A few things done

Oh, my goodness, I feel so totally drained today. It’s all I can do to stay awake, and my body aches from top to bottom. Especially my fingers. Especially that one finger that I thought I might have broken at some point, but now I’m thinking it’s “just” arthritis. It feel different than arthritis pain, though.

I still managed to get some things done today. I’m testing out a Boston Baked Beans recipe for the slow cooker. We’ve never been big bean eaters, but it’s been handy to have canned beans on hand, for a quick meal. Those little cans are getting expensive, though, so if we can start making our own and like it enough, it’s something we could start canning ourselves. I set beans to soak overnight, and got the rest going this morning, while my husband was a sweetheart and fed the outside cats for me. His pain levels have been really high for a long time, now, but he can usually at least manage to feed the cats.

This baked beans recipe is cooked on low for 10-12 hours, so it’s going to be a while before we get to try it out!

Once the slow cooker was going, I headed out to do the rest of my morning rounds.

Today, I was followed by a Nutmeg! At least for part of the morning. Rolando Moon took over following me, later one.

I did remember to take a closer look at what the girls have been doing.

So many of the holes they’re digging to plant the bison berry are not only filled with water, but roots as well. It’ll be easier to come back with some pruning shears and cut them all clear at once.

It was pleasant enough that I finally got a burn going in the barrel. I usually try to get it done after the girls have cleaned out the cat litter sawdust, but with all the rain we’ve been having, I haven’t been able to, and it was getting pretty full. I get a good fire going with branches from the huge pile not far from the burn barrel, then cover it and let it smolder. The cat litter sawdust slowly dries out and burns over several days.

While I was using the loppers to cut some branches from the pile, I was very surprised to hear a kitten meowing! I thought the mamas had moved their kittens out of there!

It wouldn’t stop meowing plaintively, but there is no possibility of reaching it. The branch pile is just too huge. After a while, though, the mamas did show up and go into the pile, but the meowing didn’t stop. I finally covered the barrel and left before I was done, hoping the mamas would calm the kitten down and maybe move it to wherever it was they moved the other kittens.

No such luck. I came back some time later and got the barrel going again, and the meowing started again. When I got too close to the entrance, though, I also heard growling, so at least there was a mama in there, with the baby.

Among the other things I managed to do was get the transplants outside to continue hardening off. Then, after seeing quite a bit of traffic going by, I decided to make a quick run into town to pick up a few things. I was just leaving, when I got an alert on my phone.

A frost warning for tonight.

*sigh*

Looking at the long range forecast, which now extends beyond our average lost frost date, it does look like things are finally warming up at least somewhat. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we can start transplanting things. It’s a long weekend right now, and a lot of people traditionally put their gardens in this weekend, but for us, we’ve got another week and a half, at least. We should still be able to direct sow some of the hardier seeds, but even that is touch and go right now.

Huge gardening goal is to accumulate what we need to protect our beds and extend our growing season.

We are, at least, able to cover the high raised bed. With the hoops lowered as much as I have, I was able to fold the sheet of plastic in half and still cover it, so that will help, too.

For now, however, it’s time for the girls and I to bring the transplants back inside for the night.

What I really want to do is take some pain killers, crawl into bed and sleep for a week.

The Re-Farmer

What do you mean, it’s only six o’clock?

It’s been a looong day today!

At least I thought it was, until I finally sat down and looked at the time. It’s pitch black out, and I was expecting to see something close to 9pm, but nope. It was barely past 6.

I am looking forward to when the days start getting longer again!

Of course, the day started with feeding the critters. Tuxedo Mask and Agnoos’ water bowl was frozen over, and they were very happy to have a warm water top-up! Agnoos, however, wanted to go outside. Tuxedo Mask wasn’t going for the door, so I let Agnoos out for a bit. He immediately ran onto a pile of snow from shoveling paths, hunkered down and stared at me. 😀

He did eventually come back to join the others. 😀

Including Chadicous, trying to trip me, as usual.

