then have cross pieces at the bottom, to help support the netting. With only 4 pairs, I don’t think they’re long enough to join with cross pieces.

I was able to lash together 4 more pairs of stakes before I was driven inside by rain. We ended up with quite a thunderstorm with heavy rain and strong winds. We even lost internet and had power fluctuations.

Still, when I headed out this morning, I thought we might at least be able to do some mowing in the west yard, but no. There’s water all over, and even the usually drier spots are squelchy. :-/

Quite a few new flowers are blooming. The ornamental poppies have exploded along with the dwarf Korean lilac, and even some wild columbine is blooming. The yellow lilies near the fire pit that I keep intending to divide and never quite get to, are in full bloom.

I waded through the tall grass and water to check on the Korean pine. A couple of them are in puddles of water! Five of them are showing new growth, but the one that got dug up by something looks like it has not survived. A lot of the needles have turned brown.

While checking one of the pine trees, I kept an eye out for the strawberries I saw before. They are now mostly hidden by the tall grass, but I could still see them. They are still blooming.

The corn we recently direct sowed are starting to come up! The popcorn seems to be a bit slower in germinating than the sweet corn. No sign of the green bush beans, yet.

The garlic that is doing really well in the main garden area is now starting to grow scapes. The other garlic, that seemed to have been set back badly by the extended winter, are finally starting to really perk up and grow, though they are still quite small. I’m seeing carrots coming up in the various beds, but a lot of the turnips that I saw before now seem to be gone. One variety seems to be holding out, even if the tiny leaves are riddled with holes.

No sign of the bare-root white strawberries starting to grow. Those might be a total loss. The red strawberries we transplanted with the asparagus are still blooming, though.

Everything is so wet, wet, wet – and we’re supposed to get more showers tonight! In fact, now the forecasts are saying nightly showers, or thunderstorms, for the next 5 days. This is frustrating. One of the down spouts is clogged. Normally, the girls would go out onto the roof to clear it, through one of their windows. Their windows, however, are pretty much coated with mosquitoes. Which means using a ladder, but the ground is so wet and mushy, there’s no place solid to set a ladder. The eaves over the north side of the old kitchen also need to be cleared. That area is difficult enough to set up a ladder at the best of times. With how slick and muddy things are now, it’s just not an option. The ground needs to dry out at least somewhat, but that’s not going to happen. I think the girls are going to have to brave the mosquitoes to at least do the one over the living room. Too much water is seeping into the new basement.

One of these days, we need to pick up one of those small, mobile scaffolding set ups. Too bad the scaffolding that was here before we moved in grew legs and walked away. It would be so useful – and safer – with scaffolding.

The rains we’ve been having are certainly a mixed blessing. The saturated ground and open water prevents us from being able to do some things, and makes it harder to get to different parts of the year – but things are growing and blooming and, with a few drowned exceptions, fairing much better than last year! Things definitely prefer the damp, over the drought.

The Re-Farmer

Making the best of things, and shed order update

Hmm… I went to start this post and found a post I made yesterday was still in draft. I had used my phone to write it, since my keyboard was dying, but apparently I didn’t hit publish. That is now fixed.

At the moment, I am using my old ergonomic keyboard with the worn out keys. I’d traded with my husband quite a while ago, since he pretty much just uses the number pad and arrow keys. He can use a standard keyboard without hurting his hands, so he is now using the keyboard that came with his system. By the time we switched things up, I had not only lost the y u i o and enter keys, but also the 0 and delete keys! So that keyboard is in the recycling, to be added to the electronics garbage area at the dump. As for the keyboard I’m using now, I will just have to be really confident in my touch typing, because most of the letter keys are worn out. I know there are stickers you can get to put on the keys, but other than online, I haven’t seen them anywhere. At least not locally. And I try to avoid ordering online.

More on that later…

Yesterday morning, I’d been able to mow the south yards before things got too hot. The grass was so wet, it really should have waited for a drier day, but that was not going to happen, from what the forecasts said.

I’m glad I got as much of it done as I had, as we got some heavy enough rains last night, that we now have open water in the yard again. The areas I was able to mow tend to have the most water accumulating in them, compared to the west and north lawns. The main garden area, however, also collects a lot of water, too.

The dwarf Korean lilac sure loved the rain, though! It exploded into bloom overnight. Yesterday, it was almost all buds, with a scattering of open flowers. Look at it now! This type of lilac is extremely fragrant; more so than any of the other types. The regular lilacs are finished blooming now, and the double lilac is almost done. The white lilacs are nearing the end of their blooming period. Now we have the dwarf Korean lilac in full bloom, with one more lilac I can’t remember the name of, still budding. I like that there are so many different types of lilacs here, that bloom at different times. The ornamental poppies are also starting to bloom, and while the white roses are at their peak, I noticed the pink rose is starting to bloom this morning, too.

From the weather radar, we should be getting more rain today. The heavy rain is passing to the north of us, but it looks like we’ll be catching the edge of the system a bit.

I actually did not get a chance to do my morning rounds today. The girls made sure the cats were fed while I spent time on the phone, then had to make a quick run to a branch of my bank.

To get a replacement debit card.

There’s a reason I don’t like to order online. This is one of them.

A while back, I’d written about ordering a shed from a clearance site for garden sheds. The steeply discounted prices were due to them being abandoned orders – along the lines of things like airport auctions of unclaimed items. I was taking a chance with the order. I’d seen both positive and negative comments about the site; some places rated the site as a scam, while others rated is as legitimate.

A day or so after the order was placed (using my debit-Visa, because we have no credit cards) and I got my confirmation email, I sent an email with some questions. There was no response, so after a couple of days, I wrote again. Still no response. There was also no shipping confirmation email or tracking number, for something that was supposed to take 3-7 days to arrive (or 6-10 days under Covid restrictions, which still apply to shipping in Canada). So on Friday – 4 days ago – I emailed to cancel my order and requested a refund.

I really wasn’t expecting to get my money back, by that point. So it was quite a surprise when, late last night, my phone’s bank app sent me a notification for a credit in the amount of the shed order. Due to the hours, the line item wasn’t in my transactions yet, but the balance reflected the change. This is typical of how my bank works, and I knew the line item would appear during banking hours. Sure enough, in the morning, it was there.

However, I also got another notification. This time, for a debit from my account, in the same amount.

Yes, I got the refund – and then the amount was taken from my account again.

So I got on the phone with my bank, which pretty much always involves spending time on hold. When I finally got through, I explained the situation to the woman who took my call, and asked about having the charges reversed and to report fraud. Since we did have communication with them, however – even though they didn’t answer my emails, they did refund the amount – she suggested I email them again to ask why the amount was removed again, then go back to the site to have my data removed.

Okay. I was willing to try that.

I sent the email, then went back to the original order confirmation email to click on the link that would take me directly to my order page.

I got an error message. The usual “check your spelling” message and, if correct, run a diagnostic, message.

I tried the “go to store” link.

Same error message.

I tried going to the home page by using the link in my browser’s history.

Same error message.

The website was gone.

So I called the bank back to explain what happened.

This time, the fraud investigation was started. We went through the initial process, then he put me on hold to finish the process at his end.

While I was on hold, another notification came in; a calendar reminder that a telephone medical appointment for my husband with the cardiac clinic was due in 5 minutes. !!!

Thankfully, we finished up before then.

My debit-Visa card was cancelled, so there is no chance of more money being taken from our account. The fraud investigation has been started. We should get our money returned within 10 business days, but it would a conditional return as the investigation continues. If they find it was a legitimate transaction, the bank could take the money back again within 60 days.

The initial withdrawal would have been considered a “legitimate transaction”, since I did place the order. Basically, if it turned out they were illegitimate, it was on me for being duped. However, because they refunded the money – then took it out again – that changes things. The first debit from my account may have been an authorized transaction, but the second debit from my account was not.

As for my cancelled debit card, as soon as I was done on the phone, I then headed to the nearest town with a branch of my bank to get a new debit-Visa card.

Which I now have to set up again for online banking, on both my phone and my desktop, again. Which is not as urgent.

If this place had simply refunded my money and left it at that, it would have been the end of it. The only thing is that I would have been wondering if cancelling was the right thing to do, because if they were legitimate, we would have eventually gotten a nice big shed that would have been very useful. However, for them to take the money out again, they now have the fraud investigation happening. Hopefully, that will mean no one else will be taken advantage of.

So we took a chance and, from the looks of it, almost got burned. We’ll see how the investigation plays out. That means it might be a few weeks before we find out, and I should get an affidavit in the mail about it soon.

There is one other possible, though highly unlikely, outcome. The website said that a cancellation/refund could not be made if the order had already been shipped. It could be the money was refunded at about the same time as the order got shipped, so the money was taken again. If that turns out to be true, we obviously won’t get our money back, because there would be no fraud, and the shed will get delivered. Since I have not received any other emails from them since the order confirmation, and I can no longer access the website, I highly doubt that will happen.

The weird thing was when I was updating my husband about it, and he tried to go to the site on his own computer.

The site is still there.

My husband can browse the site all he wants, but if I try to see it using my desktop or my phone, I still get the “site can’t be reached” error message – and the “try running a diagnostic” link just gives me a pop up saying a diagnostic can’t be done. I would say there’s something in my cookies that is keeping me from accessing the site on my desktop, but until today, I’d never tried to visit the site while on my phone.

Very odd. I should see about removing the cookies and trying again. But not right now.

Aside from all that, we’ve had other changes. I should have been at my mother’s for the home care assessment right now, but then it looked like her apartment was going to be sprayed for bed bugs. So while my mother made arrangements with my sister to stay at her place, I tried to track down the home care department to change the appointment. Yesterday, the guy phoned my mom to rebook for tomorrow, because it turned out he couldn’t make it today, anyhow. As for the spraying, that turned out to be a mix up. My mother’s apartment is still on the list – my brother made sure of that, and also made sure they knew my mother might try to claim she didn’t need it, because she’s squishing them herself *shudder* – but we don’t have a date. All we know is that, some time before they show up, she’ll get a piece of paper shoved under her door with instructions. Apparently, the people who spoke to my brother on the phone have no way of knowing when that will be done. The whole thing is a disorganized and inefficient mess. Which is SOP for anything run by the government. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the provincial level or the federal level. With my husband being in the military, then years of working government contracts as a civilian, we’ve been seeing this sort of ineptitude for decades.

I did call my mother this morning, though. While I was driving my sister tried to contact me because my mother wasn’t answering the phone. She was trying to figure out if she was picking my mother up today or not. She did get through to my husband – who was still waiting for his phone appointment with the cardiac clinic (which never came) – and he was able to update her. Apparently, my mother never told her she didn’t need to come out anymore. As for my mother, she was resting before there was a meeting in her building this afternoon, by the housing department. They used to have these regularly, until the pandemic restrictions stopped everything. The irony of that is, those “health” restrictions would have a lot do with why so many of the provincially run buildings now have bed bug problems all over the province. They weren’t caught and treated right away, and now they’re a major issue that just kept on spreading.

Bah.

So that’s my morning’s adventures.

What fun!

Not.

The Re-Farmer

Blooming and growing

We had more rain last night and this morning, and while we have some sun as I’m writing this, we’re expected to have more rain and thunderstorms tonight.

The plants and trees are loving it!

The lilacs near the house are so heavy with clusters of flowers, the branches are bowing down with the weight, to the point that even short little me has to duck to go under them!

This is our fifth spring here, and I’ve never seen the white lilacs blooming and well as this year.

The double lilacs in the old kitchen garden had to recover from storm damage a couple of years ago, then the late May killer frost last year. It’s been a while since these have bloomed so heavily!

The nearby honeysuckle did all right last year, as they start budding later than things like the lilacs and did not get affected by the last frost as much, and it looks like this year they will do even better.

Even the hawthorn, which is thoroughly shaded, is blooming.

After uploading the photo, I could see that it has some sort of insect infestation under some of the leaves!

Also, just look at that thorn! Yikes!

Shrubs aren’t the only thing we’ve got blooming right now.

Yes! We have blooming tomatoes! These would be the Sophie’s Choice, which we started very early indoors, then restarted after the seedlings got eaten by cats. An early start was recommended for this variety, even though it is a short season variety, so I’m not too surprised to see flowers on these ones. To see them so soon after transplanting, though, is rather awesome!

While checking the various garden beds, I could finally see the purple carrots are starting to sprout. They’re still very hard to see, but they are making an appearance. The yellow Uzbek carrots are being much more enthusiastic about sprouting! I can’t tell about the Napoli and Kyoto Red planted near the south fence. They were pelleted seeds, so we could space them further apart, which makes it harder to see if those tiny leaflets are carrot, or some weed!

The peas that had already sprouted at the trellis are getting noticeably bigger. In the old kitchen garden, I’m finally seeing some beets, though for all my efforts to pull up and transplant the mint out from the bed last fall, they are still coming up strong, along with some other weeds. The beet seedlings are too tiny and delicate to risk disturbing them while trying to weed.

In the lettuce bed, the buttercrunch lettuce germinated a while back and it won’t be long before we are able to start harvesting baby leaves while thinning the rows. Another variety, Lunix, if I remember correctly, as also started to sprout, but like the beet bed, efforts to pull up the weed roots were not very successful. My mother had planted some very invasive flowers in this bed, and they are incredibly difficult to get under control!

The Kulli corn is still looking a weak, but the bush beans planted with them are starting to come up! I’ve got arrows pointing to the bean seedlings that are in this photo.

Meanwhile, all around the various beds, we’ve got onion sets coming up, and the onions started from seed seem to have all survived and are getting stronger. All of the transplants seem to have not only survived being transplanted, but are handling the heavy rains we’ve had, just fine. The first spinach that was planted are growing their true leaves now, and it won’t be long before we will be having fresh greens to eat!

I am so looking forward to when my morning rounds will start to include harvesting fresh leafy greens, beans, peas and summer squash, regularly again!

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and so many lilacs!

It’s been a while since I posted a picture of the yard cats. They’ve been really skittish, lately.

There are 6 in the kibble house, plus I saw Rosencrantz at the kibble tray under the shrine. Which, I believe, makes 7 mamas. I also saw Potato Beetle and, later on, TDG and Toesencrantz. I suspect their skittishness is related to the skunks that have been coming out for kibble, too! I’m starting to put less kibble out, more often, so the cats get a chance to finish most of the kibble off before the skunks show up.

While doing my morning rounds, I started bringing over what I needed to start working on what will be the squash patch. That meant moving the wheelbarrow almost the entire length of the lilac hedge.

They are opening up slightly later than the ones closer to the house, and there are SO MANY flower clusters! I just love this hedge. It took my mother decades to slowly plant them along the fence line, starting from a single lilac bush at this end. Which is pretty amazing!

Also, we seriously need to mow in here, but finishing the transplanting is priority right now! Unfortunately, the tall grass hides more mosquitoes, and we’re already running out of bug spray again! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Signs of spring, and an early Mother’s Day gift

I must say, the morning rounds sure are a lot messier these days! Any area that doesn’t have snow on it, is mud.

The cats are spending a lot more time on the roofs of the kibble house and shelter, the junk and wood piles, anything to be off the mud!

I spotted at least a dozen cats this morning. There are five of them crowded around that kibble tray on the ground. They’ll put up with the mud there, while I’m out and about. I didn’t see The Distinguished Guest, Sad Face, or even Creamsicle Baby, this morning.

The forecast for the next while has changed again. Predicted highs have gotten lower. We were supposed to get snow today and tomorrow – 5-10cm (about 2-4 inches) expected, as of last night. Now, they’re saying rain this evening, possibly some snow overnight, and none tomorrow.

I’m not complaining, though. This is the slow melt we need. The ground is slowly thawing and absorbing that precious moisture. It may be really messy, but I’m grateful for it.

Enough snow has melted that I can get into areas we haven’t been able to reach all winter. That gave me a chance to go into the old kitchen garden and free the top of a lilac branch that was still stuck in the snow.

The lilac is covered with leaf buds! This is the only double lilac we’ve got, and I’m happy to see it is doing well. As with all the other lilacs, it barely bloomed last year. It always amazes me, just how much damage that one cold night in May caused!

The nearby honeysuckle don’t seem to have any leaf buds yet. Those are closer to the house and in shade longer than the lilac.

While doing my rounds in the outer yard, I checked on the pump shack. A path had been shoveled to the door, but the snow slid off the metal roof, and now there’s a big pile that’s not worth digging through, as long as the cats can still get to the door. The door has a hole at the bottom that the outside cats use to get in and out. It’s gotten a lot bigger since I last checked it!

There is still a huge pile of snow in front of the pump shack, of course, but the lane cleared by the front end loader is actually starting to have green grass showing. There are also lilac bushes nearby. These ones are the common lilac, like what my mother used to make a hedge along the north fence line by the garden.

They do not have leaf buds.

At least, not anywhere the deer can reach.

Well, I guess I know why the deer were going down here, now. I did eventually see leaf buds, but they were well above my head.

Lilac is pretty hardy, though, and I expect they’ll recover and be growing new leaf buds fairly quickly.

Before heading out for my morning rounds, I checked the thermometer in the sun room, and it was just above freezing. From what I could see during the night, it seems to have stayed above freezing throughout the night, which is encouraging. The little bins with the tree seeds don’t look any different this morning; I don’t expect to see any change for at least a couple of days. Hopefully, that mold will dry up and die off, and we’ll see seedlings, but we’re not holding our breath over that.

On a completely different note, my husband, sweetheart that he is, got me an early Mother’s Day gift. It’s expected to arrive at the end of the weeks.

He’s ordered a Dutch oven set for me!
(image belongs to Amazon)

This is the Uno Casa Cast Iron Dutch oven, in the 6 quart size. (not an affiliate link) I’ve been looking for a cast iron Dutch over for a while, but haven’t been able to justify the cost. When my husband found out I wanted one, he looked up a bunch for me to check out, and I was really excited when I saw this set.

One of the key features of a Dutch oven for outdoor cooking is the lid design. They are flat with a lip around the edge to hold hot coals, so you can have heat above and below. The legs are another important feature. With many of them, the lids double as a frying pan or griddle, but this is the first time I’ve seen one where the lid has legs, too.

The final detail that sold me on this set was the lid lifter. I’ve seen them available separately, but not as a set. The reinforced tote is a nice little bonus, as is the downloadable cookbook.

This set is going to make quite a heavy package. Thankfully, my husband has Amazon Prime, so there is no shipping cost. It shipped very quickly, too!

I think this would be a great way to test it out.

I’d actually been eyeballing the Cabela’s Dutch oven, but I think this set’s design will be more useful. You’ll note, in the video, his Cabela’s Dutch oven lid is not recessed to hold coals. That’s not the one I had in my wish list, which was this one, which has the coal-holding lid. The one in my wish is a 14″ Dutch oven, which I think is larger than the one we are getting, though the description doesn’t say. A 12″ version that was recently added to their inventory is listed as 6 quarts, so I’d guess the 14″ one is an 8 quart size. The 6 quart size we are getting should be more than large enough.

