Just in time!

First, an update on our furry little patient.

Tuxedo Mask is doing just fine. His eye is looking good, and he’s been more active. The girls treat his eye in the evenings, then top up the kibble for the outside cats. He hasn’t been trying to dash outside, but he has tried to get into the old kitchen! He has also, I’m happy to say, started to use the litter box a bit. Hopefully, he’ll start using it all the time, so we’ll have less of a mess to clean up when things start to thaw!

Chadicous, meanwhile, has taken on the job of trying to kill me, by flinging himself tragically in front of my feet while I am walking! 😀

The other cats, meanwhile, mill about so much, I can’t get a head count! The most I got was 17, including Tuxedo Mask.

After I was finished my rounds, I was in a bit of a quandary. We haven’t done the rest of our big shopping yet, and while I would have preferred to go tomorrow, temperatures are supposed to drop dramatically. I really don’t like driving this time of year. I am just too paranoid about our older, fragile van with way too many miles on it. It’s actually done really well by us, but we’ve had too many unexpected vehicle problems too many times over the years, and it’s a whole lot different to have those problems in the city, compared to having them on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere.

I procrastinated enough that I got the phone call from the ranch we’re getting our quarter beef from. The final hanging weight turned out to be 125 pounds, and she wanted to go over what cuts I wanted. The lower weight meant we over paid by about $50, too.

Apparently, I made things really easy for her. She’d emailed me a list of available cuts, and I just said “I’m good with a little of everything; feel free to surprise me.” LOL So that’s what we’ll be getting; a little of everything! We’ll have ground beef, stewing meat, several types of steak, several types of roasts, and even soup bones. I’ve never made bone broth before, and I’d like to try it. I also went with having the cuts wrapped in paper, rather than the Styrofoam and plastic; paper wrapped last longer in the freezer. It was a little bit extra per pound, which worked out to $10 for the whole order, but I had that credit, so that didn’t matter. At the end of the call, she asked me if I wanted her to etransfer the credit back today, and I was all, nope! I’d rather get more meat! They are low in inventory this time of year, and will be for a few more weeks, but when I asked about sausages, I had several types to choose from. The family really liked their breakfast sausages, so she said that, for the $50 credit, that would about 5 packages of sausages. I said, you mean for $40, right? She had forgotten about the extra charge for the butcher paper wrapping! Once she remembered, she said that’s okay. We’ll squeeze in 5 packages for you! 😀

So she will pass on the list of cuts to the butcher and, at this point, they are expecting to get the cuts around the 20th or 21st. She’ll contact me again to arrange how we will get the meat.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been talking to our neighbour about getting a half pig. They take orders in the spring, so they know how many extra animals they need to rear for fall butchering. A half pig would get us about 70-80 pounds of butchered meat.

In the future, we would like to buy in larger quantities, but for that, we’ll either need a second freezer or do a lot of meat canning!

Or both. I’m good with both. 😀

Once the call about the meat order was done, I headed out to do the shopping. It’s mostly the larger, heavier stuff we couldn’t set enough of, like the big dry cat food bags. It doesn’t take long to fill a shopping cart with those!

When I first headed out, things were looking fine, though the closer I got to the smaller, nearer city I chose to go to, the less visibility there was. By the time I was driving home, we had blowing snow. The roads, for the most part, were still good, but there were a couple of places where it was starting to accumulate. I was quite glad I’d left when I did!

I got a message from my brother while I was driving home, and it turned out to be some video. He had gone out to visit my mother and go to church with her (he does that often enough that he’s considered a member of the church, but with the way the restrictions still are, I probably wouldn’t be allowed in the door anymore). He convinced her to practice driving the motorized chair they got for her, and it was pretty cool to see video of her zipping around the lobby in her building.

Hopefully, the roads were still good for his drive home! We’re now seeing news stories about blizzard like conditions expected to the south of us, and my brother’s place is in the region.

I left just in time!

The temperatures are supposed to be quite bitter tomorrow, then whip right back up to just below freezing a couple of days later! My mother had asked me to pick up some honey from my cousin, which I was able to do yesterday (while picking up some creamed honey for ourselves). She said I could bring it over the next time I came to help her with shopping. My brother did take her to the grocery store today, so we decided to wait until Thursday, when it’s supposed to be much warmer, and I’ll come over. By then, she might be running short of a few things again. I brought up that she might want to stock up more than usual, since prices are expected to go up, and shortages are expected. When I explained about shipping and transportation problems, she dismissed the concerns. We have enough in our province and will be fine, she said. She just can’t understand that what we have in our stores are brought in almost completely from the port in Vancouver, which has been devastated by recent flooding, and the US, which has its own transportation and supply issues. This is all far away, so it can’t affect us, right?

*sigh*

Well, if necessary, between my siblings and I, we will be able to give her stuff if the local stores run out. We did find, when shortages happened last year, that the cities were harder hit than smaller communities, so hopefully, it won’t be an issue.

Meanwhile, I am more than happy to hunker down for a few days, and not go anywhere!

For now, I will enjoy warming up with a big mug of Rooiboos, and an arm full of cat making it difficult to type, and have a nice, quiet evening!

The Re-Farmer

This, that and the other thing

Today was one of those days that went all over the place! So this is probably going to be a very disjointed post! 😀

One of the first things I wanted to get done this morning was to call the RCMP, as advised by my lawyer, about the gunshots from our vandal’s property. For non-emergency calls like this, it first goes to a receptionist who then, if it seems warranted, starts a file (or adds notes to an existing file), then passes it on to a constable, who calls back later.

The challenge was to bring up my concerns about hearing the shots, while also making it clear that there was no crime that took place. The interesting thing is that, as I described a bit of about why it was a concern in this particular case, the receptionist asked, “is this about…” and gave the name of our vandal.

I had not mentioned his name, nor did I mention my own. Yet, she knew who I was talking about!

She might have looked up my phone number in their system while we were talking, but she later had to ask me what my name was, so… that’s probably not it. She did remember talking to me about our situation previously, which would have been at least 8 months ago.

After we talked for a while, she put me on hold to talk to someone else, then came back to me with a new file number, telling me that an officer would call me back later. Since we were going to the city later, I gave my cell phone, just in case.

I shouldn’t do that. Whenever there is a cell phone number available, that’s the first number that gets called!

Once I was done on the phone, I went to quickly do my morning rounds, only to have my pocket start ringing. The officer was calling me back already! I do have my phone set to use WiFi, and at first he could hear me just fine, but then my signal started breaking up. We managed to arrange for him to call the land line, and I got back into the house just as the phone started ringing! Thankfully, I made sure my husband had the phone before I headed outside, so he got it before it went to machine.

In the end, the call was pretty much what I expected. There is no cause for them to go over. They did check and our vandal’s firearms license is up to date, and there are no restrictions in our area in regards to firing a weapon on your own property. He did tell me that, if something like this happens again, to go ahead and call 911, even if I didn’t feel it was an emergency. They would pass me on to dispatch and it would go from there. He also assured me that, even though there clearly was no crime (and I made sure to say, normally I would have no issues hearing gunshots out here), it was a good idea to call, given our particular situation. If nothing else, there is now a file on record.

Now that I think about it, though, while I’ve certainly heard gunshots a few times since moving out here, I have never heard gunshots from our vandal’s property before, or even that direction.

So that’s taken care of, as much as possible right now.

After quickly finishing my morning rounds, my daughter and I then headed out to the city, with a quick stop at the post office, first. Much to my surprise, I found a letter from the Court of Queen’s Bench. I opened it before we continued on, and it turned out to be about the court date for the civil suit our vandal filed against me, in retaliation for applying for a restraining order against him. We had an in-person court date in July but, according to the letter, due to Schrodinger’s Virus, all in-person small claims matters scheduled between May 6 and September 6 were being rescheduled and being done through teleconference calls.

Court of Queen’s Bench is federal, not provincial. The dates seem rather telling.

Anyhow, our teleconference date is set for September 10 now. Since my restraining order is a provincial matter, it is not affected by this. However, from what I’m hearing right now, our provincial government has no intention of relaxing their choke hold on us. I fully expect our court date in July to get cancelled. I really hope I’m wrong.

My daughter and I then continued on to the city, with a brief stop at a gas station along the way to grab some food. Now that we have changed where we get our gas, we’ve started going to a place that not only has hot food available, but even a few tables to sit and eat at, if desired. They’ve got some of the best fried chicken and potato wedges around! 😀 When we got there, I just parked and dashed in to get food. I walked in fine, but as I walked out, something went wrong and a metatarsal in one of my feet decided it didn’t like where it was and tried to escape.

That hurt. :-/

My daughter thought it was a great idea when I suggested that maybe we should keep my father’s walker in the van. Just in case. We do keep a collection of canes in the van, though, so at least I had that to fall back on.

Once in the city, we headed straight to the Costco, drove through the parking lot, saw the line up was even worse than yesterday, and kept on going. We went to the Superstore, instead. They had a line, too, but it was shorter and moving. My daughter reminded me to grab a cane, then when we were in line, she was able to get a shopping cart for me to lean on as we snaked our way through.

The down side of the change is that they don’t have flat carts. We did get most of what was on our list, but only half the amount of cat kibble we should have gotten, and a few other heavier or bulkier things got dropped. We’ll have to make another trip, later in the month. For the kibble, at least, we can go to the smaller city for some things, while other items can be gotten locally.

The price of beef has gotten insane. 😦

Even though we only went to the one place, we were both exhausted by the time we were done. My daughter dislikes shopping as much as I do! We find these trips more tiring than a day of hauling wheelbarrows full of soil. Plus, with the drive, I was having breathing issues again, and my daughter did the driving on the way home. I’m so glad she comes along, “one person per household” be damned. 😦

Still, it feels good to be stocked up again, even if some things will need to be topped up later.

Once we were at home, I had time to check the trail came files. Nothing triggered the tulip cam at all. I had plans to finally plant the beans today, and maybe start on the squash tunnel, but it was insanely windy. For all the rains we finally got, everything is all dried up again. In checking the garden beds, when I pushed my fingers into the soil, it’s dry all the way through. So this evening, wind or no, I went out to water.

I’m really happy with how great the garlic is doing!! Next year, we need to plant more. 😀

I set up the new hose we bought yesterday, and was able to reach everything that needed watering at the far end of the garden. Which was handy, because I hadn’t had a chance to refill the rain barrel we have out there, for the watering can. We want to get more of those. We’d rather use watering cans and warmer water, as the well water gets to incredibly cold.

Which reminds me. I looked up about the mulberry tree. There isn’t a lot of information out there, but I did find one site that proved useful. It turns out that mulberry trees tend to just drop their leaves when hit with frost, and grow back new ones. If our little mulberry had more time after being transplanted, it would have been better, but it may still actually survive. We shall see!

Meanwhile…

I found these tracks on one of the spinach beds. They were not there, this morning! The seedlings at the very end were nibbled on, too. There are no defined tracks in the soil, but I am inclined to think it was a deer. Partly due to the spacing of the tracks, and partly because we almost hit a deer this morning, while on the way to the post office! In this morning’s trail cam files at the gate, there was a deer making its way through the fence and hanging out in the driveway, too. We seem to have a lot of deer activity this year.

Tomorrow, we have to figure out how to set up the new chicken wire to protect our garden beds! Time to go scavenging in the barn and sheds for materials again.

I think that project just took priority over building squash arches!

The Re-Farmer

Monthly shop half done, and is it dead?

Last night, our temperatures dipped to -5C/23F. I’m not sure what to make of that, though. When I checked my app during the night, it said it was snowing, so I opened the garage cam app to see. Snowflakes are lit up by the infrared flash.

There was no snow.

I checked the weather radar, and from the big blue circle directly over us, we should have been having quite a bit of snow. Instead, I was seeing a bright full moon! Still, we did get the colder temperatures, so when I did my rounds before we headed for the city, I made sure to check all the garden beds. Everything was looking just fine! There was no signs of snow or even frost, by the time I went out, and all the seedlings looked untouched. All the leaves on the trees and flowers were just fine.

I forgot one thing.

The mulberry bush.

We should have covered it!

I took this photo after we got back from the city.

Damn.

We have a frost warning for the south of the province tonight, not for our area, and the low is supposed to reach 2C/36F. I don’t know that there’s much point in doing anything now, but we could put jugs of hot water beside it and cover it with a blanket for the night. It had been doing so well, too! I am hoping the roots had established enough that it will sent out new leaves, but we may well have lost our mulberry tree.

Anyone have experience with growing mulberries reading this? Is it dead?

*sigh*

Anyhow.

My younger daughter and I headed to the city to do our monthly shop. We did our first stop at Canadian Tire to pick up more stove pellets for the litter, and checked out the garden section. We ended up getting some trellis netting that will be good for the rest of our peas, instead of using twine. I also got a 4′ x 50′ roll of chicken wire that I hope to use to protect a few things. If it works out, we’ll get more. It was less expensive than the other options. We also picked up another 50′ of hose. We now have enough hose to reach the furthest areas of the garden. There likely won’t be much pressure left, but a gentle watering is all we want! I also looked in the plumbing section and found some PEX pipe that might work for the hoop supports I was thinking of, but after getting the chicken wire, which can hold itself up fairly well, we skipped it for now.

Things took longer than expected at Canadian Tire, as the pellets we wanted turned out to still be in the warehouse, so someone had to be called to bring a couple of bags over for us. From there, we went to an international grocery store. I don’t usually buy a lot of meat there, but they had some exceptionally good sales on, so I picked up some for the freezer. The only down side of this part of the trip was being hassled by a customer. This store respects medical mask exemptions. I wear my Mingle Mask more to avoid being hassled by customers. Today, I got an old guy stopping me and start lecturing me on how what I was wearing really wasn’t doing anything… I cut him off and told him flat out, “I have a medical exemption, and you can leave me alone.” He was all, “well, we can be nice.” As if lecturing a complete stranger over something that wasn’t his business was nice? I think I shocked my daughter, though.

The rest of that part of the trip went very well, though. I do not like shopping, but I really enjoy going to this store. While chatting with the cashier and commenting about some of the items we can only find there, I made a point of telling the cashier that they are the best! Staff usually just hear complaints, not the good stuff, so I do try to give positive feedback when I can.

The next – and last – stop was Costco. Usually, from where we enter the parking lot, I like to drive around the back of the building, to where I know fewer people park. A company vehicle of some kind was blocking half the lane, though, so I ended up going the other way. Much to my shock, I actually found a parking spot near the doors!

We also saw a line going down the side of the building. It doesn’t usually go down that side of the building, but it’s been a while, so we got in line and started waiting. Then someone else came by asking if this was the line in, or the line to the pharmacy?

It turned out to be the line for the pharmacy!!

When we heard that, about 6 of us stepped out of the line to look for the other one! 😀

At the sight of the real line, my daughter and I turned around and left! They changed things up, so that people were no longer lined up along the side of the building, but a back and forth line guided by temporary fencing. More efficient, I’m sure, and also making it easier to tell just how many people were waiting in line. I had forgotten. Our provincial government’s increased restrictions before the long weekend had not been relaxed, so more people had to stand in line than even before, and the line was moving slowly.

We decided to try a nearby Superstore that I’d heard was safe for people with medical exemptions, but they had a long line, too. We made a last ditch effort and drove across to a Walmart. I wasn’t sure if this one was safe for me to go to or not, but it had a long line that wasn’t moving.

Though we did remember to bring ice packs, we did have frozen items and fresh meat in the van, so we decided to head home. We will try again tomorrow. We talked about going to the little Walmart in the smaller city, but decided to try the Costco again. If it’s the only place we need to go to, we won’t have to worry about food thawing out or going bad in the heat of the parked van. If the line was too long, we could try the Superstore again or something.

Before we left the Costco, we filled the gas tank and I reset the mileage counter. I do that once a month. This past month, we drove less than 400km with the van. That’s about a third of our usual mileage for the past year. Counting the driving I did with my mother’s car, it still would have been less than 700km of driving, total.

I am quite okay with that. If I could get away with going out even less, I’d be happy!

Speaking of driving, I did end up getting my daughter to drive most of the way home. During the trip in, I was having breathing issues again. It wasn’t as bad as in the past, but it did prevent me from joining my daughter in singing along with sea shanties. 😉 I did all right for the rest of the drive, but as we were shopping, even with the Mingle Mask, it didn’t go away. The current restrictions state one person per household should do the shopping, but stuff like this is why I am glad to have her with me.

My doctor did refer me to a respiratory specialist, but I haven’t gotten a call yet. Frankly, I don’t expect to. People can barely get normal medical care right now, never mind getting in to see a specialist! So far, whatever is causing my breathing issues seems to be limited to when I’m driving, when I’m wearing the Mingle Mask for longer periods, and sometimes when I’m lying in bed, trying to sleep. A part of me suspects it has more to do with whatever is causing the mystery pain in my side that no one’s been able to find the cause of for the past 10+ years, after I had a large cyst removed. The last time I saw a respiratory specialist, it was to try and find the cause of my chronic cough. All he did was try to find ways to blame it on me being fat. When all my tests kept coming back normal, he just sent me back to my regular doctor. I would not be at all surprised to get the same treatment in this province, too. I irritate a lot of doctors by not having all the fat-people problems they “diagnose” me with, on sight. Kind of like the dieticians who get all flummoxed when I tell them what my diet and exercise habits are like, and they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that no, I don’t just lay around all day, shoving junk food down my gullet, but actually eat real food and, even with my busted up knees and feet, still manage to be more physically active than average. ( Granted, that’s a pretty low bar to compare with.) With some, I can tell that they think I’m lying. I don’t fit their preconceived notions and biases.

But I digress, yet again. I’m still thinking of that guy who decided he had some right to lecture me about my Mingle Mask. The fact that I was wearing something over my face, even if it was something he didn’t approve of, with my masked daughter beside me, should have been a hint that I knew what I was doing. Masks do unfortunate things to people.

Ah, some news! I got a call as I was finishing that last paragraph; my lawyer called to talk about my restraining order situation. As I suspected, he sees no advantage to contacting our vandal’s lawyer to discuss some sort of private agreement and bypassing the court. There would be no consequences if he broke the agreement, to begin with. The transcripts I’ve been making of the messages our vandal has been leaving on my mother’s answering machine are certainly something I can submit to the court, as they speak to his state of mind, and his obsession with me and the property. I remembered to bring up about the gunshots I heard this past Sunday; I haven’t had the opportunity to call the police about it. Our vandal legally owns his guns and he was shooting on his own property, but the lawyer agreed that, given our circumstances, it would be good call the police so that there is something on the files. Normally, I wouldn’t be the least bit bothered by someone shooting on their own property, but these are not normal circumstances.

So I will have to make sure to call the police tomorrow, before we head to the city again. It will be up to them to decide if they want to talk to our vandal again.

So much of our time and energy is being wasted, having to deal with all this! All because someone I was once so close to, covets this property and resents that we are living here.

*sigh*

Time to distract myself with more useful and productive things!

The Re-Farmer

Ginger baby update, and getting settled in

This is how I found Ginger this morning. 🙂

The warming pad has been added to his favourite spot under the heater bulb, so the Ginger baby can be warm from above and below!

When I finished putting getting food for the outside critters, he had come out, so I picked him up and sat on the swing bench with him.

He stayed like this almost the entire time, as we waited for my daughter to come in with his morning medication. He didn’t even purr, but just sat silently, only making a noise when he saw one of the outside cats go by.

He was so calm and settled that when my daughter came in with his pill, he barely even moved as she gave it to him! Then he let her cat him and cuddle him, while I went back out to finish my rounds.

His wounds are looking good overall, but there was one spot of rawness between two stitches we’ll have to keep an eye on.

Once my rounds were done, I quickly headed out to get more cat food and litter. While I was gone, the vet called to arrange removing the sutures. He’s now booked for Monday afternoon. I’m surprised they’re open on Easter Monday! I imagine they’re still doing a lot of catch up with having to refuse/delay so many treatments with the restrictions.

We’re keeping an eye on the forecasts, and it’s looking like the expected snow is going to hit us tonight, instead of tomorrow night. We’re supposed to reach 13C/55F this afternoon, then drop to -10C/14F overnight. The southern parts of the province are expected to be hit harder than we are, but we will still be getting rain, then snow, along with high winds, with blowing snow through most of tomorrow.

The gusts of high winds are already hitting us now, and some areas are under high wind alerts. We’re 8C/46F as I write this, with the wind chill supposedly putting us at 5C/41F, but it felt a lot colder while I was out in it!

Ginger, however is snug as a bug in his “isolation ward”. After his sutures are out, we should be able to introduce him to the rest of the house, and his expanded feline family!

I’m glad I was able to head out today to stock up on cat supplies. We won’t do our full city shopping trip until after Easter. Until then, we’re all settling in for what should be the gasp of winter. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Kitty status, and do I dare?

When heading out this morning, I was on the lookout for Creamsicle Jr., hoping to get as much of a look at his eye as I can.

Much to my surprise, the cats that showed up this morning all came from either around the house, or the outer yard. Not a single cat was in the cat shelter!

