Bonus Photo of the day: a chunk of my childhood

While cleaning up yesterday, under where the last chimney block had been sitting, having picked up the broken glass and other garbage I could see, I walked over the area and stepped on something buried in the dirt.

I figured it was either a rock or a brick, so I pulled it out.

As soon as I saw the distinctive colour through the dirt, I knew exactly what it was, and childhood memories came flooding back.

I brought it in and gave it a good scrubbing, but after probably 3 or more decades in the dirt, it will need more. The main part of the stone is a surprisingly bright greenish blue colour, and the layer on one end is a bright, creamy white.

This was one of those things that was found around the farm; probably in a field somewhere. I don’t know what type of rock it is, but it is completely different from any other rock typically found in the area. I remember, as a child, holding it and admiring the colours, textures and the abrupt contrast between the white and green portions. It absolutely fascinated me!

I was quite into rocks when I was a kid.

I still am! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Ready

The tree and decorations are up. The gifts are wrapped. Aside from those few last things that have to wait for the last minute, we are ready for Christmas.

Our 2018 Christmas tree, with gifts

I am glad we were able to put our tree up this year. We missed out on a lot of that last year, with everything still being in chaos from the movers bringing our stuff over. Most of our ornaments are hand made. One of the things I still need to get back into is the making of new decorations every year. Now that we’re near family again, I want to get back into gifting them again.

Our tree has ornaments we made ourselves over the years, and others that were gifted to us. When the girls were young, as part of home schooling, we took part in something called Flat Travelers, which involved sending a paper doll to visit other families around the world, while hosting some ourselves. They would be returned with mementos of the place they were at, and sometimes that included Christmas ornaments. Almost every ornament on our tree has some sort of connection or story with it, and I love every one!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: old kitchen – clearing the stove

Yesterday, while working on packing stuff in the old kitchen, my focus was on clearing the wood cook stove.  It was completely hidden away by stuff we put there, just to get them out of the way until we could get them to the storage shed or, for our own stuff, create a space for it.

The old kitchen is an add on to the original log house.  I had thought my dad had added it on after buying the farm from a relative, but I’m told the original builders had built it.  Another log building that we used as a chicken coop was the “summer kitchen.”  That’s where a stove was set up and the cooking and canning would happen, to keep the house from getting too hot.  As I understand it, this stove is from the summer kitchen.  Which means this stove hasn’t moved in about 3 generations.  Maybe four.

Until the new part of the house was built in the early 70’s, and we got running water and an electric stove, this was our kitchen.  Even after the new one was built, when the power went out, we would go back to using the old kitchen for cooking and some of the heating (the wood burning furnace needed electricity to operate the fans the blew hot air).

It’s a good thing we have no plans to use the stove.

I’m just going to post a couple of pictures for now; I found a lot of weird stuff on, in and around it!  Here is how things looked after I moved away that big stuff we had leaned in front of it.

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The chair, we’d put in to make room in the dining room, since we didn’t need the 8 or so that were there.  The vehicle bike rack is ours.  We kept it, even after selling off our bikes before a move, because we’d intended to get bikes again.

There’s a vacuum cleaner you can see on the left, with its head in the centre bottom of the photo.  That used to be ours!  And before that, it belonged to my in-laws.  They gave it to us during one of our moves back to the province, and when we left it again, it ended up on the farm.

The fire extinguisher box on top of the warming shelves turns out to have a fire extinguisher in it!  We’ll have to take it out and check its condition.  If it’s good, we’ll just need to recharge it and we’ll have an extra. 🙂  We already have another modern one in our kitchen, though I suppose it’s due to be recharged, too.

You can also see just a bit of an umbrella sticking out.  That’s ours, too!  My husband bought it for the girls the second time we moved back to the West coast.  It’s painted silk with scenes of Winnie the Pooh (book style, not Disney style) on it.  There was a second, smaller one, too.  The girls were 3 and 6 at the time.  They are now 22 and 25.  So excited to find that!  I hope we find the second one somewhere, too.

I’ll post pictures of some of the other stuff I found later.  For now, this is what it looked like when I stopped for the day.

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Yeah, I found another vacuum cleaner. 😀

The tin on top of the warming shelves was one of the things I found IN the warming shelves.

It’s full of nails.

The oven door is broken.  I found a piece of hinge on top of the stove, and I think the second hinge is broken inside the oven door frame itself.

I wonder why one corner  of the stove top is leaning down like that?

Amazingly, there are still ashes in the fire and ash boxes.

Eventually, I plan to give it a good cleaning, polish it up and find some way to put the oven door back, though I doubt it can be repaired.  If there is a baking rack for the oven, I haven’t seen it – though I might not even recognize it for what it is, if I did.  I remember my mother baking, but have no memory of a rack in the oven.  The only memory I have of looking inside the oven was when my mom was canning and had jars in a water bath, the container of which pretty much filled the entire oven.

For now, I am done with the oven area.  I will next focus on emptying the shelves in the west side of the room and made some decisions about which, if any, I will keep.  I think I might keep one, just because it’s been handy to stand on to reach the breaker panel.

I am NOT looking forward to working in that nook beside the oven.  It’s going to be a tight fit to get into and move around in there, and it’s quite the disaster. 😦

The Re-Farmer

Resilient flowers

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These flowers are growing near the fence line along our driveway.  I remember when my mother first starting planting flowers there, back when I was still a teen, and I had been wondering if any had survived.  The area is overgrown, with trees, as well as grass and weeds.  Sure enough, however, there is a whole row of flowers running near the fence line.  The red flowers are only at one end.

I am glad to see they have survived all these years. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Critters, and technical difficulties

First up, I want to share a couple of photos from our living room camera.

This one was taken a few days ago.  With the birdseed running out, there have been much fewer visitors of late.  Which means that, of the ones that do show up, they are less active and easier to get photos of. 🙂

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While doing our Costco shopping, I made sure to pick up a bag of mixed bird seed.  I even figured out how to pop the roof off of the bird feeder, so I could fill it.  I also added some seed to the platform part of the stand.

The birds haven’t really rediscovered it yet, but this squirrel did!

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I know squirrels aren’t supposed to be good for feeders, as they eat so much of the seeds, but I really like these guys.  They take cat or dog kibble, too.  Back when this place still had a wood burning furnace, when it was time to gather wood from the big pile outside to throw into the basement, we would sometimes uncover a cache of kibble that the squirrels had hidden in the logs. 😀

My dad really liked the squirrels, too.  Sometimes, he would sit on the concrete steps out the main entry and lie back in the sun and fall asleep.  At least once, he woke up to find a squirrel on his chest, checking him out!

With another scorcher predicted for today, I headed out early to try and mow the lawn.  I don’t like working with loud equipment in the morning, but I wanted to get it done before things got too hot.  I got most of the lawn done, and was just doing the last couple of bits around the main garden, when I ran out of gas.  After refilling it, the mower wouldn’t start.

While I was trying to get it started, I jostled the fuel line filter, and it popped off!  I got it back on again, then got a screwdriver to loosen the clamp, push the filter nozzle as far in as I could, then tightened it again.  Then I went back to trying to start the mower.

No go.  Literally.

I ended up pushing the mower all the way back to the garage.  My daughters and I headed into town in the afternoon, then back again soon after we returned (but for good reasons… 😉 ), so I wasn’t able to try again until almost evening.

It started beautifully.

I guess it just needed a rest!

I finished the last bit of lawn.  Though it took me maybe 15 minutes to do it, it was about 30C out there, and wow am I glad I started early in the morning, when it was still relatively cool!

But at least that’s done, now.

And that’s the extent of outside work for today!!  Looking at the forecast, it looks like early mornings, or late evenings, are going to be the only times we’ll be getting outside work done for at least the next two weeks.

