Morning finds

As I write this, we are still getting weather alerts for another Colorado Low that might sweep up our way. Maybe. For now, we’re at 4C/39F, with an expected high of 6C/43F, and a small amount of rain.

We’re checking the old basement regularly, sweeping the water collecting on the north side into the drain. The big blower fan makes a difference in keeping that under control, too. The south side of the basement is seeing more damps spots, as moisture is seeping through the concrete in patches. I noticed the water level in the sump pump reservoir had gone down quite a bit, so it looks like it got triggered during the night and actually worked this time. No blockages! We’ll have to keep that in mind next fall, and insulate the pipe where it comes out of the house for the winter. Meanwhile, I’ve set up a pedestal fan in the south side of the basement to help dry things out. Normally, we’d take the block of foam insulation out of the window, then switch from the winter window to the summer screen window we built, to help with air circulation, but it’s still too cold for that.

This sort of dampness in the old basement is normal; the dryness that we’ve had since moving out here is what was unusual. My brother had all sorts of things set up to help keep it under control, including having a box fan on a platform he built under the window. That fan is one of the things that disappeared before we moved in, but there is still an old dehumidifier. The reservoir for it disappeared, which is odd, because the girls had to use it upstairs when they painted. High humidity was causing the fresh paint to slough off. Somehow, when it got put back into the basement, the reservoir disappeared and we simply cannot find it. Thankfully, I discovered that the drip valve has standard threading on it. I could hook up a short hose and have it drain directly into the sump pump reservoir. Which is much more convenient than having to remember to empty the reservoir regularly! Now that it seems the sump pump is working fine, we know we can turn the dehumidifier on to help keep the basement drier, if we need to.

For now, the fans are still enough.

Then it was time to head outside and feed the critters.

There are the 11 in the photo, plus Rolando Moon was circling around for some breakfast. 🙂

While Junk Pile was busily eating, I refreshed the water bowls with warm water, then quickly shoved my phone right up against the window to try and get a photo of her babies.

There are at least 4 kittens, though I wouldn’t be surprised of there was actually 6. I’ve noticed that she moves them away from the window when she’s with them, and worried that she might move them somewhere else. However, I see that the timer is knocked down, which means the light sensor is always in shadow. The heat bulb, which you can partially see at the top, would be on all the time.

She left her babies in the warm spot while she went to get food!

For those who may be wondering, you can see part of the protective aluminum heat shield on the side. It continues up and above the ceramic heat bulb. There is also a smoke detector installed inside.

I’ve been seeing Rosencrantz around a lot, lately. She is no longer meowing at me while trying to pull me places. I suspect she has lost her litter. Even if she had moved them somewhere else, I would expect her to quickly eat and go, like Junk Pile and Ghost Baby are doing. She just hangs around, and even followed me a bit, while I was doing my rounds. There is still no way we can get into the old freezer where I think she had her litter. It’ll take a few more days of thawing out, at least, before we can move some of the stuff out of the way.

The box nest set up I’d made showed no signs of use, so I moved it out. It probably won’t be used, but I set it up against the house by the sun room window, barricaded on one side with a garbage can to ensure it can’t be moved, and pieces of rigid insulation strategically placed around and over it, so ensure no water or wind can get in. If nothing else, some cats might use it as a safe and cozy spot to sleep.

I made sure to check the old kitchen garden.

Good to see at least some of the snow is melting away. The hose end if from the sump pump, and it does indeed look like water had been pumped here. I’ve got it aimed at the straw, so the water won’t erode the soil away or get too muddy.

It’s going to be a while before we plant in here. :-/

It looks like the honeysuckle got chewed on by the deer! Just the one big stem. We’ll see if that one survives, since it wasn’t chewed all the way around.

I was able to access the old garden shed and took a peek inside. Critters can get into it, and things look rather knocked about. The old scythe is no longer hanging where I’d put it. There’s too much in the way to bother trying to reach it. The blade looks quite rusted, but we might be able to restore it.

