I blinked, and the day went by!

My goodness, where did the day go? I just realized it’s past 6pm, but it feels like it should be 2pm. This, even though I ended up doing the rest of our monthly stock-up shopping today.

The mamas were out in full force when I came out to do my rounds this morning – and so was Sad Face! I just had to try for a picture of him on the shrine. I couldn’t get any closer, as he runs off. Which I’m good with, because he has been beating up Potato Beetle and The Distinguished Guest a lot!

He is, however, waiting his turn for the food, letting Rosencrantz eat her fill, first!

It’s entirely possible she’s pregnant with his kittens.

Before coming in from my rounds, I paused to get eaten alive by mosquitoes while picking the rest of the garlic scapes in the main garden. There are only a couple that weren’t ready to pick. Looking forward to using them!

With the other garlic so far behind, we should have more scapes to harvest in about a month or so. A bonus to that garlic coming up so late!

While I was putting food out for the cats and the birds, Potato Beetle appeared in the sun room, enjoying his very own private breakfast. When I was leaving to do the shopping, I found him like this.

Awwww… So cute!

He’s still really skinny again, so I hope he stays around long enough to put some meat back on those bones. And with both Sad Face and The Distinguished Guest prowling around, I’m much more comfortable with him safe in the sun room!

The last of our stock-up shopping for the month was a Walmart trip this time. Partly because I finally wore out my last pair of jeans and needed to get new ones.

Very little of what I needed to get was food times. I got four 7kg bags of kibble; hopefully, we now have enough to last the month. With the skunks and the racoons also eating the kibble, I’ve taken to setting out less kibble, more often. Hopefully, the cats will get more of it that way, and the kibble will last longer.

We needed to stock up more on paper products, in non-Costco sizes. We’re slowly building up an inventory of non-perishable products, with a goal of having at least a 3 month supply by winter. That way, if we get snowed in, or vehicles break down – or if we get another spring of flooding and washed out roads – we will be set. We need to be doing that with cat kibble, too, but with how many big bags we need just for 1 month, stocking up extra is much more difficult!

The brand of bug spray I bought last time didn’t seem to work well at all. During the cookout, we all used it liberally, but the mosquitoes were practically mainlining the stuff instead of being repelled by it. I was able to find the brand that we find works best and bought a couple of cans – along with more AfterBite!

Finding a new pair of jeans was annoying. I tried on a couple of pairs and found ones that fit – on the upper body. Unfortunately, it seems the popular style is skinny leg jeans. The only reason I could get them on my calves at all was because the fabric was part Spandex. Went through rack after rack before finally finding one style that were regular cut on the legs. Thankfully, they had some in my size, too.

It shouldn’t be this hard to find clothes that fit! Honestly, I think the next time I need to get a pair of pants, I should just go to the men’s department. At least if they’re too long, I can get my daughter to hem them for me or something.

I did have a small splurge today. Nosencrantz and Butterscotch still refuse to leave my office. I have a scratch board for them that they completely ignore. Nozencrantz has been using my office chair as a scratch post. Usually, we get the scratch pads made out of corrugated cardboard, and I was originally going to get two of them, but I found a cheap little cat tower that I got instead of a second scratch pad. Hopefully, they will figure out how to use that, instead of my constantly having to stop them from clawing either my chair, or the carpet!

Well, that didn’t take long! As soon as there was a space while unpacking the shopping, Tissue jumped right in!

I gave the cardboard scratch pad to the other cats, but kept aside the cat nip that came with it. After assembling the new little cat tower, I put cat nip all over it, and on the other scratch board they’ve been ignoring, then gave the last of the cat nip to the other cats. Which is always hilarious.

Butterscotch and Nosencrantz seemed happy enough with the cat nip, and mildly curious about the little scratch tower. Then Cheddar wanted in and discovered the tower. It’s barely taller than he is! It has a curved portion with a “comb” under it for cats to rub up against, and I’m not sure he can even fit through it, but he was certainly enjoying the hanging toy and bell, while going into a cat-nip fueled frenzy over the thing. Nosencrantz just sat on a nearby foot stool, looking at Cheddar like he was crazy!

Well. He was a bit high on catnip, so I guess in a way, he was!

They’re all sleeping it off on my bed right now.

I still don’t know if they’ve figured out they can scratch at that thing, yet.

When I next went into the dining room, I found cats splayed all over the place, in a stupor, with Susan all curled up on the cardboard scratch pad (which got its own catnip application), taking a nap!

Aside from the regular monthly shopping, my husband asked if I could get some prices for dimensional lumber, so I stopped at a hardware store on my way home. It’s in the town my mother lives in, and I know they deliver. After getting the prices, I remembered to pick up some new clothes line to replace what broke this spring. I hope 100 feet will be enough. I also got proper clothesline spreader. Two of them, actually. There’s a lot of distance between the poles! I’d been using S hooks, and they don’t slide very well.

When I headed into the city, I drove into a deluge of rain, and by the time I got home, the rain had reached our place. Enough that we have water all over, again. I’m not complaining, though. It means the garden doesn’t need to be watered, and it’s not so much that things are drowning again.

One of the things I was able to get done yesterday was finally prune away some large branches from the ornamental apple trees in the old kitchen garden. Where we have the bunching onions planted is not doing well, and drying out faster, because of the thick mat of interlocking branches above. There was one large branch from each tree that I wanted to take out but, once those were down, it uncovered a whole lot of dead branches. By the time I got that all cut away and cleared out, it was looking much more open and bright at the end of the garden. Which means the retaining wall blocks and the bed along them all got today’s rain better, too!

Oh, my goodness! I am so happy!

Just moments ago, I had to stop Nosencrantz from scratching at my chair again. She left – and then I heard her using the new scratch post directly behind me! She’s figured it out!!! Yay!

Okay, time for me to get my butt back outside and do my evening rounds.

Because even though it still feels like it should be the afternoon, it is well into the evening right now!

Where did the day go?

The Re-Farmer

While I’m waiting…

Yesterday, I finished up a garden tour video I made, using my recently acquired software. I’m getting the hand of using it, and quite liking it. It has been a while since I fired it up, though, and there was an update waiting. I have no idea if that’s related or not, but when it came time to export and upload the video (which is does in succession), it saved the export file, but failed the upload. Which is fine. I could just do that manually.

It was incredibly slow to upload. So slow, I thought something must be wrong, and restarted it. When that didn’t work, and it still took forever, I finally had to shut down for the night.

Today, I made a trip into the city for our first monthly stock up shop. When I was finally able to settle in on the computer, I started uploading the file again.

It was just as bad. It shouldn’t take almost 2 hours to reach only 14%.

I ended up re-saving the video at a lower resolution. It’s almost half the file size now, but it’s still slow as every to upload. I’m at 51% right now, and it’s telling me it’ll take just under 3 hours to finish uploading.

I’ve uploaded large files before, without having this much trouble before. I’ll just have to leave it alone and let it do it’s thing. I meant to post the video today, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

While I’m waiting for that to upload, here’s how the day went. 🙂

I was able to do almost all of our stock up shopping today. There are just a few things left to pick up later. I wasn’t able to get the spare sump pump I intended to. They were out of stock.

It was another day of sticker shock, too. Yikes! Some things may need to be dropped from the list this month. About the only “good” price I saw was when I got gas at Costco, where it was at 196.9 cents per litre, instead of the 208.9 cents per litre locally. The city was mostly 207.9 cents per litre.