After the critters were fed, I made a quick run to the post office; I had to wait long enough to give them a chance to sort through the new mail, but I also wanted to get there before they closed for lunch, because I really didn’t feel like going out again when they reopened at 2! My husband is expecting the paperwork from his insurance company that he has to fill out every year, to let them know that yup, he’s still broken. At least he no longer has to get a doctor to sign off on it anymore, once it was obvious his disability had become permanent. He just has to let them know that yes, he is still under a doctor’s care. Which is getting harder to do, since it’s all phone appointments now, and he hasn’t even been able to get his bloodwork done. A few times we’ve tried, he had to turn around and leave before he ever reached the reception desk, due to pain, because of the long line up caused by restrictions. When he finally was able to get to the desk, he turned out to be missing his health card and, even though they knew who he was, they couldn’t do his bloodwork. Mostly, though, he’s just been in too much pain to make the trip to the lab.

The paperwork from the insurance company wasn’t in, but we did have a few packages. One of them was a couple of small ceramic heaters for the girls to use in their “apartment” upstairs, which gets so incredibly cold in the winter. The heater we got for them a couple of years ago had given up the ghost. This time, instead of one heater they had to move from their bedroom at night, to their studio during the day, they’ll be able to have one for each room.

I got a lovely surprise package in the mail.

It was my prize for scoring so high on my firearms safety exam! A lovely hoodie, with a pouch style pocket in the front, and our instructor’s logos on the front and back.

I had to giggle at the sleeve, though! Too funny!

After I got home from the post office, I did the rest of my morning rounds. Mostly. It was so cold, I didn’t bother trying to switch out the memory card on the sign cam. The LED screen inside doesn’t work when it’s cold like this, so I would have no idea if the micro-disc card was seated properly, or if it wanted me to format it again. I can sometimes get it to work if I warm it up with my hands, but I really didn’t want to stand in the wind for that long. I did the gate cam, which doesn’t freeze up like the newer one, but the card kept erroring out. I think moisture got into it at some point, and the contacts are damaged, because it works again when I take the card out and re-seat it, pressing it in hard. This time, it just did NOT want to read that card! I finally got it working, but by then, my finger tips were dangerously cold. This is not something that can be done with gloves on.

Meanwhile, my younger brother’s dog had come over for a visit. It’s been a while, and I was happy to see him. The cats, however, were not at all happy with the big, shaggy beast that kept wanting to play!

It did give me an opportunity to get a photo of Cabbages, sitting above dog height. Her eye has cleared up nicely though, as you can see, it’s still leaking quite a bit. There is no sign of redness anymore.

I’m seeing the forecast for Sunday is now up to 2C/36F! The cats will really appreciate the warmth. Today is supposed to be the last chilly day, and then it’s supposed to stay above -10C/14F, for a week, and even when the temperatures start dropping again, they’re still expected to be above -20C/-4F. Even the expected lows aren’t going to be much different. The cats will like that. And so will we, when our Starlink system comes in. Apparently, it’s going to be delivered by FedEx tomorrow! It was originally supposed to come by mail. It would be too dangerous to try and access the roof right now, even if it’s just the edge of the much lower sun room roof, so we might have to wait a few days. This is a bad time of year for it to come in! Which is okay; saving a couple hundred dollars a month will be worth it – if it works! Since it’s hard to tell which satellite dish is for the primary account, and which is for the secondary, we decided we will simply suspend both accounts (there’s just a $25/month fee per account that way) while we make sure the Starlink is working. If it does, we’ll close both of our current accounts and return their routers. If it doesn’t, we’ll put back whichever of the dishes we take down (we should be able to use either of the existing supports for the Starlink dish) and reactivate the accounts.

With the running around this morning, it was a while before I could snag a daughter and do Tuxedo Mask’s eye. The sun room is chilly enough that his other eye has started to leak a bit! I’d gone into the sun room ahead of my daughter to snag Tuxedo Mask and found him in his spot under the heat bulb, looking out the window.

Agnoos was outside the window, looking back at him, his front paws on the glass! He saw me and started bobbing his head around, looking into the sun room. So I went and opened the inner door. As soon as he heard it, he came running. When I opened the outer door, he slithered under it and into the sun room before I could open it all the way!

I think Tuxedo Mask was quite happy to see his brother, and they both wanted all kinds of cuddles!

The only problem is their new habit of sitting on the board the heat bulb fixture is attached to and hanging down from. It’s a good thing we can see into there from the bathroom window, because I discovered it knocked off its support. I set it back up and secured it with a small Bungee cord, but in having to keep it well away from the fixture, it would still slide around when they jumped off. When I had the chance, I put pieces of rigid insulation we have from a cat condo we made with cardboard boxes, a couple of winters ago, to make walls around the bottom of the mini-greenhouse frame I’m using the hold the heat bulb. They won’t be able to see out the window from there anymore, but it’ll be warmer. I cut a piece of insulation into two, to put on the shelf that’s supporting the board the heat bulb is on, one on each side of the board, in such a way that they will stabilize the board and also give the cats more space to sit on and look out the window, while acting as a roof to help keep them a little bit warmer under there. Between that and the box nest, they’ll be nice and toasty, even as the temperatures drop.

My husband, meanwhile, cut holes in the sides of the boxes the packages came in, to give to the cats to play in. Which I did not appreciate, since I was in the middle of cleaning at the time. He dropped them in the space I had just opened up in front of where the Christmas tree will be hung! LOL

They were, however, perfect for the sun room.

The brothers were quick to explore one of them! 😀

My big job for the day was to get things ready for decorations. Normally, we would at least have the tree up by now, and have started decorating, but this year, the only thing we’ve got set up in the Advent wreath! I decided to shift some furniture around, after vacuuming the living room carpet. While moving smaller things aside, I got distracted by the cat scratcher. It’s just a post on a base. The post originally was wrapped in carpet, but when that got torn off, my husband got some sisal rope to wrap it in. It has since been re-wrapped a few times, but the cord keeps sliding to the bottom when the cats use it. Today, I decided to save our furniture a bit and fix it, using adhesive all over the post. That took a while, but I think it was worth it. It should no longer slide down! However, the adhesive needs 24 hours to cure, so I had to hide it away until tomorrow.

That distraction meant it was a while before I could finally start vacuuming – only to discover the beater brush on our new vacuum cleaner isn’t working! Everything else was working fine, though. I figure the belt broke, but would have to take it apart to see. I decided to just use it as it was and leave dismantling the base for another time. It meant having to run it back and forth a lot more often. With our 1970’s shag carpet, it wasn’t going to be a good cleaning at all, but I’d at least be able to get some of the cat hair off the top. LOL

Not only did this end up taking a lot longer than normal, but as soon as I started, my rotator cuff in my right shoulder decided to let me know it was injured. Except I haven’t injured it. I have no idea why it was hurting! So on top of having to take extra long to vacuum the carpet with (I’m assuming) a broken belt, but I had to do most of it using only the one arm.

Oh, and move furniture, too. Not much, mind you, but enough to make things even more “fun”.

The most frustrating thing was pausing half way through the vacuuming and using this opportunity to take out a power bar with an extremely long cord my husband got a while back. There are not enough outlets in this house, and the one that’s being used to light the aquarium greenhouse is the only one on that side of the living room, and has only one working plug. So for my husband to have a light on his desk, where he does his leather work, he had to use the only other available outlet, which is on the opposite wall from the aquarium greenhouse. He picked up one of those big power bars that has three rows of plugs, facing different directions, plus USB ports. It had a cord long enough to run behind the piano and the large aquarium greenhouse to the corner of the room, then behind the small aquarium greenhouse, a plant table, the TV and DVD shelf, to the outlet in the opposite corner.

It was very handy, until it stopped working.

Then it started working again.

Then it stopped working for good.

So today, I pulled out the cord, starting at the plug end by the TV, only to get hung up at the corner where the aquarium greenhouses are, fought with it for a while, eventually having to pull the cord through the cabinet the large aquarium sits on, before freeing it from whatever it was caught on in the corner and finally being able to pull it from the other side of the piano.

Which is when I made a discovery.

It was two power bars.

Yeah. I know. You’re not supposed to plug a power bar into a power bar.

The big one that I thought all that cord was attached to did have a longer than usual cord but, somewhere behind the piano, it was plugged into a regular sized power bar with a super long cord.

Once I got them both out, I tested them.

They both worked just fine.

What I think happened is that the cats stepped on the switch on the bar behind the piano, turning it off. So when we tested the outlet and it was working fine, we figured something had gone wrong with the power bar. We were confused when it suddenly started working again, and now I figure a cat must have stepped on the switch again, turning the smaller power bar on again, only to have them turn it off again later. With it working sporadically, we tucked it to one side, figuring maybe a cat had peed on it or something.

Nope. It most likely had just been turned off in a place I didn’t even know existed until I fought with the darn thing for nearly an hour.

So frustrating.

Anyhow.

While working on the living room, furniture got shifted so I could fit the extra chairs from the dining room and store the bins for our Christmas decorations out of the way. Then, when I had the chance, I put large cup hooks in strategic places along the walls the power bar cords had run along before, well above the floor, attached the big power bar to the wall above the work desk, then set up the one with the super long cord, running it from hook to hook behind the piano, aquariums, TV, etc. and plugged it in.

My husband can now have a light at his work desk again.

And you know what?

That thing is juuuust long enough that there is no need to use the big power bar.

Oh, sure, we won’t be able to plug in USB cables to charge phones, but that just means we can set the big power bar up somewhere else, if we want to.

No more power bar plugged into a power bar.

With all that finally done, I was able to prep the space in front of the dining room door, where we will be hanging the Christmas tree, flat against the door and high enough off the floor that the cats won’t get at it. That worked very well, last year!

By the time that was all done, I was completely wiped out. So was my younger daughter, who baked three double batches of bread and buns while I was doing this. My older daughter was working on her quick commissions. A couple of times a year, she opens a limited number of slots for relatively simple commissions, for a quick turnaround time at discounted rates, skipping the usual back and forth for details. She has a lot of repeat customers that wait for these to get digital art as gifts, so the slots fill up fast. Which means she has a whole list of commissions to get done in a very short time. She worked all day, but when she came down to start another pot of tea, she told me she had just realized she’d a mistake on a commission. Instead of being done for the day, she was going to have to go back to work.

Well, at least she’s warm while working, thanks to the heaters that arrived today. In the summer, she had to work at night because it was too hot for electronics during the day, but now it’s so cold up there, they both have had to bundle up in blankets at their desks, and the cold was even affecting her drawing hand.

Tomorrow, we should be able to set up the tree and start decorating for Christmas!

The Re-Farmer

The Distinguished Guest

It’s been difficult to get a really good picture of the new addition to our outside cats, but my daughter managed to get one with the DSLR outside our living room window a while back.

The Distinguished Guest is such a beauty! Here, just looks like she’s all black, but she has a white blaze on her chest, making her more like a tuxedo.

She is still with us, though I haven’t seen her yet, today. In fact, I haven’t seen any of the outside cats. I had a rough night last night, so my husband was sweet enough to take care of the critter feeding this morning. I’m even postponing the city shopping trip to tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll actually get some sleep tonight. We’ve brought the storage bins of Christmas decorations up, and the inside cats are having a blast exploring the new smalls and knocking things over.

But only after we’re all in bed.

*sigh*

So today is going to be an indoors day for me!

The Re-Farmer

So tired, but I got it done!

I love having so much space around the house. I really do! But taking care of it is a … well… you know…

After all this rain, I got mowing done, but never had the chance to do the week trimming around the edges. The lawn needs mowing again already, even without more rain, which is a good sign. This time, I decided to do the trimming, first.

I started yesterday.

I got all the areas on the south side of the house, particularly around the kibble house, cat shelter, well cap and other things in front of the sun room that is hard to get to even with a push mower.

Then I went around the edges in the front yard, including the sidewalk to the small gate, which has sections tree roots have pushed upwards high enough the mower can’t go over anymore, without hitting it.

Doing the south yard includes trimming around the bed the haskaps are in, the bed where the white lilacs are, in between or around various trees, around the asparagus bed, around the potatoes in their bags, around the storage house on two sides, and the outside of the chain link fence. With pauses to McGyver a fix on the chain link vehicle gate that got backed into by our vandal a couple of years ago that really needs its hinges replaced, and to finally drag out some bricks and rocks from under one of the lilacs growing against the storage house.

Then the east yard got trimmed, including as much as I could into the edge of the spruce grove that has been cleared. There’s only so far I can go into there with the trimmer, as I need to get in there with the lopper to get the trees that are trying to grow back. There is a space between the house and where more lilacs and the cherry trees we are keeping, with the now-gone bird houses at either end, that is easier to use the trimmer on instead of trying to maneuver the push mower. Driving through with the riding mower is a bit tight, with the concrete stairs in the middle of the house. I also used the trimmer in an area we’ve been slowly clearing to access into the spruce grove, where we will eventually be building the cordwood shed that will be an outdoor bathroom, but for now will be access to the largest group of dead trees we need to cut down.

For the west yard, I just did the edge of the old kitchen garden retaining wall. The grass in the west yard is so sparse, I probably won’t mow it at all.

By the time all that was done, so was I, so I stopped for the night.

Today, I finished the trimming.

Sort of.

I finished the edges in the north yard, then worked around all the low raised beds in the main garden area. The ones that the onions were in have been left alone, and I’ve given up trying to weed the decimated carrot bed (which, amazingly, has recovering carrots in it!), and the paths in between have gotten so overgrown, it was getting hard to see the beds at all. That took a while to get done! While I was at it, I trimmed in between the raspberries as much as I could. Then I dragged the trimmer over to the Crespo squash and the Montana Morado corn. With the squash, I could only trim around the barriers we’ve put around it. It is recovering amazingly well, which is kind of sad, since there isn’t enough growing season left for them to develop any squash. As for the corn, I used the trimmer in between each row, being careful not to take out any of the peas that are growing with the corn, but falling into the paths. For the longer ones, I tried to get them to grow up the corn stalk they are closest to. I found quite a few pea plants that are blooming!

This area is the “sort of” part. It is so rough, the trimmer is the best way to cut the grass and weeds. Not today, though.

Then it was time to drag the trimmer over to the far garden beds.

Did I mention this is an electric trimmer?

Just as we need 300 feet of hose to reach the furthest areas of these beds, I needed 300 feet of extension cords. That allowed me to trim around the squash tunnel, most of the Dorinny corn and the transplanted Hopi Black Dye sunflowers beside them. The peas planted among the Dorinny corn are doing pretty good, too. I trimmed around the green pea trellises, too, even though there are no longer any peas growing there. Of course the purple peas and the three bean beds got done. It looks like I will be picking beans tomorrow. 🙂

Then the corn and sunflower blocks got done, which meant going in between every row with the trimmer (there is just no way to weed this area anymore), again being careful not to take out any of the pea plants. Then the summer squash got done, and finally all the crap apple trees.

You know those cartoons, where a character is going through a spooky forest, and the tree branches turn into hands that clutch and grab? That’s what crab apples trees do. It’s almost impossible to walk under them without getting snagged! Thank goodness I was wearing my cap. The last time I worked under them and forgot to wear one, I found myself having to untangle branches from my hair. There is just something weird about how these apple branches catch onto everything!!

What I didn’t even try to do, besides skipping the old garden area by the purple corn and Crespo squash, is anything in the maple grove. Once again, it is so sparse, I will likely skip it.

I look forward to when the areas between the trees are filled with moss, flowers and other lawn replacements we are working towards.

Anyhow. That was it for the day!

The mowing will wait until tomorrow.

Until then, the girls are watering the garden beds for me right now. This is the first time they’ve needed to be watering since we finally got rain. That’s the longest time we’ve been able to go without watering, all summer.

The Re-Farmer