Roof all done, a Muffin update and…

… my brother is insane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll be getting a different cat, instead!

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

They do, however, have a problem cat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really look forward to turtling at home again.

The Re-Farmer

Changes in plans, and a little bit of everything

Yesterday, we got our quarter beef in!

We had to juggle a bit to be able to close the freezer lid. No, it’s not completely full of beef – there’s other stuff underneath – but I’d say over half the freezer is now packages of beef.

After I took the picture, I dug out a couple of packages of T-bone steaks to thaw out for today! It’s been soooo long since we’ve had a good steak!

I love how big the stew packages are this time. They’re not visible, but there’s also about two dozen 2 pound packages of ground beef in there.

Today’s plans, however, had already changed before I went to bed!

I got a call from my brother. He’d just talked to my mother, and he was asking if I could take her to the hospital today. !!! My mother thinks she’s got a UTI again (she is likely right), but she told my brother more than she told me, and it’s more of a problem than I knew. My guess is, she was hoping my brother would drop everything, drive all the way to her place, then take her to the hospital and sit with her, like he had done the last time this happened. She’s been suffering for more than a week, but had only just tried calling the community health number yesterday. She can’t handle the automated phone systems, so she just hit 0 and left a message. Twice. No response.

So today, my plan was to call our doctor’s clinic, which is in a town about 40-45 minutes drive from my place, as soon as it opened (after doing my rounds; head count of 27 this morning, and I couldn’t see the new bitty). I wanted to see if I could make arrangements with them, or see if I should take her to the hospital (our doctor’s clinic shares a building with the hospital).

Then I got a call from the home care worker that last assessed my mother. They got her messages from yesterday, and followed up. The person who normally answered the phone doesn’t work on Wednesdays. *sigh* My mother seemed confused about things, so he wanted to clear things up with me, but she had already told him about going to her doctor today.

One of the things my mother has been pushing to do is change doctors again. There aren’t full time doctors locally, which is why we now to go another town. Plus, the local doctor, who came in from the city once a week, was female, and my mother doesn’t like female doctors. Apparently, there is now a new doctor, though. He might even be there full time now, instead of coming in from the city. I’m not sure. Our doctor in the other town isn’t white, and my mother doesn’t like that about as much as she doesn’t like female doctors. Having a closer doctor would be better for her (but he’s Greek; not sure if that’s white enough for her), however there have been issues in the past with getting good care locally. The hospital just doesn’t have the resources. Whether she switches doctors or not, she won’t be happy. She’s convinced she has cancer or something, but the doctors are keeping it a secret from her.


I called the clinic right after it opened, but the line was already busy, so I called my mom and told her what I was working on. She was already getting ready to leave! When I got through to the clinic, however, it turned out her doctor had an opening, so I was able to make an appointment for her this afternoon.

So I called my mother back and we worked out a plan. I’ll be heading over to her place early enough to have lunch (she requested Chinese food this time! 😁), and we wouldn’t be in any hurry about leaving. I will be using our van, as it’s better for winter road conditions, so we’ll have to remember to bring her little stool to help her get in and out.

Which means I’m going to be out for most of today.

Ah, well. At least it’s supposed to be a relatively mild day today. Things are supposed to get colder again tomorrow, and I’d rather not be driving my 91 yr old mother around in the cold! We still need to do at least one trip to the city for our monthly stocking up, but thanks to the trip I did manage to make – and the beef delivery! – plus our current state of supplies, there is no urgency on that.

I really like being well stocked. It takes a lot of pressure off. It wouldn’t be as big a deal if we were still living in the city, but it makes a huge difference living in the boonies, and winter is coming on!

In other things, I talked to the cat lady yesterday evening. She showed my pictures of the new bitty to a vet already. Given the size, they agree that it is younger than the other bitties. Once we are sure there are no siblings, she wants to take it in. Like the other cats, it probably already has upper respiratory issues, and being so young, they don’t expect it would survive the winter, either, even in the relative warmth and comfort of the heated cat shelter. The new bitty will join the other bitty. Things have changed there, too. He is not going to the lady that took the other two. Instead, he will be going to the cat lady’s cousin! He’ll be going to his new home after Christmas. Maybe, he’ll have a little orange buddy going with him? Wouldn’t that be cool! Also, she has managed to find homes for 6 cats she was fostering! She will have room for more, soon.

So we will continue to monitor and, if things go as I expect, we will have an orange bitty in the house tonight.

We shall see! It’s not like anything seems to be going to plan, today! 😄😄

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, small harvest, preserving – and another change in plans

I had plans for today.

Honest. I did.

But first, the cuteness.

My plans for yard work would have had to change, anyway, as we are now getting a steady rainfall right now, but there was plenty to work on indoors instead.

The kitties were getting pretty wet, so I left the sun room doors propped open. I’ve discovered why I’ve been finding things knocked out of the top shelf of the shelf shelter. Despite the two bottom shelves being set aside for the cats, some of the little kittens have been climbing up into the top shelf, where all sorts of miscellaneous stuff are kept, and sleeping on some pieces of rigid insulation in one corner! So I am leaving the sun room available for them to shelter in, more comfortably.

Because I’m a suck, when it comes to the kitties! 😁

Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to my brother on the phone, in between his attempts to call my mother. He started trying early enough to catch her before she went to church, but she wasn’t answering. It turned out she was watching her religious programming on TV and wasn’t answering the phone. Then she went to church, and stayed out for hours after.


I got a message from him after he finally got through to her, well into the afternoon. My mother’s apartment was going to be sprayed for bed bugs again.


She was wondering about staying in a hotel again, since she has to stay away for 12 hours.


So I called her, but her Polish program was on. It was almost 4, so when she said she would call me back when it was done to talk about the bed bug spraying, I said fine.

An hour later, I finally called her myself. I could hear the TV still going, and there was another Polish mass about to start. She wouldn’t have called me back until ALL her Polish shows were done! Meanwhile, I’d delayed working on supper so I could answer the phone without being in the middle of cooking – and I’d already skipped lunch (I lost track of time and forgot to eat).


My mother has zero respect for other people’s time, but expects everyone else to respect hers.

Ah, well.

We talked about her apartment being sprayed again. She did not want to stay at a hotel again, because it’s so expensive (it was actually very cheap, but she doesn’t know what hotel stays usually cost these days). So, she asks me… What was I going to do with her for the day?


What we finally worked out is that I will wait until I get a call from her, letting me know the exterminators have arrived – which I am doing right now, as I write this. They can show up any time between 9am and 4pm. I will then go pick her up, and we will run an errand for her in the city near my sister’s place, and then she wanted to visit my sister.

Who works a 5pm to 1am shift today.

I told her to call my sister first, to make sure stopping by was okay.

Then we’ll have to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Even then, she’ll end up having to hang out in the lobby or something before she can go back into her apartment. Unlike her neighbours, who can go back after 6 hours, because they don’t have respiratory conditions.

But she won’t stay at a hotel again.


I also had a talk to her about letting me know right away, if her apartment is going to be sprayed again. She got the letter last week, and just didn’t bother telling anyone. I have no idea what she planned to do, had my brother not gotten through to her and then told me.

So my day today is completely gone. I can’t even start anything, unless I can drop it as soon as she calls.

One of the things I wanted to do was get crab apple cider vinegar going. I ended up having to ask my daughters to do it overnight which, of course, changed their plans, too.

They were sweethearts about it, though, and we now have three 1 gallon jars in the big aquarium, safe from cats, fermenting. This time, not only did we stick with just cheesecloth to cover the jars, but the apples are weighted down with slide lock bags filled with water to keep them submerged.

They didn’t use up even half of the apples I picked yesterday!

If I had more jars like this, we’d be making more. As it is, I did have a fourth jar, but after talking to my mother about what we were planning to do with the apples, she asked for a gallon jar so she could make sauerkraut. She wanted one of her old jars in the basement, but those have been sitting for more than a decade. I’ve actually gone through and washed the dozens of jars I found down there, and those particular jars are only being kept because we will used them to make bottle bricks for the walls of the cordwood shed we will be building. I would not consider them food safe anymore. So I’m bringing her one of our newer jars, instead.

So the apples will be used to make hard crab apple cider, instead – though that won’t be started on until probably tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I still did my morning rounds, which included a small harvest.

I had not yet washed these. They are wet from the rain.

There were some summer squash I could have picked, but I decided to leave them to get a bit bigger. I was able to hand pollinate some other squash, though. Which is interesting, when the flowers have puddles of rainwater in them!

According to the long range forecast, we’ve got at least a couple of weeks of hot, mostly dry weather. After that, the overnight lows are expected to be just a few degrees above freezing. I’m hoping that changes. If we have the month of September with no frost, there’s still a chance for some things to mature.

We have more red tomatoes that I should pick later today, or tomorrow morning. The paste tomatoes will go straight into the freezer with the others, until there is enough to start making tomato paste. The others will likely be dehydrated.

Our first attempt at dehydrating them worked, but took a long time. We kept needing the oven for other things. Though my daughter did not slice them super thin, they shrank so much, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get them off the rack they were on. They came off surprisingly well, though.

It was just one tray of tomatoes, so it’s not a lot, but I definitely think it is worth doing again.

Along with the red tomatoes, the Yellow Pear tomatoes have something to pick almost every day.

I did break down and taste on of them. After all, I’d been able to eat the tiny Spoon tomatoes without gagging. Maybe I could eat these ones, too?



The Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, meanwhile, are finally starting to turn colour, but it will still be a while before we can harvest any of them.

We most definitely need a mild September. Hopefully, a mild October, too!

Ah, well. Whatever happens, happens. We’ll deal with it.

Hmm. I really should be making myself something to eat before going to my mother’s, but… Murphy’s Law. The moment I start something, the phone is sure to ring! 😂

This is going to be a very long day.

The Re-Farmer


I just got a call from the court office. The court date tomorrow has been cancelled. They did not say why.

They sent an email with a selection of dates to reschedule. The nearer dates are in the city. The courts there are a pain to get to, and expensive to park near. The dates at the nearer location are in November and December.


In the end, it’s up to my brother, as he has to book time off work for it.

Well, at least I don’t have to worry about driving on icy roads tomorrow.

The Re-Farmer

Change in plans

Amazing what a difference a few hours makes.

This morning, I had pretty much decided, Costco would wait until tomorrow. Which freed up my day for other things.

I was just starting to make a ham, leek and potato soup when the phone rang.

It was my mother.

After an atypical hesitant start in the conversation, of my mother saying she hoped she wasn’t interrupting anything (red flag! red flag!) she started asking me about a particular plaque that used to hang in the entry, above the doorway into the dining room. It had hung there for many decades, and was it still there?

No. It isn’t. She knew this, too, because we hung a cross of our own up there, made of olive wood from the Mediterranean, with the Lord’s Prayer engraved into the wood. She and I had had a conversation about it when she saw it. That was a while ago, so no surprise that she didn’t remember.

Then she started asking where the plaque was, asking if I even remembered it, and so on. I did remember it, but I did not remember where we packed it. I figure it’s on the storage warehouse. This building used to be a workshop, but it is now jammed full of my parents’ belongings, to the point we can barely move around in it.

She wanted me to get it for her, because she would like it now.

I reminded her that we can’t get to the warehouse because of the snow.

Oh, of course. It can wait until spring and the snow is going.

I pointed out that this is a very small item and would be very hard to find (in fact, I am not even sure it ended up in there, but it’s the most likely place) in all that stuff.

That’s okay, she tells me. It’s very important, you see. It’s patriotic.

The plaque has a Polish eagle on the front, and the Polish national anthem on the back.


Hopefully, but spring, she will forget all about it.

This is something that has frustratingly become more common. My mother suddenly remembers some possession she left behind when she moved out of here, decides she absolutely MUST have it, and then I have to find it and dig it out. Which isn’t too bag when it’s a large item, like a couple of framed prints she now has on her wall, but there is just no way we can keep on top of the little things. There was just SO much STUFF we had to pack away, just to be able to have the movers bring our own stuff out here, never mind the stuff we packed away, clean out and disposed of over the next couple of years. By the time we were cleaning out the old kitchen, we were having to put things in the old storage house in the front yard, because there is no more room in the warehouse. And the storage house is already full of junk and is so far gone, cleaning it up would require haz mat precautions. I don’t think we went in there even once, last year.

My mother has a very tiny apartment. The room I’m now using as my bedroom/office is probably bigger than her entire apartment. She has frequently rejected gifts, in her typically rude manner, because she has no room for them (then showing off the gifts given to her by family members that have been abusive towards her, but that’s a whole other issue…). Now, she’s suddenly wanting these old possessions she abandoned years before we even moved out here, with absolutely no consideration about how difficult it would be to even find these, while also worrying that someone is going to go into the warehouse and steal the things, and ALSO insisting we don’t throw anything away, because “they have value”.


I really don’t think anyone is interested in my late father’s old clothes, or the underwear she left behind in her dresser, along with the piles of old junk they just couldn’t let go of. Yes, there is some good stuff in there, too, but those pieces are literally buried in boxes and bags of stuff.

Thank God neither of them were actually hoarders!

Anyhow, after that conversation was done, my mother started saying she needed to run errands.

Which I will be helping her do tomorrow, thanks to her car being all fixed up, checked over and home again.

Since Costco tomorrow was not going to happen, maybe I should just go it today?

Nope. Not going to happen. Costco will wait another day.

I went back to making my soup.

After that was done, I came into my room and my daughter joined the cats on the bed as we got caught up on things. Even Butterscotch came out for attention, so she stayed longer.

There’s a problem with that.

I have a very comfortable, very large, bed.

It was covered with warm, sleeping cats.

We both got sucked into the cozy.

I fell asleep.

My daughter, sweetheart that she is, got up, laid more cats on top of me, covered us with blankets, then put away my glasses for me. She had some problems with my glasses, though, discovering that they don’t close anymore! LOL

Some time later, I got up, found my glasses, put them on and…

They don’t sit right on my face anymore.

It seems she bent them somehow, while trying to close them. They are so old and fragile, I don’t dare manipulate them too much.

So now I’m wearing my “spare” glasses, which are no longer the right prescription, but right now, the eye strain is slightly less.

Which means my plans for my tax return have changed.

With how much my progressive lenses alone cost, I’ll be lucky if I have anything left of my return by the time they’re done. Yes, we do have insurance, but only a few hundred dollars. Less than what my lenses cost – and that was years ago. At least the eye exam will be fully covered.

I just double checked. The plan covers 90% of lenses and frames, but only up to a certain amount. I go for the bargain basement frames, since I really don’t care to pay hundreds of dollars for a brand name and fancy colours. Maybe I’ll have something left over. We’ll see.


Well, it was nice to think about getting that portable greenhouse for a little while, at least…

The Re-Farmer

Looking beautiful today!

Would you look at this!

As I write this, it’s -7C/19F. I think it was about -9C/16F while I was outside this morning, and we’re still expected to warm up to -5C/23F.

It’s gloriously warm out there!

Funny how acclimatization works. 😀

Before I go on, however, I just have to share this horribly low quality picture of Nosencrantz.

Our cat is broken.

I didn’t want to disturb her with a flash.

Baby girl is enjoying life! She is the most chill cat, ever. Gosh, I’m going to miss her when she gets adopted out!!

We’re still keeping her and Butterscotch in my office/bedroom. Or should I say, we are mostly keeping the other cats out, letting them in only under supervision. Nosentrantz has shown little interest in leaving, though we take her out and carry her around. Most of the other cats are okay with her, but some are not. Beep Beep, Tissue and Turmeric, in particular, are not happy to see her. Mind you, Beep Beep is just a b*** and will randomly go after other cats anyhow, but Tissue and Turmeric will try to go after Nosencrantz, specifically. Which is a bit funny at times. Nosencrantz will be sitting on the red blanket, watching the other cats mill about, un-phased. Turmeric will see her, stand up by the bed and start batting and hissing at her, and Nosencrantz will just look at her, like she’s nuts.

Which she is.

Butterscotch, on the other hand, hardly ever comes out of her favourite corners. She’ll move from one corner to the other, come out to eat, drink or use the litter box, and if no other cats are around, she’ll come out for pets. She especially likes my husband. But she wants nothing to do with other cats! Even if they’re completely ignoring her, if she sees any, she starts snarling. She’s even started to snarl at Nosencrantz, sometimes! She just wants people. No cats.

As for the outside cats, they are quite enjoying the warmer weather!

They are very active outside, and we see them running and climbing all over the place.

With so much packed down snow, it’s become difficult to clean out the heated water bowl. The cord is completely buried, so all I can do is tip out the water into the snow.

Nice to see Ghost Baby making an appearance. I do wish we could convince her to come closer. She’s the most feral of all the yard cats.

I’m amused by the spot on the roof of the cat’s house. Even with snow on it, they’ll sit in the spot above the heat lamp inside. 😀

I took advantage of the warmth and got the burn barrel going, which required digging it out again, digging out the path the the electric meter, then started working on clearing snow away from the house.

Some of it was quite hard packed, and needed to be broken up with the ice chipper.

I think I got about a half dozen wheelbarrow loads hauled away, before the burn barrel was done and it was time to go inside. Not a lot of snow can fit in the wheelbarrow before it all just starts sliding down the sides.

Agnoos really likes it when I’m tending the burn barrel, for some reason!

It’s going to take many trips to clear the corner out. The girls and I will chip away at it over the next couple of weeks, while the temperatures are warmer, but not yet melting. We’ll need to clear away the well cap, too, which is going to be the most difficult part. We did try to keep it clear, but there was just too much snow.

While we have several snow shovels, the ergonomic one in the photos is our best one, and we prefer to wait until it’s free instead of using one of the others. Once I was done, my daughter used it to clear parts of the roof, so we don’t end up with water leaking into the house again.

Unfortunately, she noticed the shovel is starting to crack in the middle.


Looks like we’ll have to find a new one sooner rather than later. The other shovels we have are not as strong as this one, and are far more likely to break with the packed snow we have to clear. Except for the one steel one we found, and that one is just too heavy for a job this big!

My husband’s disability pay came in today, instead of Monday. We weren’t sure if they would do that again, and my plan had been to do at least part of the big shop today, if it did. Unfortunately, I was not feeling well this morning. The deli pizzas I picked up as a treat yesterday apparently did not agree with me! So that will have to wait until tomorrow, depending on how I’m feeling. I would have at least liked to make the closer trip to a Walmart. With the paw paw and tulip tree seeds, we’re going to need more soil, soon.

Now, a new snow shovel is on the list.

The Re-Farmer

Pretty faces, and most of a day gone

Just look at who I got to say hello to, this morning!

The beautiful Nosencrantz let me pet her, but wasn’t too happy about me coming any closer, so I let her be.

While this handsome gentleman (yes, we have been able to confirm Agnoos is male – and I may as well spell his name phonetically! LOL) was the opposite. He started off stand-offish, letting me pet him, but moving away, letting me pet, moving away… Then I straightened up and was about to move, then I felt a cat winding around my legs. Yup! Agnoos actually came over for more pets, and I was even able to pick him up and cuddle him!!! Yay!!!

I had a bit of a change in plan today. I had called my mother last night to see if she needed any help with grocery shopping. She said no, but then mentioned the heat wasn’t turning on at her place, and it was very cold. She had just been talking to my brother and he had said something to her about it, for me to check. She couldn’t repeat what he had said, and I couldn’t figure out her paraphrase. But it wasn’t a big deal, she insisted. I didn’t have to come over. She would wait until my brother came out to check it. *sigh* It was a short call, as her program was about to start, so I called my brother immediately after I got off the phone with her. It turned out he wanted me to check the breakers. Which I could never have been able to figure out from what my mom had said! I mentioned her saying she would wait for him to check it, which just left us shaking our heads. Why make him drive almost 2 hours after work, when I’m less than half an hour away and can do the same thing?

So this morning, I did a short version of my rounds, then called my mother up about coming over. It turned out she’d had a sleepless night, so she asked me to come in the afternoon. That gave me enough time to finish my rounds and grab a quick lunch, then I headed over.

The breakers were fine. She though she’d turned her thermostats up to 25C, but it was only at 20C, and wasn’t turning on. So I turned them up. Then, since she knew I would be coming this afternoon, she asked if I could help her with grocery shopping.

I had used her car, just in case that would happen!

So we did that, but as I was folding up her walker in and out of the car, I noticed the seat was falling off. Once back at her place and the groceries were put away, I checked it out. The seat is attached to the frame with a pair of loops, so it’s like a hinge. I could see both screws were getting loose, but one was falling out completely. I flipped it around to look at the other side, and discovered that both loops were already missing their screws on the other side!

Of course, these aren’t ordinary screws. For starters, they needed a hex key to tighten them, which I didn’t have, but I did have a screwdriver with Robinsons tips (square tips: it’s a Canadian thing), which worked well enough.

While I was working on that, my mother made tea, so of course, I had to stay for a visit. 😉 I don’t mind, since I know she is lonely will all the social activities still banned in her building. Still, by the time I was leaving, I had to rush to get to the post office before it closed, to pick up a package.

Oh, and I remembered to turn her thermostats down before I left. When we got back from grocery shopping, the apartment was way too warm, so I turned it down just a few degrees. Hopefully, she will be happy with that!

By the time I got home, I noticed that, while we have a nice, warm and sunny day, the wind has picked up a lot. I had intended to be working outside today, but have missed the best hours for the work. Ah, well. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some of it done before it starts getting too dark, and the weather holds over the next while. In fact, now that I’ve finished grabbing a quick supper, I’ll be heading out now!

So much work to go, so few daylight hours to do it in!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more firsts, and silly kitties!

Before I headed out to do my morning rounds, we had already hit 25C/77F. By the time I was done, it was already 30C/86F! Thankfully, there was still a breeze and some shade, so it didn’t feel too bad.

I made a couple of discoveries in the garden this morning, but before I get to those, I’ll back track to yesterday evening.

I used the cut off strip of mosquito netting left over from covering our lettuces and beets, some dollar store hula hoops, and lengths of old hose to cover part of the third spinach bed. This is just until we can make a wire mesh cover for it. I also took the trail cam from the tulips and moved it to overlook most of the garden. The only critter I saw in the files this morning was Nutmeg. 😀

After setting the netting up, I moved on to the far beds and blocks to water them. The water in the rain barrel is usually cool, but it was quite warm by the end of yesterday’s heat! On the plus side, it meant being able to use the watering can instead of the hose, and not shocking everything with cold well water, for almost everything. As the water level dropped below half, I started to refill it while still using the watering can, so it would be just cooler water instead of having to switch to the cold hose to finish watering.

I had company.

Rolando Moon has a thing about drinking from puddles! Once the water was absorbed by the soil, she decided to roll on the damp soil, then just hung out. I guess it’s nice and cool. At least she tended to stay in the middle, which is more of a trench for water, as the beans are planted on the sides. No beans are coming up yet.

Nutmeg was also hanging around. I caught him lying across some pea plants, chewing on the trellis twine! The little bugger! 😀

When I checked everything this morning, things were still damp and didn’t need to be watered, but I also spotted a whole lot of these…

The radishes are sprouting! The one in the photo is of the daikon type radishes, but I was seeing sprouts for the watermelon radishes in all the rows they were planted in, too. I was aware that radishes sprout quickly, but I’ve never grown them before, so this was a very pleasant surprise. They most certainly were not there when I was watering last night. 🙂

Then I found another lovely sight.

The first potato leaves have emerged through their mulch! There are the purple fingerling potatoes. Sifting around in the mulch in the grow bags, I found other shoots coming through the soil, but these are the first ones to break through and leaf out. 🙂 I really look forward to seeing how these do in their grow bags.

We have a whole lot of squash transplants ready to go out, but I’m starting to rethink what to do with the summer squash. The plan was to make more beds like with the beans and peas. However, we have that long arc where we’d planted the sunflowers last year. In removing some of the old grass clipping mulch to use under some new beds, I couldn’t help but notice how much better the soil is, underneath. It’s still rocky, but we basically have a long row of soft soil, bordered by concrete hard soil. I’m thinking we should take advantage of this. It will need far less amending than starting new beds. I’m also planning to try staking the summer squash this year, but with our without stakes, deer don’t like those prickly squash plants, so it could act as a sort of fence for the rest.

I sorted through our transplants while hardening them off, and we have a lot of nice, strong melons. Between those and the winter squash, and the two types of gourds that successfully germinated, we might not actually have room for it all on the squash tunnel. So I’m thinking we can plant as much as we can fit of each type at the squash tunnel, then whatever is left over can be planted in other areas. Without trellising, these should spread out quite a bit over the ground, and we’ll be able to give them lots of space, and we would just need to haul soil over to make hills, rather than beds. This would allow us to compare how well they do, between left to grow on the ground, or up a trellis.

What I might end up doing is getting the Montana Morado corn done, first. They are doing very well, but will start outgrowing their cups soon. Since the toilet paper tube pots didn’t work out, I’m really hoping they won’t suffer from transplant shock too badly. In zone 3 gardening groups. I’ve read from people who warn against transplanting corn completely, because they don’t handle it well, to people who say they do it all the time, every year, and have never had issues. I suspect type of corn can make a difference, and I seem to be the first person in all of these groups to try and grow purple corn in our zone!

I’m really excited to see how they do!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: old kitchen garden, part one

A change in plans.

Today, I wanted to get started on the old kitchen garden, where we intend to plant the poppies.

This is how it looked at the start.

The hose is from the sump pump in the old basement.

It has not turned on in ages. It’s simply been too dry.

You can see a path has started to form, a couple of feet from the wall. This is mostly from the cats crossing the garden, though we sometimes walk through there, too. The plan was to add new soil against the wall, to plant the poppies, and put in a stepping stone sort of path where one naturally formed. We found some concrete blocks out near the barn that we decided to use for the paths.

But first, it needed to be cleared.

Our first summer here, we did a major clean up of this old garden, removing a fence, cleaning it out as best we could, laying down cardboard, then covering it with straw, grass clippings, kitchen waste, and any soil from various places that we could get it. You can read about the clean up we did here, here, here and here. Yeah. It took a while! (all links will open in new tabs)

My mother had flowers growing here, and quite a few of them made their way through the layers. So did the crab grass and a vine we’ve been fighting continually since moving here. So the first thing I had to do was rake away the mulch, down to what was left of the cardboard layer. You can see lots of roots that were uncovered!!

Most of the biggest ones were from that invasive vine. It used to cover the entire wall until my brother and his wife pulled it down while painting the house, the summer before we arrived. They were causing damage, so we don’t want them growing back.

Speaking of damage, that crack is in the foundation under the old kitchen, which was tacked on to the log cabin portion of the house at some point. There’s a crawl space under there.

My brother told me about fixing the broken attic window above the old kitchen. It never occurred to me that the glass would still be on the ground! We’d laid cardboard over it, and never new it!

Finding glass from a broken window, I can understand. But this?

Why a spoon?

At this point, I was breaking up the soil with the fork and pulling out lots of roots.

Lots of roots.

So many roots.

Which created a problem I did not expect.

I was pulling roots out from under the old kitchen foundation, and the concrete floor of the sun room. In the process, soil started falling out from underneath.

No wonder the windows in the sun room are cracking as it shifts!!!

This required a change in plans. There was no way I was going to turn this into a garden bed, where watering it might continue to undermine the concrete. I needed to get those roots out, then shore up the sides.

It’s a good thing we have a nice big rock pile over by the power pole. We also had piles of smaller rocks we’d gathered from the garden, though not very many.

Large rocks were placed against the wall, soil put back to fill gaps and support the rocks, smaller rocks are added on top, and the concrete blocks were placed to begin the path.

We brought those blocks over in the wagon, which is rated to 300 pounds. I don’t know how much they weight, but with three blocks, the wagon didn’t want to roll. My daughter pushed while I pulled. After that, I only put in two blocks at a time.

The wagon was used to bring rocks over, too.

After a while, it started to get hard to find smaller rocks. There is decades of detritus that has decomposed on them, with a very strong layer of crab grass rhizomes!

As we worked our way down, still clearing away roots, we got hung up by an old rose bush. It took a while, but I finally got it out!

That is one weird looking root clump!!

My daughter was just coming back from a break (we were very careful not to overdo it; the last thing we need is to injure ourselves!!) as I put it in the wheelbarrow with all the other roots. She was checking it out when she suddenly dropped it in alarm.

This thing had been exposed and wriggled at her!!

I don’t know what this grub is, but considering it was burrowing in the rose roots, I’d say it’s not a beneficial creature to have in the garden. :-/

This is where we stopped for a longer break. Sustenance was needed!

There are enough larger rocks to line the wall. My daughter used some to make a little wall around the power cables that run under the old kitchen. We also found a cable running along the wall to the corner, which is going to be carefully covered with rocks.

There are two more of those blocks in the wagon. They will be spaced out from one end to the other, and the gaps filled with soil and rocks.

As for the poppies, they will now be planted on the other side of the path!

Meanwhile, as I’ve been working on this post, the girls have gone back outside and are planting the Strawberry Spinach. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Changes of plans

First, I wanted to share with you a photo of some visitors out our living room window last night.

There were actually five in total, but they were chasing each other around. The mama of the two in front chased the one you can see behind the cross, who chased another deer out of that spot before I got the picture. The fifth one that I saw making its way long the edge of the spruce grove disappeared before reaching the feeding station, and I missed what happened with that one.

The deer are definitely getting feistier as the weather warms!

It’s not quite warm enough, though!

I hadn’t received a call about the garden soil over the weekend, so I called them back this morning. The woman who answered seemed at a bit of a loss with how to help me, and ended up giving me the cell phone number for a particular person (since I want someone to come here in advance to see where the loads will be dumped), but there was no point in trying to call them until after 7pm, because they were in a cell phone dead zone. It ended up not being necessary. She called me back not long after.

Their pile of garden soil is too frozen.

She suggested I call back in about a month. Hopefully, it’ll be thawed enough for the equipment to be able load the truck! It would have been nice to get the soil well before we actually need it, but as long as we get it before we need to actually start planting, it should be fine.

I also called the garage to follow up on the van, and we’re now booked to bring it back tomorrow morning, so he can clean out that new EGR valve.

My husband got a requisition for blood work some time ago, but between the polar vortex, van issues (my mother’s little car is far too painful for him to ride in, and his walker wouldn’t fit in it, even folded up, anyhow) and pain levels, we just never made it in. I called the clinic to make sure the form was still at the reception, and that was confirmed. We had planned to go in today to get that done, but my husband’s pain levels were too high. We’ll try again on Wednesday.

On the positive side, my husband’s tax return came in. We had plans for part of it that I tried to take care of last night, only to discover we couldn’t use our debit Visa.

With no trip to the clinic today, I was open for making a trip to the city.

This is what we picked up.

Yup. We got a crossbow kit.

More specifically, we got a Killer Instinct Boss 405.

It’s an early 33rd anniversary gift. 😀

Now, what we really wanted to get was a rifle, but we have not been able to get our PALs yet, and with certain political activities going on right now, we were seeing our window of opportunity closing fast. However, having a gun on the farm is needed, if only to ward off the coyotes and other predators. Plus, I want to be able to hunt.

My husband and I both know guns (me from growing up on the farm, him from his time in the military), and bows. I used to shoot recurve, and my husband shot compound. We were both rather good at both guns and bows, too. However, with age and injuries, anything with a draw weight suitable for hunting is getting beyond our levels of mobility.

We decided that a crossbow would best meet our needs, while still being something we can actually get. Plus, the archery hunting season is much longer than rifle hunting season. As a bonus, a crossbow is quiet. I like quiet!

With that in mind, we did our research and decided on a crossbow at Cabela’s. It’s not high end, by any means, but it’s hardly bottom of the barrel, either. It will meet our needs.

Then, since I had to drive well over an hour to get to the store, I took advantage of the situation, asked questions, and picked up a few other things. (Happily, they accept medical mask exemptions, too!)

One of the things I’d tried to buy on the website was a crossbow rated target. I called ahead, and the crossbow and target were both waiting for me when I got there. After seeing it in person, I decided to get a larger target. I didn’t take pictures, but I ended up getting a Morrell Yellow Jacket YJ-425.

I also got these.

The crossbow kit comes with 3 bolts with field points. Bolts will get lost or damaged, so I picked up a 6 pack of extras. The spares do not come with points, so I picked up a 12 pack of field points. They are slightly heavier than the ones in the kit, so we won’t be using the kit points at all. I also picked up hunting points that need to be assembled, but they are the same weight as the field points. I also got a de-cocking bolt, which can be safely shot into the ground.

After taking this picture, I had to hide everything in a closet, because the cats were ALL OVER everything.

Susan tried to chew on the fletching of the de-cocking bolt.

Tomorrow, the bow will be assembled, but I don’t know when we’ll be able to test it out and start practicing. Not only is it very wet and messy right now, but we’ve got rain in the forecast tomorrow, and snow in the forecast a couple of days later!

And for those who are wondering, no, we don’t plan to hunt the deer that come to our yard.

Over the next while, I’ll be searching out local crossbow groups and hopefully be able to find a hunting mentor. I will still need to take the hunter’s safety course to get a hunting license, and while it would be nice to have a freezer full of venison next winter, I don’t expect to be ready to hunt this year. While all of us can practice shooting with this, it is likely that I will be the only one that will take the course and get a license to hunt.

At least, that’s the plan for now. Plans have a terrible habit of changing at the last minute, but it’s a goal we are shooting for.

No pun intended.

The Re-Farmer