Future wildflower area, and something’s missing

After breaking the lawn mower in the strip along the road, I finally got back to it, today.

Here is how it looked before I started, from each end.

I suppose one good thing about the drought conditions is that this area has never gotten overgrown. There were saplings starting, so I went over the area with the lopper first, cutting them as close to the ground as I could. The last time I had to do that, we didn’t have loppers, so a lot of these saplings were growing out of the ragged ends of smaller saplings before, that had been mowed over rather than cut with pruning shears. The larger ones had been cut with pruning shears, and there was enough of them that I had needed a wheelbarrow to clean up. This time, I could just pick up the larger ones by hand and didn’t even get an armful.

Here is how it looked when I was done.

The plan for this area is to convert it to native wildflowers for the pollinators. The mix we have has 16 annuals and perennials, chosen for Western Canadian climates. We intend to start at the far end (where the lawn mower can be seen in the one photo), as that end is near the garden. Over time, I intend to continually scatter more seeds down the line, with a goal of this entire strip being full of wildflowers. Once that is established, we won’t need to mow it regularly any more, and we will just need to keep on top of cutting away any saplings that try to establish themselves, and do a single mow, at the highest setting, at the end of the year.

What we can’t do is follow the instructions. This is the method we had intended to follow.

Method Three involves more planning but requires no chemicals. Till in the late summer or early fall the year before planting. You may allow the soil to lie fallow or plant a cover crop after tilling. A cover crop may be important if your site is on a slope. A green manure cover crop such as buckwheat or annual rye grass will hold the soil until spring, help add beneficial organic matter and help snuff out germinating weeds. In the spring, light cultivation will be needed to loosen the soil and turn under all existing growth just prior to planting. ‘

https://www.veseys.com/us/westernmixwildflowers.html

Well, we can’t till this area. Even if we had a working tiller. You can’t see them in the photos, but there are several large rocks peaking through the soil, and I have no doubt there are more that cannot be seen. I had hoped to at least go over the area with a harrow, but we still need to figure out a safe way to get under the riding mower, which has a tow hitch, to put the chain back on, so it will move. It hasn’t exactly been a priority.

Then there are these instructions:

Sowing: 

Once your ground is bare and loose, you are ready to sow. Following are a couple of tips that will make the whole process simple and successful. First, choose a nearly windless day and, second, separate the seed you’re planting, no matter the amount, in roughly two equal parts. Put the first half in a clean bucket or coffee can and add in roughly 10 parts of light sand or vermiculite. There are two reasons for the sand. It will dilute the seed and help you spread it more evenly. More important, since it is lighter-colored than the freshly-tilled soil, you’ll be able to see where you’ve been as you sow. You can simply hand-sow, keeping the seeding as even as possible. Or use a hand-crank seeder. The amount of seed you sow depends on the sort of flower display you want. Many people sow up to two or even three times the minimum seeding rates on seed packages to assure heavy bloom. Avoid planting higher densities since this will inhibit good growth. Sow the first half of your seed/sand mix over the entire area to be seeded. Then go back, mix the second half of your seed with sand and spread that seed over the whole area. This way, you’ll avoid bare spots. Once the seed is evenly sown, you can rake to barely cover the seed with soil. Or, simply compress the seed into the freshly-tilled ground. A lawn roller is perfect for the job, and for smaller areas, a piece of plywood laid down and walked on will do.

Okay, so we can broadcast the seed easily enough, but things like getting rid of all the roots of what’s already there, and having “bare and loose” soil first is out of the question. We’ll be lucky if we can loosen the soil at all. As for raking or tamping down to compress the seed into the soil? Ha! Nope. Not gonna happen. It’s just too large of an area. We will also not be able to do any watering here, at all. We have enough hose that we can reach the furthest corner of the furthest garden bed with the spray nozzle on the hose. I have no intention of buying yet another length of hose, to water outside the garden area.

Nope.

The instructions say to prepare the soil, then plant in the spring, after last frost. Since we can’t water the area, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and broadcast the seeds in the fall. I had expected to be doing that around now, but we are having relatively warm temperatures for the next while, and we’re also getting rain. I don’t want the seeds to germinate. I want them to go dormant before getting covered with snow. Then, when the snow melts in the spring, they will get their moisture.

This goes against all the instructions but… well, these are wildflowers. Wildflowers manage to propagate themselves without freshly turned soil, tamping down or clearing of other plant roots. I’m going to be trying to copy nature, here.

So we will do as much as we can first – which, unless we can get under the mower, is basically what I’ve done today. I’ll be using garden soil instead of sand to help broadcast the seed more evenly. Since I don’t want the seeds to germinate, I will probably wait until the end of the month, or even into October, to do it. Whatever survives, survives. If we keep broadcasting seeds, year after year, eventually the area will get filled. Hopefully with a good variety.

So that’s done as much as possible for today.

This is the first time I’ve been out this way, on foot, all year, which means today was the first time I was able to check out, and get a photo of, this.

This is the corner post of the property’s fence line.

It needs replacing, as does most of the fence, but that is not what I was taking a pictures of.

I was taking a picture of what isn’t there.

My father’s name.

Many years ago, my dad took a piece of red plastic and used gold coloured, metal, self adhesive, letters to put his initial and surname on it. The sign was mounted on this post. Back in the day, before any of these roads had names, and well before the driveway marker system was implemented, the sign was used as a landmark when giving people directions to our place.

We don’t go out often, and the sign can be easily seen only when we are on the return trip, but seeing that flash of red while turning the corner always made me feel good. It was a memory of my father.

Some time ago, however, I realized I wasn’t seeing that flash of red anymore. Today, I got to look around to see why.

There isn’t a trace of that sign. The reflector at the top got broken in half, though, and the rest of it is on the ground, but that’s all I could find.

