Our 2020 garden: the bean tunnel

This year, we decided to use the squash tunnel for vining beans.

But first, it needed some work.

We were able to weed and prep this side of the tunnel in the fall. Can you tell?

What a huge difference in the soil. When we first set up the squash tunnel, using a post hole digger to make holes for the support posts, it was incredibly hard. For the rows to plant in, we layered straw, then fresh garden soil – we’d long run out of carboard, and even shredded paper, if I remember correctly. Then the top was mulched with straw after the squash, gourds and melons were transplanted.

As you can see in the photo, the garden fork can now did deep into the soil, and I could push my hands into it to pull out the weed roots.

And tree roots. A remarkable amount of fine, thin tree roots.

The only things causing problems while using the garden fork was hitting rocks or larger tree roots!

So. Many. Rocks! Deep enough that I didn’t try to dig them out, though. I just pulled out the small rocks nearer the surface.

In the picture, you can see some orange twine. I found 3 places where the screws had snapped, and the cross pieces were basically being held in place by the wire mesh. I just lashed them back to the support poles. We might get one more year out of this tunnel before we build a permanent one, closer to the house, so I’m not too worried about it.

It was very hot work. Though my weather app said it was 19C/66F, with a RealFeel of 21C/70F, this is what the tunnel thermometer read.

Yeah, that’s reading about 33C/91F out there.

I’m sure the heat loving melons, eggplants and peppers were just loving it.

Me? Not so much!

Along with beans, the two Canteen gourds were transplanted. These were growing so fast, they had been potted up three times, and we needed to add support poles because they were trying to climb anything they could reach, including the tomato plants they were sharing a bin with! They were outgrowing their pots again, and really needed something sturdy to climb!

In the row on the left of the photo, I planted Blue Grey Speckled Tepary beans. These are a vining bean for drying, not fresh eating. They are also drought and heat tolerant, so perfect for this spot! The space was just enough for the amount of beans in the package, too. I supposed it’s possible there were more, but the cats tried to eat the package, scattering beans all over the floor. I think we found all of them, but some may have been missed.

On the right in the photo, I planted Red Noodle beans. These beans can grow up to 20 inches long! The packet was supposed to have 25 seeds, but I counted 33, which didn’t fill the row. We still have 2 other varieties of pole beans, but there are too many in the bags to fit in the remaining space, and I didn’t want to plant just a few. One of them has something like 200 seeds in it, so we aren’t going to be planting all of them!

I think, instead, we’ll plant some climbing gourds in the remaining space. We have some Tennessee Dancing gourds that would fit. Or some luffa. I think we have some that survived. We’ll decide after we get the remaining two trellises ready.

I’m glad we got at least two types of vining/pole beans in. It’s quite late in the season to be direct sowing beans here, but they are short season varieties, so it should be fine.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

We caught a break!

Early this evening, the rain finally stopped, the sun came out, and the temperature warmed up several degrees higher than forecast. We took advantage of the break and quickly put the transplants outside to harden off for a couple of hours. Normally, I would have added an extra hour, but it was getting too late in the day for that. (I’m trying something different again with my photos; please let me know if you have any problems viewing them.)

There is SO much water all over the yard. Even areas that don’t seem to have puddles in them have standing water, hidden by whatever green growth is managing to emerge.

One of the things I wanted to get done was reinforce the hoops on the high raised bed. The problem was, I didn’t have anything long enough. So I made do.

We have some bamboo stakes that are getting pretty old and fragile, including some broken ones, so I was able to tie one full length one together with a shorter one, then attached it to the hoops. It’s now ready to have some plastic put over it, tomorrow evening, before the temperatures drop low enough for possible snow.

I also had a chance to clean up one side of last year’s squash tunnel. We’d only managed to do the other side in the fall, before the snow arrived. This year, we will be planting pole beans to climb the tunnel.

Here we’ve marked the future sea buckthorn locations. You can see the gaps in the lilac hedge, where the deer are getting through. It’ll take a few years, but the sea buckthorn should fill that in nicely.

Here, where the corn and sunflower beds were last year, we’ve marked where the silver bison berry will go. (At some point, we’ll even take out the old sunflower stems the deer didn’t finish off. :-D) Each will be about 3 feet apart in their rows. We are still debating how far apart to make the rows – certainly not the 16 feet recommended! We were thinking 4 ft apart at first, but might go with 5 feet apart. We also changed our minds about the 2 highbush cranberry, and will be adding those to the far end of the the bison berry. One of the reasons these are being planted here is for a privacy screen, which will eventually extend as far as the row of crab apple trees. The saw horse you can see in the distance is next to the last one of them in the row. The cranberry bushes will help extend the privacy screen a bit, and we will plant other things over the next few years to keep extending it.

The branch pile in the distance is completely surrounded by water right now.

Where I’m standing to take the above photo is roughly where the phone line is buried, so we will be leaving an open lane, wide enough for a large vehicle or heavy equipment to drive through, as we plant more trees and shrubs.

As the berry bushes we plant fill out and start creating that privacy screen we want, we’ll start doing more to clean up the fence line, which is in serious need of repair. It has trees growing on either side of it, some of which will be taken out completely, while others will have their lower branches pruned back. There are a few dead trees in there, too. In one area, there are wild Saskatoon bushes. I want to clean up around them so that they are not as crowded, and have better growing conditions.

Gosh, it felt so good to be able to get at least a couple of hours of work done outside! I’m just loving being able to finally do some decent manual labour again!

The Re-Farmer

The good, the bad, the “someone just shoot me now”

What a day.

What a long day that started really well…

I had a very enthusiastic crowd waiting for me this morning. Including the new edition. I was even able to pet her a few times, though she kept moving away when I did.

But yes, I was able to confirm. Our new addition is a she.

I just hope that, wherever she came from, she’s already fixed.

In the end, I counted 19 cats this morning. Only Rosencrantz was missing. 🙂

My morning rounds now include going to the very corner of the property to check on the sign. No vandalism! (yet?)

What I found interesting is that the squash tunnel was shaded. It is only this time of year that the shadows from the spruce grove reach this far. In the summer, the squash tunnel gets full sun, all day. The main garden area’s beds, meanwhile, are now in pretty much full shade all day. What a difference, time of year makes!

The transplanted mint is looking just fine; not at all droopy from being moved.

One of the empty blocks, however, seems to attracted a critter. Possibly a skunk digging for grubs. Whatever it was, it lost us some of the soil in those openings around the edges! I want to fill those with sand or gravel.

After I finish my rounds, I spend some time going over the trail cam files. We had a long list of things to work on outside, while it is still relatively warm in the afternoon. I was going to head out right after having lunch, then calling my mom to arrange to bring her to see the sign tomorrow.

She called me first.

She wanted to come today.

I told her I was thinking of tomorrow, because it’s such a warm day, and we have lots to do outside. She said the warm day was why she wanted to come today, because it would be harder for her when it was cooler. And I could spare an hour for her, couldn’t I?

Which would mean just driving her over to see the sign, taking some photos of her next to it, then driving her home. Was that what she was wanting to do?



So off I head to the town she lives in, and when I get there, she is cleaning out her purse and preparing a list of things she needs.

Since I’m there with her car, anyhow…

Okay, so we’ve added grocery shopping to the list. No worries.

We head back to the farm and as we come to our driveway, my Mom suggests we go straight to where the sign is from the road, not in the driveway. As we get closer, however, she suggested we keep going to look at the other quarter section, first. Just a drive by. This was something she had talked about wanting to go before, so I was expecting it. We did the drive, saw that it looks like the renter has moved his cows to that quarter, since there is a hay bale, salt blocks and a feeder set up near the gate. At the far end of the property is an intersection I can turn around at, then back we went to the sigh. I pulled over on the road, and there was thankfully a nice level spot she could go over with her walker. We got several pictures, and then back to the car.

Did she want to see what I did with the outhouse? I ask.

Oh, yes! was her enthusiastic reply.

I am such an idiot.

First, we drove over to the old workshop that is now completely filled with all my parents’ stuff we cleared out of the house. There was an old framed print she wanted. This was something else that had come up in past conversation, so we too the opportunity to grab that. Then we drove into the yard, and I backed up towards the outhouse.

