Weather warnings and why is that there?

Today has not been as hot as yesterday, which is greatly appreciated. We are, however…

… still under a severe weather watch.

Looking at the weather radar, it looks like the storm systems will pass to the north and south of us. Mostly to the south. Right over where my brother lives. 😦 As much as we are having issues with the wet, it’s merely an inconvenience, compared to how much the southern areas of our province have been walloped. If the radar is anything to go by (ha!), we might not even get rain tonight.

One can hope!

With the ground so saturated, I’ve been trying to regularly go into the old basement to sweep the water into the floor drain, or into the sump pump reservoir. Today, I decided I may as well take advantage of the situation and do some clean up. We now keep a broken hose (it’s missing the male coupling) down there on the regular, since it comes in so handy when clearing the pipe to the septic tank. I decided to use it to wash away any accumulated dust (muddy dust) and dirt in some areas. In particular, I wanted to try and get the space under the stairs. There is a shelf built under there, with less than a foot of clearance to the floor. I knew there was an old pump of some kind on the floor under there. Whenever I tried to sweep the water into the trough in the floor that leads to the sump pump, the water would be black.

While poking around under there, thinking I would push the old pump – possibly an old well pump, or a septic ejector pump – out from the other side, I discovered there was something stuck under the bottom step.

Also, I knocked over a class jar. Which turned out to be an old canning jar. The kind with the glass lids. It had its metal ring on it, but no glass lid. It was under there for so long, the metal ring is practically fused to the glass.

Then I found a couple more jars and bits of garbage. I got the old pump out, which turned out to be heavy enough I think at least parts of it are made of cast iron. I set it up so it wouldn’t be in water anymore, then found some sort of cast iron plate – a square with evenly spaced holes in it – that was under it.

The very old, very rusted paint can I found was unexpected. It was pretty full, too. Whether it’s paint or stain or something else that comes in that sort of can, I couldn’t tell.

After clearing the space and using the hose to wash things out a bit, it was time to figure out what was stuck under the bottom step.

It was a log.

It looks like a piece of birch. Firewood for the old furnace? My brother had bought a load of birch for my dad, as it burns slower and hotter than the wood he was using. It meant my dad didn’t have to load the furnace so often. Especially at night. That, however, was many years ago. My brother then got the electric furnace and set that up so that my father wouldn’t have to do those horrible stairs to load the furnace anymore at all, if he didn’t want to. It was set up so that, if the wood burning furnace died down, the electric would take over. Now, the wood burning furnace is unused and tied closed with wire, for insurance purposes. There hasn’t been firewood in that basement for years before we moved here.

In theory, it could have somehow ended up under there by accident, but considering the other stuff under there, plus where it is in relation to where the wood was kept, that is highly unlikely. I find myself wondering if perhaps it was shoved under there deliberately, to support the bottom step. If so, that means the step was breaking.

I left the log. Just in case!

I did get substantial areas of the basement hosed down, though, and they are looking much better. The other areas can’t be done, as things would need to be moved out of them, and that’s just not worth fighting with right now.

The water in the new part basement, however, is becoming a problem. I’m going to have to leave that job mostly for the girls, though. The end that has the most water accumulating on the floor also happened to be where most of the litter boxes are set up, and it’s becoming quite the mess. Things are starting to mold, too. Not good. Cleaning out that area is going to have to be done over several days, I think.

Hhhmmm. I’m watching the sky as I write this, and it’s getting dark out there. I used the hose outside to give all the bins we used to carry transplants in and out a wash, so I can lend them to my mother as she puts things away in preparation for her apartment to be treated for bed bugs. They’re spread out in the grass, drying. I think moving them into the sun room might be a good idea.

Just in case!

The Re-Farmer

The current state of things

This morning’s rounds were extended rounds – but about a mile and a half! 😀

The first order of business was to check the old basement. The south side of the basement is still slowly getting wetter. The sump pump is doing its job quite well. The north side hasn’t really changed much, and I’ve no doubt the big blower fan is doing a lot to keep that side more under control. The larger puddles of water got swept into the drain or the sump pump reservoir, and another of the chimney blocks was brought upstairs, before I headed outside.

I hadn’t slept much, so I was outside earlier than the cats are used to, so I didn’t see many of them! 😀

The first cat I saw was The Distinguished Guest (TDG), and he was limping. Favoring the same leg that Potato Beetle still does. Now that we know why Potato Beetle was limping, I have less concern. It’s probably a bite or claw injury. Considering how aggressive TDG has been to the other cats, I can’t say I feel much sympathy for him. I didn’t see Potato Beetle this morning, and whenever that happens, I worry that TDG has injured him and he’s suffering somewhere. 😦

I don’t know where Rosencrantz has set herself up again but, wherever it is, it’s very close by. She just seemed to magically appear at the kibble house of late! The only thing I can say for sure is that she’s not coming from the junk pile.

Speaking of junk piles, while Junk Pile (we have GOT to come up with a better for her!) was eating, I blindly took a couple of shots of her kittens through the window. This was the best one. I think I count 5 in there.

While switching out the memory cards on the trail cams, I was happy to see the water on the driveway has actually receded. To get to the sign cam, I went outside the fence line and didn’t even try to go through the snow and water along the garden area. While I was at it, I “made” a bridge. 😉

This sheet of plywood I found in the garage was set up over the drainage ditch, turned the other direction, so I could drive over it with the riding mower. Which isn’t working and, according to the place I last took it to, not really worth paying someone to fix, anymore. Since we won’t be driving a riding mower through here anytime soon, I pulled up up the plywood and laid it the other way. That helped increase the flow of water, too. I don’t know who dug this drainage ditch, how long ago, or what they used to do it. All I know is that it’s very uneven and rough, even for just a push mower.

That done, I went for a walk to check out the state of the road heading south. For the first half mile, it was actually pretty good. There’s an area that has a series of small ponds on one side that has the potential to be an issue if we get the predicted rains – we’re still under a rainfall warning that extends to the north of us, with accompanying flood warnings – but this morning, it was still pretty good.

Then I got to where the municipal drainage ditch crosses the road.

The culvert is marked with that red plastic tube on the left, and is the only reason this section isn’t already washed out.

This drainage ditch crosses the quarter section we’re on, cutting through the rented out fields into our neighbour’s quarter, until it crosses the road here.

The drainage ditch then cuts across the corner of this quarter section to another road and another culvert.

I wasn’t going to go that far to check the state of the road, seeing how things are here!

The drainage ditch is completely full; the line of higher soil, created by dredging, marks one side of it. Right now, we’ve got one flooded field draining into another flooded field!

The first area that’s washed out is past the drainage ditch. You can somewhat see how much of the gravel has been washed off the road and into the ditch.

The second wash out has done a lot more damage to the road.

Half the road has been washed down right to the rock base!

I took this next wide angle shot while standing in the middle of the second wash out.

There is still SO much snow and ice.

Here, I’m standing in between the two washed out sections. The water is flowing with remarkable speed!

I took some video, too. Once I have time, I’ll test out my new movie making software and make a little video to upload.

So this road is not a viable alternate route for us. When I get a chance, I plan to walk the road to the north and see how things are, there. We may not be able to avoid the pothole riddled main road, though.

Enough snow has melted that I could check out a few other areas, once I got back home. The path to the outhouse and the back of the garage is still full of water, and the pit under the outhouse is flooded to the top.

The garlic beds are clear of snow, but the soil under the mulch is still frozen solid.

Our first high raised bed is also clear of snow – but the snow around it is still quite deep!

I noticed one of the cages protecting the raspberry bushes we got my daughter for her birthday last year was knocked aside, so I made my way through the snow to get to it. Some of it even held my weight, though when it did give out, I found myself knee deep in snow.

Once we have rows of high raised beds built here, I can see that it will greatly affect the snow in the area.

The arrow in the above photo is pointing to the raspberry bush, and shows where the cage is supposed to be. The cages got dug out of the scrap pile around the old garden shed and placed over the raspberry bushes, after we discovered the deer were nibbling on them.

I found a couple of large rocks under the trees to weigh the cage down. Hopefully, it will hold until we find a more permanent way to protect the raspberries.

Hopefully, the raspberries have survived. Shortly after we transplanted them last year, they got hit by that one unusually cold night in late May that killed off so much. Then there was the drought, the heat waves and the deer. Now we’ve got this winter that just doesn’t want to let go. These poor bushes have had a very rough start! At this point, there’s no way to see if they’ve survived the winter. Hopefully, we’ll know in a couple of weeks.

The snow has receded enough that I was able to check out a few more areas before heading back inside. Another check on the basement, then the last chimney block was brought upstairs. Getting those up the old basement stairs has been a real pain. It’s one thing to carry a block down the hallway or across the yard. It’s quite another to safely get them up those stairs. I finally got it worked out, though. Basically, once a block was lifted to the highest step I could reach while standing at the bottom, I had to go up a couple of steps, to line myself up with the next step it would go on, carefully bend at the knees (my busted up knees!), grab the block and brace it against my belly (sometimes, my extra girth comes in quite handy!), straighten my knees to lift the block while using the hand rail to keep from falling backwards, and use my belly to place it on the next step.

Then the process is repeated, step by step, to the top. Thankfully, there is room for a block in front of the door, which has to be kept closed to keep the cats out. Then it’s, open the door, chase away cats, wrestle the block clear of the door with enough space to get past it, chase away the cats again, then close the door – hopefully remembering to turn the light off, first!

After that, it gets easy. The only difficult part is getting through the old kitchen door, without letting any cats through.

It’ll be a while before we can prep the area the blocks are going into, so we can take our time getting the blocks out the rest of the way. Getting them out of that basement was the main hurdle, and I’m very glad it’s finally done!

And that’s the state of things for now. As I write this, we’re at 5C/41F and we’re supposed to reach a high of 9C/48F, so things are melting. The rains are supposed to hit us this evening and continue through tomorrow, before changing to a mix of rain and snow, the day after, with highs of 4C/40F.

Then, three days later, they are now saying we’re supposed to get a high of 18C/64F. Long range forecast after that has highs ranging from 16C/61F to 19C/66F for the next week.

Hopefully, by then, the soil will have thawed enough to be able to absorb more of that moisture!

We shall see how things turn out.

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and more digging

The snow continued to fall all night, with more wind than snow, and we’re still supposed to get the odd flurries today. The winds have died down a bit. I haven’t been able to do my usual walk-around to see how many downed branches there are. It doesn’t look like we’ve lost any more trees in the spruce grove.

I saw about 8 outside cats while putting their kibble out, than at least a couple skulking around the yard, heading towards food while trying to avoid me. Thanks to the shoveling done yesterday, their paths and feeding areas were clear enough to put food out without having to redo them.

The water accumulated near the storage house has frozen over, which I’m actually happy to see. It covers the path the cats use to get under the storage house for shelter. Yesterday, I saw cats running over it, and the meltwater was all slush they were splashing through. Getting wet in these temperatures is not a good thing. Thankfully, the space under the storage house seems to stay completely dry, except maybe around some of the edges.

It’s almost noon and -8C/18F as I write this, which is colder than our overnight low. I did find a way to set up the ceramic heater bulb in the sun room, and it does seem to be enough to keep the temperatures in there above freezing. All the seedlings are looking fine.