Ginger came running up, right away, after the jug of warm water. Even Nutmeg almost came close. Nutmeg does let me pet him, every now and then, but not today. Ginger likes to drink right out of the jug (he’s more careful about it, after knocking it over once!), so I left him to it while I kicked the frozen water bowls out of the snow and knocked out the ice. The heated water bowl was mostly frozen over, but not as much as yesterday. I tried looking in the windows into the cat’s house, but could see nothing to explain why they weren’t using it.

While I was taking care of the bird and deer feed (yesterday, we saw five deer come to the feeding station!) I was happy to see Creamsicle Jr.

I had to walk past him to go back to the sun room after putting bird and deer feed out, which he didn’t like, but that warm water was tempting enough that he didn’t run away completely. I tried to move slowly and carefully to get these pictures, trying not to scare him away.

It half worked.

He did not like me coming close.

You can see some frost on the tips of his fur. All of the cats that came out had frosted tips! I don’t know where they were sheltering instead of their cat house, but wherever it was had enough humidity to get them frosty.

The one eye does seem to be more open now. The dark whatever-it-is under his eye and next to his nose is actually something stuck and dangling from a bit of fur.

The poor thing looks so miserable! It’s frustrating, that we were not able to socialize him more over the summer. I really want to get a closer look at that eye and maybe give it a wash, but not even Ginger is socialized enough for that. Hopefully, whatever is wrong will heal up faster as we get warmer.

At the time I headed out, we were still at -34C, though the “real feel” put us at -32C (-29F/-25F). As I write this, the app on my desktop, from The Weather Network, has us at -33C with a “feels like” of -38C (-27F/-36F). It also says our high of the day is expected to be -24C with a “feels like” -33C (-11F/-27F). My Accuweather app on my phone, however, has us at -29C and a “real feel” of -27C (-20F/-16F) with a high of -21C (-6F) with the “real feel” expected to be -31C (-24F).

It’s supposed to get colder again for a few more days, then slightly milder for another couple of days. After that, we’re basically hitting spring and temperatures are expected to keep getting warmer and warmer. By the end of February and into March, we should be hovering just under freezing. So in the week after this polar vortex is finally gone, we’ll be warming up by about 30 degrees from what we’re at right now. It’s going to feel positively tropical. We’re going to be breaking out the shorts and t-shirts! 😀

So I’m going to have to take advantage of this relatively warm day and head into town. Making our monthly bulk shop is out the window for this month. Buying locally, little by little, has really wrecked our budget. It’s the things like cat food and litter that is so much more expensive here that messes up our numbers. I know a lot of people hate on Walmart, but it’s places like that, and their prices, that allow us to have the room in our budget to care for the cats, and ourselves, at the same time. At Walmart and Costco prices, we easily spend about $300 a month on cat food and litter. Buying the same quantities locally would be closer to $600.

My original plan had been to head out late this morning to hit the post office before the general store it’s located in closes for the afternoon, as they do every Wednesday. However, the mail can wait. I’ll head out in the afternoon, instead. I’ll be heading into town, first. The package my husband was supposed to get turns out to be with Purolator, not FedEx, and now they’re saying we’re not in their delivery zone. They never said that when they first phoned him about it. It has been delivered to a depot in town and we’ve got 5 business days to pick it up. Fair enough. I can take advantage of that side trip to fill our gas tank (at a non co-op gas station, so we don’t end up with more than $400 in damages again) along the way. I’ve already gone over my planned route with a daughter. I’ll be going to the Walmart in a smaller city. They don’t have as much available there, but my sister lives not too far from there, so if the van breaks down on the road, I can call her for help.

I’ll be taking a route that will take longer, but the highway runs through a number of small towns. I know I’ll have a cell phone signal along there, too. My usual route would be first to the town my mother lives in, and the cell phone dead zone covers most of that drive. There’s nothing but isolated farms in between. From that town, I would cut across to a different highway, take the highway to another cross road before finally reaching the highway that goes to the city I am aiming for. The entire route is basically open land with a few farmhouses tucked away behind shelter belts, well away from the roads. The only towns I would go through, between home and this city, is the town my mother lives in, and the village near my sister’s farm.

I sometimes think I’m being ridiculous about this. I grew up there, and I’ve moved back to this area with my own family a couple of times over the decades. At one point, we lived in a house my parents owned, maybe 3 miles away from where we are now, and my husband was one of the many people who made the commute to the city. We are not strangers to these temperatures and road conditions, and didn’t think twice of packing the kids into the car and making a trip to the city just to see a movie. Back then, however, we had a car that was only 3-5 years old, and we were all younger and able bodied.

The van we have now is almost 15 years old and has well over 400,000km on it. We depend on that van more than we’ve depended on any vehicle before. Partly because, with his disability, it’s the vehicle my husband can get in and out of, and has room for his walker. Partly because it allows us to do those monthly shops that would never fit in any car we’ve ever owned.

Thankfully, we do have my mother’s car as a back up vehicle. It’s a couple of years newer than ours and has half the mileage, but has had a remarkable number of problems with it, and not just because of my mother’s terrifying driving habits. After discovering what happened with our van, I’ve already asked the mechanic about checking it over when we bring her car in for an oil change. My mother bought her gas at the co-op gas stations, too, so it may well be pretty clogged up. It would explain things like the terrible mileage. It’s still a relief to have it. We may not use it much, and the registration and insurance costs more than for our van, but being as much in the boonies as we are, it’s worth that expense to have access to a second vehicle, just in case.

Bah. I’m rambling right now. Nerves. I really don’t want to make this trip, but we just can’t afford to buy what we need locally. They often don’t even have any inventory left for things like the bigger boxes of cat litter (almost half the size of what I can get at Walmart or Costco, but almost double the price!). Other things, we just can’t get locally.

