God bless good neighbours!

So… the road got plowed last night.

They did a great job on the road, but that plow ridge. Oy! I knew it needed to be cleared before things warmed up, then froze again into a solid mass. This morning, at least, it was still relatively soft. Just really deep!

I came back with the snow shovel and the ice scraper. I used the ice scraper to break up the packed snow and large chunks in the plow ridge, then shoveled it away, little by little. My goal was to make a space wide enough to drive through, but first I did about half that width, just to dig my way to the road. Then I started digging my way back clearing the other half.

Part way through, I realized I was being watched from the road!

Two deer were very perplexed by my activities!

While I was out there, my daughter also came out and got little Spewie going. She started clearing the space in front of the garage. The snow is no longer sticky, but a lot harder than it was yesterday, so it was tough going on that poor little snow blower. I saw her having to go back into the garage quite a few time to flick the switch on the power bar back on.

Then, and angel swooped in.

While I was still shoveling away, our neighbour with the plow attachment on his truck drove up. Once I realized he was dropping his plow and turning into our driveway, I grabbed the shovel and ice scraper and moved out of the way.

In just a few minutes, he did what would have taken us all day, just to get a path wide enough to drive through!

He even drove out and reversed all the way back down the driveway, so he could clear the area in front of where we store the lawn mowers and snow blower, which he couldn’t access from the other direction. Then, last of all, he widened the space at the end of the driveway!

He didn’t even stop to let me thank him. I shouted my thanks, anyway, and he just waved and kept going.

What an absolute sweetheart!

Also… I want a truck with a plow attachment like his! What a beast, and he could make that thing dance. 🤍🤍

The Re-Farmer

Waited too long

Well, that was a mistake.

After doing some shoveling this morning, I headed in and took a break with breakfast and a pot of tea before heading out again in the afternoon.

I waited too long.

I started by doing the upstairs litters, then getting the burn going, getting rid of our burnable garbage along with the sawdust litter. While tending that, I cleared the paths to the electric meter. With how warm it was getting and how the snow was changing, even in that time, I put a cover on the burn ring sooner than I normally would have, then went to get little Spewie out and clear the driveway.

It was too late.

It’s -4C/25F right now, bright and sunny. All the paths I dug earlier, where it’s darker, have melted away, but the snow is just getting wetter, stickier and heavier. Too sticky for the snow blower. I had to give up after only a couple of passes across the front of the garage.

While it’s not much of a problem for shoveling paths, with the snow just getting wetter and heavier, there’s no way we can shovel the entire driveway.

Which means we’re stuck. Our vehicles can’t get through that, either.

On top of that, the roads aren’t plowed, and I suspect they won’t be.

Hopefully, the warmer temperatures will take care of it for us by the weekend, when we are supposed to reach above freezing temperatures for highs from then on. I know the highways will be clear by then, but it’s rather different on gravel roads.


The Re-Farmer

Digging out

Well, the storm has passed, and everyone is starting to dig their way out.

This is me, on my way to switch out the memory card in the gate cam.

No, I’m not standing in a drift. The snow reaches almost to me knees. Taking into account what was already on the ground, we definitely got at least 10 inches/25 cm in total.

I didn’t walk all the way to the road, as the end of the driveway is drifted over, so not only is it deeper, but harder packed. The road has not been plowed yet. I’d already seen people posting in local Facebook groups asking about the plows. Apparently, our new council members have not sent them out yet. Whether that’s for budgetary reasons or because they decided to simply let it melt was the question.

Of course, we couldn’t get out of our driveway right now, anyways, even with the van.

I found a whole train of cats waiting for me when I got back to the inner yard!

This path is now shovelled clear again. I also cleared the path to the garage, wide enough for walker or wagon, and enough space in front of the garage to open the side doors.

We can now open the doors on the storage side, and there’s room enough to maneuver little Spewie out. That little snow blower is going to get a work out, today!

I cleared the path to the burn ring, too. We need to do another burn. I’d like to get more paths dug out, so that they will melt clear faster as things warm up. I’m not going to bother digging a path to the sign cam, though. There’s lots of space on the memory card, and the batteries were still good the last I checked, so it should be fine until I can get to it again. At least I can be confident our vandal isn’t going to fight his way through the snow to wreck the sign or something.

For now, I’m going to have myself another cup of tea before heading back out again.

The Re-Farmer

Change in plans

With all the snowfall warnings we got, my mother called me up last night to talk about helping her with errands today. In the end, we decided I would check conditions on the morning, and we’d go from there.

Well, I’m not going to my mother’s today.

Not even the deer wanted to take my path to the sign cam. 😄

We didn’t get a lot of snow. I was keeping an eye on the highway conditions group I’m in, on Facebook, and people were talking about the icy road conditions. Which makes sense, considering how warm it was while the snow was falling. Nothing but ice on the road, under that snow! Still, the people posting had driven the highways several hours before I would need to, so it wouldn’t necessarily apply anymore.

There was some drifting at the end of the driveway, but the gravel road looked okay. No plowing needed. I shoveled out the sidewalks and a path to the garage, but that was about it. I was going to combine trips and head to town to our regular pharmacy first for a prescription refill, so I called them up just minutes after they opened, thinking to leave soon after.

The pharmacist that answered the phone happens to live half way between us and town. When I said that I was hoping to pick up today, but would require delivery if I didn’t make it, she told me the roads were still very icy. If I were using our van, with its good winter tires, I probably would have gone for it. However, we’re not using the van right now, nor would I use it to run errands with my mother. While my mother’s car has good all-weather tires, they’re still not winter tires, and can’t handle the ice as well.

So I decided to reschedule with my mother to tomorrow. We’re supposed to get more snow later in the week – hopefully not too much, because we’ve just accepted an Easter dinner invitation in the city on Saturday that a daughter and I will be going to! – but not early tomorrow.

I called my mother to reschedule, and she was all “but it’s so nice and sunny outside!” as if that somehow meant there shouldn’t be ice on the roads. If she can’t see it, it’s not real! 😄 Then I headed outside again to shovel the drifts out of the end of the driveway. It didn’t take long. The snow was still light and the drifts weren’t very hard packed. Yet. Which is why I wanted to get them cleared now. I didn’t want them to be there if we do get more snow later on.

Then, since I was out anyway, I cleared the snow in front of the garage so the side doors can be opened easily. Then I widened the path to to the garage. Then the paths to the electricity meter and the burn ring. Finally, I cleared the paths around the cat shelters and to the shrine, where we still keep a food bowl for the shiest of the cats. The snow was blown around enough that the food bowls inside the kibble house had snow in them, and even the trays under the water bowl shelter were full of snow! The cats were definitely happy to have access to food in the sun room. There were 16 of them, just in the sun room, when I put food out this morning. I counted 23 altogether.

Then I came in to a lovely breakfast my daughter prepared. What a sweetheart!

So today is going to be a quieter day than planned. I’m good with that. By rescheduling with my mother to tomorrow, and getting our prescription refills delivered the day after (I am so thankful for that service!!), it’ll mean much less driving around, too.

Meanwhile, the storm warnings are still happening. A Colorado Low is coming in, and the south end of our province is now expected to get another 15-25cm (6-10 inches) of snow, starting tomorrow afternoon and over the next couple of days. How much of that will reach us, or even as far as the city, is hard to say. After that, our highs are supposed to go above freezing, then keep getting warmer. It’s a good thing the municipalities have been clearing the ditches and culverts. That will go a long way to prevent flooding. Not that we’d have anything close to the flooding we had last spring!

I am really looking forward to the snow being gone, and things being dry enough to start working outside!

The Re-Farmer

Snow kidding!

Every spring, around this time, there’s usually at least one big snowstorm.

Even knowing that, it was a bit of a surprise to see our temperatures above freezing, and a snowfall warning at the same time. Especially when my app was saying “snow will continue for X number of minutes”, and we had no snow falling at all.

Well, the snow has reached us.

There is a storm coming up from the US, and the southern areas are expected to get 10-15cm (4-6 inches) of snow.

We will be getting the snow, but not as much, and not the storm conditions.

I don’t think the cats were happy about it when I came out to top up their food!

The snow is supposed to stop during the night. Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit colder. Hopefully, road conditions will still be good. I just made arrangements to go to my mother’s and help her with her Easter shopping!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2023 garden: spring is… here?

Yesterday was the first day of spring. Check out our spring garden!


It’s going to be a while before we can start building the trellis tunnels (we will be starting closer to the high raised bed, and I hope to eventually have two or three, though maybe not this year), never mind planting anything!


We do have other signs of spring.

When I shut the lights off for the night, I found two Black Beauty tomatoes had emerged! There had been no sign of them when I turned the lights on in the morning. I could just make out the “elbow” of a third one, and this morning I can see there is a second “elbow” emerging. These are in the cell just below the one with the visible sprouts.

Today, I plan to pot up some of the transplants, and try to start seeds for some losses. We are down to one luffa, two pots of zucca melon still have had no germination, along with one pot of drum gourds, so I’ll see if I can get new ones started, though I won’t bother putting them in the aquarium greenhouse. Their current location above a heat vent should be warm enough. I did remove the plastic cover on the mini greenhouse, as I think the lack of air circulation may be contributing to the losses, and even some of the bigger seedlings have started to look unhealthy.

I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some milk for my mother, and ended up picking up a seed kit. One of the things I wanted to do later on was get strawberry transplants – quite a few of them, depending on the budget – and plant them as a living ground cover around the silver buffalo berry. Last year, the transplants cost about $3 or $4 each. The kit was only $4. So I’m going to try growing strawberries from seed, which will hopefully give me more to transplant than I would be able to afford if buying transplants. And if they fail, it’s not an expensive fail. So that is something else I plan to work on today.

Oh, and I’d better call the plumber about our bathtub before I forget again! After that, I’ll know if I have to be making a trip to get a tub surround and the replacement taps I want.

We’ll see how that works out!

The Re-Farmer

Well… the first ones are here (sad update)

There was quite a crowd when I came out this morning. I think I actually counted 26 cats, though it’s possible I double counted one of the white and greys.

It was while I was by the cat house that I heard it.

The tiniest of squeaky noises.

It took a moment of standing completely still to listen, but the noise was definitely there, and definitely repeating itself.

After going around the other side of the cat house with the kibble, I was able to peek into the small window facing south. The window is half covered with frost, but there was enough visibility that I could see across the inside of the cat house, were we put a box with an old pillow inside for the cats.

Yes. There it most definitely was.


Our first litter of kittens of the year have been born.

I was pretty sure it would be soon, as when I saw the pregnant mama yesterday, she looked rather damp in the back. She is actually in the photo above; the tabby at the very top of the picture.

Alas, she apparently did not have her kittens in the cat house. At least not to start. We have the shelf shelter up against the shelf shelter, and the bottom two shelves have rigid insulation inside, and in front, along with extras like a cardboard box and cat beds inside. I always put a handful of kibble into the openings of each. The bottom one isn’t as open anymore, as the cats have slowly broken the insulation forming the front “walls”, making the opening larger and larger, and the top one has been used as a scratching post in one corner so much, the insulation is torn away with only the cardboard box inside keeping the weather out from the hole!

Going past the shelf shelter later on, I saw one of the white and greys in the bottom shelf, batting at something and looking very startled and confused.

It turned out to be a dead, newborn kitten.

It must have been further back in the shelf when I put the kibble in, because I couldn’t see it at all at the time. Other cats came around to check it out, also looking rather confused over the poor thing.

As the ground is too frozen to bury it, I wrapped it in some paper towel, and we were cremate it later. Poor baby.

I can say for sure there is at least one surviving kitten that I could hear and see moving, and one that didn’t make it. If there are any other survivors, I have no way of knowing. We’re not going to pop open the roof of the cat house to see, because the last thing I want is for the mama to get spooked and move them away. For a litter born this early in the year, their chances of survival are very low, but their best chance of survival is right where they are now. It’s unfortunate the mama is one of the more feral cats, or we’d find a way to bring her and the babies inside.

I suppose I ought to let the cat lady know about it, but she’s recovering from surgery right now and has enough on her plate. There’s nothing more we can do about them right now, anyhow.

One a completely different note, I found this interesting, while doing my rounds.

When we had that wind storm blowing snow two days ago, there was no new snow. Just what the winds picked up off the ground. Yesterday we actually reached 0C/32F, so things started to melt a bit. Now, you can really see that, along with snow, the winds picked up all sorts of dirt, too. Since most of the fields are still covered with snow, that would consist mostly of sand picked up from the roads. The blown in snow is incredibly hard packed, too. Part of my path to the sign cam was filled in, and the blown in snow is so hard packed, it actually holds my weight when I walk on it, just like the packed snow on the bottom of path!

We’re expecting more winds today, from the northeast instead of south/southeast, as it was during the wind storm. Nothing as severe as before, thankfully. We’ll still be taking the van instead of my mother’s car to my daughters eye exam this afternoon, though, just to be on the safe side!

The Re-Farmer

Update: Well, my daughter and I are back from her eye exam (and saying hello to some goats while picking up more eggs on the way home). As I was walking up to the house, I saw Rolando Moon start to go into the bottom of the shelf shelter, then back off strangely. I went to check but couldn’t really see anything, but I was able to reach in and pull out a cat bed we have in there. Sure enough, there was another dead kitten in there. Crud. I wrapped it up with its sibling for later cremation. Poor baby.

I topped up the kibble for the evening and tried to see through the small window of the cat house again, but no luck. The window is just too dirty on the inside. Wherever the surviving kitten is in there (however many there may be), it was no longer anywhere I could see. I was not about to keep mucking about, though. I saw the mama in there, then she went into the sun room to eat. The last thing I want to do is spook her into moving her surviving babies away.

More yard cats is the last thing we need, but we adore them anyway, and it’s always sad when the little ones don’t make it.

Oh, what a beautiful day!

My goodness, how awesome it is out there today!

At the time I headed out to do my morning rounds, it was only -18C (about 0F), with no wind chill to speak of. As I write this, less than an hour later, we’re already warmed up to -15C/5F, again with basically no wind chill. We’re supposed to get a high of -10C/14F today. It’s going to seem tropical, after the past week!

I still wasn’t quite able to do my usual rounds. The wind has blown over many of the paths dug out in the snow. I decided it was a good day to test out the new heated gloves and do some digging, starting with the plow ridge across the driveway. My mother’s car had a hard time getting through it, yesterday!

Some of the cattens kept me company.

They love that tire that’s used to keep the doors from blowing open. It gets nice and warm! With how much warmer it is, I’m seeing them running around and playing, all over the place!

Along with the plow ridge, I also cleared the path to the compost heap. The wind had completely filled in parts of it, and the snow was brick-like on top, so that took a while. I didn’t even try to dig the path to the sign cam – too long! – but I had my nice new boots, and plowed my way through the wind packed snow. That was almost as tiring as shoveling! It’ll be easier to dig out later, though. The boots are awesome.

As for the gloves…

They are nice and warm, even without turning on the heat. They didn’t seem to get any more pliable by the time I was done, unfortunately. The long cuffs are great – except that they’re not wide enough to go over the cuffs of my parka, nor narrow enough to go under. So I ended up with both cuffs all bunched up. The stiffness of the gloves makes it hard to put on the second glove, but there was an extra problem. These XL gloves fit my wide hands just fine – but I have short fingers. So any time I tried to do something like adjust the other glove, it was hard to get a good grip with floppy finger tips! Plus, the touch screen sensitive parts on the thumb and pointer finger are slightly ridged and harder, so that gets pushed around more, too. I didn’t even try to test the touch screen sensitivity. I have to take a glove off to get my phone out of my pocket, anyhow, so there was no need – plus, just handling my phone with the gloves would be unnecessarily difficult. The last thing I wanted to do was drop my phone in the snow. I did get a lot of use out of the wrist straps while switching out the memory cards, pausing to get my phone out, or to dig out a tissue to blow my know while digging. I like being able to just drop the gloves and have them hanging!

It’s been quite a while since I switched out the trail cam memory cards. Today is the first time I saw the batteries on the solar cam at anything other than 100%! When I first opened it up and checked, it said the batteries were at 75%, but after I switched the memory card out it went up to 80%. Which tells me that it’s more about the cold. Much to my surprise, the older sign cam’s battery meter was still full bars. I suppose that makes sense, though. The gate cam is mounted on a stand in the open. It would have had the full blast of yesterday’s winds coming from the southeast. The sign cam is not only under a tree, but the sign it’s monitoring, as well as the trees across the road, would have stopped all wind from that direction, so it was quite protected.

It should be interesting to see the files over those freezing cold days! The camera that got stolen would do weird things when it got really cold, like turn everything pink. The new camera has had some cold spells before, but not quite like what we’ve had for the past week, so I’ve yet to get a good look at how it handles severe winter conditions.

Considering how many days of files I’ve got to go through, I think I’ll make some tea, first! 😄

The Re-Farmer

Snow and frost, bye-bye bitties, and this is $353

Starting last night, heavy fog started moving across our province. It was heaviest in the south, with major visibility issues. Today, it reached us.

It was pretty light by the time I was doing this part of my rounds, and gosh, it does make the trees look pretty!

Though it does cause issues with how well the trail cams work! 😄

Yesterday, I had to head out in the morning to pick up some parcels at the post office before it closed for the holidays. The road had been plowed. Which is nice, but I started to get stuck trying to get through it with the van. So in the afternoon, I headed out with a shovel to clear it.

Which is really hard to see, even after trying to increase the contrast when I resized the photo! 😄 I did the end of the driveway, from the gate to the road, with a shovel rather than breaking out Spewie. The plow ridge was too much for that little snow blower.

Which meant getting out today was much, much easier!

Today, we said goodbye to the bitties.

Tissue is the last of the inside cats that needed to be spayed. She is available for adoption, but we will be bringing her back home on the 4th. They’re scheduled to be spayed on the 2nd.

Walnut (who would be Tissue’s baby sister) may not be spayed right away, though. The littles are all dealing with upper respiratory issues, and the vet might not be willing to spay her until that’s been treated. Talking to the Cat Lady, she was thinking either the vet would spay her, and they’d keep her for 2 weeks of antibiotic treatment, or the vet won’t do it, they’ll treat her for 2 weeks, and then hope for another spay clinic (which is $75, instead of $350).

While I was working on this post, however, I started getting messages from the Cat Lady, asking what we know about Walnut’s age. We know she’s at least 6 months old, even though she is so tiny. Well, it turns out the Cat Lady has someone who is interested in adopting a tiny cat. Walnut may already have a forever home lined up! The bitties, of course, won’t be up for adoption for a while, yet.

Meanwhile, because of the respiratory issues, Tissue is currently isolated from the rest of the Cat Lady’s cats, who are all sniffling right now. The bitties, of course, will be isolated in their own kennel for awhile, too. Apparently, this particular strain of upper respiratory problems, which has been a problem for at least 30 years, is especially bad this year. Another rescue she is connected with has lost ALL their adult cats to it! For it to take out adult cats is very unusual. When she was last at the vet, all the other people with cats in the waiting room, their cats were stuffy and sneezing.

The lysine we’ve been giving them – even though they are probably not getting much of a dose – will help. It used to be, lysine treatment was only for a month, but the vet is telling her that now, it’s lysine for life. !!!

So we will all be taking extra care with the cats. Being as isolated as we are, we don’t have to worry too much about the cats being in contact with other colonies compared to more populated areas, but the Cat Lady has to take extra care, just in her own house, and she has more than 20 right now.

We meet in a parking lot near a Walmart, so after we parted ways, I took advantage of the situation and did some shopping. We are well stocked with most things, which meant that – aside from cat food (the Cat Lady casually loaded another bag of cat food into our van, along with another cat bed, while we were chatting!) – we could indulge a bit for New Year’s treats.

Which is why this cart load is $353 and change (plus a donation to the Children’s Hospital).

There’s 5 different types of frozen appetizers in there, which we’re having today – early, because none of us intend to stay up to midnight! – as well as a couple of cheeses, a couple of charcuterie combos and a couple of baguettes for tomorrow. I got a couple of pies as well, and some cranberry ginger ale. Along with the dry and wet cat food, I had a request for some “healthy-ish” cereal for my husband, plus a large jar of olives, both for the charcuterie, and for general snacking. There’s a bag of clementines, and two bags of avocados. Those were under $2 for a bag of five avocados! These days, we’re lucky to pay less than $2 for just one.

There’s also a couple of bags of pistachios for van snacks, and a couple of popcorn seasonings. Last of all are a couple of Command Strip hooks I remembered to get, some batteries my daughters needed, and some painkillers for me. I ran out a while ago.

That’s it. The cart isn’t even full, and it was over $350

Before heading for home, I messaged the family to let them know I’d need help unloading. We can’t drive up to the house right now, and the path shoveled to the garage is not wide enough for the wagon.

When I got home, however, I found my daughter had broken Spewie out and widened the path, and even got paths to the burn ring and almost all the way to the electricity meter. The extension cord wasn’t long enough to reach all the way, and she didn’t want to break out another one. So she was shoveling in front of the garage, instead.

When I came in, though, I had another surprise.

The driveway was cleared again!

I was going to work on it tomorrow, with Spewie, but now we just need to clear the rest right in front of the garage, and paths in the yard.

As you can see, even though I increased the contrast in the photo, we still had fog.

Driving out, the fog got thicker the further south I went. By the time I was driving home, it was the other way around. When I was loading the van, there wasn’t any fog anymore, but the further north I drove, the denser it got. One stretch of my route is nothing but open fields in all directions, with just the occasional shelter belt around a farmyard visible. With the white snow and the dense fog, there was no horizon, except on the highway itself – and even then, I was seeing a vehicle in front of me slowly disappearing, even though we were not getting any further apart.

That combination of snow and fog really affects the visibility!

I was certainly glad to get home!

So now, we will celebrate New Year’s early, and be in bed well before midnight! 😄😄

The Re-Farmer