Stocking up trip: this is $700

Or, to be exact, $700.04

I was planning to go into the city tomorrow, but I was able to change plans and do it today. That means I’ll be available to help my mother tomorrow, when she has to be away from her apartment while it’s being sprayed for bed bugs again.

I did a Costco and a Canadian Tire trip today. We will have to go another trip soon, but I was able to get most of what we need, I think. This is what I got at Costco.

I can’t remember if I mentioned it earlier or not, but we had an unexpected financial hit last month. My husband had a bi-weekly subscription order with Amazon for some sugar free drink mixes. One flavour had been back ordered. Well, it suddenly was available, and they shipped ALL of the back order at once. It worked out to be 10 cases of 16 bottles of mix in total. We only found out about it when almost $500 disappeared from our account on Sept. 13. I thought it was a fraudulent purchase on my husband’s debit Visa, at first! He found out what it was and tried to cancel the order, but they said the deadline for cancellation was Aug. 27. So we were going to let it arrive, then start the return process – only to find out that it wasn’t available for return, because it’s considered a “food item”. There are supposed to be ways to still get refunded, but my husband couldn’t find it. His searches had him going in circles. So we are now trying to sell them through our local store, and hopefully get at least some of our money back!

The hit did a number on our budget, but thanks to having already stocked up as much as we did, plus my daughter covering a couple of automatic payments, we managed all right. It means my focus is largely on replacing what we used, as well as continuing to build up our stash for the winter.

After seeing the prices for me, I’m really glad we’ve got a quarter beef coming in December, that’s for sure! I got a family pack size of lean ground beef, and it cost over $30 – almost twice what the same weight pack cost a couple of years ago.

Along with the ground beef, we got some pork loin, pork chops, a three pack of all beef wieners (but no buns; I’ll get those later. I’m hoping we can do a cook out soon). I also got three rotisserie chickens. Normally, I don’t even look at those, but I’d caught a new shopping video from Our Half Acre Homestead last night, and she mentioned that the cooked chicken was cheaper than the whole chicken. So I made a point of comparing. Sure enough, the bags with three whole chickens in them were all in the $30 range, while the rotisserie chicken was $7.99. On top of the fresh meat, I also picked up a 6 pack of canned chicken.

Normally, I would have picked up 10 pounds of butter for the month, but we still have some in the freezer. I’d picked up a jar of ghee and we still have a bit left. It’s worked out quite well, so instead of getting more butter or oil (which we also still have), I got a big bucket of ghee. At $39.99, it cost less than getting our usual 10 pounds of butter, and it’s shelf stable.

I ended up getting a LOT of pasta this trip. I found boxes with 9 – 500g variety packs of pasta for $9.99, so I got two. Then I found a plastic bag with a different variety mix of pasta, same quantity and weight, for the same price, so I got one of those, too. Plus, I got a case of Kraft Dinner. The girls like KD.

I also got a case of frozen perogies, a couple of containers of sour cream, a multi-pack of Kirkland cream cheese (I forget how many were the package), a 2 pk of goat cheese, a large pack of Old cheddar cheese, a 2 pk of butter chicken sauce, a big jar of peanut butter, a big jar of mayonnaise, a bag of Basmati rice, two packages of flour tortillas, a container of ice tea mix, as well as a 3 pk of Q tips and some extra strength ibuprofen for the girls, as they are running low. I also got a case of Coke Zero for a treat. Plus, I got a large package of facial tissue, the Kirkland brand toilet paper, some all purpose cleaner, a case of Friskies wet cat food, and four 11.6 kg bags of dry kibble.

Oh, the sticker shock on just about everything reminded me of another one I got. I was at half a tank when I left home, so I stopped along the way to put in a bit of gas, with the intention of filling at Costco, at their lower price. Pretty routine. I put in $30 of gas at 165.9 cents/litre. After I finished at Costco and was heading out, I walked past the sign with their gas price – 174.9 cents/litre!!! It took another $60 to fill my tank. On the way home, the gas station I’d stopped at in the morning was at 186.9 cents/litre

Ouch.

Now that this trip is done, we’ll go over what we’ve got and what I didn’t pick up this trip, and make a new list for the missing stuff. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make a second trip in a couple of days.

I had stopped at the Canadian Tire first, since it was all non-perishables. We needed more stove pellets for the litter boxes. The hardwood pellets have gone up from $6.99 for a 40 pound bag to $7.29, but they also have softwood pellets that are still at $6.99 I got one of each, so we can compare and see which work better. I also picked up furnace filters. For some reason, the 20″ x 20″ size of the type we need is harder to find. I’m only finding them at Canadian Tire, and they aren’t always in stock. They’re not expensive, so I grabbed two 3pks.

Which reminds me. It’s almost time to replace the filter on our furnace. 😊

I also got a gallon of exterior paint for the water bowl house. I picked a yellow close to what the kibble house is. Considering what it’s for, I asked for their cheapest exterior paint. It turns out they only had two options, and one of them had a base coat in it, so really there was just one choice. A gallon of paint cost $52.99 While she was mixing the colour for me, I spotted a display of Flex Seal and picked up a can of clear. That’ll come in handy for some patch jobs we need to do. I remembered to look for a new handle grip to replace the one that broke off our garden fork. I ended up having to ask an employee for help. We both looked around for a while, then she went to the customer service to look it up on the computer and see if it was in stock. There was plenty of inventory in stock, and it was apparently right next to where she was working when I asked her for help! We went back and looked again and finally found it, right in front of our faces. We both looked right over them, several times, without seeing them! I was looking for the same bright blue as the handle that broke off, but the replacements were black.

Along with that, I remembered to pick up some toilet tank pucks. There is so much iron accumulating in our toilet tank, it’s starting to affect how well the toilet flushes. I found two septic safe brands, in 2 packs, specifically to help remove iron and got one of each. We’ve tried one brand before, so when the girls unloaded and put everything away, my daughter popped one of from the new brand in, so we can compare. And finally, I picked up a roll of self adhesive felt padding. It’s for the corner of my bed frame, where we all keep very painfully barking our shins!

Total damage at Canadian Tire was $148.75

Add in the $700 at Costco and $90 total for gas, it was a pretty expensive day!

I called my mother a little while ago, and made arrangements for tomorrow. Hopefully, the guy will remember that she needs to be away for 12 hours and will do her place first. The earliest the letter she got says they will be there is 9am. It would actually be feasible for her to still stay away for 12 hours and not have to spend the night at a motel. She doesn’t want to stay at my sisters, because where she would be sleeping means having to take several steps up and down, just to get to the bathroom. She can’t even stay here because, with my husband set up with his hospital bed in the bedroom closest to the bathroom, she would not only still have steps to take, but a much longer walk. Staying at a motel month after month is a ridiculous expense, but it’s really the best option. Close to home, private, no stairs, and even a bath tub, if she wants to us it – her apartment has only a shower, and she does miss her baths! But if the guy doesn’t come early enough, she may not have a choice. While I can help her for most of the day, at some point, she’s going to end up hanging out in the lobby of her building, like her neighbours do. They can go back into their apartments after only 6 hours, though. My mother had been thinking she could go in early and open windows, but the more stress and anxiety she feels, the more breathing issues she has – and she’s already had stress issues just today. Along with a meeting for tenants today, they had someone in to give everyone shots. My mother thinks it was a Covid booster shot, but she wasn’t sure. Which irritates the heck out of me. People like her and her neighours just line up to get injections that don’t actually work, and causing so many injuries. It’s like playing Russian Roulette, every time. No one is telling them anything to get informed consent, either. Most of the people living there couldn’t understand it, anyhow.

Argh. Venting.

Anyhow.

I will see her tomorrow, and we’ll figure out what to do as the day goes!

Meanwhile, I’m just really, really glad I was able to do a substantial part of our monthly shop today.

The Re-Farmer

My morning buddy, and our 2022 garden: eggplants and slow going

I had such a slow start to the day today. Not a lot of sleep, and when I tried getting up this morning, I lost my balance and almost fell. My husband was up and I ended up asking him to take care of feeding the cats this morning so I could lie down again. Considering it’s because of his own pain levels that he’s up (or not) at odd hours, it takes a lot before I ask him to take over like that. I have a theory on what’s going on and will be testing it over the next few nights. If I don’t follow up on that later, it will be because nothing changed.

When I finally did get out, the kitties had full bellies, which means I had company during my rounds!

Especially as I went up the driveway to check the gate and switch out the memory card on the gate cam. The new camera, with its direct solar power and battery backup, has the batteries still at 100%! The other two trail cameras are at about half, and both have had their batteries changed at least once, since we got the new camera.

I’m not actually all that happy that the kittens follow me to the gate. I don’t want them wandering to the road, so I try to pick them up if I can. At one point, I was carrying the three amigos, all at the same time. Interesting that the three most socialized kittens like to stay together the most, too. I can’t say it’s because they are all from the same litter, because the fourth one of that litter is more or less indifferent to its siblings, while the muted calico, from an older litter, still likes to hang out with these three the most. That one is a lot more socialized now, too. It still runs off at time, but more often than not, we can pet it and even pick it up for cuddles.

I worked on the garden bed I intend to plant the garlic in last night, but didn’t get very far.

This is where I left off when my back started to give out.

I really look forward to when we have more high raised beds!!!

I removed the grass clippings mulch and loosened the entire bed with a garden fork first, then started working my way around, pulling out as many crab grass rhizomes and other weeds as I could. The job was made much more challenging, because the kitten in the earlier photo decided it absolutely had to be on my back while I worked! When I straightened up, she would climb up to perch on my shoulder until bent down again.

I managed just over half the bed. I found the soil to be much improved, easy to work into with the garden hoe – though I’m still hitting rocks – and filled with worms. Compaction, however, is still a problem.

Once I’ve got more of the roots and weeds removed, I’ll use the soil sifter to get more out. I plan to dig a trench down the middle. The summer squash bed is right next to it. I’ll be pulling those up and burying them in this bed as a soil amendment. After the garlic is planted, the grass clipping mulch will be returned. The summer squash bed will be ready to work on next.

Things are going much more slowly than I expected, and it’s basically because of pain. Yes, I pain killer up before I start, I’m just taking your basic painkillers. They’re not particularly strong. I’m the sort of person where pharmaceuticals tend not to work as expected to begin with, and typically need double the dose to maybe get the same effect as a regular dose on someone else. It’s the same thing with the painkillers dentists inject before working on a tooth – something I discovered the hard way when I was in 5th grade. I still remember the dentist working on a cavity. I had my eyes squeezed shut in pain and was clutching the arm rests when the dentist made a snarky comment about opening my eyes, it’s not that bad. I did open my eyes, glared at him – and broke one of the arm rests. I was an adult before I dared go to a dentist again. As an adult, the dentists would actually listen to me when I told them there was still pain.

So… yeah. I do have an extremely high pain tolerance because of this, and can typically just keep working through all sorts of pain. That’s getting harder and harder to do as I get older. The problem is, there’s really no one else to take over. My older daughter has joint problems that has lead to injuries that just won’t heal, so there’s only so much she can do, and both of them have back problems that won’t go away unless they both get reduction surgery (as I did, more than 20 years ago: best thing I ever did!!!), but neither of them trust doctors. At all. They’ve seen the BS my husband and I have put up with over the years. Since we’ve moved back to this province, we’ve found health care has gotten even worse during the almost 15 years we were away. So while they can help, all four of us are just really gimpy. Plus, my older daughter has her commissions to work on, so she gets paid, and isn’t available as much. They both also take care of the inside stuff for me, so I’m free to work on the outside stuff – an arrangement I am quite happy with. Still, the way things are going, I’m going to have to ask them to help me with the outside stuff more. It’s frustrating. When we first moved here, I was able to get much more work done in much less time. I did not expect my body to give out that much in so few years!

Ah, well. It is what it is.

I’ll be taking pain killers and heading back out soon.

On another note, we had another small harvest this morning.

I decided it was time to pick the Little Finger eggplant. I actually found one more little one, after I took this picture. These are all from just one plant. None of the others matured enough to produce anything. I had intended to leave them for longer, but last night we dropped to 2C/36F. We were only supposed to drop to 6C/43F, so I didn’t try to cover them for the night. They don’t look frost damaged, but with how messed up the forecast has been, I figured it was time. This variety is meant to be picked while still relatively small and glossy – maybe a bit bigger than the largest one I’m holding.

In talking with the girls about what to plant next year, we are thinking of trying 3 varieties of peppers, and I’d like to try this variety of eggplant again. However, we will need to work out better protection for them. My older daughter is wanting to save up for a type of greenhouse that is specifically designed for our extreme temperatures. Something like the polycrub that Stone Croft Skye has. Before then, I hope to pick up a decent sized portable greenhouse, or maybe a smaller one to use for our seedlings. We have GOT to come up with something better for starting seeds. We had to spend way too much effort to protect them from cats, making for less than ideal growing conditions.

That is something to think about later, though. For now, we need to clean things up and get beds prepared for next year, first.

The Re-Farmer

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

Morning kitties

I think the outside cats are getting to that point where they are starting to build up some winter fat. When I come out in the mornings, all the places we leave kibble don’t even have crumbs left, and they are all acting so hungry. We put out quite a bit of food for so many cats, twice a day, but this morning, before heading inside, I actually had to top up one of the kibble trays!

This one.

Rosencrantz and four of her babies were so hungry, I was actually able to pet all four of them! Just briefly, and they acted a bit confused about the whole thing before moving out of reach, but they were far more interested in food than running away.

The tortie was at the kibble tray by the spirea, along with a couple of calicos.

I noticed something about the litters this year. This is the first time since we moved here, that there are NO orange tabbies. Not a one. When we first moved here, it was almost all orange tabbies. The males would all disappear in the summer, but there would be more orange kittens the next year. Right now, the only ones left are the ones we brought indoors.

I spent some time on the bench with the rope toy I made for the kittens and have several of them playing at my feet, including the tuxedo. I was able to touch him, too, though he would move out of reach when I did. Its black and white sibling was curious about the toy, but would not come any closer to play with it. Instead, he put himself on a pedestal to watch me from a safe distance!

Our yard is just infested with furry adorableness.

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties

Last night, I finally did it.

I turned up the thermostat, so the furnace would turn on.

We’re still stuck with a hose draining water from the washing machine, running through the storm door window. The gap in the window is covered with duct tape, to keep the insects (and tiny kitties) out, but we can’t close the inner door. Right now, there is a sheet of rigid insulation in front of the door, so we’re not losing heat quite as badly. The entryway has no heat vents in it, anyhow. Nor does the kitchen. They both have built in electric wall heaters, but the breakers for those are shut off. They haven’t been used for so many years, I’d want them checked by an electrician before I try turning them on! The kitchen one has a shelf in front of it now, so we still wouldn’t be using it.

We had covered the eggplants and two of the apple gourds last night, as the forecast had been for a low of 1C/34F, however by the time I checked my app before bed, it had changed. Our low was only 6C/43F. So covering them wasn’t necessary, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt them, either.

My pain levels have been pretty high still, and I had a rough night. I ended up sleeping in – as did everyone else in the household! – so I was later than usual for feeding the kitties outside.

They were very happy to see me!

I was happy to see Rosencrantz’s babies this morning.

Here are four of her five kittens. Later on, I was able to pet and pick up the one that’s fully inside the food bowl, though it wasn’t too sure about the whole thing. The other three still run off.

And where is the fifth one, you may ask?

Why, right here!

Yes, the kitten with the orange head was at the kibble house! In fact, we saw it running around by the house yesterday afternoon, too.

I’ve even started seeing some of the kittens from the pump shack, creeping around under the spirea to the kibble tray we have out there. I do still have a tray at the pump shack door for them, too.

It won’t be much longer before we have to set up the extension cord to plug in the cat house, with its light sensor on the timer set to turn on the heater between dusk and dawn. We’ll need to test the battery on the smoke detector, too. There are a lot of very small kitties this year, that will need all the help they can get to stay warm!

The Re-Farmer

First frost: Our 2022 garden

Well, I’m certainly glad we made the preparations we did, yesterday. We did, indeed, hit 1C/34F by this morning, and got frost.

The roof of the cat house still had quite a bit of frost on it, when I came out to feed the babies. Clearly, it isn’t stopping them from enjoying kibble in what seems to be a favourite place for quite a few cats!

As expected, the frost killed off all the squash. We did leave the ozark nest egg and dancing gourds. From what I’ve read, they can handle a light frost, in that it triggers them to start drying. I’m not completely sure that was the right decisions, but I’ll know better as I check them later in the day.

The apple gourds got covered, but they still seemed to get hit with frost. It’s hard to see in the photo, but this largest of the developing gourds does seem to have some frost damage, as did a lot of the leaves, though not as much as those that were exposed in places.

The eggplant, however, looks just fine!

We’ve got one more night with colder temperatures, and then the lows will increase for a while, so we will repeat the process again tonight, and will hopefully be able to at least keep the eggplant going for a bit longer.

There’s lots of work to do over the next while, to get things ready for next year.

The Re-Farmer

Newfound baby, and a follow up

I have been avoiding going into the pump shack for the past while, because I was pretty sure there was a litter in there, and didn’t want to disturb the mama. They tend to move their litters further away when that happens.

Last night, I figured it was long enough to check things out.

Look what I found!

I only saw one, but could hear others. This one looks a lot like most of Rosencrantz’s babies, except smaller. Which makes it pretty clear who the daddy is! I’ve been calling him Sad Face, because he has this permanent tragic expression. I found out recently the girls have another name for him.

Shop Towel.

Because he is the daddy of Tissue…

*face palm*

Given the size of the kittens, I decided to bring one of the kibble trays over. I was going to leave it in front of the hole at the bottom of the pump shack door, but it was still raining and the roof overhang isn’t enough to keep it dry. So I tucked it inside for now.

I still think there is at least one more litter we haven’t seen yet, either in the collapsing log building or the threshing machine, near the fire pit. All I heard was maternal “mama is here” type noises, though, not kitten noises.

Being born so late in the year, these babies are going to be at much higher risk over the winter, no matter how many shelters we provide for them. Hopefully, we will be in the area expected to have a mild winter this year, rather than the area expected to have exceptionally cold temperatures. We’re in a sort of ambiguous border between the two areas, and the lake effect can change things dramatically.

On another note, my brother is taking the roofing estimates to my mother today. I pray my mother will actually follow through with her promise to pay for a new roof, and not choke once she sees the numbers and back off, as she has in the past. She still thinks things should cost what they did, 50 years ago. I well remember how, as part of our deal to move out here, she agreed to pay for the movers, only to try to back off when it came time to actually fork over the cash. Even when she finally did, she refused to pay the full amount, and my brother was kind enough to cover the balance. My mother can be very cruel and manipulative. My brother has already told her that if she starts doing that sort of thing again, he will not put up with it, and will stop the process completely. The last thing we need is to hire a company to do the roof, only to have her refuse to pay after it’s done. Neither my brother nor I can afford to cover the cost if she does that sort of thing again.

If she does follow through, we are looking to have the roof done in November. Which would be so amazing. I am afraid to hope it will get done, though. I’ve got too many knives stuck in my back as it is.

The Re-Farmer

A puddle of fur

After doing my evening rounds yesterday, I spent some time in the sun room, being violently cuddled by two kittens.

Other kittens were not so aggressive in their cuddles.

Of the three in the box, only one of them is socialized, though the calico does sometimes let us pet it.

I’ve found at many of six kittens shmushed together on the pillow in that box, including some of the oldest, biggest kittens squished in with the smaller ones!

What an adorable puddle of fur.

The Re-Farmer