I was able to get more of the 6′ bamboo stakes, in packs of six, for the garden at a better price than the last ones I go, so my splurge of the day was to get 4 packs instead of 2. I also found one package of trellis net of the same type we are using from last year. The problem is, I need 2 of them to finish both trellises, and there were no more to be found. Hopefully, I’ll find another one when we do our second city trip and go to different stores. If I can’t find any, I’ll just have to use twine.

We have a beef order made, which will tentatively be ready for pick up in a couple of days; I’m just waiting for confirmation on that, as they put the pack together. It’s their largest freezer pack on their regular orders, and they choose what’s in it. Since we’re going into summer, they like to put in more cuts suitable for grilling. I find I quite like not knowing what’s in the pack ahead of time. It’s like Christmas. 😀

On another note, while I was in the city, I got a message from my sister assuring me that my mother’s apartment was locked up after getting treated, so I didn’t need to check it on the way home. Which I’m extra glad for, because on the way home, I drove through my mother’s town and completely forgot about it. I do wonder how much of my mother’s stuff they had to put into the hallway before they could access where they needed to spray. Hopefully, the smell will have dissipated before my mother gets home tomorrow. She has become extremely sensitive to chemical smells.

On yet another note, we are thankfully staying dry enough that I should finally be able to finish mowing. We have extra reason to get the area by the fire pit done. We’re actually going to have company this weekend! We still haven’t worked out exactly when, but my husband’s brother and his family will be coming out. With my husband hardly getting out of the house at all anymore, they have seen each other only a couple of times in the 4 1/2 years we’ve been living here. We used to be able to get together regularly, but with my husband’s pain levels, he just can’t make the trip to the city for any length of time anymore, and their work schedules keep them from coming out here. It’s Canada Day weekend, though, so they have some extra time, for a change. 🙂

Ugh. In the time it took for me to write this, the upload has only increased to 58%, and it says there’s still another 2 1/2 hours before it’s done.

I’m going to leave it and go to bed. I’m sure I’ll be awakened by something during the night, and can check on it then!

I will have it posted as soon as I can. I hope you enjoy it!

The Re-Farmer

Yesterday’s monthly shop

I’m glad I was able to do the city trip yesterday. It rained all night, so today, the gravel roads are all muddy again – especially that one really bad spot near our place – and the yard is completely saturated. Yesterday, I was able to back up to the house to unload. The vehicle gate was still muddy, but I could at least drive through with minimal spinning of tires. Today, that area of the driveway is all water again. So are a number of areas in the yards.

I’d left a bit earlier than usual, making my regular stop to get a bit of gas at the town my mother lives in. Too early for their fried chicken to be available, so “breakfast” was a protein bar, instead. 😀 I also paid the “idiot tax” and bought a lotto ticket, as well as a couple of on-sale energy drinks for the cooler in the van. Grand total was just over $45.

This trip is our usual series of three stores, finishing at Costco. The first was Canadian Tire, where I picked up a couple more 40 pound bags of the stove pellets we use as cat litter. We still had plenty, but I’m starting to use it as mulch in the garden again – it works really well for the finer seedlings – so I wanted to get more. I also got an extra spool of line for the weed trimmer, as it’s going to get a major workout in the old garden area, soon, and a package of short bamboo stakes that I thought might work for some hoops for the garden (more on that in another post). The PVC pipe I got to use as hoops last year is a bit too stiff and kept breaking the doweling I used last year. Metal stakes would be better, but finding any small enough to fit into the pipe is more difficult, and more expensive, so I’ll try the bamboo for now. I also picked up a roll of half inch PEX pipe. It is more flexible, and we can cut it to the lengths we need. Plus, it’ll be easier to find metal stakes to hold it in place.

I also finally picked up something I’ve been eyeballing for a while, now.

White Carolina strawberries! We have 4 transplants of red strawberries, which will be planted with the purple asparagus. There are 10 roots in this package, and I’m not really sure where we’ll plant them – several options come to mind – but we’ll figure it out. More perennial food plants is worth it. Altogether, this stop was just over $100.

After that, it was off to the international grocery store, though I did make one extra side trip, first. They share a parking lot with a Dollar Tree, and I wanted to see what gardening supplies then had. I ended up getting a selection of plant supports. I got 4 tomato cages, though they will probably be used for the eggplants or peppers. Then I got 4 supports that are a narrow metal spike with a spiral at the top to wind a stem through. I’m not sure what we’ll use those with, yet. Then I got 4 each of plastic coated metal stakes in two sizes. These came with adjustable ties for the plants. The heavier duty ones look like they would do very well for vertical growing summer squash. That worked out okay last year, except we had a hard time getting the lengths of poplar we’d cleared from part of the spruce grove to stay upright. The narrower ones might do well for that, too. After testing the 4 different types of supports, we’ll know which ones to get more of – if any at all. I also picked up a couple of fabric “raised beds” to test out. We already have a couple of grow bags that I was planning to grow the sweet potato slips in, once they arrive. We’ve got 5 sweet potato slips, 10 Jerusalem Artichokes and 2 highbush cranberry that will be shipped when it’s time for planting in our zone, which is pretty soon. With so many transplants, so many things to direst so, and so few beds to plant in, I thought it was worth trying out. I also picked up some S hooks and ground staples. The ground staples will work better than the tent pegs we are currently using for the protective netting we’re putting over the beds. Altogether, this part of the shop was just under $50.

Once those were all put away in the van, I headed into the grocery store and finally had “breakfast”. One of the bonuses for making these trips is being able to have dim sum!

This store is where we find some favourite frozen dumplings, international condiments and less common types of cheese. They also have a section of locally produced slabs of smoked bacon. Sometimes, they only have small pieces of unsliced bacon, but this time, they had some of the big ones in stock. It’s also where we get things in non-Costco sized quantities. 😉 Prices for some things have gone up quite a bit, and this stop ended up being just under $200. Plus the dim sum (which also went up in price) and drink I bought, it was about $215 in total.

Then it was Costco time.

*sigh*

Gas was 6 cents per litre cheaper, so I filled the tank first. That still came out to a little over $50. Then there was inside the store.

Ugh. There was a fair bit of sticker shock for some of the food items. I got more canned chicken for our stock, and that had gone up in price again. Six cans now cost about $20. Last month, they’d gone up to about $15. Basics like butter, eggs, rice, even toilet paper, have all gone up in price. The only other meat I got was the all-beef wieners and buns for a planned cookout. It’s a good thing we stocked up on meats previously, and we still have plenty. All the meats and fish have gone up in price substantially. Oddly, dry cat food hasn’t gone up in price as much as people food. I would have liked to get more than the 4 bags I got, but our van doesn’t like heaving loads, and I already had 80 pounds of stove pellets in there. The canned cat food has gone up in price more than the dry has. The popcorn we get (in the excellent, heavy duty, food-safe plastic containers that we are keeping for dry-storing other foods) hasn’t gone up, nor has mayo, but mixed nuts (to keep in the van) has gone up more, as has the Basmati rice. Even their flats of water (for the cooler in the van) has gone up.

The frustrating thing is that I was looking to pick up non-food things for our stash, like more of those heavy duty tarps, and some non-scented, “flushable” wet wipes for washing up should we lose our water for some reason, as well as some work gloves that are stronger than the gardening gloves we have right now. I had to put them all back. The grand total for this trip was just under $550, which isn’t unusual for how much we spend at Costco, except that we got way less actual food this trip.

