Looking ahead

Wow. WordPress now has prompt questions when the editor is opened, and I find them rather weird. When I opened the editor to start on this post, the question was “what do you think about eating meat?”

I’m here to talk about cats, thanks.

And weather.

I took this screencap of my desktop’s weather app, just a little while ago.

Would you look at those fluctuations?!! We’re going to be getting temperature whiplash over the next while. Today, we’re looking at a high of -15C/5F, tomorrow, it’s saying -4C/24F, then it’s going to dive down to highs of close to -20C/-4F, though it’s those overnight lows dropping to -30C/-22F that are going to be the main concern. Then suddenly we’re supposed to zoom up to -2C/28F, before dropping back down to a high of -18C/0F.

I don’t know when the roofers will actually show up – no one arrived with the supplies yesterday, but we’re keeping the gate open for them – but I’m hoping they hold off until after that cold spell coming up!

Of course, we’re keeping an eye on the kitties through all this.

I didn’t do a head count, but there seemed to be fewer of them running around in the cold while I was putting the kibble out. The heated water bowls had frost across their tops, but at least there was still water. The metal water bowls were, of course, frozen solid.

Though the kibble house has a sheet of insulation under the floor boards, as well as the one on the ground, I added scrap pieces under the kibble trays, too. I put out extra food, too, adding more in the tray just inside the cat house entry, and just plain more kibble in their favourite eating spots. I wasn’t able to get a photo, but I could see the little ones running around inside. I was happy to NOT see them going outside this time, which is another reason I wanted to leave extra kibble in the entry. I don’t want to do that in the evening, as overnight would be when any skunks or racoons show up, if they show up at all.

I also left the sun room doors propped open. I won’t leave them open overnight, again because racoons might show up and trash it, but at least during the day, the cats will be able to squeeze in and out. We will be setting the other heat bulb up, along with food, water and a litter, for when it’s time to collect the cats that will be getting fixed next, and for their recovery period, after. They will stay for only a short time with the cat lady before coming back.

Speaking of which, I had a chance to chat with her last night. She is dealing with a lot of cats, and her rescue is still small and new, so she doesn’t have a lot of resources, etc. Mostly, it’s just her doing everything, with the help of her family. She tried contacting her rural municipality for help with the colonies and strays. The only help they’re willing to offer it to send someone out to shoot them. We’re not even talking about feral cats, either. But since the property owners/tenants are willing to care for the cats (like we are), they won’t do anything else. In other words, if we were neglecting the cats, rather than feeding and sheltering them, only then would they be willing to provide resources, but because we’re actually taking on providing some level of care, they’re only willing to “help” by killing the cats. How does that even make sense? Mind you, we don’t live in the same RM that she does. I think ours offers the loan of traps.

As I was writing this, I got a call from my brother, wondering if the roofers made it out yesterday. Apparently, his contact with the company was texting back and forth with the driver who was picking up a load of shingles. It sounds like it will take several trips just to get all the supplies here. We shall see.

With the way the temperatures are today, I think it’s a good day to finally finish off my ornaments for this year – before the cats finish destroying more of my yarn!

The Re-Farmer

Morning stuff

When doing my morning rounds, I made sure to check through the cat house windows repeatedly, looking for the new bitty baby.

I counted 27 cats this morning, but no sign of any bitties. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any – just that there is no longer a kitten next to the window I can see through. The largest window has way too many reflections this time of day to see anything unless it’s right at the window inside, and while the smaller window by the entrance, where their favorite cat bed is, is better, it’s still hard to see very far. We did clean the windows on the inside when we prepped the cat house for the winter, but between the frost and greasy little faces, it doesn’t take long for it to get hard to see through. Then there’s the smallest window in the entry (an addition my brother had later added to the dog house, to make it more weather proof), which is completely frosted over on the inside. Because it’s in the entry itself, which has its own roof, we couldn’t really reach under to be able to clean it from the inside. It wasn’t a priority, and we typically forget it exists.

So… if the bitty is still in the cat house, which I believe it is, it is somewhere further from the windows. There is a box bed against the wall furthest from the biggest window. If the mama put her kitten(s) in there, I would not be able to see them at all, just because of their size.

I was messaging with the cat lady last night – she actually contacted me about the possibility of getting some of the outside females done elsewhere, because a certain vet clinic is having their annual extremely discounted spays and neuters – $75 instead of $350, each! She’s going to see if she can book us for 4 females. I imagine the spots get filled up really fast, so we’ll see if she can manage it. She suggested we could meet somewhere half way; I would deliver cats to her, she’d have them at her place for their fasting period, then we’d get them back later.

I was going to wait until I checked today, but since she contacted me anyhow, I told her about the bitty I found. She asked if I thought it was part of the same litter the other bitties came from, and if there was a mama around. I’m sure it’s from a different, younger, litter. She was willing to take it, if we felt there was no mama around – it would keep Bitty (now named Oskar) company until he finishes his vet treatment before going to his forever home. I still think that I will end up finding more bitties in the cat house, later on. The mamas tend to have litters of 4 kittens – Rosencrantz was an exception with her 5 this year – at a time. The question is whether or not such tiny kittens survived being brought over from wherever they were before, into the warmth and safety of the cat house. We shall keep an eye on things!