The Re-Farmer

A Beautiful Day to visit family

The predicted rains did not happen today, so I took advantage of it and finished mowing the lawn with the new riding mower (still grinning like a Cheshire cat, too!) late this afternoon.  I even got to do the area around the main garden.

Unfortunately, there really aren’t enough grass clippings worth raking up to layer onto the flower garden.  The grass is just too sparse in too many places, and the areas that are less sparse are comparatively small.

Tomorrow, I will have to go around with the weed trimmer to get the areas I couldn’t get into with the mower.  We’re supposed to get rain the day after, so I want to get as much outside work done as I can.

Before I did all that, though, my younger daughter and I ran an errand into town.  On the way home, we paused at the cemetery to visit my dad and my brother.  This is the first time I’ve stopped by since we moved out here, and the first time I’ve seen my father’s memorial stone, which was installed a year after his burial.  Unfortunately, it has a typo on the date that got missed before the engravers did their work.  😦  Ah, well.  As I understand it, because my mother included her own information on there, it will get fixed when she passes, and her date is added.  Which could be many, many years from now!

Walking around the cemetery, we noticed a pair of big water jugs – the kind that go on office coolers – behind my father’s and brother’s memorial stones, with water in them!

Then we noticed this.

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What a great idea.  This way, whomever stops to visit will have water available for the living plants, if they need it.

I was touched to see this in front of my brother’s stone.

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Though I’ve said my brother died 10 years ago, that’s actually a round up.  He passed in 2010, so it will be 8 years in a few weeks.  A year after his internment, the memorial stone was installed, and my younger daughter and I were able to drive out for the service that was held at the same time.  After the installation, I picked up a votive holder and left it there with a candle.  The candle, of course, is long gone, but the votive holder is still there, 7 years later!  There is a key chain from Las Vegas there, too – he enjoyed going there when he could.  Sometimes, people will leave his favorite beer or bottle of booze. 😀  There are quite a few solar powered lawn decorations, too.  He loved those things. There are even a few he’d put up around our yard, still hanging around.  After being outside for so many years, they don’t work anymore and I will have to toss them, but it’s nice to see something that he enjoyed so much.

He had so looked forward to when he could go back to the farm.  I like to think that he and my dad would appreciate the stuff we’re doing to fix up things up, now that we’re living here.

It was a gorgeous day to stop by and visit my family.  The last time I visited, not counting my father’s funeral, it was quite late and fully dark. The cemetery is off the beaten path, and surrounded by trees.  The solar lights were glowing, and dozens of fireflies were blinking all over the place.

Unfortunately, my plans to stay a while and enjoy the peaceful setting was cut short by the clouds of mosquitoes trying to eat me alive!

Much more pleasant today!

The Re-Farmer

An Awesome Day, and growth explosion

Today, all four of us made it into the city for a family get together.  It made for a very long and painful day for my husband, but he hasn’t seen his sister in 4 years.  She flies home soon, so he wasn’t about to miss this chance.  It was so great to see everyone and spend time with them.  It is a rare thing for everyone to be together at the same time, these days.

With all this wonderful rain we’ve been having, it’s just fantastic to see everything so GREEN, everywhere.  Even the drive into the city looked completely different.

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A short time ago, the trees were just showing green leaves, while everything else looked like the dead growth from last year that you can still see in the ditch.  Now, it’s like the trees all just exploded in green.

(Also, I’m amused by the fact that there is a reflection of me driving, hovering in the sky. 😀 )

When we got home, we found all sorts of cats had missed our company!

The inside cats were very curious about Nasty Crime boy.

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It was a shared curiosity! 😀

I’m loving the long daylight hours, too.  Though we didn’t get home until past 8pm, there was still plenty of light, so I did a quick walk around the yard to see how things were.

