Morning kitties, and checking beyond the outer yard

It’s a good thing we normally keep kibble, water and a litter box in the sun room. When I closed the door last night, I made sure to check for kittens and saw none. This morning, I discovered I’d closed the three amigos up in there overnight!

I was able to get a picture with Rosencrantz’ tortie! It is the shiest of the bunch. I was able to pet the one at the pack a little bit, at least. Rosencrantz herself acts like she wants to be petted, will stretch out to sniff my fingers, bump her head against my hand – then try to bite and scratch me, too! She used to be much more friendly.

While doing my rounds, I kept hearing cows and calves, very loudly. The renter has rotated his cows out and took away the power source for the electric fence to use in the other quarter he’s renting, so if for some reason there are cows in this quarter, there is nothing to stop them from getting into the outer yard – and we’ve opened up the gates to the inner yard.

For all that I could hear them, I couldn’t see them. I decided to do a walkabout, though. I haven’t gone beyond the outer yard since last year, and I really wanted to see how the gravel pit was looking, after the renter hired someone to dig it deeper during the drought last year.

Wow. What a difference!

September 2022

I couldn’t even go to where I had tried to consistently take pictures last year, because it’s under water. You can see a whole bunch of ducks swimming around, too!

Just for comparison, this was last year.

August, 2021

That was the most water it had all of last year. The clay held what little rain we finally got.

September, 2022

Only the deepest part was dug deeper; it extends quite a bit in one direction, and forms a sort of marsh in the other. Last year, this part didn’t even really get muddy.

This is what it looks like in July of last year.

July, 2021

If you look in the trees, there’s one that is distinctively bent up. If you look in the photo I took this morning, you can find that tree, further away. The spot I stood in to take the picture in July of last year is underwater now, too.

I wish I’d thought to head out and see how high the water was when things were flooding in the spring!

I followed along the marshy bit to where it ends at a sort of roadway, with a pond on the other side.

It has water, too!

When I was a kid, I remember there being enough water in here to float makeshift rafts in, but it has filled in a fair bit over the years.

I was surprised to see this, not too far away.

This tree is still alive! The trunk is even more split open, with the middle rotted away, than when I first found this tree broken after high winds.

Since I was in the area, I decided to head towards the field, which the renter has prepared for next year already, so check on things. There’s an old junk pile there, too. All during my walkabout, as much as possible, I was picking up junk and scrap pieces of metal the cows had scattered around, and put them onto the nearby piles of junk.

I really look forwards to being able to get a scrap dealer to clear away some of this stuff!

I found more pieces of junk scattered about near the fields and cleaned them up a bit.

And found this.

It’s completely intact. Not even a chip, though it was full of dirt.

I brought it home and added it to the table of other found objects. 😁

My daughter came by as I was working on this post, and I showed her the photos I took this morning. She was happy to see the cup! She’s found it last year and had intended to bring it back, but her hands were too full of other things. It’s now sitting exactly where she’d wanted to put it, herself! 😊

I found another surprise in the area.

More water!

Normally, this area has water only during spring melt. There is a sort of “river” that heads off to the right in the photo, all the way to the road, where there is a large culvert, and continues north in someone else’s property. To the left, it goes into the field and joins up with the municipal drainage ditch. The group of trees in the middle become an island, but right now, we have another pond!

While chatting with the renter, I’d commented on how glad I was that they were able to get the gravel pit dug out. He mentioned that, in this quarter, getting enough water for the cows has always been difficult. Not this year, that’s for sure! And with how deep the pit was dug, and the heavy clay bottom, it should not be a problem again, even in dry years.

While heading back, I spent some time checking out the car graveyard, which has all sorts of old farm equipment as well. In the process, I think I found a solution to a problem.

One of the things I want to get built this fall is a chicken coop, so we can get chicks in the spring. We can’t get away with the basic chicken tractor that is so easy to find plans for all over. We need something suitable for our winters, so a lot more substantial. However, I still want to be able to move it to different locations, so that we can incorporate chickens into our garden plans. I’ve been doing some research and have seen mobile chicken coops that are more or less what I have in mind. Basically, they are build on a wagon chassis. I’ve looked around, and even second hand, those can be pretty expensive.

I think I’ve found one.

Among the junk is an old, wooden wagon of some kind. It’s got sheets of aluminum in it, and the wood walls are rotting away. It has all steel wheels and, as far as I can tell, the chassis is completely intact.

As soon as I have the opportunity, I want to go back out there with some tools, pull out the metal sheets, dismantle the rotting wood portions and see what’s there. Once clear, we should be able to just roll it home. We should be able to build a pretty decent sized chicken coop on it, if it’s intact enough!

It’s remarkable what we have been finding among the junk, that can be salvaged. It’s a shame so much of this stuff was left to rot away in the first place.

It would be really awesome if we can salvage this!

The Re-Farmer

Water levels

I must say, we are really fortunate. The flooding issues have been around us, and not a threat to our home or safety. At most, it’s been an inconvenience. Not so, for many others!

The highway nearest us has flooded over in the south, part way to the town my mother lives in. Last I heard, it was still getting worse. No one I know can remember that highway flooding over. I think I maybe, kindof, sortof, remember the highway flooding over when I was a child, but I was so young, I don’t really trust the memory. If it did happen, we’re looking at 45+ years ago.

Not only is that section of highway flooded over, but the provincial road we usually use to cross from my mother’s town to the next highway has also flooded over. Which means, if I need to get to my mother, I would have to drive east to the next highway, drive south until I reach a crossroad to the south of where my mother lives, then travel north again on the highway we usually use. It would likely be an hour’s drive, instead of 20 minutes.

The highway near us runs to the north, ending at the town we pick up our beef packs at. The junction to that town has been closed down, as the highway is collapsing. This morning, I learned barricades have been put up at the junction of our own little hamlet. People traveling north will have to turn east to detour.

With so many road closures, I was going to phone my mother to tell her about them, but she called me first. It turns out our vandal had called her and went an a while rant about how she isn’t allowing him on the property, and all the other crazy stuff. As usual, she couldn’t get a work in edgewise. Then she found a picture on her walker outside her door, that he’d left this morning. A picture of him and my late brother doing work on the house we’re living in. I am sure of the message he intended to make by doing that, but it has completely escaped my mother. I wonder about what triggered him. We do have the conference call with his court case coming up soon, to decide when the first trial date will finally happen. I also saw him and his wife walking past on the road while I was working in the old kitchen garden yesterday evening, and seeing me might have triggered him, too.

Showing up at my mother’s door like that is creepy, but at least he didn’t try to come in.

Aside from that, things are okay with my mother. She’s in town and around people, with a grocery store just a couple of blocks away, and the town itself is not being flooded out.

This morning, I checked the washout to the south of us. I won’t bother posting photos I took of that, as not a lot has changed. Enough snow has cleared and water gone down that I could check out areas beyond the outer yard. Where I can, I will include past photos, for comparison.

That photo taken in August was the most water I saw there all of last year.

Sadly, we lot another large tree by this pond.

The trunk had been damaged by ants. Most of the spruces that I’ve seen fallen have ant damaged trunks. Weird, the way it split around that core.

Of course, I had to check out the gravel pit that the renter had dug out again last year.

As with the pond, the photo from last year is the most water we saw in there, when we finally got rain at the end of summer. Last year, when I took photos, I tried to take some from the same spot. I couldn’t do that today, because that spot was under water.

Here is another view of the old gravel pit. The only area that was dug out is where you can see the pile of gravel on the left. The rest was left untouched. Not only is the low area in the foreground full of water, but the marsh beyond the gravel pit is full, too.

There is a lot of clay under there, so I hope that means this will stay full throughout the year. This is a water source for the renter’s cattle, as well as for wildlife.

I also checked on where the “creek” that forms in the spring drains into the field, as well as where the water enters our quarter by the washed out road.

That is a LOT of gravel washed out from the road. It’s remarkably deep.

This water flows through the trees, and the terrain is very rough at the best of times. I didn’t even try to follow along it this time, though I’ve done so before.

Here is where it emerges from the trees.

I had to go back 2 years to find photos of the area, and still couldn’t find any from the same angle. In the old photo, there is some water from the spring melt, which didn’t happen in April of this year! That little “island” by the barrels could still be crossed to, but not this year!

Aside from some spring melt, this area is dry except for a few lower spot – and last year, everything was completely dry because of the drought.

At this fence line, the water flows into the field and eventually joins the municipal drainage ditch, which then crosses the neighbour’s field before crossing the road, near where it is currently flooded out.

It should be interesting to see how things go for the growing season. As I write this, we are at 14C/57F, which is already a bit higher than forecast. The next week is supposed to get downright “hot” at 20-21C/68-70F. Though more rain is expected about 5 days from now, the ground should be thawed out and dried up enough to handle it. Right now, though, we have both high water level and overland flooding alerts, for our region. Still, with the warmth we’re supposed to be getting over the next while, farmers should still be able to seed their crops, and gardeners to start direct seeding cold weather crops, and be able to do their transplanting soon.

Speaking of which, I was able to reach parts of the main garden area, too. That will be in my next post.

The Re-Farmer

Looking for water

It was a very gorgeous 9C/48F outside, so I took advantage of it to check some things out, beyond the outer yard. More specifically, I wanted to check out the dugouts.

But first, I got accosted by a very affectionate – and still very round – Butterscotch. She really wanted attention, and even got me to pick her up. Which tells me she has a bit longer before she has her kittens, since she doesn’t want to be picked up when she’s closer to her due date.

For all the snow we got and what’s still on the ground, things are still on the dry side.

In this photo, I’m standing in the deepest part of the dugout in the old hay yard. There isn’t even any mud. This time of year, this should be a small pond. This is the area we hope to excavate deeper, a few years from now, in hopes to have water there all the time.

This dugout has even less water than the last time I came out here, a few weeks ago. This should be a large pond right now.

Finally, some water! This is the old gravel pit, and you can see by the lumpy ground from the renter’s cows, how high the water would usually be. This is deep enough, and there’s enough clay under it, that it is very rare for this spot to have no water at all. There is a low, marshy area that runs from this spot, towards the dugout in the previous photo, and there’s no water in there at all. Just mud in a few places. I could hear frogs, though, so that’s encouraging.

When I dropped of the lawn mower for servicing earlier today, the guy I was talking to mentioned predictions of up to 7 inches of snow on Sunday. I don’t know where he heard that, because when I look at Environment Canada and Accuweather, there are no such predictions. We might get some rain and snow tonight, but there’s very low chance of snow on Sunday, and no other rain predicted.

At least we got what we have so far. It will be a huge help.

The Re-Farmer

Evening walkabout and… that makes six

Well, today’s trip into the city turned out to be decidedly unpleasant.

We usually plan the order of stores we go to around whether or not we’re getting fresh or frozen food. Which means Walmart is usually the first stop (after having breakfast or lunch somewhere) and Costco the last. Today, our first stop was actually a pet store to get some long overdue filters for the fish tank. It’s near the Walmart we usually go to, but when we got there and saw the line outside the door, we turned around and left. Walmart lines just don’t seem to move and, after the long drive and having lunch in the van, I needed a bathroom!

The search for one that was open to the public was not a good start to the day. We ended up going to a chain grocery store location we’d never been to before. It had a line, too, but it was a small one and it was moving fairly quickly.

You know those arrows they have on the floors now? At first, I thought that was a great idea.

I was wrong.

Very wrong.

My daughter and I split up, each with our own cart because they use the carts to keep track of how many people are in the store, so she could pick up some needed items and I found and used the public washrooms. As we tried to reconnect, I found that the arrows forced people to all go from one side of the store to the other. We wanted to go back to the produce section, but there were only arrows pointing out. After a while, with no customers around anyhow, I just went in. My daughter saw an employee and, indicating the arrows, asked “how do we get back to the produce section?”

“You don’t,” she was told.


She did eventually say that, if there was no one around, to go ahead in, so my daughter soon caught up to me.

I was really glad to get out of there.

We ended up going to the Costco next – it had a very long line outside, but it moved very quickly – and it now has those arrows on the floor, too. Not in all the aisles, though, and some had arrows only at one end of an aisle. We ended up using two carts, with all the big, heavy stuff that would not be unloaded at the cash desk in one cart, and the smaller stuff in the other. Both ended up very full and heavy.

Then it was time to get into the one line from which staff directed people to different cash desks. I spotted the end of the line, and we had to wrestle our carts back and forth through several aisles to reach it. We got there just ahead of an old guy who was coming straight up the main aisle. The next thing I know, an employee is telling me we have to go behind the old guy. Apparently, he complained that we’d cut him off or something. Whatever. My daughter and I had to wrestle the carts around to get behind him, only to have the guy in front of us make some snarky comments about keeping our distance. We hadn’t actually gone nearer to him, so I thought maybe he meant between myself and my daughter. A little while later, though, he snapped an an employee for getting too close. An employee that had to make her way through the line. An employee wearing mask and gloves, and carrying a spray bottle of sanitizer. The old guy was probably more of a danger to her, than the other way around!

What is it about some people that think they are entitled to be nasty to people and get away with it, just because they’re old? I came very close to just abandoning our carts and going home! It was a decidedly unpleasant experience, overall.

After we were done there, we made one last attempt to go to a Walmart. On seeing the line, we just kept right on going and headed home. Most of what we wanted to get there, we should be able to get locally. Not all, though.

Unfortunately, the entire trip left me feeling ticked off for hours, so I decided to head outside while there was still enough light out and do a walkabout. I headed through the barn, into the old hay yard, to check out the pond that is there. The last couple of springs, there was only a small amount of water in there, but this year, it is nice and full. I decided to keep going through the area behind the barn and check out the bigger pond. Along the way, I noticed some new fallen trees and branches. The area is littered with dead trees. 😦

For the last couple of years, this pond has had almost no water in it at all. This is how it looks now!

It is completely full! Even the lower area at one end that meanders through the pasture has water in it! After the drought of the last couple of years, and especially the horrible spring, this is very encouraging.

Potato Beetle, Butterscotch and Creamsicle followed me the entire time, and I got some pictures of Creamsicle playing on the remains of an old boat.

Also… that’s the remains of an old boat. When did that get there? How long has it been there? How have I missed seeing it there? Okay, that last part, I know the answer to. We’d gone through here at a time of year when the grass was very tall, just before the renter rotated his cows into the quarter section we’re on. So this would have been completely hidden by tall grass.

Since I was out here, I decided to head towards the field where the renter planted corn last year. Since moving here, we just never went beyond this pond, so I figured tonight was a nice night for it.

As I got closer, though, all I could feel was dismay.

I found another junk pile.

Why? Why is this here? Who dumped stuff here, instead of taking it to the landfill?

Also… is that what I think it is?

No way!!

Another toilet.

That makes six toilets we’ve found since moving here. Only one of which could be attributed to the bathroom in the house, where the original toilet got switched out for a higher, more accessible one, as part of the changes made to the house as my father’s mobility decreased. Which means people went out of their way to bring toilets out here and dumping them.

Along with so much junk.

This, however, gave me an answer as to who brought this stuff here.

I remember this concrete filled oil drums. Years ago, my parents had bought what they hoped would be an investment property in the “downtown” of our little hamlet. The place used to be a general store. In the back, there had been a shed sitting on top of these barrels, making it high enough that delivery trucks could back up to it and unload easily. When my parents gave up trying to rent the place out, after years of horrid renters that cost them thousands in damages, we ended up living there for a while. The shed was long since gone, but these barrels were still there, tipped over on the concrete pad that had been under them. My daughters still remember playing among these barrels.

After we moved out of province, my late brother cleaned up at area, taking away the barrels and breaking up the concrete pad. That pile of broken concrete would be the remains of that.

What I don’t understand is, why did he drag it all here, instead of to the landfill?

And this is junk the renter’s cows now graze around, too. 😦

As disappointing as it was to find this, I did find something else that delighted me.

We have a creek with actual flowing water!

Now, as I grew up here, I somehow never seemed to have gone into this area before. I have no memory of it. I knew there was a low area here – it is even visible on satellite maps of the farm. It’s part of the municipal drainage system which, in this case, took advantage of a natural marsh system. I knew it got wet and muddy along this way, too. I remember going with my mother into the trees to a hazelnut bush she new of, to gather nuts, and losing my shoe in the mud.

And yet, I never, ever, saw it as an actual creek with fast flowing water! It was always more like a bit of a ditch, or a marsh, of either standing water or much.

I’m still blown away! I ended up following it all the way to the road. Then I continued to the old gravel pit area. I was eager to see how much water was there, too.

I found this along the way.

Actually, I found three of them, not far from each other. These are cow sized vertebra! They weren’t here last year, either.

Then I reached the old gravel pit area.

I don’t remember ever seeing it this full of water before – and my late brother and I used to play in it.

Which, now that I think about it, is rather gross. The pond that formed where my father dug out the gravel pit became a watering hole for the cattle.

I must have anti-bodies to all sorts of things because of the things I used to play in as a child! 😀

The marshy area at one end of the pond extends to the pond in the very first picture of this post. It is also near the car graveyard, which I decided to go through.

The cows eating down so much grass last year meant I could see quite a few things more easily. Including this.

It’s really hard to tell, as rotted away and covered with grass as it is, but I believe this is the remains of an old sledge or wooden trailer. Possibly a stone boat.

I also think it might actually be upside down.

One my way back to the barn, I also paused to check out a shed near the barn that’s still standing – next to another building that collapsed many years ago. I’ve gone into it before but, after living here for a couple of years, I am looking at things with new eyes. And today, those new eyes spotted something else to be excited about.

A lovely stack of boards, leaning against a wall. They’re pretty old, to be sure, but they are clean and dry, and may be exactly what I need for some projects I have in mind. There was also what looks like a full package of asphalt shingles.

We can use this stuff!

At some point, I think I will move the wood into the new part basement, along with anything else of value or use in there. This old shed has some huge holes in the roof, and I could see through the back wall. I’d rather not loose useful stuff to a collapsed roof.

I’m glad I took this walkabout. It was just what I needed after such an unpleasant trip to the city!

And now, I am going to give myself a thorough check before bed. I’ve found two wood ticks crawling on me since I started writing this, and now my entire body is feeling creepy crawly!


The Re-Farmer