More incentive to keep increasing what we grow in the garden, and to get a coop and brooder set up, so we can finally have chickens.

Altogether, I spent over a thousand dollars, but our fridge is only half full. Granted, the pantry and freezer are still good for now, but the stash is not growing as well as I’d like.

Ah, well.

Next week, we have the rest of our monthly stocking up to do. I’m planning on going to the Wholesale Warehouse again, now that I’ve got a better idea of what we can get there.

It was a very hot day, and I’m glad I remembered to grab the ice packs from the big freezer this trip. We do have insulated bags, but even with saving those purchases for last, the van doesn’t have air conditioning, and those bags can only protect so much.

While I was gone, the girls were taking care of things on the home front, including frequently checking on the transplants to make sure they weren’t being baked, misting them as needed. They were still better off outside than in the sun room; it hit 30C/86F in there.

One of the things a daughter had tried to do while I was gone, was vacuum the living room. She’d done about half when the new vacuum cleaner basically lost all suction. We still don’t know all the quirks of this machine, so we left it until I got back.

We then spend probably 2 hours in total, fighting with that thing. What we eventually found was that the main hose was clogged, but it took figuring out how to dismantle the vacuum cleaner part way. The hose itself runs through a part of the vacuum cleaner that holds it in place, but doesn’t come off, so all the fighting we did with the hose included pulling it back and forth through the back of the machine. It ended up taking one of the metal plant supports I got at Dollar Tree to finally punch a hole through the clog, but we still couldn’t get it out. My daughter remembered a computer tool kit we have, which has a screw grabbing tool that was long enough and narrow enough to reach the clog, and the grabber could pull it out, little bits at a time.

The clog turned out to be mostly fibres of sisal rope from the cats’ scratch post. That stuff is nasty on the vacuum cleaner!

Plus cat hair, of course. Everything has cat hair.

One of the downsides of doing this is, we were in the living room, which has no air circulation. I was dripping with sweat, and by the time we were done, we were covered in dust, cat hair and little bits of sisal fibres.

Well, at least she was able to finish vacuuming the carpet. It was my turn to do the bathroom, which was done by LED flashlight, because the breaker was being kept off until the burnt outlet could be repaired. Not much air circulation in there, either, even with the window to the sun room open.

We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the day. I hate housework even more than I hate shopping. That’s why I’m usually the one doing the outside stuff, while the girls take care of the inside stuff. 😀

Still, I’m glad I got the Costco shopping done, at least, and I won’t have to do that again for another month!

The Re-Farmer

Second stock up trip

To follow up on the post I did with our large shopping trip, to stock up for the month, I’ll go into detail on what was picked up today.

Normally, we would have done the big trip, going to three different major stores on one day, then done a smaller trip to fill in the gaps a few days later. This time, however, we had to wait until the water receded and roads were clear.

Yesterday I happened to see one of the gravel trucks making a return trip past our driveway, and could hear heavy equipment, so I think the washout to the south of us was repaired. This morning, though, the flood warning sign was still at the intersection. The “road closed/local traffic” only sign was gone this morning, though, so the repairs to the west of us are done.

While taking the main road towards the highway, I found they hadn’t tried to do anything with the washout to the east of us. It isn’t as major as some other ones, and can be driven through without too much issue. I stopped at the post office first and asked about the highway conditions. The highway is still closed to the north, but it’s open to the south. I wouldn’t have to go to the next highway to go to the city. In fact, while driving towards the town my mother lives in, I couldn’t even tell that the highway had been washed over, the water levels have gone down so much in this area.

I stopped to fill the tank and got an unpleasant surprise.

The gas prices went up 11 cents, yesterday.

At 180.9 per litre, that’s Cdn$6.84 per US gallon. At the current exchange rate, that works out to US$5.31/gallon, for regular gas.

It cost me about $40 for an eighth of a tank of gas. That means it would cost Cdn$320 to fill my tank from empty right now.

When we last lived in this province, just before moving to the city we came back from, I worked night shift at a gas station. The only time I saw people paying that much on gas was when the drag races were on, and people would fill the tanks in the backs of their pick up trucks to fuel their race cars. The most I ever saw was in the $400 range. Not even the fishermen were spending that much, buying fuel for their boats. This would have been in 2004, when gas prices increased to an astronomical 67 cents per litre.

Those were the days… :-/

Anyhow.

Today, I decided to go someplace I hadn’t been to in 4 years. The Wholesale Club. This is the Canadian Superstore warehouse chain. Their prices aren’t all that different from their regular retail stores, but they do carry more varieties than Costco, and have bulk sizes of things I don’t see anywhere else. They also cater to the restaurant supply market, so a significant portion of the building is filled with take out supplies and commercial kitchen items.

I love going through that section.

Before moving here, we used to go to The Wholesale Club fairly regularly, but the one time I went to this location after we moved, I did not want to go back. It was a real mess and, when looking at their fresh meat section, I was seeing a lot of meat that looked like it had gone off completely.

I wasn’t planning to get fresh meat, though, so I decided to give them another try.

I’m happy to say, things have improved!

I completely forgot to get a picture of the flat cart when I was done, though.

This is what I got today; I had a $300 budget, and stayed under budget.

Cat kibble; three 8kg bags: I had intended to get more, but this was their last three in that size. They also had their no-name kibble, but not even the outside cats want to eat that stuff.
Popcorn: a couple of bags. I prefer to buy that at Costco, because we keep the containers they come in, but we were running low.
1 small bag each of pinto beans, navy beans and pearl barley. I want to try making our own baked beans and, if we like them, start making more to pressure can. As for the barley, we don’t often get it, since my daughters can’t stand barley, but every now and then, I have a craving for it. 🙂
1 bottle Maple syrup; we don’t often splurge on maple syrup, but it’s a nice treat. Plus, I chose a brand that came in a swing top bottle. It will be kept for future reuse.
1 large pkg toilet paper – it was actually hard to find non-commercial toilet paper rolls!
1 case tomato soup
1 case Coke Zero
1 giant bag Fusilli pasta
1 bag medium couscous – personally, I prefer large couscous, but they didn’t have any.
1 large block each of old cheddar and mozzarella cheese
1L whipping cream
1 large bag frozen potato and cheddar pierogi
1 large bag frozen potato and bacon pierogi

1 box Medjool dates – and no, I didn’t accidentally buy Two Bite Brownies instead of dates this time! 😀
1 bulk pack of wieners
1 pack hoagies
2 bags of 12 hot dog buns
– when things dry up a bit more, we’re having a wiener roast!
2 loaves rye bread; rye bread is one of the things we don’t usually bake ourselves
1 pkg flour tortillas

The grand total, after tax, was $273.55

There were a couple of things on my list that we didn’t get. One was plain vegetable oil. They only had it in restaurant sized buckets, which isn’t much use to us. I also couldn’t find corn meal, but that’s something we can buy locally. There were a few things I did get that were not on my list, like the popcorn, Coke, maple syrup, dates and pierogi.

With this place having so much in giant, restaurant sized packages, it will be a good place to go to specifically for adding to our stash. They also have more varieties; where Costco might have something available by the case in one flavour, Wholesale Club has the same number of varieties that would be in their regular retail stores.

While I wasn’t looking for fresh meat, I did check out that section, as that’s what had turned me off last time. I can happily say that all their meats really did look fresh. The big change, though, was that there is now a wall of fridges, mostly with really huge cuts of beef, that is now behind a locked cage. You need to get a staff member to open it up if you want anything in it.

A sad sign of the times.

So that is our smaller stock up trip, to fill in the gaps from our big trip. Anything else we need will be bought locally. About the only thing we might make another trip for is the dry at kibble, but as the weather warms, the outside cats are out hunting, and aren’t eating it as much, so we won’t be going through it quite as fast. I do still make sure to put out a bit extra at the end of the day, for the mamas.

Because I’m a suck that way. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Cha-ching! … Ouch

I’m going to try something different.

With all the stuff going on, prices going up, and so many looking to stock up, I figured I would share a detailed post about what we got during our trip to the city today, and how much things cost. Because we get paid at the end of the month only, we budget to do a major shopping trip in the city (which saves us hundreds of dollars compared to buying many things locally) to stock up for the month, plus a bit extra for our stash. Let me know in the comments if this is something that interests you, and if you’d like me to keep doing these.

Before I get to it, I want to add a few notes about what will not be on the list, or not much of.

Beef: we now buy our beef direct from a local (ish) farmer, and recently got a large freezer pack. We won’t buy beef unless there is a spectacular sale of some kind. Our freezer is pretty full right now, so we didn’t get a lot of meat for the freezer this trip.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: there will be some on the list, but with a few exceptions, we buy fresh produce locally.
Personal hygiene and household items: the girls buy their own, and we’ve already stocked up on a lot of the basics, so we don’t need any on this trip.
Stuff that will have to wait for another trip: because we get so many heavy items, and our van is a delicate old thing, we can no longer do all the city shopping on one trip. We’ve had to split it into at least two trips. Sometimes three, if things are out of stock or we have to go to a different city.

With that said, here is today’s shopping, starting with fuel!

On the way out, I stopped to put $30 gas in the tank, so I wouldn’t go below half a tank before reaching the city. I headed out at about 10am so that I could pick up some parcels at the post office, and didn’t have breakfast before I left. I normally would have picked up some fried chicken at the gas station, but they didn’t have any yet, so I got some drinks (including an extra for the cooler we keep in the van) and some pierogi for the road. I also got a lottery ticket, for a total of $54.93 Before heading home, I filled the tank at Costco, which cost $51.87.

Grand total of fuel and a bit extra: $106.80

Once in the city, we start with where we get the least perishable times first. Today, that was Canadian Tire.

This is where we get our hardwood pellets that we use for cat litter. We still have a couple of unopened bags at home, and these last a LONG time, but I wanted to stock up. They’re only $6.99 per 40 pound bag. I also picked up a case of canning jars. We usually pick up 500ml or 750ml sizes, but this time I got quart jars (1L). I like the wide mouth jars better. I’ve also been picking up extra lids every now and then, but I did that at our last Walmart trip, so for this one, I got more jars. We have lots more seeds to plant, so I got a couple of square fibre pots that fit into the trays we have, and can be planted directly into the soil. I also picked up a BBQ lighter that was on sale; I’ve been picking those up whenever I see a good price, as they are very handy for lighting the burn barrel or fire pit. I also finally found an LED light with a switch. It runs on AAA batteries and can be hung or adhered to a wall with self adhesive Velcro strips. This is what I’ve been wanting to have for the outhouse, but hadn’t found until today. Not that we can get to the outhouse right now to install it, but I grabbed it while I could. They’re a novelty item, and not always in stock.

My major splurge was the syphon pump. That cost $39.99. I got it in case our sump pump has issues again. The last two times this happened, we had to manually empty the reservoir using an old ice cream pail with a wire attached to the handle. I’d drop the bucket alongside the pump, then push it under the water with a broom handle to fill it, lift it out with the wire, then empty it into larger buckets that my daughters would haul outside, assembly line style. With this, I can just stick the syphon pump into the reservoir, have the hose go into the large bucket, and pump it out that way. Much easier! Hopefully, we’ll never need to use it for that, but even if we don’t use it there, I can see using it to, say, get water from the bottom of a rain barrel to fill a watering can or something.

Final tally for this purchase, after taxes, was $103.18

The next stop was an international grocery store we really like.

I forgot to get a picture before I packed it all. 😀 We keep a variety of reusable bags in our van and usually pack our items there, rather than in the store.

Here we have bananas (normally we get those locally, but they looked really good today), Ambrosia apples (they were on sale), Beaver Buzz (a Canadian brand of energy drinks that we like, but few places carry; we got citrus, mango-pineapple and Saskatoon flavours), traditional yeast (I prefer it over the quick acting yeast), frozen udon noodles, a 2 pack of chicken (it had a sale price that made it cheaper than Costco), Maple Latte creamer (my daughters are coffee drinkers and like their creamers), a case of Kraft dinner (it was almost half price, and my daughters like it for a quick meal), instant milk (for our emergency stash), coarse salt (I got 2, because we use it more than we use regular table salt), a brand of soy sauce from the Philippines that my husband likes, a local brand of uncut smoked bacon; one piece plain smoked, one piece Applewood smoked (no difference in price), rooibos tea (for me!) and 2 packages of old fashioned rolled oats (which we prefer over quick oats). They happened to be on a really good sale, so I wanted to stock up on those.

Then, because I’d had such a small “breakfast” on the way out, I picked up from fresh dim sum at the hot food counter for “lunch”.

Grand total for this trip, after my loyalty card discounts and taxes: $135.39

Those were the small trips.

Next was Costco.

It was flat cart time! 😀

I did not get everything on this trip, but I did get most of it.

There are four 9kg bags of cat kibble – less than half what we need for the month – plus a case of wet cat food. The yellow plastic container that looks like laundry soap is dish detergent; not the brand we usually get, but it was a bit cheaper, so I decided it was worth a try. Just one package of toilet paper; we’ll get more on the next trip. Basmati rice (my husband’s preferred type) and a 9 pack of beans. At $10.99 for the case, they’ve gone up in price since our last trip, but are still a lot cheaper than at the regular grocery store. There is 10 pounds of butter (we don’t use margarine or shortening). Butter has also gone up and is now $4.99 a pound at Costco, which is cheaper than the regular grocery store. There is olive oil, but I didn’t get vegetable oil on this trip. We got a gallon sized plastic container of popcorn. Popcorn is our primary snack, plus the containers are very sturdy, food safe plastic, so we keep those. (We’ve got several of them with the bottoms cut off that make great scoops for the outside cat kibble and bird/deer feed.) There’s also mayonnaise, baking powder (a 2 pack; one for the kitchen, one for the stash), vinegar (another 2 pack, both for the stash), peanut butter, a 2 pack of butter chicken sauce, 2 packages of tortilla wraps, one for the freezer, a large block of extra old cheddar, and a smaller block of mozzarella. I normally would have gotten a large block of marble as well, but they were out of stock. There’s a 3 pack of hot dog wieners, plus a couple of bags of hot dog buns, for our next wiener roast. A pork loin, pork chops and a package of tilapia – the fish is for the girls. My husband and I are not fish fans. Frozen wontons, Saskatoon berry jam, canned chicken (the only canned meat we buy; it’s just too expensive!), a couple of containers of sour cream, whipping cream, icing sugar, brown sugar, a package of prosciutto, chocolate chips, a 5 dozen pack of eggs (nowhere near enough for the entire month), yellow flesh potatoes and red potatoes.

