Mystery solved

While at my mother’s, we went over the shopping list a bit before running her errands. One of the things she wanted to get was some basic, transparent tape. The kind you find in the office or school supply sections.

My mother being my mother, she started hemming and hawing, saying, Oh, I’ve got this other tape. Maybe I should use that first (bringing out a roll of heavy duty packing tape), or maybe I should use this tape up, but I’ve never been able to use it.

This is what she brought out.

Yeah. That’s a fabric tape. With a bright blue backing. She’s never used it, because she has never been able to take the backing off. When she moved off the farm, she took it for some reason, and had no idea where it came from or what it was for. Best guess was that my late brother, who worked in demolitions, might have brought it home as salvage from somewhere.

Curious, I look it over and found this on the inside.

It expired 19 years ago.

I’ve never seen a tape with an expiry date before.

I told her I’d take it home so I could look it up. I could have looked it up on my phone right there, but this way I could get it off her hands, so she wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. She has way too many things taking up space that she refuses to get rid of, and it seemed to distress her. I can’t even begin to think what she thought she would us it for when she took it.

So I brought it home (along with 2 ice cream buckets of vegetable peels for the compost pile, a stack of magazines we’ll never read that are only good for the burn pile, and a bunch of onions. At least the onions make sense. They are on the list of foods she’s not supposed to eat).

I think I figured out why it has an expiry date. It’s fire retardant! Or at least it used to be. This is one listing I found:


Polyken 294FR is a printed, linered, flame retardant glass cloth tape for aircraft cargo compartment seam sealing. Very lightweight. White fiberglass cloth printed with F.A.R. specifications. Highly conformable and easy to install. Very flexible accommodating angles and turns. Aggressive adhesive system. Removes easily without leaving residue. High tensile strength. Repositionable.

Applications: Cargo pit applications. Seam sealing (taping) and repair of cargo compartment liners for use on covering pins/rivets where high adhesion and flame resistance is critical. Aerospace industry.

Which means it’s likely something my brother who worked in aircraft maintenance brought home. He’s been retired from the industry for about 20 years, so even the dates make sense.

What blows my mind is that most of the links I followed said things like “ask for a quote” rather than listing a price. I found one with the blue backing like this roll, and the 3″ x 36 yards size was priced at over US$85. Another supplier’s same size roll was over Cdn$100. From the looks of the images I found, I’d say this is a little less than half a roll.

I wonder if the age has something to do with why the plastic backing won’t come off, too.

What a fascinating find!

The Re-Farmer

Looking for things, and finding some surprises

The girls want to shingle the roof of the water bowl shelter. The paint I got was pretty cheap, and it’s so thin and watery, it doesn’t really cover well. The roof of the shelter is already mostly painted white, and the yellow just can’t go over it well.

We’ve been using some leftover shingles like what is on our roof now for replacing shingles that have blown off. We still have an unopened package of those in a tiny shed by the barn. However we also had shingled in the shed where the roof collapsed under heavy snow this past spring. I’ve been wanting to start cleaning that up so we can salvage some of the wood. Hopefully, we can salvage enough to build a chicken coop. I decided to start cleaning up in there until I could get at the shingles, and a couple other things I want to preserve.

I worked my way to the corner, taking out a LOT of rotten boars, beams and shingles, and was able to get out the antique plow, and the gadget my late brother made to help him install transmissions.

That plow is remarkably heavy to carry! And awkward.

Not as awkward and heavy as this thing I found under it.

I have no clue what it is.

Then I found this surprise, under an old window and sheets of what I think is fibreglass.

What a remarkable window! And the glass is still intact!

It’s now stored in the garage with the van, where I think it will be safest. I would love to be able to clean this up and find a way to use it!

The wheelbarrow has all the shingles that were in there.

I recognise those shingles. They are the shingles from when the addition to the original log cabin part of the house. I spent many hours playing on the roof and remember the colours well.

That roof was installed in the mid 70’s.

They may not be useable. If not, I can go to the other shed, where there is an unopened package of the shingles that we have right now. That was installed in the mid to late 90’s.

Speaking of things that are older than expected…

I knew that shed was old, but I did not think it was “forged nails” old!

The wooden shingles were nailed in place with more modern nails, but the boards were nailed to the trusses with forged nails.

Hundreds of them.

They are all rusted out, with many all bent up or even broken, but I would like to save as many of these as I can.

Of the roof pieces I pulled out, there were only three lengths of wood that were potentially salvageable. The rest are incredibly rotted out. There’s still lots to clean up, but I’ve already got a substantial pile for burning – after I’ve salvaged as many of the forged nails as I can! It’s the walls that I expect to be able to salvage more, and it’s going to be a while before we can start tearing those down.

Whether or not there’s enough useable wood to build a chicken coop with it, I have no idea at this point -but I’m still hopeful!

The Re-Farmer

Morning kitties, and checking beyond the outer yard

It’s a good thing we normally keep kibble, water and a litter box in the sun room. When I closed the door last night, I made sure to check for kittens and saw none. This morning, I discovered I’d closed the three amigos up in there overnight!

I was able to get a picture with Rosencrantz’ tortie! It is the shiest of the bunch. I was able to pet the one at the pack a little bit, at least. Rosencrantz herself acts like she wants to be petted, will stretch out to sniff my fingers, bump her head against my hand – then try to bite and scratch me, too! She used to be much more friendly.

While doing my rounds, I kept hearing cows and calves, very loudly. The renter has rotated his cows out and took away the power source for the electric fence to use in the other quarter he’s renting, so if for some reason there are cows in this quarter, there is nothing to stop them from getting into the outer yard – and we’ve opened up the gates to the inner yard.

For all that I could hear them, I couldn’t see them. I decided to do a walkabout, though. I haven’t gone beyond the outer yard since last year, and I really wanted to see how the gravel pit was looking, after the renter hired someone to dig it deeper during the drought last year.

Wow. What a difference!

September 2022

I couldn’t even go to where I had tried to consistently take pictures last year, because it’s under water. You can see a whole bunch of ducks swimming around, too!

Just for comparison, this was last year.

August, 2021

That was the most water it had all of last year. The clay held what little rain we finally got.

September, 2022

Only the deepest part was dug deeper; it extends quite a bit in one direction, and forms a sort of marsh in the other. Last year, this part didn’t even really get muddy.

This is what it looks like in July of last year.

July, 2021

If you look in the trees, there’s one that is distinctively bent up. If you look in the photo I took this morning, you can find that tree, further away. The spot I stood in to take the picture in July of last year is underwater now, too.

I wish I’d thought to head out and see how high the water was when things were flooding in the spring!

I followed along the marshy bit to where it ends at a sort of roadway, with a pond on the other side.

It has water, too!

When I was a kid, I remember there being enough water in here to float makeshift rafts in, but it has filled in a fair bit over the years.

I was surprised to see this, not too far away.

This tree is still alive! The trunk is even more split open, with the middle rotted away, than when I first found this tree broken after high winds.

Since I was in the area, I decided to head towards the field, which the renter has prepared for next year already, so check on things. There’s an old junk pile there, too. All during my walkabout, as much as possible, I was picking up junk and scrap pieces of metal the cows had scattered around, and put them onto the nearby piles of junk.

I really look forwards to being able to get a scrap dealer to clear away some of this stuff!

I found more pieces of junk scattered about near the fields and cleaned them up a bit.

And found this.

It’s completely intact. Not even a chip, though it was full of dirt.

I brought it home and added it to the table of other found objects. 😁

My daughter came by as I was working on this post, and I showed her the photos I took this morning. She was happy to see the cup! She’s found it last year and had intended to bring it back, but her hands were too full of other things. It’s now sitting exactly where she’d wanted to put it, herself! 😊

I found another surprise in the area.

More water!

Normally, this area has water only during spring melt. There is a sort of “river” that heads off to the right in the photo, all the way to the road, where there is a large culvert, and continues north in someone else’s property. To the left, it goes into the field and joins up with the municipal drainage ditch. The group of trees in the middle become an island, but right now, we have another pond!

While chatting with the renter, I’d commented on how glad I was that they were able to get the gravel pit dug out. He mentioned that, in this quarter, getting enough water for the cows has always been difficult. Not this year, that’s for sure! And with how deep the pit was dug, and the heavy clay bottom, it should not be a problem again, even in dry years.

While heading back, I spent some time checking out the car graveyard, which has all sorts of old farm equipment as well. In the process, I think I found a solution to a problem.

One of the things I want to get built this fall is a chicken coop, so we can get chicks in the spring. We can’t get away with the basic chicken tractor that is so easy to find plans for all over. We need something suitable for our winters, so a lot more substantial. However, I still want to be able to move it to different locations, so that we can incorporate chickens into our garden plans. I’ve been doing some research and have seen mobile chicken coops that are more or less what I have in mind. Basically, they are build on a wagon chassis. I’ve looked around, and even second hand, those can be pretty expensive.

I think I’ve found one.

Among the junk is an old, wooden wagon of some kind. It’s got sheets of aluminum in it, and the wood walls are rotting away. It has all steel wheels and, as far as I can tell, the chassis is completely intact.

As soon as I have the opportunity, I want to go back out there with some tools, pull out the metal sheets, dismantle the rotting wood portions and see what’s there. Once clear, we should be able to just roll it home. We should be able to build a pretty decent sized chicken coop on it, if it’s intact enough!

It’s remarkable what we have been finding among the junk, that can be salvaged. It’s a shame so much of this stuff was left to rot away in the first place.

It would be really awesome if we can salvage this!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: fixing kitten damage, and finding strange things

Don’t let this ball of adorableness fool you!

This is a ferocious and destructive little beast!

Yesterday, I fixed up the mesh covered beds with the fall spinach, making sure to peg down the sides of the netting so the kittens couldn’t get under.

This morning…

Well… they didn’t get under it.


When I came out, there were kittens sitting on the mesh, looking at me.

I took this photo after I’d taken out all the pegs. The mesh needed more support, but I don’t have any more of the metal stakes I used to slide the hoops over.

What I did still have were some pieces from the canopy tent a piece of tree had fallen on last year. Most of the pieces from the dismantled frame are being used around various garden beds, but there were two longer pieces that had snapped near their middles that were still around, leaving me with four lengths with one rough end.

So I stuck them in the spaces between the hoops, broken ends into the soil, thinking maybe I could lash or zip tie hoops to them. Which wouldn’t be very stable, but as I pushed the pieces into the soil, I remembered that they all have screw holes at the ends. I’ve been using those holes to threat twine through.

So that’s what I did. After lashing the bamboo poles back across the hoops, I began stringing twine through and across the metal pieces, the hoops and the poles.

With kittens rolling around, playing in the netting, rolling across the bed, and generally getting underfoot.

I could see that some spinach from the first sowing had started to germinate, and the seedlings are all flattened.


Well, at least the netting has enough support to keep it from collapsing.

For now.

As I was cleaning up and about to put things away, something odd in the path caught my eye.

This was just sitting in the dirt in the path.

It wasn’t there yesterday.

It is not ours. The girls and I don’t have anything like this. Which means it is probably something that was left among my parents’ stuff, though I don’t recall ever seeing it before. Where it came from and how it got into the path of the old kitchen garden is a mystery!

The Re-Farmer

Weather warnings and why is that there?

Today has not been as hot as yesterday, which is greatly appreciated. We are, however…

… still under a severe weather watch.

Looking at the weather radar, it looks like the storm systems will pass to the north and south of us. Mostly to the south. Right over where my brother lives. 😦 As much as we are having issues with the wet, it’s merely an inconvenience, compared to how much the southern areas of our province have been walloped. If the radar is anything to go by (ha!), we might not even get rain tonight.

One can hope!

With the ground so saturated, I’ve been trying to regularly go into the old basement to sweep the water into the floor drain, or into the sump pump reservoir. Today, I decided I may as well take advantage of the situation and do some clean up. We now keep a broken hose (it’s missing the male coupling) down there on the regular, since it comes in so handy when clearing the pipe to the septic tank. I decided to use it to wash away any accumulated dust (muddy dust) and dirt in some areas. In particular, I wanted to try and get the space under the stairs. There is a shelf built under there, with less than a foot of clearance to the floor. I knew there was an old pump of some kind on the floor under there. Whenever I tried to sweep the water into the trough in the floor that leads to the sump pump, the water would be black.

While poking around under there, thinking I would push the old pump – possibly an old well pump, or a septic ejector pump – out from the other side, I discovered there was something stuck under the bottom step.

Also, I knocked over a class jar. Which turned out to be an old canning jar. The kind with the glass lids. It had its metal ring on it, but no glass lid. It was under there for so long, the metal ring is practically fused to the glass.

Then I found a couple more jars and bits of garbage. I got the old pump out, which turned out to be heavy enough I think at least parts of it are made of cast iron. I set it up so it wouldn’t be in water anymore, then found some sort of cast iron plate – a square with evenly spaced holes in it – that was under it.

The very old, very rusted paint can I found was unexpected. It was pretty full, too. Whether it’s paint or stain or something else that comes in that sort of can, I couldn’t tell.

After clearing the space and using the hose to wash things out a bit, it was time to figure out what was stuck under the bottom step.

It was a log.

It looks like a piece of birch. Firewood for the old furnace? My brother had bought a load of birch for my dad, as it burns slower and hotter than the wood he was using. It meant my dad didn’t have to load the furnace so often. Especially at night. That, however, was many years ago. My brother then got the electric furnace and set that up so that my father wouldn’t have to do those horrible stairs to load the furnace anymore at all, if he didn’t want to. It was set up so that, if the wood burning furnace died down, the electric would take over. Now, the wood burning furnace is unused and tied closed with wire, for insurance purposes. There hasn’t been firewood in that basement for years before we moved here.

In theory, it could have somehow ended up under there by accident, but considering the other stuff under there, plus where it is in relation to where the wood was kept, that is highly unlikely. I find myself wondering if perhaps it was shoved under there deliberately, to support the bottom step. If so, that means the step was breaking.

I left the log. Just in case!

I did get substantial areas of the basement hosed down, though, and they are looking much better. The other areas can’t be done, as things would need to be moved out of them, and that’s just not worth fighting with right now.

The water in the new part basement, however, is becoming a problem. I’m going to have to leave that job mostly for the girls, though. The end that has the most water accumulating on the floor also happened to be where most of the litter boxes are set up, and it’s becoming quite the mess. Things are starting to mold, too. Not good. Cleaning out that area is going to have to be done over several days, I think.

Hhhmmm. I’m watching the sky as I write this, and it’s getting dark out there. I used the hose outside to give all the bins we used to carry transplants in and out a wash, so I can lend them to my mother as she puts things away in preparation for her apartment to be treated for bed bugs. They’re spread out in the grass, drying. I think moving them into the sun room might be a good idea.

Just in case!

The Re-Farmer

Dealing with knobs

The delay we had as we prepared to take Tuxedo Mask to the vet requires a bit of background explanation.

For the past while, we have been going in and out of the house through the sun room. While I did a repair on the door of the main entry, where it was falling off its hinges, it didn’t last. The wood continued to split, and the door frame itself is splitting. Basically, we need to replace the entire door and frame set, which I hoped would have been done by now, but other things laid claim to our budget. We avoid using that door, so as not to damage it even worse. We do have another door in the dining room, but that one doesn’t have a key lock, and has troubles closing. Yeah, that door and frame needs to be replaced, too, but at least nothing is splitting apart. Anymore. The storm door on the outside was badly rotted at the bottom, and my brother repaired that before we moved in, sweetheart that he is.

Going outside through the sun room, however, means first going through a door to the old kitchen. That room isn’t heated and has little insulation, so we use it for storage and the chest freezer, and it’s a critter safe place to store our garbage bags until we can get to the dump. The cats are not allowed in there, but they sometimes slip through.

The good thing is, it is a buffer zone. The old kitchen goes out into the sun room. There is the original (?) wooden door on the inside, and a storm door on the sun room side. When the sun room was added on, the storm door stayed, and comes in quite handy.

The sun room acts as another buffer. There have been times where inside cats have made it as far as the sun room, or outside cats as far as the old kitchen, but not at the same time, thankfully! 😀

Then there are the sun room doors to outside; an inner door and a storm door, both salvaged. My late brother worked in demolitions, and most of the sun room was built with material he was able to salvage from who knows where!

It’s the old kitchen door that has been increasingly a problem.

From the inside, the knob worked only in one direction. If you turned the other direction, it would just spin in place. The door itself didn’t want to stay closed, and sometimes I would think I closed it behind me, only to come back later and discover cats milling around the old kitchen! Both knobs were also loose and rattled, but the outside knob (the old kitchen side) seemed to work better.

Until today. When it suddenly just didn’t.

While getting Tuxedo Mask into the cat carrier, my daughter needed to go back into the house, and couldn’t open the door. The knob just spun in place, doing nothing. My husband had to open the door from the inside to let us in!

Before we left, I quickly took a couple of photos of the door knob, with plans to go to the hardware store while my daughter took Tuxedo Mask to the vet.

Yes, this is a very, very old door. It’s the original, I believe, which would mean it’s been there since about the 1930’s. I don’t think that’s the original knob, though.

Once at the hardware store, I asked for help, so I could be sure I got the right kind of replacement knob. The first two staff weren’t sure, so they got the manager to help me.

He took one look at the photos and said, “no.”

He had no door knobs that would work. If we tried with a modern door knob, we’d have to drill a new hole.

That would mean removing the plates, of course.

You’ll notice how thoroughly painted over it is on this side. Even if I manged to get the screws out, getting it free of the door, without damaging it, would be difficult.

Of course, the other side is painted over, too.

He suggested that I try a second hand store. Sometimes, people donate their old door knobs.

Which is when I remembered finding door knobs when we cleaned out the new part basement. Some downright pretty ones, in fact.

Once we got home, got Tuxedo Mask set up in the sun room and my other daughter let us into the house, I headed straight for the basement. The knobs were easy to find, as I’d put them all in the same drawer.

Rifling through, I found three potential pairs of knobs. There was one more, but it was a more modern knob with its own plate that couldn’t work.

I started off by trying to clean them first. My younger daughter came along to help and, from the sounds of things as I write this, she finally finished. She was absolutely determined to clean all the recesses in that one more elaborate knob. A couple of them had paint on them, and all of them were incredibly filthy.

I’m going to have to take a photo of how they look after cleaning. They are gorgeous!!!

The screw on the white enamel one, however, is damaged and we can’t do anything with it, so that one’s not an option. My daughter worked out which two fit knobs together best while cleaning them.

After a while, I went to take off the old knobs.


One of these days, I’d like to get the paint off this door and refinish it. Maybe with a nice stain or something. It’s not a standard size door, so if we were to ever replace it, we’d be resizing the entire door frame. It’s in a log wall, so that’s probably not an option.

It took a while to get the knobs off, as the bar was deeply threaded into each of them.

Can you tell which one is the one I took off the door?

Yeah, the bottom one.

No wonder the knobs wouldn’t work right.

My daughter and I were just starting to clean the knobs I found in the basement when my mother phoned. Eventually, I mentioned to her what happened to the door. As I described it, she started telling me that I could get my brother to fix it. You know, the brother that lives an hour and a half away. :-/ I told her that we couldn’t do that. Then I had to explain – again – that we don’t use the main doors anymore, and why, so these doors are the ones we use all the time, now.

As I was adding in why we couldn’t use the dining room doors either, my mother started asking, why is everything breaking down all of a sudden? I told her it isn’t “all of a sudden.” These things were breaking down for many years. It’s just that nobody noticed it happening. Even my dad, while he was still living here, would no longer have seen a lot of it and, even if he did, was in no position to do anything about it. Now we’re here, and very active, so things that have been slowly breaking down over the years are finally just giving out.

Aren’t we the lucky ones? 😀

I think she even got it a bit, because she started talking about how she had relied so much on the boys taking care of things, she didn’t know anything about it all.

Which is a huge step forward from her usual, “you need a man in the house” lecture! 😀

So, hopefully, we’ll get the door working again tonight, or maybe tomorrow morning. The knobs have been scrubbed with vinegar and water and I want to make sure they are completely dry before we put the ones we’ve settled on, into the door. Once I got them off, I realized the knobs themselves are just fine. They even look a lot nicer, once the paint and scunge was removed! We much prefer the pretty ones, though. Hopefully, it’ll work.

If not, we’ll have to start digging through some of the sheds and the barn, and see if there are some really old doors we can steal the knobs from.

The Re-Farmer

At the gate, and after the rain

While doing my rounds this morning, I found a strange thing at the gate.

The twine was caught around the lock and the caribiner, which usually hangs over one side of the gate, was hooked onto the chain link.

Right off the bat, I knew this was NOT our vandal. If it were, there would have been actual damage, like the locks being glued again, or something like that.

Needless to say, I was quite curious when I sat down to look at the trail cam files. I had a pretty good idea who did it.

I was right.

When my daughter’s package was delivered, the driver tried to shove it into the gate, then used the chain to try and hold it in place. The problem is, the gate moves in the wind. When the cameras were triggered again, less than 15 minutes later, I could see the package was already half-falling. My the time my daughter came over to get the package, about half an hour after it was dropped off, it was on the ground.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t fragile!!

Going through the trail cam files was interesting for another reason: several files caught huge flashes of lighting from last night’s storm! I even saw a deer and her little one, hurrying up the driveway, while the sky light them up repeatedly.

Yesterday blew past our expected high of the day, reaching at least 30C/86F, possibly 32C/90F. That was followed by a wicked thunderstorm that passed over us around 11pm. It was awesome! Of course, we lost internet well before that. It rained enough that I found our rain barrel by the sun room, which had only a few inches of water on the bottom, full to overflowing.

We *really* need an overflow hose on that thing.

The garden loved the rain, too!

I was seeing huge new blossoms on the summer squash. Even the Ozark Nest Egg and the luffa gourds had new flowers opening. So did the Tennessee Dancing gourds, but they never really stopped blooming, so that wasn’t a lot of change.

The Crespo squash is seeing more flowers opening, too, and some of the developing fruit is noticeably bigger! These two are the ones closest to the barriers than I can get clear photos of, but there are quite a few more getting bigger like this.

The sunflowers are loving the deep watering, too. And just look at this Hopi Black Dye seed head! It is getting so very dark!

I even had a baby harvest this morning.

The larger melon is a Pixie melon. There are still lots of those. The little one is a Halona melon. The remaining melons on those vines are not getting any bigger, as the vines are pretty much completely died back now. Most of the melons are all very securely attached to their vines, though. This little one was feeling a bit softer, so I had it with breakfast. 🙂

I even was able to pick some peas! With our first green peas, I did find a pod or two, but between the drought and the critters, that was about it. This is the most I’ve picked at once, this year.

That longest pod is the size they would all be reaching, if growing conditions were better.

I suppose I really should have left them for another day, as these were a bit on the small size, but I couldn’t resist.

I had them with my breakfast, too. 🙂

The melon wasn’t as sweet as larger ones we’d picked, but it was definitely ripe. The peas were also probably not as sweet as they would have been under better growing conditions. They were both still quite tasty, though!

Last night’s storm had blown the door to the outhouse closed. I opened it again and things were still a bit damp. It’s been a few hours now, so I am going to head out and see if I can start painting!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: our “second bathroom”, part two

Part one.

Okay, so the area in front of the outhouse is now safe to walk on.

What about the inside?

The very… colourful… inside.

I’d asked my mother about all the paper in there. She told me she put them there to make it pretty.

I… just don’t know what to say about that.

Like pretty much everything else around here, the outhouse was being used for storage.

The first thing I had to do, though, was check out the floor. Much to my surprise, it’s solid. I still plan to reinforce it, but there is nothing wrong with the floor boards.

Other than being really, really disgusting.

And that toilet seat…


This outhouse has actually been used a couple of times since we’ve moved here. Once or twice by my brother, who insisted on using it rather than going inside. Once by a poor guy who came out to service our internet that suddenly needed to go to the bathroom, but my daughter had just gone into the shower. He couldn’t wait for the bathroom to be available, and was actually willing to use this outhouse.

I still feel so bad about that. The poor guy!

The first order of business was to take everything out that was leaning in the corners.

Which included a folding closet door (minus one hinge), a length of copper pipe, a fluorescent light fixture, which I think still have bulbs in it, and several pieces of wood.

I might be able to use the bigger ones to reinforce the floor.

Oh, and more of that colourful paper that is all over the walls.

Then it was time to move the toilet paper.

Yes. I’m serious. That’s the toilet paper.

Well, not the rolled up paper with the tape on it. That was with the stuff stored in the corners.

When I was a kid, before we had an indoor bathroom, we used old catalogs, fliers, phone books, etc. as toilet paper. I didn’t think it was strange, since I knew nothing else. We didn’t buy toilet paper until we got an indoor bathroom, because this stuff couldn’t be flushed down the toilet.

While clearing things out, I emptied the medicine cabinet on the wall, too.

A 30 year old calendar page isn’t quite so strange when compared to a 46 year old Eaton’s Christmas catalog.

After moving the catalogs and whatnot away, I found this in the corner.

A pile of pine cones!

Also, my mother even covered the top of the toilet seat box with colourful paper!

When I saw the pine cones, my first through was that squirrels had got in and were starting to make a winter stash. Which was a surprise, since this outhouse is actually pretty animal proof. I don’t know where squirrels would have got in.

There was something I missed, however.

Do you see that tiny little something in the corner, a different colour from the pine cones?

When I started sweeping the cones away, I found this.

A mermaid!

I now think that perhaps my late brother’s kids may have played in here and left the pile of cones and mermaid behind, forgotten. If true, then this may have been here for more than 10 years. Probably quite a bit more! However it got here, when we are done with cleaning up and setting up the outhouse, this is going to get a place of honour for display! 😀 More “found object” art… 😉

Once everything was cleared out, it was time to take all the paper off the walls.

At that point, I was starting to really wish I could wear a mask. I tried to be careful not to kick up much dust, but there was no way to completely avoid it.

The outhouse might have been critter proof, but it was not moth proof! As I pulled sheets of paper off, I kept finding moths hiding behind them. Dozens of them.

They did not appreciate being woken up!

Moths were not the only surprise I found behind the paper.

I suspect this was the first attempt at “beautifying” the outhouse. This was right in the middle of the back wall, and would have been the first thing a person saw on opening the door. Then it got covered over with the colourful paper.

I … don’t know what to say. 😀

Yay!! It’s all done! All the paper is gone!

I was going to say, it already looks a lot better, but… no. It still looks disgusting.

Time to break out the big guns.

It’s power washing time!

I hosed down the entire inside, trying to get into every crevice. Which is not easy to do when trying to get the front, on either side of the doorway, while standing outside.

I sure as heck wasn’t going to be hosing it down while standing inside!!

That part took a while.

Okay, NOW I can say, it looks a lot better!

Also, that toilet seat is actually white. It’s been painted brown.

I… don’t know what to say.

Now that it’s have it’s initial cleaning done, I’m actually impressed with how sound this is. Ideally, we would jack it up higher and put it on blocks, rather than leave it on the beams that it’s on, but this is not meant to stay.

The next thing that needs to be done is to scrub the inside. That will be the time to get rid of all the bits of paper and packing tape stuck to the tacks and staples used to tack them to the walls. I forgot to hose down the inside of the medicine cabinet, but that’s okay. We will likely take that down for a while.

While the whole thing needs a paint job, the plan is to use a highly durable paint on the inside, that can handle scrubbing.

In a LIGHT colour! My daughter was suggesting a robin’s egg blue, but I’d be happy with anything that makes it brighter in there. Also, a new toilet seat. There’s nothing “wrong” with this one, except… ew.

I checked the pit, of course. It does need to be emptied. It’s also completely composted and level – being flooded out with melted snow for years did have a plus side. The cat litter compost is behind the outhouse, so it can be added to that. There are those that recommend using human waste as garden compost, but that is something we will never do. Who knows what medications a person might have been on when they left their “deposits”. While it is not urgent to empty the pit, it is definitely something I want to do before anyone actually uses it again.

Oh, we also have to do a bit of work on the door. It needs new hingles, as the current ones are sagging. It would probably be a good idea to calk around some areas, so no more moths will get in. Particularly around the screen covered opening at the top. I actually saw a moth squeezing through the wood around there!

The biggest job that needs to be done is the roof. The shingles have moss growing on them. Given the small size of the roof, however, I think we have options to modify. There are some scrap pieces of plywood in the barn that should be big enough. After removing the old shingles, I am thinking of adding some plywood that is longer than the current roof size, to make an overhang above the door. We also have lots of leftover pieces of metal roofing material that can be cut to size and used instead of using shingles.

The final touch I’d like to add is a solar powered light. I’ve been eyeballing some solar powered hanging light fixtures, thinking of the cordwood building we plan to make, and that can be used here just as well. That would be a huge improvement over using candles or flashlights, like we did when I was a child! 😀

If we do this right, this outhouse should not only last for years, but actually be pleasant to use.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: spruce grove junk pile

Today is our only “cool” day before things start heating up again. Our high of the day was merely 25C/77F. We’re going to have another few days hovering at or above 30C/86F, so I wanted to get some clean up done while it was still relatively pleasant out.

I decided to clear things out to uncover the woodchuck’s den opening, under the junk pile.

This was a job I’d deliberately left for a while, as there were kittens in the junk pile and I didn’t want to scare them. Plus, the spirea and other undergrowth provided them with shade, and things to play with.

Since the kittens have been chased out by the grog, it’s time to clean up!

The first thing was to cut away the spirea and wild roses, until I could remove the old pallet. Since they were just cut to the ground, rather than being pulled up by the roots, the roses will come back next year. Unfortunately, so will the spirea!

Immediately after I took the above picture, a furry little face poked out and looked at me. The grog was home! I imagine he headed out the “back door” on the other side of the pile, as I kept causing a disturbance here.

As I worked my way along the fallen tree, I was able to pull more things up by the roots. The wine barrel planter that I uncovered was not yet collapsed when we first moved here. We used to be able to watch yard cats sitting on it in the winter, sunning themselves. After the pieces collapsed, it became a favourite play area for kittens.

The bushy Chinese elm next to the log are hiding an upright barrel planter.

I also uncovered what looked like a sprinkler hose. I have no idea how long it’s been there, but it appears that the tree fell on top of it. !!

After cleaning up the collapsed barrel planter, it was time to turn my attention to the upright one. On the ground to the right of it, you can see a bit of a red brick. Like other things I’ve found around the yard, I figured I’d be finding more bricks under the planter, once I cleared it out.

The first thing to do was pull out the pieces of wood. I was then able to remove the top metal ring (I’m keeping all of them), but the bottom ring has a smaller diameter, so it had to wait.

I can cut away the Chinese Elm that had been growing in this planter before, and what was growing this year was from the remains of the ones I cut last year. You can almost see the “stumps” that the new growth emerged from.

This is the wood from both barrel planters, plus a few odd pieces I found as well. Since doing a burn would still be stupid dangerous right now, these all went on the junk pile in the outer yard, waiting until we can hire someone to haul it to the dump.

After clearing away the wood and the metal ring, I broke up the soil so that I could take out the roots of the Chinese elm as best we could. Then I started poking around with a garden fork to take out any bricks that I expected to find buried under the planter.

I found a third metal ring, completely buried in the soil.

I also found that it was mostly flat rocks under the planter, not bricks! The one long, concrete brick I found was buried under where the collapsed barrel planter was likely sitting, before it got knocked over.

I find it interesting that care was taken to make sure the planters were on something solid, rather than on bare ground, yet they were sitting there for so long, everything sank into the soil.

After spreading out the soil that was in the planters and filling in the holes I’d made while pulling shrubs out by their roots, I dragged out the hose. I figured it was junk, since it seems to have been sitting there for a long time. I’ve found many hoses scattered about in sheds or the barn, and most of them were so old, they were brittle and cracked. I figured much the same with this, but decided to hook it up to a hose and test it out.

Much to my shock, it actually worked! The couplings were leaking, but all they needed were new rubber washers. There were two hoses together, and they both work. Which means, if we pick up some end caps for them, we can set them up in garden beds, like we currently have the soaker hose at the squash tunnel, for more efficient watering.

It was about this time we reached the hottest part of the day, so I stopped for now.

To get at the stuff where the sprinkler hose was, I’ll need to clear away the underbrush on the other side, then cut up the fallen tree to remove it in pieces.

Which will give me access to the back of the junk pile, too. There appears to be some wire fencing that may actually be usable back there!

This is the next area that needs to be worked on. All the underbrush to the right of the path through the trees needs to cleared out. This will give access to the dead trees that need to be cut down, as well as the back of the junk pile.

Clearly, that junk pile didn’t start out as a junk pile. The wood was carefully stacked and covered with tarps, but then junk got tossed on, the tarps blew off, and now the stacked boards are badly rotted. They’re also very full of nails and screws. !! I’d already cleared underbrush to access this side of the pile of wood, which was used when I worked on what are now the garlic beds, but what I cleared up is now mostly full of thistles. :-/

Where I’m standing to take this photo is about where we plan to build the cordwood practice shed that will become an outdoor bathroom, with composting toilet. We had intended to start work on it last year, but not it will wait until all those dead trees are taken down, since they would need to be felled towards where the shed will be. As it is, the new location for our compost pile, and the beet bed, may be in the way. These are very tall trees!

So that’s progress for today. It isn’t a lot, but it’s amazing how much difference even that little bit makes.

Plus, we now have a couple of “new” sprinkler hoses!

The Re-Farmer

Someone lost a shoe…

My daughter and I made a dump run today, and as we were unloading the back of the van, she noticed one of the access panels in the side of the van had fallen off. This is where the jack is stored. She popped the panel back on, and off we went.

As we were turning into our driveway, however, we heard a noise in the back that was rather alarming. At least for us, after having so many things go wrong on the van. So while my daughter unlocked the gate, I took a quick look in the back, thinking maybe something got knocked loose behind that access panel.

Once in the garage, I just had to get a picture of what I found.

The jack had been visible before, and we had seen part of the back with the pieces to use the jack. I think one of the plastic pieces I found was originally a bracket to hold the jack in place, so it wouldn’t get knocked about, but I have no real idea what it’s for. Then there was the pliers. And odd find, but I can go with that.

The child’s shoe, on the other hand, is a bit harder to explain! 😀 I know the previous owners had kids – when I test drove it before buying it, and before it was detailed, there was still ample evidence to be found! 😀 I do find myself curious how the shoe ended up tucked under the jack and the tools! 😀

The Re-Farmer