A pleasant change in plans!

Before I get into today, I just had to share what I saw yesterday, while doing my evening rounds.

One of the things that got done was switching the winter window to the old basement to the summer window. This spring, things are wet enough that we are starting to have moisture seeping through the concrete floors, and the sump pump is going off every now and then. Nothing like what we were dealing with last year, of course, but more typical than the dry years we had previously.

The summer window is one that I built a few years ago to replace the makeshift cover that was being used before. Having air circulation through there helps keep the old basement from getting too damp and humid. My brother built a platform on the inside to hold a box fan to blow air out of the basement that helped, too, but that disappeared before we moved in.

We have a cat barrier between the two basements. The opening in the old basement wall was basically bashed out, so it’s uneven on the sides, making it impossible have a proper door. We have a wire mesh frame over it that was meant to be easily moved to one side if we needed to cross through. The old basement has the pumps, sump pump reservoir and breakable stuff, so we want to keep the cats out. In the end, we have had to brace the barrier with stuff on one side, while having Bungee cords holding it in place on the other.

Well, it wasn’t enough.

I was trying to see what Gooby was finding so interesting down there, and found a Susan on the window’s platform, looking back!

I messaged the picture to my family and my younger daughter went down to take care of it. She found David and Big Rig in there, too!

They could get in, but couldn’t get back out, and were very eager to leave when she opened the door!

Later, with her in the new basement and me in the old basement, we managed to secure the barrier a bit more. Hopefully, it will be enough!

I had a different surprise this morning, when checking the gate. When the snow melted enough that we could finally close it, it was like this.

They had shifted quite a lot over the winter!

If it had shifted a small amount, we could micro adjust the nuts on the J pins that make up the hinges, but for that distance, the gate posts themselves would have to be adjusted – once we brought out a level to see which one had moved the most.

Well, that’s no longer an issue. This is what it looked like, this morning!

I haven’t been able to slide that pin through so easily in probably a year!

That’s a lot of shifting in less than a month!

The funny thing is, I got a call from my sister in law this afternoon. She and my brother were on their way with the arm chair they were passing on to us, plus my brother was bringing tools so he could fix the gate! I was happy to tell her, it no longer needed fixing!

And that was our big change in plans.

After dropping off the armchair, they were going to visit my mother and take her out to dinner and invited me to come along, which I decided to do.

But first, we had to clear a path from the door to the living room for a rather wide armchair. Then, when they got here, I was on both door duty and cat duty, while my brother maneuvered it through. My SIL can’t come into the house, though, as she is quite allergic to cats. So my brother just left the chair on its side in the living room, waiting for the legs to be put back on. After a quick visit to the sun room to see all the transplants, they headed out and I followed in my mother’s car.

The plan had been for my SIL to be dropped off at a restaurant first, then my brother would take his truck over to pick up my mother. They even brought a footstool to help her climb in. Since I was there with her car, though, my brother took that, instead.

When he got there, he first made a point of setting up her air conditioner for the season, and testing it out. The batteries in the remote were dead and my mother didn’t have the right size, so he brought it with him as he took her to the restaurant.

She was very perplexed when he took her to her car. Was that her car? How did he get her car? Then she saw me when they got to the restaurant! It was quite a surprise for her.

While we got her settled in, my brother quickly ran to a store across the street to buy the batteries needed, and then we had a nice dinner together.


I’m glad I decided to come along. It took all three of us playing interference to keep the conversation from getting derailed into a racist rant or a political diatribe from someone who doesn’t actually understand politics very well, guilt tripping, or the many other ways she makes things difficult! It takes a lot of energy, but we managed to actually have a very good time. After a while, though, I could see we’d reached the limit of what we’d be able to do, and she was winding herself up, so I suggested to my brother it was time to go!

Since he wanted to test her air conditioner, now that he had fresh batteries in the remote, he drove her back while my sister in law and I stayed and waited until he got back. My mother was all surprised we weren’t all going to go to her place to visit! As if we’d all fit comfortably in her tiny apartment to begin with!

So, off they went, and my sister in law and I got to have another excellent conversation with just the two of us. For longer than expected. When my brother finally came back, he looked so frazzled! On the way, my mother first had him stop to pick up a few groceries, then while he was testing the air conditioner, she gave him a hard time because she thought he was fixing her TV remote, and she didn’t care about the air conditioner! Then she tried to keep talking to keep him from leaving, but he finally had to tell her he needed to go, because we were waiting for him. Of course, she tried to guilt trip him over things. It always amazes me how he does the most for her, yet she gives him the hardest time about anything and everything. He has such a good heart, and she stomps on it without even realizing what she’s doing, half the time. The other half, she knows exactly what she’s doing! I was very glad to be able to keep that down, at least somewhat!

They still had an hour and a half to drive home, so we parted ways soon after. I so enjoy spending time with them! It was also encouraging to hear from my sister in law that they are quite happy with the things we are doing here. Us being here saves them from having to take care of two properties, but they are also appreciating the work we’ve been able to do, and the plans we have. I really needed to hear that today, as I was feeling particularly useless. I had a number of jobs planned for today, but I woke up in quite a lot of pain. My left knee and left hip have suddenly started giving me a lot of grief. My plan had been to start working outside early, before things got too hot, but as I was checking the files on the trail cams, I found myself falling asleep in my chair, and ended up lying down for a couple of hours, instead. When I mentioned that to her, she told me she’s been struggling with the same thing; fatigue and joint pain. Especially in her hands. Perhaps the seasonal changes are affecting both of us!

Still, I feel like I should be accomplishing so much more. It does help that they understand the challenges we’ve been having here. Particularly with my mother’s expectations and demands, even though she walked away from the farm more than 10 years ago. I do wish we could get together more often! I actually feel both encouraged and refreshed after spending time with them.

Let’s see if that extends into tomorrow! I try to avoid unnecessary work on Sundays, but right now, I’ve got a lot of very necessary work that needs to get done!

Meanwhile, my daughter put the legs on the armchair they brought over and set it up.

It may have been just an old chair on its last legs to them, but right now, it’s the most comfortable chair in the house!


The Re-Farmer

Roof all done, a Muffin update and…

… my brother is insane.

He sent me the photos he took of the house and roof today. This is one of them.

That’s the step ladder he set up, to fix the broken guy wire on the antennae. I added the arrows; the top one is where he had to thread the replacement wire through, and the bottom one shows the broken wire on the roof. With the wire broken (the roofers were so focused on their job, they never really noticed the wire for what it was), the pipe post was being bent into a curve.

After looking at the pictures, I realized that I noticed the post was bent some time ago, but didn’t see that one of the guy wires was broken. I remember wondering why it was bent, then promptly forgot about it.

I’m not typically afraid of heights. My biggest problem with heights is that, any time I look down from high up, I feel like my glasses are going to fall off. But looking at that ladder, and seeing where he had to climb to thread the replacement wire through gives me the willies!

The roof is now done. The crew stayed until it was completely dark, cleaning up around the house and playing Tetris, trying to fit everything into the back of the truck. The truck has an extended cab and a short box, which made fitting the ladders a challenge! Only one of the guys had come in to eat, so I went out to make sure they came in for food before they left. Knowing they’d want to head home as soon as possible, I dug out some take out containers, if they wanted. I had just finished doing that when one of the guys came in and asked about the possibility of having take out containers! So that worked out perfectly.

In the morning, I will walk around and get what pictures I can from the ground. I look forward to seeing how it looks, though it’s snowing right now, so I might not actually see the shingles very well. 😄

Meanwhile, I was able to keep in touch with the cat lady and worked out when we would meet tomorrow, to bring back Big Rid and Muffin.

Then I got a message asking if we’d intended to keep Muffin.

I told her, no; she’s available for adoption, but since she needs treatment, she would likely end up an indoor cat with us, and not go back outside. Once they come inside, they don’t go back out. The problem is, the other cats aren’t liking the new additions and are causing problems. Muffin, on the other hand, gives no F’s about the other cats and settled right in during her one day indoors.

Well, long story short, Muffin isn’t coming back.

We’ll be getting a different cat, instead!

The cat lady has completely fallen in love with Muffin. She’s incredibly sweet, and the cat lady is wanting to keep treating her, herself. She doesn’t like calicos and doesn’t like female cats (ha!), but Muffin is apparently very much like Cabbages, and has already wormed her way into the cat lady’s heart.

They do, however, have a problem cat.

This other cat had been left behind when the owners moved away, and was an outdoor cat for the last 2 years (the vet thinks she’s about 2 1/2 years old). The cat has not adapted well to being indoors, at all, and has spent the last several months hiding under her husband’s desk, almost never coming out other than to eat and use the litter. She likes other cats okay, but is constantly scared. They don’t want to let her outside, of course, because they live in the city and they are afraid she might get hit by a car, but she is absolutely miserable, inside.

The cat lady knows the set up we have, and as much as she hates to do it, she hoped that we’d be able to take her in with our yard cats.

Of course, I said yes. After all the help she’s given us, it’s the least we can do! I did tell her, though, that there’s no guarantee that she won’t simply take off once she’s outdoors. We can use the sun room as a transition space to get her used to the idea of this being a safe place, with warm shelters, food and water. Aside from a couple of cats, the yard cats have been very accepting every time a new batch of kittens showed up, as well as any strange adults. Even The Distinguished Guest is accepted, though he’s one of the cats that tends to be aggressive towards others. But once outside, we really have no control over what she does. All we can do is make the idea of staying close to the house as positive a thing as possible.

Mind you, we might be able to get her to be okay indoors, here. We shall see.

So when I meet with her tomorrow, we will be bring back Big Rig and a stranger!

I also got more information about Plushy and Princess. They are going to the same family, but not the same household. There’s the family with kids and right next door is Grandma. They’ll probably be able to visit each other! 😄

Meanwhile, after we collect two cats tomorrow, she’ll be picking up a bunch of polydactyl kittens that the RM was wanting to shoot, so she’s going to have a houseful! I’ve found that polydactyls tend to get adopted out rather quickly, though, so I would not be surprised if she finds homes for them soon. They’re going to be getting quite a bit of vet care, first, though.

Which means tomorrow will be another run-around day for me. I plan to leave early enough that I can pick up a few things, like litter pellets, before meeting the cat lady, so that I can go straight home once the cats are loaded up, while also taking advantage of city shopping.

At least, for now, I’ll have one day at home before I have to take my mother’s car to the garage! After that, I hope I won’t need to go out again until we have to do the last bit of shopping for Christmas dinner and New Year’s.

I really look forward to turtling at home again.

The Re-Farmer

One more day

Well, here we are. One more day with the roofers. I turned out to be right when my brother, his wife and I were guessing how long it would take them do finish the job.

I have not taken any pictures today, so here is an adorable “selfie” with Pointy Baby, who decided to join me while I was doing my rounds yesterday morning.

I started this morning’s rounds even earlier that yesterday; it was just barely light out, and the sun wasn’t going to rise for another 2 hours. Not because I was expecting the roofers to come that early (it never came up, when I spoke with them yesterday), but because I’d received a message from my brother letting me know he was on his way! For him, he actually had to get up at 4am so he could arrive here at a decent hour. It took him at least an hour just to get things loaded into his truck. He always brings as many tools as supplies as he thinks he might need, having learned long ago that our father’s tools were constantly being “borrowed”, or used and not put back, or simply lost.

So I got my rounds done early, then I backed the van up to the house to load it with the garbage bags we keep to freeze in the old kitchen, until we can make a dump run. I wanted to make sure I got that done before the roofers had their own truck parked by the house.

I decided to do a meat loaf with potato wedges for the crew today, and my brother arrived just before they went into the oven. He then did his usual running around and finding things to work on or check out – like going into the barn to see if he could find where the metal roof has been leaking, to searching the basements for antennae wire, before he was up on the roof. He’d brought heavy duty anchors for the guy wires on the TV antennae, but when he got up there, he discovered one of them was broken! So he found more wire and was back up on the roof to replace the broken one.

Which meant he had to drag up our step ladder to the very highest point of the roof, borrowing one of the stabilizer boards the roofers had left up there to hold it. Thankfully, it was a wire that was mounted only half way up the antennae’s pole, and not one of the ones mounted at the top! Still, he scares me sometimes! He even took pictures of the step ladder after setting it up, the wires, the mounts, etc. I don’t know why he’s so utterly committed to making sure that antennae stays up there, but my goodness, he took some risks to replace that wire!

He was still up there when I brought the recycling and electronics waste to the van, then did the dump run. The roofers still weren’t there when I got back! While my brother was still working up on the roof, I started shoveling out more of the paths and around the fire pit, so that when things warm up, the paths will melt clear. It was while I was working around the fire pit that the roofing crew arrived, and my brother was able to talk to them for a bit. I shoveled the paths to the compost pile, outhouse and the back of the garage, too. Earlier, my brother had told me that he saw the roofers had put shingles over the fascia in one area, when they are supposed to go under. He came over while I was shoveling behind the garage and let me know what he’d found out. It turns out they did put shingles under the fascia – then added more on top, so that it would look nice! My brother was very happy. He’s not used to “looks nice” being an important consideration, most times!

One of the things I’d mentioned to my brother is that I’d told the crew that the outhouse was fixed up and useable, if for some reason the inside bathroom wasn’t available, making sure they knew where the toilet paper was tucked away. When my brother joined me in the house later, he told me it looked like the crew was using it – there were fresh footprints in the path I’d shoveled to the door! 😅 Whatever they’re more comfortable with! 😁

My brother didn’t stay for too much longer after the roofers were here; he’d already had a long day of it. He’d considered stopping to pick up our mother on the way here, but it was too early. I’m glad he didn’t. She would have been absolutely furious about the state of the house, because it doesn’t look like something out of a magazine. Her expectations of how we are supposed to keep the house are a lot higher than her own expectations for herself. He was, however, going to stop by her place on the way home.

I do hope she is kind to him. He’s got so much going on right now, that last thing he needs to for her to give him a hard time!

After we said our goodbyes, however, I saw him coming back to the house, setting up our own ladder on the side of the roof the roofers weren’t working on, and going up. Several times! I don’t know what he was doing there, but it was quite some time before he was finally done and heading out. That man always seems to think of one more job to do, one more task to complete…

Oh! I just remembered something very interesting he told me. When I was done shovelling, he had done back into the barn to get some more photos, so I went to join him. He ended up being able to bring down a some lumber that was up there for me, and I was talking about how great it was to have lumber – even such a small amount – that isn’t rotting. As we were walking back towards the house, he commented on the shed with the collapsed roof, and how the wall joists would still be strong. We could just put a new roof on it. I told him I wanted to take it apart and use the wood to build something else. That reminded me of the old wagon I was looking at, in the car graveyard. I told him that the chassis looked like it was still good, and I hoped to bring it over. The wooden sides are rotted, so I’d get rid of that, but if the rest of it is in good shape, I want to build a mobile chicken coop on it. Once he was sure which piece of equipment I was talking about, he told me that that wagon is probably close to 100 years old! He thinks it might have been build in the mid 1930’s. He would be very happy if we could fix it up and use it again! I’m just hoping it hasn’t been too damaged from sitting out in the elements for who knows how many decades. I’m even more excited about finding a way to use it, now. 😊

But that will have to wait until the snow is gone, and the ground dry enough to roll it close to the barn!

Well, I think I’ve spent enough time on the computer. Time to see what the status is with the roofers, and probably feed the outside kitties again. 😊

The Re-Farmer

It’s fixed!

Before I catch up on the other stuff, I just have to share the best part of all.

My brother made it out today, and he got the outlet fixed for us!

He tried getting here using his usual route, only to find the road closed sign was still at the south end of the road past our place, so he turned around and took a different route, adding an extra 3 miles of gravel road to the drive. It rained steadily all last night, and the section of road near our intersection was so muddy, he had difficulty getting through with is 4 wheel drive. The grader went through a couple of days ago, but even it went around that spot! It’s just mush in the middle of the road.

But he made it and checked the outlet for us, and it turned out to be less damaged than he feared it might be.

When I noticed what happened, I quickly unplugged the 2 power bars that were plugged into it and just dropped them. After that, we were more interested in making sure nothing started burning in the wall. When we moved the DVD shelf to access the outlet, I never even thought to look at either of them.

I think we found the cause of the fry out.

This power bar had the TV plugged into, as well as the Xbox, I think (we use is as a DVD player, but it doesn’t always work) and the USB adapter for our Roku. He thinks something had to have been drawing a lot of power, but they should have only been using just a trickle. So we still don’t know why it blew.

As my brother was removing the receptacle, he commented that our father had installed it some 50 years ago!

Can you tell?

I’m pretty sure that 61 visible on the white sticker is the original price.

Marshall Wells hasn’t been around since 1988 and, even before then, it had been bought out a couple of times and was under a different name since about 1978.

While replacing the receptacle, my brother found one of the wires was loose, and the ground was no longer attached at the wall. He replaced the ground wire but discovered he couldn’t screw it in to the wall – it was stripped. There was a second hole, and that was stripped, too. He had to drill a third hole and use a new, longer screw! The end of the black wire was melted, so he repaired that, too.

Of course, it was tested out right away, after I turned the breaker back on, and all worked perfectly!

And my daughter’s computers started turning on. A light upstairs turned on, too. I had no idea until then, that any of the ceiling lights was on that breaker, too.

We now have a light and fan in the bathroom again. 😀

Then, because he’s a sweetheart, and had his bag with 5 or 6 different lengths of screws handy, my brother “fixed” the main door by replacing some of the hinge screws with longer ones. I hadn’t done it before, because the door is hollow, so I didn’t think it would help any, but it did. He was able to pull a couple of the other hinge screws out with just his fingers. !! We still need to replace the entire door and frame, as the fame itself is splitting at the top and middle hinges. My brother suggested I use longer screws into the frame, too, to compensate. A door is only as secure as its frame, though, and I want an insulated metal door with a metal frame! He doesn’t think it needs to be replaced, but if we want to do it, he’s okay with that.

The main thing is, we can use the main door again. I don’t know how long that will last, but we’ll see.

Meanwhile, my older daughter has been busily catching up on commissions. I believe all of her clients were okay with the delay, too, which is nice.

Then, after he was finished here, my brother was going to go to town to pick up some milk for our mother, in the plastic 2L jugs that are no longer available where she lives, then drive back to her place – adding almost an extra hour to his drive home!

My brother is the best!

He mentioned talking to our mother last night, and that they’d talked about her getting home care and Meals on Wheels, since she is in so much pain right now. I had brought that up with her, too, and she seems agreeable to that. I’m also thinking she might finally be willing to get a hospital bed through home care, like my husband was able to do. I think being able to adjust the height, and have support under her knees or sleep at an incline would be a help.

We shall see how her telephone appointment with the doctor does, a couple of days from now.

The Re-Farmer

All set up

Well, my brother is just awesome.

And determined.

We were perfectly willing to wait until spring before setting our new Starlink dish up permanently on the roof, but my brother wasn’t. Not at all!

Of course, it turned out to be more difficult than even he expected.

One of the first things he wanted to do – while it was still relatively warm and the sun was bright – was seal the ridiculously large hole we had to make to fit the widest part through (I still don’t know what it’s called) with caulk. He even used his heat gun on it to cure the surface a little bit, before continuing. It’ll take longer to cure because of the cold, but at least tomorrow, we’re supposed to get above freezing.

Then one of the satellites was removed (except the part you can see on the roof), leaving the stand, which we were expecting to be able to use to hold the Starlink dish.

Well, it turned out to be much larger than the support post on the dish. My brother thought he could squeeze it to fit, but the metal turned out to be way too strong. He struggled for nearly an hour up there, using tools I’ve never seen before, before finally giving up. We would have to use the stand it came with. Which meant removing the existing tripod, first. We really didn’t want to make new holes in the roof, but there was no option available for us at the time.

Removing the original support required removing ice and snow.

The ice dam was about six inches deep in places, and he had to clear it all the way to the edge on one side, first to remove the coax cable that was already there – and affixed to the roof in a couple of places – then to be able to run the new cable across. Which also required moving the ladder.

This would have been a LOT easier in the summer!

My brother put most of the screws he took out, back into the roof after, to make sure there were no open holes for water to get in. In the summer, we’ll have to remember to fill them.

Once everything was clear, it didn’t take long at all to install it.

I didn’t get a good picture of the completed job, but once the stand was secure, the cable was run across the roof, then across the side of the house, before running down to where it enters the house. There was a huge amount of excess cable – it comes with 150 feet – which was quickly wrapped and secured to the wall. In the spring, I’ll take it down and redo it neatly, but for now, he just needed to get it up and tucked away, where it’s protected.

By the time he was done, it was starting to get dark, and he just dashed off home – but not until after he made sure the parts of the satellite dish were tucked away into the old basement! There is still one piece of the support attached to the roof, but there was no need to remove it, for now.

The unexpected thing is just how much the new dish is pointing north. Those tree branches are actually an obstruction! According to the app, we should expect signal interruption every 17 minutes. The app actually tracks that stuff. Looking at the log now, the last time we had an outage, it was because there was “no signal received”, and it lasted for only 2 seconds. It was happened more than 3 hours ago. In fact, looking at the log, the outages happened pretty much only during the time it was being physically moved around and frankly, I’m amazed there was any signal at all during some of those times. While my brother was working on trying to fit on the existing support, I had to pass the dish up to him several times. I had the base on the shelf against the sun room window, so I could safely put it down in between tests. Several times, the dish started to move, looking for a signal. This was almost right up against the house, and partly under the eaves. How it managed to get any signal at all amazes me. Especially considering the dish is facing North, and the house itself would have been obstructing the signal!

I do have to say some positive things about our Xplornet dishes. They are rock solid, they were installed very well, and we usually had decent speed on it. If we got enough signal strength for it. And that was the problem. We just kept losing our signal. Even when they had tech guys coming out, according to their equipment, we should have had a good clear signal, and they never did figure out why we weren’t. That doesn’t even take into account the problems we would have in high winds, or if there was bad weather to the south of us. The problem just kept getting worse and worse, too.

That will be the big test with this system. How does it hold out in bad weather? So far, we’re expecting things to get colder, the closer we get to Christmas, but there are no storms on the horizon, or even high winds. It might be a while before that test finally happens.

I suspect it will be just fine.

The Re-Farmer

Still working!

Just a quick morning update.

The kitties were quite happy for some fresh kibble this morning! Their heated water bowl was completely empty again. The snow it too packed for tracks, but I strongly suspect we have deer drinking it during the night.

Tuxedo Mask got his eye treatment, and we should be able to let him out tomorrow. His eyes are looking excellent.

I am happy to say that our Starlink is still working. 😀 It even moved.

The dish lines itself up to get the best signal. When we first set it up, it was pointing straight up. Now it’s facing North. I thought it might tilt a bit to the North, based on what I was finding online, but I didn’t expect it to tilt quite this much.

After finishing my rounds and checking the trail cam files, I just had to share this image of me the sign cam caught while I was about to switch out the microdisc.

Butterscotch was making the job much more difficult!

Clearly, I have been forgiven for trying to turn her into an inside cat.

With the trail cam on a mounting plate, it can move around while still on the post. I can put it upside down, to make it easier to remove the microdisc, though I do still have to be careful. The spring is surprisingly strong and shoots that disc right out, if I’m not careful! Still, it’s a lot better than trying to get it from below.

Except when there’s a cat in the way!

Meanwhile, I had updated my siblings about how things went with the Starlink set up. Just a little while ago, I got a call from my brother, asking if it’s a good time for him to come over.

He wants to mount it on the roof for us, using one of the mounts for the satellite dishes. He even has something that can fill that hole we had to make to put the cable through the wall. I was more than willing to wait, but having the dish sitting on the ground in the middle of the yard was driving him nuts. He knows we don’t have everything needed to mount it ourselves, and when I brought up about the ice, he didn’t care. He just wants it properly mounted!

So he is on his way over now and should be here in a couple of hours.

I have the best brother. ❤

The Re-Farmer

Feeling chipper today!

I am so excited!!!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day, and WOW! do I have a wonderful gift to be excited for!

A few days ago, I wrote about a proposal I’d made to my mother. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a garden shed we do not yet have a prepared space for, I suggested she give us the money to put towards getting the tools and equipment needed to clean things up (things she is constantly complaining about). She said she would only discuss it with my brother. Not because he’s the one who now owns the property, but because he’s a man, and I shouldn’t be doing “men’s work.”

The day before Thanksgiving, my brother made the drive out to join my mother for church and go out for lunch. Among the things they talked about was the farm, and what we were doing. Of course, my mother was complaining about what a terrible job we are doing, and apparently my daughters don’t sweep the floor.


How she would even know that, one way or the other, I have no idea. It’s an assumption she’s making. My husband is Metis, which means he’s an Indian, and all Indians are dirty and have dirty houses, therefore we are dirty and never sweep the floor.

Aint’ racism fun? :-/

The irony is that, when I was a kid, my mother made a big deal about teaching me my “duties as a woman” and I was forced to do not only the housework, but things like making my brother’s beds – and hers! Basically, I was expected to be a little household slave. It was very much an abusive situation, though I didn’t understand that at the time, just as I didn’t understand for many years that my reaction to housework after having a family myself was what we now know as PTSD. I was fine if it was just me. I even had a job as a housekeeper at a resort hotel without any problem. As soon as other family members were part of the picture, however… well, let’s just say it was unpleasant. It took many years for me to recognize what was happening and work through it. I still have that response, but I now know how to spot it happening and take steps. What it comes down to, though, is that I am a terrible housekeeper directly because of the trauma she caused when I was a child. I couldn’t even begin to explain it to her. She wouldn’t be able to grasp it.

But I digress.

As my mother criticized me and my daughters for her perceived ideas of how we run the household, my brother tried to tell her to encourage me, rather than attack me. He even asked her outright if she were punishing me for not sweeping the floor, and she said yes!

Well, my brother is an amazing man, and he continued to defend me and tell her she needs to encourage me rather than attack me. She brought up about the “mess” in the yard – most of which are the branch piles – and in the end, she actually agreed to pay for a wood chipper.


More specifically, she told my brother to make the arrangements, and she would pay for it.

Since equipment like this tends to be on short supply this time of year, my brother and his wife went shopping yesterday. They had to go to a bit far afield to find one in stock, but they did get one. Then, since it was already loaded in the car, they came over last night to drop it off!

This baby will chip branches up to 3 inches thick, and he made sure to pick the version with a more powerful engine.

It was starting to get dark by the time they got here, so I took a picture this morning. Yes, it’s still in the box. Today, I plan to spend some quality time with the instruction manual and assemble it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to start using it tonight. I will probably have to pick up more fuel, but it should already have the oil it needs. If not, I probably already have the right kind.

This morning, I phoned my mother to say thank you. She knew nothing about it, yet! My brother will bring her the full receipt (he left a gift receipt with me) later.

Of course, my other had to try and bring me down and made sure I knew that this actually belongs to my brother. Which is a given, as far as I’m concerned. What’s on the farm belongs to the farm, and the farm belongs to him. It’s just a matter of semantics, really. Still, he made sure to get this for me, because it’s a tool we need to do the job, and I am over the moon with excitement. We should be able to make a massive dent in all those branch piles, before winter sets in!

I can hardly wait to fire it up!

The Re-Farmer

Ghost Baby appears, and that’s a LOT of dill!

There’s nothing like heading outside to do my morning rounds, and being greeted by so many kitties!

It’s going to be hard to tell those tabbies apart. 😀

Ghost Baby even made an appearance this morning. She is very shy and skittish, so I didn’t try to move any closer to get a photo. My apologies for the horrible zoom shot. She kept going from tray to tray for food, but she’s shy even of the other cats. I did eventually see her at a kibble tray by herself, so I’m happy to say she did get something to eat.

Our mild days and overnight temperatures continue, but I’m still surprised by how many squash and gourd blossoms are still opening.

So pretty!

On the down side, it looks like the lack of pollinators has lost us some Teddy squash. A couple of the smaller ones got wizened and fell off, and it looks like we’re going to lose one more. Which leaves us only 2 Teddy squash, one on each plant, that are actually growing.

I did my rounds a bit earlier and faster, as I had to drive my mother around for an appointment and some errands. There was even plans for her to stop by at the farm for a visit, but after her appointment and one other stop, she was just too tired. We’ll have to do it another day. However, my brother had visited her yesterday, and left a gift for us.

This is a bag of dill! It’s huge! The whole plants are in there, in various stages, so we’ll have dill leaves to dehydrate, crowns to use for pickling, and dried seeds to plant next year. I want to find a spot that can be a permanent dill bed, so they can reseed themselves year after year, and not be growing around other herbs or vegetables.

My mother was so tired from the trip, she practically kicked me out after I picked up the bag! 😀

I had a more welcoming response when I got home. I noticed the kibble trays were empty, so I topped them up a bit. While I was doing that, Nosencrantz came up and let me give her enthusiastic, full body pets and ear skritches!

More progress with her, at least! 😀 Still no luck with the others. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Well, that didn’t happen as planned!

Oy. What a day!

My main goal for the day, having used the weed trimmer all over the inner yard for the past two days, was to get the mowing done. So I checked over the riding mower, topped up the oil (it burns through oil rather quickly) and the gas, and got it going. I didn’t even have to recharge the battery this time. 😉

I barely got 30 feet of actual mowing when it simply stopped.

Not the motor. That was still running. It just stopped moving.

The chain has fallen off again.


I didn’t want to deal with it then. Putting the chain back and tightening it is not an issue. The problem is finding a safe way to access it, with the materials we have.

No worries. I broke out the push mower. It would mean a LOT of walking, but I don’t mind that.

My husbands prescription refills were due to be delivered, so I had the gate open for the driver. I decided this was a good time to mow outside the gate.

Which is where I found these.

Little puffball mushrooms!

I’d run over a couple with the mower, but once I realized they were there, I worked around them. They are edible at this stage, but I am leaving them be. I’d rather they reach the spore stage and spread. 🙂 They are so small, I’d rather get an area infused with the Giant Puffball spores we have, and hopefully be able to have steak sized mushroom slices. 😀

After mowing the area on either side of the driveway outside the gate, I started working on the level area between the fence and the ditch. The far end of this is where we want to spread the pollinator wildflower mix of seeds we have, so I wanted to start preparing the area by mowing it, and cutting away the saplings that are starting to spread into there. I really don’t want that area to get filled with trees. That was allowed to happen on the other side of the driveway, and it really affects visibility.

I started cutting along the the barbed wire fence first. Where it was open enough, I would even go under the wire a bit.

I didn’t even get halfway down the length of the fence, when I somehow managed to get the barbed wire stuck in the mower. It slid over the top of the plastic cover the air filter fits into, then somehow managed to slide in between the plastic cover and the motor, getting stuck.

So I shut the mower off and fought with the wire, trying to get it out. A barb was basically right in the middle, and kept catching, but every time I tried to move the mower so the barb would be at a wider gap, it would roll right back again as soon as I tried to use both hands to get the wire out.

Eventually, I got it out, but in the gap, I could see a couple of wire pieces had come loose.

Of course, it wouldn’t start after that.

After fussing with it for a bit, I took the mower back to the garage so I could take the cover off. After fighting with it for a while, I realized I would have to take off the plastic cover with the air filter, but I couldn’t for the life of me see how it detached. Also, while I could see where the end of one wire piece was supposed to be attached, I couldn’t see where the other one was supposed to be attached. The user manual had nothing about the engine. I went online to try and find a diagram, but while I found some with one of the pieces – which I finally found a name for; a governor control arm – none had both. For my specific brand of mower, all I could find was a pdf version of the owners manual I already had. I knew the general location the piece was supposed to be attached, but I could not see what and where it was supposed to hook up.

This was the point that I decided I needed some guidance. I was able to contact my brother and his wife and arrange to go over. The timing worked out perfectly. I was just starting to load the lawn mower into the van when the driver arrived with the prescriptions.

I’m glad I did.

My brother has the lovely set up that allowed us to work on the mower at a comfortable height. They also had company, so I had two people available to figure it out! 🙂

After taking the cover off the air filter and checking out what was loose, we had to take the whole piece off. It turns out there was a reason I couldn’t see how it was removed. The screws were hidden under the air filter.

I have to admit, I actually felt rather encouraged when neither of them could figure it out at first, either! 😀

Here was the problem.

Once it was open, my brother was able to get the end of what turned out to be the control arm for the choke, back where it belonged. The green arrow is where it had come loose, and it was a pain in the butt to get back into place!

The governor control arm is the piece below. The end with the purple arrow had been in the hole on the governor where the other purple arrow is pointing. That end had still been attached.

The other end had been attached somewhere around where the blue arrow is pointing. Somewhere around there, there should have been a hole for the end of the control arm to slide into.

After much searching and moving things as much as could be done without having to unhook the fuel line, we came to a conclusion.

The reason we couldn’t find where it was supposed to be attached, was because something had to have broken off. We couldn’t actually see what looked like the rough edge of broken plastic, but there could be no other possibility.

My brother was determined to get it going for me, with at least a temporary fix. After searching around among his supplies, he found a length of ceiling tile wire. He used it to create a small loop for the control arm, then wrapped it around that plastic part the blue arrow is pointing to, under another control arm with a spring on it (not visible in the photo). I can’t remember the name of that one, anymore.

Once the wire loop was attached, it was still difficult to get the end of the governor control arm in place. That thing has no flexibility! Eventually he got it, though. Then everything was put back together, and the mower got tested out.

It started like a dream. Even better than when I’d started it earlier!

There is still the possibility that the wire might vibrate out of position or something, but that gives me time to try and find the part. Which is going to be a bit of a challenge, since none of us have any idea what it’s called.

By the time that was done, I got invited to stay for supper, which was very sweet of them. 🙂 Especially since supper included smoked ribs! 😀 I didn’t want to stay too long, though, as I knew it would be dark before I got home, and this time of year, there are a lot of deer crossing the highways.

Once home, it was full dark, and I didn’t even bother unloading the mower. I’ll leave that for tomorrow.

I think, however, I will finish mowing the inner and outer yards first, before moving back to the strip along the road!

The Re-Farmer


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

I have the best brother in the world! And the best sister-in-law!

We were looking over our options on how to get some of the supplies we needed. I even put feelers out to see if there was someone local who could give me a ride or something. No responses.

The grocery store in town had begun offering delivery service when the shut downs started. Was that still happening? And would they deliver here? I looked it up and discovered they do deliveries 3 days a week, including Fridays – today. Unfortunately, orders have to be called in before 11am, and it was past that when I found that the service was still available, so I didn’t bother to call to see if they’d deliver as far away as us.

After failing there, I headed outside and started up my mother’s car, hoping to be able to use it to make at least a short trip to the general store/post office. Even before I started it, when the key was turned part way and the console fan turned on, it immediately started making horrible noises! The car did start, with all sorts of nasty, frozen belt and fan noises, and the engine revved itself way too high.

I shut it off.

In my head, I know I probably should have just let it run for a while and warm up, but every time I thought of doing that, I’d remember an engine block cracked from the cold, and dying on the side of a highway, all those years ago. At these temperatures, it’s just too dangerous to risk a breakdown and not even know if I’d have cell phone reception to call for help.

After trying a few other options that didn’t pan out (made more challenging with our continued internet connectivity problems), I finally sent an email to my older brother and his wife. Long story short, I emailed them a shopping list and, after my brother got home from the office, they went back into the city to pick the stuff up, then drove to our place to drop it off, tonight!

They are so awesome!

Then, because my brother wasn’t done being awesome, he checked on my mothers car.

Of course, when he started it, it wasn’t making the noises or revving like mad for him, like it did for me! We popped the hood and he checked things out. It still ran rough, but he assured me everything was okay. He told me to leave it running for about half an hour, and it should be fine. Then they left, unable to stay for longer. By the time I went out again to shut the car off, it seemed to be running smoothly again.

So I guess I should make it a habit of starting both vehicles and just letting them run for a while, as I do my morning rounds. At least for the next few days.


While my brother and I were fussing with the car, the girls put away the groceries, so I didn’t see what they got until later. They did get everything on the list I sent them, but more of it! So we – and the cats – are going to be just fine for the next while. Plus, because they were able to go into the city to get it all, their getting more than I asked for, still cost less than if I’d made the trip into town. When I sent an e-transfer to pay them back, I made sure to add extra to cover the cost of gas, and we still have an ample budget left to buy locally, when we are finally able to emerge from our frozen cave and do things like refill our water jugs.

I am just to grateful that they were able to do this for us, and willing to do it so late in the day (waiting until tomorrow would have been just fine!), making the long drive and even taking the time to check on my mom’s car.

My brother and his wife are the best!!!

The Re-Farmer

ps: as an aside, as I write this, we’ve dropped to -37C (-35F), with a wind chill of -45C (-49F). All the forecasts telling us when things are supposed to start warming up seem to keep getting pushed further ahead, as this polar vortex stubbornly hangs around!