Finally, on top of all this was my Costco Executive membership renewal fee of $120. The grand total, including the fee and taxes was $784.29. Minus the fee, $664.29.

Then, because it was getting late and I wanted to treat the family, I swung by a McDonald’s drive through on the way home and picked up 4 double quarter pounders with cheese, plus bacon. Which came out to pennies over $45.

*choke*

Oh, I almost forgot.

I had another splurge when I got home. This one came out of the “unallocated funds” part of the budget. One of the YouTube channels I follow, Maritime Gardening, mentioned the software he uses to make his videos; Movavi. I got the trial version and was incredibly happy with how quickly I could figure out how to use it and make my first, simple video. However, because it was a trial version, it had a watermark on the final, exported version. When I downloaded the free trial version, the software had been on sale, but when the trial time was done, it offered a steeper discount to purchase. They had several options, including a cheaper yearly subscription version, but I opted for the next level up, one time purchase. After taxes, it cost $114.95

I’ve made a few videos using (much!) older software I have and posted them on YouTube and Rumble, but have been considering making videos of more than just deer, or the occasional video of me walking around the property. Please let me know if you would be interested in seeing Re-Farmer videos on top of blog posts. 🙂

So, including the video editing software, the grand total for the day is: $1244.61

Ouch.

This is higher than typical. It’s not unusual for us to find things we’ll need, like the pump or the case of canning jars, so those “extras” are not out of the ordinary. However, even taking that into account, as well as the extra we’re getting for our stash, and taking out the 1 time software purchase and the annual Costco renewal fee, a total of $1009.66 is higher than typical by at least $100. That would be due directly to increased prices. It would be a lot higher, if we weren’t able to direct-purchase beef, and hadn’t already stocked up on things like laundry detergent or bars of soap.

And we will have to make another trip in a couple of days to get the rest, while still keeping a budget for fresh foods for the rest of the month to buy locally.

*sigh*

I headed out at 10 and didn’t get home until about 5:30.

Ugh.

At least the next trip won’t involve running around the city so much, and will likely be just to one place.

And that’s what our big monthly shopping trip is like. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Snow, snow, go away!

Things continued to warm up today, so after I finished my morning rounds, I headed to the city for our monthly shop.

Got some major sticker shock, even though I was well aware of prices going up.

I did a quick stop on the way to put a big of gas in the tank. Normally, I would have grabbed some fried chicken and wedges for breakfast, but I was too early, so I just grabbed a snack. My first stop in the city was Canadian Tire. We usually get our wood pellets for the cat litter there, but the pellets last so long, we didn’t need any. What I did find was a new garden fork to replace the one that broke last fall. I hope it is a decent quality one, because the only other fork they had was a pitch fork. Which we do need, but not as much as a garden fork. I also picked up a new cat scratcher. Butterscotch and Nosencrantz still don’t leave my office/bedroom… well… Nosencrantz does explore once in a while, then dashes back again. Which means they don’t go to where the scratching posts for the other cats are. I did get what I thought was a small scratching post last month, only do discover I should have read the label more closely. It was a replacement post, so there was no platform with it. It’s still available, and the other cats sometimes scratch at is, but not Butterscotch and Nosencrantz. Nope. They are going after one of the suitcases stored in my closet, instead! That closet doesn’t have a door, just a curtain, so they have free access to it.

I had also tried picking up one of the cardboard cat scratchers the other cats love so much. They tear them to shreds and made a huge mess of them, but I’ll take that over them going for the couch, any day. Nosencrantz and Butterscotch did use that one – but Nosencrantz was also using it to pee on, instead of in the litter box, so that went away.

This time, I found one that is made out of carpet, and has non-slip bumpers on the ends, so it can be leaned against a wall. It is also infused with cat nip oil.

So far, the other cats have checked it out and knocked it about. We’ll see how Nosencrantz and Butterscotch like it.

One of the things I checked out while at Canadian Tire were their pumps. I was pleased to see that the sump pumps were not very expensive. As soon as we can work it into the budget, I want to get a spare. I also want to get a spare septic pump, too, but I didn’t see any that I could price check. That’s something I’d have to run by my brother first, anyhow. He knows exactly what our system needs.

After Canadian Tire, I went to an international grocery store that is one of our favourites. They also have hot food available, and the seating area has been returned, now that restrictions are lifted, so I got to have breakfast for lunch. 😀 There isn’t a lot that we get in this store, but there are a few things that we don’t find in regular grocery stores, plus I like to get fresh produce in non-Costco size packages. 😀

For the amount I got, which was pretty typical, I’d say I spent about 25% more than last month.

Then, it was finally time to go to Costco, where I can shop with a flat cart. 😀

I made sure to fill the tank before I went in; I’d added only $20 of gas at 174.9 cents/L (regular) when I stopped on the way to the city, and I was still under half a tank. Costco’s gas was 164.9 cents/L (regular), but it still cost me just over $80 to fill the tank. I can’t remember the last time it cost me that much to fill that tank, even during the rare times it was below 1/8th of a tank. I already had to increase or grocery budget. Time to see what can be juggled so we can increase the gas budget, too. 😦 I think we’ll mostly just drive even less than we already are.

Once in the store, I did get a chance to ask about getting an eye test this time. Despite all restrictions being lifted, the eye clinic still requires masks. No medical exemptions.

So no eye exam for me. 😦

There were no such restrictions for the rest of my shopping, and I was happy to see smiling faces on a lot of the staff.

I did have a couple of splurges today. Because they were still in stock and so inexpensive, I got another of the shop lights that I picked up last time to use with the mini-greenhouse. This one will be for the sun room, so the seedlings will get light from two directions, when we transfer them over, and the trays won’t need to be turned as much.

I also unexpectedly picked up a new spade. We do have one good spade. We had two other, much older ones, that we found. One broke on a root when I was digging a hole to transplant a haskap bush. The other can still be used, but the handle is broken off at the end (it was like that when we found it), so it has a jagged edge. It’s a wooden handle, so we could cut the damaged part off, but then the handle would be too short for use without wrecking our backs, so we make sure to wear gloves to use it.

Well, now we have another good spade. This one comes to a sharper point than the one we already have – which is funny, because it’s called a “round point shovel”. It’s designed more for uprooting, and where we are going to be planting the buffalo berry and sea buckthorn, there are a lot of roots, so I hope this works out. We will have a LOT of holes to dig!

As for the rest of the shopping, even taking the extras into account, I still ended up spending more while buying less. Not everything was more expensive, but most things did go up at least a little. The Kirkland brand of kibble, which the cats quite like, was limited to one bag per cardholder. Another brand didn’t have an limits, plus are slightly larger bags. Both have gone up in price, as has the canned cat food. Paper products all went up quite a bit, though nothing compared to the increase in fresh meat and fish prices! It didn’t even matter what kind or cut. They’ve all gone up. Some fresh produce, like potatoes, didn’t seem to be any different, but the dairy and eggs all had increases. Still cheaper than non-Costco, though, so it did make the trip worthwhile, still.

Most things were in stock, though some items were missing specific types or brands.

Most of what we get there are not things we can grow or make ourselves, which is why we buy them in the first place, so there isn’t a lot we can do to avoid the increasing prices. At least, at some point, we’ll be able to start raising animals for eggs and meat, and possibly milk (I don’t think we’ll be up to getting a cow, but we might be able to get milk goats at some point), but not for a while, yet. Right now, we’re focussed more on the gardening, and building what we need to be able to raise animals, starting with chickens. That is doable in the shorter term.

But I digress.

By the time I was done at Costco, I was completely knackered, and more than happy to be heading home.

Though overcast and warm all day, once on the highway, the visibility soon started to drop. At first, there seemed to be rain, but almost immediately, it turned to snow. By the time I reached home, visibility was maybe 100 yards (which is a little over 90 meters). I’d been seeing Canada Geese all over on the way in, along with a few grouse, along the roads. On the way out, it was deer. They were grazing by fence lines, though, thankfully, not running across! One herd I saw was at least a dozen deer, probably more.

For all the visibility was down, there wasn’t actually a lot of snow accumulated, when I got home.

The kibble trays were completely empty, so after the van was unloaded, and I parked it while the girls put everything away, I refilled the trays. That’s when I realized I’d forgotten the container I usually use to scoop the kibble and the deer feed, outside. I leave the container at the feeding station as I go to switch out the sign cam’s memory card, and forgot to grab it on the way back.

Which made for convenient visualization of how much snow had accumulated.

It’s not a lot, but everyone is just so tired of snow right now. Yes, we do need more snow for the moisture, so help recover the water table, but at this point, I’d rather have rain instead of snow! 😀

As I write this, I can see snow is still falling. We are at 0C/32F right now, so the snow is quite sticky. After today, it’s supposed to keep warming up, reaching 5C/41F within the week. In the 14 day forecast, we’re supposed to get as high as 8C/46F, but overall, it should remain pretty level. No extremes. Which is exactly what we need for the ground to thaw out and be able to absorb all that precious moisture. Both rain and snow are predicted, but not much of either, so that shouldn’t mess things up too much.

As much as I know it’s good to have the snow melt away slowly, I am still going to be very happy when it’s finally all gone!

The Re-Farmer

Got some progress

Well, today, I finally got it done. My daughter and I made it to Costco in the city and survived. 😉

It wasn’t too bad, actually, though I did have some concerns when we first headed out.

Of course, the critters got fed before we left – and Ghost Baby made an appearance, too! As you can see, it was snowing again.

Chadiccus is not impressed with more snow.

It was coming down heavier by the time we left; enough to make visibility a bit of a concern. Especially when passing oncoming trucks, and all the snow they were kicking up. The main concern was more about deer than traffic – and I counted at least three dead deer on the side of the road, just between our place and the town my mother lives in. By the time we picked up a bit of gas and breakfast, it was starting to clear up, though, so that was good. We did see several deer crossing the highway on the way home, though. Thankfully, visibility was just fine at the time, and all the traffic could see them and slow down!

One of the changes in today’s plans had to be about my glasses. I don’t know how much they will cost, but I did have an idea of what our shopping list would cost, and I knew we probably couldn’t do both. I still thought I might be able to get an eye test, though, which our insurance covers 100%, once every 2 years. While standing at the counter, being ignored, I noticed their sign on the eye exam door making a big deal about masks, due to close proximity. All restrictions are supposed to be lifted in our province tomorrow, but I’ve been able to go without even my Mingle Mask (which I shouldn’t be wearing, either), without any problems lately. This Costco location has been particularly good, except for the odd harassment from customers, though I’ve heard of others getting abuse from staff. I think it can depend on who’s on shift at any given moment, and how much they are into power tripping. Either way, after reading the sign, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and left. I’ll see if I can get a eye exam somewhere, later, and hopefully will not have to deal with medical discrimination any more.

There were a couple of things I found at Costco that I decided was worth getting, even though they were not on our list. One was a large bag of soil for seed starting. I’d been getting smaller bags until now, because that’s all that was in stock. With this one, we now have enough for all the seed starting we need to do, and probably have some left over, all at a significantly lower cost.

The other thing I got was a shop light that was remarkably affordable.

Last year, we rigged up the long aquarium light fixtures that are currently being used on the big aquarium greenhouse that they were designed for. This is brighter, and much less fragile! If I can avoid moving those more than I have to, that’ll be a good thing.

While it’s intended for the sun room, once we start transferring our seedlings there, I have it rigged up in front of the mini-greenhouse right now. For an overcast day like today, it’ll be much more efficient than the little lights I’ve been making do with right now. I’ve actually got it hanging from one end from a plant hook in the ceiling of the living room, in front of the mini-greenhouse. It’s braced in place, but I do have some concerns a cat will knock it aside. If that happens, at worst, it’ll just be dangling from the ceiling and not lighting up inside the mini-greenhouse. We are still relying on the aluminum foil lining the back and sides to reflect the light. At some point, we might be able to get smaller lights that will fit under the shelves of the mini-greenhouse but, honestly, by the time we’re ready to invest in those types of lights, we’ll be using larger, sturdier shelving to start seeds in, so it’ll be a moot point.

This light can be linked to others, so if it works out in the sun room, we might pick up more. If they’re still available by the time we can test it out, of course.

The remote control is an interesting thing to have. It means that we’ll be able to control the light from inside the house, if we want to. Most likely from the bathroom window, which overlooks the run room.

We’ll see how it works out and adjust accordingly.

While we were unloading the van, I spotted an Agnoos. He was having so much fun rolling around on the cat house roof, he almost rolled himself right off of it! 😀 Silly boy!

So we finally did the big shopping trip we normally would have done at the end of last month, and are all stocked up again. We now also have all we need for starting the remaining seeds, and even an extra light. About the only thing we’re short on is a storage bin of the appropriate size and shape for when we start the kulli corn. We’ve been saving our toilet paper tubes to use again, with some modifications after things didn’t work out as planned, last year. We got 100 kulli corn seeds in total which, if we can find the right size and shape storage bin, we should be able to fit into one bin. We still have the under-bed storage bin we used last year, but that will be too long for just the corn. Last year, it fit both corn and sunflowers. It worked, but I’d like something less awkward to move around, and we’re not starting sunflowers indoors this year.

Oh, there was something else that has progressed. Or should I say, has actually stalled. We hit the mail before heading into the city, and I found a letter from the RCMP. My PAL application went through, but my “credit card” didn’t work. They can’t do debit Visa. I don’t have a credit card. The letter included a form for new credit card information, but I’ll have to phone them tomorrow and see if I can mail them a check, or if I have to go to the bank and get a cashier’s check. There is also a letter saying the quality of the photo I sent them was not good enough, and they want another one. I could probably use the same photo; the problem would have been with my printer. I’ve printed other photos since then, and the quality has been much better, so I’ll try again.

Anyhow. We got some good progress during what has turned out to be a very dreary day. Not as warm as was predicted (no surprise there). We’re also getting predictions of above freezing temperatures tomorrow, but still overcast, so… we’ll see what actually happens!

Tomorrow, however, is pizza night. One of my daughters has a birthday this month, so she’s treating the whole family to pizza. The place she wants to order from is a 45 minute drive away, but what birthday girl wants, birthday girl gets. 😉

The Re-Farmer

I’m getting really tired of this van

*sigh*

What a day.

Things started off well enough.

Susan got to watch the piebald deer chasing the other two regulars away.

I discovered a strange, furry fruit in the Korean Lilac!

Once outside with the kibble, I was greeted by a very dishevelled Potato Beetle. He headed into the sun room to eat, as usual, so I closed the door to keep him in!

The Distinguished Guest was looking ever more dishevelled than Potato Beetle, making it clear who else was involved.

From the many tufts of long, black, with the occasional white, fur around the kibble house, I’d say Potato Beetle had the upper hand in this battle!

Yeah, that’s blood in the snow, too.

By the time I got back from shopping, several hours later, Potato Beetle was looking a lot better, though with some new scratches on his nose. So when he wanted out while we were loading things into the house, we let him be.

My trip to the city didn’t quite go as planned.

Our big city shopping routine now usually includes a stop at Canadian Tire, first, where we pick up the wood pellets we use for litter. While there, I got more seed starting mix and more trays to fit the mini-greenhouse shelves, and a few other things.

It was snowing lightly in the city, so when I loaded up the van, there was melted snow on the windshield, and the streets were wet and messy, so while going to the nearby international grocery store, I had to use my wipers.

They didn’t work.

All I heard was the sound of them moving lower down into their recess under the hood, and that was it.

When I parked, I tried again, and I could hear that they were trying to move, but they could do nothing more than wiggle a bit. I popped the hood, which is the only way to access them, and they were slightly overlapping each other, but I could see nothing obvious that would be a problem.

Thankfully, I have a long handled windshield cleaner. It’s meant for the inside of the windshield, but i had paper towel in the van, too, so I was able to give the outside of the windshield a good cleaning before heading into the store.

Costco, in another part of the city, would have been my last stop. Since I didn’t want to be driving on messy streets with no wipers, I decided to instead to go a nearby Superstore. It meant getting a lot less than I wanted to, since at Costco I have access to a flat cart and can really load up, but half a shop is better than no shop!

When I finished loading up the van and was getting ready to go, I noticed something.

The check engine light was back on.

That light has been on since we had the EGR valve replaced. It got looked at, the code reset, only to turn on again almost immediately. Our mechanic tried to clean the lines as best he could after replacing the valve, but there are still bits of crud he couldn’t get at, and those are likely tripping the sensor. Since we hardly used the van last year, we didn’t take it back in. Our mechanic reset the code when he replaced the alternator.

I hooked up my OBDII reader, got the codes, screen captured them, and texted them to our mechanic. It’s Sunday, so he’s closed, but he’ll at least be able to see them tomorrow.

Before continuing on, I went through the displays from our onboard computer, which I do fairly regularly.

There was something odd.

When I picked up the van, I went through the displays and the battery read at 15 volts. I don’t remember ever seeing it at higher than 14.4 volts, so that stuck in my mind.

It was now reading 13 volts.

I had the heat, lights and a CD playing. With a brand new alternator, it should still have been at full charge.

I decided to monitor it while driving.

It kept dropping.

By the time I reached the highway to home, it was down to 12.4 volts.

On a hunch, I turned off the CD.

It immediately began to increase, eventually topping up at 14.6 volts and holding.

On the trip home, I drive through the town my mother lives in, which is the only place the speed limit is reduced. Once I was clear and back at highway speeds, I turned the music back on.

It held at 14.6 volts.

Great! Just some weird glitch or something.

When I got home, I had to back the van up to the small gate for unloading. I pulled partially into the garage so I would have space to turn the van around and maneuver to the gate.

In the minute or so that took, the battery was down to 12.2 volts.

!!!

I shut the music off, then the engine, and we unloaded. Leaving the girls to put the groceries away, I parked the van in the garage, which did not require any manoeuvring. Just one wide turn, taking maybe 30 seconds.

With the music off, the battery was back up to 14.2 by the time I parked it in the garage.

What the heck???

So I need to pass that on to our mechanic, too. This should not be happening! Not with a brand new alternator.

We have actually had something similar happen to us in the past, long, long ago. We bought an old car that had been sitting for many years, and one of the first things it needed was a new battery. We even got a high end one. Then we had some other work done to fix it up from being parked for so long, including a new alternator. The battery immediately started to die. If we had the radio, lights and wipers on at the same time, it would stall and we’d need a boost to get it going again.

Not fun while driving in downtown Victoria, BC, in a downpour, at night!

We took it to a different garage, the mechanic took one look and said, “that’s the wrong size alternator” and got us the right one. There was nothing wrong with the first alternator; it just couldn’t handle the power needs of the vehicle.

When we went back to the first place (a Canadian Tire), they said they would reimburse us if we could provide the computer printout to prove it was the wrong alternator, but the garage that fixed it was old school. They never hooked it up to a computer, because they could just see at a glance, that it was the wrong one for that car. So we never got our money back for the first mix up.

This is not the kind of mistake our mechanic would make. At least, I don’t think so! However, I have noticed odd electrical… gremlins… in the van, for some time. Things would start working, then stop, then start again. Loose wires, perhaps? The radio is particularly weird. It doesn’t always turn on or off until after several tries, and if we’re on a bumpy road, the volume will start adjusting itself up or down, and the knob for the volume doesn’t work right away. Which sometimes has us frantically spinning the knob, trying to turn down the volume, only to have it keep getting louder before it finally kicks in.

Whatever the problem is, it’s not showing up on the sensors.

We just got the van back, for crying out loud!!!

Can we win that lottery now? Please? 😉 😉

The Re-Farmer

Got it done!

The last couple of days have been pretty good.

Agnoos, checking out Aunt Rolando Moon, in the tree above. 🙂

Bright and sunny, and not much wind chill. My husband was even up to going outside to feed the cats. I didn’t find out until today, that he did it in bare feet and with no coat! Yeah, he’s one of those people that wears shorts in the winter, but bare feet??? Yikes!

He’s been chastised thoroughly on that. He’s diabetic, and doesn’t feel his toes at the best of times!

Yesterday, I made a small shopping trip, giving my mother’s car a run in the process, to do the Walmart part of our shopping. Today, my younger daughter and I made it into the city and did a Costco trip – but not before swinging by the post office and picking up a very large, very light box for my husband. He ordered a whole bunch of plain, medium weight yarn, in bright colours, and plans to get back into knitting. 🙂

I haven’t been up to doing Costco in a while, now. With the colder temperatures, we did that part first. No worries about the van baking in the sun. Even with insulated bags and ice packs, anything frozen would be starting to thaw, just from the trip home. This time of year, the insulated bags are as much to keep things from freezing, as they are keep them cold! Then we hit the international foods store where, among other things, I was able to get a free turkey with my points. 🙂 We’ve already got a turkey thawing out for Christmas, and we’re doing prime rib from our quarter beef pack for New Years, so it’s just there for when we want something other than beef. 🙂 My daughter had her own shopping list, too.

Which means that we have been able to do the bulk of our monthly shop for January, and without having to buy much meat at all, it meant we had the budget to do things like finally buy a set of pans to replace the ones we’ve got that, after getting the new glass topped oven, we discovered were no longer flat bottomed! 😀

I even was able to swing by a Staples and buy the cyan ink I needed for my printer. The ruddy thing simply stopped working when it ran out, even when I just wanted to print in black and white. In fact, it wouldn’t even do the automatic head cleaning anymore, so once I installed the ink and did a test print, there were all sorts of gaps in the blocks of colour, and there was black in the yellow! I did 5 test prints, and it was still really bad. I couldn’t do a sixth test print, though.

I’m now out of yellow, and almost out of magenta.

I know head cleaning uses up a lot of ink, but not that much!

*sigh*

So we still can’t use our printer. None of the places we usually shop at carries the ink I need, so that means another trip to Staples. It might even be worth it to make the trip tomorrow.

*sigh*

I don’t remember the last time I’ve gone shopping this close to Christmas!

We have always had pretty modest Christmases. For us, it’s about celebrating the birth of Christ together as a family. My husband’s sister was finally able to move back to this province and get a house in the city (she had to back out of buying a house here earlier in the year, when the province she was living in clamped down on their police state and no one was allowed in or out of the province. At least if you were Canadian) and she’s having a Christmas dinner. She knows my husband can’t manage that sort of thing anymore, so we’ll be doing a Skype call with them, instead. With how crazy things have been this year, we aren’t doing gifts at all. Not even hand made ones. Maybe we’ll do some for Three Kings Day, our last day of Christmas, instead.

We got the last things we needed for our Christmas and New Year’s dinners. Since we normally make pretty much everything from scratch, we are all excited about getting boxes of mixed frozen appetizers. Our once a year treat! 😀

It did make things challenging when it came time to unload, though. Most of the stuff was small enough, or flat enough, to fit, but then there was that turkey… 😀 It was like playing Tetris with packages of meat to get it in there.

So, aside from a possible trip to get that ink (which might wait until after Christmas, but I’ll need to do it soon), we are DONE!

It feels good.

The Re-Farmer

Getting stuff done

Today was my day to do part of our monthly shop.

After the kitties were fed, of course.

Rolando Moon followed me around while I did my rounds.

She even let me pet her a bit, before trying to chomp my hand.

She is so mean. 😀

It’s a good thing we were doing a shop today, because we ran out of bird seed yesterday, and used the last of our dry kibble for the outside cats this morning!

Normally we would have gone to the city to do our Costco shopping today, but our budget got a bit switched, so it was a smaller Walmart trip at the smaller, nearer, city. The electric company changed the dates to report our meter reading, which meant the due date changed, too. Normally, we can pay all our utilities when my husband’s disability payment comes in on the last business day of the month; that would be the one with his private health insurance that we live on. He also gets CPP Disability from the government, which is a top up of sorts, on the third last business day of the month. That allows us to do the bulk of our shopping a few days before the end of the month. This time, however, we had to make our electric payment out of it, and it was a few days late. We haven’t had a late payment on any bill since we’ve moved here! Thankfully, though, I was able to get explain our situation to the electric company and they were able to change it for us, so this will be the only month where it is an issue. Still, it left us with only about a third of our budget for this trip.

Which is okay. We’ll just do the big trip next week.

We had another change to our budget this month. We signed up for StarLink quite a few months ago. The initial down payment was made and we were just waiting for the service to go live in our area. Once that happened, they would send us an email to let us know before taking the rest of the funds out of the account. That would give us time to transfer the funds from our savings account to cover the bill.

Last night, my husband showed me an email from them, saying they’d tried and failed to make the payment.

!!!

It took a while, but my husband eventually found several emails from them, in his spam folder. Not only did they send as an email in advance, but they had tried to take the payment out a couple of times already!

Thankfully, today my husband was able to make the payment manually. Which means the equipment will soon be mailed out to us. He did have to update our address to our driveway marker number, because they didn’t consider a box number a valid address. Which is silly. There are plenty of people in rural communities that don’t get mail delivery. Considering rural internet is the whole point of what StarLink is doing here, you’d think they’d clue in.

No matter. With the shortage of computer chips delaying their roll out by months, if not years, we weren’t sure when we’d get our system. Thankfully, we signed up long enough ago that we are still high on the list.

The only down side is, even once the equipment gets here, we may not be able to install it. There is an app that will help us locate the strongest signal from our roof, and that’s where the dish will be installed.

There isn’t a massive amount of snow on the roof – the girls would have gone out to shovel it, if there was – but there is enough snow to make it dangerous to go out there, while lugging around the parts and pieces of a satellite dish and tools!

No matter. It’ll get here when it gets here. It’s still in beta, so once we do have it set up and running, we will close the larger of our two satellite accounts but leave the second one as a back up, just in case something goes wrong. After about a month, we’ll see about closing the second account. Just closing the one account, while paying for the new StarLink account, will save us about a hundred dollars a month. If it works as promised, we should have more reliable internet, with no data limits. Our current service keeps going up in price, but connectivity has been getting worse. Meanwhile, if we go over our data limit, the cost per gig is double. The StarLink satellite signals shouldn’t be affected by weather to the south of us, the way our current service is.

Once we get to the point where we have just the one, new account running, it should save us at least a couple hundred dollars per month, and with the way the price of basics, like food and fuel, are rising, that will be a big help. Plus, with more reliable service and no data limits, I’ll be able to do things like participate in Zoom calls and meetings that I’ve had to skip. I tried doing a Zoom call with my brother once, and it was barely functional!

So that is good news. 🙂

My husband was able to take care of that while I was doing the shopping. We haven’t been able to clear enough or the yard to drive up to the house, though, so I had to pull up as close to the gate as I could. Thankfully, it all fit in the wagon we’ve found so handy, though it was heavy enough that the wheels were sinking in the packed snow of the driveway!

As soon as everything was unloaded, I fed the outside cats again while the girls put stuff away. You’d think they hadn’t been fed this morning at all, the way the little buggers were begging! After taking a couple of kibble bags into the house for the inside cats, I came out to get the last two bags for the outside cats, and found a cat in the wagon, looking ready to tear one of the bags open, right then and there!

Once all that was taken care of, I headed out again to the post office, where I also picked up a bag of deer feed this time, instead of the black oil seed I get in the summer. I was also able to refill the suet feeder. I’ll have to pick up more deer feed next time; for the past couple of winters, we went through about a bag of deer feed a week, but with the extended fall we had, and the current mild temperatures, the deer aren’t in as much need for supplemental feeding just yet.

While going back and forth, I usually have several of the adult cats following me around. Among the kittens, it’s been Nosencrantz and Agnoos – until now! This handsome boy has joined the party of cats determined to get stepped on and tripped over! 😀

More importantly, he lets me pet him regularly now! He even lets me pet his belly while he’s rolling around on the ground, though he does look awfully confused when I do! 😀

I just love those golden eyes!

I’m settling on this one being Chadicous. Aside from Bradicous, with his distinctive white tail tip, we’ll have to settle on which is which for the other ‘icsouses. 😀 One has a distinctive black mark on its nose, while another has a lot more white on his hind legs. There’s still a third one that doesn’t stay still long enough for us to spot any distinguishing features.

I’m happy to say we are now good for the next while; it was mostly critter food we were running low on or out off, but we’ll be good until we can do the rest of the shopping next week. After that, we will be avoiding shopping as much as possible! I expect one last trip to the city in the middle of the month, then not again until after Christmas and New Years, at the earliest. Hopefully, the weather will remain mild, but if we end up in a deep freeze or snowed in again, we should be stocked up for a couple of months by then, if necessary. Especially once that quarter beef we ordered is ready!

I really look forward to when we are at the point of self-sufficiency where these trips to the city are just for topping up, not a major necessity as they are now.

The Re-Farmer