I’m really excited about this!!

My husband is the best. ❤

The Re-Farmer

Growing things

When we got that one really cold night in late May, most things survived (the new mulberry sapling, sadly, did not) just fine. However, anything that was budding lost their flowers. Including almost all of the lilacs.

This Korean lilac usually blooms after the common lilac, but with the warmth we’d had earlier in May, it was starting to bud, too. This morning, I found this single spray of flowers blooming on it. It does look like it may be putting out more buds, though. We won’t get the mass of tiny flowers that is usual for this lilac this year, but there will be some, at least.

Then there’s this poor mock orange, by the laundry platform. February’s deep freeze had already decimated it. More of it has died off since the May frost. Yet this thing is amazingly resilient, and it now blooming!

I want to transplant this to a more protected location, once we figure out where that is. There is another on the East side of the house that didn’t get as damaged by the May frost, however it isn’t thriving there, either. Too dry against the house, and sunlight only in the morning. It is also starting to bloom, but like its leaves, the flowers are much smaller. We can water it regularly, but there isn’t much we can do about the lack of sunlight, so I figure that one will get transplanted, too, at some point.

The little furry flowers are growing, too! (The fourth one was playing the the bushes, so I couldn’t get a photo of it.)

When I put food out in the mornings, Butterscotch is at the kibble house along with the other yard cats, but these guys are learning to come out to their own food and water in the mornings now, too.

At the squash tunnel, I found our first Pixie melon flower!

We definitively need to get more mesh soon for that last section of the tunnel. The Halona melons are getting tall enough that we’ll need to start training them up the tunnel walls, in a very short while.

These are in the carrot bed in the old kitchen garden. They are growing where the white kohlrabi was planted. I’m hoping that’s what they are, and not just some similar looking plant of my mother’s, pushing its way through! 😀 This little garden always had a variety of things growing in it, but mostly flowers. Very determined flowers! When we first cleaned out this garden, then laid down cardboard and layers of straw, leaf litter and grass clippings, many still managed to push their way through. In digging out by the house to make the path, then building the beds we planted in this year, during which I removed many, many roots, you’d think that would have set them back, but no. They’re pushing their way through soil paths, the straw paths, and even the deeper soil of the new beds. It would be rather impressive, if they were not so invasive, and crowding out our vegetables!

Still, it’s nice to see all the growing things. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Mourning roundup – and what a nasty boy!

The morning rounds, as usual, started with a visit to the kitties.

I fully expected to find a couple at the top of the stairs, as has been the usual thing lately.

Nope. Just Beep Beep.

The other usual thing is to go down the stairs and find the kittens not already on the stairs, coming sleepily out from under the platform bed frame, where they’ve created a nest.

Not this morning!

Beep Beep jumped into the pile faster than I could get my phone out for a picture, but all the kittens had been on the chair, curled up in a furry mass, sleeping!

The outdoor part of my morning rounds went rather quickly, because I was being eaten by mosquitoes! Every time I paused to take a picture, I would be attached by clouds of them!

The first of my mother’s poppies has opened up.

The dwarf lilac by the house is just a riot of flowers!

This other variety of lilac, planted by the chain link fence, doesn’t have a lot of flowers, but the few clusters is does have are starting to open.

When feeding the outside cats, I saw some faces that have not been around as much, lately.

Junk Pile cat has been hanging around, even if I only see him in passing, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen Butterscotch. I was happy to see Rosencrantz show up.

While checking the garden plots and switching memory cards on the trail cams, I got some company.

Creamsicle came to join me and wanted attention. 🙂

Butterscotch came along this time, too.

Then this happened!!!

Her boy went into a full-on attack! I couldn’t believe it! He wouldn’t stop, either. I broke them up several times, until I just couldn’t catch up with them. Each time, Butterscotch would run off, and Creamsicle would run right after her and attack as soon as he reached her!

What a terrible son!

I am not impressed.

The Re-Farmer