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

Watching the radar

Things are still looking pretty good out there, though the daytime temperatures are definitely on the colder side. The storm alerts remain, with snow predicted to start in the wee hours, tonight. The local “looking ahead” notification on my phone’s app now reads, “A snowstorm from late tonight into Friday afternoon with blizzard conditions tomorrow and accumulations of 40-60 cm.”

That’s 16-24 inches. Yesterday, the high end of the local prediction was up to 45cm/18in.

The main alert has changed a bit. I no longer see the warning for up to 80cm/31in in some areas.


Winter Storm Warning

Issued at 04:27 Tuesday 12 April 2022

Hazardous winter conditions are expected.

Major spring storm poised to wallop southern Manitoba beginning overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning and lasting until Friday morning. Widespread snowfall accumulations of 30-50 cm accompanied by northerly winds gusting 60-70 km/h giving zero visibility at times in snow and blowing snow.

A Colorado low will move towards Minnesota Tuesday night bringing a heavy swath of snow through most of southern Manitoba. The snow will start early Tuesday evening near the International border then push northward throughout the night. By Wednesday morning heavy snow will be falling in much of the area as the storm continues to push northward. Strong northerly winds will develop with this system and persist into Friday morning as the low slowly pivots through Minnesota on it’s way into northwestern Ontario.

For the City of Winnipeg and points southeastward, a break in the snow may occur on Wednesday afternoon or evening before snow re-intensifies overnight into Thursday. 15 to 20 cm is likely by Wednesday afternoon, with a further 15 to 20 cm likely with the second area of snow overnight Wednesday through Thursday and Thursday night.

By Friday morning, widespread snowfall accumulations of 30 to 40 cm are likely.

Travel will become increasingly difficult as the day progresses Wednesday, with widespread highway closures a near-certainty. By Wednesday evening even travel within communities may become impossible as the heavy snow and strong winds continue… and more of the same is expected on Thursday.

Do not plan to travel – this storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades. Stock up on needed supplies and medications now. Power outages are likely, rural areas in particular should be prepared for extended outages.

Conditions should begin to improve on Friday as the winds taper off and the heaviest snow moves into northern Ontario…although the clean-up after this storm will likely last well into next week.

###

Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas. Heavy snowfall accumulation combined with strong winds may cause damage to trees or other structures. Poor weather conditions may contribute to transportation delays.

Winter storm warnings are issued when multiple types of severe winter weather are expected to occur together.


As I write this, the main body of the system is over North Dakota as mostly snow, shifting to mostly rain across Minnesota. Though the system is being pushed almost straight North, it’s going East enough that it looks like the most severe weather will pass over the southern border where Manitoba and Ontario meet, with the rain in Minnesota turning to snow quickly, as it heads into Ontario. The system is very wide, from East to West, but it’s now looking like Saskatchewan is going to be spared the worst of it. My nephew and his family are still thinking of making the drive out, but a day later than originally planned.

We’ll see how things actually turn out.

Until then, things continue as usual.

Ghost Baby has been coming out every morning, of late, and not being a ghost at all. My guess is that it’s because she’s pregnant and very hungry.

Just look at those silly kitties, crowding around the one tray on the ground, when there are four other trays inside the kibble house! Altogether, I saw 14 kitties this morning.

While switching out the memory card on the sign cam, I was finally able to find something – it just had to wait for more snow to melt, and the leaf litter to dry before I could see it.

This is one of the closures from the trail cam. I’d been able to find the wire latch, but the black plastic leaver with the hinge were too dark to see on dark wet ground.

Of course, it’s the top latch that broke. The bottom latch is still intact and should be enough to keep the camera closed enough for the weather seal to keep working, but with this latch broken, there is more of a possibility that moisture will get in.

There are a lot of things I like about this camera, but it has one major failing. I cannot handle our cold. When the temperatures drop, the LED screen stops working, and I have to warm it up with my hands to be able to see the settings while changing the micro disc card. Any colder, and it simply stops recording and the batteries freeze. At least it does start working again on its own, when the batteries warm up again. And now I find the plastic becomes more brittle due to the cold, too. At least I hope it’s due to the cold. Otherwise, it’s just cheap plastic.

Ah, well. Live and learn.

I would still recommend this camera is you live somewhere with warmer winters than what we get. For most of Canada, however, I’d say don’t bother. There are other brands with the features this one has that I like. They cost a lot more, but you get what you pay for!

Meanwhile…

We are still working on our Easter preparations. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go to the blessing of the baskets on Saturday, but we’re still making it. This year, we’re doing the eggs differently. Instead of dying them in the shell, we’re doing different types and colours of pickled eggs. Right now, we’ve got pink pickled eggs in the fridge, using the brine from our out pickled beets. We’re also going to do a soy sauce brine for brown, and turmeric brine for yellow. I boiled up a whole bunch of eggs already, and finished peeling the last of them this morning. We have just enough mostly-undamaged eggs to do 6 of each type of pickle… and a bunch of ugly ones for egg salad. 😀 After that, the only thing we have left to do is bake our fancy Easter bread. 🙂

Easter has always been my favourite Holy Day, and our basket tradition the one I’ve always looked forward to the most!

The Re-Farmer

We finally got it

Today, after being delayed for … two months? … more? … I was able to pick up the replacement hot water tank.

The current hot water tank is still working. There is no longer a puddle under it, though there is a scale build up along the seam of the bottom cap. It must be a small enough leak that leaving the panel off is allowing for evaporation to keep it from actually puddling anymore.

I went to a different town to get it; one we don’t normally go to. In fact, I’d forgotten the franchise the tank is from even had a location there. The location we’d picked up the last tank from has gone full mask nazi and doesn’t even allow the Mingle Mask or shields. I’d heard this town has been more sane. I phoned first, to make sure they had one in stock available for a warranty replacement. It took a while; I got the impression they don’t get warranty replacements very often! 😀

Once that was all figured out and I said I could be there this afternoon, I mentioned that I am medically exempt from wearing a mask. The guy I was talking to said that would be no problem, and that there were quite a few people in town that were also exempt, adding that it wasn’t their job to police people over it. That was very reassuring. When I got there, I walked in, everyone else was masked up, but no one said a thing. It was so nice to not be given a hard time or have to justify myself!

Once the paperwork was done, I drove over to one of their buildings in the back to pick it up. I got to chat with a really nice and interesting young man who loaded it into the van for me. He’d had me back right into the building, so when I got out, I found myself surrounded by stacks of plywood, which reminded me we need a couple of sheets to make a floor for the trailer frame my brother found tires for. I asked how much a sheet of 3/4″ plywood cost, and he got someone on the radio to find a price for me. It turned out to be about $145 for a single sheet! That’s just for the rough stuff. He told me the type that are smooth on both sides is actually a bit cheaper. !! My husband and price checked in the city, at a different franchise, and they were about $85 a sheet.

When my daughters worked for that particular franchise, before we moved, a sheet cost about $35.

Not only have prices gone through the roof, but supply is really low. He told me of people driving across three provinces to get the supplies they needed, because nothing was available closer!

It makes me wonder just how much more it would cost to replace our roof at this point. When we got the estimates, they were both just under $9000. Assuming that they would find damage under certain areas, for which both companies charged by the square foot to repair, we figured $10,000 was a reasonable expectation for the final amount. Of course, we don’t have that, and with so many unexpected bills over the past couple of years, saving up for it has been pretty much impossible. I hope that, by the time we do find the money, the supply issues will be resolved and prices will become more reasonable!

During the drive to and from this town, I noticed something interesting. This town is about a half hour’s drive north of us. Not that far. Yet, I could still see quite a few patches of snow that haven’t melted yet and – most encouraging of all – water! There were several ponds that were almost full, and even standing water in some ditches. It was nice to see that not everywhere is quite as dry as we are!

But I digress.

We have the new tank, and it awaits installation. After having the same thing happen to two new tanks, we’re tempted to keep using the leaking tank for a bit longer. Even if it’s just for the summer. I wouldn’t want to lose hot water in the winter again!