Once I was done with my rounds this morning, I had to run to the town my mother lives in to do some errands. I wanted to get that done early because, late this afternoon, we’ll be picking up our quarter beef! I wasn’t sure if I’d get the first errands done right away, as we had a lot of blowing snow – almost storm level – while I was doing my rounds. There wasn’t much snow, though, and it’s cold enough that the roads would be dry. Our expected high of the day today is -12C/10F, with wind chills of -17C/1F. As I write this, we’re already at the -12C/10F, with a wind chill of -23C/-9F. We’re supposed to warm up to -8C/18F tomorrow, which will be a good time to see if we can fasten down that tarp on the shed roof a bit better. On the far side, where the roof is covered with metal roofing materials, the trap has been cut by the roof edge a bit, thanks to the winds, so it’s getting loose. Today, the wind is coming from the other direction. We were able to secure it only at the corners so far, and the wind is really tearing at it. We need to secure it along the edge more, but in such a way that we can still open the door, so basically tucking the edge of the tarp under the roof’s edge. The problem is being able to reach.

We’re going to have to invest in scaffolding at some point. I’ve been eyeballing some rolling scaffold platforms that are only about 5 feet high that would meet most of our needs, and are relatively affordable. I think they’re actually meant for indoor use only, but I believe they can handle outdoor use every now and then, too. At least the ones that I’ve been pining over! 😁

As for this morning’s drive, just a short distance from our area, and I drove out of the blowing snow! It was still windy, but clear and sunny. On the way home, I drove back into blowing snow, but since I’ve been back indoors, the snow has stopped, and it’s all clear and sunny out there. Still windy, though. I’m going to have to keep an eye on that shed. The good thing is, I can direct the garage cam towards it and keep an eye on it from the comfort of my desk!

Looking at the forecast into December, I am thinking we’ve lost our weather window. I don’t think the roofers are going to make it out here before the cold really sets in. I don’t imagine any crews would be willing to come out this far north and work in these conditions.

*sigh*

I’m still hoping, but not counting on it.

Ah, well.

Talking to my brother and his wife about it, we were guessing how long it would take to get the job done. My SIL figures 4 days. I was thinking three. My brother was thinking only 2 at first – depending on how big the crew is – but then changed his mind. Once they’ve taken off the old shingles, we know they’re going to find some rot that will need repairing. There’s just no way to know how much, at this point, but I expect there to be rot in at least two areas. Plus, the old chimney for the wood burning furnace needs to be removed, and the hole covered over. The chimney to the wood cook stove in the old kitchen will remain; we may not be able to use that wood stove at all, but some day we will be able to replace it, with a properly installed heat shield and fire safe flooring, and will be able to hook into the existing chimney. That won’t happen for a few years, but at least we’ll have the option. There won’t be any option of getting a wood burning furnace going again, once the roof is done. That old chimney was supposed to have been replaced when my parents first bought this place, back in the mid 60’s. They had all the parts and pieces. It just never happened. And now I’m using those old chimney blocks that were intended for that, in the garden.

We will still have the old chimney running through the house from the basement. Someday, I want to have that removed and replaced with a dumbwaiter. It would make things much easier – and safer – to move things from floor to floor.

Lots of ideas and plans! We just need the funds to be able to do it! 😁😁

Hhhmm… when I picked up some gas today, I noticed the jackpot was won last night. I think I’ll go check my ticket now… 😉😉😉

The Re-Farmer

It’s a bit blustery out there!

This time of year is always so disorienting. I’m sitting here, thinking how late it must be, and that I should probably be getting ready for bed, only to look at the clock and find it’s only 6pm. We’ve been fully dark for a while, now!

And windy.

We’re not actually getting a lot of snowfall right now, but every now and then, the garage cam gets completely blinded with blowing snow!

It was several hours later than predicted, but we did eventually hit the expected high of -6C/21F, though not for long – and with that wind, it certainly didn’t feel that way. What’s interesting is seeing how the forecast has changed for next week, and we’re now being told to expect two days with highs of 0C/32F.

Looking at the 30 year records, our average temperature for today is 0C/32F for the high, and -8C/18F for the low. Our 30 year record high was set in 2009 and 10C/50F, while the record low was -16C/3F. We also had a record snowfall of 85.3mm (about 3 1/2 inches) set in 2010. So we really don’t have much to complain about.

Still, it’s a good day to stay inside and catch up on my crochet with a hot cup of tea!

That is, if the cats will let me. I opened my door and let them in. I have 5 cats sleeping on my bed, Nosencrantz is hiding in her shelf, Butterscotch is sleeping on a different shelf, up near the ceiling, and as I try to type this, Fenrir keeps rubbing her lies on my fingers and bashing my hands with her forehead! Fenrir is one of the biggest reasons we have been keeping that door closed, as she usually is the first to try and go after Nosencrantz, but she sure seems to miss stretching out on my chest while I’m on my computer, and making it difficult to type!

