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

Some evening activities

After the onions were harvested, and my daughter no longer needed help with her build, I headed over to the platform bed frame the girls have been slowly getting painted. The top, where the litter boxes will be sitting, got several coats of paint. They’ve been working on the under side. It’s the legs that need the extra coats of paint, now that we know the newer basement floor can get water seeping in, despite the weeping tile.

There was just one last coat of paint to add to the leg ends, plus around the edges. The platform is upside down on the picnic table, so I went to put a couple of bricks under it, to elevate it enough to paint the edges, and not the picnic table.

As I came around the back, I found this.

Well, so much for my trying not to get red paint on the blue picnic table when I was painting the bench I made!

The platform now has its final coat of paint, though. We’ll be able to bring it back into the house and into the basement any time after tonight.

Meanwhile, my daughter got some good progress on the water bowl shelter today.

As you can see, it’s already kitten approved!

She worked on this without any detailed plan; just a general idea of the build, adapted to what materials were available. I found the scrap piece of half inch plywood in the barn, so that became the size of the shelter.

The smaller cross pieces at the bottom, inside the uprights, will be the supports for the floor. Another cross piece will be added for extra support. We might have some scraps in the barn that will work. With the floor lower that the top of the cross piece in the front, there will be a lip to prevent the bowls from being casually knocked out. When we built the kibble house, one of the first problems we discovered was that the skunks would pull the kibble trays right off, scattering kibble all over the ground and making an awful lot of noise. Putting a board across the front solved that problem. My daughter made sure that would not be an issue this time!

Once a floor is figured out, it will need walls on three sides. We have more of the wider boards across the front and back. They are pretty rotten on the ends, but they are also longer than needed. Most likely, the shelter will be flipped onto its roof, then boards added across the back with the rotten ends sticking out. Once they are secured, we can simply saw the ends off along the vertical support, then do the same thing on the sides. It doesn’t need to be perfectly seals. It just need to keep the snow out.

This should fit rather well beside the kibble house. The cats’ house, the kibble house and this water shelter, will together form a sort of U shape. The heated water bowl is plugged into an outlet inside the cats’ house, which has its own extension cord that is more than long enough to reach. So even if the regular water bowls freeze, they will still have at least one bowl of liquid water available.

We painted the kibble house a bright yellow, but we no longer have any of that paint left. I’ll have to pick up some more, probably next month. The kibble house could use a touch up, too. Plus, if we dig up the shingles we found in some sheds, we could do both roofs, too.

Yeah. We’re sucks when it comes to the cats.

Speaking of shingles and roofs…

This is a section of roof on the house that caught my attention today.

You can see a loose shingle has started to slide down. This is a very steep roof, but at least it’s low enough that it can be patched from a ladder. This section of roof forms the angled walls of the second floor. Both sides used to be like this, but my dad had one side raised into a low slope roof to make more room in the second floor. Unfortunately, that low slope is why there is now water leaking in through one of the second floor windows.

That brick chimney is for the wood furnace we can no longer use. When the new roof is done, that chimney will be removed completely. It needed to be redone since my parents bought the place. That’s what the chimney blocks I’m now using as planters and retaining walls were for! It just never got done, and now it never will.

This is the only section of roof that is north facing. Ice and snow remains here the longest, and you can really tell. All of the shingles are lifting. It’s worse now than it was even in the spring! This is over the attic above the old kitchen – an attic no one goes into, as the entrance is difficult to get at, so the girls have simply blocked it off with furniture.

The chimney here is to the old wood cookstove in the old kitchen. The stove can no longer be used. Not only is it unsafe, being so close to the wall with no heat shield (how did we never burn the house down when I was a kid???), but the fire box is badly damaged, and the door to the oven is broken off. Some day, however, we may be able to replace it with another cookstove, with a proper heat shield and protective flooring. If nothing else, it would be good to have something like that as an emergency back up if we lose electricity. We certainly have the option to cook outside, but if we lose power in the winter, not only would we want to be cooking indoors, such a set up would also be a heat source.

Not that we could do that any time soon. Right now, the only reason my brother was able to get property insurance was by providing photographic proof that all wood burning stoves – including the ones in the storage shed, installed back when it was a work shop – and the wood burning furnace were disabled. Without that, the cost of insurance would have been much, much higher, for things that can’t even be used. We’ll probably have our outdoor kitchen built long before we’re in a position to remove the old wood cookstove and replace it with something else.

The main thing for now it, getting a new roof.

I really hope my mother isn’t just yanking my brother’s chain again, and will actually follow through. I’m just praying that she’ll make good on her promise, and it can be done before winter. Not only because of how bad the roof is getting, but because it will probably save us money on our heating bills, too. Our equal payment plan has been reset to just over $330 per month. It used to be just under $300, but just this past month, our usage has been up 20% from last year. For January and February – our coldest months of the year – our actual usage in 2021 would have cost us almost $450 in January, and almost $600 in February. In 2022, our actual usage would have cost us almost $600 in January, and almost $450 in February – and March, too! Meanwhile, the upstairs gets freezing cold, even with their heaters. Then, in the summer, it gets so hot, their computers start to have problems. A few roof would help reduce those extremes and reduce the energy we use.

I’m afraid to hope my mother will follow through, though. I know once she sees how expensive it is now, she’s going to start backing off. I just hope my brother can persuade her how urgently it’s needed.

Well. We’ll see. The guy that came by today will send me his estimate tomorrow, and then we’ll see.

The Re-Farmer

Long day, garden damage and a fiscal heart attack

Oy, what a long, draining day!

While waiting for a call from my mother, I figured I should just go over to her place early. Better to be there and know what was going on, than having to stick close to the phone and not being able to start anything useful.

My mother had got up early to prepare, expecting the exterminator to come fairly early. By the time I called her, she was ready for a nap! So I took my time getting there, stopping to gas up her car and pick up some chicken and wedges for an eventual lunch.

I did try to let her sleep, but conversation kept happening. I found out she’d called my sister about coming over – at 8am this morning, rather than last night, when I suggested she call. My sister works until 1am, and her husband is retired, so my mother woke them up with her call!

She told me she also called someone to try and find out when the exterminator would come, but they didn’t know and asked her if she’d called a different office. I eventually found out she had called the senior’s centre, and I had to explain to her that they have nothing to do with running the building my mother lives in. It’s owned and managed by the provincial government. My mother thought that, because they do so many things in the building (mostly centered around social activities), they were somehow part of it. I had explained this to her the last time her place got sprayed for bed bugs, but it was all new to her again. :-/ Then she wanted me to call the appropriate office, and I had to explain again that the people in the office don’t now where the exterminator is at any given time, because he goes from place to place within and area. She was not impressed by this.

After a couple of hours, my mother suddenly remembered her daily Mass was on TV, so she got up to watch. I suggested we have lunch, but at first she said no, but told me to go ahead. I had had a very early breakfast (I actually remembered to have one!), so I started putting a plate together for myself.

Of course JUST as I took my first bite, there was a knock at the door!

Yup. At almost 2pm, the exterminator arrived.

When he saw the food on the table, he said he would do the apartment next door so we could finish eating. My mother quickly joined me and we hurriedly ate a bit, then put the rest away. My mother also quickly put some other stuff away including…

Putting her toaster in the fridge.

It took me a while to figure it out, but it actually is a great idea. They have to spray in the kitchen, too, and by putting it in the fridge, there is no chance of the spray getting into the toaster and coating the parts and pieces as would still be possible if she, say, put it in a cupboard. It’s not like you can wash the inside of a toaster!

I had a chance to meet the exterminator, and he was such a sweetheart! The most gentle mannerism, and so very kind. He was apologetic about how long it took for him to get there, and when I mentioned my mother needing to be away for 12 hours, and he realised she had respiratory issues, he said that if he had to come back, he would make sure to start with her. My mother was asking if this could be the last time her place got sprayed, but all he could say was that it depended on what he found today.

Then we were off, along with my mother’s overnight bag – just in case she ended up staying the night with my sister. Which, from what I could tell, she had not brought up with her; just the possibility of a visit. We were leaving so late, though, I knew my sister would probably be getting ready to leave for work. My mother had an errand with the office for the department that runs her building – it just happens to share the building the courts and court office area in, so I was quite familiar with getting there. Meanwhile, I was trying to send message to my sister to let her know what was going on, and if I was right about my mother not saying anything to her about it, warn her that my mother was expecting to spend the night. My sister has tomorrow of, so my mother thought it would be quite convenient for her to take my mother home – but it turned out my sister had company coming. I passed things on to my mother as I was able, and she eventually decided it would be just too much to go to my sister’s, so we went to the Walmart to do a bit of shopping. By then, we were literally about to go to my sister’s place, so I was happy to park and message her that she was in the clear!

After we got what we wanted, my mother told me to take her to the hotel she had stayed at before. Which she had told my brother she was going to do, but then told me she didn’t want to. Frankly, I think the hotel, so close to home and with a 24 hr convenience store right next door, was better for her, anyhow. If nothing else, she wouldn’t have to take stairs to get to the bathroom!

By the time I got my mother settled in and I was heading home, it was coming up on 6pm. Traipsing around with my mother is very draining, even though everything did go very well. I mean, she’s 90, and I’m no spring chicken, myself, so we were both pretty tired!

When I had left home this morning, we’d already had some heaving rains, and some periods of high winds. When I did my evening rounds and checked out the garden, I found some of our whirligigs to startle deer had been blown away. Then I found the sweet corn looking like this…

The stalks aren’t actually broken, though, thankfully. If I can find something to use as supports, I will see if I can run lines through to hold them up again.

Then I got to the ground cherries.

Again, they don’t seem to be actually broken, but one side of the patch is quite flattened!

The super tall kulli corn, meanwhile…

… also had stalks blown down.

On the other side of the bed, the corn was pushed over enough to create an arch over the path!

It would have been knocked flat, where it not for the netting around it!

From the looks of the things that got blown down, it seems they were hit by sudden gusts of wind. Even one of the winter squash vines got blown around, and a single Chocolate Cherry tomato plant got broken, but not the ones on either side. Even sections of tall grass in the outer yard showed patches that were newly flattened, while others were not. Aside from the one broken tomato, though, it doesn’t look like anything in the garden was actually broken and killed off.

I hope I’m right about that!

Things are supposed to get hot over the next few days; even hot enough to match a record high of 30C/86F, set in 2007. Which I much prefer over the record low for the same day, of 4C/39F.

Along with all that, I came home to find a message on the answering machine from one of the roofing companies we got estimates from, back in 2019. When I emailed them, I mentioned the 2019 estimate and asked for an updated one. The guy that called remembered the place, and even remembered talking to me when he came out here. In 2019, the estimate was just under $9,000, plus whatever amount it would cost to repair any rot they found that can’t be seen yet, which gets charged by the square foot. That’s why I rounded up to $10,000.

I didn’t think to ask what the square part was. I was somewhat distracted by the new estimate. Based on what he saw in 2019, the job will now cost just under $16,000 – for now! Their suppliers are saying the cost of materials will go up another 20% in November.

My mother couldn’t accept a 10K estimate, 3 years ago. During a conversation we’d had fairly recently, I told her that today, it would probably cost about $15K, and she didn’t believe me. It turns out I was under estimating.

She has told my brother (not me) to find out the cost and she would pay for a new roof, but I don’t know if she would still be willing. She is so convinced that everyone is trying to cheat her, because she’s an old lady (never mind that they’d be dealing with my brother).

One thing that could be done is to accept the estimate and put down a deposit. Once a deposit is made, the price is locked, even if the work doesn’t get done until spring – though having it done before winter would certainly save us on more roof damage, and heating costs. He did ask if there were leaks right now, and I said yes, there are two of them (though one leaks only when the snow melts in the spring). He then said that they could do a patch job, instead, if that works out.

I’ve passed this on to my brother. We still have the other company to hear from.

I will be going to check my mother out of her hotel room and bringing her home in the late morning. Hopefully, they will call while I am home, but if I don’t hear from them, I will try phoning them myself.

My mother actually can cover the cost of a roof replacement; the question is, will she do it, or is she just teasing us again? The most she does that, though, the more expensive it will ultimately be, and the more hidden damage there will be.

The Re-Farmer

First Estimate

I called several companies to get estimates to get our roof done.

The first one came by today to do an estimate.

He spent quite a bit of time checking things out and taking measurements, after we did a walk around. During the walk around, we talked about the chimney from the wood furnace that will need to be removed. I couldn’t tell him, one way or the other, if the TV antenna would be going back up after the roof is done. There is an unused satellite dish to take down that he included as a removal, though my brother might take it down himself before any roof work is done.

Among the things he noted was that, whoever did the roof last time, did not do the valleys properly (I think the roof was redone by my late brother, with various family members helping out), which could be easily seen from the ground. When on the roof, he identified two leak spots that corresponded to leaks we’d found inside during the winter. I brought up the possibility of finding rotten wood under the shingles, so he included the rate per foot that would be added on, should any be found.

The guy clearly knew his stuff, was very professional and efficient, gave me a very detailed estimate, then took the time to explain some of it. Such as how the step flashing would not be under warranty, because they would not be able to install it properly, due to the existing flashing being under the siding. They’re not going to break the siding to install new flashing, so they would have to install it over the siding. A silicone bead would be run across the top that would have to be redone every year, until we redo the siding and the flashing is property covered. At which point, that flashing would also be covered by the 30 year warranty.

His estimate also included things like converting plumbstacks, applying and supplying ice and water shields, one and two ply underlay for the different slopes, and replacing the goose neck exhaust vent. Clean up is included, too. It was all quite thorough.

The final number was almost $8,500, plus 5% GST. Given that I am sure they will find rotten wood to replace, I would expect the total to reach about $10,000. Which is pretty much in line with what I was expecting.

I also got a call from another company my SIL passed our phone number to (someone she knows personally), so we should have a total of 4 estimates to go over, by the time all is said and done.

I expect the other estimates to be similar, except the metal roof one, which I expect to be higher. Those come with lifetime warranties, so it’s a longer term investment.

So now we have to figure out how to come up with $10,000, or more if we go with a metal roof.

Before it becomes a real problem!


The Re-Farmer