Once things melt away in the main garden area some more, I want to dig out the black plastic tarps/landscape fabric (not sure what it started out as, originally) that we salvaged when cleaning up the old wood pile. The plan is to lay it out on the ground where we will be making new, temporary garden beds for the potatoes. Those should arrive around the end of May. The black plastic will help warm the soil up faster, while also killing most of the grass and weeds. We’ll be using straw to grow potatoes using the Ruth Stout, heavy mulching method. This time, we have the wood chipper and can put the straw through the shredder chute, first. I think that will work better than using the straw as is.

While heading up the driveway to switch out the trail cam memory card, I saw something unexpected.

A sunk disappearing under a garage door.

Not the main roll up door, which we don’t close all the way because the latches on the sides get stuck. Not the doors to where my mother’s car is parked, which has a larger gap under one of them, created by critters continually squeezing their way in and out. No. It went under one of the doors to the side where the lawn mowers and chipper are kept.

Critters have never been able to get into that side with the door closed before.

That hole in the ground wasn’t there, yesterday.

I opened the door to look, but saw no sign of the skunk. The back of the room has a lot of stuff just shoved into it to make room for the equipment we use, so it was likely somewhere in that area.

I suspect there is a nest with baby skunks in there now! I certainly wasn’t going to dig around and find out, though. 😉

I was going to just change the memory card on the driveway cam, since access to the sign cam has too much snow and water to get to it right now. Then I remembered that I could access it from the road side of the fence. Having the camera right at the fence like that is a bit of a risk, since it would be easy for anyone to reach it and steal it, however it does mean I can still get to it. With trees all along the fence line, the snow didn’t get as deep, so there is a corridor all along the fence line that can be walked on, right next to the drifted snow, and the piles left by the snow plow in the ditch. This area doesn’t accumulate any water, like on the garden side of the fence.

I look forward to seeing if the wildflower seeds I broadcast there in the fall will grow. 🙂

Speaking of growing things, I got to spend some time tending the seedlings in the sun room, too; rotating trays, watering where needed, etc. They are handling being in there pretty well. I’m a bit concerned about the kulli corn we planted. The sun room can get very warm during the day – it was about 25C/77F in there, when I got back from the city! – but drops to just above freezing at night, even with finding a way to set up a bit of heat in that corner overnight. I’m able to have the warming lamp directly under where the larger bin of seeds are, but the smaller bin is on the highest shelf, which may not be getting much warmth.

One of the first things I do in the morning is turn on the lights for the seedlings in the living room. Last night, I could just see a Yellow Pear tomato trying to sprout. 🙂 Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of those today.

We need to start more seeds today. It looks like we’ll have to start using the small aquarium greenhouse for those. There’s an open shelf in the mini-greenhouse, but there aren’t any seedlings in the big aquarium greenhouse ready to be moved into it yet. We’ll be having to move the larger tomato plants currently in the mini-greenhouse to the sun room before then.

We’ll figure it out.

We kind of have to! 😀

The Re-Farmer

This is getting crazy!

Last night the forecasts had changed, saying that we wouldn’t get much accumulation of snow, as it would melt on contact.

Well, that didn’t last long.

I made sure to top up the trays in the kibble house, late last night, because I knew they’d be extra hungry. It was raining fairly heavily, and the kibble tray on the ground was full of water, as the one under the shrine would have been. I’m so glad we built that kibble house, so the cats could have a dry, sheltered place to eat!

The trays were completely empty by morning, of course. Not a lot of cats were about, and I noticed several coming out of the cat shelter.

By the time I was done putting warm water out for them, Potato Beetle had emerged from somewhere. He ate a little – then followed me into the sun room.

He’s still there.


We will have more shoveling to do, I think.

This is how things look all over the place; that slushy layer of snow built up on all the standing water.

We’re still getting rainfall alerts, though.

