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

Feeling the heat, and fun stuff

So, I think this is a sign…

For the first time since we cleaned and refilled this barometer, it has overflowed!

As I write this, it’s already 28C/82F and we’ve got weather alerts for heat and thunderstorms. Looking at the weather radar, it looks like we might actually get some rain. That would be nice!

At least the winds have died down for now.

My morning rounds, meanwhile, have been full of smiles.

Well, okay. I wasn’t exactly smiling when I was trying to wrestle kittens back into the basement, but once that was done, it got fun. 😀

Unfortunately, Keith and Fenrir in particular do not like the kittens, and they’re a bit too small to defend themselves if they get nasty. Big Rig ran right up to Susan and booped noses with her, leaving Susan looking astonished and confused! 😀

Temperatures were still on the pleasant side of hot while I did my rounds outside. The dwarf lilac is starting to explode.

The scent in our yard is amazing!

The carrot and beet beds seem to be doing all right.

We’re doing a fairly limited amount of weeding right now, as we don’t want to be pulling up too many seedlings. Whatever cat that decided to use a carrot bed as a litter box has done quite enough of that already.

The kohl rabi, on the other hand, may be a write off. Some things, I can tell are weeds, but others, I’m not so sure. A surprising amount of clover is showing up.

We’ll see how it works out over time!

My favourite pollinators!

The white roses were filled with a constant drone of insects buzzing around, but it’s the bumbles that have a special place in my heart. What beautiful creatures!

Also, I had very affectionate company. He just loved it when I carried him around like a baby! LOL

Once inside, I checked the trail cam files. I love it when doing that leaves me smiling. 🙂

I got to see this deer from two angles! 🙂

I notice there is a time difference on the cameras. I’ll have to figure out which one is off and fix that.

As for the new camera location, I really would rather it be a bit further back and higher, but it will have to do for now.

The Re-Farmer

Morning rounds

We’ve got ourselves a lovely – and windy! – day today. It made doing the morning rounds quite pleasant.

The routine started, of course, with babies. 🙂

One of the down sides of not being able to do stairs very well is, even with my daughter at the top of the stairs to help keep the other cats away from the door, kittens manage to run across the length of the basement and up the stairs before I can get far enough down to close to door behind me.

Having a door that opens over the stairs doesn’t help, either.

Of course, while kittens are being wrangled, other cats try to take advantage of the confusion. David got into the basement, which we’re okay with, since he’s very good with the babies. I think Two Face got in, as well, but I’m honestly not sure if I remember that correctly. My daughter was dealing with the adult cats after we got the escaped babies back down.

Eventually, all the adult cats were herded upstairs, and the kittens got to have some wet cat food.

These guys have very hearty appetites!

After a while, we let Beep Beep down again, so she could have some, too. If she’s around when the wet cat food is first set out, she’ll push her own kittens away to get at it, no matter how much we spread it out!

Among the things I look out for when doing my rounds is fallen branches. Thankfully, between what we’ve been able to clean up ourselves, plus what the arborists were able to take down, there are far few of those than there was when we first moved here.

Usually, we’re just picking things up like the willow branch you can see in the photo. Willows are always dropping branches, but after having the power lines cleared, there are a lot less of those in the south yard. Recent winds did bring down one of the larger dead branches we can’t get at to clear. Even as I stood to take this picture, I could hear the winds knocking branches together, above my head.

Dead branches sound distinctively different from live ones.

Speaking of which…

The crab apple trees are not the only ones that are struggling. This plum tree seems to be mostly dead. There is one section that leans off to the right that is still alive, but it looks like the other two are completely dead. What few leaves there were, just weeks ago, have shriveled and died. It looks like another of the plums, behind it, is also dead or dying.

Other trees and bushes are doing just fine, though.

The pollinators were having a hard at my mother’s white roses, in the wind! I believe these are called Cherokee roses, and they have just exploded with flowers! Between these, the honeysuckle that is still if full bloom, and the double lilac that is nearing the end of its blooming period, this little garden is just a riot of flowers!

While the more common varieties of lilacs are finishing their blooming period, the dwarf lilac will soon be a mass of flowers!

I had cleaned up in this bush, taking out a maple that had been allowed to grow in the middle of it, cutting away dead wood and pruning things back. Now, even the new growth shooting up from below is showing masses of flower buds!

There is one more variety of lilac that blooms later, but I notice it is struggling, too. There is another maple that had seeded itself and was allowed to grow, near it. I think that maple is what’s killing the lilac. It’s keeping the lilac in shade for most of the day. I don’t think it gets any direct sunlight at all, really.

I’m going to have to choose: keep the healthy maple while the lilac slowly dies off, or take down the maple and hopefully save an unusual variety of lilac, that we have only one of.

The decision would be a lot easier, if I could only be sure that taking out the maple would save the lilac.

Meanwhile, while checking the sunflowers, I found we are down a couple more. I really wish I knew what is doing this. Then we could know how to stop it!

When I got back to the house at the end of my rounds, I had a lovely surprise.

Rolando Moon came back for a visit! I haven’t seen her in ages. The last time couple of times she came here, Creamsicle and Potato Beetle chased her up into a tree. My daughters could see her, but I never did spot her. The boys were away, though, so I got to say hello to Rolando. 🙂 She, Beep Beep and Butterscotch are the only yard cats remaining, that were here when my father was still alive. I have some photos from when we made the trip out to visit him, back in 2015. He did love the yard cats – and they loved him right back! Me, not so much. 😀 After we moved here, it took a while to socialize them, to varying degrees. Most just sort of disappeared. Especially the males. Rolanda Moon has always been an ornery cat, aggressive with the others, but she seemed very happy for the attention, today! It was very good to see her. 🙂

Today, being Sunday, is my day of rest. No unnecessary work. So the most I’m doing outside, really, is setting up the sprinkler to water the squash and potatoes. We’ve had some rain, off and on, but not very much, and these winds are really drying things out!

Time to go shift the sprinkler off the squash and give the potatoes a good drenching. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Oh, what a day. Already

Today started off very well, so I’ll start with that, too!

I’m happy to say that the new bed has made a huge difference. There must be something about no longer being so close to the floor, because I slept like a rock – for almost 11 hours!

Which meant I got a late start to doing my morning routine.

The kittens were in fine form this morning!

They found perfectly kitten sized places to hang out, about it all!

These little nooks exist only because the area under the entryway was walled off to make the root cellar. The ceiling there is slightly lower than the rest of the basement, so the top ledge there is actually level with the entryway floor, while below is the root cellar wall.

The upstairs cats wanted to play, too.

In the one photo, you can see David’s nose – and the glowing eye of another cat!

I’m going to have to delay doing the kitten stuff until there are others available to come down at the same time. Saffron and Turmeric got upstairs before I could close the door, while David, Cheddar and Two Face made it downstairs. While wrestling her kittens downstairs, Beep Beep went up and stayed there. I only saw three kittens, though, so I started looking around for Leyendecker and Big Rig. I realized Leyendecker had also snuck upstairs, when I saw tiny little black and white paws going past – right about where you can see David’s nose in the above photos. 😀 So I got him down, but I still couldn’t find Big Rig. I feared she may have gotten into the old part basement, but after some searching, my daughter found her curled up asleep, under the bed frame. The box my husband’s computer came in had a cardboard divided that fits under there perfectly, and they use it to sleep in. I’d pulled it out, but apparently not enough, and never saw her. I felt no weight, and didn’t think to pull it out all the way! It was a relief to find her. Once we managed to get the adult cats out, we were able to treat the babies with some wet cat food, then persuade Beep Beep to come down again.

Once outside, I was joined by Creamsicle and Butterscotch.

Lots of things are blooming now.

More wild roses are blooming now.

I also checked on, and counted, the sunflowers.

I counted 30 this morning, with some having just broken ground. We also lost more; in one spot where I was sure there was a seedling growing, I checked more closely, and found the remains of a stem. 😦

I was very happy to find this. Last year, I spotted two little bunches of red berries on this bush. Using the magic of the internet, it turns out to be a cranberry bush.

It was not planted there deliberately.

This is another of the things that are getting more light, after I cleared away trees from the fence line. Last year, that resulted in this bush having just a few berries. This year, it is covered with clusters like this! I am thrilled to see them!

These are tiny wild strawberries growing at the base of a dead tree in the maple grove. We need to be weeded with great care, as the other growth is so close, it’s hard to pull them up, without also pulling up the strawberries.

This will require a lot of time set aside (after being liberally covered in bug spray) for delicate weeding. At some point, I’d like to transplant them to a better location, but transplant wild strawberries is another delicate thing!

I don’t know what these flowers are, but I really like them! Near them are some lilies that are full of buds.

The hawthorn my mother planted as a “living fence” bloomed so fast, I missed it! Berries are starting to form now.

I’ve read that hawthorn berries are edible. We might try something with them, one of these days.

My mother’s white roses and double lilacs planted near the old kitchen and sun room as looking good. The lilacs are almost done their blooming time, but the roses are just covered with buds!

After making sure it was okay with my mother first, checking to make sure there was nothing she wanted saved, I completely covered and mulched the old kitchen garden, two years ago. You can see what it was like when we started here (back when I thought the ornamental apple trees were cherry trees, because that’s where the original cherry tree had been planted, years before). As I cleaned up, you can see in this post, just how much the above flower had spread all over. I got it to the point where I could lay down a layer of cardboard, and finally cover it all in mulch. The idea was to basically kill off what was already growing there (especially the invasive vines we were finding all over the place!), and eventually use the space to grow vegetables and herbs that we use most.

After I finished all that, my mother suddenly started talking about some blue flowers that were there that she wanted me to keep, because they reminded her of flower that grew in Poland, when she was a child. I reminded her that she’d given me the okay to get rid of everything! Still, some things have worked their way through the mulch, including her little blue flowers, so she was happy to see them and asked me to save some. Which I can do. 🙂

After I’d finished my rounds, I called my mother, then went to help her do a grocery shopping trip. That went quite well, and I was happy to be able to help her stock up on the bigger items she would normally have to pay to get delivered.

It was when I got home that things started to go wrong.

I had just driven through the gate and stopped the van so I could close it again, when I saw someone in my rear view mirror.

It was our vandal.

He’d seen me go by and came over.

He then proceeded to yell verbal abuse at me – all while recording me closing and locking the gate – from where he stood. I just ignored him while taking care of the gate, and he eventually just walked away, but he was yelling loud enough that the girls came out to see what was going on.

Based on past experience, from long before we moved out here, I knew I had to sit down and write down exactly what happened to record it. While I was in the middle of that, I got a call from my brother. It seems our vandal went straight from hurling verbal abuse at me, to calling my brother – who was at work – and verbally abusing him. There were things he said to both of us, though, that got us wondering about a triggering event. Once I had the chance, I called my mother.

Sure enough, it went back to her. He had left another abusive message on her answering machine, and she made the mistake of calling him back. She’d left a message, basically asking what he wanted from her, and they ended up speaking in person. He told her that he wanted to sell the farm and split up the money, part of which he believes he is entitled to. The farm, however, is supposed to stay in the family name, and that’s why she transferred the ownership to my brother. We had been trying to keep that quiet, but it’s public knowledge now. We have the same arrangement with my brother that we had with my mother. We are taking care of the place for him. So now we know, by his own words, that our vandal was pressuring my parents to change their wills for years, just so he could sell the farm to line his pockets.

This revelation explains why he started showing up recently on the trail cams, giving us the finger. He thinks something has been taken from him. I’m still a target, since we live here, and he believes the things that are here belong to him. Of course, he’s got his own place, so there is no reason anything of his should be here. He’s also the reason so many things disappeared over the years, and especially while the place was empty for 2 years.

Now that he knows about the transfer of ownership, it’s hard to say how he will continue his harassment. At least when it came to ownership of the farm, there was some predictability. Now that he knows the farm belongs to my brother, not my mother, he’s going to be coming up with something new. The only thing we can be sure of, is that he won’t stop. He’s become obsessed with this place, and my family living here.

*sigh*

Ah, well. It’s still better than what we left behind by moving here. We just have to worry about one crazy person, now. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Morning smiles

Here are some kitten antics to brighten your day! 🙂

The ferocious beast likes to climb into the lilac branches. 😀

The like playing with the sun spots, too.

I let David come down with me, and he is very interested in his little doppelganger!

The other kittens and Beep Beep were just too fast moving for me to get any pictures of them. 😀

Outside, meanwhile, the some of the lilacs are reaching the height of their blooming period.

These ones are the first bloomers. The white lilacs and the double lilacs take a bit longer, then there are two other varieties that bloom in succession. So we have lilacs of one kind or another, blooming for quite a long time.

I really appreciate the things that make me smile. Particularly on mornings like today, when I check the trail cam and find our vandal has come for another visit. Twice in the past week, he’s come to the gate, only to make rude gestures down the driveway. Last Saturday, he walked over and stood there, giving the finger with both hands, in multiple directions. I think he spotted the trail cam, but I’m not sure. Either way, he was mugging for the camera. Last night, he drove over on his quad, pulled up alongside the gate to gesture down the driveway with one hand. Almost lost control of the quad. Pretty sure he was quite drunk, both times.

Rather pathetic, really.

Ah, well. At least he’s not trying to vandalize anything anymore.

The Re-Farmer