Chipping away, and a sick kitty update

Yesterday I got a call back from the third roofing company we want to get an estimate from for my brother, and arranged for him to come by today. With the gate having to be unlocked and open anyway, I took advantage of it to mow the driveway.

And then keep mowing.

And mowing.

And mowing some more!

As for the roof, we will get the estimate tomorrow. While chatting with him, I mentioned getting estimates several years ago, and what a difference it is, now. He told me that some things have gone up in price by 100% since then!

Once I get the numbers, I’ll pass them on to my brother and after that, it’s in the hands of him and my mother. Hopefully, she won’t decide to string us along again and back out of her promise to pay for it again. Prices will only keep going up. The north side of the roof, where the ice and snow melts away last, is looking really bad right now. If would be really good if we could get a new roof before winter.

I asked my daughters to switch from sleeping during the day and being up at night, so we can get more things done faster during the day. As I write this, my younger daughter is outside building a mini-kibble house for the water bowls. It’ll be nice for the cats to not have water bowls buried in snow in the winter!

That gave me the time to finish mowing the outer yard.

“Finish” being a relative term. Basically, I’ve just been chipping away at the overgrown areas, little by little. Whenever I started working on a area that hadn’t been mowed or scythed before, I’d have to go back and forth with the mower at least three time, to actually get the grass cut properly.

I got the area in front of the shed with the collapsed roof done, expanding from what I’d been able to do when I used the scythe. We need space to get in, but also to set aside the lumber we will be salvaging. There is an old metal garage door leaning against a wall in there. Once the roof pieces over it are clear, I want to set it on the ground nearby. Salvaged wood can go on top of it, and be kept off the ground. We can then cover it with a tarp or something for the winter.

I was also able to widen the area along the driveway and to where the branch pile used to be. I want to mow around that area more, as we will be doing scrap wood burns there.

What I really need to do is get a path mown to the barn. I went into there to grab some stuff I thought my daughter could use in building the kibble house. Dragging it through the tall grass – even the area I’d scythed earlier – is not easy! There are things under the collapsed shed roof that need to be moved to the barn to protect them, and there’s no way I’m going to drag those though the tall grass.

I also started to push further beyond the pump shack. Normally, there would be a lane wide enough to drive in, all the way to the back gate from here. Last year, all I managed was a walking path. At some point, I want to get at least a path mowed. I still need to do some repairs on the back gate. One side of it got ripped away from the gate post, likely by a startled deer, in the winter. It’s up again, but not repaired.

I also got good progress getting a path cleared to the storage shed. I wasn’t up to fighting that tall grass all the way, when there were higher traffic areas that I needed to finish, first. Still, it’s going to make a big difference.

We’ll give the grass clippings a day or two to dry in the sun, the rake it up for eventual use in the garden.

I so wish we could use that shed as a workshop, which is what it used to be. With my parents’ belongings stored in there, there is just no space. We can’t even get at the back of it. It’s all blocked by bags and boxes and furniture.

My sister had been digging around in there, trying to find boxes with photos to take, so I tried looking around a bit. The boxes are stacked on top of each other, and the stacks are starting to collapse. We’re going to have to get in there and figure out what to do. Part of the problem is, when it started to be used as storage for my parents’ stuff, no one had a grasp of just how much there would be, so the first things put in there were not done with any sort of plan in mind. They were just sort of stacked wherever. Soft things, like the bags of clothes (so many clothes!!!) are filling spaces that should have been left open as paths – and would have been if we’d known about all the large items that would have to be squeezed in among the boxes and bags. Even as we were moving things over there, the girls did try to rearrange things to fit more efficiently, but there was only so much they could do.

The one shed that has a good roof and isn’t rotting away, and we can’t use it.


Meanwhile, my mother still gets these moments of urgency, asking me if the door is locked (we don’t have a key), and worried that someone is going to steal all her stuff. As if anyone wants her bags of old clothes that she doesn’t even want herself, or dozens of (mostly salvaged) mirrors we kept finding all over the place! For all that she left the farm years before we moved here, leaving so much stuff behind for others to deal with, she is still so attached to her belongings. Which means we’re stuck hanging on to them.


On a less pleasant note, I called the vet clinic this morning, asking to talk to one of the doctors. I got a call back shortly after I got back inside from mowing.

We are in a very frustrating situation.

Leyendecker seems to be doing better. His appetite is improving. He’s more active. He seems like he’s better in so many ways, but one.

He’s still not voiding.

Every time we see him try and use the litter, at best, there are just a few damp spots. The girls have seen him trying to pee in other places, too, and not succeeding. There has been nothing to clean up.

After describing this to the vet, she said the only option left would be the surgery to make him a “girl”, but there is no way we’re doing that to him. It would just leave him with other problems, and he’d still have a short life, and a much less pleasant one. The longer he can’t pee, though, the more the potassium levels will be building up again – and he was already at “potassium levels of death”, to quote the vet, when they first saw him.

There is only one option left.

The added problem?

Keith has suddenly started having problems, too.

Yesterday, my younger daughter and I watched him try and use the litter, unsuccessfully, and start yowling in distress. My poor daughter was so upset, she started crying.

One of the things Keith likes to do is run in front of us into the bathroom, then fling himself onto the mat in front of the toilet, so we can pay attention to him. Last night, I came in and found him lying on the mat and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure he was still alive until I pet him for a while and he started purring a bit and eventually shifting position. I checked him again during the night, and found him loafed around the side of the toilet, looking miserable.

I haven’t seen him yet during the day, but my husband has been keeping an eye on him, and says he is looking in really bad shape.

I brought this up with the doctor, and we’re looking at the same situation as Leyendecker – and my daughter already used up almost all her savings to pay for his treatment. Right now, she might have enough left for them both to have one final appointment with the vet.

It’s been decided, though. We’ll keep monitoring Keith. If he starts voiding again on his own, it should work out, but if not, tomorrow, I’m making an appointment for them both.

Talk about brutal.

Which really, really sucks. They are the sweetest boys. But the more time goes by, the more internal damage is happening, and the worse it will be for them.

There is no real choice.


Meanwhile, we’re trying to figure out what the heck is going on. We even looked up to see if there were any recalls on cat food we didn’t know about (there is only one brand so far this year, and it’s a brand I’ve never heard of before). We make sure they have a variety of both wet and dry cat foods, and they have access to water at various points around the house. Most of the litter boxes are downstairs, but there are some upstairs, too. We did not allow the cats access to the basement until we cleaned it out, disposing of all sorts of potentially dangerous substances in the process. And yet, somehow, Cabbages was getting into something none of the other cats was getting into, that slowly poisoned her over a long period of time before she finally became sick (and is now thriving, thanks to the Cat Lady’s efforts). The vet said the toxin was either from anti-flea chemicals (which we don’t have) or fertilizers (which we don’t have in the house). So how did it happen?

Leyendecker did not have crystals in his urine, so the vet says muscle spasms, but if that were it the muscle relaxants – and he’s on two of them! – would be working.

And now Keith is having problems?

What the heck? These are all younger cats, too. Keith is the oldest of the sick kitties, and he’s only about four years old!

I just don’t know what to think.

The Re-Farmer

Water levels, close to home

When I headed out this morning, there were a lot of areas to check during my morning rounds!

Things are actually pretty good.

The storage house pretty much has a moat right now. It doesn’t go quite all the way around, but pretty close!

That’s a lot of water for the cats to get through. It looks like it goes all the way to the opening they use here, to get under the storage house. The only other way for them to get in and out is through a broken window at the back, which also has an old bench under it, so there is at least that access to one of their primary shelters.

This is the area by the feeding station, where a lane had been made for the septic truck. There is a lot spot near where the pile of poplar wood is that always gets water when the snow melts, but this is the first time I’ve seen the water extend to far towards the gate in the chain link fence!

Before and after pictures of the area in front of the house that we would normally drive up to, when loading and unloading the van. Though the pictures were taken a week apart, there had been another snowfall, so there was actually more snow there, just a couple of days ago.

The water in front of the outhouse and behind the garage is the deepest, and most wide spread, I’ve ever seen it. I don’t know if any critters are using those two old dog houses near the outhouse, but I think that might be where Potato Beetle came from, to get so wet and have straw stuck to him. I’m not sure where the burs would have come from, though.

As deep as it is here, the usual lake that forms at the driveway to the garage isn’t particularly large. It looks like the water is actually being absorbed, since it doesn’t look like it’s draining anywhere.

The driveway itself isn’t draining very well. We can still drive through, but I wouldn’t want to unless we absolutely had to, as we’d be just causing more damage.

I took the route outside the fence to get to the sign cam, pausing to check the state of things as best I could. You can see where the rows of corn had been planted, and further back, where there had been a pile of pulled up plants from the garden that were meant to be buried in new plots. The deer had dug them up and eaten most of them, which is why that spot is melted away a bit faster.

Much of the garden area has about a foot of snow still on it, with a few bare patches exposed here and there.

There was a new sign near the sign cam…

The road hasn’t been closed, but drivers are forewarned!

I decided to check the status of the road after this. I’ll share those photos in my next post. 🙂

When my daughters went out later on, they checked things in directions I did not go. They were able to get to the shed that has all my parents’ stuff stored in it, and check out the field our septic ejector drains into. There’s water there, of course, but all looks well.

At this rate, we might even be able to get to the barn again, soon! 😀

While talking about the state of things with the girls, one of my daughters commented on what a good thing it was, that we were able to do the big shopping trip to the city when we did! We may not have gotten everything, but we’re easily good for a couple of weeks, and even then, the only thing we’d be running out of is the dry cat kibble.

All in all, we’re doing pretty good. Even the water seeping into the basement isn’t too bad.

Hopefully, all is well with our neighbours, too.

The Re-Farmer

Green gold

Today, one of my daughters and I headed out to do more of our monthly stock up that I wasn’t able to do when I did our Costco run. It was a good opportunity to also order and pick up my husband’s birthday pizza. 🙂 It’s not his birthday today, but we tend to spread out our celebrations over several days.

Before we got to indulge, though, we had some green gold to gather.

Today we hit 23C/73F with the humidex at 25C/77F, and full sun. That gave the grass clippings from yesterday’s mowing in the outer yard a chance to dry. My other daughter helped me rake it up and haul it over.

We now have a nice little haystack next to the compost pile, ready to be used in the low raised beds. This is from the two areas of the outer yard pictures, plus one more wheelbarrow full from the overgrown lane between them.

It would have been nice to have clippings like this throughout the summer; they would have been a huge help in keeping the garden beds mulched when it was needed most! Ah, well. Now that we have it, it will help us prepare our garden beds for next year! 🙂

I never thought I would get all excited about having and collecting grass clippings. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Outer yard progress: more reclaimed

My plans to continue mowing and, hopefully, reclaiming more overgrown areas nice and early got delayed a bit. We had an unusually heavy dew this morning, and cooler temperatures kept it from evaporating until well into the afternoon.

However, progress was made!

Remember this area?

I hiked up the lawnmower, and was able to clear the area all the way to the storage building around behind the pump shack that’s in the photo.

Eventually, I will continue on beyond this, making access to the back gate, but for today, I focused on the area around the maples.

The last time any of this area was NOT overgrown was when the renter’s cows discovered his electric fence wasn’t working, and broke through.

Two years ago.

By the time they finished grazing, the entire outer yard looked awesome! 😀

When I was a kid, the fence to the inner yard at this location was on the other side of the maple trees. There was a small gate near the pump shack, for when we went to get water for the house, or took baths with water heated on a wood burning cookstove that used to be in there. When the chain link fence was installed, it was done in a straight line, rather than turning a corner to include the trees.

I miss having a gate there!

I had to be really careful working through here. I’ve tried to keep up on removing any fallen branches over the past couple of years, but knew there had to be more, hidden in the tall grass. Plus, who knows what else would show up.

Like the lone brick I found, half buried in the dirt.

Thankfully, raising the lawnmower meant I didn’t hit many of the larger buried branches, like the one in the photo above, that I pulled out of the thatch.

It’s only a start. We’ll have to go through the area to clear out any other branches and whatnot that is still buried in there, prune back the trees (there is now lilac growing in the space we used to walk through to get to the pump shack), and get in there with a weed trimmer. Some of the trees have fence wire around them, though one of them is just a stump that has some suckers growing out of it. Since we don’t have to protect the trees from cows, I want to clear away the wire, and salvage it for something else.

I’ve been wanting to get into this area for the last two summers! It feels so good to finally start cleaning it up. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Reclaiming space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Re-Farmer

A little bit of progress. And kittens

Today was a statutory holiday, and the pharmacy my daughter works at is closed for those, so my daughter had the day off. We still made a quick trip into town, as there was a festival going on. It was the market we wanted to check out, after I mentioned some of the vendors I saw. Unfortunately, half the market wasn’t set up today, so it was a bit of a wasted trip.

Except we got churros. Which makes up for that. These are a once a year thing, so it’s a really special treat. 😀

Another treat we had was when we got home and found the little furry bean, lying in a sun spot.

Is this little guy gorgeous, or what?

While things are starting to cool down, it still wasn’t until evening that I headed out into the yard to water a few things. I was pleasantly surprised to see Guildenstern coming into the yard with her baby.

After watching them for a bit, Junk Pile Kitten ran into the lilac bushes, so I settled myself on the steps at the door on that side and watched.

I was not disappointed.

What a beauty! Just look at those eyes!

He came pretty close to me, playing with a couple of the sun room kittens that came by. Including his brother, Keith. 🙂

I was able to get a bit of pruning done in the yard. Some of it was getting rid of low hanging branches that were starting to hang too low. Some of it was in the lilac near where I’ve planted the haskap berry bushes. Some of the branches were hanging low enough to be all stabby at me when I try to mow around the bed, but most of what I cut away was dead branches, twisted among and around the live ones. That opened the bush up quite a bit.

The kittens immediately took advantage of that.

There was 4 of them in there, at one point! 😀

As I was hauling the branches off to the wood pile, my husband went around to get some photos of the sun going down through the trees. We could see a cat off by the pump shack. After putting the wheelbarrow away, I decided to see which cat was out there, because Beep Beep has been pretty vicious about chasing Rosencrantz off in that direction.

It was, indeed, Rosencrantz, but I had another pleasant surprise, too.

She and her baby are using the pump shack again! It looks like the little guy can squeeze himself through that hole in the bottom of the door.

The hole was not that big before.

He is such a dark grey little kitty!

The other kittens came around, and he did play with one of them that came over, a little bit, but for the most part they stayed away from each other.

I’m really glad they have stayed nice and close. I hope Pump Shack Baby will make friends with the sun room kittens and start coming to the house for food.

I may not have gotten a lot of work done outside, but seeing the two other kittens is enough to make up for that. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Kitty Cuddles, and technical difficulties

First, the cute stuff.

My husband passed the furry little bean off to me this morning, while I was at the desktop. Dave promptly curled up in a ball and fell asleep on my chest, making the most interesting nose noises.

He then abruptly stood up, clambered up my shoulder, leapt across the chasm to my bed, and snuggled up to Fenrir.

He burrowed right into her fur and went back to sleep.

She didn’t even open her eyes.

That didn’t stop him from stretching out and luxuriating.

And twisting himself into this weird shape. That’s his bottom leg curled up in front. It’s like his head is coming out from under Fenrir, rather than attached to his body. 😀

Also on my bed was this furry black mama orb.

She typically ignores our new addition, but has been getting more accommodating; even a bit playful with him.

But cuddles?

This is a pretty huge new step in their relationship! 😀

As I was finishing up on my computer this morning, before heading into town for the afternoon, my husband came over to talk.

Our conversation was interrupted by a sudden, bizarre noise. I thought, for a moment, it was actually coming from outside.


It was coming from my computer.

Once we established that, we could figure out that it was coming from a fan.

So I shut it down, and my wonderful, darling husband opened it up for me while I was away.

It was a mighty battle, but he was able to defeat the dust bunnies that had taken up residence in there.

Both fans were cakes on pretty solidly!

By the time I got home, my desktop was once again running on silent mode. 😀

Ah, but the technical stuff didn’t end there!

My husband gifted me with his new phone. My own phone plan is done next month, and he realized that his new tablet meets his needs quite well. So we’re transferring his new phone to me, then when my contract is done, we’re going to just switch things with the provider, and drop a phone off our bundle. This will knock a substantial chunk off our mobile phone bill (which is crazy high, considering we barely get any signal where we live).

So several hours were then spent getting those switched and set up.

I’ve been using Samsung phones for many years. The new phone is an LG. The user interface is going to take some getting used to! 😀

As I did my evening rounds, however, I had opportunity to test out the camera. It’s a dual lens camera, and supposed to be one of the better cell phone cameras out there.

Looks like Guildenstern has moved Junk Pile cat out of the yard.

Or maybe they’re just visiting another junk pile.

Well… not really a junk pile. The kitten is hiding under a hood that is over a pallet that it’s attached to. It has a handle attached to it. I think it was built to be a sort of sled, to be dragged behind a snowmobile.

Guildenstern was watching me suspiciously!

I do wish they would just stay with the other cats and kittens. The kittens would play with each other, but Butterscotch and Beep Beep have both been going after and chasing away Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, lately.

Rosencrantz seems to have taken her baby some place well outside the inner yard. No sign of that one, since the one day we saw it by the junk pile.

Ah, well. Such is life with semi-feral cats!

As for the camera… well, so far, the digital zoom does seem to be better than my old camera phone.


The Re-Farmer

I couldn’t help myself – again!

My goal of the day was to finish using the weed trimmer around the yard, then hopefully starting part of the lawn.

Then I read the forecast for the day.

There were thunderstorms predicted for the evening.

On doing my rounds and finding the grass was already dry of dew, I skipped everything else and started mowing. Aside from a couple of short breaks to eat and hydrate, I’ve been outside all day.

The forecast ended up changing to rain, and now even that seems to be off the radar, but the job is done.

The last section I work on is the path to the back gate. As usual, I’ve been making the mowed area slightly wider then before, but in that area, sections are just too rough, and I know there are rocks and logs hidden in the grass somewhere, so I’m very careful about that right now.

While going past the back gate, I found myself looking at the other side each time. It hasn’t had new gravel on there in decades, so it’s grown over. Grass is one thing, but I was seeing saplings start to grow, right under the gate we rebuilt last year.

Then I remembered I still had the gate key in my pocket.

That looks much better!

On the list of things to eventually get done it to add gravel to our driveway. I’ve talked to my brother about it, and he says our little gravel pit is mostly out of gravel and wouldn’t have enough to do the driveway. What I would really like to do is extend the driveway from one gate to the other, so that this entrance can also be used without lurching over the rough areas. At least part of it is from someone driving through the area when it was muddy; a pair of tire tracks cut through, deep enough that I figure the driver was doing a lot of spinning to not get stuck.

This would be pretty low on the priority list, compared to things like a new roof. When the time comes to get estimates, I hope to get 3; a shorter term goal to do the main driveway, a mid-term goal to do the parking areas and up to the old pump shack, and a long term to extend the rest of the way to the back gate.

Until then, I’ll just keep it mowed, so the trees don’t take it over.

The Re-Farmer

Looking around

We had a very foggy morning today, and there was still fog when I went out to do my rounds. I decided to see if I could get some good pictures from behind the barn, and ended up checking things out further. I have not actually gone done this way, this far, since we moved here, so much of what I was seeing was new to me.

The first thing I stopped to check out was some fencing around trees. There used to be a pig pen and a manure pile in the area. I can see that the fencing went around the trees, but I am unsure of why. It was done long ago, and much of it has fallen.

Continue reading