Replacement vehicle status, and just made it

I made it to the city for a Costco trip, which will be covered in another post, but I before I left, I wanted to confirm things with the replacement vehicle financing.

Yesterday, I’d messaged our mechanic, asking if he’d heard back after I’d sent in our 90 day income confirmation information. He told me that yes, it had been approved. They just needed something from him, which he’d sent in, and he was waiting for final word.



That was in the morning, and there was still no word by the time he closed. Since I was planning a trip to the city for a Costco stock up trip today, I messaged him this morning telling him this and asking if I should hold off on it. He said he would contact them and find out for me.

After about an hour or two, I got a phone call.

There was good news, and bad news.

The good news was, we were approved for financing.

The bad news was, not for that vehicle.


Apparently, it was hard to get financing for us (not surprised there, considering we’ve had no debt payments to improve our credit rating), but that did eventually come through. However, they would only finance us for a vehicle that was 2014 and older, with a maximum of 180,000 km on it.

The Caravan we were applying for was a 2016 (not the 2015 I thought he’d told me at first), and has 181,000 km.

They wouldn’t budge on that 1000 km.

But, we do have financing approved!

Now, he knows how badly we need to replace our van, and he was determined to find something for us that met our needs and was affordable to our budget. He asked me a number of questions about what we were looking for, and it basically comes down to accessibility for my husband. A vehicle like the Caravan and our current Uplander has been ideal. Yes, we’d be willing to go with an SUV type vehicle, as long as we can fit the walker (yes, it folds, but it’s a bariatric walker, so it’s larger than typical), and with his injury and pain levels, we need something my husband can climb up into, rather than scrunch down into.

There’s a major car auction this weekend. He’s going to try and find something for us! He said he will try to get back to me on Monday about how that went, though I forgot completely that I won’t be home on Monday. I’ll be driving my mother to her scope at the day surgery, then spending the night at her place to keep an eye on her.

With that settled as much as can be right now, I headed into the city with the van, did my Costco shopping, ran into my SIL as I was loading the van!, then headed home.

My younger daughter was waiting for me at the garage with the wagon when I pulled in, and was kind enough to plug the van in for me before I forgot again.

Which is when she heard the hissing.

From the driver’s side tire.

It’s hard to tell in the photo, but this tire is half flat. When I got out of the van and she told me about the noise, I took a look and actually found a split or crack of some kind, near the bottom of the tire.

I made it home just in time!

Or maybe I drove over something sharp when I drove into the garage?

Well, whatever it is, we’re going to wait before getting it fixed. We’ll just have to use my mother’s car for the next while. What bothers me about the timing of this is that, while I’m at my mother’s, it means there will be no vehicle available here at the farm. It would be just for emergency use, really, but that’s kinda the whole point.


The important thing is, this happened *after* the Costco trip, so we’re pretty well stocked up again. Our next trips shouldn’t have that much weight or bulk in them, so we can get away with using my mother’s car. That won’t be until after I’ve spend the night with my mother. Who knows. Our mechanic might actually find us a replacement vehicle this weekend! I’d still want to get it fixed, but I don’t even want to think about it until after all this other stuff is done.

What a day!

The Re-Farmer

Bitter cold, and it’s the little things that are going to do us in!

I am SO glad I was able to get the big shop done yesterday!

The temperatures were expected to go down over the next while, but still be just below average. Of course, the forecasts change constantly it still wasn’t by much.

Yeah, well… this is what we were at this morning.

Just in case the image isn’t loading for you, just after 8 this morning, we were at -31C/-24F, with a wind chill of -41C/-42F Our high of the day is still supposed to be -20C/-4F, which is actually our 30 year average low for the day, but the record low is -36C/-33F, so it’s still well within the norm. Will we actually warm up that much by this afternoon? I sure hope so, because we need to go into town! As it is, I cut my morning rounds down as much as I could, basically just making sure the outside cats had food and warm water, and that was pretty much is. I only counted 19 this morning. Most were in the sun room, but the ones outside were actually dancing around with their paws from the cold!

I’m really not looking forward to tomorrow morning. We have a vet appointment at 8:30 am, and it’s supposed to be about -28C/-18F at that time. Any wind chill on top of that will be brutal. We’ll be using the van for this trip because, for all the problems it has, it still handles the cold better than my mother’s car.

Speaking of handling problems, I finally got tired of one annoyance last night and did something about it.

I added string lights near my door.

This corner has the door to the old basement, and the door to my office/bedroom, and it is always really dark. It’s not too bad during the day but at night, even with string lights around the mirror hanging opposite my bedroom door, it is ridiculously dark. Usually, that results in tripping over or stepping on a cat at my door when I try to go in. Yesterday, it was an annoyance when I kept having to go into the old basement to check on things.

Also, those stairs really, really suck. And not just because my knees are shot.

The set of string lights I had on our Advent wreath got missed when the Christmas decorations were put away, so I added batteries and taped it around the basement door. It’s bright enough that I can now see the door handles, and even grey or black cats on the grey mat under my door (to protect the floor from their scratching).

As for why I kept having to go into the basement: noises.

Too many out of place noises.

Our well pump, every now and then, makes a vibrating noise when it starts. Of course, it stops by the time I get down to check it, and everything looks fine, but it really bothers me. At least it doesn’t make the grinding noise it used to. We have figured out that it would do that when too much water was being used at once, such as if the water for the shower was turned on too full. The pressure tank was being emptied faster than the pump could refill it, so it would start grinding. It means less water pressure while we are taking a shower, but that’s a small thing compared to burning out our pump and losing water completely. The vibrating noise is something else, though, and I can’t tell if it’s coming from the pump or the pipes to the tanks. Nothing has changed down there, though, so there is no obvious reason for it to start making that noise. It also seems to be a winter/cold weather thing, but I have no way to tell.

The pump has been going off more often, too. Even when no one is using the water, I would hear it start up. Some nights, I’ll be awakened because it’s turning on again. I’m the only one who can hear it, since my husband sleeps with a CPAP, which makes just enough noise to drown most things out, and the girls are on the second floor.

The problem is usually the toilet.

Ultimately, though, the source of the problem is our water. It is so full of iron and minerals, it’s messing things up. We’ll need to get a plumber in to fix the bathtub taps because the build up is getting so bad, the hot water tap leaks, even if only the cold water it turned on! When the plumber was here to clear the drain to the septic tank for us, he did take a quick look to give us an estimate, and he thinks he can fix it, rather than have to replace it, but we’d have to take off and replace the tub surround, since that’s the only way to access the taps.

It’s the toilet that is having more problems now. There must be quite a buildup inside the refill hose, as hardly any water flows through it, and it’s taking longer and longer for the tank to refill. The entire inside, which is lined with Styrofoam insulation, is coated with iron, which is also interfering with the flap. Sometimes, after flushing, the flap doesn’t seal right, so the tank keeps draining about as fast as the water is flowing to refill it, so the tank simply doesn’t fill. Unless someone happens to use the bathroom soon after and notices it – because there isn’t enough water to flush! – it’ll keep going for hours. Which is how I end up being awakened by the well pump going off repeatedly during the night! All that needs to be done is to give the lever a wiggle; the flap will settle in place and the tank will finally start filling. Looking at the parts and pieces, though, what I’d really like to do is simply replace all the innards. It’s all so coated with iron and minerals, that would probably be the best way to not just solve a couple of small problems, but keep them from happening again for a long time.

Which leads me to another little problem we’ve been having, thanks to our water quality.

The bathroom sink.

This still has the original tap and faucet set, from the mid 70’s or so. When the water flow starts to get bad, we usually just unscrew a piece from the faucet, give the parts a scrub, then put it back. If it’s really bad, we’ll soak the pieces in CLR for a while. The problem just kept coming back faster in between cleanings, though, and getting worse.

Last night, I had the pieces soaking in CLR again, but when I put them back, the flow was even worse than before the soak and scrub. I gave it some extra scrubbing, but that made things worse again, not better. I tried clearing the openings more directly but, again, it just got worse. When I put it back in place and almost no water could go through anymore, I had to do something more drastic! I took the part in question (I don’t know what it’s called) over to my craft table and tried to clear the holes with a pin. Which worked on one side, but not the other.

After much fighting with it, I managed to separate the pieces.

The grey piece at the top of the picture wasn’t too hard to clean. Especially when I was eventually able to get out the two other pieces inside. It was all so full of rust and gunk, each layer needed to be cleaned before I could get the next one out. The openings are large enough, the T pin I was using had no problem clearing them of scale and rust.

The real problem was the green piece.

The conical part you can see, with the fine mesh of holes, was still clogged. The holes on the bottom are even smaller, much fewer, and barely visible. I cleared them with a pin as best I could, but it was just not working well.

Eventually, I did get it to the point that the conical part started spinning around. Only then could I figure out where the pieces came apart. After much fussing – and the use of a tiny screwdriver – I was finally able to pop the conical part off.

Well, no wonder we were having problems!

Note that this is AFTER multiple soaks in CLR.

After wiping them down, I set the conical part aside to soak in CLR again, while I used the pin to clear the holes in the other part – holes that are much larger on the inside than the outside! Eventually, I got it to the point that I could see through all the holes when I held it up to the light. Not all the holes you see in the photo go all the way through. There’s just the circle of holes around the outer edge, plus another circle of holes half way to the centre.

Then I took the pin and cleared every last hole in the conical part.

By the time I was done and everything was put back together, it was 2am.

One of my daughters happened to be using the bathroom, so she put the newly cleaned part back together with the other parts and screwed it all back into the faucet for me.

Then we stood there and watched in awe over how much water was flowing through, as we let it run to make sure there was no CLR residue left. It hasn’t flowed this well in decades!

Now, if we could just get the toilet tank parts to flow as well!

At least this was a small thing we could take care of ourselves. There’s another new thing that is stressing me out.

The furnace has started making noises.

Of course, with this cold, the furnace is turning on more often, and staying on longer. This house is not very efficient, either, so we lose heat quickly. For all the time the furnace is on, the upstairs is still very cold. There’s only one heat vent for the entire second floor, and the girls have not noticed any real difference since the roof was done. Ah, well. It would have been nice!

Last night, I kept hearing the furnace turn on and start making a strange vibrating noise which – like the well pump – would stop by the time I hobbled my way down the basement stairs to check it.

I ended up turning the thermostat down, so at least the furnace would turn on less frequently, and not stay running as along. Oddly, after I did that, the vibrating noise seems to have stopped completely! Which doesn’t make any sense at all.

What we need to do is get someone to come in and give it a check, and do any maintenance stuff it needs. The problem is, we need to set aside funds for a replacement vehicle. Funds that would normally cover the cost of such irregular expenses. It becomes a battle of priorities over the dwindling “unallocated funds” part of our budget, since rising costs for everything else keeps chipping away at that, too.

It’s all these little things that are going to do us in. The well pump. The septic. The furnace. The taps. The toilet. The lights. The outlets. etc. All these accumulative things. Yes, it’s an old house. This sort of thing must be expected. Especially since there’s very little of this that we can do ourselves, and our resources are so limited.

So we try to focus on the stuff we do have control over, and juggle the budget to find ways to pay people to come in for the stuff we don’t.

The crazy thing is, a significant portion of these problems are caused by our water. It’s simply to loaded with iron and minerals. What I’d like to do is add a filter to the line going into the well pump. A simple filter would extend the life of all sorts of things! There are types that can be cleared without having to open it up to change filters, which would require re-priming the pump. Adding a filter is not going to be done until the pump is replaced, and we’ve already had three plumbers not want to do that (my brother already bought a new pump and all the fittings) due to the risk of the foot valve, at the bottom of the well, disintegrating and losing our water completely. That would turn a job of a few hundred dollars into a job of several thousand dollars, because of the set up we have, and the lack of availability of parts we would need. The valve itself is cheap. It’s all the other stuff that would have to be done to get to it that gets expensive!

