This morning

First of all, I’m happy to say the new heated water bowl is working out just fine!

The power cord is slightly shorter than the old one. It specifically stated on one of the labels to not use extension cords with it, and there are no other outdoor power outlets we can use here, so we had to get creative. The bowl is not on a makeshift platform to support it. That made it too high for the cats to reach the water from outside the cats’ house, but a couple of buckets and bricks now serve as surfaces that cats can use to sit on – while also providing stability to keep the bowl from getting knocked over as the cats go in and out of their house.

The cats where checking it out and using it almost immediately! 🙂

Including this roly poly Potato, who followed me when I started my rounds. 😀

There were quite a lot of deer tracks around, but this was new this morning.

The dug up the pile of dried up bush beans that had been cleared out and set aside, to eat. These were waiting to be buried in the beds in the spring, but there might not be any left by then!

Today was pretty warm, so I took advantage of it to do a small burn. While tending the burn barrel, looking at the nearby deer tracks in the snow, I found myself trying to figure out another set of tracks.

It looks like a pair of animals leaped their way through the snow! Fairly recently, too. They are very fresh, and were made after the deer had gone by. I have no idea what would have done this. The holes left in the snow are not that big, but the space between them is pretty huge! Looking at the holes nearest where I was, I couldn’t see any prints inside them, as the snow had collapsed inward as the creatures leapt about.

Any hunters or trackers out there who might know what made these?

After the burn was done, I also took advantage of the relative warmth and broke out the ice chipper.

Then I finally got to shovel the main paths wide enough that my husband can get through with his walker.

Then, because I’m a suck, I shoveled the path along the garden bed that cats had been using. 😀 It’s not wide enough for a walk, but if my husband ever needed to, he can at least cane it through here.

After I came inside, the girls went out and cleared paths to the compost pile, outhouse and the back door of the garage.

Eventually, we’ll clear enough of the yard that we can drive in to unload the van, but that will be a job for our little electric snow blower. 🙂

All that done, I then worked on the cheese I’ve been making, which was really interesting. That will be in my next post! 🙂

The Re-Farmer


We are still in a polar vortex induced cold spell right now. I delayed doing my rounds outside until it had warmed up to -32C/-25.6F

I skipped switching out the memory cards in the trail cams again! Just the extra time to refill both bird feeders this morning was pushing it.

The heated water bowl was covered over even more than it was yesterday. Not just in frosted surface area, either.

This is after pouring off the old water. That’s a pretty solid layer of ice, left behind! Yesterday, it was more frost than ice.

The other water bowls were, of course, frozen solid. I had to do a fair amount of kicking to get them loose from the snow. When fresh water is added, the metal warms up enough to melt the snow around it, creating bowl-shaped pockets of ice that hold them in place.

Another reason why using old, broken frying pans make excellent water bowls. They can handle being kicked around, then bashed against things to knock the ice out. I used to use a wooden hand rail by the sun room to bash them against, but I didn’t like how much I was damaging the wood, so now I’m bashing them on the saw horses I’ve stored nearby. They’re old and damaged already, and I need to build new ones, so I don’t care if they get more beat up. 😀

Creamsicle Jr. didn’t move from his spot the entire time I was there! He’s under the terrarium bulb, but with the dusk-dawn light sensor, I don’t think it was actually on at the time. I don’t see the red glow of the indicator light, which would visible about 6-8 inches under the outlet.

I did get joined by Ginger, but he was the only cat I saw outside, braving the cold!

With our main entry door falling off it’s hinges, I’ve been going through the sun room to go outside. Which means going through the old kitchen, which is unheated and probably not insulated; at least not by any modern standards. We go into there as little as possible in the winter.

The old kitchen is where we had our crab apple cider vinegar fermenting, and where I now have the mother stored.

It’s almost frozen solid! You can’t even see the mother, which is in the middle of the jar, immersed in vinegar.

I have no idea if this will kill the mother or not.

Does anyone know?

When I was a kid, this room never really got cold, since the wood burning stove was kept going almost constantly, as much to help heat the house as for cooking, so lack of insulation was never really an issue. The old kitchen is an add-on to the original log part of the house, though I don’t know when it was added on. I only know it was already there when my parents bought the property.

The forecasts say we’ll have one more day of this bitter cold, though it will be a bit warmer tomorrow. Today’s high is predicted to be -25C/-13F, with a wind chill of -31C/-23.8F. Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be -21C/-5.8F with a wind chill of -28C/-18F. After that, we’re supposed to keep warming up for the next week. Check this out!

It’s like temperature whiplash!

Time to think of warmer things. Like gardening. I think I’ve figured out a way to raise our seed trays up closer to the light in the fish tank greenhouse. If it works, I might not need to line the sides with foil.

But first, another cup of hot tea!

The Re-Farmer


When I headed out this morning to feed the outside cats and do my rounds, I had a bit of a surprise.

Along with finding two of the kibble containers had been knocked out of the kibble house, there was something wrong with the heated water bowl.

The water was frozen!

A quick glance into the entry of the cats’ house found the problem. They had managed to unplug it!

I am so glad I added that counterweight to the roof…

When I lifted the roof to plug it back in, I think I spotted why it came unplugged. I had put their favourite cat toy inside, and I found it in the entry, on top of the power cord. It’s likely that, while playing and knocking it about, they accidentally unplugged the heated water bowl. It should be harder to yank out now, but if they do unplug it again, I can add a hook to hold the cord in place.

I might just do that, anyhow, so it’s not an issue over the winter. I’d really prefer to not have to lift that roof when the snow gets deep! 😀

The Re-Farmer

I have the best friends!

My husband had some packages to pick up in today’s mail, so I made a quick trip in to pick them up.

I was expecting 2, maybe 3, boxes.

There was 5! LOL The clerk helped me carry them to my van. 😀

When I got home, I was surprised to find my name on one of them.

A dear friend had sent me a surprise!

No more trying to keep the cats’ water from freezing with a light bulb! 😀

Of course, I had to set it up right away.

The cats were quick to show their appreciation.

It took Doom Guy a minute to realize there was water in the new bowl. The warm water I had put out this morning was already starting to freeze!

My husband had actually ordered one, too – in fact, it might be in one of the other boxes I picked up! So we’ll have two. 🙂

I have the best friends!

The Re-Farmer


This morning, my husband told me to look out the bathroom window – and to make sure I had the camera on my phone ready!

Too funny!


So once the water is gone, our set up does double duty as a butt warmer!

Big Jim was prowling around Doom Guy, trying to stick his face into the bowl.

That was my cue to head out!

Yeah.  They were pretty thirsty.


I’m going to have to make sure to top that up again earlier than usual, considering how much was gone by the time I was heading back into the house.  The water outside isn’t going to stay liquid for long.

As usual, I had escorts while doing my rounds this morning.  By about half way through, I had Butterscotch in my arms, licking my fingers.  Beep Beep climbed up my back again, and was perched on my shoulder.  Both were purring up a storm.  Rolando Moon was following along, Doom Guy was trying to climb the back of my leg, and even Big Jim came by to see what was going on!

They make my morning chores outside both fun and difficult.  😀

The Re-Farmer

Looks like it’s working

Once again, when going out to give the cats their food and warm water, the water bowl in the sun room was NOT knocked off the warmer.

It was also bone dry!

This morning, the cats were far more interested in the water than the food!  When I go into the sun room through the Old Kitchen, I have to put down the bowl of food and the pitcher of water so I can open up the outer door.  Usually, the kittens are all over the bowl of food.  Except Doom Guy, who goes for the pitcher of water.

Today, not only did he go for the pitcher right away, but when I refilled the water bowl, the other cats left the food for the warm water!


Nice to see that the kneeler and the terracotta pot are both being used to reach the water.

By the time I finished putting the food outside and adding more water to the bowls out there, I had to refill the water bowl in the sun room!

Thirsty kitties!

After I finished putting the food out for the birds and deer, I decided to try and knock more apples off the trees that still have some left.  I’d managed to shake some down the other day, and a few hours later, there was a deer eating them.  Shaking isn’t working very well, so I went digging through the junk pile by the garden shed and found an old mop or broom handle.  I used that to knock some apples off the first tree (it worked much better than shaking the tree, though I still got konked in the face by an apply in the process.  Not the first time that’s happened!).

Then I tried to get some off the second tree with apples still left.  This one, the apples are really small; almost as small as the ornamental apples.  So I didn’t try too hard with that one.  The grosbeaks, at least, seem to be eating them.

Then I went back to the first tree to leave the broom handle there, and found that someone else was interested in the grosbeak that was hanging around while I knocked the apples off.


He didn’t have much luck with the birds, so he escorted me as I continued my rounds. 😀

So did his mother.


She insisted on a ride. 😀

These guys are almost enough to make me a morning person. 🙂


The Re-Farmer

My escort

While doing the morning routine today, I had quite the escort, following me along!

During the night, we noticed (by the glowing light in the bathroom window!) that the cats had knocked the water bowl off the concrete block again.  This set up might work for chickens, but not so much for cats.  I was thinking it was time to take it out and figure something else out.

Until I looked through the window and saw The Outsider, sitting on the edge of the block, leaning over the warmth of the light!

Well, at least there’s that!

After putting food and water out for the cats, then topping up the deer feed and bird seed (I can see that the deer have been coming in during the night), I did my usual rounds.

I had quite the following, in the process!


We have two trees with crab apples still on them.  One has larger apples, some of which you can see have basically exploded as they froze.  I was able to shake a few down for the deer, but they’re very stubborn.

Beep Beep climbed up into the other tree with apples on it, so I didn’t try to shake that one. 😀


By the time I was half way through my rounds, I had Butterscotch,  Rolando Moon, Beep Beep and Doom Guy following me along!

Beep Beep insisted on up, so I carried her for a while.  When I needed two hands, though, I tried to put her down.

She would NOT go down.

Eventually, after several tries, I got her to go onto the top of a fence post.

There she stayed, until I was done and could pick her up again!

Too cute!

By then, Doom Guy was climbing up my leg, for for a while I had him on one shoulder, and her on the other.

Yeah.  I’m a suck. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Cat water heater – follow up

Okay, so this is where we left off last night.


When I checked on it last night, however, I found that the aluminum foil did not prevent water from dripping down.  After looking around for something that might work, I decided to commandeer one of the containers we have been using for the cat kibble.  A heavy bottomed frying pan that the handle had broken off, long ago.

Some time during the night, however, it got knocked over.  We could see the light glowing through the drainage holes in the terracotta pot through the bathroom window.  When I went out to do their food and water in the morning, I found a small ice patch where the water had spilled.

I am guessing that, when it got to hardly any water left, the cats knocked it over while trying to reach it.

I decided to go with the concrete block.


I am hoping the weight of the block will make up for it resting on the edges of the light fixture.  It seemed high, though, so I moved it closer to the kneeler, and put the pot and tin upside down near it, so the cats could sit on them, if the wished.


Which promptly got ignored. 😀

At least with the block, though, he can put his paws on the corners to stabilize himself.

When we checked it again, hours later, it had been knocked off again, but it was also completely dry.  There was no new ice. Again, it seems that they knocked it over only when the water was almost gone.

So I’ve put it back, and filled it with more water than I had before.

As for the heat; it is clearly working, in that the water is kept from freezing, but neither the pot nor the block seemed to warm up at all on the sides.  There is no radiant heat coming off.  The heat of the bulb is enough to keep the water from freezing directly above, but not enough to fight off the cold on the sides.  I had hoped it would provide at least a little bit of warmth that way, but it I’d probably have to go up to a 100 watt bulb to accomplish that, at which point I think it would be too hot at the base of the pan.  That cats, at least, know how to use their own body heat to keep them warm! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Cat water heater – let’s see if this works!

A set up to keep the cats’ water from freezing is now set up in the sun room.

We will know by tomorrow, if not tonight, if it will work.

Here is the set up.

First, the heat source: an incandescent light bulb.


This is what my brother had used under the kitchen sink, to keep the pipes from freezing while the house was empty.  The first potential problem I saw was the fixture holding the bulb.  While the opening in the concrete block I had would fit the bulb, no problem, the fixture looked too wide.  So I had a terracotta plant pot as a back up.

There was already a 60 watt bulb in the fixture.  The various instructions I’d read called for a maximum 40 watt bulb, but these were all on sites in US states that don’t get as cold as we do!  So I kept the 60 watt bulb.


The plant pot is what I ended up using.  The cement block was not stable.  I could have removed the fixture, but it’s what was holding the bulb upright.

The narrower bottom (now top) of the pot meant I could not use any of the containers we are currently using for water.  So I dug around in the Old Kitchen and found a cookie tin.


The tin is not completely water tight; there’s a slight drip at the seam.  So I used aluminum foil around the base, which will also serve to stabilize it.

That left an issue of height.  The cats were immediately curious (and Doom Guy was drinking the water in the tin as soon as I had it on the floor, before I put the foil on), and I could see that there were potential issues for them to reach the water if it gets low.

To solve that, I put the concrete block near it, for them to sit on.  Between that and the kneeler, they should be able to reach the water.

The terracotta pot should absorb and radiate a gentle heat as well.  I would not be surprised to find cats huddling up to it at some point.

For now, though, they are very curious about the whole set up, and even having fun playing around it!

Which means on of the things we have to watch out for is them knocking the water right off the pot.  We’ll be keeping an eye on them!

The Re-Farmer