The Re-Farmer

Hinge fix done! And so is the van. :-)

This morning, I was off to the garage to get the EGR valve replaced. I dropped it off for 10 and had thought it might take an hour or so. He told me it would take two hours, which is a lot of time to fill, when there is nowhere to go to just sit. I ended up walking across town towards the lake – with high winds and blowing snow, I wasn’t going to go right to the beach! – and back again. Then I very, very slowly did some grocery shopping. We have yet to do our big monthly shop in the city, but with having to buy locally so often, it’s messed our budget up quite a bit. 😦 Ah, well.

By the time I was in line to pay, I’d only managed to kill 1 hour. Thankfully, the line was slow, but I still ended up done very early. I was able to leave the cart by the exit and walking over to the garage to see how things where, stayed there a while (they let me wait in the office, alone, even though they’re not really supposed to do that anymore. I didn’t stay long, though, went back to claim my cart of groceries, then waited in one of the corners the grocery store has with picnic tables.

It was only somewhat sheltered from the wind. :-/

I went back and forth a couple of times before finally moving the cart to a different corner around the entry, where it was slightly more sheltered from the wind. I knew the garage was close to done with the van, so I walked into the parking lot every now and then to see if it was outside yet.

Two hours passed, and still no van!

After walking out to the parking lot to check again, I came back to a cashier coming outside to talk to me. She could see me through the window and was worried about me being in the cold! She told me I could take my cart inside the vestibule. There isn’t a lot of space there, with how traffic is blocked and redirected now, but she told me it was okay. So I got to be indoors for the last 25 minutes or so! The only downside was that I had to wear my Mingle Mask, which would fog up while I was inside, then when I stepped out to see if the van was outside, the condensation would freeze! LOL

Of course, I could have just waited for the garage to call me on my cell phone, but the last time they did that, I never heard my phone ringing in my pocket. I happened to have it in my hand this time, though. 😀

It turns out the van was not very co-operative for them! I can’t say I’m surprised to hear that. 😉 As I was paying, he made sure to tell me to not buy gas at the co-op from now one. I told him I’d already stopped! He also warned me that, while he cleaned the lines out as far as he could, I might still feel some stutters or hiccups as bits of carbon breaks loose. He recommended that, when the opportunity arises, such as when leaving a stop sign, to floor it. That is something I normally avoid! LOL It’ll help clear the carbon out faster, though. So I’ll do it. Just not today! It was just too icy out there.

Once the van was paid for, I drove to the grocery store. The staff in the vestibule, there to sanitize the carts, recognized me as I drove up. By the time I stopped at the doors, she had the cart out and helped me load it into the van!

We had issues with this place when we first moved out here, but since then, they have really improved, and these days have been going above and beyond. It is much appreciated!

Once at home, I pulled into the yard to unload. The girls very carefully opened the main door and propped it up, so it was all ready and waiting to be finished while the girls put away the groceries.

Drilling the pilot holes was a pain. I’d hoped not to need to, with the lilac wood I used already having soft spots in the middle; I could easily push a nail through the middles. I was only able to get one of the original screws in, though. Even with using the Dremel and a carving tip to enlarge the pilot holes, the last 2 screws would go only so far before I found myself stripping the heads instead of going further. The lilac is a surprisingly hard wood.

In the end, I replaced the original screws.

So now I have two Robbies and and Phillips. 😀 I really should have replaced the third one, but the new screws are slightly shorter, so I left the longer screw in place. The new screws were still pretty hard to get all the way in, but the square tips handle the strain a lot better than star tips.

Then came the litmus test: removing the supports under the door and seeing if the hinge would hold!

It held. 🙂

The door now opens and closes smoothly! I was going to say “again”, but honestly, it’s been a problem since before we moved here. Which makes me wonder, how many years was the door just getting noisier and noisier, and being more and more of a problem to open and close, and no one thought to look at the hinges? There are other problems with the door that we identified since moving here – which is why the goal is to replace the doors and frame completely – and I even remember checking the hinges in the frame myself, but somehow, no one thought to squeeze their heads in to see the hinges on the door side.

The centre hinge has not been done, and with the weather forecasts right now, it’s going to wait until things warm up again. If we even bother to do it at all. Not being able to open the door any wider makes getting into the space a real pain!

There are other things that are a much higher priority!

Which means we can take this down, now!

The Re-Farmer

Hinge fix, continued

It looks like we’re being hit by the edge of a storm passing to the south of us, so we wanted to make sure we could close the inner door overnight.

All I wanted to do was trim the pegs and get them flush to the surface, first.

You’d think that would be easy, right? Ha! Of course not!

I first tried using a small cutting wheel on the Dremel.

I went through two of them before I gave up. The space was just too tight, and the cutting wheels shattered!

I did have a small saw that I brought, just in case. I just couldn’t cut flush to the surface (may apologies for the crappy photos; the light sucked, too!

Unfortunately, that left me with quite a bit of wood to get rid of. For this, I switched to small sanding disks.

I don’t know how I would have done this without my Dremel tool. We probably would have had to take the door off completely, which would haven us a whole new set of problems!

It’s really hard to see, but the wood plugs are now flush with the surface.

This was enough to let us close the door, and that was the main thing!

Tomorrow, I’m taking the van in to the garage earlier in the morning, so we’ll finish the rest after I get home. We’re expecting snow all day tomorrow, and through to Friday morning, but the temperatures aren’t expected to take another deep dive until the weekend. That gives us time to get it done, without getting things too cold in the entry.

I’m glad we have a storm door, of this would be waiting until spring!

The Re-Farmer

Starting on the hinge fix

Well, for better or for worse, I’ve started working on the door hinges.

This is intended to be a temporary fix, until we can replace the door and frame completely, but I have no idea when we’ll be able to do that, so this patch job may need to last a while.

The first thing to do was to open the door as wide as possible (with a built in closet in the way, that isn’t as far as I’d like!) and place supports under it to hold the weight.

One of the things we’ve been finding lots of, while cleaning this place up, is laminate floor tiles. It’s amazing, how handy these have become. A couple of pieces of wood under the door made up most of the height, then it took 3 of these tiles to get it fully supported where it needed to be. We’ve also used them to put under bench legs and wooden shelves in the basement, to get them off the damp concrete, and so on. I’ve found a couple of cases of these tiles, just in the basement – there are more in the barn. Definitely things to keep, even though they’ll never be used as flooring! 😀

Once propped up, I could remove the screws which, I’m happy to say, were not damaged as I had thought they were. I do not have to replace the screws. I was able to remove 2 of them with just my fingers, and the only reason I had to use a screwdriver for the 3rd one was because it was the offset middle one, where the hinge wasn’t pulling away from the door as much.

The hinge still needed to be pried loose before I could take a good look at the damage. It fits perfectly in that recess.

Because of how close this is to the frame and storm door , I actually got a better look by taking a picture, then with my own eyes!

The damage isn’t actually as bad as I feared it would be.

The next step was to bring out the Dremel to clean out and enlarge the screw holes.

The Dremel just barely fit in the space available, but it worked. I used a couple of grinding and engraving tips; first a small cone shaped one to clear out the holes, then a metal tip to clean out further into the openings than the cone could go.

The wood is so dry, there was smoke coming out of the holes from the friction!

For the wood plugs, I ended up choosing some pieces of lilac branches I’ve still got hanging around. They were already the size and shape I needed; I only had to strip bark off the pieces, then make one end slightly narrower. Also, I will need to pre-drill holes before putting the screws back in, to prevent cracking, and the core of the lilac is already little more than sawdust that can easily be removed. They’re basically already pre-drilled. 😀

I was going to use wood glue to put the pegs in, only to discover it had dried out, so I went with all-purpose glue that I happened to have.

After making sure the pegs fit into the holes, I applied a bit of glue to their ends, then gently tapped them into place with a little bitty hammer I happened to have. With a normal sized hammer, I wouldn’t have had the space to swing, without hitting the window of the storm door.

The pegs will now sit for a few hours before I check the glue and decide to cut the pegs flush tonight, or wait until tomorrow morning. If I can cut the pegs, we’ll be able to close the door most of the way as the glue finishes setting overnight. If not, we’ll be stuck with this all night…

These are the pieces of insulation we’d cut last year, to fit over the inner door, held in place with Velcro strips, to keep frost from forming on the bottom of the door, and ice on the windows. It worked well, but there were some issues with the strips, and we haven’t found a workable alternative, yet. Thankfully, this winter has had only a few days cold enough for the ice and frost to form.

The arm bar is coming handy for holding the pieces in place!

If this works out, we’ll do it again for the middle hinge. That should tide us over until we can replace it all with an insulated steel door and a steel frame.

Hopefully.

The Re-Farmer

Not a day to go out!

Well, I’m certainly glad my daughter and I have telephone medical appointments this afternoon, and don’t have to actually go anywhere.

As I write this, we are at -34C/-29.2F, with a wind chill of -39C/-38.2F

It has actually warmed up a bit.

The heated water bowl is almost completely frosted over! Only a couple of cats came out into the cold. Their food bowls are still pretty full – even the one inside the cat house – but I added some fresh kibble, anyhow. The sun room is at -12C/10.4F, so it’s still frozen. They like the fresh kibble better; I think it’s easier on their teeth.

At these temperatures, I didn’t even try to switch out the trail cam memory cards. I doubt our vandal would be engaging in nefarious things in this weather. Plus, we still have the hard wired security camera to keep an eye on things.

Meanwhile, I’ve made the call to the number on our leaking hot water tank. I now have an authorization number and need only to go to the store it was purchased at, with the sticker from the tank, to get a replacement. He even saw on the file that this was already a warranty replacement tank, but he asked no questions.

At these temperatures, however, I am not going anywhere. Even if we lost hot water completely, we’d just go back to heating water on the stove as needed. I suspect it’s actually a good thing the tank is leaking the way it is, instead of water pooling on the bottom as it did, last time. That is probably the only reason why it’s not doing the weird things the other one started to do, since the water isn’t reaching anything sensitive; just making the insulation damp. Just a guess on my part.

Thankfully, this polar vortex that’s hitting us should last only a few days. By Wednesday, we should be back up to a more typical -21C/-5.8F. By Friday – which is when the van is going in to be checked – it is forecast to reach a balmy -10C/14F.

It’s going to feel like spring! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Delivery Fail, and coming unhinged

We’ve had ourselves a chillier morning today! Light snow, and bitterly cold winds from the south is what greeted me this morning, when I went out to do my rounds.

Kitty loaf is not impressed.

It does look pretty, though!

Switching out the micro disk cards on the new trail cam has gotten somewhat easier. The micro disk itself has become easier to take in and out; it isn’t as “sticky” as it was at the start. As long as I have enough of a thumbnail to push the card in, to either latch of unlatch it, it’s not too bad. 😀

When I open up the camera, I switch it from On to Set Up, first. The screen turns on, and that’s when I can see if the cold is an issue. If the screen is mostly blank and barely lit up, the camera is too cold. I’ve found I can use my hands to warm it up enough that the screen will start working. Which, on days like today, can be rather hard on the hands! Thankfully, it only takes about half a minute. Then I can switch the memory card and see if there are any issues.

When I got the camera, I got 2 micro discs along with it. I just ordered the recommended ones, not really noticing that one of them was actually a pack of 2. Those are the ones I’ve been using. The problem is, when I switch cards, the camera wants me to format the new card, every time, after giving me a message that the card is “incompatible.” So all those days when I found nothing on the card, it was partly because I couldn’t see the screen and missed these messages. Once the card was formatted in the camera, it worked fine. It didn’t matter if I’d already formatted it on my computer.

I shouldn’t have to do that every morning.

Last night, I dug up the extra card, formatted it on my computer, and used that, this morning.

The camera had no problem with it. No messages, and no need to format the card in the camera!

The cheaper cards were the problem.

On mentioning this to my husband, he dug around and gave me one of his extra Micro SD cards to use. It’s a 64 gig card. WAY more than needed. The other cards were 32 gigs, and even at highest resolution while set to take both photo and video, I could probably leave the card for a week and still have room to spare. The main thing is that the card won’t need to be formatted every morning. It’s even the same brand as the new one I put in this morning, so it should be fine. I’ll know for sure when I switch cards tomorrow morning.

It still doesn’t solve the problem of the camera not really working when the temperatures dip. Once it gets cold enough, it simply stops recording. It does start up again on its own, when the temperatures rise. This is frustrating, because in all other respects, I really love this new camera! But all the features I love about it are useless if the camera simply stops working when it’s cold. At least we have the second camera that keeps working. With that one, the cold is only an issue for the batteries, not the camera itself. As long as it can get any juice out of the batteries, it will keep chugging along.

Ah, the things we have to put up with, because of one person we can’t trust.

A few days ago, my husband got a phone call. There were two things odd about this. First, the call went to his cell phone. Being in a dead zone, any time a cell phone rings is downright startling. Second, the call turned out to be from Fed Ex. They had a package for him, and needed our physical address.

As near as we can figure, this was something my husband ordered back in November. After all this time, he’s actually already got a refund on it. He had been expecting it in the mail, too. Fed Ex doesn’t do box numbers!

So he called the number back using the land line and, after being on hold for about 45 minutes, finally got through to someone. After giving our physical address, he gave them precise directions on how to find us. The person he talked to even looked us up on Google maps and did eventually figure out where we were. Just inputting our physical address hadn’t worked! He then let them know about the locked gate, so they said they would send an email in advance, letting us know the package was on the way from the city.

We got that email, telling us delivery would be made yesterday. So when I went out to do my rounds, I unlocked the gate and left it open.

The last time we did that for the washing machine repairman, the gate was open only half an hour, and our vandal showed up and tried to break it again. So we were pretty uncomfortable having that gate open, but we also didn’t want the package to just be left in the snow in the driveway, either. We kept a close eye on the security camera’s live feed!

Then my husband let me know that we could close the gate up again. He just received an email. Apparently, FedEx couldn’t find us, so they weren’t going to deliver the package. They wanted us to call about getting it.

Which means, they would expect us to drive to wherever their warehouse is in the city, to pick up a package they’ve been paid to deliver to us.

I don’t think my husband plans to call back. There is no way we’re going to make the trip. UPS found us, no problem. FedEx can figure it out, too. Even when we were living in the city, we’ve had issues with them. They would actually leave notices on our door, saying no one answered when they knocked, but we had been home and no one knocked.

I was just happy to be able to close and lock the gate. No sign of our vandal, either!

Later in the afternoon, I did take advantage of the slightly warmer day to go get the mail and pick up some more deer feed and bird seed. We’d run out of both, that morning.

One of the things I’ve noticed when heading outside to do my rounds, is that our door has been making an increasingly horrible noise. The inner doors in the “new” part of the house are still the originals, and they are wooden, hollow core doors, not insulated steel doors, as are available today. These doors are heavier than interior doors, so I do think they have some sort of insulation inside them, but I really don’t know.

The “front” door, facing the spruce grove, almost never gets used, so aside from needing to put insulation between it and the storm door in the winter, to keep frost from building up at the bottom, inside the house, it’s fine. The door we actually use all the time is not doing so well! The house shifts with the seasons, so it’s not really a surprise that the door is scrapping the door jam now, and we can hear the wood of the door splitting and cracking at the bottom. So I’ve taken to lifting the door as I close it, to reduce the noise.

How much the door lifts was quite a surprise, so when I had the chance, I took a closer look.

*sigh*

The door is coming off its hinges.

This morning, I snagged my husband to help me tighten the hinges. This is the top one.

It’s hard to see in the picture, but the screw heads are even slightly bent!

Of course, with the top hinge being so loose, the middle one is, too.

Thankfully, the bottom one is still solid, but that won’t last long if these ones get any worse.

There is a built in closest near the door, so it can’t be opened all the way. My husband held it open as much as he could for me to be able to fit the screwdriver in place. Normally, I would just open the storm door, but between the cold and the cats, that wasn’t an option. While my husband lifted the door and held it in place, I tightened the screws.

As I did so, I could tell this wasn’t going to work. The screws were barely catching on anything. Still, I hoped to at least get it a bit tighter than before.

*sigh*

As soon as my husband released the door, not only did it drop, but some of the wood split above the top hinge.

I reached up with my phone to get this picture.

In the photos, you can see there are cracks in the wood of the door frame, too.

We knew the front door needed to be replaced, and were already thinking we would replace the entire frame, too. I just didn’t think we’d need to do it because the door is falling right off the hinges!

Theoretically, we can install hinges in different locations, and that would tide us over until we can replace the door and frame completely. Given how loose the door is, we might not have a choice. Even if we had the money for a door kit now, we wouldn’t want to install it in the winter. Because you just KNOW something will do wrong and it’ll take forever to do! 😀 My brother recently replaced one of the doors of his house, and he used a door kit, with two doors and the frame, as we would be doing here. Everything was standard sized, so it should have been a simple switch. It wasn’t, and it took him days to get it installed properly! I don’t think our doors are standard sized, so I don’t expect anything to do smoothly.

This is something were I would much rather hire someone to install it, rather than doing it ourselves. It would cost more, of course, but would be worth every penny.

*sigh*

Another thing on the list that just became a higher priority.

The Re-Farmer

Encouraged

Well, after getting such bad news from the plumbers, and passing on what they told me to my brother, he gave me a call, and I’m feeling much more encouraged.

There is no one alive today that knows this farm and the systems that run it better than my brother. So when I told him in more detail about what the plumbers had said, he was torn between disbelief and laughter, that they would be so unfamiliar with, and intimidated by, the system we have. It’s still used a fair bit, and he had no problems finding a replacement for the basement pump.

He does not share their concerns about the immersion pump and that we might lose our water. This pump has been replaced about 4 times in the past 50 years, by his memory, and it has always been a relatively simple switch.

He will be coming out to do it himself. He just has to find the time in his own schedule to make the trip out. It was something we both hoped to avoid, but he’s frustrated by plumbers that are so intimidated by our old system.

By the end of the call, I was feeling much more encouraged. As much as I am willing to trust the professionals, my brother knows things about our system that they don’t. If he is confident that the pump can be switched out without causing problems in the well itself, I trust his experience.

Speaking of wells, I remembered to ask him if he remembered what happened to our old well, from before this one was dug. This pump was operated with electricity, but when we had power failures, we could attach a handle and pump it manually. I remember bits and pieces of when problems started, but not why. He told me that the water had started to come out dirty. His guess is that something collapsed in the pipes. I then got the lowdown on how that well was set up, including that it has a piston at the very bottom, some 80 feet down. So when it was first being pumped, it would take a while for the water to reach the top (I remember that time it took before water started to come out). Of course, once it was no longer being used for a long enough time, that water would slowly drain down again.

Theoretically, if I pumped long enough, I should be able to get water out of them, but it is most likely the pipes need to be replaced.

That opens up possibilities for us, since one of the things we want is to have a manual pump well as a back up if we ever lose power and can no longer get water from the well by the house.

I wonder if I should move things away from that pump and give it a try?

The Re-Farmer

Can I just quit now?

Honestly. I would really like to just quit right now.

This morning, I tried calling a plumber about switching out our well pump in the basement. This would be the third plumber we’ve contacted in the past few weeks.

To recap: we are on a deep well for water. There is an immersion pump in the well itself, and two pipes going from the well to our basement, into another pump. The two pipes in at one end become one pipe out the other, pumping water into our pressure tank.

The well pump in the basement has been making noises. At times, the pressure is lost, as if it is losing prime, or as if we’re using the water faster than it can refill the pressure tank. When that happens, it makes a grinding noise. Once the pressure gauge on the pump is where it’s supposed to be, it goes quiet and stays quite for the rest of the time it’s running, but the noises return frequently, if not every time it turns on. Basically, it seems to be wearing out.

My older brother had bought us a new pump and was going to install it for us, but we ended up fighting with our septic, instead. So the new pump, with all the fittings, clamps and whatnot that he could think of possibly needing, has been sitting and waiting ever since. Instead of making my brother come back, we were just going to hire a plumber. Unfortunately, the “discretionary” funds had to go towards vehicle repairs, but I really wanted to get that done before winter, in case the plumber needed to go into the well, since there was also the possibility the foot valve in there was leaking.

I called the plumber and left a message, honestly not expecting to hear back until Monday. So it was a pleasant surprise to get a call back a couple of hours later.

I had said in the message what we needed done, and that we already had a pump. It just needed to be switched up.

When he called, he asked if I meant the immersion pump. No, I said. The one in the basement. He seemed confused. I brought up the possibility of the foot valve leaking in the well, but that it was the pump in the basement that was making the noise, and we wanted to switch that out.

He said they had better come out and take a look.

They came out this afternoon!

I now understand why he was confused. I’m starting to get the impression that we are the only ones that still have this old system. Once they were in the basement, checking it out, he explained that basically, no one likes to work on these systems, because they are such a problem. He asked me to turn on a tap to trigger the pump to turn on, so I went to the bathtub and did what we normally avoid doing: turned both taps on to full. This not only turned on the pump, but triggered that grinding noise and, eventually, I lost water to the tub. Which is when I shut off the taps and joined them in the basement again.

Once the pump’s pressure reached where it was supposed to be, the pump was nice and quiet again. He told me that, it’s not a matter of simply switching pumps. The front cap of the new pump would have to be removed and installed inside the well itself – and there would be just one pipe leading to the basement and the rest of the pump. There was a good chance changing it would cause further problems, which is when he asked to see the well.

They were able to get the cap off, with it’s one bent up handle. I am pretty sure this is the first time I have ever seen the inside. My only memories are of when the trench was dug from where this well was dug, towards the barn. That is where a water pipe to serve the barn and water fountains for the cows was laid, as well as the main pipe for the grey water from our septic tank. I don’t know exactly where near the barn these pipes split off in opposite directions, but I do have a general idea of where it must be.

Once the plumber used the ladder to get into the well, his assistant had to take it out so he’d have room to actually move around.

The news did not get any better.

It seems ours is a 4 inch well. Modern wells are 5 inch. That means there is a smaller immersion pump – a size that’s very hard to find these days.

Like the first plumber we talked to – the guy who has worked in our well before – he said it would be better to replace the immersion pump. This would mean one pipe into the house (the other could be used for the electrical wires to go through) and no pump in the house.

The other problem with doing that job is, the cap inside the well – what he was standing on to check out the system – would have to be removed. There’s no way to know how high the water table is right there, but given how damp and rusty things were, it’s probably quite high. Which means they’d be working in water.

However, this is a 50 year old well.

What we really need is a new well.

We could do all the other work, spending what might be as much as a couple thousand dollars but, in the end, we could lose out water entirely. He did not dare even switch out the pump in the basement, for fear of losing us our water.

As we were chatting, I asked questions and mentioned various things, ranging from the snails that showed up in our fish tank after using well water to make a change (I forgot to mention the algae blooms), and how we stopped drinking the water since them,to having to shock the hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide regularly because of the smell.

By the time I got to that, he was looking a little wild eyed. What had been, to paraphrase, as sort of “I won’t go so far as to recommend it, but if it were me, I’d drill a new well,” became a “yeah… you really need a new well!” The more he heard about it, the more he wanted to stay away from doing things like replacing the pumps, either one at a time, or both at once. We definitely have issues that are beyond what they can do for us.

In the end, after apologizing for being the bearer of bad news, I gave him my email so he could send me some names for well drillers.

Oh, and when I asked if he knew what a new well might cost? Depending on various factors, of course, it could cost as much as $10,000.

I told him that if we had that kind of money, we’d have a new roof! 😀

Normally, they would have charged for a service call like this, but by the end of it, he said he would not charge us anything. Then apologized again for all the bad news. My response was along the lines of, with this place, I’ve come to expect it!

For now, we were basically told to hang in there with what we’ve got. We have water right now, and it’s not worth jeopardizing that until we are in a position to get the job done fully.

So, not only do we need $10,000 for a new roof, now we need another $10,000 (estimated) for a new well. That’s on top of everything else that needs replacing, like flooring and walls and repairing the old basement walls, and the weeping tile under the new basement… on and on it goes.

Coming up with that kind of money is a challenge all on its own. Doing it without jeopardizing my husband’s disability insurance is another issue. If we made that much in “income,” he’d basically lose his insurance. It’s not just a matter of his disability income that we are living on, but coverage for his medications.

Needless to say, I got zero work on the sun room door today.

It would be so much easier if we could quit, somehow.

But that’s just not an option.

So, I guess we’ll just have to figure something out.

:-/

The Re-Farmer