The road that goes past our driveway has our family name, as well as a numerical name. When we first moved here, the road sign with our family name was at the top of the stop sign across the intersection. One day, the stop sign was lying broken on the ground, and the road sign with our family name on it was gone. I am 99% sure this was done by our vandal, and I’m just as sure that he is responsible for the sign on this fence post being gone. When it happened, I have no way to know.

What a childish, petty thing to do.

If we ever do get the road sign replaced (I’ll have to contact the municipal council again about that), or replace the sign on the fence, we’ll have to set up a trail cam on it, because I just know that our vandal will go after it again.

Switching out memory cards in this location would be much more inconvenient, that’s for sure!! But it would need to be done.

What a pain.

The Re-Farmer

A much better day today, and what will I do with these?

After yesterday being such a crappy day, I’m happy to say that today was much improved!

This morning, I found several bright bits of sunshine in the garden.

Several of our summer squash blossoms are now fully open! There are just male flowers right now, so it’s still too early to expect baby squash, but it’s still very exciting to see!

The summer squash was not the only thing in bloom.

Some irises in the flower garden outside the living room window started blooming today. These have been here for as long as I can remember, coming back year after year, decade after decade. They may well have originally been planted here before I was even born.

We got the trip to the smaller city that I meant to do yesterday. One of our stops was to Canadian Tire, where I was finally able to find the air filter I needed for the push mower. After double checking exactly what I was looking for, I realized that the last couple of times we’d looked for a filter, this type wasn’t in stock at all, so I was happy to find one.

We also made a stop at the nearby Walmart. We ran out of kibble this morning, and had a few other things we needed to pick up. Thankfully, we were able to get everything on the list, and still stayed under budget – something we couldn’t have done if we’d had to buy in town.

One of the other things we needed to get was more gas for the lawnmowers, so pretty much as soon as we got home, I changed the air filter on the push mower, and was finally able to finish most of the mowing.

I had started to move along the driveway with the riding mower, a couple of days ago, but there was no way I could use the riding mower to do the area in front of the barn. This is the first time this area has been mowed this year, and it was tall enough to make hay! I’ll go back with a rake and the wagon to pick up clippings for mulch. There was no way I was going to use the bag. I’d have needed to stop to empty it so often, I would never have been able to finish it all in one evening. As it is, there is still another area that needs to be done, but it’s not used at much. At least now, we don’t have to wade through knee high grass to get to the barn and shed!

I also finally got to cut the main garden area, that is too rough to use the riding mower on. Frankly, found myself thinking I maybe should have used the weed trimmer over all of it, but at the highest setting, the push mower was able to do the job.

I had done most of this area with the riding mower; the strip along the right was done with the push mower; you can tell by the darker green, because I had the mower set so much higher. This strip had been plowed, so there are still furrows. If I wanted to get the rest, among those trees, I’d have to use the weed trimmer.

It’s just a guess, but I’m pretty sure where I was standing to take the photo is where the telephone lines are buried. A thing to keep in mind when we plant the trees we are planning on.

This photo was taken from the same spot, facing the other way.

Not much left of that pile of garden soil!

Part of this section was also plowed. You can see the gate in the back, where the tractor and plow would have entered. The plow was dropped starting along the trees on the right. Why there, I have no idea. There hasn’t been garden there since I was a babe. My parents did try gardening here, when they first moved the garden closer to the house (it used to be way out by the car graveyard, when my parents first moved out here). As I child, I remember when the area that has the trees right, now, was a cabbage patch. The area the dirt pile is on now was no longer being used by then. I remember asking my mother why they stopped using this section, and she told me it was too rocky.

Considering how many rocks are everywhere else, that’s saying a lot! 😀

Anyhow, I still wonder why the plowing was starting that far back, but then, my sister thinks the person who did it was drunk at the time, so who knows? The furrows mean it’s another area for the push mower, though the section to the right is flat enough for the riding mower.

I was even able to do some mowing among the trees, to open up some of the paths. The plants at the bottom of the dead spruce tree in the left foreground bloom beautifully, so I’m making sure to leave them be. I’ll have to do the rest of the area around the trees with the weed trimmer.

Mid term goal is to plant low growing ground covers that we can walk on in the paths, while in between the trees will be a combination of ground cover and flowers, with one exception. The morel mushroom spawn my husband got for me for Christmas will be “planted” under one of the elms in the maple grove. He also got giant puffball spawn for me, too, but they like to grow among grass, not under any particular type of tree. I still haven’t quite decided what area I want to inoculate with those, yet. Just somewhere we won’t be going over with the mower.

That is not the only thing I have to figure out where to put. We also have these.

These are the Jiffy pellets we planted the Hopi Black Dye sunflowers in, some 2 months ago. The one that had sprouted got transplanted into the old kitchen garden. When a second one suddenly sprouted, almost a week later, I transplanted it a short distance away.

That made me curious enough to look at the rest of the pellets. I haven’t been watering the tray they were in, but when I lifted some of them up, I saw roots! No sprouts, just roots.

So I moved them all onto one of the baking sheets we got to hold the Solo cups we were using to start seeds, and added water.

Almost overnight, more started to sprout.

Currently, there are 7 new sprouts!

Why did it take these so long to sprout? Especially when the ones that were direct sown, in far less ideal conditions, sprouted so quickly??

And what will we do with them? At this point, I don’t think there’s enough growing season for them to fully mature, but now that they’re finally germinating, I don’t want to just toss them. Also, there’s no more room for sunflowers in the old kitchen garden, and the space they would have gone into in the garden got the Mongolian Giants transplanted into it, since these hadn’t sprouted at all at the time, and we thought they were a lost cause.

I think we will transplant them near the Dorinny corn. That wicked frost we had in late May didn’t seem to affect the corn sprouts at the time, but then they disappeared. They are supposed to be a Canadian frost-hardy hybrid, but that was an unusually cold night. While they looked unharmed the next morning, I guess it took a couple of days for the damage to become visible. However, the other corn seeds that hadn’t geminated yet came up soon after, so we will still have Dorinny corn, but it also means we have entire rows in the block with only one or two corn plants in them. I figure, we can make use of the empty space and transplant these sunflowers into them. Sure, they may not reach full maturity, but at least they’ll have a chance. Who knows. We might have a long and mild fall.

Then there are these.

These are the pink celery that should have been started indoors much earlier. They’ll eventually go into a container (or two?), so we can keep them outdoors for most of the growing season, then try using the sun room as a green house to extend their growing season though late fall.

Assuming they survive being transplanted. We’ll see.

All in all, it’s been a really good day. I finally got things done that kept getting delayed, I got to see the kittens, we had a fabulous supper of butter chicken one daughter made while I was mowing, and there’s panna cotta setting in the fridge, made by my other daughter. And tomorrow, we will be celebrating Father’s Day and my younger daughter’s birthday, early, with a pizza night. 🙂

I’m looking forward to a great weekend!

The Re-Farmer

A little bit of progress

First, the cute stuff!

Beep Beep is such a good mama!

The kittens have taken to napping under the couch regularly. Beep Beep can just barely squeeze under there, herself. A little while ago, my daughter saw her squeeze part way there, then start wiggling oddly. Moments later, some sleepy kitties came out. She then flopped on the floor for them to nurse. She actually woke them up for lunch! 😀 They’re more than old enough to be weaned, but it’s still great bonding time. 🙂

My daughter got the broken flexible pipe replaced. She did just the one for now.

The other has been left for now, partly to make sure the cold water is working fine and there are no leaks. With the hot water, there is at least a shut off valve at the hot water tank. When we replaced the tank shortly after moving here, the plumber added one on for us. When it’s time to replace the other piece, only the hot water to the house will need to be shut off, and not all the water.

For some reason, the copper pipes are painted, including the end of the flexible hose. My daughter tells me the pipes to the old sink in the entry way, which now supply water to the washing machine, were also painted.

Why paint copper??

As for me, I headed outside for a last bit of mowing.

That’s 4 days of mowing, now, and I’m skipping some places!

I did do an extra bit, though.

I mowed a path to and around the old Farm Hand tractor. Next, we’ll be going in there with the weed trimmer. Once we can access the tractor, we need to cut away the trees that are growing through it. We aren’t able to maintain the tractor itself, but we can at least prevent some types of damage to it!

For the last couple of summers, I’d been able to keep an area to the back gate mowed, large enough to drive through. This year, between the rain and the heat, I just never made it that far.

Today, after mowing the area in front of the storage shed, I decided to mow a path to the back gate. It’s our “emergency exit”, so I don’t want to leave it entirely.

A path, however, is all I was up to!

I cranked the mower up as high as it can go – which is higher than the riding mower can go – and only managed a path twice the width of the mower itself. I actually took 8 passes, just to get it as good as this! The first pass, I had the front wheels up almost the whole way, just to get the height down enough to not choke out the mower.

My daughter suggested it would probably be easier to use the old scythe in the garden shed, instead of a mower, for this stuff! She’s probably right. This is hay that’s being cut! Heck, if we had the equipment (well… working equipment), we could probably get a couple of large round bales just in this section! 😀

I’m hoping to at least keep up a path to the back gate. I don’t expect to make the wide “driveway” I’d kept clear last year. I’d hoped to do more, since the area becomes quite the fire hazard, but we just can’t keep up with it all. More time is being spent on the lawn than anything else right now. As much as I love mowing the lawn, there are other things that need to get done! Ultimately, the goal is to have less lawn, with trees in some areas, and raised garden beds in others. Maybe even a greenhouse or two. Other areas, I hope to replace the grass with moss.

Until then, though, there’s an awful lot of grass to cut!

One of the things that is quite visible when the grass is tall, is a path through the grass, worn down by cats, leading from the yard to under the storage shed. While I was working on the path to the back gate, and was turning to make another pass, I noticed Junk Pile cat, sitting in the newly mowed grass in the shade of the shed, watching me. I think her kittens might be under there. When I told my daughter about it, she said she saw them this morning! Junk Pile cat had brought them to the house for food. 🙂

I look forward to seeing them more often and, hopefully, being able to socialize them at least a bit. And their mom, too!

The Re-Farmer

Back at it

After taking yesterday to recover, I was feeling well enough to continue working outside today.

But first, I got to release the kitties!

😀

They now know they are allowed to be upstairs when I open the basement door, so they and Beep Beep are all at the top step, waiting for me. As they all go rushing up, there’s an equal rush from the adults cats, going the other direction!

For now, we’re still going to keep them in the basement over night, during days when we’re not around to keep an eye on them, or if we have to go in and out of the house a lot. Keith and Fenrir in particular are not happy about the babies, so we have to keep an eye on them.

The kittens have discovered a safe place to chill out, where the big cats can’t get at them.

Well. Almost.

“If I can’t see them, they can’t see me, right?”

They are certainly entertaining!!

Once I was done my morning rounds, I headed outside to continue mowing around the old garden area.

This time, I remembered to wear my wrist brace. Much to my surprise, it was my wrist that was hurting the most, yesterday. I guess stopping to empty that clippings bag so often was just too much for it.

I really ought to get a doctor to look at that. Knowing me, I probably broke something back when I was helping my brother with patching the shed roof. 😀

One of the things I’ve noticed this year is Saskatoon bushes in places I had not noticed them before. This year is looking to be a really good year for Saskatoons. At least it would be…

I found this large Saskatoon bush among the lilac hedge while mowing. There were no Saskatoon berries here in the last two summers.

This summer, the bush is just full of berries!

None of which I’d be willing to pick and eat.

While some of the bushes have their leaves infested with insect eggs that are weakening them, this one actually looks diseased. A few of the berries look great, but most are smaller, kinda wizened looking, and some have the same spots that are on the leaves.

Such a shame.

Still, while doing my rounds this morning, I was able to gather berries from other trees that are just fine! I will have to try and remember to bring a basket or something with me for the next while, to gather them as they ripen. I’ve been lifting up the bottom of my shirt to make a pouch to hold them, which works fine – right up until I need both hands to switch out the memory cards on the trail came or something. 😉

Once again, while mowing, I made ample use of the grass clippings. Since I was working close to them, I worked the clippings around the sunflowers.

The clippings are doing triple duty. For the smaller, late planted sunflowers, it’ll help keep them from being overgrown by grass and weeds. The mulch is part of our larger plan to build up and amend the neglected soil here, but for this area, it’s also being used to help level out the poorly plowed area.

The poor lawn mower. No matter how careful I was, I still ended up hitting lumps of rocky soil, hidden by the grass. Other times, the wheels would slide into ruts, dropping the blade onto furrows, leaving me to manhandle the machine out. I must say, I was very happy to see my daughter coming out, letting me know she had finished work for the day and could take over for me! The old garden area is the most difficult area to work on. At some point, we’re going to have to go out there with garden hoes and break apart the worst of the hills the bad plow job left behind. It would be better to use heavy equipment to level the whole area out, but we make do with what we can.

For now, the inner yard is done. Tomorrow, I’ll be checking the blade on the mower and probably giving it a sharpen, before I start working on the outer yard!

That poor little mower is really getting a workout! 😀

The Re-Farmer

I’ll be feeling this tomorrow!

I am in so much pain right now. Chances are, I’ll hardly be able to walk tomorrow. But it was worth it!

Let’s back up a bit.

This morning, I got a call from the pharmacy, letting me know my husband’s painkillers were ready to pick up.

Oh, what wonderful news to start the day!

I skipped my morning routine, which my daughters were kind enough to do most of for me, and headed to the garage.

The first thing I did was hose down the area the wasp nest was in. They were still hanging around, but I was able to get the door open and drive out.

I left the door open. 😀

Once in town, and the prescriptions were picked up, I swung by the hardware store to look at what they had for wasp spray. I basically had only two choices: a foam type and a non-foam type. They were also both designed to be used on the nests themselves. I talked to a staff member and ended up going with the non-foam type, as it was also supposed to contact kill for some time after use. Since the next itself was already destroyed, I needed to spray the area to keep them from coming back and building a new one.

Once at home, I made sure to park in the yard, then headed for the garage with the wasp spray. I couldn’t see any wasps, though I could hear some. I closed the garage door from the outside…

… and there they were! They were bouncing right off of me. I moved away and headed for the house, figuring I would give them time to calm down, but they followed me!

I’m glad I happened to be wearing a golf shirt, with thicker fabric. At one point, I looked down and there were two wasps on my boob, stuck in the fabric, trying to sting me! I was able to pull the fabric away from my body and blow them away.

It was only later than I realized, I did get stung! Right on the boob. I never really felt anything. It took a while, but I realized why it didn’t hurt. Some 20 years ago, I had breast reduction surgery. With the amount of tissue removed, it was basically a complete reconstruction. I was warned in advance that, since nerves were being cut, I would lose some sensation, and that it might never return. I did regain most of it, but I do have areas where I don’t feel anything at all. It looks like the wasp stung me in one of those areas!

Which is… good? LOL

Since I didn’t want wasps around the house, I went back to the garage and went in through the back door. I could see some of them going through the opening in the wall, but not as many as I was hearing.

I then proceeded to spray the heck out of the area where the nest was, up to the underside of the roof peak, and along the beam on either side of where the nest was above the door.

What I didn’t count on was how quickly I’d run out. I had intended to spray the opening from the outside, but by the time I went out there, the can was pretty much empty.

When I was done spraying, I went to switch out the trail cam memory cards, which was the only part of skipped morning routine left for me to do.

I had company.

She is not meowing at me in this picture. She is hissing! Oh, what a mean kitty she is! 😀

I checked on it the garage throughout the day. I only ever saw one dead wasp on the ground. From the inside, I could see wasps land in the opening, start to come in, then leave. So they could tell that something was amiss.

By the end of the day, when I had to put the van back in the garage (we’re expecting more storms tonight), I was no longer seeing or hearing any wasps. So I hope this took care of the problem!!

Today was another hot one, but there were a few things that just needed to get done. One of them was to finally put those latches on the new basement window. With the distraction of the wasp nest, I never did get it done yesterday.

I only gone one side done, though. When I went to do the other side, I discovered the hole for the post to go into was just a bit smaller than the first one. New latches of this time all have a standard size post, no matter what size the rest of the latch is. I’ll have to find – or buy – a round file to enlarge the hole just the tiniest bit, before I can put on the new latch.

So that’s only half done.

I then had to start mowing the lawn. Between the heat and the rain, the yard had gotten really over grown. With another storm looking like it will hit tonight, decided to go for it.

For the first time since getting the new mower, I kept the bag on to keep the grass clippings for the entire time I mowed. The grass was so tall and thick in the first area I worked on, I had to empty the bag about every 50 feet or so!

In the end, I got only a small section done before I had to stop, go inside and cool down.

The best place to cool down is the basement! It was a great excuse to check on the old basement.

What a difference! The area the dehumidifier is in is almost completely dry. I checked the hose and, to be honest, I couldn’t really tell if water was dripping through there, but I’m assuming it is. The water that was all over and around the well pump, from condensation, is almost completely dry.

The section under the window is also noticeably drier, though it still had big wet patches. There are still damp spots under the furnaces, so I changed the angle on the blower fan to face the floor under there. The last thing we need is for the new electric furnace to start rusting!

My making a commotion in the old part basement attracted attention, of course. I had a whole bunch of kitties at the divider, watching me and wanting to play!

So I went around to the new part basement and joined the kitties for a while. Though I’d washed up after coming inside, my clothes probably still smelled of bug spray, so they actually left me alone a fair bit.

A few days ago, I’d started another hair pin using lilac wood. I’d roughed it out to the sanding stage, so I finished it off today.

Given the size and shape of the piece of branch I used, there wasn’t a lot of options for what to do with it. I still wanted to highlight the colours inside, so I made a simple spiral cut. This picture is after it was completed and oiled.

My daughter is ecstatic with it! 😀 It’s longer than the first one I made, too, which is much better for her mass of curly hair.

By the time I was done with that, I found the kittens were all done, too!

I had hoped in this time, I would have gotten enough rest so I could go back outside and continue mowing, but it wasn’t. I ended up needing to nap! This meant I was going back outside at the hottest part of the day 28C/77F, with a real feel of about 32C/90F! Thankfully, though, the sun was low enough that the areas I needed to work on were mostly in the shade. After moving the van to where I’d already cut, the grass, I then spent several hours working on the lawn, with many, many stops to empty the grass bag.

I now have plenty of clippings to mulch the new garden area where the wood pile used to be. I added a lot around the grape vines, to help keep down the things that are trying to encroach on them. The old kitchen garden has piles all over, which the girls will spread out for me, tomorrow. When working on the north yards, I added the clippings to the compost pile already there, and it’s now full.

We need to start a new compost pile.

I love this new mower. With the frequent stops to empty the bag, it got harder and harder for me to pull on the cord to restart it. No matter how rubber my arm got, though, it started every time! With the old push mower, I would have had to stop long before finishing.

I’m so glad to finally get that done. Everything looks so much better now! I still need to go around the old garden area, then the garden area itself – today, I just mowed around the potatoes, which are coming up quite nicely – but that can wait for another day! I got the main parts done, and the rest can wait a bit longer, if the weather doesn’t co-operate.

It’s been a bit frustrating this year. As much as I appreciate the rain, between that and the heat waves, the lawn is about all we’ve been able to keep up with. I’ve barely managed to do any clean up near where we plan to build the cordwood outhouse, and we certainly haven’t been able to start on clearing where we will be building it. This year, I was supposed to continue clearing the spruce grow – I even have a working chain saw to make that job easier! We’ve done nothing.

With my husband being in the hospital for 3 weeks last spring, and so many follow up medical appointments, it’s no surprise we fell behind on this stuff last year. It’s now feeling like we’re going to lose another year, this time to weather!

Maybe we’ll have a long and mild fall to make up for lost time. Here’s hoping!

I’m just happy I managed to get done as much as I did today. I expect that tomorrow is going to be a major pain day because of it, but it was worth it to finally get this stuff done! The yard look so much better now. It’s more of a psychological boost than anything else, but those are important, too!

The Re-Farmer

Gotta be quick!

Taking advantage of a break to quickly post!

My attempts at getting kitten pictures has been a failure today. Those little buggers move fast! 😀

So do flowers, actually. At least with the winds we had when I was doing my rounds this morning!

These delicate little wildflowers have burst into bloom now. It’s interesting how there always seems to be some wildflower blooming, one after the others.

These wild roses are almost completely engulfed by the spirea!

One of our goals is to pull up most, if not all, of the spirea from here. The junk pile, in general, needs to be cleared so we can get access to it and start cleaning it up. I’m hoping the wood pile that makes up the bulk of it will still have some salvageable wood in there. One of the things I want to build is a box to put our garbage bags into, so the animals can’t tear them apart.

I noticed in the area around the stone cross, which had been full of spirea, now has what looks like flowers coming up. If they are what I think they are, they won’t bloom for a while yet, but I’m seeing them pop up all over, in areas that have been cleared up. Especially where I’ve also been able to finally mow. It seems once the grass (or, in this area, the spirea) was no longer the dominant plant, all sorts of greenery is now able to grow. When I get to mowing in the maple grove, there are some paths I plan to deliberately leave alone, just to see what is there.

After my morning rounds, I got back outside as quick as I could, to finish mowing around the old garden area.

I was almost done when I ran out of gas, so I took a quick rest and hydration break. The Potato Beetle came over for cuddles. I’m rather surprised, considering how covered in bug spray I was!

I’m happy to say, I managed to finish the old garden area, including the section I hadn’t been able to get to at all, yet. After this, I can start going into the maple grove.

But not today.

For the last half hour or so of mowing, there was a whole lot of thundering happening, so I was really happy to get that last bit finished before putting away the mower.

Since then, we have had a quick storm pass by, with a heavy downpour. We also lost internet for a while, and then we momentarily lost power. Just enough to cause the computers to restart, and the security camera to reset its position.

I love power bars.

Looking at the weather radar, we seem to be in the path of several small but severe thunderstorms for the rest of the day.

Which means it’s time to quickly get caught up, then shut down the computer, in case we lose power again. No doubt, once the winds pick up again, we’ll lose internet again.

It’s going to be an interesting day!

The Re-Farmer

Reclaiming space

Well, it’s a good thing I was planning on using the push mower more.

While using the riding mower in the inner yard today, I stopped at one point, to go over to talk to my daughter, who was using the push mower. When I returned to the riding mower, it started just fine, but wouldn’t move. !! There were no issues at all before. One minute, it was working fine. The next, no go. Forward or reverse.

Well, we were planning to take it in for Maintenance next month, anyhow…

After doing most of the inner yard, I switched to cutting the outer yard, as there was so much of it that hasn’t been done at all this year. I quickly stopped using the bag to collect grass clippings. It filled so quickly, and the mower just doesn’t like to restart very well.

That did mean I was able to reclaim more areas of the outer yard.

For the first time since we’ve moved here, I was able to clear the area in front of this old shed.

Do you see where the colour changes from nice and green, to more brown?

While the clippings blur the line a bit, there is a clear demarcation where the colour changes. The brown is where I had not been able to mow, until today. Where I’d been able to mow for the past couple of years, the grass is green, thick and healthy. Where I hadn’t been able to get in with the riding mower (and it’s so rough, I still won’t be able to use it there), the grass was choked out by its own thatch.

I’ve now been able to reclaim pretty much all of the outer yard on this side, and I’ve started to reclaim the area leading to the collapsing log house and chicken coop.

I feel like I should have been making hay! The grass was starting to go to seed.

I will work on this area tomorrow, weather willing. With the push mower, I’ll be able to reclaim even more of the outer yard, little by little. I’ll be mowing a path to the other gate, as before, but will have to be very careful as I go beyond what I’d been able to do with the riding mower. Who knows what is hiding in that tall grass! Rocks and rough ground is one thing, but there could be chunks of wood, metal and small kitchen appliances, for all we can tell.

Since I was walking back and forth so much, I took advantage of it and opened up Pokemon Go on my phone. There is a feature in the game where you have a “buddy” Pokemon that walks with you. While it is your buddy, the game records distance, even when the game is not active. After you walk a certain number of kilometers, your buddy “finds” a candy.

The buddy I have right now is a Meltan. While most buddies need to be walked for 2, 5 or 10 km before finding a candy, Meltan needs to be walked for 20km. Once a candy is found, the meter restarts for the next 20km.

Based on the distance measured in the game, I walked at least 12 km this afternoon. And that doesn’t count the distance this morning.

My phone came with one of those “health” apps that I can turn off, but can’t get rid of. These apps irritate me, since they all basically measure “health” as “lose weight”. It doesn’t matter how good your other health measures are, or how much exercise you get, if you haven’t lost weight, you’re a failure. It does, however, have a pedometer. I’m curious to know just how many kilometers I am actually walking while doing basic yard work.

The Re-Farmer

I started, and I couldn’t stop! Evening round up

Today was a wonderfully productive day.

Also, I’m really going to pay for it tomorrow. But I don’t care. It was worth it!

The first order of the day, after dropping my daughter off at work and picking up prescription refills for my husband, was the transplanting. I combined the 3 bags of soil mix, plus a bunch of peat, together with water in the kiddie pool (that thing is coming in really handy!), then left it to give the peat a chance to absorb water.

It had warmed up enough by then to uncover the squash. Unfortunately, there was some frost damage.

We might lose a few, but I think most will recover.

I decided not to put the new transplants near the previous ones. My initial thought was to have the two beds near each other, with a walking path in between, but I decided to put the new ones at the opposite side of the area we mulched last year. That left a wide open space in the middle.

I was able to measure, and mark with flags, where the transplants would go before I headed back into town to meet my daughter for lunch. Before coming home, I broke down and picked up something I’d spotted at the pharmacy this morning, but hadn’t picked up. A Pulse Oximeter. My husband has severe obstructive sleep apnea (on top of everything else), so being able to measure his blood oxygen levels at home is a good thing. I’d looked for them about a month ago, but none were in stock. When I saw them this morning, there were two. I wasn’t sure I could justify the cost in the budget, but figured if I didn’t get it today, who knew when I’d find one again.

Of the two that I’d seen in the morning, the less expensive one was already gone.

We now have a pretty high end Pulse Oximeter. 😀

Once back at home, I added the wet soil mixture to the flagged spots, then transplanted the squash. I ended up with another 18 plants in.

There are still some left that are not ready to transplant, and it is looking like most of them are the gourds! Whatever is left will go in one long row along the north side of the area we mulched last year.

I mulched the new transplants with straw, and remembered that I still had those pumpkin seeds my mother gave me. Three little packets.

And there was this wide open space between the squash beds…

I used some of the wet soil mixture to create three mounds and planted several seeds in each. It is really late in the season to be planting pumpkins from seed, but we’ll see how they do!

The pumpkin mounds got mulch around them, too. 🙂

That done, I had time to uncover the other garden bed (no sign of frost damage there! 🙂 ) before heading back into town. I left early, so I could stop at the grocery store and refill a couple of our big water bottles.

While there was no line up outside the store, but by the time I was ready to go to the checkout, the line up was all the way to the other end of the store, and heading up the freezer aisle! After searching for and finding the end of the line, a guy carrying one item came by and ended up behind me. Thankfully, the line was moving rather quickly, but he and I ended up chatting with each other.

The topics ranged all over, but after a while it got closer to home as he talked about what he did. He ended up asking where in town I lived, and I told him I didn’t live in town, but in our little hamlet.

He got a very interested look on his face, and asked where I lived there. I told him, more or less, where the farm is.

It turned out he knows my family. He went to school, and was friends with, my late brother!

Well, that got us talking to each other like we’d know each other for years! 😀

Then I found out that he is a scrap dealer, and also hauls junk.

Yes!!!!

When we were done in the store, I followed him over to his truck so he could give me one of his fliers. He says it’s not worth trying to get rid of scrap metal right now; nobody is buying. That is a longer term thing for us, though. In the shorter term, I now have someone I can call to get the junk pile hauled away! Someone with a family connection, too.

That was awesome!

After picking up my daughter, it was back outside for me. I wanted to get a path mowed to the barn. We are expecting my brother to come over tomorrow and work on the trailer frame. Knowing him, he will be loading his truck with everything but the kitchen sink – and the only reason he doesn’t pack a kitchen sink is because, while all the useful tools may have disappeared from this place, we have plenty of kitchen sinks all over.

Also, bathroom sinks.

And laundry sinks.

I guess they go with the toilet collection. 😀

The grass in front of the barn is incredibly dense. The riding mower struggles to get through it, and the clippings left behind make it even harder. Now that I can collect clippings with the push mower, that’s what I was using today.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I really enjoy mowing. Whether it’s a push mower or a riding mower, I just love it. It’s almost a meditative thing, and I get a great sense of satisfaction from it. It was one of my favourite chores when I was a teen, and one my parents never needed to ask me to do.

Once I started mowing, I just couldn’t seem to stop. I kept trying to see how much further I could go, beyond the limited areas I could do with the riding mower. Since it will be easier to move the trailer out the back door of the barn, bring it around the barn and pull it through the “gate” on the side, I wanted to make sure that area was clear. Then, I decided to see how much further I could go along the fence. On the other side, I decided to clear a path to the shed.

By the time I was done, I’d reached the collapsing log building near the old chicken coop, was working my way along the fence to the hay yard, and was even starting to go down the driveway.

Every loop I did, I stopped the mower to empty the clippings. I’m not finished, but when I could no longer pull the cord hard enough to start the mower after emptying the bag, I figured that was enough for the day! 😀

I am so loving how it is looking.

I’m going to pay for this tomorrow. Big time.

It was so worth it!

Also, I now have a lovely, huge pile of grass clippings to help build up our garden beds!

It’s the little things that make me happy. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Productive

First, I must apologize.

I didn’t get a single kitten picture today, to share with you! I never had the chance.

I did visit the kittens, of course. One of the first things I do in the morning is head down there with fresh water for them. When I opened the basement door, Beep Beep was sitting in the window ledge above the stairs, waiting for her moment. As soon as the door opened, she launcher herself into the air and through the door!

In my hapless effort to block her, the door got left open a split second too long.

As Beep Beep raced into the dining room, five cats exploded into the basement.

The kittens, meanwhile, had come running to the stairs, as they usually do.

Fenrir has been the most dedicated at trying to get into the basement, but she does not like the kittens. As soon as she saw them, she bolted back up the stairs, then crouched in the entry, staring at the door, like a hairy gargoyle.

Keith was quite taken aback by the horde of kittens.

Keith is also a bundle of nerves and anxiety.

Next thing I know, Keith is hissing and spitting at a kitten, in total fear. The kitten – Nicco – was busily making himself look big, hissing, spitting and advancing on Keith.

Who ran away and hid under a table.

Two Face was running around, trying to snag a kitten to groom. Every now and then, one would come too close, and she would grab it, do a barrel roll as she wrestled it to the ground, before aggressively mothering it. It would take a few moments before a disheveled kitten would squirm it’s way out, and she would do it again to another one.

Cheddar doesn’t seem to know what to think of them. He kept going from kitten to kitten, sniffing and staring. Once again, it was Nicco who made himself look big, staring him down. Until Cheddar casually reached out with a paw and smacked Nicco vaguely around his head.

David, meanwhile, is totally chill with the kittens. He kept going around, sniffing and grooming and snuzzling, kitten after kitten.

Beep Beep, meanwhile, came down, then went back up, then came down and beep beep beeped at me with her distinctive meow that gave her her name.

Then her daughter, Two Face, started beeping, too.

She has a much higher voice than her mother.

I tried to cuddle Beep Beep, and she was reveling in the attention, but would soon run off upstairs again.

Eventually, I had to grab a broom to try and persuade Keith to come out from under the table. Then I tried to sweep the cats towards the stairs. I was finally able to grab them, one at a time, and toss them into the entry way, closing the door each time, so none would come back down.

Beep Beep ended up upstairs again, and I found myself alone with 5 kittens attacking my feet and trying to climb my legs.

I finally got their water changed, then took advantage of the situation and gave them a little packet of wet cat food. That distracted them enough that I could escape and find Beep Beep. As I suspected, she was looking around the food bowls upstairs. She was looking for wet cat food.

So I snagged her and managed to get her downstairs, where the treat was waiting for her.

By the time it was done, the whole thing left me feeling like I’d been spun in circles! 😀

So…

No pictures of kittens this time.

*sadness*

Today did turn out to be a nicely productive day. I made a trip into town to check out a place I’d seen ads for, saying they did lawnmower maintenance. If I could find a place I could take the mowers to, instead of having to go three quarters of the way to the city, to the place my brother bought our riding mower, that would be great. I never expected having trouble finding a small engine shop locally! There are probably quite a few, but no one that advertises. This place is connected to one of the hardware stores, and carries a lot of the big stuff, and even has a chipper that can be rented. For the amount of wood we need to get chipped, we’re going to go ahead and hire the company that did our trees for us, instead. This place also carries the garden soil, manure and peat that the hardware store itself just doesn’t have the room for.

Walking into the place is like heaven. Everywhere I turned, there were riding mowers, push mowers, weed wackers, all sorts of tools and…

Was that a chain saw display in the back?

Why yes! Yes it was!

I had had zero luck in finding a new chain for the electric chainsaw that we had checked out, last year. We never got to use it, nor the gas powered one, at all last year.

The first thing I asked about, was the lawn mower maintenance. When I told him I wanted to get some work done on our riding mower, his first question was, is it still working? I explained that yes, it’s running fine, but I just want to get some basic maintenance done and the blades sharpened. He told me that I could just drop it off – no appointment needed – but they are really busy with lawnmower maintenance right now. He said that, since it’s still running (not in need of any repairs), to just keep on using it and give them about 2 weeks before I drop it off.

I’ll just leave it for next month.

I then asked him about chain saw chains. He said he would need to see the chain saw to know if they carried the right chain, but they do have sharpening services, too. So I will bring it over one of these days for him to take a look at, and he’ll be able to determine if I just need to get it sharpened, or if I need a new chain.

I then bought a bale of peat and some bag of soil mix. He came out with me to help load it into the van, which was kind of funny, since the lift gate is still broken, and I keep a pole in the back to prop it open. I joked about it being something else I need to get fixed, as he deftly maneuvered around the pole to load the bags into the van.

That done, I decided a stop at the garage would be a good idea.

I asked about my mom’s car. He told me he was going into the city tomorrow, and going to a wreckers. Among the things he’s looking for is the part for my mother’s car. He’d hoped to head out this afternoon, but had too many cars to work on, already. I then asked him if he serviced AC systems. Our air conditioning was working last year, if not particularly well, but this year, nothing. The cost was very reasonable, so we went to book that on his calendar. Then I remembered to ask about the lift gate. Since we’re going to be hauling a lawn mower in the back of the van, using the nice new ramps my brother bought for us, it would be good to not have a pole in the way. 😉 These aren’t very expensive and don’t take long to install, so that’s going to get done, too.

I also remembered to ask him about the driver’s side door hinge. When we bought the van, the original door would drop when opened, and we would have to lift it to close it. Eventually, the latch on the door snapped. It was actually cheaper to replace the door, and the garage we went to at the time tried to find a second hand one for us, but never did. We spent most of the first year we owned the van with a Bungee cord keeping the door shut. Including the drive across provinces, during the move.

My brother had been able to find a door, but because the driver’s side door has the only key lock, he had to take both of them apart and cobble the two together. The original hinge pins broke in the process, but he’d snagged the ones from the vehicle he had salvaged the door from, so that worked out. The door does, however, still drop ever so slightly, and we don’t want to go through all that again. If we can get it fixed now, before it becomes a problem, that would be good.

The problem is, he would have to take it apart and see, in order to give me an estimate. But there are only two possibilities. One, we need new bushings. Two, they would need to take it apart, precision drill a new opening, and weld things back together.

If it’s one, that’s not a problem.

If it’s two, he basically says it would take so long, it might not be worth it, because it would be really expensive, just in shop equipment fees, never mind the time.

So the bushing kit, which is not very expensive, has been ordered, and he will check it and see. I’ll be dropping the van off on Monday morning, and just hanging out in town until it’s done.

It was a rather short trip into town, but it felt like I’d accomplished quite a bit in the process!

Once at home, we were getting into the hottest part of the day, so we stuck to inside stuff until things started to cool down in the evening. I didn’t even bother unloading the van until then. That wagon we got last month is awesome. I was able to haul the bale of peat and bags of soil, all at once, over to the old garden area. Then I started mowing the old garden area with the push mower.

I am so glad my brother was able to get that thing running for us. There is no way we could do this area with the riding mower. It would break in no time!

Also, that drill attachment sharpener I got for the mower blade has made a huge difference! When I sharpened it yesterday, I found it so bashed up, it was hard to tell which side of the blade was beveled, and which was flat!

I’m also so happy we found that bag attachment for this mower. It isn’t very big, and I had to stop to empty it often, which makes for much slower going. However, I am getting so many grass clippings, I decided to keep mowing into areas I would normally use the riding mower for, just so I could get more!

And since I had all these wonderful grass clippings, I decided to use them to mulch around where we planted the sunflowers.

The areas mulched are two wagon loads of clippings. I stopped after finishing this end of the old garden area, and then had to stop. After two hours, I was pretty knackered!

Also, I really need to remember to keep a water bottle with me when I’m doing this!

Meanwhile, after the girls finished what they were working on inside, they came out to remove the logs that were used to frame the area we chose to mulch last year, and where I am planting the squash this year. They have served their purpose, and now they are starting to be in the way as we go around with wheelbarrows or wagon, hoses and soil mixes.

We will not be able to continue this tomorrow, though. Tomorrow is our day to do the monthly shop in the city.

I am really hoping it goes better than last month. Last time was pretty brutal. 😦 Even on a good trip, though, we’re pretty wiped out by the time we get home, unload and put everything away.

As for me, I am done like dinner! Time for a shower and, hopefully, early to bed!

Oh, wait. I should have supper first…

The Re-Farmer

Clean Up: mowing the big garden

Today started early for me, as I had to drive to my mother’s to take her for an appointment to get her CT scan. She had a requirement to drink a litre of water an hour before her appointment, then restrictions on going to the bathroom shortly before, so I wanted to make sure she got there early enough to not have to worry about the restriction. Given how long it takes to drive from her town to the city where her appointment was, that meant she had to start drinking her water while we were driving.

She also had to fast 4 hours before the scan, but my mother went a bit overboard and, aside from eating some crackers with her morning medications, she had fasted since the supper! So as soon as we were done, I made sure to take her to lunch somewhere fast.

By the time I got home, it was mid afternoon. The weather was holding, so I decided to break out the push mower and get as much done as I could. (I only got rained on a tiny bit! 😀 ) I was going to start working in the trees, but then decided to do the old, overgrown garden, instead.

When my brother brought the mower back, he walked me through what he had done. It started fine when we tested it, but he mentioned that he felt the prime pump wasn’t doing its job. So, just in case it wouldn’t start, he showed me where to open up the side of the engine, where there is a filter and an opening behind it, and told me I could basically just splash some fuel into it, and that should be enough to start it.

I’m very glad he told me that, because it wouldn’t start. I ended up having to do it twice! The second time was after I ran out of gas, but I found that if I filled the tank before it was completely empty, I didn’t have to do it again. Except I didn’t just splash it. I tipped the mower onto its side and poured a tiny bit, using the cap of the jerry can spout to hold the tiny bit of fuel I needed. After that, it started just fine.

Mowing the old garden ended up taking about 4 hours.

It is not a small garden.

It was also incredibly rough. Plus, I had to look out for stuff like this.

Thankfully, it wasn’t sticking too far out of the ground, but that’s something we’re going to have to dig up at some point. Maybe. Depends on how big it is, underground!

Here are the before photos.

Right now, the garden area is split by the section we covered with straw to mulch it, used some RoundUp when things started to grow through the mulch, then covered with tarps, that I worked around. That is where we are hoping to be able to start planting something next year. I also tried to get into those trees my mother left growing when she transplanted her raspberry bushes, as much as I could.

Here is what it looks like now.

Did I mention it was rough in there?

This picture barely begins to show how rough it was! It’s hard to grasp from the photo, just how big that hill in the foreground is. When this area was last plowed, this is where the tractor turned, so there are huge ridges all over.

If the weather continues to hold tomorrow, I want to work on mowing between the trees in the maple grove, plus the area leading from the big garden to the gate. My mother said she planted elms in there, so the area had not been mowed, but I see no signs of them.

And now I have to try and get the burrs out of my pant legs.

The Re-Farmer