Rain with isolated thunderstorms continues this morning. However, a strengthening northerly wind will bring falling temperatures today. The rain will turn to snow this morning and then taper off this afternoon or evening as the Colorado Low departs the area.

Wind gusts of 70 to 80 km/h will also weaken this evening. Only minor accumulations of up to 5 cm are expected as much of the snow will melt on contact with the ground.

This much precipitation over frozen or saturated ground may lead to localized flooding including basements, underpasses, and the like. For larger scale overland flooding risks, please consult the provincial flood forecast.

I don’t know that we got any thunderstorms in our area last night, but before I went to bed, I was reading about the different areas with flooding and power outages. Thousands of households were affected by outages, mostly in the south east corner of our province, but also a few not all that far away from us.

In our case, I am actually happier with the snow instead of the rain. The ceiling in the sun room has stopped dripping, and this is what our basement looked like this morning.

Which is not too bad at all. In fact, I’d say it was better than when I last checked it at about 1:30am. My daughters checked it some time after that, too. Because of how lumpy-bumpy and uneven the concrete floor is, we sweep the standing water into the drain. There are those two drains chipped into the concrete that are helping, and there is a steady stream of water flowing through them, but water still puddles.

The drain for the weeping tile goes through here and into the septic tank, and there is enough water draining that the septic pump is triggered quite often. Our septic system is basically our sump pump right now. On the one hand, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the pump that I’d rather not have. On the other, this is pumping the excess water well away from the house, and into a low area out by the barn, rather than by the house.

My daughter shocked the hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide last night, which means it got partially drained into the sump pump reservoir. I checked the level, and it’s looking just fine. On that side of the basement, the only place I’m seeing water seeping through the concrete is a tiny patch near the furnaces, where there is a new layer of concrete on top of old, and the edges are broken up.

Right now, we are hovering around the freezing mark, and the high of the day being forecast on my desktop app is now a bit colder. Tomorrow was supposed to have a high of -5C/23F. Now they’re saying tomorrow’s high will be -3C/27F – then in just 3 days, we’re supposed to reach a high of 11C/52F! It’s supposed to drop down again to 6C/41F the next day. The 14 day trend shows our highs slowly warming back up until reaching 11C/52F again by May 5, and then just staying there. Of course, the app on my tells me something different, so we’ll see which one is the most accurate.

Interestingly, while on Facebook yesterday, I got one of those reminders of things posted on that day, years ago. This time, it was a photo I posted 14 years ago. We were still living in an apartment building at the time, and my daughter was in the lounge, standing on a chair by the window, trying to see over the snow drifted against it.

Mind you, in that city, it was not unusual get snow any month of the year, or have green grass in the middle of winter. Mountains on one side, and open prairies on the other, makes for some pretty dramatic weather changes in very short time frames. We’re actually a bit more south now, compared to the city we lived in before moving here, but here we are surrounded by lakes. It makes for some pretty significant differences.

Well, it is what it is. For now, we’ll keep monitoring the basement, and think warm thoughts.

Excuse me while I have another mug of Rooiboos tea!

The Re-Farmer

addendum: just as I was finishing up this post, I paused to pop outside and give the cats a treat – and had to chase 2 deer away from the kibble house! Then I got a call from my brother, following up the email I sent last night, about how things are going here. Their sump pump is going off every 15 minutes or so, but they also have a sump pump they set up outside, to pump water to the other side of their dike. It broke down. He’s been trying to find one, but the entire city is sold out of sump pumps. They’ll be okay for now, and he does have a spare pump he can rig up to use instead. It does remind me that I had been looking at getting a spare sump pump to have, just in case. It’s not like we can pop over to a store if ours breaks down. I think a spare septic pump would be a good idea, too. That’s something I’d have to talk to my brother about, to make sure I get the right one for our system.

All in all, we’re doing all right. I know other areas are not so fortunate, so I am thankful.

Sump pump issues!

In the 4 summers we have been here, I think our sump pump turned on only a couple of times, in the first two years. Conditions had bee so dry the next two years, the reservoir was pretty much empty. The only times it turned on was when we had to empty the hot water tank completely, to replace it. We partially drain it to shock it hydrogen peroxide every now and then, but not enough drains out to trigger the float.

So when I heard a pump running while in the bathroom during the night – we could hear it nowhere else – I didn’t even recognize it for what it was. When the noise was still going the next time I was in the bathroom, I was flummoxed. At first I thought the sound was actually coming from the space heaters our daughters use upstairs. Sound carries strangely in the house. I thought nothing of it, and went out to do the morning rounds.

Later, I tried to use the hot water in the kitchen, and had issues. I didn’t know my daughter had shocked the tank last night, after I’d gone to bed, so I went to check in the basement.

Which is when I found this.

This is our sump pump set up, which is directly under the bathroom. The pump was running, but there was enough seepage to create that puddle on the floor. The water was not draining out of the reservoir. Thankfully, it wasn’t getting any higher, either, but the pump just kept running.

So back outside I went. The first thing I had to do was dig out the end of the drain hose, which runs into the old kitchen garden.

It was under a drift, of course.

There was no sign water had drained out the end, and it was completely unclogged.

Then I dug out the area in front of where the drain pipe comes through the basement wall. Once that was free, I could pull the hose from where it ran along the side of the house and the sun room, all the way out, then run it down the access path to to the wall.

From the flexibility of the house, I could determine that the first couple of feet from the wall had ice in it. The rest seemed pretty clear. Yes, I could hear the crunching of ice in places, but no blockages. I didn’t want to bend it too much, though, so as not to crack the frozen plastic.

The next thing to do was set up an extension cord and a hair drier.

Since I was going to have a cord running through the doors, this meant Butterscotch and Nosencrantz couldn’t stay in the sun room. I was able to get Nosencrantz into the old kitchen, but one of my daughters had to catch Butterscotch and get her into the old kitchen.

Well, we were talking about bringing them in earlier. My daughter had through Saffron and Turmeric would be going to the vet yesterday, not next week. So we talked about bringing them in tonight.

Nosencrantz is currently isolated with me in my bedroom/office right now. Butterscotch is still hiding somewhere in the old kitchen.

I had to unplug the power bar for the heated water bowl and ceramic heater bulb in the sun room, then run the cord across the outside wall.

The next while was spent warming up the hose, pausing to try and break things up inside very now and then (using the snow shovel to keep the hair dryer off the snow!). Meanwhile, a daughter was in the basement with one of the space heaters, trying to warm up the hose where it came through the wall, as it seemed to be blocked straight through.

Things did start to drip. Which should have melted ice from the inside, so that the water could finally get pumped through, but it never got more than a drip.

After doing as much as I could outside, I joined my daughter in the basement and simply used a bucket to drain the reservoir. It’s not all that deep, but deep enough that I ended up having to attach wire to the handle of the bucket, then used the handle of a broom to push it down and fill it with water until I could pull it up with the wire. Then I could drain it into the old laundry sink. My daughter, meanwhile, was stuck standing there, holding a space heater and aiming it at the pipe.

Once we could be sure the pump wouldn’t turn back on again, we stopped. That the water didn’t drain at all in this time has be concerned that the blockage might not be ice, but some sort of crud. Which shouldn’t happen. The foot of the sump pump has a filter to keep stuff out.

I think the only way to know for sure would be to take the hose off the pipe on the outside and actually look. There should not have ever been water in there to freeze. Not only because the pump hasn’t turned on in ages, but even if it had, water should have drained away from that section of pipe, not sat there to freeze.

It’s not something we can do now. I don’t want to risk cracking hoses or pipes or fittings in this cold. We’ll just have to keep an eye on the reservoir and make sure this doesn’t happen again. The hose end, meanwhile, now runs into the main path, and we can see it from the kitchen window.