Warm enough that Potato Beetle has no interest in leaving! 😀 Thankfully, he also had no interest in where I’ve got the heat bulb set up, on a small plant stand to keep it elevated off the floor, just in case water gets in. I had some concerns he might knock it over, but he’s completely ignoring it. With his favourite spot on the plant shelf now filled with a bin with kulli corn (it would be too cold for those to germinate, but hopefully, they’ll just remain dormant until it’s warm enough), he’s using the swing bench a lot more. 🙂

Gotta love that tongue blep!

I was just able to take a quick peek at his leg, and everything seems okay there. I am amused that after escaping the sun room and disappearing for a few days, he just waltzed back in again on his own, and now doesn’t want to leave! Silly boy. 🙂

I did a bit more shoveling this morning, clearing the sidewalks and patio, and a path to the burn barrel. I started a path to the garage, but stopped when I hit water. The path to the compost pile was mostly clear; just a couple of drifts needed to be broken through. The feeding station and the east side of the house was almost completely blown clear, so no digging was needed there. I ended up leaving extra feed out for the birds and the deer – who were already in the yard, waiting and watching while I cleared a path on the south side of the house, so I could bring the feed out.

We still have water seeping into our basement. I’d set the blower fan facing more towards the new part basement, and the seepage there was slow enough that most of that area was able to dry out. I adjusted the fan so it’s now aimed more towards the opposite corner, where the sump pump is. Any standing water gets swept into the floor drain. Meanwhile, our septic pump continues to be our acting sump pump, getting triggered often with all the water seeping through the drain from the weeping tile under the new part basement. With the old basement regularly getting wet, when we cleaned it out, we made sure elevate everything, or otherwise protect it from water. That has come in handy a few times, with the septic problems we’ve been having. It’s kind of nice to be dealing with clean water instead, for a change!

For those who are newer to this blog, getting the basements cleaned up was a HUGE job. If you’re interested, you can read about it at the following links. All links will open in new tabs.

Clean up: old basement. It begins!
Clean up: old basement. Day 2 progress
Clean up: old basement. Day 3 progress
Clean up: old basement. Mopping and scrubbing
Clean up: old basement progress, and finding things
Clean up: both basements, progress and things we find!
Clean up: old basement progress
Shelving it

Wow. I forgot how long it took to get that job done. And that’s just the old basement. We still had to do the new basement after that.

This place was such a disaster when we moved here. Mind you, it still is, but at least now it’s our disaster, and not 40 years+ of my parents’ disaster. 😉

The Re-Farmer

This is getting crazy!

Last night the forecasts had changed, saying that we wouldn’t get much accumulation of snow, as it would melt on contact.

Well, that didn’t last long.

I made sure to top up the trays in the kibble house, late last night, because I knew they’d be extra hungry. It was raining fairly heavily, and the kibble tray on the ground was full of water, as the one under the shrine would have been. I’m so glad we built that kibble house, so the cats could have a dry, sheltered place to eat!

The trays were completely empty by morning, of course. Not a lot of cats were about, and I noticed several coming out of the cat shelter.

By the time I was done putting warm water out for them, Potato Beetle had emerged from somewhere. He ate a little – then followed me into the sun room.

He’s still there.


We will have more shoveling to do, I think.

This is how things look all over the place; that slushy layer of snow built up on all the standing water.

We’re still getting rainfall alerts, though.

Rain with isolated thunderstorms continues this morning. However, a strengthening northerly wind will bring falling temperatures today. The rain will turn to snow this morning and then taper off this afternoon or evening as the Colorado Low departs the area.

Wind gusts of 70 to 80 km/h will also weaken this evening. Only minor accumulations of up to 5 cm are expected as much of the snow will melt on contact with the ground.

This much precipitation over frozen or saturated ground may lead to localized flooding including basements, underpasses, and the like. For larger scale overland flooding risks, please consult the provincial flood forecast.

I don’t know that we got any thunderstorms in our area last night, but before I went to bed, I was reading about the different areas with flooding and power outages. Thousands of households were affected by outages, mostly in the south east corner of our province, but also a few not all that far away from us.

In our case, I am actually happier with the snow instead of the rain. The ceiling in the sun room has stopped dripping, and this is what our basement looked like this morning.

Which is not too bad at all. In fact, I’d say it was better than when I last checked it at about 1:30am. My daughters checked it some time after that, too. Because of how lumpy-bumpy and uneven the concrete floor is, we sweep the standing water into the drain. There are those two drains chipped into the concrete that are helping, and there is a steady stream of water flowing through them, but water still puddles.

The drain for the weeping tile goes through here and into the septic tank, and there is enough water draining that the septic pump is triggered quite often. Our septic system is basically our sump pump right now. On the one hand, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the pump that I’d rather not have. On the other, this is pumping the excess water well away from the house, and into a low area out by the barn, rather than by the house.

My daughter shocked the hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide last night, which means it got partially drained into the sump pump reservoir. I checked the level, and it’s looking just fine. On that side of the basement, the only place I’m seeing water seeping through the concrete is a tiny patch near the furnaces, where there is a new layer of concrete on top of old, and the edges are broken up.

Right now, we are hovering around the freezing mark, and the high of the day being forecast on my desktop app is now a bit colder. Tomorrow was supposed to have a high of -5C/23F. Now they’re saying tomorrow’s high will be -3C/27F – then in just 3 days, we’re supposed to reach a high of 11C/52F! It’s supposed to drop down again to 6C/41F the next day. The 14 day trend shows our highs slowly warming back up until reaching 11C/52F again by May 5, and then just staying there. Of course, the app on my tells me something different, so we’ll see which one is the most accurate.

Interestingly, while on Facebook yesterday, I got one of those reminders of things posted on that day, years ago. This time, it was a photo I posted 14 years ago. We were still living in an apartment building at the time, and my daughter was in the lounge, standing on a chair by the window, trying to see over the snow drifted against it.

Mind you, in that city, it was not unusual get snow any month of the year, or have green grass in the middle of winter. Mountains on one side, and open prairies on the other, makes for some pretty dramatic weather changes in very short time frames. We’re actually a bit more south now, compared to the city we lived in before moving here, but here we are surrounded by lakes. It makes for some pretty significant differences.

Well, it is what it is. For now, we’ll keep monitoring the basement, and think warm thoughts.

Excuse me while I have another mug of Rooiboos tea!

The Re-Farmer

addendum: just as I was finishing up this post, I paused to pop outside and give the cats a treat – and had to chase 2 deer away from the kibble house! Then I got a call from my brother, following up the email I sent last night, about how things are going here. Their sump pump is going off every 15 minutes or so, but they also have a sump pump they set up outside, to pump water to the other side of their dike. It broke down. He’s been trying to find one, but the entire city is sold out of sump pumps. They’ll be okay for now, and he does have a spare pump he can rig up to use instead. It does remind me that I had been looking at getting a spare sump pump to have, just in case. It’s not like we can pop over to a store if ours breaks down. I think a spare septic pump would be a good idea, too. That’s something I’d have to talk to my brother about, to make sure I get the right one for our system.

All in all, we’re doing all right. I know other areas are not so fortunate, so I am thankful.

Well, that was disgusting

It’s just past 2 am as I start to write this. Normally, I would be going to bed around this time, but I actually went to bed before midnight, for a change.

Before I did, I checked the old basement. Not only was there no increased flooding, but things had actually started to dry up. A good sign. I covered the drain with the plastic sheet that keeps the gases out and went to bed.

Not long ago, I woke to go to the bathroom and heard a strange, quiet rumbling from the basement. It didn’t sound like the well pump, nor the septic pump, neither of which should have been on, anyhow.

It was the sump pump.

The basement was flooded even more than before, the reservoir had filled, the pump was running so long, it was sounding wrong, but the reservoir wasn’t draining.

I threw on some boots and a coat and ran outside with the flashlight. There was nothing coming out of the sump pump hose in the old kitchen garden. I yanked it out from along the house, and it was flexible the entire length. I finally found the blockage, right by where it attached to the pipe from the basement.

I was able to flex the hose and could hear ice breaking up inside, but that did nothing for the rigid bit of pipe through the wall.

So back to the basement I ran, this time with a couple of large buckets. I had to unplug the sump pump, which had been running so long, it was hot.

By this time, my noise had awakened the rest of the family. Even my husband could hear me over the sound of his CPAP.

The girls came down to help. I used the small bucket with a wire on its handle that we used the last time this happened, and a broom handle it sink it, and started bailing water into a large bucket. That went to one daughter, who took it up the stairs. My other daughter took that outside to empty it, while I filled the next bucket.

That reservoir holds a remarkable amount of water.

After many trips, we got the reservoir bailed out as much as could be done with the small bucket.

Once that was clear, I checked the drain in the floor. It had disintegrating toilet paper in it, but not more than before, from what I could tell. I was going to hose that away after the septic tank was done.

The first time we had septic problems in the basement, that my brother and I worked on, we hooked an old hose to what used to be the cold water tap for the washing machine and used it to try and clear the pipes. The last time, when the plumber came with his drain auger, it came in very handy, so I’ve just left it there, with most of the hose rolled up and hanging. I pushed the end of it through the drain, and could get quite far. There is no blockage, that I could feel.

Once the drain cover was off, I could see water from the floor starting to slowly drain away.

Grabbing a long handled scrub brush, I tried to clear the drain opening, and it didn’t seem to make much difference in how quickly things drained.

What concerned me was that I started pulling up thin tree roots. That’s what the plumber had cleared out if there, not that many months ago.

After the tank is emptied, I should be able to run water through the drain in the floor and be able to see better. I’ll also open up the access pipe, near the septic pump, and take a better look, but that requires tools.

The drain cover has been left off. The sump pump remains unplugged. We will have to keep checking the basement more often, and if it starts filling again, start bailing it out again.

My daughter’s and I, meanwhile, have scrubbed up, though we still feel really gross. It’s not like we can take showers right now, though at least we can flush the toilet and wash up.

Now we have to get some more sleep while we can.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to fall asleep anytime soon, which is why I am sitting here, tapping out a blog post on my phone.


The Re-Farmer

Here we go again; septic woes

Well, it looks like I won’t be getting new glasses anymore, because that budget is about to disappear.

The girls and I started on the horrible job of cleaning up behind the washer and drier.

The primary goal was to access the drain pipe and pour down some drain cleaner, but we had to get to it, first, and that job fell to my younger daughter; the most able bodied and agile of us going into a space barely big enough for one person.

Also, it’s amazing how many things the cats get at that end up under appliances.

First, the dryer needed to be pulled out, unplugged, then pulled out some more.

Then my poor, saintly daughter took care of the mess that cats made back there. Not only did they knock all kinds of things off shelves back there, but they then peed all over it. We ended up throwing out an unopened box of drier sheets, a caulking gun, with a tube of caulk still loaded in it, my other daughters missing wrist brace, and even a strainer basket that I used to use to pick, then wash, vegetables from the garden, among other things. I’m amazed by all the stuff that ended up there.

Then the washing machine got pulled out, and we found the rest of the little things the cats chased under there. Some of them were even cat toys.

After drain cleaner was poured down the pipe, my daughter continued to clean and mop the floor, while her sister and I assisted where we could. I decided it would be a good idea to use the plumbing snake as well, so I went into the old basement to get it.

The basement was flooded.

But only on one side, and not the side where water seeps through during spring melt. No, this was all over near the septic pump.

But not FROM the septic pump. Nor any of the pipes beside it.

What the heck?

The drain in the floor does not have what it should to prevent gases from getting into the room, so there is a sheet of plastic under the drain cover. I moved it aside to allow the water on the floor do drain, only to find the drain was full.

There was also was looked like toilet paper.

What the heck?

I went back up to assist my daughter, we quickly determined the plumbing snake was not going to work out, and kept on going. We had to wait 15-20 minutes before we could pour hot water down the pipe after the drain cleaner. Once we were at the stage of putting everything back again, I went back to check on the basement.

After a while fussing with the drain, it became clear that it was the source of the flooding.

Water was backing up from the septic tank, though the drain, and into the basement.


At that point, I got my husband to call the septic guy and see if he could come out – as well as finding out how much it would cost, and if he could take an etransfer. While he did that, I headed outside to start shoveling a path to the septic tank. With our melt-thaw cycle lately, the snow had a very hard crust on the top, so it needed a lot of tackling with the ice chipper first, then shoveling. Chip out about a foot, then shovel. Chip about a foot, then shovel.

I didn’t get very far when I realized a major problem.

It’s one thing to shovel a path to the tank, but how was the truck going to get in? We haven’t been able to clear the yard for a vehicle at all this winter, and the snow was just too deep, even for a big truck.

I quickly messaged the family to let them know (I love technology!) and my husband cancelled the septic guy.

Shortly after, my other daughter came out and took over the shoveling.

I headed inside and made a call to the renters who have so kindly been clearing our driveway.

I just got interrupted in writing this.

The septic guy was on the road and never got the call about canceling. He just showed up. We talked for a while, and now he’s left, because there was no way he could get through that snow.

Which brings me back to my call to the renters, and spoke to the Mrs.

I explained the situation and asked if I could hire someone to come with their front end loader and clear a path for the septic truck. Unfortunately, her husband and the farm hands had just left and would not be back for several hours. She promised to text her husband (which would eventually get to him; they’re in the same cell phone dead zone we are in) about it. I told her that if it could be done today, we could call the septic guy in for tomorrow, and to please let me know how much to pay them for it. They’ve been refusing payment all this time, but it’s different when I’m going to them for a job! She said she would let me know.

Which is what I just explained to the septic guy; that hopefully, we’ll have someone with a front end loader to clear the snow, and then we’d call him back. He told me that, if the front end loader starts sinking into the ground, not to bother, because he would get stuck. It seems that the snow fell before the ground was frozen, which means in some areas, the snow insulated the ground and kept it from freezing.

I don’t think we’ve got that problem, but we’ll see.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My husband had found out how much the septic guy would cost – $160 (six months ago, it was $135), and that they did not take etransfers. Which meant, I needed to get cash.

So I updated my daughter that was shoveling, then headed to the town my mother lives in, where there is a branch of my bank, to get enough cash for the septic guy and for clearing the snow. I have no idea how much that will be, so I took out what I hope is extra.

The remains of my tax return for my glasses budget just went *poof*.

I don’t actually mind. I’m thankful that we had the funds at all.

Once I got back home, I didn’t even bother going back inside. I went back to shoveling.

My daughter had shoveled all the way to where the tank is, before she had to go in. She had to fight her way through a drift, so the snow was even deeper than usual for much of it. Just to make things even more unfortunate, the snow under the crust was sticky – and would stick to the shovel! So it was chip, scoop, fling, shakeshakeshake, over and over!

Now we have this area.

Normally, we use straw to cover the tank. A couple of years back, we had to get the tank done in January. I had to dig a path, then got the straw off the lid, and that was it.

It won’t be so easy, this time. We used an insulated tarp this time. It was big enough to fold in half, so it’s double insulated.

The first thing was to find the edge of the insulated tarp. It’s pegged to the ground all along this edge, and the end. I needed to be careful using the chipper, at this point, because I didn’t want to damage the tarp.

I dug my way down to the corner and discovered a problem.

The downspout from the roof was draining near here. All that melted snow from the roof has formed a layer of ice, a couple of inches thick, right over the end of the tarp.

Which means we would need to lift the tarp from the other end.

This end.

When putting insulation along the bottom of the house, we made sure the tarp was right up to, and partway up, the wall, then everything was weighted into place.


Well, there was nothing to do but keep on digging.

Hopefully, enough has been cleared that we’ll be able to pull it back to the lid of the tank enough to open it.

After all this was done, I made sure to check the basement again. I’m happy to say that the majority of the water did drain away. Also, the septic pump is still doing its job. So we should still at least be able to use the toilet.

We got the outhouse fixed up just in case something like this happened, yet we can’t even use it. The path to the outhouse is full of water. We don’t even have the honey pot anymore; that got loaned to my mother, and I haven’t seen it since.


This shouldn’t be happening. When I was growing up here, there was 7 of us, and that tank got emptied only once a year. We’ve been getting it emptied twice a year. It’s been just under 6 months since we had it last done. It should not be this full.

On the plus side, it is backing up through the drain in the floor, and not doing what it did last time, which was backing up into the laundry sink, then splashing out the P trap, all over the septic pump. The floor drain was full of roots and silt. Now that it’s clear, the tank is backing up through there, instead, making much less of a mess than the last couple of times we’ve found with it.

Still. It shouldn’t be happening at all.

I don’t get it.


Hopefully, the renters will be able to clear the snow for us, and we’ll have the septic guy back in tomorrow.

What a pain. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Cat heaven, basement flood update, and our monthly shop

Gosh, it feels like such a long day today. It always does when we do our city shopping!

I am so glad we only do this once or twice a month!

But first… Kitties!

I just have to share some adorable photos with you. 🙂 ❤

I got my morning Ginger cuddles!

He does not want me to pet him. If I try, he violently kicks my hand away with his back legs, rolls half onto his back and sticks the back of his head onto my hand for ear skritches. Not from above his head, but from below! Of course, once the skritches starts, a back leg starts to kick uncontrollably. 😀

Gosh, he’s adorable.

Before my daughter and I headed out to the city, I of course had to check the basement.

That is SUCH an improvement! By the time I checked it again after we got back from the city, this side was mostly dry. I think, by tomorrow, I’ll be able to move the blower fan to face the other side of the basement, as it had flooded enough to reach the other side of the furnaces. A couple more days, and we should be able to start the final clean up.

I even remembered to pick up more heavier duty latex gloves for the job, as the pair I was using while working on the drain pipe sprang leaks! 😀

Of the four places we typically try to hit during our monthly city shop, my younger daughter and I managed three. 😀 Our first stop was at Canadian Tire, were we picked up more wood pellets. We still have some unopened bags to use as litter, but now that I’ve found how well they work to amend the soil in our garden beds, I have no problem stocking up even more! While there, we also found a heavy duty, high traffic, scrubbable paint for the inside of the outhouse. My older daughter was thinking a pale robin’s egg blue, but once we started looking at the colour samples, there were not a lot of options, so my younger daughter chose a light mint. Not a colour I would have chosen, but they have better taste than I do, so I trust them. 😉 As long as it’s a like colour and not white, I don’t really care all that much. 😀 So now we just need to get all those tacks out of the walls, give it one last cleaning to get rid of any new dust or spider webs, and then we can paint! At some point, we’ll pick up more exterior paint to do the outside, but that can wait until next spring, really. Getting the roof fixed is more of a priority when it comes to the outside.

After Canadian Tire, we went to the international grocery store for those little things we can’t find at Costco, with Costco being our final stop. We didn’t get everything in the quantities we will need for our goal of stocking up extra for the winter, in case the weather has us stuck at home for a couple of months, again. Partly because, even using a flat cart, it would be just too much. The largest and heaviest items being the bags of dry cat food. Even so, it’s been a long time since we packed the van this full!

One thing we didn’t get a lot of was meat. Partly because we still had some in the freezer, but partly because we are planning on getting a quarter beef from the local supplier we found. They are taking orders now, then start butchering in November, and the meat will be ready in December. They are charging $6 per pound this year, and a quarter beef averages about 150-200 pounds in finished weight. So, at most, we can expect to be paying $1200. That’s the equivalent of our entire grocery budget, including cat supplies, toiletries, household cleaners and the like, for the entire month! Which means we have to make sure to set some of our grocery budget aside, along with the unallocated funds in our budget. Most of the unallocated funds for this month just went to pay for the plumber, though. We’ll have to juggle the budget a bit, so we can still set aside for the beef, while also not touching our contingency fund that is slated for something else.

After we got home and everything got put away, it was time for supper, and then I headed outside to water the garden beds. We hit 25C/77F today. Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter, and things have been pretty dry for the past little while. We still have the soaker hose set up under the squash trellis, and the sprinkler hose set up with the summer squash, so we got those going first. While I was at it, I topped up the empty kibble trays outside.

We may have got all of the outside cats when I did!

I counted 11 kittens in total, including Nosencrantz and Toesencrantz in their usual private dining area under the shrine. Nutmeg, Rosencrantz and Ghost Baby joined them, too! I also saw Potato Beetle, Rolando Moon and Butterscotch at the kibble house. They were all moving around so much that, if the 12th kitten was there, too, I could easily have missed it. Especially since they sometimes hide under the cat house.

There are nine kittens and three adults visible in the above photo. What a crowd! Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more of the kittens outside the sunroom door, waiting for me to come out with the kibble, and fewer of them run away completely when I come outside. Some of them are almost underfoot when I put the food out, even though they back right off if it seems like I’m about to stop near them. They are such an adorable bunch. I just love those stripes on the ‘icouses!

When I came back out later to switch the hose from the soaker hose to the sprinkler hose, I was very entertained by the sight of a Rolando Moon roast! She loves to climb right into the old roaster (which became a kibble tray after one of the handles broke off). I missed getting a photo of her looking all trussed up, before she gave me her famous death glare. 😀

Later on, I even saw Junk Pile cat! She has been coming out to eat after all the other cats and kittens are gone.

I’m just looking at the long range forecast right now, and it’s looking like we are going to have some absolutely glorious weather, well into October! That should go a long way to giving us a chance to get some outside projects worked on, and for our garden to continue producing. While watering today, I was noticing quite a lot of pea pods developing, and yes, I have even found some mature enough to taste! Just a couple of pods so far, but my goodness, fresh peas are the best! One of the sweet corn blocks is even looking like it might have cobs worth harvesting soon, too! I honestly thought that one was a lost cause, too. We shall see! Meanwhile, tomorrow I will be picking tomatoes, and probably more beans, too.

It’s working out to be a really awesome fall! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Well, it’s a good thing we cleaned up the outhouse

Oy vey.

It’s past midnight as I write this, and it has suddenly become a rather unpleasant night!

I was returning from the bathroom when, while walking past the old basement door, I heard a splashing sound I should not have been hearing, so I went down to take a look.

The septic backed up again.

The pipe with the P trap was full to the top, and water backed up into the laundry sink to the point of overflowing. Thankfully, we don’t really use this basement much, because the water has spread pretty far. Thankfully, whatever caused it to back up happened relatively recently; the last major use of water was a load of laundry, and greywater seems to be most of what I was looking at down there.

I’ve already arranged for the septic guy to come over tomorrow morning. Getting that done was actually in the budget for next month, which means we would have had it done at the next of next week, when my husband’s disability payment came in on Thursday.

Once the tank is empty, I can see what I can do about unclogging the pipes. I am guessing it is the same sort of thing that happened last time. If that turns out to not be it, we’ll have to call in a plumber.


The last time this happened, we were able to set up a honey pot in the bathroom until we could use the toilet again. We don’t have it anymore; I took it over to my mother’s when we found out she was having mobility issues getting to the bathroom at night. We did, however, get the outhouse cleaned up, and made the entry safe to use. So we do have an alternative.

There’s a bit of a new issue, though.

Once we determined that we would have to use the outhouse, I grabbed the flashlight, some cleaning supplies and toilet paper to set it up. It’s been a while since I’ve gone in there, so I wanted to sanitize the seating area. When I opened the toilet lid to clean it, however, things looked… different. When I was cleaning it out before, I made a point of checking underneath, and saw the contents were composted and level from being flooded out by melting snow over the years. It needed to be emptied, but not in any urgent way.

It’s now full.

Of gravel.

After shining the flashlight around, I was able to spot a small hole.

It looks like a groundhog made a den entry leading under the floor boards, filling much of the space under the seat with gravel.


So that’s going to have to be all dug out. It can be accessed from the back of the outhouse, but not very easily.


It’s been a while since we’ve seen the groundhogs; I’ve seen one, once, a couple of weeks ago or so, and that’s it. They no longer visit the bird seed, and we no longer see them around the yard. It seems early, but they seem to have gone into hibernation already.

I suppose it’s good to find this out now, and not in the middle of winter or something.

I am not looking forward to having to clean up the mess in the basement.


The Re-Farmer

Washer woes, and some progress

So our washing machine is being weird. It agitates, but when it gets to when the drum should spin and water drained, it just… doesn’t.

It’s possible the drive belt is off. We can’t check it yet. The laundry that was in the machine had to be hand wrung out and went into the drier. The girls were then sweethearts and manually removed as much water as they could, before checking it over to see what going on. Which is when they found the drum is very loose.

The only way to check, though, it to take the panel off the back. We can’t do that until the drier is done. We can’t pull the washing machine forward very far, because there is a step blocking it. We have to wait until the drier is done, then put that out, so that we can pull the washer out around the step.

Meanwhile, I’m looking up the costs of a new washing machine. Depending on what we find, we may have to choose: do we spend the money to fix an old machine that has a high probability of breaking again in the near future, or do we dip into the contingency fund again, to get a new, energy efficient machine with a warranty on it. Who knows. It might be an easy fix. Or we might not even see the problem, even after opening it up.

We should know better, tonight.

Meanwhile, I was able to head outside this afternoon for a bit of work in the old garden area. I’m tired of damaging the blade of our lawnmowers when mowing in the old garden area, by hitting lumps of dirt I don’t see in the grass. Right now, while it’s still short, is the best time to do something about it. Since we’re limited in tools, that means manual labour. 😀

Basically, I went looking for the lumps with the tops flattened from betting hit with the mower blade, then dug at them with the potato fork, to break them up and loosen the soil.

In the above picture, I have actually broken up one of those lumps.

You can see why I keep hitting them with the mower!

The root systems are holding the sod together quite a bit, but they will be broken up further. After going over them with the fork, we’ll go back with hoes and break them up further, spreading the soil into the low areas and leveling things off as much as we can.

I took advantage of being out there with the fork and removed some of the larger weeds and tree saplings.

Well… almost the tree saplings.

I’d gone through the area last summer, pulling many of them out, or cutting them with pruning shears. While breaking up hills of soil, I spotted one that was larger and a definite tripping hazard.

Guess how I know that? 😀

I discovered that I was not going to get this one out, without other tools.

It was actually growing out of a long root.

There are NO trees near this. The closest ones are the strip of self-sown trees along where the squash beds are now, and the tree at the end of that strip is a maple. Maples don’t send shoots out like this. Poplars do, but the nearest poplars are along the fence, among the lilacs. There are more along the other fence line. From the direction this root is running, those further away poplars are the more likely source.

We’re talking about 100 feet away.

I left it until I can come back with cutting tools, later.

Then there’s stuff like this.

This is a burdock root. I keep mowing over them, and they keep coming back, because of roots like this.

And this is Rolando Moon, helping me…

More specifically, this is Greater Burdock, or Arctium lappa. We have it growing all over, and it can make quite a barrier to some of the sheds and equipment! While it can be used for food or medicine, it’s not something we actually want to cultivate, and we certainly don’t want it in taking over.

I wasn’t able to get all of this root out. It broke off, instead. Those roots go very deep!

I worked only on the West side of the old garden area.

It looks a bit like a bunch of giant skunks were digging for grubs! 😀

There is a smaller area to the East of the squash bed, but that area is much worse for hills that need to be broken down, and there’s at least one large rock that I hope to be able to take out. It all depends on how much of it is still buried. It was the heat and wind that drove me indoors early! But not before I checked a few other things.

The stack of wood from the maples we had cut away from the roof has given us a handy seat to stop and rest at. I was going to take a bit of a break there, before continuing on.

That seat is now occupied…

This stack is at the maple grove, but the red ants that built this brought spruce needles from across the North yard, all the way to this log! It’s about 40 or 50 feet, just to the edge of the spruce grove. They’d have to go past the mulch we put down last year, to get to where the needles are! I was seeing ants going in and out of cracks at the other end of the log, so this nest goes all the way through.

Well, this is a log I won’t be using for any projects. !!

I also checked on the grapes again.

I just love these baby grape clusters! Right now, these grapes are as big as they were, fully ripe, our first summer here, when we discovered the grapes in among the spirea. Last year was their first year cleared of the spirea and trained up the trellis, and there were no grapes at all. I’m sure that summer was one they needed to recover from the changes! I’m very happy to see how well they’re doing now – even after I accidentally killed one of the vines! Which you can see on the left of the photo. Other vines are climbing up the dead one, so I’m leaving it there.

Another area I checked on was indoors. At the beginning of the month, I’d rigged up the dehumidifier that was down there when we first moved in. Here is how it looked , after running for a while.

That damp spot had been an actual puddle. The well pump was covered in condensation, water was collecting under the pump, the pressure tank and the hot water tank. The new well pump, still in its box, was sitting on pieces of wood to elevate it, but the wood itself was getting so damp, I added some pieces of foam – they look like pool noodles with a cut from end to end, and I don’t know why they’re there – to elevate it even more.

This is how it looks now.

Where the puddle had been is now just a dry stain. There is no condensation on any of the pipes, and everything under the tanks and pump are now dry. There is only one spot, where the concrete has broken away, that is damp.

On the other side of the divider wall is where the new screened window is, and even that area has just a damp spot in the lowest area. Even the areas under the furnaces are just damp not wet. I unplugged the blower fan to let the motor cool down, but right now, even with the continued rains, I don’t think it is an issue anymore. When it was just the blower fan going, it did help, but the concrete was still wet enough that a white mold was starting to grow. There is no sign of that, now. I was a bit concerned about the screen window, since it’s “roof” had fallen off. There is nothing to prevent the rains from going in through there, other than the fact that it is so low.

There is a possibility of more storms or rain tonight. There is an odd weather system coming our way right now. Instead of a large mass of rain with patches of more severe conditions in it, the radar shows mostly clear, with dozens of tiny storms, moving across the prairies. There’s just no way of knowing if something will hit us until… well… it hits us!

And now it’s time to check – again – if the drier is done, and we can check out what’s wrong with the washing machine.

The Re-Farmer

Yes, there’s still a goat at our door

She spent the night sleeping in front of our door, ignoring the shelter I rigged up for her.

Shortly after 7 this morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see a very chilled man in a hoodie, sitting at the front step, very diligently not making direct eye contact with the goat, a container of feed in front of him. Later, I saw him almost manage to lure the goat into the garage.

No success.

Thankfully, we have multiple doors.

I went through the sun room to bring food out for the cats. When it came time to put feed out for the birds, I went around the house from the other side.

The poor guy doesn’t know what to do. He can’t catch her, and he can’t stay around here, trying, when he’s got a farm to run. I assured him again that we were okay with her being here. There is someone here all the time, so we can slowly work on taming her. The only problem is, we don’t have any feed or shelter or anything. He commented that he’s running out of the feed mix he was trying to bait the goat with and, like so many, money is tight. He won’t be able to get more until Wednesday. The goat can at least graze now, if she wanted to. Except she really doesn’t want to leave that door! He said he would come back later, and hoped we would be able to at least lure her into the garage, where he’d left the container of feed, but I think she’s already forgotten about it. As he was leaving, he commented on how he’d really like to get her back (I think our being so okay with her here has ended any notions of killing her for meat!) and had hoped to breed her, and just doesn’t know what to do. Then he made a passing comment of, well, she was a free goat for him, she might be a free goat for us. !!

We shall see.

Meanwhile, I was able to do my morning rounds, followed by not one, not two but three boys!

Yes, I was finally able to confirm that Pump Shack cat is a boy. Not only was he following me around with the other boys, he was coming closer to me than ever before.

They weren’t following me for any sort of affection for each other. Not at all, as you can see.

No, they were following me because Butterscotch was also following me. They’ve been trying to breed with her. 😦 She seems very ticked off with that idea and has been fighting them off fairly easily. She’s less than 2 weeks from having kittens, so I don’t imagine she’s in any condition to go into heat right now. That doesn’t stop the boys from trying!

I noticed something yesterday that I made a point of checking out this morning, and I am very excited.

While following the goats around, I noticed that the surviving haskap bush we planted last year is leafing out very nicely.

This is the male plant. I’m impressed with how large those leaves are. All the other trees are just starting to show buds. I’ve read about how cold hardy these are supposed to be, and it definitely shows!

It was the other one that I was most happy to see.

This is the female haskap. It is very hard to see, but it has leaf buds! Each spot that has the remains of leaves from last year, when it suddenly just died off in the fall, has tiny leaf buds under them.

I don’t know what happened to it, but I am glad it survived!

With this spring actually having real moisture, unlike our first two springs here, the sump pump is doing its work to keep the basement from flooding. It doesn’t turn on often, but enough to notice. While the new part basement, with its weeping tile, is dry, the old part basement is showing some moisture this spring.

This is where wood for the furnace used to be store, and I remember well how very wet it would get, when I was a child. This is very dry in comparison. On the other side of the little wall is the sump pump reservoir, and there is a bit of a puddle there, but again, not much at all. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

On the other side of the old basement, where the floor drain it, is is drier, but still shows signs of seeping water.

Some of it is following the concrete patch over what I now know covers the weeping tile drain pipe from the new basement. There are also patches at the base of the wall shared with the new part basement. I’m glad we were able to clean that area out and elevate the things we put back.

Beep Beep and the kitties, meanwhile, are dry and cozy on the other side. I just wasn’t able to get photos this morning. Beep Beep was keeping them all warm with her own body, and I wasn’t going to disturb them. 🙂

I’m a little frustrated by the long range forecasts right now. Even just yesterday, I was seeing that we would be chilly for a few days, but only a couple nights would dip below zero. Then the temperatures were expected to warm right up again. Well, the forecasts have now changed dramatically. We’re supposed to continue to be chilly for longer, with lower temperatures overall. Even when it is supposed to warm up, it’s no longer expected to warm up as much, and the nights are all expected to dip below freezing. The warm temperatures we were to expect by the middle of the month have been pushed back to the end of the month, with not a lot of sun. Which is not good for our seed starts. Even in the sun room, they will have a hard time getting full sun, and while the room is certainly warmer, I’ve still taken steps to keep them even warmer. I considered moving them back into the house but the house is actually a bit colder than the sun room is. :-/ I even turned the furnace back up a couple of degrees so it would turn on during the night.

Well, we shall see how the seed starts do. If they won’t work out, we’ll manage.

For now, though, we’ll be focusing more on taming a goat! 😀

The Re-Farmer