Yup. It’s all those little things. They sure do add up!

The Re-Farmer

Surprise visitors

The girls headed outside to get a few things done before heading to bed for the day, and were soon messaging me to let me know we had company!

Two of the renter’s calves had gotten into the outer yard.

The girls made sure the gates into the inner yard were closed, and found plastic covers we’d used in the garden and put them over the Korean pine in the outer yard to protect them, just in case.

The calves were very nervous when I headed over to switch out the memory card on the gate cam. They kept going for the fence into the hay yard – they are normally on the other side of that fence! – and I was concerned they might get spooked and hurt themselves trying to barrel their way through the fence. I made sure to move well over in the other direction, and they eventually followed the fence line back towards the barn. After switching out the memory card, I found them near the shed by the barn. As I came closer they went for the chain gate on the other side of the barn and simply slipped under the chain – and the electric fence wire on the other side! Clearly, the wire did not bother them at all.

I had already messaged the renters to let them know cows had gotten through, so I messaged them again to let them know it was just the two calves, and that they were back on the other side. I also let them know that I couldn’t see any breech in the fence. At least as far as the overgrown grass allowed me to see.

Later, after helping give Leyendecker his meds, I headed to the post office before the store it’s in was closed for their weekly inventory. I was just parking the vehicle back in the garage when I could hear a utility vehicle coming along the outer yard fence. The renter had come to check the fence, so I went over to chat with her. Oddly, she found it had been shut off! As far as she knew, she was the last person to check the fence. The power was low on the fence, so she’d come over with her little ones and a gas powered weed trimmer, cutting the grass and weeds away from the wire, and making making sure nothing was touching where it shouldn’t; she’d found a couple of places where the wire had gotten caught on the barbed wire of the outer yard fence. She told me that when she was done, it running at full strength, and she was sure she had left it back on before leaving. She thought one of their farm hands may have come out, though it they did, we never heard their utility vehicle.

The chain gate runs between two large gate posts near the garage, spaced far enough that large farm vehicles can get through. It used to have a barbed wire fence. I’d cleared the remains of it away from the opening and set it aside, long ago. The only thing keeping the cows out was their electric fence wire, so I’d made a rope gate. After that got broken – along with the electric fence wire – by deer jumping through in the winter, I replaced it with the chain we’d used at our main gate until we fixed the damage from our vandal. It has worked well enough, but with the flooding we had this spring, one of the gate posts was leaning most of the way to the ground. I now understand just why all those fence posts are so rotten! Until this year, I had no idea the area could get so flooded.

While we were talking, I pushed the gate post upright and propped it up with a scrap piece of fence post that was lying in the grass. She told me her husband was thinking of rotating the cows out again, soon. Remembering a comment I’d made the last time we spoke, she asked if perhaps we wanted the cows to be allowed into our side of the fence for a while, first, to help graze down the grass at least a bit. I told her I’d be fine with that. He may not do it, but just in case he does, we’ll keep the inner yard gates closed up. He is also still wanting to replace the outer yard fence. Part of the rental agreement is that they are responsible for the fencing. It would be good if he could get that done, once the cows have been rotated out. Right now, there is another deliberate gap in the fence, next to an old collapsing log building, that the cows sometimes gets through. As near as I can figure, the gap in the fence is for access to the expeller for our septic system. There is a low area next to it that the water drains into, all of which still has the remains of old, fallen barbed wire fence to keep cattle out of it. When they do replace the fence, I have suggested they may want to fence around the the expeller in some way. I also mentioned I’d like the fence to go straight to the road, instead of turning towards the driveway and around the old hay yard. They would loose a small grazing area and the low spot that I’d like to turn into a permanent pond again, but it would also mean quite a bit less fencing to replace. Certainly enough to make the cost difference worthwhile, I think. It would also mean the cows wouldn’t be getting into the junk behind two sheds, including the one with the roof that collapsed under the weight of snow this past spring. I think it would ultimately be a win-win situation.

But it’s up to him, in the end. Whatever he ends up doing, we’ll work with it.

I also told her about wanting to get all the scrap cars and stuff cleaned up, but that I’m still expecting our vandal to appeal the court’s decision against him. She was just shaking her head about him being so possessive about such junk. My mother had wanted to have it sold as scrap metal to help pay for a new roof, but it’s all so bad, I doubt it would bring in even half of what a roof would have cost, back when we got the initial estimates in 2019, never mind the estimate we got this year.

That reminds me. My brother had asked me to contact one more company for an estimate – someone my SIL knows personally and vouches for – so he would have 3 estimates to go over. I did that last night by email and got a quick response saying he’d call this afternoon, but so far, no call. Hhmm.

Well, whatever we end up with, we’ll see if my mother will follow through on her promise to pay for a new roof. I suspect she’ll renege on that. She’s been teasing about paying for a new roof for years now, as a way to manipulate my brother, so I’d actually be surprised if she follows through. Still, if she does, a decision has to be made quickly; these estimates are only good for 30 days, because the prices change so quickly. Even if the work can’t be done right away, if a deposit is made, that locks the contract until the work is done. Still, it would be awfully nice if we could get a new roof before winter! It would make a significant difference on our heating bills, too.

The Re-Farmer

Not much progress today

It’s been a chilly day today, with off and on rain. Too chilly to try and put the transplants out to harden them off.

While doing my morning rounds, I spent some time fussing with the garden shed to see if I could secure the sheets of metal roofing a bit better. I was trying to figure out why they wouldn’t lie flat, then remembered: a smaller piece of aluminum had been put on the roof, over where there is a hole that water was getting in. A rock was tossed on to keep it from blowing away. You can’t see the rock from the ground, and it was forgotten about. Now, the sheets of metal roofing are on top of it! 😀 I was able to arrange them in a more centered way, was able to nail down one of them above the door, and found a way to clamp down the other. Between that and the strap the girls put back on, it should stay. It’s just a matter of time before we get rid of it completely, so we’re not too worried about it.

I got a phone call from my brother today. Our mother had called him this morning and left a message with him, saying something about not feeling well. She’s mentioned to me, when I last spoke to her, that “everything hurts”, but when my brother called her back, now she says she’s got a headache, too. My brother says it sounds like she has the flu. He convinced her to do the usual things she would do to take care of herself, and get lots of rest, so she stayed home from church. Apparently, she’d planned to walk to the grocery store after church, but also insists she has enough and doesn’t actually need to buy more food, so we’re not sure why she still planned to go shopping.

Since she needs to rest, my brother will be the only one calling her to check up on her, so she’s not constantly getting up to answer the phone. If it becomes necessary, he’ll let me know and I’ll head over.

That gave me extra reason to make sure to get to the hardware store in town today – I wanted to see if the gravel roads had improved enough to drive on with my mother’s little car. The high winds we’ve been having are at least good for that. The rough spots are still very rough, but no longer muddy, and the tires weren’t sinking as much while driving through them. It should be fine to use my mother’s car without damaging it.

Once at the hardware store, I found the roof repair tar and new caulking gun that we needed, then decided to look around. Which is always a dangerous thing for me to do, since I will always find something we can use! 😀 Today, however, I found the lamp oil I’ve been looking for! I was able to get a large bottle of paraffin based lamp oil at a better price than what I’d found online at Canadian Tire, and without any scent. I got just one bottle for now; enough to fill all 4 of our oil lamps, if we needed to, though we’d probably only use two at a time, at most. Now that I know where to find it, I’ll pick up more for our stash, as we are able.

The main thing is we have what we need to patch up the roof, and should the need arise, we’ve got what we need to use our oil lamps. I feel much better having that option available, now. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

My laundry is cursed

Okay, I’m done. Just done.

Can anything else go wrong?

Don’t answer that…

I’ve just spent the last several hours fighting with a single load of laundry. The laundry I tried to do last night that ended up flooding the entryway.

Today, the first thing I did was remove the clothing that was still in the water, wringing it out as best I could, and putting it back in the laundry basket. While I was doing that, I realized…

I was seeing… daylight?

Check out how low that is. The top of the basin is usually just under the top of the washer. It was about 3 inches lower. There is a window in the wall behind the washer, with sunlight shining through some openings in the back of the machine, and I was seeing it only because it was so low.

Once the clothes were out, I used the new syphon pump to drain the water into a bucket. The breaking main door was opened and left open, to put as little stress on the hinges as possible.

I had to fight off cats, every time I came in and out. They were so excited to be able to see through the storm door, and sniff at the slightly open window!

Once as much water was removed from the basin as the pump could get, I left it be, hoping that without the weight of the water and clothes, it would lift itself up again.

While giving it time to do that, I dumped the basket of laundry into the tub. It had already been washed and needed to be rinsed, so I added water and stomped on it with my feet, like I was stomping grapes, to rinse it out. When the old washing machine broke, that was how we did our laundry until we could replace it.

The down side of doing laundry that way is, it’s hard to squeeze out the water. Which makes it much more work for the dryer. I did use one of the arm bars to twist as much water out as I could, but decided to take advantage of the sunny and warmer day, and hang them on the clothes line.

Before I did, though, I checked on the washing machine.

That was encouraging. The basin was almost at the top again.

I left it be to head outside and wipe down the clothes line – it hasn’t been used in a long time – while a daughter lugged the laundry basket out for me. While hanging the clothes, I made extra sure to pin them on well because, if they fell off, they’d fall right into mud, snow, water or even deer droppings, depending on where they were.

I did notice that we need to replace the clothes line. It’s a plastic coated wire line, and it’s so old, the plastic was cracking all over. I don’t want to get rust on the clothes.

One of the handy things we got were a couple of S clips. Our clothes line is on pulleys, so we can just stand on the laundry platform and move the clothes on the line, rather than having to drag a basket across the yard. With the weight of the clothes, it starts to sag, but S clips placed strategically between the clothes, holds the top and bottom together and reduces the sag. I had just put on the second S clip and was getting hear the bottom of the basket when…

… the clothesline snapped.

Almost all my laundry, now lying in the mud.


Well, we had to test the washing machine out at some point.

After a daughter and I picked up the laundry and brought it in, I decided to do a test run with half a load. I made sure the sump pump hose was set up out the window before even plugging the machine back in.

The cats were wild with curiosity.

Finally, it was time to plug it in and…

Nothing happened.

So far, so good.

I put in the half load of clothing, added the detergent, and finally hit the power button.

It turned on, and did nothing else.

Still, so far so good!

I started setting the machine for a normal load. All the buttons worked, and the timer showed 63 minutes, just as it should. I started the load, and it was soon filling with water.

I wasn’t sure it was so far so good, though. Didn’t it usually take longer before it started filling? The machine does a bit of a jig with the basin as part of its automated load size system. We don’t normally do small loads of laundry, so I’m not sure. Plus, there had still been some water at the bottom. Maybe that threw it off.

Being paranoid, I set up the household step ladder across from the machine and sat there on my phone, supervising it.

As the machine filled, the timer counted down.

It kept filling.

And filling.

And filling.

That was a small load. It should have stopped earlier.

Then I realized the countdown on the timer was at 55 minutes – and it wasn’t changing.

I do appreciate that the washing machine has a window in its lid. I kept watching the water level slowly rising. The basin did start to agitate a bit, but kept stopping, while the water kept going.

Finally I paused it, checked the load and restarted it.

It kept filling.

The timer stayed at 55 minutes.

About this time, my other daughter came down to see how my cursed load of laundry was doing, and I told her what was happening. When the machine still wouldn’t stop filling, and the level was just way too high, I finally shut it off. Clearly, there was something wrong with the machine.

I got my daughter to bring me the syphon pump while I removed the machine’s drain hose from the sump pump hose that was running out the window. The hose from the syphon pump fit into the sump pump hose, nice and snug – I could pump straight outside, instead of hauling buckets!

The cats REALLY wanted to check things out!

I started to pump, but there wasn’t enough of a seal and water started to leak from the join, so I went to get some electric tape to seal it.

I had just gotten the tape from another room, when I started to hear splashing sounds.

I came running to find water shooting out of the washing machine’s drainage hose. The machine had turned itself on and was draining!

This time, I had the presence of mind to shove the end into the washing machine. The little step ladder was still there, so I was able to climb up and reach the plug while staying dry.

Now that I think about it, the machine turning itself on to drain the basin may be a failsafe system, to make sure the basin wasn’t left with heavy water in it for too long. Which would be a good thing, if we actually had somewhere for it to drain, but with the pipe clogged, we don’t, and the only way to stop it is to unplug it!

My younger daughter, sweetheart that she is, went running for the mop and bucket as soon as she heard the splashing. We got the water cleaned up as best we could, then she dried off the hose connections so they could be taped together. Meanwhile, I started taking the clothes out – again! – squeezing as much water out them as I could, and putting them back in the basket, while my daughter started pumping water out.

We got that done, and then I took the laundry into the bath tub again, then headed outside, while my daughter used the syphon hose to empty out most of the mop bucket, so it would be easier to dump outside.

That pump and hose system through the door works really well.

While outside, I gathered up the broken clothes line. That took a while. It’s a long line! My daughter came to join me, and when we went into the sun room to put the line away until we had time to grab some tools and remove the line tightener, which is still good, we talked about how I want to set things up in the sun room to make a surface for plants above the swing bench.

Not something we’re going to do today.

Then we headed in, and I was talking about having to still do my laundry with my feet when my daughter started taking off her shoes by the tub.

She said I was having a bad enough day, so she would do it for me.

What a sweetheart!

So that’s done and, since no amount of manual squeezing matched the spin cycle of a machine, the load is being dried in two batches, so as not the overwork the dryer.

We went from not being able to do laundry because of a clogged drain, to now having a broken washing machine.

I hope it’s still under warranty. I’m not sure something like this would be covered, though.

As for the drain…

When I had the chance, I got my daughter to stand near the laundry and listen, while I ran both taps in the kitchen on full. She heard no gurgling and no sounds of water backing up the pipe.

Could we have finally cleared the clog?

I sure hope so. I’d really like something to go right!

Actually, something did go right. Wanting to cheer myself up, my daughter and I went to check on the seedlings in the big aquarium greenhouse. There are more sprooots! More Lady Godive and Kakai hulless pumpkins have sprouted, and I spotted a Styrian seedling just breaking ground. We also have more of the cantaloupe type melons! We have an almost 100% germination rate on those! There is only one out of 8 pots of Halona melons that hasn’t germinated – and those are seeds from last year’s garden, so they’re more than a year old. One of the grocery store melons, which has 4 pots, had only one seed germinated, but now the rest of them are up, too.

That did a great job in cheering us both up. 🙂

Tomorrow, I want to call the plumber and, now that the washing machine is doing crazy things, call the appliance guy that came out to do warranty work on it before. I want to describe to him what happened, before trying to find the info for the company about possible warranty work.

What a day.

My other daughter commented on how all this was somehow to “make up” for our not being flooded outside, like so many others are!

It could most definitely be worse.

The Re-Farmer

How’d that happen?

While doing my morning rounds, I walked through the feeding station a couple of times before I noticed.

Something was missing.

The suet feeder was gone.

I spent some time walking around, trying to find it, but a dark green wire cage on mud isn’t exactly easy to see.

It wasn’t until I paused to take this photo that I spotted the basket in the background. Minus the chain. A bit more searching, and I found that, too. The white arrows in the photo show where they are. They were actually easier to see from the side like this, than from directly above!

Something yanked it down with a fair bit of force! I was able to bend it back again, though.

The feeder was almost empty last night. Whatever did this may have been after the last little bit.

In other things…

The temperatures were below freezing when I headed out this morning, with the sun room at 5C/41F. The onion and shallot seedlings seem to be fine, as much as I can tell. They’re not doing very well to start, so we’ll see. I still left the lights on for what little warmth they can give. I should find a small thermometer that I can put in the shelf to better monitor that space.

Later this afternoon, though, I glanced into the sun room, and the thermometer on the wall was reading about 25C/77F! That’s just too much, so I opened up the inner door to outside, allowing air flow through the screen on the outer door. It’s only open a few inches, but that would be enough. The lights got turned off, too, of course.

Then I chased away the skunk that was in the kibble house.


The outside cats were happy to see me this morning, as there was no kibble at all left.

Gee. I wonder what could be eating it all?




One thing about the cooler temperatures – it’s a lot less muddy around the kibble house!

I counted 14 cats in total, this morning. I’m happy to say that Ghost Baby seems to be more accepting of human presence. While I was putting food in the tray outside the kibble house, she actually came close enough that I could have reached out and touched her!

Not that I tried. Too soon for that!

Among the things on the to-do list this morning was to get the burn barrel going again. Even in the outer yard, things are less muddy. Even the “lake” around the garage had receded a bit. The moisture is actually being absorbed by the ground, which is exactly what we need.

We’re at 5C/41F as I write this, which is warmer than predicted. The “real feel” is supposedly 3C/37F, but while I was outside, chasing off the skunk, it felt a lot warmer. That side of the house is sheltered from the current wind direction. The next couple of days are supposed to get even warmer – but a week from now, we’re supposed to get a high of -5C/23F, with “isolated flurries”! We’re supposed to have highs of 0C/32F over Easter weekend.

But if I look at another weather app, which gets its data from a different station, we’re supposed to have a high of -6C/21F on Holy Saturday and -5C/23F on Easter Sunday. The 30 year historical average for Easter Sunday is 10C/50F.

But I can’t complain. The record low for Easter Sunday is -24C/-11F, set in 2014. The record high is 20C/68F, set in 2005.

We are, if nothing else, a region of extremes when it comes to temperatures!

I think I’ll take our current, moderate conditions we’re having, thankyouverymuch!

Since we’ve unplugged the sump pump, I’ve been checking the old basement regularly. It’s dry, and the sump pump reservoir’s level doesn’t seem to have changed.

We’ve had some minor plumbing issues. When I checked the floor drain, it didn’t have any water in it at all, but I ran the hose through to the septic tank, anyhow.

Or tried to.

That bottleneck was clogged again.

It took a while, but I was able to get the hose through and washed the pipe out as best I could, but we’re going to have to get a plumber back to find out what’s going on. Judging by how much of the hose is through before I hit the bottleneck, I’d say it’s located outside of the basement, between the house and the tank. At that point, it may even be different pipe. The pipe in the concrete is cast iron, but at some point, it switches to PVC. I don’t know where, though. Perhaps it is at the join, that this problem is happening?

I don’t know, but I think we’ll be running the hose through every couple of weeks, rather than once a month, as I’d originally planned.

I sometimes feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, here.


Nutmeg isn’t impressed, either.

The Re-Farmer


Well, I can at least say that we can now use our plumbing again.

For now.

The septic guy made it over in the late morning. The septic tank was, indeed, very full. When he had emptied it, however, nothing started to drain in the basement, so that – thankfully – ruled out the notion that the clog was due to fluids actually backing up from the tank, into the basement. That could have caused all sorts of problems with our type of system.

Also, when I called for him to come over, I asked what the rates were. They did, of course, go up a bit from when we had the tank emptied in the spring. I made sure to give him a tip, too. If anyone deserves a tip, it’s the septic guy!!!

Once that was done, I quickly grabbed lunch, then headed to the basement. Having helped my brother the last time this happened, I could go straight to where I figured the source of the problem was.

Which is when I had my first problem. I needed to get the cap off this access pipe, but my pipe wrench had disappeared. It should have been on the hot water tank, but I had the vaguest memory of taking it to use somewhere else. Too vague of a memory. I had no idea where it might have been.

While cleaning out the new part basement, we did find a couple of large pipe wrenches, so I decided to try one of those. I grabbed the smaller one, but it turned out to be broken, so I went back to try the bigger one.

Now, situations like this are among the reasons I’m glad we have the opening between the two basements blocked off, keeping the cats out. The mess was bad enough on its own. The mess with cats running through it, then tracking it through the house, is a whole different level of horrific. Unfortunately, it also meant that, to get something that is in the new basement, I had to go back up the stairs to the main floor, go down the other stairs to the new basement, then back up to the main floor, then back down to the old basement.

I don’t do stairs well at the best of times. Having to go up and down the old basement stairs, with its odd dimensions, was not a good thing. But, it had to be done.

So after a few precarious trips with me hobbling up and down the stairs repeatedly, I tried the big pipe wrench. That thing probably weighs about 10 pounds. Thankfully, it was not broken, but I still couldn’t get the cap off. Instead, the entire piece was turning. I realized I would have to take the entire top piece off, and that required loosening the bands holding what appeared to be a rubber seal in place.

That required tools I didn’t have.

At that point, I just hobbled half way up the stairs and called for my husband to bring me the big tool kit Finally, I was able to get the whole piece off the top of the pipe. And no wonder I couldn’t get it off! I knew the metal was rusting away pretty badly, from that last time we had to do this, but my brother did clean it up as best he could. About the only positive thing I could say is that, this time, there wasn’t any actual pieces of rusted out metal that had fallen off, for me to clean up.

I did take a picture, but it is too disgusting to share.

I then brought out the old chimney sweep that my brother and I had found was the only thing that really worked to break through the clogged pipe, last time. The end without the brush could be jammed through, and it’s long enough to reach all the way into the tank. I started to push it through, and barely got more than 10 inches before it was blocked.

I then spent the next… *checks the time* … two hours or so, trying to jam that thing through. I also had an old garden hose we’d used last time, too. It only has a female coupling on it, which works out quite well for a job like this. I could hook it up to the cold water tap that the washing mashing used to be hooked up to – I couldn’t use the taps at the laundry sink, since it was completely full of water… and… stuff. Very happy for the tap redundancy in this basement! Between the wire and the hose, I was eventually able to break through the clog. I knew I finally got it when the laundry sink suddenly started to drain! 😀

I then moved to the floor drain to work on for a bit. I had already had an idea of the cause of the problem, but here, it was confirmed.

There were roots running across the drain from the weeping tile under the new basement, all the way through to the access pipe to the septic tank.

I broke up and tore out as much as I could, but I just don’t have the equipment to do more. We do have a rotary drain snake, and I was able to use that to pull out quite a bit, but it’s just too small to clear the pipes.

Still, I got it to the point where water was flowing freely again, and I could start sweeping the water on the floor, and sweeping up… debris… for the garbage. I got most of it cleared, but not all. Once everything was flowing again, I made sure the dehumidifier that drains directly into the sump pump reservoir was set to maximum, then set the big blower fan up to face the worst of the wet and plugged that in.

Once everything is dry, we’ll be able to clean up the last of the mess and disinfect the floor.

It’s a good thing this is NOT a finished basement! I am also very happy that I made sure everything that we do have down there is up on bricks, not directly on the floor.

As disgusting and messy as the job was, it could have been much worse. Most of what backed up was from a load of laundry. It could have been much, much more disgusting, that’s for sure! Still, when it was done, I was so incredibly glad to be able to take a shower!

We will still need to call someone in to clear the pipes of those roots. Otherwise, we’ll be doing this again before too long. 😦 It could probably wait until spring, though, since the trees are going dormant and there will not be new root growth for a while. We won’t be able to get all the weeping tile done, but if we can just clear the pipes that are in the old basement, that would make a big difference.

The main thing is, things are now draining.

And I am drained!

The Re-Farmer

The luffa is still trying! Plus, a bit of an update.

Our temperatures have been lurching around quite a bit, lately! Last night, we dipped to 3C/37F, but our high of the day is supposed to reach 23C/73F!

I’m watching our garden beds closely and had a surprise. Not only is our Ozark Nest Egg gourd trying to produce more gourds, so are the luffa!

This is our first – and until now, only – luffa that was developing. It’s withering away, likely due to lack of pollination.

Right near it I found these.

Three new luffa starting to develop!

There are even some male flowers blooming, too. With so few pollinators around right now, I am thinking of pollinating them by hand, to give them a chance to actually mature, but it’s almost October. Normally, I wouldn’t bother, but then, this year it looking like we will have a long, warm fall. I’d like to see how far along they get.

Though last night was chilly, we had no frost warnings, and when I headed out early this morning, to make sure the gate was open for the septic guy, I don’t think I saw any frost damage. I even was able to harvest a couple more zucchini this morning.

The overnight dip did make going to the outhouse during the night rather unpleasant! As I write this, we are still waiting on the septic guy to come by. All he could tell me when I called last night was that he thought he could make it in the morning.

Until the tank is emptied, there is no point in trying to unclog the pipe from the basement to the tank. So for now, we’re not only stuck using the outhouse, but doing things like using a bowl to wash up in, so the water can be dumped outside later, rather than going down the drain.

I’m really hoping we can get this is just a straightforward clearing of that pipe. Otherwise, we’ll be having to call a plumber, and that means dipping into funds set aside for other things. The good thing is, we have those funds if we need them, at least. :-/ As much of a pain as it can sometimes be, we’ve actually been able to set aside a bit of cash into a contingency fund. While we were living in the city, that was impossible to do. So I am thankful for that, at least!

The Re-Farmer

What a drip!

The old basement is the heart of the plumbing in this house. It’s where all the pumps and tanks are, plus we have a couple of sets of taps; one for the laundry sink, and one for where the washing machined to be, and pipes with shut off valves leading to the taps outside.

Until the plumber added a shut off valve to the hot water tank, those were pretty much the only shut off valves in the system. Otherwise, there is a main shut off valve at the well pump that shuts water off to the entire house.

One of the things my brother did was install a pool filter to the septic pump system. It has a filter basket that catches larger bits before they get into the pump and sent on to the outflow. It has to be cleaned out every now and then, so he got an extra basket, so one can be quickly switched out for the other, and the pump can be back in action right away, rather than having to stay off while the filter basket gets cleaned. Which is a big deal, since it basically turns black and needs time to soak in a detergent solution after the grit and odd bits of straw that fell into the tank while it was being emptied are cleaned out.

Handily, the laundry sink is right there, and that’s where I wash out the filter basket.

It is also where we shock our hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide every now and then, when the water develops a rotten egg smell. This is done using siphon action by attaching a short hose to the tap. After shutting water off to the hot water tank, then allowing it to drain until the vacuum created prevents more water from draining out, we can put the hose end into a container of hydrogen peroxide, turn on the hot water tap, and the peroxide gets sucked into the hot water tank. Unfortunately, the threads on the hot water tap are damaged, so instead of being able to screw on a short length of hose directly to the tap, we’ve had to use Gorilla tape and a length of aquarium hose. It doesn’t seal as well, but it works.

Those are pretty much the only times that sink gets used.

When I’d switched out the filter baskets at the septic pump, I noticed that the hot water tap had developed a drip. I have no idea how long it’s been dripping, but as I used the hot water to do a rough clean on the filter basket, then set it in a container to soak, it started to drop more. Last night, I switched out the soaking water, and the slow drip because a fast drip.

We already needed to replace both the hot and cold water taps, but until now, that wasn’t much of a priority.

Here, you can see the hot water tap, with the tape holding the bit of aquarium hose. The cold water tap has a length of hose screwed on – without the hose, the water sprays all over. The piece of hose across both taps is what I’d tried to screw onto the hot water tap, only to discover the threads were damaged.

This morning, I headed into town to hit the hardware store, just as it opened. After showing the photo to one of the staff, he found the right size replacement taps for me (I plan to take advantage of the situation and replace both taps). Unfortunately, these taps are soldered on. Which means, to change them out, I need to heat them with a torch, remove the taps, clean the pipes, then solder on the replacement taps.

We don’t have the tools to do that. Even if I wanted to cut the old tap off and put a new one on the remaining length of pipe, I’d still need a soldering gun – and I don’t want to shorten the distance of the taps over the sink, anyhow.

Of course, there are no shut off valves between these taps and the pumps. To work on it means, at the very least, shutting off the water to the hot water tank. To work on the cold water tap means shutting off water to the entire house.

So I picked up a couple of Shark Bite shut off valves.

We have what we need to cut pipe, so we can install the shut off valves ourselves. That will allow us to shut water off to the taps and stop the drip, until we can replace the taps themselves.

I’ve already been able to talk to my brother about this, as he has the tools needed to replace the taps. As for the shut off valves, he had it in his mind to install them in the vertical pipes leading to the taps, but I am thinking of installing them in the horizontal pipes running along the ceiling, so that they will shut off water to the other set of taps as well. Those have never been used since the washing machine was moved upstairs, but considering how old they are, I can see needing to replace them in the future, too.

My daughters are still on “night shift”, though, so I don’t want to start any of this until after they’ve gotten up and had their showers. For now, I just want to install the shut off valve on the hot water pipe, but – as unlikely as it is – if something goes wrong during the install, we wouldn’t be able to turn the hot water back on until it’s fixed, and who knows how long that would be. It’s really a simple job, but I know how easily simple jobs can become major problems, in this place!! Hope for the best, plan for the worst!

One of the considerations for installing the shut off valves; unless we cut out about 3 inches of pipe, they will add to the length of the pipe. That would mean the taps would need to be shifted over by the same distance. Which I wouldn’t have a problem doing, except that parts of the copper pipe have been painted over.

Including the clamps and screws holding the pipes in place. Which is going to make loosening the screws a pain in the butt!


Still, it needs to be done, regardless. We’ve had issues with a loud noise that would start after the well pump kicks in to refill the pressure tank. It is very loud, and I can actually feel the floor vibrating under my feet when I am at my computer. It rather freaked me out because, at first, I thought the noise was coming from the well pump, and we’re already on borrowed time with that thing. Eventually, I was able to trace the noise to the pipes. The pipes run under the exposed floor joists, and have a mishmash of supports attached to the joists, holding them in place. In a couple of spots, there is a pipe that has a 90 degree turn and runs under the pipe it had been parallel to. One of those spots is the hot water pipe that runs from the hot water tank to the laundry sink. What seems to have happened is that, as the house has shifted, those pipes no longer have any sort of gap between them. When the pump starts running, it causes vibrations in the pipes, and with these two pipes now hard against each other, that results in the noise and vibrations I can actually feel in my feet. Right now, the vertical pipes are clamped so tight against the wall – with painted over screws – that there is no give at all. So while we are working on the taps and valves, I want to see if I can adjust the hot water pipe downwards a bit, so that they are no longer touching. Hopefully, I’m right that this is the cause of the noise, and it will stop.

If it doesn’t, and we still get the noise in this location, I’m at a loss as to what else the cause might be!

So we’ve got our work cut out for us this afternoon, just to be able to stop the drip until we can replace the tap itself. Once that’s done, there is no longer any sort of urgency.

The Re-Farmer

Stuff we’ve found, and things to fix

While doing my evening rounds, I figured it was time to get a recent photo of our found object “art” display. 😉

The table itself was dragged out from under a fallen tree while clearing the edge of the spruce grove. We weren’t able to get at it until the old wood pile was cleaned up. The chair frame (barely visible at the bottom) was found somewhere else in the yard.

My daughter showed me where they found that crushed tea kettle, and now I’m even more perplexed as to why it was there and how it got crushed. Being driven over is not as likely as I thought, since it was in between some trees, where no vehicle – not even an ATV – could fit. The steel trap and the strip of rusted metal beside it was buried in the dirt under where the wood pile used to be, found while clearing out roots to turn the space into garden beds. Quite a few of what’s on there was found while cleaning up that old wood pile! The beer bottle was found along the East fence line along the spruce grove, most likely left there by my late brother. He did like his beer! The group of three cups to the right of the tea pot, plus the two Old Spice bottles, are the newest additions, found by my daughter in the junk pile way out by the plowed field.

While walking around and thinking of the things we need to do, and what we need to do it, I decided to drag something out of one of the sheds. We’d seen some wire mesh fencing rolled up in a corner, and I thought it might be useful for when we build our trellises or something. So I moved a few things to get to the corner, dragged it out and brought it to the house.

I was really surprised. There is a LOT more in there than I thought there was. As far as I have seen, we don’t have any fences made with this wire, so I have no idea why it’s here or what it was used for. Whatever it was for, not much of the roll was used!

This will come in very handy.

This morning, after switching out the memory cards on the trail cams, I took another look at the fence by the gate post, where we want to put in a small people gate. The gate post itself has three holes in the steel where we could potentially attach things. At the moment, the ends of the barbed wire are attached to the post through these holes. We’ll have to put in a new post first, attach the wire to the post, then detach the wire from the gate post. We still need to settle on how wide we want the gate to be, before we know where to put in a post.

While looking at where the barbed wire was attached to the gate post, I noticed this.


It wasn’t like this in the fall. This is damage from temperature fluctuations over this past winter.

I checked the other sides, and the other gate post. The other gate post has no cracks in the concrete at all, but this one…

These are the two corners of the south facing side.

These are the west and east facing sides.

I don’t know that these can be patched, or if the base needs to be replaced. I recall my brother telling me about a particular type of concrete he wants to use to repair the cracks in the bottom portion of the barn wall, that could probably be used on these cracks. I will bow to his greater knowledge and ingenuity on this one!

Well, this does show which post was responsible for the gate shifting. When we hung the gate back up after repairing our vandal’s damage, it was level. Over the winter, it shifted enough that the pin for the sliding bar could no longer be used. By the end of the winter, however, the gate shifted back, and the pin can be used again. My daughter had thought it was the other gate post that had shifted, but with these cracks, I’d say it was this one!

Since I had to slip through the fence to get pictures on all sides of the gate post’s base, I decided to check out the fence line from that side. New fence posts had been put in until just past the end of the spruce grove. The rest of the fence has been slowly falling down. From the outside, I was able to shift the posts – they are so rotted, they’re broken loose at ground level – so that they were leaning into the yard, rather than towards the road.

The entire stretch of fence is basically toast. I think there might be one fence post that isn’t broken. At one point, I noticed a large tree had fence wire on either side of it. One of the wires had a break repaired. It looks like, when the break was fixed, whoever did it deliberately put the wire on the other side of the tree, so the tree would keep the fence up.

For that spot, at least, it’s working.

I will have to prioritize cleaning up along this fence line, so it can be repaired. We’ll need to pick up more fence posts; I’ve found some scattered all over the place, but I don’t think there are enough, and they’re different sizes, too.

My daughter just popped in and we talked about the fence. If we were just replacing a post or two, we could make do with the old post hole diggers we found around the property. However, there are just too many posts to replace for that to be practical for us. We’re not that able bodied! And since the equipment that we could have used is gone (the Bobcat had a soil auger attachment), or no longer functional (the post pounder my late brother built), we figure it might be better to just hire someone. All we really need is for the posts to be installed. Once they’re in, we can do the rest ourselves. Since this is a permanent fence line, we would also want to not just have posts in dirt, but to install them in such a way that they won’t rot away as quickly.

We also want to move away from barbed wire, so we would probably want to install posts closer together, and use other materials. We might start off with the “rustic look” and use materials on hand to make a simple rail fence, until we can come up with something more durable and permanent – and preferably deer proof!

But first, that section of fence line needs to be cleared. We’ll lose a lot of privacy in the process, but once the corn and sunflowers are grown in, that will suffice for the summer, at least.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer