Night time visitors

We had kittens in the sun room last night, so we left the doors tied partially open. When I had a chance, I joined them for a while, sitting on the swing bench with one kitten violently and playfully attacking one arm, while another was trying to figure out if my fingers were edible on the other. Out the window, I could see other kittens playing in the old kitchen garden.

It’s a very good thing the fall spinach beds are covered with the hoops and mesh!

Then I spotted a large shadow moving at the far end. A raccoon?

I headed out to check. The noise of me moving about sent the raccoon climbing up one of the ornamental apple trees. It was completely dark, but I tried to get some photot, anyhow.

Just look at that big, furry butt!

What I didn’t notice until I was cropping the photo to post here, was the second raccoon in the tree!

Then, while checking the trail cam files, I saw we had a visitor of a very different sort passing by.

This coyote got picked up by the other camera, too. It was just sauntering down the road!

It was a spur of the moment decision to move the original old camera onto this tree and keep it going. It went haywire quite some time ago. I am amazed that it’s working at all. I had even tried setting it to stills instead of video, and it still didn’t work. One of the things it would do was get triggered to start recording, but not shut off. I’d come out the next morning to find the batteries dead, and nothing on the memory card. Now, I still sometimes get an error message when switching the cards – I just have to take it out and put it back in until it starts working. I think that has more to do with the connections on the cards wearing out than the camera, though.

I’m glad it’s working again. Not just so that I can have the old camera on the new camera, in case this one gets stolen, too. It picks up interesting things, like this coyote – and we have a few images of a mouse running across the top barbed wire! 😁

Very handy, and fun, too.

The Re-Farmer

I was wrong

It wasn’t skunks.

In the wee hours of the morning, I went in the bathroom and must have made a startling noise. Outside the window, I heard some scrambling, and the sound of a bin hitting the floor.

I found these guys.

There are three of them. They stayed frozen like this while I did some clean up. The bin did not spill, thankfully, and is now stored in the old kitchen.

I picked up just enough to make a clear path to the door. While I was working, one squeezed its way up to the next shelf and hid behind some stuff. The other two eventually pushed behind the bird seed bin to the corner by the window, and froze there.

I left the doors wide open and the lights on after I cleaned up as much as I needed to – with kittens under foot the whole time! The kittens and raccoons don’t seem to have any issues with each other. Hopefully, it will stay that way, and raccoons sometimes kill cats.

Considering how we have the doors rigged, I’m amazed that these big buggers managed to squeeze through. They’re set up so that, while a critter is pushing through the gap in one door, the other door gets pulled more closed. The gap is just big enough for a kitten. An adult cat would have to squeeze through.

A big, roly poly trash panda would have more problems getting in, to be sure, but get in they did!

They made no effort to get at the sunflower seeds in the other bin, though we do see them eating them where we put them for the birds. Hopefully, with the kibble bin no longer in the sun room, they will have no reason to come back.

The Re-Farmer

Evening critters

Yesterday, I was doing as much advance prep as I thought useful, for tonight’s company cook out (weather will). That meant a lot of back and forth-ing from the house to the fire pit.

When I first started and walked past the storage house, I noticed something strange at the back window the cats and skunks use to get in and out from that side.

Something big, round and puffy.

Then, this happened.

A bandit face poked out of the hole in the boarded up part of the window, to watch me.

That tail and that face are one big racoon.

This big bruiser seems to be a regular. We don’t usually see the racoons, as they tend to be nocturnal, but I’ve seen this one heading towards the kibble house in the morning. When it saw me coming towards it, it ran under the storage house from the side opening, and I saw it peeking out this window when I came around the back.

We definitely want to discourage their visits, but my goodness, they are so cute! It’s the same with the skunks. There’s at least three of them that go for the cat kibble regularly. I figure at least one of them is a hungry mama. One of the little ones looks to be a male – unlike the cats, the skunks give us a full view of their nether regions! LOL We’re having to chase them away pretty frequently. It’s gotten to the point that if I see one heading towards the kibble house and start my usual “hey, skunk! Go on!”, they will actually stop, turn around and leave!

I also had some other observers as I was doing my thing outside.


They still won’t let me near them, though. Especially the little calico.

I’m starting to think the 4 kittens under the cats’ house may not be all one litter. I’m seeing these two together pretty constantly, but the other two don’t always seem to be around. Especially the long haired one.

With the lawn mowing and other noise, the mama with the kittens in the cats’ house has moved them. I believe they, and these older ones, are now all in the pump shack. Aside from the lane I mowed to it, I’m avoiding the pump shack, so as not to disturb them.

They may sometimes be a pain in the butt, but seeing all the critters does make me happy!

The Re-Farmer

A furry visitor

This big bugger is why we don’t have hanging bird feeders anymore.

After this picture was taken, a skunk joined it for a while. As I write this, the skunk it still there.

This looks like the big racoon I saw a few nights ago, when I came out to see what critters were snarling out the window. A big racoon made like it was going at me, then backed off, a couple of times, while a much smaller one was at the seeds.

With the storms and winds we’ve been having, we’re not seeing a lot of birds at the feeding station right now. Even the open ground where the seeds are gets filled with water enough to wash the seeds up against the grass.

I’m not seeing the groundhogs very often anymore, either. I think their dens are flooded out, and they’ve moved on. There was the one that dug a den under the mock orange against the house I was seeing more often. I’ve been pushing the dirt back into the hole regularly, and I think I’ve finally won the battle. It hasn’t been re-dug for a few days. Hopefully, that means our garden is safer from them this year!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; NOOooo!!! *sob*

Today is supposed to be hot again, so I wanted to make sure to get the garden watered early in the day, while it was still cool. I started with the soaker hose at the squash tunnel, then went around checking the melons, squash and gourds.

I was extremely disappointed to find this.

Our one and only Teddy winter squash was gone.




The two Teddy plants are blooming, and there is even a female flower developing, but that one baby squash had grown so much after the rain, I was really looking forward to watching it develop.

This is one of the nearby Little Gem winter squash. There were no developing squash down here to be eaten; those are much higher on the trellis. Still, it means energy will be going to recover from the damage, instead of into developing squash.

Thankfully, that was the only damage here. The melons and gourds had no critter damage. I did find one of the nearby Dorinny corn had been gotten into, the remains of a cob on the ground. The corn may have been a deer, but I figured the squash was a groundhog. The deer don’t go along that side of the garden beds, preferring to walk through the open areas in the middle.

I was wrong.

When I checked the garden cam, I almost missed the shadow moving in the darkness. It was a huge raccoon! So big that, if it hadn’t turned at the end of the bean bed and I could make out its tail, I would have thought it was a bear cub.

I continued checking the beds, and was so disappointed to find this.

A deer got into the Montana Morado corn. In the above photo, several stalks in the outermost row are gone.

I found corn cobs scattered on the ground, each looking like they had only a single bite taken out of them.

Hoof prints left no doubt as to what was responsible for this damage.

The deer had traipsed right through the middle of the corn block, leaving damaged plants and nipped corn cobs in its wake.

These are all the cobs I picked up off the ground.

I think it would bother me less if the deer actually ate the corn, rather than taking a bite here and a bite there. and leaving a trail of damage.

On checking the cobs, you can see that a couple of them were almost completely ripe, if poorly pollinated. When ripe, the kernels should be an even darker purple.

One cob is looking like it was going blue, instead of purple!

Several of the cobs had been beautifully pollinated, full of developing kernels.

I am so incredibly unhappy. Clearly, the flashy spinny things around the corn block are no deterrent.

Not even our purple beans escaped damage. The purple beans are lusher and bushier than the green and yellow beans – except for at this end of the row, where the leaves have been thinned out by nibbling.

And here is the beast that did the damage – nibbling on a sunflower!!!

I. Am. Not. Impressed.

I even added bells to the lines around the corn and sunflower beds, but the deer came from the other side!!

Venison is sounding very good right now.

What a disappointing way to start the day.

Other things went well, though, and I will save those for other posts!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning finds

While doing my rounds this morning, I topped up the small bird feeder. As I took it down from its hanger, I heard something fly out from the plants below. It turned out to be a goldfinch. It flew onto a nearby lilac branch, and just stayed there, watching me.

As I went by again, on my way to the garden, I saw it again.

I came withing a few feet of it, and it just stayed there. Like it was trying to sleep and wondering what this idiot human was doing at 5:30 in the morning!

A few days ago, I noticed we’d lost a few sunflowers, among the Hopi Black Dye rows, and a couple of sweet corn. Off hand, I would have thought “deer”, but it was odd. There were just a few nipped plants, and they were in the middle of the rows, in roughly the middle of blocks, not along the edges as I would expect from a deer going around the roped off blocks.

Nothing showed up in the garden cam, which told me that whatever it was, it was too small to trigger the motion sensor where the camera was set up. So I repositioned the camera (mounting in on that flag stand was the best rig ever!) to hopefully catch something.

When checking the beds before watering them, I was disappointed to find this.

The second Crespo squash find has had its end nibbled off, too. Only as far as the hoop barrier, but then, the only vine had been nibbled about the same amount, and there was no barrier at all at the time.

Unfortunately, we don’t have another camera for this end of the garden.

As for the sweet corn…

Three corn plants were nibbled on. In the middle of a row, and in the middle block of the 3 corn blocks!

Just those three. Nothing else in the area was nibbled on.

It was a gorgeous 18C/64 when I first came out, but by the time I finished using the new action hoe to finish weeding a second row, it was already getting too hot for manual labour. So I headed indoors and checked the trail cam files, to see if whatever did this was captured.

Well, waddaya know. Do you see those two “lights” on the left?

Those are the eyes of two big, fluffy raccoons!!! And the far one could be seen coming out of the roped off area, while the nearer one was on the outside of the roped area.


So it is likely these guys that have been nibbling our sweet corn and sunflowers. We have not been seeing deer on the trail cams lately, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been going elsewhere in the yard. The water level in the kiddie pool is down, but not by much, so I don’t think anything as big as a deer has been using it.

The more stuff like this I see, the more I am thinking we are going to have to invest in a guard dog. A large breed that loves our cold winters. Which is a weird thing to think of, in our current heat.

As I write this, we’re at 33C/91F with a humidex of 36C/97F, and our high is predicted to be 34C/93F… oh, wait. My weather app icon on my desktop just changed. We’ve just hit 34C. The humidex is supposed to reach 37F/99F. Which is actually a bit lower than was forecast, a few days ago. But then, the weather forecasts have been unusually off this spring and summer. It’s one thing to be off by a couple of degrees, or even the continual calling for rain and thunderstorms that never happen. It’s when they say things like “rain will stop in X minutes”, and there’s no rain at all, anywhere in the region. Or “rain will start in X minutes”, but if I look at the weather radar, there isn’t any rain showing in the entire province, nor even in provinces on either side of us, nor the states to the north of us. Frustrating!

Still, over the next two weeks, the temperatures are expected to hover just above or below 30C/86F. One of my apps has a 25 day forecast, so it’s running into August, where, we’re expected to hover around the 25C/77F range. The average temperatures for both July and August in our area is 25C/77F, so I guess that’s about right. I was planning to plant spinach and lettuce in late July. I guess we’ll find out if it’s too hot for them or not!

One thing about our expanded gardening this year. We are continually looking at things and saying, “okay, so next year we’ll do this” or “next year, we’ll not to that.” 😀 It would all be a waste, if we didn’t learn anything from it! 😀


What to do about the raccoons…

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: good news, bad news

Just a quick post about what I found during my morning rounds, before I have to head out. It’s a bit of a mix!

Before I go into this morning, though, here is the progress I got last night in the new corn block.

I got about 2/3rds gone turning the sod before stopping for the night. It was past 10pm by then – the temperatures were lovely, but it was starting to get too dark! LOL I am hoping to get it done today. The corn really needs to be transplanted soon.

This is what greeted me this morning, when I came into the dining room.

Cheddar and Keith, enjoying the morning breeze while watching the birds outside. 😀 The cats just LOVE this set up.

The door is secured with cord, just in case. Although it is locked, sometimes it simply pops open on its own. Which is not a problem when the inner door is closed, but would be kitty disaster otherwise!

After feeding the outside critters, I started taking the plants out of the sun room. One of our disappointments was that one tray with 3 different gourds in it had not germinated. Still, I kept them watered, and have started to take the tray outside, too. This is what I found this morning.

A single Ozark Nest Egg gourd has sprouted!

It’s way too late in the season, but when the time comes, it’ll be transplanted out and we’ll see how it does. Who knows. We might have a long summer this year.

Also, do you see all those seeds scattered about? They are EVERYWHERE!!! And this is why I’ve developed a hate-on for the Chinese Elm trees. We’re going to be fighting these in just about every single garden bed. 😦

While checking out the furthest garden beds, I had a bit of a disappointment.

Four Mongolian Giant sunflowers in one row had their heads chopped off. The one that had been eaten and pulled up before was in the other row, which originally had 13 transplants in it. This one had 11. So of the 24 we started with, we’re down to 19. At least the direct seeded ones are coming up, so we do have more. As long as they don’t get eaten, too!

My daughter and I had moved the trail cam over to this corner, but it’s not the wide angle camera, and I wasn’t sure if it caught this area at all. In fact, I was pretty sure it didn’t. So I shifted it and it now faces down the corn and sunflower blocks only.

When I checked the files, I found I was right. This row as off frame. I never saw what ate the leaves, but I did find this!

We had a raccoon pass through! Until now, the only evidence we had of raccoons here was the tip of a tail going past the camera when it was facing the tulips. It just wandered through, sniffing at some weeds.

The raccoon would not have been responsible for the sunflowers, though. I’m sure that was a deer. There was one other night time video, but whatever triggered the motion sensor was no longer in frame by the time it started recording. If a deer had jumped the fence nearby, it could have walked right past the camera and out of frame before it started recording. That’s the down side of setting it to video. It takes more time to start recording than just taking a still shot. I’m not using still because the shortest time delay between triggers is 15 seconds, regardless of whether it’s set to still or video. That’s a long gap, and much would get missed. At least with video, there’s that 15 seconds (or up to 1 minute, if I wanted to) of video to catch what’s going on.

Finding the damaged sunflowers was a disappointment, but I wanted to end this on a more positive note.

The honeysuckle bush in the old kitchen garden is looking amazing! It’s in full bloom, and absolutely dense in foliage and flowers. When we dug up along the house and laid down blocks and bricks to make a path, much of the soil that was dug up ended up around the bases of the honeysuckle and two rose bushes nearby. Between that and the extra watering they’ve been getting this year, they’re all looking better than ever. I’m very happy with how great they are doing this year! Even the little pink rose bush that got broken by something over the winter (likely a deer) is doing very well, after having the tree branch that was shading it pruned away, and a garden bed built up around it. There was just one stick of it left, but it’s now full of the biggest, healthiest leaves it’s had since we moved here!

So overall, we’ve had more increases than losses, so far! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Bonus critters, and a kitty gate

We had some new, furry visitors to our feeding station this morning!

This is a first for us to see raccoons! 🙂

They are so fuzzy!!! Like round little bears. 😀

This morning, I also figured out a way to let the mama cats out of the sun room, while keeping the babies in.

I noticed a whiteboard I had in storage, and gave it a try. The whiteboard is too slippery for the kittens to climb, and even if they managed to climb up the jugs I shoved against it to keep it from tipping, the marker ledge should keep them from being able to climb over. The remaining question was whether or not the moms would jump over it, and if they would knock it down when jumping back.

As my daughter and I were heading out to go to town, I heard a noise and saw that Beep Beep had jumped it, without knocking it down. When I came back later, however, it seemed the Butterscotch hadn’t figured it out yet. So I just lifted her over. You can actually see her in the photo, at the old dog house, where she promptly went to eat some grass! She has since returned to the sun room, and the kitten gate is still up, so it seems to be working.

The kittens, meanwhile, were content to ignore the set up.

They had all been sprawled on that blanket until they saw me moving around. A few came to check things out, then stayed to play.

This one, however, just luxuriated…




In other things, we have not been able to work on painting the gate again, yet. We had a good rain during the night, so it was still wet when we went into town. I’m hoping to get some more done this evening, once it starts to cool down a bit. At least the area that’s already painted is no longer tacky to the touch! Tomorrow, I’ll be driving my mother to a medical appointment, so if I get some painting done today, that’ll give it plenty of time to cure tomorrow. No rain is predicted overnight, so that should help, too. We’ll see how it works out.

For now, we’re just staying out of the heat!

The Re-Farmer