The Re-Farmer

Staying out of the rain, and taking a chance.

We had thunderstorms pass over us during the night, and it was still raining when I headed out to do my morning rounds.

The girls heard cat’s arguing with each other last night. When they went out to check, Potato Beetle came into the sun room, where he got to spend a nice, dry night, with his own food and water. Thankfully, that meant he had no interest in the food when he went out in the morning, because there’s a very wet and bedraggled TDG looking back at me in the photo – and he’s the one Potato had been threatened by!

All the cats were looking so wet!

And you can certainly see why. All the areas that had finally been almost dry are wet again, including this spot the cats normally use to get under the storage house. Even though they can’t get under there right now, because of the water, they still run through here. So do the skunks. The grass is so tall, you can’t really see that the whole area is under water again.

That lilac bush is struggling so much! It’s basically drowning. It still managed to bloom, though!

The main garden area has got a lot of areas with standing water. If we are to loose anything we planted at this point, it’s going to be from being drowned!

Along the bean tunnel, however, I saw both types of beans have started coming up!

I didn’t look too closely at things because, even though it was raining, I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. They don’t mind being out in the rain!

I was keeping a close eye on the forecasts and weather radar. They were predicting a series of thunderstorms throughout the morning and afternoon, including at times when I would expect to be on the road with my mother, to take her to her doctor’s appointment.

So I left early. I figured, I could fill up the tank on my mother’s car and find something to do before it was time to pick up my mother. I’m trying to spend as little time at her place as possible, right now.

Which reminds me… my brother used his Power of Attorney to speak on my mother’s behalf and get her place treated for bedbugs. It’s a good thing he did. She could never have navigated the calls or followed through on them. It was totally beyond her abilities.

Her building is owned by a the provincial government, but the department that administrates it was almost impossible to get to. He got numbers to call from the senior’s centre in my mother’s town, chased a few of them down, found that the contact person he normally would have talked to was away for the week, sent some emails (because he was doing this from work and couldn’t be on hold for 20 minutes, over and over!) and eventually found out that the province is aware there are bedbugs in her building. It’s a problem with quite a few buildings they run. So much so, that they are being treated on a schedule. The next time they are in my mother’s area, she will get a note slid under her door with date and time and instructions. Which my mother won’t understand. My brother was supposed to get a copy of that note and its instructions emailed to him, but he never got it. All he knows for sure is, she’s supposed to be out of her apartment for 6 hours while they take care of the rest. When he told my mother this, she said she would just hang out in the lobby.

For 6 hours.

While her apartment – and any others in the building – are getting sprayed.

My mother, who has respiratory issues…

Yeah…

No.

We’ll find other arrangements.

Once I got to my mother’s, we headed out again soon after. We got to the clinic quite early, but she ended up getting called in early, too!

Oh, the poor doctor.

We were there to talk about breathing issues she’s been having, but when he came in, instead of telling him about it, she started saying things like, “please help me with my breathing…” as if he already knew everything. She and I had been talking about it, and it was as if she thought he somehow heard and knew everything she had said to me!

Between the two of us, we managed to drag out enough information from her that he could figure out what sorts of tests to have done. Any tentative conclusions we both reached by the end of it may be correct, but other things need to be ruled out, first. It will take a few weeks, at least, before all the tests are done and he gets the results.

So that worked out fairly well. Even as we left, though, the doctor commented to me that my mother’s symptoms are quite strange – and they certainly are! Hopefully, we’ll have some answers, or at least a direction to look, after the tests are done. The one that will take the most time will require a call from the city, then someone has to pick up some equipment for my mother to use at home, then the equipment, and the data collected, returned. It may take up to 3 weeks, before all that’s done.

The rain continued off and on, and there was still severe weather on the radar, so we didn’t do my mother’s usual stop at a restaurant (I made sure to ask if she’d had lunch before we left!), and I took her home, with only a stop at the grocery store first. Since I was there with her car, it allowed her to pick up and stock up on a lot more, so she took advantage of it.

I feel much better, knowing my mother has at least some food stocked up, even if it’s just for about a week or so.

It had stopped raining for most of my drive home, more or less, but I’m glad I didn’t linger. The gravel roads are being destroyed by all the rain again. My mother’s car handled it well so far, but we’re supposed to get more storms tomorrow, and that spot near our place is already only passable on one side again. The road past our driveway is still closed, too, for all that I regularly see traffic going by, including small cars. One of these days, I should make the walk to the washout to see how it looks.

On a completely different topic, I found a site before I left for my mother’s, and sent some links to my family to check out while I was away. It was one of those “is this too good to be true?” places. It’s a clearance site for Lowe’s, with various sheds at massive discounts. As in, insanely massive. They were all in the same price range, roughly between $85-$90 Cdn, regardless of original price. It seems that these are all abandoned orders – stuff people already bought and paid for, but never picked up.

After much discussion, we decided to take a chance.

This is what we ordered.

Image belongs to lowescheap.com

They have a 30 day trial period, but it’s unlikely we’d put it together within that time. We’d open the box to check, but would need to make a foundation for it before we could assemble it.

I was sorely tempted by their largest shed. That one did not come with a floor, which I could live with, but also did not come with shingles. Which is not a big deal, but for something that large, we wouldn’t be able to get them for quite some time.

So we went with a plastic one that was the largest, complete shed available. At 20’x8′, it includes two sets of double doors, 2 windows, 2 skylights, some shelves, shutters and a “foundation”, among other things. We’re a bit confused about the included foundation, because it also says a foundation is needed. Looking at the diagram, I think they mean what looks like a 4″ sub floor as the included foundation. We’d have to find and prepare a spot for a foundation, somewhere in the inner yard, where it would be most useful.

The total cost, in Canadian dollars, came out to just over $133 after shipping. Which is insanely cheap. Hopefully, we will actually get what we ordered, and it’s as good as the specs describe it. If it is, it will be a big help. If not… well, hopefully, we’d be able to get our money back.

The thing is, I’ve looked at other sites with deeply discounted products, including things like chicken coops, sheds, garage kits, etc., that I could quickly spot as scam sites. Seeing images stolen from other sites was usually the first warning! This one, however, actually looks legitimate.

Well, we’ll know soon enough. And if it does turn out to be legitimate, we will certainly get more! One that is currently on the site is a 12’x8′ cedar Cabana, with a split door and 2 windows with window boxes. It’s pretty much exactly what my younger daughter wants as the focal point of the peony garden she wants to plant, well away from the house. There’s currently a branch pile that needs to be chipped where she wants to plant it, so it’s not like we’re in any hurry! Looking around at some of the other sheds, there are even some that could easily be converted to a chicken coop, and cost far less than if we build one ourselves, even using salvaged wood.

Here’s hoping!

The Re-Farmer

Water, water everywhere

It’s rained pretty steadily all last night and this morning. Then, when the rain sort of stopped, it was wind we had to deal with. I must say, watching those 60′ plus spruce trees swaying so much and not snapping always amazes me!

Also, the “road closed, local access only” sign is back.

Water is accumulating everywhere in both the inner and outer yards. Even with all the snow melt this spring, I’ve never seen this much water accumulated here. The water extends the length of the spruce grove, though not as deep.

This is one of the highbush cranberry my daughters transplanted yesterday. In the back, you can see one of the holes dug for the silver bison berry, full of water.

Those are expected to arrive by Friday, but I just checked the tracking number, and they have arrived in the city, so they may be here by tomorrow! It’s going to be interesting, transplanting them all, with the ground so saturated.

We certainly won’t need to water them!

Even the paths between the garden bed are puddles, which we’ve never seen since moving here.

Another benefit to raised bed gardens, even if they are low raised beds. Just a few inches higher is enough to protect the newly seeded beds from being drowned out.

I checked the high raised beds, with their sprouting spinach, as well as the onions, shallots and purple peas. Everything seems to be handling the heavy rainfalls just fine. There are even new lettuce sprouts! Just the section of Buttercrunch in the L shaped bed. There’s also the spot next to the rose bush where I just scattered the last of the lettuce seeds, all mixed together, and there are sprouts there, too.

Most of the inner yard is so very wet. I’m seeing standing water where I don’t remember ever seeing standing water before. The storage house has a moat around it again, but the spot between the storage house and the corner of the old kitchen garden just keeps growing. When cats or skunks get startled, they still run through it, so I get a good idea of just how deep it is!

I’m also seeing a lot of people in the area posting photos of roads that are flooded over, both on highways and on gravel roads. Some of the gravel roads have been washed out, just like with the earlier flooding when the snow melted. One person shared a photo of a section on the side of the highway that collapsed.

As you can imagine, we didn’t do the second half of our city shopping today! I’m very glad I was able to help my mother do her shopping yesterday, because I doubt I could have done it today.

There is also a lot more water in the basements right now. Both of them. The old basement has its usual accumulation that we sweep into either the floor drain to the septic tank, or into the sump pump reservoir. There’s also water seeping through in the new basement, in spite of the new basement having weeping tile. It’s mostly in that corner my brother found flooded out and molding, when a rain barrel outside that corner was left to overflow for possibly months, before we moved here. It’s not in big puddles, like we get in the old basement, but water does accumulated in the one corner. Right now, that whole side of the basement looks wet. All we can do about that basement is put a fan on it. The only drain is in the old basement.

There were a few times when the power kept flickering on and off. I’m glad I shut down my computer. I was preheating the oven, and had the range hood light on, and I was seeing both of them flickering on and off. Of course, our internet went out a few times; according to the app, it wasn’t anything at our end that caused it.

As I write this, we are at only 8C/46F, but the RealFeel is 3C/37F. The cool weather crops we planted will be fine, though. Looking at the 5 day forecast, it’s hard to judge when we’ll be able to start transplanting our warm weather crops. They are starting to really need to be transplanted, though.

As we plant things out, and thinking of how to protect our garden beds, wind is something we’re going to need to think about, too. I find myself wondering if we might make use of the rolls of snow fence we’ve found in a couple of places. They would help cut the wind, as well as discouraging critters.

Something to consider, for sure!

The Re-Farmer

Interference

Just a quick note from my phone.

There has been much rain for the past day, but now it is the wind that is causing the most problems. The electricity has been flickering frequently.

Not good while on my desktop.

So once my computer finishes restarting itself after the last flicker that happened while I was prepping to do a blog post, I will be doing a proper shut down and leaving it off!

Hopefully, this will “blow over” soon.

Yeah. My sense of humour sucks. 😆😆

The Re-Farmer

A few surprises today, and wet, wet, wet!

Since I was wanting to go to my mother’s early, my morning rounds were cut a bit short.

That and the ground was just too wet for all of my usual checks.

It wasn’t raining quite yet, but I decided to NOT put our transplants out. With all the pots in bins and trays to water them from below, the bins already had more water in them than they probably should have, just from what rain we got yesterday. Some of them are on baking trays, which are easier to tip and drain at least some of the water out. With the bins, we’d have to remove all the pots to be able to drain it, and I would rather we didn’t knock them about too much. Especially the pots that are made to be planted directly into the soil. When they get wet, they are a lot more fragile and basically fall apart.

So today, they stay indoors.

I did remember to grab the bag with what’s left of our wood shavings to put a light mulch where the peas were planted yesterday. After switching out the memory card on the corner cam, I popped through the barbed wire fence to check on things.

The most obvious was that the “road closed, local traffic only” sign is gone.

The stand is still there. Just the sign has been removed. The stand had already been blown to the side of the road by wind, heavy as it is. I guess they’ll come back for it later. I don’t think the road has been repaired, though. I think the water levels have just finally dropped low enough.

The area in front of where the corner cam is, is where I’d sown a western wildflower mix in the fall, and I was hoping to see if anything was coming up.

I’m still not sure, but…

… we have strawberries! There are quite a few, all around. We don’t mow this area often, but I’m sure I’d have noticed strawberries if I’d seen them before, and deliberately not mown there. There were a few other things growing that didn’t look familiar, but it’s hard to say. With last year’s drought and heat waves, following even more years with lack of spring rains going back well before we moved here, it’s entirely possible that our current wet conditions mean that things that had been dormant are now finally sprouting. When I had the chance, I looked up the description for the seeds I got. It has 16 varieties native to Western Canada, but only 7 are listed.

Well, we’ll find out eventually! I’m just happy to see strawberries growing there.

I then checked out that really bad spot on the road that’s close to us. It was very muddy, and it’s getting longer, but it still looked like I could drive around it on one side. It did convince me to use our van instead of my mother’s car. Her car is lower to the ground, and I didn’t want to drag her undercarriage on some of the muddy ruts left behind by heavy trucks.

The funny thing is, I got a call from my brother later this morning. He was at work but, he knew I planned to go to my mother’s. Having driven through that spot himself just a couple of days ago, he called to recommend I take the van instead of my mother’s car, because it’s so much lower and we wouldn’t want to catch anything in the undercarriage on those ruts…

I love my brother. 😀

I also wanted to leave early enough to hit the post office first. While at the store, I picked up another bale of wood shavings and some black oil seed for the birds. Then I remembered to ask about bale twine. We’ve been using some light sisal cord for most things, but I wanted something more durable. There wasn’t any bale twine in the store, but the owner went to check in the house behind the store (I guess inventory is stored there now; the previous owner used to live there), which gave me time to load the big stuff into the van. While I did that, a Canada Post van arrived. As I went back to the counter to wait, the post master brought a package to me that had just come in, even though she hadn’t had a chance to process all the deliveries yet! That was very sweet of her.

It was also sweet of the owner to go check for me, as she came back with a pair of bale twine rolls. I hadn’t realize that size came in pairs. I’d always seen the larger ones. I asked for the smallest size; only 2800 yards. 😀

We’ll be set for a while!

The package I got was our perishable stock order from T&T Seeds, including two highbush cranberry trees. As I was writing the above, my younger daughter came by to talk about them, and now she’s outside in the rain, transplanting them!

What a sweetheart!

Once I had everything bought and paid for, it was off to my mother’s, picking up some fried pierogi for lunch (it was too early for the usual fried chicken I get as our lunch treat) on the way. My mother was already waiting for her telephone doctor’s appointment! The appointment was at 11:50. She thought it was at 10:50. When she realized we still had about an hour for the call, she dove right into those pierogi – all the while telling me she should probably stop eating pierogi, because the last time she did, that night she had severe stomach pains. Which as never happened before, but every time she has some sort of physical discomfort, she blames it on whatever food she most recently ate. :-/

Then the phone rang. The doctor called almost an hour early!

It turned out to be a fairly short call. My mother’s back is feeling much better now, though she insists the painkillers she was prescribed, have not been helping her at all. The doctor asked the expected questions about if she had twisted it, lifted something heavy, or done anything that might have triggered it. He was looking at her Xrays and couldn’t see anything that would explain the pain. The way he described it, she just has a 90 yr old back! He mentioned arthritis, but I don’t think she heard him.

Ultimately, though, he wants her to come in, in person, as it’s been a long time since she’s been to the doctor. My mother was already talking about doing exactly that. Normally, she would have to phone the clinic and talked to a receptionist to book that – though I would have been the one to actually make the call – and he did start to say that, but then changed track and simply named a date and time. It worked for us, so in a few days, I’ll be driving my mother in for that.

Hopefully, using her smaller car instead of my van, though!

Once that was booked, that was it. We were done, and much earlier than expected.

So we finished our lunch, then headed out to run errands. My mother had three places to go, and was a real trooper about climbing into our van! Especially since the van has no hand grips, like her car does. Getting out was a lot easier, but I had to insist, each time we stopped, that she wait until I brought the walker around before trying to climb out. The last stop was the grocery store, and for that I go in and get a shopping cart and bring it over for her to use as a walker, instead.

Having looked at the weather forecasts, I took advantage of being there to pick up a few little things, too, just in case I’m not able to make the rest of our stock up shopping in the city. That should be tomorrow, but we’ll see.

You know what I didn’t buy today?

Tinned meat.

Because, WOW the prices have gone up!

Cdn$4.49 is currently US$3.54 Those tins are 156 grams, or 5.5 ounces
Cdn$4.99 is $3.94 Those are 213 grams, or 7.5 ounces
Cdn$6.49 is US$5.12, for 340 grams, or 12 ounces

Small town grocery stores tend to be more expensive anyhow, but this is almost double what I last saw them at.

When my mother was almost done her own shopping, I quickly went through the till with my own stuff to get those put away in the van first. While chatting with the cashier, the increase in prices came up. He told me the prices have been going up daily! This store is affiliated with a larger franchise, so they don’t control the prices, but the whole point of being affiliated with a franchise is to be able to get inventory at lower wholesale prices, so retail prices can be lower.

Which means the wholesale prices have jumped significantly.

Thankfully, my mother only needs to buy enough for herself, and with me there to help out, she got extra in a lot of things, to stock up. She didn’t even look at the meat section, though. She’s convinced herself that meat, especially red meat, is bad, but she’ll buy deli meats or sausages instead of fresh meat. *sigh*

The main thing is that she is now stocked up for the next week or so. With her back giving her grief, she might supplement with Meals on Wheels every now and then, too.

It was raining every so slightly when I left my mother’s, but I found myself driving through several areas of heavy rain on the highway home. I’m so glad I didn’t take the transplants out this morning! The gravel roads were just soaked, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more sections degraded until they were like the bad patch near our place. I messaged the family before heading out, and the girls were waiting for me at the garage with the wagon to help bring things in, since it was too muddy to drive up to the house to unload.

Just a few minutes ago, the girls came in – soaking wet! – to let me know they finished transplanting the highbush cranberry, as per the instructions that came with the trees. They planted them at the opposite end of the rows originally planned, because it has somewhat less water there, though they still had to shovel out as much water from the holes as they could. The holes they dug were mostly gravel, so the wheelbarrow of garden soil I had ready for something else was used instead of putting all the gravel back in the hole. The last of the bag of wood shavings I’d used to mulch the peas was used to mulch the cranberries. Hopefully, they will take root well enough.

It may be a couple of days before we can plant the sun chokes and sweet potato slips. The forecast says “light rain”, but it’s also supposed to be chillier than today. The sunchokes could probably handle it, but I’m not sure the sweet potato slips will. These are supposed to be a variety suited to our climate zone, but they’re still not a cool weather crop.

And we still need to get those potatoes in, but the package said not to plant them until temperatures are above 10C/50F. Looking at the 14 day trend, we won’t have overnight temperatures above that until June 7 – over a week from now! They will be under deep mulch, though, so that should protect them. I hope.

So much to get done, in a very short time, and the weather is not cooperating!

Well, we’ll do what we can. Little by little, it’ll get done.

The Re-Farmer

It’s wet and ugly out there

It’s been raining off and on throughout the night, and will continue to do so for the next couple of days. We still have predictions of some snow overnight, two days from now.

After I was back inside from doing my damp morning rounds, I heard the distinct beeping and rumbling of heavy equipment. Someone was working on the really bad spot on the road near our intersection. I was happy to see that, since I needed to pick up a parcel at the post office.

That first mile of gravel road was absolutely awful. It’s so saturated, it’s just being destroyed. I still had to skirt around the really bad spot near our place. I could see that the road had been worked on for a full 2 miles. I hate to think how bad it was before it got fixed! Well. Fixed as much as possible for now.

Not a whole lot accomplished outside today! I did get some hoops up on the high raised bed, so it can be covered overnight when we’re supposed to get snow. Later on, the girls and I went back out to where we are looking to plant the trees when they come in, marking off where we need to dig holes with orange paint, though a couple of spots didn’t get marked, because there are puddles where we need to dig. Working out the distances and where we will start from, we’ll actually be able to plant all 30 silver bison berry in two rows where we had the corn and sunflowers last year. Where the sea buckthorn will go, and the highbush cranberry that is coming from another supplier, also got marked off. We also talked about where the 6 Korean pine will go, though there’s no point in marking anything there.

I had been thinking if using the netting we got to create a temporary fence around the whole garden area and where we will be planting the trees, but my daughter, who bought the netting, pointed out that it isn’t suitable for that. It’s a finer mesh that is meant to be used like the mosquito netting she got last year. So many insects got trapped under those, many of which were beneficial insects.

So… no temporary deer fencing around the entire area. We’ll be protecting individual beds and plots, instead, and getting something else to put around the trees to protect them from critters.

Well, at least all this rain will make it easier to dig the holes we need for all those trees.

The Re-Farmer

It’s crazy windy out there!

After my successful outing yesterday, now that the main road has been repaired, my younger daughter and I headed out today, to do an early birthday shopping trip. Her birthday is actually next month, but we don’t pay too much attention to exact days. 😉

It rained most of last night, though the water levels around our yard did not increase too much. There were plenty of fallen branches already. Once again, feeling so thankful we were able to get those trees cut away from the house a few years back. We do still have dead trees we’ll hire someone to take down, as they could potentially fall onto the house, but they are far less of a risk than the ones that were right over the roof and into the power lines!

Our birthday gift to my younger daughter was going to be a clothes shopping trip at a particular local Thai clothing store. My daughter mentioned she really needed some jeans, so we decided to hit a Walmart, first.

The first surprise of the day was the first mile of gravel road. When I drove it yesterday, there was one really bad patch at the intersection nearest us, where the gravel trucks sunk keep into the saturated road. Even with the grader going by, it was still pretty bad.

After a night of rain, that entire first mile of road was filled with saturated patches; none as bad as the one nearest us, but still enough that we had to carefully skirt around the worst parts – and I could still feel the van trying to sink into the road as we did! In fact, right now, the best part of the entire stretch to the highway is the spot that had been washed out and repaired!

Once on the highway, all was good, though. Since we were heading to a Walmart first, we make our usual stop at the town my mother lives in, to fill the tank and pick up some fried chicken for “breakfast”.

That was my other surprise of the day.

Gas prices went up 8 cents a litre, overnight.

My fuel gauge was just above 3/4 of a tank.

Apparently, my gas gauge isn’t accurate. The tank on our van hold 95L (25 US gallons, 20.8 Imperial gallons). That makes a quarter tank 23.75L According to my gas gauge, I needed less than a quarter tank. I have noticed, however, that the gauge stays at the full line for quite a long time, and that the needle seems to drop faster, the lower it goes. Especially if it dips below half a tank. I remember commenting about it with a mechanic at some point, because I was never quite sure how much fuel was actually in the tank. His answer? Just keep the tank full! 😀 Good thing that’s what we normally try to do.

While I was paying at the gas station, I remember to ask about the road we needed to cross to get to the next highway. The cashiers weren’t sure but, thankfully, the next customer in line was able to tell me that all was well. I’d heard the road had washed out at a new bridge, but all was fine, though plenty of fields were still full of water.

Once at the Walmart, I left my daughter to hunt down the clothes she needed, while I picked up a few things. More cat kibble, of course; that’s one thing we have the hardest time stocking up on. I also made sure to check out the garden centre, and made an unplanned purchase.

I picked up some strawberry plants. It’s something we were intending to do, eventually. These will be planted in the asparagus bed. I only got 4 plants, but strawberries are easy to propagate. At this size, they cost just under $4 each, though there were much larger plants in hanging baskets, with strawberries already ripening! Those were completely out of my budget, and we have nowhere to hang baskets, anyhow.

One thing I looked for but couldn’t find was lamp oil. The closest I found was citronella oil for those outdoor torches. I’m wanting oil for glass lamps we have; there are two we brought with us when we moved, and two others we found here at the farm while cleaning out my parents’ stuff. One of those actually looks like it had kerosene in it, though. It appears to have dried out, but the glass is stained dark. I haven’t tried to take the lamp down from the top of the shelf it’s on to find out; it’s safe from the cats up there! 😀

Anyhow, I used to be able to buy lamp oil at Walmart, but now I can’t find any. We considered trying Canadian Tire, but decided not to go there today. I’ve just looked online, and apparently they do carry scented lamp oil that can be used in indoor lamps. I had to read comments and reviews to find that out, since it wasn’t information included in the product description. Something to remember, the next time I’m there. It’s something to include in our stash.

My daughter was able to find a couple of pairs of pants that she needed, suitable for working outdoors, and was very happy. Once we were done there, we headed to the Thai place I originally wanted to take her to. She ended up getting two more pairs of pants that will be perfect for summer weather. While there, I found something for myself, too. I spotted what looked like swoopy folding bamboo and cloth fans. They turned out to be hats! Then, of all the things to find in a clothing store, I was very excited to find steak spice. This place has both a storefront and a restaurant. The building used to be a grocery store and butcher shop. The owner was a good friend of my in-laws. He had his own recipe for steak spice that is the best we’ve ever had. My FIL would mail us about 10 bags of it, once a year, so we could have fresh to use in our tourtierre filling. When the owner retired, I’d seen signs that the spice mix was still available, but I’d never actually seen it on the shelf before. As I was paying for my stuff, I commented on it and found out that when the Thai family bought the building, they also bought the spice mix recipe!