Meanwhile, we are now working on Nosencrantz and Butterscotch. Butterscotch could not be lured out even with cat nip, though I have at least seen her skulking around under shelves and whatnot in there.

Nosencrantz, on the other hand, is quite happy in her new surroundings. The girls came in while I was writing this to give her some attention, and she was just luxuriating on the bed, reveling in skritches. We will slowly let other cats in, one or two at a time, to introduce them. Right now, Cheddar is in here, as one of the more laid back cats. Nosencrantz did hiss at him a bit, even though he was just sitting there, looking at her.

So far, so good.

Let’s hope it stays that way!

The Re-Farmer

Sump pump hose fix

Well, today ended up a bit going off plan, but we still got a couple of things off the to-do list for outside.

The main one being, the broken flexible hose for the sump pump has been replaced!

This is what the connection looked like, before I started.

After talking to my brother, I was confident there wouldn’t be any weird surprises when I took off the flexible hose.

The first order of business was to make sure the pump wouldn’t go off while I was working on it. The reservoir was pretty full, so I lifted the float to trigger the pump and let it drain before unplugging the pump.

My brother had suggested I might want to push the pipe from the inside, through the opening to maybe add a bit of length on the outside. The pipe is so snug in there, though, that it wouldn’t budge. Which told me I wouldn’t need to have one of my daughters in the basement to brace it while I was attaching things on the outside, at least!

Once I took the flexible hose off, I could see that the batting or whatever that is, and the rest of the hose, was wrapped in a thick later of electric tape.

I started taking that off and found…

… something that looked… almost like fabric? Canvas??

It turned out to be hockey tape. Several layers of it.

I got all the old tape and the batting-looking-stuff off and discovered…

… the end of the pipe had a big ole crack.

I guess that’s why it was taped so thoroughly, and why a larger hose was added over it.

I wonder. If the previous hose had indeed been wrecked by someone running over it with a lawn mower, it’s possible the hose was yanked hard enough to crack the pipe at this end, too.

I cut off the cracked part, which didn’t leave a whole lot of pipe sticking out the wall. I did try and push more through from the basement, but didn’t seem to accomplish anything.

The next thing to do was clean up the inside of the pipe, then use the connector piece the guy at the hardware store picked out for me, in case I needed to attach the two hose kits to each other.

Pushing the connector into the pipe did finally start moving the pipe through the opening – making it shorter, of course, but not enough that I couldn’t get it done. I brought out a hair drier to soften the plastic of the pipe, which made pushing the connector the rest of the way in much easier.

That didn’t quite work with the flexible hose part. I could get it through the flat part easily enough, but once the end started to go into the flexible rings, it just wouldn’t go any further.

So I tightened the clamps as it was. It really should be closer together, but I know the important parts of the connector are through to the flexible rings of the hose and, together with the clamp, that should be enough. We’ll just have to keep an eye on it, to see if it leaks. If it does, I should just need to tighten the clamps a bit more. I put a container under the connections, so if it does leak, I’ll be able to see water in the container.

Next, I ran the hose down the side of the house.

There is adequate space along the house to tuck it under, so it won’t be in the way at all. It’s also being held in place by a shelf, garbage can and rain barrel along it’s length. The brick was just a little extra to hold it in place, closer to the pipe.

The hose reaches several feet into the old kitchen garden. I would have preferred an extra foot or two, but this should be fine. If we find it needs to be further from the sun room’s foundation, we can always get another connector and attach the hose from the spare kit onto it.

Once it was all done, the sump pump was plugged back in, but so far it hasn’t had to go off, yet. I’ll be sure to check on it, later today.

While I was working on this, the girls dragged the table saw out of the old shed we’d found the door in and brought it by the house. They plugged it in and turned it on and YES!!! It works!

It is currently sitting in the sun room. We won’t be able to work on the replacement door for the sun room today, as I’d planned. It likely won’t be worked on tomorrow, either.

Oh, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, yet. My husband got a call from the cardiac clinic in the city a couple of weeks ago. When they cancelled all appointments, they were looking to June for rescheduling. It seems they were no where near as busy with the Wuhan virus as they expected, and could start re-booking earlier. The appointment is early tomorrow afternoon, but he and I will be leaving in the late morning.

I have to figure out what to do after I drop him off, though, as I will not be allowed to go in with him, as normal. Which is frustrating, but whatever. Unfortunately, it’s not like I can find a coffee shop or something and hang out for more than an hour. My FIL actually lives nearby but, like where my mother lives, the building is locked down to visitors, since so many people living there are very high risk, including my FIL.

If I can find someplace free to park, maybe I’ll get some Pokemon Go in or something. :-/

Meanwhile, I have had to take it a bit easier today than I intended. It’s been a slightly worse pain day, and I don’t want to overdo it when I have what will likely be a long day, tomorrow.

For now, I think I’ll painkiller up and find something more sedentary to work on. :-/ Normally, I’d work on some crochet, but the pain is mostly in my arms and finger joints today, so that might not be possible.

Ah, the joys of being old(ish) and broken. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Some winter damage to fix

This spring, our sump pump is actually going off pretty regularly. Which is great, because it means we have moisture in the ground. The last two springs, I think it went off only once or twice, aside from when we drained the hot water tank into it.

Which brought to my attention some damage to the drainage hose outside.

I think it might have gotten stepped on, while frozen… and it was likely me who stepped on it! 😀

So I went into town to see if I could pick up some replacement hose. Something longer, so that I could direct the hose towards the garden by the old kitchen, instead of having it drain next to the well.

At the hardware store, I was very happy to find sump pump hose kits with 24 ft hoses!

Except… well… see for yourself.

They are very different diameters!

On reading the package, I realized that this hose kit is intended to attach directly to the sump pump itself.

That is not what we have.

I found a very knowledgeable employee to help me out. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any photos before I left, so I had to try and describe to him what we had instead.

We’ve got this semi-rigid hose cobbled together, instead. The diameter of this hose, however, should fit the hose kit. It was on the other side that the size is somehow modified so the larger diameter flexible hose could be attached. I had looked at it before and saw that it was clamped very close to the wall, but could not see what it was clamped too.

I still can’t really see.

Something has been wrapped around the end, and then the larger hose was clamped in place.

That “something” looks, for all the world, like batting. Like quilt batting, or aquarium filter batting.

Whatever it is, it’s been there long enough to be covered in crud.

In talking to the guy at the hardware store, he picked several different attachments that I might need, and a plumber’s adhesive that I would need if I had to use one of them. Once I get working on this and remove the broken hose, I should have the pieces needed to attach the hose kit, if it’s a different size. Or, if the end coming out of the wall is the size I’m seeing from the basement, and doesn’t have something weird done to it on the outside, I might be able to use what came with the kit itself.

He said I could return anything I don’t end up using, but that’s not going to happen. Even if I don’t use the pieces, they are things that will come in handy in the future and will not go to waste!

Plus, just in case, I picked up two hose kits. If things are bad enough, I can replace the cobbled together hose that’s inside the basement now and replace it with the flexible hose that should have been there in the first place. If I do end up doing that, one hose will not be long enough to run along the side of the house and reach the garden.

With that in mind, I asked the guy at the store if I could attach the hoses of two kits together, mentioning in passing that right now, the hose is draining next to our well.

That got a rather dismayed and understanding “oh, dear!” as I continued to say why I wanted to have longer hose!

He then found me the piece I would need to attach the hoses together, should I need to.

I was one very happy customer by the time I left the store!

When it comes time to actually start working on the hose, I’ll have to make sure to have the sump pump shut off in the basement. It would not be good for it to turn on while I’m working on the house outside! 😀

So this is a task prepped for, but will have to wait for another day. At least we’re all ready to get it done, though. Other things had priority for today, which will be in my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer