So the series of severe storms that looked like they were going to head right over us… didn’t. They passed to the East of us, instead, though we did get some nice rain.

I’m good with that.

I headed out to check on things this evening, and was greeted by a Rolando Moon!

She seemed quite happy to see me and let me pet her in the tree. Right up until she decided to grab my hand with her paws and try to bite me.

Ah, Rolando. She doesn’t change. 😀

I took the opportunity to take the grass clippings I’d left beside the carrots and beets and use it to mulch in between the plots. Creamsicle joined me and did his rolling around thing to get me to pet him. Unfortunately, he decided to roll around on the baby beets! What a bad boy. 😀

I completely forgot to take any pictures, though, as I started to hear growling from Rolando Moon in the tree. It took me a while to see which cat was after her and, much to my surprise, it was Butterscotch! A quick spritz with the hose got her away, but then Creamsicle went after her!

Creamsicle got a thorough soaking before he took off!

Other things have gotten a good soaking, and are thriving for it. Like my mother’s lilies.

The flowers are so big, they’re starting fall over!

The maple grove is looking absolutely lush.

When we first moved here, this area was full of tall crab grass, like you can see in the background, broken branches and dead trees. Once the big stuff was cleared away, all I had at the time to cut the grass was the weed trimmer. Under the grass, it was pretty sparse, and mostly covered with dead leaves.

Last summer I was finally able to mow in here and, again, it was pretty sparse with lots of dead leaves. Some new growth was starting to show in patches, but not much. I had to be careful mowing in there, as so much debris was being thrown out and blown around – usually right back at me! 😀

Now… well, you can see it’s changed quite a bit!

I don’t know about the shorter plants; I think they’re a flower, but I’m not sure. Sprinkled throughout are taller ones that I know a flowers. You can’t really tell them apart in the picture, though!

While there, I noticed some other new growth.

Willow is just amazing. This tree is full of rot and dying. This section of it broke in a blizzard last October (you can read about it here). Yet now, this almost completely rotted out section is throwing out new growth! There are small bunches of branches like this in several places. (Read most about the storm damage here, and here, and how it was before, here.)

It is not the only storm damaged tree that is showing new growth.

The elm tree in front of the kitchen had lost a couple of large branches, including one that had broken, but still needed to be cut. (Click here to see the clean up process.) When I cut loose the broken part, the remains of the branch, free of the weight, sprung up much higher than it was before.

It’s hard to see, but that arrow is pointing to the cut end of the branch.

It had no smaller branches around there at all when it was cut. Now, it’s absolutely bushy!

It’s amazing how resilient some trees can be.

The Re-Farmer

Destructive cats, and a winter tree casualty

So… that didn’t take long.

In re-arranging the living room, the girls and I also moved around the plants. The living room is the only space we have for our bigger plants – and some have gotten very big since we’ve moved out here! – so it’s a bit of a challenge.

One of the things we have a lot of is jade plants. The jade plant that we thought might not survive the move is now a massive, healthy beast of the tree. We also have lots and lots of aloe vera. I knew that aloe propagates itself easily, but I didn’t realize how easily jade plants do as well. It turns out any leaf that breaks off can grow into a new plant.

Leaves break off easily. Especially with our cats. They keep trying to get into the pots, lying in the dirt, and generally wrecking havoc. I recently ended up using the extra legs of the plastic utility shelf we got as supports for the big one, because it was almost completely flattened. (As a bonus, because these are tubes, I can now water the plant through the tops.) This is not a good thing, since jade plants are poisonous to cats.

One of the treats I’ve started to get at Costco are these large plastic containers of Cheese Balls. I’ve been keeping the containers because I thought they’d make great cloche coverings in the garden at some point. When the cats were determined to use one of the plant pots as a bed, mashing the jade plant flat, I put one of these over the plant to protect it. It worked well, but when we arranged things, I figured the plant was big enough to not need it any more and took it off.

Well… they did leave that one alone.

Another smaller one, not so much. The pot was knocked over, the poor little jade plant was on the carpet, and there was soil all over.

I’m glad we thought to put that plastic over the shelves to protect their tops!

I put the soil back and replanted the jade plant. It should actually survive this, but we’ll see. Meanwhile, this and another pot are small enough that I cut the tops off of two of those plastic containers, so that they are not straight sided, and they can completely cover the pots and their plants, with room to grow.

This morning, I ended up using the cut off tops to put over a couple more plants that showed signs of cats bashing their way through them.

Meanwhile, while doing my rounds this morning, I remember to check on the pair of trees my mother planted right against the chain link fence. One of them had looked like it was dead, but I wasn’t up to slogging through the snow to check it. The snow is mostly gone now, so…

Yeah, that is one very dead tree. Both of these were fine in the fall.

I had wanted to transplant them away from the fence, but my mother demanded they stay right where they are. When I pointed out that they would eventually grow big enough to damage the fence, and were too close together, she said they were exactly where she wanted them to be, and she didn’t care if they damaged the fence.

Now that one of them has died, knowing my mother, she’s probably going to think I killed it because I didn’t want them there.

Ah, well. I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

One of the things that has really hit home for me as we’ve been cleaning up around the yards, is how incredibly important it is to think years ahead when planting trees. We intend to plant many, many trees, with a focus on food trees, and this gives us an opportunity to learn from what my parents did 10, 20, even 40 years ago.

The Re-Farmer


My daughter spotted a surprise in our largest aloe vera, Sarlac 2.

It’s starting to send up a flower spike!

This aloe traveled with us during the move. Before the move, we were able to sell quite a few things, including several of Sarlac 1’s transplanted babies. We had intended to bring the Sarlac along with us, but realized it was simply too big to fit in our van, even without all the other stuff we had to jam into there. So when someone came to buy this plant, I asked if they’d be willing to upgrade to the mama plant and we’d keep this one.

Not only did they agree to take the mother aloe, they ended up buying almost all the remaining potted aloes as well!

So that saved us a whole lot of space.

The Sarlac was a massive, toothy aloe we’d had for quite a few years, but it wasn’t until we moved to a larger townhouse in the co-op that it apparently got the amount of sun it was longing for. Shortly after, it threw out a flower spike with three buds on it – then a second spike, soon after! I’d never seen an aloe bloom before. Unfortunately, the spikes tipped the balance of the aloe – literally. The pot fell under the weight. Everything survived just fine, including the pot, but we transplanted to a pot with straight sides, instead of the more decorative pot with a narrower base.

Our umbrella tree is in that pot right now, and this experience is why I’m really wanting to find a larger, straight sided pot for it.

The girls and I will be re-arranging the living room over the next week. My husband has moved his computer set up into his bedroom, closer to his hospital bed, so now there’s this strange empty space. As we move things around, we’ll hopefully find a better arrangement for the plants in the process, including a better spot for the mini-greenhouse until it can go outside.

I did end up stopping at the post office today, where I could also pick up some more deer feed (the post office is in an old style general store, so it’s got a little bit of all kinds of things!) and found my back ordered birdhouse gourd seeds in the mail box. We will be starting these indoors, too. I was more than ready to start the cucamelon and fennel, but even if we were to transplant earlier than the last frost date, it would still be way too early to start them indoors. They can be started closer to the middle of the month, then the rest of the things we want to start indoors, like these gourds, can be started about a week later.

It’s nice to think about budding things when there’s still snow on the ground!

The Re-Farmer

Transplants finally indoors… mostly

So most of the indoor plants that I transplanted have been sitting outside all this time. The only ones that came inside where ones that I could hang up.

The ivy went back to the living room, but is now in the middle, with the two types of ivy strung out onto hooks on either side. One container of little succulents went to hang at the kitchen window, where I hope they will get better light. Another bowl of succulents that the cats just loved to try and eat is now hanging in the dining room.

All of these are on hooks that were already up when we moved in, which has worked out rather well.

Inside the house was one big jade tree that did not need to be transplanted, but also an odd collection of succulents in a large planter that used to have our avocado tree. Half of that got broken off during the move, then the last of it just up and died. I think it was simply too cold in the house for it. So what I ended up doing was sticking succulent leaves that the cats kept knocking off into the dirt, and most of them took. Meanwhile, I started two more avocado seeds, and they have been ready to transplant for a while now.

Yard work has been put on hold again. Yesterday, I didn’t get back to it because we had hours of wonderful, glorious rain. It came down hard enough to take out our internet at one point, but none of us complained!

Today, we were back to the heat. So I focused on getting the indoor plants taken care of.

I started by removing the succulents from the pot I needed for the avocado pits. I realized I needed potting soil for them, though. It seems weird to be buying soil when we have so much of it outside, so I checked the compost pile.

No go. It’s got too many sticks and crud in the older stuff for it to be useful, and the areas we’ve been adding to aren’t composted well enough, yet.

So I ended up digging out an old plastic colander that was hanging behind the wood stove in the old kitchen (it used to be ours, from when we last moved out of province) and ended up using it to sift garden soil into a bucket. The garden soil is not only very rocky, but filled with all sorts of grass, clover, and weeds, so I wanted get that out. I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes as I did it, though.

While working on transplanting the avocados, I ended up going out for more soil, this time from a planter my mom made out of an old cream separator basin. I’ve left it where it was, so the stump it was sitting on would be more visible.

This was in the full sun, so while I wasn’t being eaten by mosquitoes, I was instead dripping sweat into my glasses!

Later, I decided to get more, this time digging out a huge stainless steel colander we no longer use in the kitchen, that fits nicely over a 5 gallon bucket. I used bug repellent and tried getting soil from the garden again. This time, however, I found the tiniest of red ants in the bucket, so I went back to the old planter.

I only needed a relatively small amount of soil, so it didn’t take long. I brought the whole bucket inside and transplanted a jade tree, then started bringing plants in from outside.

As I walked past the bucket, arms full of aloe vera, I found the bucket staring at me.

Fenrir had jumped in and was just sitting in the dirt, looking at me!

All the cats were really interested in what I was doing!

In the end, I got most of the plants outside, in. It did mean changing things up quite a bit.

I tried putting the big aloe back where it was in the dining room, but it’s just too big. Not only were the branches getting hung up in my daughter’s orchids and taking up space needed for other pots, it’s tall enough that it even gets in the way of the plant hanging above!

The big planter with the avocados in it had been where the huge jade tree is in the above photo, but I moved it to the other table, thinking I’d be able to get more around it.

This works a bit better, but my goodness, that aloe is difficult to move. It’s not just the size or weight of the pot; its leaves are very stabby!!! And they have teeth!

The bigger pot with the avocado was heavier, but much easier to move! Even with water sloshing around.

The flags around the edges are to keep the cats out.

This pot is self watering, with an inner pot that absorbs water from the bottom, and the outer pot gets filled when the float shows it’s getting low.

As you can see, it was pretty full of water when I moved it.

The plant hanging above it is the one the cats like to try and eat. It is doing very well, now that it’s hung up!!

I don’t know that the avocado are going to make it, though. While the root systems were very strong, when the pits split, they took up more space. The little glass jars I was using to sprout them are slightly narrower at the top. I ended up having to split the pits apart to pull them out, one half at a time, place them back together, then stick them in the soil.

It looks so weird to have this huge pot and just a couple of sprouting stems in the dirt! LOL

If they do survive, this should be a better location for them. There is a heat vent in between the shelves, and it’s right at the end of one shelf. It should get more heat in the winter than in the previous location.

This jade tree is doing so very well! Can you believe, this was started from broken leaves from the original tree?

This group of succulents used to be part of a tiny succulent “garden” my daughter got, years ago. After the move, they weren’t getting enough light where we had it, so they were getting very long and leggy. These are from our attempts to save them, by rooting leaves.

They don’t seem to have liked being outside.

I think I’m going to have to put stakes around this pot, too – I’ve already had to chase DahBoy out of it! The cats had gotten spoiled by having access to the tops of these shelves after the plants got moved outside.

Unfortunately, we still have 3 pots with aloe vera outside, and I have no idea where to put them. Other windows are either too dark for plants, or have other things around them, with no space for plant pots.

I’m thinking we need to put more hangers up.

And maybe, I should stop propagating the succulents. I still have a bunch that need to be potted!

The Re-Farmer

Growing things

While doing my significantly more limited rounds this morning, I had to pause and get a photo of the ground by the feeding station. With the rain we’ve finally been having, things have really greened up again, and started to grow.

Including bird seed and deer feed!

This picture if of the area on the far side of the bird feeder, from the window – where we put the bulk of the deer feed in the winter. There is a smaller area on the side closer to the house that also has a patch like this.

The only thing I recognize in there is oats! We haven’t bought mixed bird seed, sticking to the black oil seed, since fall and we tried several different types, so I have no idea what all might be growing here. It’s going to get mowed, anyhow, but it’s neat to see!

While switching out the memory card on the trail cam, I got a picture of one of the asparagus growing wild by the fence.

None of the asparagus by the house is showing signs of berries, which makes these the only female plants around. This makes me extra curious about how they ended up growing here. It’s still possible that the seeds were spread by birds, but there are no other female asparagus plants nearby that could have been the source. The nearest garden to us is my brother’s, about a quarter mile away, and as far as I know they don’t have any.

I’m looking forward to when they turn that beautiful bright red again. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Basement finds and explorations

It’s been a hot one here today, so not a lot of outside stuff until later on. It was fascinating to find out from a dear friend that, in the city we moved away from, they had only 8C, and not too far from there, people got snow!

One of the things I need to do is re-pot some of our indoor plants. Today, I made a trip into the basements (which I usually avoid, because my feet and stairs don’t get along at the best of times!) to rifle through the various plant pots I had seen hidden in various places.

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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.

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Found it!

We have finally reached a point where enough snow has melted away, and the yard is dry enough, that I can walk around most of the yard.

At least while the ground is still frozen in the mornings.

Which meant I have finally been able to look for the base of the grape vine that got surrounded by spirea, next to the storage house.

I found it.


It’s still hard to see, so I put the arrow in. It’s hard to see because there is a spirea growing right up against it!

I’m going to have to be very careful, clearing that away.

Then I can prune it back and set up some kind of trellis for it to climb. I’m thinking of using the left over wire fencing I used to build the back gate. After that, it will be a matter of keeping the spirea from crowding it again. Hopefully, this will translate to better, bigger grapes to harvest this year. If nothing else, it’ll be easier to get to them! 🙂

While doing my much extended rounds this morning, I had some delightful company.


Butterscotch does make it hard to walk at times. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Yard Tires

I was talking to a friend who brought up something that has shown up in some of the photos of our yard that I’ve shared.

The tires.

So, I figured I would explain, because there are so many of them!


Tree tire is tired and broken.

This is from one of the pictures I posted yesterday.  The pair of trees on either side of the sidewalk at the gate are in tires like this, as is the tree by the kitchen window, and others I’ve been finding, buried under leaves, in unexpected places.

At some point, many years ago, it became a popular thing to re-purpose old tires in yards.  With trees, the saplings were planted inside the tire, and the tire served to protect the planting from damage.  Like getting accidentally hit by a lawn mower, or backed into by a car or something.  As time went by, of course, there was no way to remove the tire once the tree grew.  In this case, the trunk outgrew the tire itself, which was old enough to split under the pressure of the growing tree.

Which gives you an idea of how many years this has been there!

As you can see, an attempt was made to pretty up the tire by painting it.

Then there are the tractor tires.


I find myself perplexed as I see something like this.  Obviously, someone cared enough to create and protect a little flower garden at Mary’s feet, and even paint the tractor tire to pretty it up.  But they didn’t care enough to remove the tree that started growing at it which, if it were left to continue growing, will eventually push aside the tire and destroy the garden inside it.  I can understand the leaves in the garden still being there; there was no one here to tend to such things while the place was empty, but you’d think someone would have removed the tree, long before it got this big!


The garden gnome is now back where it was found.  This was also a flower garden planted under the bird bath, though there is nothing but grass and weeds inside it now.

Slowly but surely, we are working our way around the yard and cleaning this stuff up.  It will be nice to clean out the bird bath and start using it for its intended purpose again.

Then there are these contraptions.


This is a car tire that was cut in half, decoratively, then flipped inside out.  The other half, without the decorative edge, was left right side out and is underneath.

It cannot have been easy to cut the tire, never mind flipping it inside out!

I’m more at a loss over what it planted inside it.  They appear to be little trees or bushes.  Perhaps they are self seeded?


This second one has even more of them.  There is nothing to show that anything else was ever planted in there.  If these were deliberately planted, why were they planted off to the sides like that, where the soil is shallowest, instead of in the middle?

I have questions.  Many questions.

This planter is in a particularly bad location.  It’s right up against the platform for the clothes line, which is on a pulley system.  There used to be three lines, but now there is just one.  The clothes can be hung on the line from the platform, moving the line on the pulleys from one spot, rather than having to walk along the line and reaching high up to hang things.  This allows the line itself to be much higher, too, and less in the way.  I tried hanging the king size mattress protector on the line from the platform and quickly discovered that the bushes planted in the tire planter are right under the line, and taller than the hand rail, which means anything hung on the line gets dragged through the bushes.

The planter and its contents is going to have to go.  We don’t plan to use the clothes line often, but we do want to have the option!

While walking around and taking these photos, I found something very amusing.  Remember this, from winter?


This is a path the cats made through the snow, from whatever shed they’ve been using out back.  There is also a small hole under the fence between the pump shack and the other house, near where there used to be a gate, many years ago.  It had been buried by the snow, so the cats made this new path to the gate to get into the yard.

Cat paths in the snow are an easy thing to understand.

Then there’s this.


A cat path worn into the grass is a whole different thing! 😀  You can see Butterscotch, sitting at the hole in the fence.

Many, many cat feet have created this path. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Testing Macro

Years ago, when we were more able bodied and had more discretionary funds, we were all quite into photography.  With changing technology, my husband acquired lenses for his smartphone camera.

The lenses are held in place by a magnet that holds it to a metal ring adhered around the phone camera lens. Last night, he placed a spare on my phone and this morning, I tested the macro lens.  This is one of the results.

I later tried to test the larger telephoto lens on the birds at our feed. Unfortunately, the weight of the lens was too much for the adhesive holding the ring in place, and it fell off before I could even zoom in to try for a photo.

I will have to figure something out for that, because I can see myself using at least two of the lenses, regularly.

I rather miss photography.  It would be good if we can get back into it, now that we’ve moved.  Our old equipment still works fine and is more than adequate.

The Re-farmer