My husband was so thrilled when he saw the bag of spice mix. When we get a chance, we should pick some up for my FIL. He’ll love it!

That done, we headed home. During this entire trip, we were fighting the winds the entire way. We certainly weren’t going to be putting the transplants out for hardening off today, that’s for sure.

Then we got home and saw it wasn’t an option at all.

Pegging it down wasn’t enough for these winds!

Once everything was inside the sun room, my daughter and I straightened the platform out a bit, but didn’t try to put it back up. While my daughters finished taking things inside and putting them away, while I put the strawberry pots into a small bin to join the other plants in the sun room, I headed back outside and fussed with the tarp, pegging some corners down again to keep it from blowing away.

Then I switched to rubber boots and went to see what else needed to be dealt with.

The diverter on the rain barrel had been blown off. I tried to secure it, only to come back and find it blown off again; just not as far. Even the cover on the rain barrel, which is weighted down with the board and bricks that hold the diverter in place, was blowing off, and that thing is made of mesh! One of the containers with our winter sowing (which have not sprouted, yet) was blown right off the step it was on. Thankfully, the soil inside was undisturbed. I moved all 4 containers to a more sheltered (I hope!) spot.

The huge tarp covering my late father’s car gets blown around a lot, but it was really bad today, billowing like a parachute with a car inside. I ended up dragging out three old tires from behind the pump shack to weigh it down; one on the trunk, one on the hood and one on the roof.

While working on that, I noticed that the side door of the storage house was open! Thankfully, it’s quite high off the ground with no stairs, so no cats would be getting up into it. It made me think to check the back door of the barn. When the snow finally melted enough that I could get in there for the first time since fall, I found the top half of the split door in the back was open. I checked, and it had not been blown open again. So I went into the storage house – I don’t think we went into there even once, last year! – and got the door closed. The side door is next to the kitchen, which has exterior blinds in the windows. They tend to rattle in the wind a lot, so I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to reduce that. There wasn’t, but I found another surprise.

Among the things we found lots of while cleaning this place out, are old canning jars that use glass lids. We went through them, and I’ve got shelves full of them that have no nicks or chips in them at all. We also found lots of the glass lids. What we didn’t find were the metal rings. A couple of jars had them still on, and they are so corroded, they’re stuck to the glass. These rings are deeper, to accommodate the width of glass lids and rubber sealing rings. The rubber rings are still available, but no one makes these rings anymore. I wouldn’t want to use the jars for actual canning anymore, but they could still be used for dry storage – if I could find more of these rings. I’ve looked online and could find some on ebay and the like, but they were quite expensive, and looked to be in poor condition.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, there in the storage house was a bucket of canning rings, and was that a deeper ring that I was seeing? After rifling through the bucket, I found about 8 or 10 of these rings, mixed in with some more modern ones, and almost all of them looked nearly pristine! I made sure to take them all out and set them aside. Now that I know we have some, I’ll pick up some of the rubber rings, and we’ll match jars, rings and lids, clean them up and have them available for dry storage.

I was very happy to find these!

Once done in the storage house, I came out and found that the tarp on my late father’s car was billowing again.

The wind had actually blown a tire, right off the roof!

So I fought with that some more. The car happens to be next to a pile of rocks that were cleared up from around the yard. Most of the smaller ones were taken out and used for various thing, but there were some bigger ones that were not so big I couldn’t lift them. After wrestling the tire back onto the roof of the car, I used rocks to weight down the edges of the tarp on the sides. It still billows, but no longer turns into a parachute. Unfortunately, several years of winds has been tearing the tarp to shreds. We need to pick up an actual car cover one of these days. There are covers for the make and model of this car, but they are not something our budget has room for.

It’s been interesting watching out my window as I’ve been working on this post. At the moment, the winds have died down, and the branches on the maples are just wiggling a bit. Other times, the entire tree is swaying, including branches that are as thick as many tree trunks. This particular maple I see from my window needs to have some of those big branches removed, to take weight off the trunk, before they break off completely. With winds like today, I am often amazed that they haven’t broken already. Especially since there is ant damage visible in the trunk, where the biggest branches split off.

Once the winds die down – hopefully, tomorrow – we’re going to have to spend some time cleaning up. Aside from the broken branches, things have been blowing out of the junk pile, and even out by the barn, we’ve been hearing the sound of metal being blown around; there are leftover pieces of metal roofing material among a pile of stuff near the barn. They’re weighed down with things like car tires, cinder blocks and metal grates, but they’re still being lifted by these winds!

Hopefully, we’ll just lose branches, and not any more trees. Or pieces of trees. We still haven’t cut up the piece of tree that landed on the canopy tent. 😀

The Re-Farmer