My mother being ticked off that I did that, instead of parking further ahead, as usual, should have been my first warning.

To make it short, because I really don’t want to relive the experience, my mother decided to tour the inner yards, starting with the newly finished brick lined bed where the tomatoes were (she liked that, at least), but not until after making snide comments about the newly framed low beds where we have two types of garlic planted (so this is where you’re putting the garden now, is it? Uhm… no, Mom. It’s just the garlic).

I tried several times to redirect her to the outhouse, and she ignored me every time. As she worked her way around the yard, she made sure to give me a hard time about the garbage pile, which we need to hire someone to haul away for us (she didn’t have much to say when I pointed out this was garbage we found all around the yard that’s now in one place), acted surprised about the tire planters being moved, even though she’s been here since they were moved, and had just walked past the one that isn’t wrecked and could be used again), made sure to tell me to leave the spruce tree she planted at the chain link fence (I’s talked about transplanting it, before it gets so big it tears the fence apart, shortly after we moved out here, and she went ballistic on me, so I didn’t say anything this time). I commented on the second one that had been there dying, and she lectured me on how I should have watered it (it was killed by the cold, two winters ago), made numerous comments about the things I should have done around the yard (things I would have been doing, if she hadn’t asked me to bring her over), asked why I’d cut down the crab apple tree by the old compost, and when I told her it had died of diseased, lectured me about watering things again. Because, in her mind, if you water the trees, they won’t get disease. Then she mocked and laughed at me for building the high raised bed, the squash tunnel, the trellises and the low raised beds. No one does things like that, you see. They just plowed the whole thing.

Then she nagged me about various other things as she worked her way around the yard. When I thought she was finally going to the outhouse, she ended up going to the back door of the garage. She wanted to see the wood chipper.

That door leads to where her car is parked.

I tried to get her to go around, but she wrestled her walker through to door, so she could snoop in the garage. Which was have not even come close to cleaning up. I got the chipper out for her to see, and she really liked that, but then complained because there were still branch piles. Then she complained about how ugly they looked, and how ugly the post pounder my late brother built looked. I’d covered it with a tarp I’d found in the barn that was big enough, but after several years, the wind has torn it to shreds. We don’t have anything else big enough to protect it. But it looks ugly, and people can see it from the road, so it needs to be covered.

Eventually, we made our way back into the yard and…

She went to the car to leave.

By then, I’d opened the door to the outhouse, but hadn’t put the mat back because I wanted her to see how nice the floor looked, too.

She wouldn’t go near it. She just glanced over and said she could see it through the door. Then got into the car.

So, I put the mat back, closed up the outhouse, put her walker into the car, then we headed out.

Along the drive home, I tried to chat and mentioned the electric chainsaw we got. She mocked me about it, but in such a way that I didn’t understand her “joke” at all. Which then led to a whole slough of mockery.

I shouldn’t be using a chainsaw. I shouldn’t be doing men’s work. I need a man. Also, I’ve done nothing at the farm at all. Apparently, I’m a weak, useless, stupid woman who shouldn’t do actual work, except for the stuff that she used to do on the farm (while everything else magically did itself, apparently), which I am not doing right, because I haven’t done it yet, but she thinks I should have done it by now, or I’m not doing it the way she did, therefore I’m doing it wrong.

Oh, I forgot. At one point, when I told her that I’d lost a day of work by having to drive her around, she told me, what work? I don’t have cows to milk! What work am I doing? I don’t have any work.

Well, I called her on her behaviour, and pointed out that she shows no appreciation, gratitude or kindness. To which I got a sanctimonious, “yes, yes, get that off your chest” response. Because, clearly, I’m the one with the problem, and her cruelty and insults are neither cruel nor insulting.


Still, when we got back to her town, we were civil. I helped her with her grocery shopping, though she brought up getting an apple pie to have with tea when we got back to her place. I told her I didn’t have time to stop for tea, but she could get one if she wanted.

She didn’t.

Once at her place, I put her groceries away and she was going to give me some money for gas, which I do appreciate. She then brought out a bill (almost enough to cover the amount of gas spent in driving, but I do still appreciate it!) and told me, if I’d invited her inside for tea, I would have gotten more.

I told her, I didn’t realize that was an expectation.

By the time I left and put some gas in the tank, it was so late, I couldn’t even stop at the post office to pick up a package. My day was wasted. There was no time to even start anything when I got back, because I wouldn’t have enough time to finish before the light was gone.

I’m just so ticked off right now. After talking with my husband and telling him some of how it went, his response is, not to have her back here again. And at this point, I can’t disagree.

My mother is why we are living here. We came here to take care of the place for her. Now that the ownership has been transferred to my brother, I still try to respect her wishes as much as possible, and keep her informed of how things are going. In the end, though, she doesn’t own this place. My brother does. And he is very happy with what we are doing, and with our various plans for improving the place. He is our “landlord”. Not my mother. She has no actual say in how this place is run, and she certainly has no right to verbally abuse me.

I am lost past the stage where she can actually hurt me anymore, but my goodness, she can drain every bit of energy out of me. I feel more exhausted from a few hours with her – and it wasn’t even an unusually bad visit! – than I would have felt if I’d spend those same hours doing manual labour. Mental exhaustion is far more difficult to recover from than physical exhaustion. Still, to look at the bright side, at least there wasn’t a single racist rant or shouting about political issues she doesn’t understand, either.

Thank God my brother now owns this place. He and his wife more than make up for all the trouble my mother causes. They are such awesome people, and make it all worthwhile.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: some pruning and cleanup – and we are forewarned!

While doing my rounds this morning, I decided it was time to do some pruning and clean up around the squash and melons.

With the summer squash, I cut away a lot of the bottom leaves, and anything dead or dying. The zucchini didn’t really need it, but the sunburst squash needed quite a bit.

Noting for next year: while I am happy with training the summer squash to grow vertically, and will probably do it again next year, I now know to make extra certain the support poles are more secure. I thought they were, but as you can see in about the middle of the squash bed, one of them has fallen right over under the weight of the squash attached to it – and I’d already added a second support pole with it! The zucchini on the far right of the photo is also tippy.

We are in a strange sort of state right now, where the squash and melons are continuing to bloom and produce, recovering for the extreme heat and dryness over the summer, but also dying off as they reach the end of their growing season. A couple of Halona melon plants were completely died off and got taken out. The single melon on the ground ground had come loose from one of those.

The three biggest Red Kuri squash are coming along nicely. The mottled green one is quite noticeably bigger. With the colours and slightly different shape, I find myself wondering if it got cross pollinated with one of the nearby Teddy squash.

Speaking of which…

There’s a new one! Of the two plants, one of them now has four squash developing on it. 🙂

After I finished pruning the squash and melons, I went through the other beds, doing a bit of cleanup, and found this.

We’ve somehow lost a sunflower!

It doesn’t even look like it was bitten – there is no sign of critter damage anywhere. It looks almost as if it were cut! It’s also in the middle of a row, in the middle of a sunflower block.

Very strange.

I took the seed head inside and put it in a very small bowl, shallow enough for the barely-there stem to reach the water. 🙂

As I was finishing up in the garden, the grader went by on the road, and the driver stopped to talk to me. He let me know that he’d seen a black bear – a big male – on our quarter section, and he thought it was heading for the newly dug out gravel pit for water. He’d actually seen 7 bears, just today! The most he’d ever seen in one day – and it wasn’t even 11:00 yet, at the time I talked to him. He suggested we might want to pick up an air horn to carry with us, so if we see a bear, we can use the noise to scare it off.

One of our neighbours, about a mile away, has been posting photos of a bear that’s been raiding – and destroying – his bird feeders. I would not be expecting any to come to our feeding station, though. With both bird feeders broken, I’ve just been tossing a scoop of seeds directly on the ground, so there’s not a lot to tempt them. Especially since we have zero saskatoons and chokecherries this year, and almost no crab apples, thanks to that one cold night in May. Even the ornamental apples in the old kitchen garden, which would normally be full of tiny bunches of apples, and birds eating them, have nothing. No hawthorn berries, either. Between the drought and the wildfires, this loss of berries would be quite widespread, and the bears are starving at a time they should be building up their fat reserves for the winter.

I really appreciated the grader driver stopping to let me know. I have never seen a bear in our yard, but this is not a normal year, so we will have to keep our eyes open!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: Finally!

Most of the squash are blooming like crazy right now. The Red Kuri/Little Gem winter squash is especially showy right now.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

Unfortunately, there is still just the one squash that is developing. There are so many little ones like this, but they have been dying off without getting much bigger.

Then there was this little – and I do mean little – surprise I found behind a leaf.

Our first luffa gourd has shown up!

There have been plenty of male flowers blooming, so there should be no pollination problems when this one finally blooms. It should be interesting to see if we get mature gourds, this late in the growing season!

The girls had gone through the garden beds earlier and picked a couple of big zucchini, as well as some sunburst squash. Which tells me that cayenne pepper seems to be working. In yesterday’s garden cam files, I actually saw a groundhog by the summer squash in a couple of videos, in between files of me going by while tending the sprinklers. It was just grazing something next to the summer squash. It did not try to go into them at all. Which is very encouraging. With the watering, I should probably add on more cayenne pepper, but there’s a 60% chance of showers this morning, so it would be washed off if it does. We shall see.

The Re-Farmer

This morning’s finds

There always seems to be something new to find when I do my rounds!

Some are good, some are not so good, and some are… kind of in between. 😀

Finding holes in the ground from skunks digging for grubs is not unusual. This morning, however, it was VERY unusual! I found probably a hundred off them over by the sweet corn and sunflower blocks! They were in the open areas around them, but also right in among them.

The skunks (I’m assuming there was more than one) seem to have worked their way through two corn blocks and about one and a half sunflower blocks. Only the corn block furthest north was completely untouched. Judging from how many holes there were, I’m guessing it had something to do with very full little bellies!

Before we planted here, and were just mowing, I never saw divots. My guess is that the area was so dry and sun baked, there simply weren’t any grubs in the soil. Now that we’ve started to amend the soil and have been watering regularly, plus all the rain we’ve recently had, it’s now a skunk buffet!

I don’t mind the skunks digging up the grubs. They have no interest in the plants. The only problem was that some of their digging was close enough to our already struggling corn and sunflower plants, that roots were exposed. I worked my way through the rows, pushing the soil back into those holes, at least. The others, I left. There were just too many, and I don’t care if the weeds have their roots exposed!

It took a long time, but we now have our very first vine making its way across the top of the squash tunnel! This luffa had reached the top some time ago, but not gone over.

The winter squash still has a ways to go, but it’s working on it!

Had conditions been more ideal, this structure would at least have had the walls completely covered in vines by now, if not the “roof” as well. Given what a tough year for the garden it has been, I’m quite pleased with what we have!

The girls moved the canopy tent over the picnic table by the fire pit for me this morning, so I dragged a hose over to give the table a bit of a power wash. While there, I checked out the nearby currant bush.

We only rarely watered this bed by the fire pit at all this year, yet the currant actually has a few berries on it! After picking these, I checked on the two currant bushes near the main garden beds and found a few more. Those ones did get watered more often, but are located under trees. They get a lot less sunlight, and even with the rains we’ve been having, they would have gotten less. The one by the fire pit is on the south side of the maple grove and has no overhanging branches, so even with almost no watering, it has more berries. Even so, the berries are a lot smaller and less juicy than they should be. I’m surprised there are any at all, to be honest!

This morning, I fussed around with the potato grow bags. Some of them were falling over, so I secured them to the chain link fence, then straightened the bags out again; the tops of the bags are more to keep critters out than anything else.

In the process, I uncovered this little guy.

So incredibly adorable!!!

Finding one is exciting enough, but then I found this slightly bigger one!

This one wasn’t too impressed with my moving the bags around. 😀

These are probably my favourite type of frog. 😀 And we’ve seen so many of them, as well as the more common wood frogs, this year!

As we develop our permanent garden beds, providing shelter and moisture for frogs is on our list of things to include. 🙂

Today is supposed to be our last comfortable day before the heat comes back, and no rain is predicted for a few more days, so I will be heading out to apply cayenne pepper to some of our garden beds after this. Especially our purple beans. Checking the garden cam this morning, I caught a young buck in the garden, nibbling on something. The summer squash was blocking the view, but there is only one thing where that buck was standing; our purple beans. I didn’t even notice the damage, this morning! The purple beans are a lot bushier and leafy than the other types, but it likely explains why I’m not seeing as many beans on there. I think the deer are actually avoiding the leaves to eat the beans, instead, judging from what I do see, when I am looking closely to find beans to pick.

We keep our containers from things like sour cream, and had one with a transparent lid. I poked a whole bunch of little holes in the lid, then emptied the bulk packages of cayenne pepper into the 500ml container, to create a shaker. I’m hoping the holes aren’t too small. We shall see how it works!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning in the garden, and FIRST ONE!!!!

You know, I think we actually got a bit of rain last night! I didn’t have to water the garden beds this morning.

To start, I found something really, really exciting this morning.

Our first ripe tomato!!!!

There it is, hiding under some leaves. 🙂

Our very first Spoon tomato!

From the photos on the seed packet, this is a really big Spoon tomato. 😀

I am saving it for my older daughter, for whom I’d bought the tomato seeds as a gift, to have first taste. The girls are still keeping reversed hours, so my older daughter can work in the cooler night hours without the computer overheating, or her drawing tablet glitching out, and sleeping during part of the day. I can’t wait to see their faces when they see this!

Other Spoon tomatoes are starting to turn colour, too, so we should be getting lots more over the next while. 🙂 The Mosaic Medley mix of cherry and grape tomatoes are still very green right now, but they should start ripening soon, too.

One of my favourite things to do during my morning rounds has become checking on the squash tunnel, training more vines to climb the mesh, and seeing what progress there is.

It looks like one of the luffa flower buds is starting to open. I actually expected this to do better in our current heat, since they are a warm climate plant. Or at least start flowering and growing fruit before any of the squash and melons, considering how much earlier it was started indoors.

One winter squash plant in particular is growing a lot more enthusiastically than the others, climbing the trellis on its own now, and producing fruit. I keep forgetting which is which, but the other winter squash seems to have a growing habit more like summer squash, and seems to have only male flowers and buds right now.

The Pixie melons are getting so “big”! They are a “single serving” sized melon, and really dense for their size, so I don’t expect them to get much bigger than this one, here.

This is the first Halona melon to develop, and you can see how it’s outer skin is starting to form that distinctive cantaloupe texture. These should get about double the size and weight of the Pixies, or more, when they are fully ripe.

I can hardly wait to try them!!

Yesterday, I found that I thought was, maybe, kinda, possibly, a pea sprout emerging from the soil next to one of the purple corn.

This morning, there is no doubt at all. There are peas sprouting all over the sweet corn beds! I’m actually quite impressed by the germination rate so far, considering the bag of seed peas had been in the storage bin by the water barrel through two heat waves.

Now, if we can just keep the woodchucks from eating them all, not only will they help fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn, but we might even get peas in quantities sufficient for harvesting. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: photo bomb!

I am so thankful that things cooled down overnight. The garden beds were watered thoroughly last night, and didn’t need to be done again this morning. It was all I could do to drag myself outside this morning. The past week or two has started to catch up to me, and the pain levels are getting pretty high.

While doing my rounds, I noticed one of the Ozark Nest egg gourds has reached a new stage of growth! 🙂

Flower buds and tendrils have appeared. 🙂 The others aren’t quite there, yet. 🙂

While the Spoon tomatoes had started to show fruit for a while, we now have tomatoes developing on the Mosaic Medley tomatoes. It should be interesting to see what kinds of cherry and grapes were included in the mix. 🙂

This morning, I decided to go ahead and pick the biggest of the summer squash that we have right now.

Our first squashes of the summer! Two green zucchini and a Magda squash.

And a Nutmeg photo bomb. 😀

The littler bugger would NOT let me get a picture without him!

I noticed something interesting on one of the Crespo squash this morning.

All along the vine of the bigger one, these white shoots have appeared. Some are almost an inch long. There is nothing like this on any of the other squashes and gourds. I have no idea what they are.

If anyone knows what these are, I’d love to hear it!! My best guess is that, if these were on soil instead of over straw, they would root the vine to the ground.

Before heading indoors after finishing my rounds, I grabbed the twine and worked on filling in the gaps between the wire mesh of the squash tunnel.

I didn’t add twine all the way to the top. I figured, if we need to, we can add more later. Once done, a moved a few plants over to where they now have support to climb.

Quite a few plants are already starting to support themselves as they climb higher. Even some of the winter squash. A few of them did need to have a bit of twine looped around to lead them towards the trellis, rather than the path.

It should be interested to see how well the squash tunnel holds out, once things start climbing higher. This is not the strongest or most stable of structures, but I think it should hold.

Now that it’s no longer dangerously hot outside, I have quite a lot to catch up on. I’ll be seeing what I can scavenge out of the barn, too. That will still wait a little while, though. I have my court date this Friday for the restraining order against our vandal, but our province it still locked down. There was a slight easing of restrictions, so there’s a possibility the court rooms will be open, but while the rest of the world has moved on, our provincial dictators just don’t want to let go, no matter how many lives and businesses are destroyed for an illusion of safety.

Our vandal has been laying low, but we did happen to cross paths recently, as I was coming home from errands in town. I had to drive around him, walking on the road to our driveway, while turning off the main road. I never saw him on the trail cam files when I checked the next morning, so at least I know he didn’t try going into our driveway again. I did call my mother to remind her to check the call display before answering her phone. He was with someone else, and I’d smiled at her as I drove past, to show appreciation for them moving aside for me, and I was still smiling when I passed our vandal. He just stared at me, which is a change from his usual response of turning his back to me as I drive by. I think, because I was driving my mother’s car at the time, he didn’t realize who I was until then. Anyhow, from some of the messages he’s left on my mother’s answering machine in the past, if I smile while driving by, it’s because I’m laughing at him because I got the farm (I still don’t know why he thinks my mother gave me the property). Seeing me sometimes triggers him, and if he got drunk again, there was a good possibility that he would start calling my mother again, so I wanted to warn her.

Well, I think I’ve taken up enough time while writing this, and will try calling the court office again. I’d called earlier and left a message, but that last time I did that, they didn’t call back until the next day, so I’ll try again.

I am really tired of this whole mess. It should have been done with, one way or the other, more than 6 months ago.

The Re-Farmer

Squash tunnel mods, and what is that? Oh!

I had to make another trip into town today, because I forgot something yesterday. I’ve been making more errand trips in the last few days than I do in most months! But that’s okay, because it gave me a chance to find and pick up other things.

Like these modifications to the squash tunnel.

The first is a solar powered, motion sensor spot light. Hopefully, it will get triggered by deer or other critters going after the garden and startle them away. Putting it at the beet or carrot beds would probably have been more useful, but we don’t have anything south facing that we could mount it to. If this works, we can get more (and better quality ones) and install posts to mount them on.

We’ll test it out tonight when, hopefully, it will have enough charge to light up, and we can make sure it is in the on position.

I also finally picked up a thermometer.


According to my desktop app, we’re at 23C/73F right now, but out in the corner garden, in full sun, we’re at 32C/90F.

Where the squash tunnel is, there is no shade, even in the early morning hours. It is full sun from sunrise to sunset, so this thermometer will likely always read on the high side. I still wasn’t expecting a 9C difference, though!

Once these were up, I went to change the batteries on the garden cam. In the process, I noticed something very odd in the ground. A strange line of holes.

You can sort of make it out in this photo below.

It’s in between the red dashed lines I added. My foot is at where the line ends.

The meandering line made me think it was following a root or something, but why where there holes in the ground here at all?

When I tipped the camera stand down so I could access the battery case, I found myself right over this line, and quickly saw what made it.

Red ants.

And the line lead back to this.

The camera focused in the wrong place, though. It’s that blurry, reddish area in the background.

That is a red ant hill.

I don’t know their proper names, but we mostly have two types of ants here. Red ants and black ants. The black ants burrow into the ground, creating low hills in the grass with the soil they displace. They are not aggressive, but their burrowing can be destructive, killing off any plants at the roots.

Red ants build their hills with spruce needles, which they will drag over surprising distances. They will build hills on or in logs, under rocks, in the cracks of sidewalks or paving stones, or they’ll just make a hill on the ground, like this one. These hills can become quite large. The one in the photo is about mid-size. Red ants are more aggressive and will bite if disturbed.

We have quite a few red ant hills. A couple of the maple logs behind the house, from the trees cut away from the roof, now have red ant hills in them, their hollow middles stuffed with spruce needles. The metal ring used to contain the fires made to burn out diseased apple tree stumps is still out near the garden, with pieces of metal covering it. I’d moved them to put some invasive vines in the ring for future burning, only to discover it was half filled with spruce needles, and crawling with red ants! And now I’m seeing this new hill, near the garden cam.

As long as they don’t start building hills in the garden beds, we’ll leave them be.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: squash tunnel, day 4, and sacrificial spinach!

Today was set to be a scorcher, so when I did my morning rounds, I took the time to water all the garden beds before things got too hot, even though they got a thorough watering last night.

When I got to the spinach beds, I saw evidence of skulduggery!

The sacrificial spinach, at the ends of a couple of rows, were duly sacrificed.

I moved that pinwheel over from one of the beds with the wire mesh covers, after the fact. Not that they seem to be accomplishing much, anymore!

No surprise, when I finally went inside and checked the trail cams, that a deer was captured, wandering through the corn beds, on the way out of the yard. Considering that the deer did not even pause to nibble on anything, I’d say the sacrificial spinach did its job! 😉

Late this afternoon, when things were supposedly getting cooler again, the girls and I finished the squash tunnel.


We got the cross pieces put in place, then brought over the wire mesh for the vines to climb.

The roll of wire mesh I got was 50 feet long, and that was enough to cover 3 of 4 sections. At only 4 feet wide, there are gaps at each post, but we can weave twine between the sections of wire mesh, if it’s necessary.

My original thought was to use U nails (also called staples) to attach the mesh, but we ended up only needing to attach it to the bottom cross pieces. With one, we used wire saved from a previous roll of wire mesh that had been wrapped around it to keep it from unrolling. In cutting the first length, the second length had one end with the wire ends sticking out, and we were able wrap the end around the cross piece, then just twist the wire ends around to hold it in place. Other sections were tied in place with twine.

We just need to buy another roll of this mesh, and we can finish the last section. The main thing is that the end where the luffa is growing, now has something for them to climb.

The girls also noted that one post seemed to need support, so they added the rope and peg to hold it in place.

It’s a good thing this is meant to be temporary! 😀

By the time we were done, we were totally baked and headed inside to cool down for a while. We were at “only” 25C/77F with a humidex of 28C/82F but we were also in full sun, and there was no breeze. At least we could pop into the shade of the nearby lilac hedge, every now and then.

While I was doing the evening watering, the girls brought over the last of the straw and mulched around the squash tunnel. You can see in the photo that some of the luffa was grown long enough to reach the mesh, already. Hopefully, they will soon be making their way up the side on their own.

This whole thing really is rather slipshod and wonky. I look forward to when we have our permanent raised garden beds, and can build something more solid, elsewhere. But this will do for a year, maybe even two, depending on how our plans to plant trees in this area progress. Well, Not where this tunnel is, I don’t think. There are telephone lines buried somewhere under here.


I’m glad we finally got this done. At least as done as possible until we get more mesh for that last section. The forecast has changed again. Tomorrow, instead of thunderstorms, we’re expected to hit 31C/88F and maybe get some showers at some point. While I was doing the watering this evening, I used the water to make doing some hand weeding easier, and I could not believe how dry the soil was. I’d hate to think how dry it would have been if I’d decided it was damp enough this morning, and skipped the watering! The added mulch at these squash, gourds and melons will help keep their moisture better, at least. I look forward to having more mulch to add to the other beds as well.

Meanwhile, I hope we have some happy little squash, gourds and melons!

The Re-Farmer