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The crab apple trees north of the spruce grove are finally blooming.  My sister and her husband pruned them back quite heavily last summer, but I can see that there are some dead branches that will need to be cut away.  These might have died off over the winter.

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A few days ago, these linden leaves were just barely new leaf buds!

I had a chance to ask my mother about the linden tree, because it looks so different than I remember it.  So much so that, until the leaves unfurled, it looked like two different trees!  She told me that she used to cut back the suckers every year, but no one continued that after she went to the senior’s centre she now lives in.  That would explain why they look so different.  The growth at the base – where these leaves are – is only about 4-5 years old, whereas the trunk in the middle is more like 30-35 years old.

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These lilies had been showing in green clusters but after the rain, they shot up several inches and threw out flower stocks and buds virtually overnight!

Rolando Moon approves.

I also did a basement check this evening, and the old part basement is bone dry, though there is some water in the sump pump reservoir.  Well below the level of the float.

We still need to get the old hot water tank out of there.  It’s much bigger and heavier than modern ones!

I was just thinking, as I wrote this, how I can’t remember the last time the old part basement was still dry this far into spring, and I remembered one year when it flooded.  This had to have happened before the new part was built, so I was probably about 6 years old, give or take a year or two.  I remember going part way down the stairs to see.  The water was a couple of feet deep – deep enough to cover several steps – and perfectly clean and clear.

Then, as I was looking, a frog went swimming past the bottom of the stairs!

I will never forget that frog! 😀

I hadn’t thought of that in years!

Funny how things trigger old memories of growing up in this house. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

 

What is it? Guessing Game Answer

Here is the answer to yesterday’s guessing game…

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It is a square bale lifter.

If you look at the bottom of the picture, you can see a piece of metal with a hole in it.  That piece rotates, and was used to attach the lifter to the side of the hay rack.  The ladder beside one of the tires could be used to get onto the rack (instead of just clambering up, like usual).

As the tractor pulled the hay rack along the row of square bales in the field, the “arms” in front would line up the bales with the opening.  The long metal panel kept the bales in position as they were lifted up.  Once at the top, the two curved pieces tipped the bale onto the platform, where it could be grabbed by whomever was riding the rack and stacking the bales.

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The chain was kept turning by the gear on the axle, and the alternating teeth on the chain are what grabbed onto the bales and carried them to the top.

As my older brothers grew up and started leaving the farm, I was finally allowed to help with the field work – which I much preferred to the housework; being female, that was the only work my mother believed I was good for, though even she ended up having to help with the hay as my brothers moved on.  Of course, when we were still using binders to make stooks, then threshing them, all 7 of us were needed to do the work, regardless of gender.

For the first year I was allowed to do it on my own, it was my youngest brother (who passed away 10 years ago) that drove the tractor while I rode the rack and stacked the bales.  The previous year, he and I worked together while my dad drove the tractor. My brother had worked out an interlocking stacking pattern to fit the dimensions of the hay rack that allowed us to load a remarkable number of bales on that thing!  As the rack was pulled along, I would grab the bales as they landed on the platform of the bale lifter and stack them, beginning at the front of the rack for a few layers, then working my way along the opposite side, and finally the end.  As I stacked, I would leave layers “stepped”, so that I could build the layers higher as we went along, leaving the space around the lifter open for as long as I could get away with, before starting to lay the bales under my feet.

Once the rack was full, we would leave the lifter in the field, then take the load to the barn.  We started by filling the hay loft, which meant my brother would put a few bales on the front end loader, lift them up to the hay loft doors, where my mother and I would be waiting.  Using hooks made out of metal bars bent at a right angle at one end, and bent into a circle at the other for a handle, my mother and I would pull the bales off the front in loader.  Usually, one of us would quickly unload it, while the other dragged the bales away to the far end of the hay loft for stacking.  It was dangerous, as the front end loader could only go so far forward before hitting the barn walls, leaving an inevitable gap we had to reach over to get the bales stacked further away.  The loader was one my brother had built himself, out of metal pipes to form “teeth”, and creating a flat base to stack the bales on.  Because it was just pipes, any loose hay or straw would just fall through rather than accumulate.  Load after load, my brother would fill it from the hay rack, then get back into the tractor and raise the loader to us in the hay loft doorway to unload.

In his efforts to bring the load as close to us as possible, my brother kept hitting the barn on either side of the door with the outer parts of the loader.  One time, he hit it so hard, it actually created a hole.  Angry, my brother declared it was time for a break, and asked my mother and I go and make some tea.  He would follow shortly after.

My mother and I were in the house, getting the kettle going and putting together something to eat with it, when we heard a noise start up.  My mother looked out the kitchen window and suddenly bellowed in shock and anger, then went running out of the house.

My brother had taken a chain saw to the doorway to the hay loft.

There were words exchanged between them, but what was done was done.  My brother had cut out about a foot and a half of the wall, on each side of the doorway, removing the pair of doors that closed up the hay loft in the process.

As angry as my mother was, there was no doubt, what he did made the job much easier.  He was able to bring the loader right into the hay loft, and my mother and I no longer had to endanger ourselves to take any bales off.  Things went much faster and smoother!

Then, when we were done for the day, he found some plywood and built two new doors for the opening.

When my brother left the farm, it was just my dad and I left to throw bales.  He would drive the tractor, pulling the hay rack, and I would stack the bales from the lifter and stack them in the pattern my brother taught me.  Then it was off to the barn for unloading.  By then, my dad had acquired another lifter, using the same principle as the bale lifter on the hay rack.  My dad would drop bales down to the bottom of the lifter at ground level, and a toothed chain would carry them up to the hayloft, where I would take them and stack them.

One time, as my dad and I were picking up a load from the field, we decided to see just how much we could fill the rack.  Typically, I would build up 3 flat layers, then the next couple of layers would taper to a sort of pyramid shape before we would take the load to the barn.  This time, I just kept building up flat layers.

I reached five, before I started to taper.  It was so high that, instead of reaching up to the bale lifter’s platform to grab a bale, I was starting to reach down.  Driving on the uneven field, as I got higher and higher, the tipping and dipping of the rack became more pronounced, until it was more of a swaying and swinging at the top.  So much so, that I started to feel sea sick!  I finally called my dad to stop, so we could unhook the bale lifter and take in the load, because I was ready to throw up!  For the first and only time, ever, I road back on the tractor with my dad, rather than at the top of the load of bales.  The rack itself could have handled more bales.  My stomach, on the other hand, couldn’t!

We calculated it out, and each load averaged about 300 + bales, though that big one was probably in the 500 range.  The bales themselves weighed probably about 60 pounds each, on average.  The baler itself could be set from 55-75 pounds, if I remember correctly, but the switch wasn’t working, so sometimes the bales would get heavier and heavier, while other times, they would get looser and looser.  A few times, the bales had become so loose, they would fall apart as I took them down from the lifter.  Only once did I have to have issues because a bale was too heavy.  I preferred them heavier, because they stacked better, and were safer to walk on as the layers got higher.  Between the tipping and dipping of the ride, and the bales themselves, there was a very real danger of slipping between bales and breaking a leg.  I did slip, many times, but thankfully, never injured myself.

I loved every minute of it.  In all my years growing up on the farm, there was nothing I enjoyed more than those hours spent with my brother, and then my dad, throwing bales.

Seeing that old bale lifter brings back so many good memories, and feelings of happiness and contentment.

The Re-Farmer

What is it? A Guessing Game

Today, we went around the vehicle graveyard with a scrap dealer that my mom called, to check out what is here that might be hauled away.  Among the old farm equipment was this.  Can you guess what it is, or what it does.

Here is the front of the device.

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And here is a look at the other side.

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I have fond memories of using this thing!

The Re-Farmer