But hey! In the time it took to write this, it has warmed up a degree! :-/

Time for another cup of tea.

The Re-Farmer

Cute stuff, and some productivity

Before I get into various things, I want to share some cute stuff with you, first!

Our collection of baskets that had been stored in the big fish tank ended up on top of the piano for now. The cats love to go up there, so I fully expected them to take advantage of the situation.

It wasn’t long before I found Tissue and Leyendecker among them!

Tissue is in three baskets at once! 😀

The largest baskets, with decorations on them, are the ones we use for our family Easter basket. There are some smaller ones in the collection that we found while cleaning up the house, including a basket that used to be my very own basket to take to church for blessing on Holy Saturday, along with the family basket, when I was a child!

Here is some more cuteness for you to enjoy…

This piece of foam is what was inside the new washing machine when we bought it. Our old mama cat, who moved out here with us, immediately adopted it as her favourite bed, and now Cabbages loves to join “grandma” for cuddles!

The cats also like to bite off pieces along the edges and spit them out.

Our living room carpet is continually covered in cat fur, foam from this thing, cardboard from their scratch pad, and the dirt they’re still managing to dig out of some of our plant pots! The cats leave trails of detritus, everywhere they go. 😀

Our old mama cat has been quick to adopt any new cats introduced to the house, and is STILL allowing several of the kittens – now almost adults – to try and nurse on her, including Cabbages. Cabbages has been taking a long time to socialize but, thankfully, she is getting along quite well with the other cats. Grandma and Keith are her favourites!

Cabbages and Keith will spend hours like this, all snuggled together and napping on my bed.

Cabbages has finally reached a point where we can pet her regularly, and she doesn’t immediately run off. She seems torn between not wanting those big, clumsy humans clomping about near her, and wanting those scritches and pets. She will even tolerate being picked up and held, if only briefly. That is significant progress!

In other things, we warmed up enough today that I finally switched out the memory cards on the trail cams. That micro SD card I put in the new camera this morning, which had been used only once and did not require formatting in the camera when I put it in the first time, needed to be formatted this morning. *sigh* Why would it work fine the first time, after I’d formatted it in the computer, but need to be formatted in the camera, the next time it was used? The other micro SD cards I’d bought at the same time had done the same thing. I had assumed it was because they were not as high end, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem, after all.

Ah, well. I’ll figure it out.

With the bitter cold we’ve had for the past few days, I was not expecting to find much on the cards. Especially from the new camera, which has been just dying with the colder temperatures.

I was surprised.

The older camera was shut down when I switched out the memory card. When it gets cold and the batteries can’t handle it anymore, it shuts itself off. When I turned it back on, the batteries were still at half power, so it was just from the cold. There were still a few files on the card, though, all from one day.

The new camera had files recorded on each day of the deep freeze! This camera displays the temperature, and it actually kept on recording with an internal temperature of -25C/-13F !! Previously, this camera would die before reaching -20C/-4F! It did shut itself down during the nights; the only night files we did get, had a warning displayed in large red letters, saying it was low power. This camera will actually turn itself back on again when the temperatures warm up. I am totally shocked – in a happy way – that it kept working through the deep freeze. I have no idea why it would stop working before, but is working now, at these temperatures. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure! I did still have to warm up the camera with my hands, so I could see the screen, but that would only be a real problem if I had to do it during the deep freeze, because of the frost bite risk. Since I don’t even bother switching out the cards in temperatures like that, it’s a moot point.

This afternoon, we warmed up to -14C/7F, which made me a lot more comfortable about heading out to help my mother with her grocery shopping. She didn’t need much, but took advantage of having access to her car and stocked up on other things. I gave her some of my extra Mingle Masks, hoping she would use one instead of struggling with the surgical mask she normally uses, but she wasn’t up to it. Still, she has them, and saw on me how to use them, so I hope she gives them a try. She will actually be able to breathe in those. She still would have to use the type she struggles with at the pharmacy, though, so she might not bother. Frustrating.

After helping my mother with her shopping, I went back to the grocery store to pick up a few things to tide us over until we can do our big shop, whenever that will be. I had to pick up some bigger stuff, like cat litter and cat food, so there wasn’t enough room in her car for her shopping, her walker, and my shopping, all at once. Which is fine by me. The final bill was a shocker, though. I didn’t get very much, but it cost almost $270. Considerably more than if I’d been able to go to the city to buy the same things.

Bird tracks in the snow, found when I came home. This is nowhere near the bird feeders, but those are sunflower seed shells on the snow. Which shows just how windy things go!

There’s a reason we try to do monthly shops in the city. We save at least several hundred dollars every month by doing that, which means we have more budget left over to buy fresh foods locally. The more we’re forced to make smaller, local shopping trips, the more gets eaten out of our budget, and the less we can get overall, either locally, or in the city.

I did splurge on one thing, though.

I bought a 240 count bag of those red plastic beer cups.

I’m on several cold climate gardening groups, which are all busily talking about starting seeds indoors right now. I’ve seen people recommend using these as pots to start seeds in. They just need to have drainage holes punched into their bottoms. While I will be starting some seeds (like onions) in Jiffy pellets, and others (like corn) in toilet paper tubes, I learned from last year, that I need something bigger to start squash in. I did transplants outdoors too soon because they had gotten too big in their starter trays, only to lose most of them to one last late frost. By starting them in something bigger, even if the weather is not cooperative and they get in the ground later, they will have enough room to keep growing in their pots.

Ideally, I would be using biodegradable pots that can be put straight into the ground, with no disruption of the roots. That’s what I will be doing with the toilet paper tubes and corn. I’ve been looking at pots like that. The Jiffy peat pots are relatively inexpensive, and come in larger count packages. I would have ordered some last night, along with the seeds and plants I got for my daughters, but they were sold out. The alternatives were “cow pots” – the same idea, but made with cow manure instead of peat. They are way too expensive, though.

So when I saw the beer cups in the store, I went for it. They are the size I need, and can be reused. With 240 of them, I have more than enough to plant everything we have that need to be started indoors, and need the extra space.

Now I just have to figure out what to put under the the drainage holes. I can think of all sorts of possibilities, but they all require buying something, and that’s just not an option right now. Even if I could find them, they are “non essential” and stores still wouldn’t be able to sell them. (Like with clothes.) Maybe I’ll find something later in the month that I’ll be allowed to buy. The first seeds need to be started the second half of March, so I have a bit of time to find, or even build, something.

One more little step of progress towards our gardening. 🙂

Tomorrow, we take the van in to the garage and hopefully find out why it’s been stalling. What we find out then will determine what we do and when, in regards to getting the monthly shopping done, and picking up the new hot water tank on warranty.

Ah, that reminds me. I asked around about how this location has been about medical mask exemptions and things like shields and Mingle Masks. It turns out they’ve gone full mask nazi, even to the point of staff following people around, harassing them and kicking them out.

That is going to be a problem. At the very least, I need to go to the customer service desk with the sticker from the hot water tank, and warranty authorization number.

I did find out another location has been safe to go to. As far as I have been told, I need to go back to where the tank was purchased, but that may mean only the franchise, not the specific store. The first tank we got was from a location in town that told me they don’t do warranties, so I had to go to this other location. The one that was recommended to me is actually a bit closer; just in a town to the north of us, that we almost never go to.

I’ll have to make some phone calls.

What a hassle even the simplest things have become.

The Re-Farmer

Low battery

I made it into the city today, to attempt our monthly shop.

I am definitely running low on batteries right now. I hate shopping at the best of times.

These days are not the best of times.

But before I explain that, let’s have some cuteness! How about some hugging kitties?

The cats have a habit of taking over my bed. There is always a row of them along my pillows, all mashed together. I just couldn’t resist getting a picture of Leyendecker and Keith all face-smashed together! Then there’s David, hiding his face in his paws… so cute!

Cabbages, I’m happy to say, is completely at home with the rest of the cats. Now if only she would be as comfortable with us humans! We can sometimes pet her and even pick her up, but she is not a fan of human attention, except for the occasional ear skritches.

Her siblings outside are almost more accepting of human attention!

Well, okay. Maybe not.

That doesn’t stop them from following me when I do my rounds!

One of the bigger cats (Nostrildamus, I think) burrowed these hiding places in the snow. From the gate, all I see are little ear tips above the snow, twitching in pounce mode, waiting for another cat to walk past on the driveway. 😀

I got the rounds out of the way early and didn’t even go through the trail cam files, other than to verify that the new camera had thawed out enough to start recording again. Then it was off to the city to see if I could do the monthly shopping.

My first stop was at a particular Walmart where I’ve never had problems before, but I’ve heard of some people having issues every now and then. It’s at least twice the size of the one in the smaller city I went to last month, and better stocked, so I thought it was worth a try.

It wasn’t.

Now, one of the things that had become part of the monthly shopping routine is that we would have breakfast in the city. That’s not really an option anymore, but I figured I would pick up something I could eat in the van at Walmart. I know it’s said, never go shopping while hungry, because you’ll end up buying things you shouldn’t. For me, it’s the opposite. The hungrier I get, the less I want to eat. The less I want to be around food. I’m more likely to walk away without buying anything at all. And if I let it go for too long, the sight and smell of food makes me feel physically ill. I end up having to force myself to eat at least a little bit to get back to having a normal appetite. Along with feeling physically ill by the sight of food, I also start to become … less patient, shall we say, and oddly weepy.

I had not reached that point when I arrived, but my tolerance levels were definitely on the low side.

I came in with my shield, got a cart and, while I was using the hand sanitizer before going through their barrier, the staff from the sanitation station on the inside of the barrier came over and asked if I had a mask. I told her I was medically exempt and that the shield was my compromise. That went back and forth a bit, then she looked over to a little station on the outside of the barrier and said she would get someone. There were two people at that station and one of them came over and asked if I had a mask. I said I can’t wear one. He started to say something about the shield and a mask, but I honestly couldn’t make it out though his mask. :-/ I did hear him say he would get me one and he went back to the station.

I was blocking the way, so I moved over to where he was and told him, I can’t wear a mask. I have a medical exemption. The shield is the best I can do. He ended up handing me a paper ear loop mask and told me to just hang on to it in case the inspectors give me a hard time. Great. Whatever. I turn to the barrier, and there’s a woman on the other side – another customer – who’d been watching me and she started waving a mask still in it’s packaging at me. As best as I could make out, I think she was saying she just bought a mask and… she wanted me to take it? But she just watched me being given a mask just like what she was holding… and I was wearing a shield… so… ???

At that point, I just couldn’t handle it. I’d already put up with hassles from the staff who seemed to think that a person who can’t wear a mask and is wearing a shield instead, should be wearing both. I didn’t need to be hassled by customers, before I even fully entered the store. I turned around and left.

Once back in the van, I messaged my husband and, by the time I finished, I was in a better frame of mind.

The next stop on my list was an international grocery chain that I knew would be okay. And it was. I was able to go in, do my shopping, and no one batted an eye at my shield instead of a mask.

This is the place where I like to pick up our fresh produce in non-Costco sized quantities, as well as stuff in their international aisles that we just don’t find anywhere else. This place is awesome. Best of all, they still have their hot take out food section open, so I was able to get some Chinese food to eat in the van. By then, it was almost noon, and I was reaching the “so hungry I want to throw up” stage.

This is not the place where we pick up the cat food and litter, though, and we were pretty much out of both. Normally, I would have picked up part of that at the Walmart, with the rest at Costco.

I decided to try the Costco. Which is half way across the city from where I was.

When I got there, the parking lot was full, and there was a line all down the side of the building.

It was warmer today, but not that warm.

I found a place to pull over long enough to send an update to my family, letting them know I was going to go to the Walmart in the smaller city I’d gone to last month. They might not have as much inventory, but I knew I would at least be allowed to shop and not get hassled.

So it was, again. I had no issues at all I did get some odd looks from costumers, and at one point, while I was loading the cart with bags of cat food alongside the litter boxes, a couple of ladies in the same aisle were looking at me and whispering at each other. I could make out just enough to know they’d said something about the shield. I was going to be a while, so I shoved my cart into a corner and waited next to it, and they rushed past me. I kept running into them as I continued shopping, and every time we crossed paths, they would give me looks over their shoulders.

*sigh*

By the time I was at the cash desk, however, I was having a really hard time with shortness of breath. I hope those Mingle Masks I ordered come in soon; I’ve been told they don’t create that problem. I started chatting with the cashier and made a point of saying how much I appreciated that I don’t get any hassle there, and mentioned what happened at the other Walmart. Even with her mask, I could see how startled she was. Then she told me about her mother, who basically hasn’t left the house in 8 months. Her mother has PTSD and can’t wear a mask. They were going to try a shield, but haven’t been able to find one (they used to be available at that Walmart, but it looks like a lot of places have simply stopped carrying shields). I ended up telling her about the Mingle Mask and recommending it, based on the experiences of others.

I gotta say, I was really glad to get outside, where I could take the shield off an finally breathe again. I was so disoriented by the end of it, I almost walked away without paying!

By the time I got home, I was too drained for anything else. I must have looked it. As the girls were unloading the van, my older daughter took one look at me, and asked if I was up to going to the dump, or leaving it for later.

We left it for later. It was only open for another hour, and I would have needed more than that to recover enough for another trip out!

We’ll have to make another trip to get the rest; I got most of what we needed, but not necessarily in the quantities we need for the month.

I did splurge when I spotted a few things that I grabbed while I could.

One of them was this soil test kit. We had looked for one last year, and they were completely out of stock all summer. I couldn’t find them anywhere! This has enough to do 40 tests, so we will be able to use it on different areas as we decide on where to plant. It tests the pH, which I already have a meter for that just needs to be stuck into the soil, but it also tests for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. That will be useful information.

The other toy I got was a battery tester.

With the trail cams each using 8 batteries, and those batteries draining much faster in the winter, we have a LOT of batteries accumulating. The dump has a special shed to drop off things like batteries, so we don’t put them in the garbage. Plus, while some batteries may not have enough juice for the trail cams, that doesn’t mean they are actually dead.


The first batch of batteries I’d tested were the frozen one’s I’d switched out of the new trail cam.

They still had full power!

Then I went though the old batteries boxes.

This first batch is all of the batteries that are not usable. Some of which I didn’t even test, since they’d started leaking!!

And yeah, that’s an old DSLR camera battery in there.

Some of the batteries in there were ones that we found while we were cleaning the place up after moving here. I have no idea how old they might be.

The next batch are the batteries that are still usable.

All the batteries in here were either in the green zone, or the very small, yellow “low battery” zone.

All 276 of them.

They may not be usable in the trail cams, but we can use them for other things. Like the battery operated string lights we have in the hallway in place of night lights. We used to use night lights all over the place, but this house doesn’t have many outlets, and there are none at all in the hallway. We rather like being able to see well enough to not trip over cats in the dark, while also not having to turn on the hall light and blinding ourselves at night.

Aside from these, there were some AAA and D cells that had full charge, too.

That little meter has already paid for itself, many times over.

As for me, I’m looking forward to Sunday actually being a day of rest. After today, I need to recharge my own batteries!

The Re-Farmer

And early start in the dark

Today was that day of the month that always reminds me how much I dislike shopping! 😀

Actually, it went very well, all things considered. So I’m happy about that.

I got an early start to doing my rounds, which meant it was still very dark as I switched out the memory card on the trail cam.

I also paused to take this photo of our lights.

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A few interesting things today

While doing my rounds, I noticed something about the storm damage to one of our elms that I hadn’t before. I simply didn’t stop to look, since it’s still to wet and snowy to start cleaning the damage up, until today while doing my morning rounds.

This branch here isn’t just broken.

It’s broken off completely. The only reason it’s not on the ground is because it fell on another little branch that’s holding it up!

The girls and I had to make a trip into the city today, and while driving around, we saw so many damaged trees. Some were large ones that basically split apart at their turns, as heavy branches on different sides broke off in different directions.

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