So my progress on rendering lard has seen a few delays. Thankfully, using the slow cooker means I can leave it on warm for quite a while, if I need to. I did add several more hours on low, too.

The first delay was while I was preparing the soft cat food before my daughter came to help medicate Tissue. While I was doing that, I heard a strange sound coming from my bed.

Tissue was digging around my pajamas, near my pillow.

Yup. She’s just peed on my pajamas!

I guess that confirms it really was her that did it last time.

So I had to strip the bed and start another load of laundry, use paper towels to soak up as much pee as I could (thankfully, it was much smaller than last time! Or maybe it just didn’t have time to spread, yet.), and set up a fan, then help my daughter with the meds.

Tissue is very good about taking her meds, at least. When the syringe comes close, she opens her mouth and lunges at it! She does try to bite it a bit, but mostly, she just happily takes her medication.

Today is supposed to be her last dose, but it looks like there’s one dose left. Based on her behaviour, I am thinking we’ll keep her isolated a bit longer and give her that last dose tomorrow. It’s a pain killer, and while she is clearly doing very well, all things considered, she does still seem to have some pain issues at times. She’s also still not eating as much as I would like, so her tongue and jaw may still need a bit more time to heal up.

That done, my daughter stayed to cuddle Tissue while I headed outside.

While doing my rounds this morning, I was very happy to see a furry face that’s been missing for at least a month, now!

Rosencrantz is back! Rolando Moon was around, too, though she’s been disappearing for only a few days at a time, lately.

Seeing Rosencrantz gave me some hope that Potato Beetle would show up.

I was wrong.

After doing my rounds, I headed out to finally get that Purolator package. I was just backing out of the garage when I started getting messages from the Cat Lady. The local vet was trying to reach us, but they were trying to use my cell phone number, so I wasn’t getting anything. Instead of trying the land line, they contacted the Cat Lady, whose information is on file as the emergency back up number. From what little information she could give me, it sounded like the needed another update on Potato Beetle, the last cat they neutered for us through the rescue. I mentioned my daughter was near a phone, so the land line would be the most reliable option, then continued on my way.

I was able to confirm the new Purolator drop off depot, got the package and had an excellent chat with the guy that runs the place. After a quick stop at the grocery store, and then the post office, I got home and was able to finally start prepping space to sanitize jars for the lard.

I didn’t get very far, when the phone rang.

It was the local vet.

They were, indeed, calling about Potato Beetle.

Someone had found him and they matched his tattoo on file!

They gave me the name and phone number of the person who had Potato Beetle, so I called him up right away. After getting directions to his place (gotta love country directions: “go down the road that says “no through road” until you see a driveway….”) I grabbed a cat carrier and headed over.

My goodness, they are so nice and far from the road! We may be in the boonies, but the house is right near a surprisingly busy intersection. It does mean less driveway to clear, but I’d rather have less traffic!

Just look at me, complaining about traffic, after living downtown in a major city for so many years! 😂

After finding the house and managing to turn the van around, the guy came out and we started chatting. They’d seen this new cat for quite a while, but couldn’t get near him at first. When they finally did, he was incredibly friendly, and they could finally check for a tattoo.

Turns out, he’s been inside with them for some time, and would actually sleep with the guy! They already have nine cats, though.

The cat had gone outside again, though, so we went around to look for him. They built a cat shelter against the back of the house, and sure enough, up popped a familiar face! It was, indeed, Potato Beetle. Once he recognized me, he came right over for cuddles!

We spoke for a while, while one of his cats kept jumping in and out of the cat carrier, which was open from the top. Aside from their own cats, they get others that show up from the neighbours. Potato was a new one to them, though. While relatively close for driving, it’s quite far for a cat to wander beyond their own territory.

When he mentioned growing up in the area, I had to ask his last name. It was a very familiar one. It turns out I went to high school with his aunt! We were very good friends!

Small world!

Potato Beetle is now back again, though not at all the way I expected.

He’s inside the house now.

We figure if we let him out, he’d just disappear again, and since he did so well indoors at out neighbour’s place, we’re trying him indoors.

Yeah. We’re sucks.

We left him in the carrier for a while, as other cats sniffed at him, then let him out to explore.

So far, so good.

Maybe now, I can finally get back to finishing with that first batch of lard!

After I make lunch… It would be a very good idea to actually eat something today!

The Re-Farmer


Well, it’s all done. The girls and I got things fixed up, moved around and set up with the cat shelters.

The first job was to open up the cats’ house and get things taken care of in there.

There was a whole bunch of incredibly shocked kittens looking up at us when we lifted that roof!

While one daughter was on safety duty to make sure the roof didn’t fall back, the other crawled in to put the heat shield back, then attach the holder for the thermometer.

Safety duty is extra important with so many cats crawling all over.

Including straight up the open roof to play gargoyle!

While they did that, I plugged in the second extension cord and got it through the entry with the other one, then checked to see if we could plug in the new heated water bowl.

As expected, nope! The bowl’s power cord wasn’t long enough.

Which meant a daughter and I did some shelter shuffling, while the other kept kittens distracted.

We really need to put handles of some kind on the water shelter and kibble house. They are really awkward to pick up and carry!

Here is the new set up.

I’d say they like it!

I’m going to have to get larger hooks to hold the cords up, but the small ones will have to do for now.

Once everything was in place, they were given their evening feeding and the water bowls were filled. The container we use to bring warm water out holds about 1 gallon/4L, and that was enough to fill the new bowl, with room to spare.

The board that was used for a ramp into the water shelter is too long for where it is now, so I found a short piece of scrap wood that I could set up near the entrance to the cats’ house. After I took this picture, I found a slightly longer one that is now set up in the middle and braced against part of the sledge under the cats’ house. The ramps are mostly for the bitty baby, since its the only one so small, it would have difficulty climbing our jumping up into the water shelter. Once the ramps were in place, they immediately had kittens using them.

After everything was done and the girls went inside, I hung around for a while longer, seeing if anything needed to be changed and playing with kittens. I ended up shifting one end of the kibble house closer to the water shelter. I’m debating shifting it more, to close that gap a bit more, but I haven’t decided yet.

When my daughter set up the thermometer in the cats’ house, she angled it so it could be seen from all three windows, so we can read it at different times of the day. This time of day, for example, the light is coming in through the smallest window in the entry, and reflecting on the plastic cover on the thermometer, so I couldn’t read it from the window you can see in the photo, but I could see it from the small entry window just fine. After being in there for a while, the thermometer was at about 5C/41F, which is what the temperature in the sun room was when I came inside. The outside temperature was -4C/25F. It should be interesting to see the temperature in there when things get really cold outside.

I think this new arrangement will work well. Everything is still easy to reach for refilling, and the two heated water bowls should make a big difference in the coming winter.

The Re-Farmer

Oh, no, two!

It’s windy and damp and chilly, but I headed outside anyway. I wanted to keep an eye on the sudden kitten, and used that as an excuse to clean up the trimmed willow branches for the burn pile, and see what I could do with the wattle weaving.

I did not see any sign of the kitten I saw earlier, but then I found this.

The wind was blowing bits of plastic packaging from the shingles, and the poor thing was hissing and spitting at every movement.

I was able to go up to it and pick it up. Unlike the earlier kitten, which seemed okay with that, if more interested in finding mama, but not this one! This one was a little fireball, hissing and spitting and showing me claws. So I quickly put it into the cat house, where it immediately quieted down.

I hung around to see what happened. Caramel showed up and seemed to be looking around. Could Caramel be their mama? I was sure I saw Caramel with slightly older kittens, and that a little grey tabby that we’ve been seeing by itself was hers. That one looks old enough to be newly weaned, though, and these ones are maybe 3 weeks old.

After a while, I saw the first on emerge from under the cat house, looking around. It came out when it saw me, so I was able to pick it up and put it in the cat house with what I assume is its sibling.

Caramel looked around for a while, then took off. Whether that means she’s gone to bring another kitten, or they’re not hers, I have no idea.

One thing I noticed since we set up the water bowl shelter is that the water is not being drunk as quickly. Usually, I’d find at least the metal bowls mostly empty, and half the big plastic bowl gone, too, by morning. Now, they’re still almost full. One reason may be that other critters had been drinking the water overnight, and the new water bowl shelter is preventing that somehow. The other is, the floor of the water bowl shelter is a lot higher. I think the smaller kittens are having a harder time getting into it. I see them drinking from other places now, where they usually wouldn’t.

So, I tried this.

It’s one of the leftover scrap boards we used for the walls and floor of the water bowl shelter. One end is split, so I tucked that end under the sledge the cat house rests on, so it won’t be easily knocked about. If nothing else, the kittens will be curious enough to go up it and into the water bowl shelter. Once its roof is done and the shelter is positioned close to the kibble house, I’ll see if it’s still needed. Depending on how they line up, cats should be able to go from inside the kibble house up into the water bowl house.

I have a shorter board that I’m thinking of putting in front of the cat house entry, so the bitty kitties can use it to get in without help. I just have to find a way to stabilize it while still keeping it temporary.

As an aside, I shared a picture of our set up with the water bowl shelter added in. She asked if she could use the picture to show as an example of how to make cat shelters! She works with rural rescues only, so she sees a lot of farm cats that don’t get a lot of help. A lot of people say to let nature take its course, or to just shoot them. Well, with our outside cats, we know nature will take its course no matter what we do, but we can at least provide them with food, water and shelter by the house, and the closer they are to the house, the better their chances. She wants to use our set up to show people that they can still provide shelter for their feral and semi feral cats, using what’s on hand. Of course, I gave permission to use the photo, and gave more details about them that I hope are useful. Especially about adding heat in the cat house. Which I really hope will be enough for the newest babies!

I wonder if I’ll find another bitty kitty when I go outside again, later?

The Re-Farmer


The cuteness! It’s overwhelming! 😀

Cabbage let me pick her up and cuddle her for a while. When I put her down on my bed, she let me snuggle her some more.

Then Grandma came over and started grooming her. Before I knew it, she was snuggled in with Cheddar, who took over the grooming, and cuddling ensued!

Even Turmeric didn’t hiss or bat at her.

Progress, indeed!

Also, now that our washing machine is working again, I think I need to wash all the cat hair off my blanket… 😉

The Re-Farmer

Progress: kibble house is done!

We did it! We were able to finish the winter shelter for the outdoor cats’ kibble containers!

The only thing it needs now is to be painted, which will probably wait until spring.

Of course, things didn’t quite go to plan, but that’s pretty much how everything goes! 😀

One of the first things we did was raid the barn to see what we could find for a roof. There was a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood that we dragged over.

It had some mysteries on it.

On one side was a drawing of a picnic table, done with black marker.

The other side had what looks like the template for a shed roof!

My daughter was kind enough to take those boards off for me. Each of them had about 7 screws in them!

While she did that, I set up to assemble the rest of the frame, adding in the horizontal supports.

This was where things began to deviate from the plan. In putting on the bottom horizontal supports, I forgot I’d intended to put them on the inside of the vertical supports, instead of lined up with them. This made it longer than 6 ft.

Which is not a bad thing. It’s actually more stable this way, and there’s more room on the inside. However, I wasn’t able to match the top horizontal supports. Since the roof supports are at an angle, the screws that hold them in place are more staggered, so the chance of hitting one while screwing on the vertical support was pretty high. So I moved the top horizontal posts and attached them in front of the vertical ones.

Those horizontal supports, however, were supposed to be what the back wall was attached to.

Before we worked on that, though, we popped on the plywood to see how it fit, and if we needed to cut it to size.

We decided to leave it as is. I wanted at least some overhang. More just means more shelter for the kitties.

Then it was time to get creative.

We were going to use scrap wood from the junk pile for the walls and floor, but that idea quickly was discarded. Back to the barn we went, where we found a couple of pieces of 1/2 inch plywood that were almost 4 feet square.

We finally got to use the table saw I found in the shed! 😀

When cutting the frame pieces, I had cut two spare 2 ft lengths, and we made good use of them. I happened to have right angle plates I’d expected to use for something else and those were used to attach one length to support plywood roof in the middle. The other became support for the back wall. The bottom of the new vertical support could be screwed in place from underneath, but the top took a bit more creativity to get it attached!

We cut one of the squarish pieces in half to get the height of the wall, then cut one of the halves shorter to fit, and used them for the back wall. The pieced we’d cut off turned out to be the right size for a side wall, so we just traced that on the other squarish piece of plywood and cut a second one.

I dragged two buckets of nails from the basement to put the walls and roof one. One had roofing nails that were the right length for the walls, while the other had 4 inch nails that were perfect for attaching the roof.

That left the floor.

Cutting a wall piece off the second square of plywood left an L shaped piece. After taking several measurements, I cut the short part of the “L” off. The remaining longer piece got a notch cut out of it.

The smaller piece got a bit of a trim to fit the remaining space, and now we have a floor that can be removed, if needed.

And yes, I did want the floor to extend past the frame.

Time to test it out!

My daughter had to go in earlier, so I carefully maneuvered the whole thing by myself, to where I wanted it by the cat house. The containers we use for the cats’ food were pretty much empty, so I put them in and topped up them up.

A couple of cats were crawling around in it before I even came out of the sun room with more kibble! Once they heard that distinctive sound of kibble hitting the container, there was quite the rush of kitties!

I wanted the shelter to be close to the cat’s house, to provide shelter for the entry, but also wanted to make sure they had a path in between them. They already go around the cat house in that spot often enough that they’ve worn a patch in the grass. They can also fit under the kibble house and, if they really wanted to, they could probably get in from the back, through the gap under the roof.

One more thing to do!

It was time to open up the roof on the cats’ house and plug in the heated water bowl.

I also tucked their cat toy inside. They love that thing!

The cord on the heated water bowl is long enough that the bowl can be well under the overhang of the kibble house roof.

I then spent the next while putting everything away and cleaning up, which meant I could watch the cats checking it all out. They explored all over, including jumping up on the roof, and seem quite happy with their new shelter!

Since it’s unlikely we will paint any of it this year, we will probably cover the roof with a tarp for the winter. The rest should be fine.

I’m so glad we were able to get this finished today. It was just a couple of degrees above freezing, and we’re supposed to get a couple of centimeters of snow in a couple of days. Not the sort of weather I want to be outside, building stuff, if I can avoid it!

The Re-Farmer

Almost to plan

Well, most of what I intended to get done today, happened. Plus, some unplanned stuff got done. 🙂

There was quite the crowd around for breakfast – and not all of them are in this photo! Most of them came out of the cat shelter, which was quite gratifying to see.

They were hungry enough that the little kittens allowed me to pet them while they were eating, including the calico. I was also able to finally confirm that both orange tabbies are male. That leaves the two bigger kittens (behind the food bowls in the photo) that we don’t know the gender of, yet. We’re really hoping they are males, because we have had zero progress in getting those ones more socialized. At least with the little calico, there is some hope we’ll be able to get her inside before she goes into heat.

The water bowls were all frozen this morning, so I brought out some warm water for them. The cats really appreciated that! I’ll have to get that heated water bowl set up soon.

While doing my rounds, I remembered to try and get a photo under my mother’s car. It took quite a few tries!

The last time I drove it, I noticed something was loose underneath. I only saw it because of how I happened to be parked in an otherwise empty parking lot, as I walked to the car from a store. From a distance, I could see something hanging down near the front passenger tire, but once at the car, I had to look through the tire rim at just the right angle to be able to spot it.

When it was time to go to my mother’s to help her with errands, I left early so I could stop at the garage near her place. It is just a plastic shield, and it looks like a bolt probably vibrated off. Who knows when that happened, but it had to be recently, since I picked it up from the garage not that long ago. I have no way to get under there myself, but it’s such a small job, I didn’t even need to make an appointment to get it worked on. I was told to just give a call in the morning, then come on over. I will do that as soon as I can, so I don’t have to make my mother clamber up into our van anymore!

I was able to help my mother with several errands, and even get a bit of a visit. I was happy to see the mask exemption card I’d taped to her door was still there. Her municipality has a mask mandate right now, so we did get asked a couple of times if we had masks. Since I was with her, I was able to tell them we had medical exemptions, and there was no problem. Interestingly, while at the pharmacist’s counter, where they didn’t even bat and eye over our lack of masks, my mother did fish out a surgical mask from her pocket and put it on, saying she didn’t want any trouble – except no one was giving her trouble! I just cringed, because she has no ability to put one on properly. She only kept it on for maybe a minute, probably less. She didn’t even try to put it on when we got to the grocery store. I’ve helped my mother shop often enough, and the staff knows her well enough, that they talked to me about the masks, not her. It all worked out well. It was a real relief for me, given how much she struggles to breathe with a mask on. She still has a hard time understanding mask exemptions, and I could see she was concerned about being given a hard time, but the staff at all the places we went to were awesome. I did give her an exemption card to carry, but I have no idea what she did with that!

Once my mother was all set, I headed home and was expecting to hang the replacement door for the sun room back up. I wasn’t able to get another set of hands to hold it for me, so I instead worked on some cutting I needed to do. I had found a board in one of the sheds that I cut to length to make a couple of shelves in the entry. The pieces now just need some sanding and painting.

Then I started on cutting pieces that will be the frame for a cat kibble house. 😀

I’d made a rough and flexible plan for it. For the frame, I am using the pieces of wood from the frames I’ve been using to mark out garden beds. I also had a couple of extra long pieces we never used when we built the goat catcher.

I ended up changing the dimensions a bit, based on the wood I had available. All the pieces had one end slightly more damaged than the other, so I worked around that when making my measurements and cuts.

The short end pieces from the dismantled frames will be the upright pieces for the cat kibble house. The back pieces are 3 feet long, while I decided to make the front pieces 3 1/2 feet, instead of the 4 feet I was originally thinking of doing. The longer side pieces of the dismantled frames will be the length of the kibble house. I actually measured the group of kibble bowls and decided to make it 6 feet long, instead of the 5 feet I was originally thinking of. I then used the cut off pieces from those to cut cross pieces that will be the depth of the kibble house. They weren’t long enough to do the 2 1/2 feet I’d originally considered making it, so I cut them 2 feet long, instead.

I cut 4 of them, though I only need two, just in case I need extra.

The only pieces I haven’t cut yet will be the support for the roof. I will decide on the length of those later. I want a considerable overhang on the front of the roof. It can’t extend too far, though, because then it will be in the way when trying to reach the kibble bowls inside.

As for the roof itself, I’ve been finding sections of plywood in the barn and sheds that I should be able to salvage. Once I decide on how long of an overhang I want, I’ll have the dimensions I need to hunt out a piece that will fit.

The kibble house will also have a floor and three walls. For that, I plan to use wood salvaged from the junk pile. The pieces are pretty inconsistent in size, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be enough to keep the bulk of the wind and snow out. The roof will be the most important part.

As you can imagine, the noise of cutting the pieces spooked the cats quite a bit. Some of them, however, were spooked into the cat shelter. As I was putting things away, I looked to see that the indicator light for the timer was on. I could also see a little calico kitten, curled up under the heater! I am so glad the little kittens are using it. They are the ones I’m most concerned about for the winter!

Unfortunately, other critters have discovered the shelter.

Stinky came by as I was cleaning up! I had unhooked the hose, though it was too cold and stiff to put away, so I screwed it back on and used it to spray the skunk away. Long before the cats were willing to check out their new shelter, I could tell from the smell that Sir Stinks Alot had already visited. Nicky the Nose – the only one of the big toms that still visits regularly – has been seen coming out of it, too. We’re trying to discourage him from visiting, because he has been attacking our own male cats. Especially Creamsicle. 😦 If he’s in there, chances are he will chase away some of our own cats.

He’s also the daddy of way too many kittens!

I have come to the conclusion that Nicky the Nose is deaf, or at least mostly deaf. There have been a few times I’ve come towards him, even talking as I walked, while he was facing away, with no reaction. It isn’t until he turns his head and sees me that he reacts and runs off.

Tomorrow, barring some unexpected change in plan, I will continue to work on the cat kibble house, and hopefully be able to snag a daughter to help hang the sun room’s replacement door.

It’s starting to get pretty chilly out there, and there’s still plenty we need to get done before the real cold hits!

The Re-Farmer

Getting a little closer, and… another one

I have been using the food and water bowls outside to slowly get the little kittens used to coming to the cat house, where they will hopefully get curious enough to go inside and discover how nice and dry and warm it is in there.

There had been quite a crowd at the food bowls earlier, but they ran off as I walked around. There had been a couple of Butterscotch’s kittens there, though the others were hanging around near the door to the house, where one of the containers had been for the past week or so.

Nostrildamus is comfortable enough with me to not run off. Normally, Little Braveheart would be there, too, but…

I’ll get to that in a bit.

Yesterday, I was going to take a break from digging garden beds. Partly because I still haven’t decided if I want to make a third one, and partly because it feels like I’ve pulled all the muscles in the backs of my legs. Nothing major, but I figured a couple of days rest would be a good idea.

Which was good timing, because I got a call from my mother, asking if I could drive her for groceries. It was a bit chilly to walk.

So I headed out in the afternoon and did that. I’d forgotten that her municipality is under a mask mandate now. Even in the lobby of where my mother lives, they are supposed to wear masks. Which is so bizarre and arbitrary. Especially considering how low the numbers are right now. But, the goal posts have been moved again, and masks are now the thing.

The problem is, my mother shouldn’t be wearing a mask. She has long been complaining about breathing problems, and we haven’t been able to track down why. I tried to talk to her about it, when she asked if I had one and I told her I can’t wear masks, but it was not a conversation she could handle. She put it on before we left, leaving it under her nose, but as we were driving, I could really hear her struggling to breath. Meanwhile, no one batted an eye at my not wearing one. *sigh*

Unfortunately, my mother was in “fine form” this time. While chatting before we left, I tried showing her some pictures of the garlic beds I was working on, and she became incredibly angry. I shouldn’t be doing any of this, because it should be plowed or tilled. She saw the straw layer and, even as I tried to say I’d added compost first and what I was doing, she kept cutting me off and asking why there was straw under there. Then she got mad about the wood walkways, and said I need to take those out and plant things there, because it was a waste of space. Because apparently, there shouldn’t be room to walk in a garden. ??

That was just the start of things. After shopping, she wanted to go to a restaurant for a quick bite, and that got cut off short when my not living the way she wanted turned into a racist rant (my husband is Metis).

It was not a good time.

When I got home, the girls had the van ready and filled with stuff for the dump, so I basically switched vehicles and did that. When I was finally able to come inside to stay, I noticed the door to the new part basement was closed. Since all the cat food and most of the litter boxes are down there, I commented on it. I was informed that my younger daughter was down there.

With Little Braveheart.

While they were loading the van, she was able to pet and pick up Braveheart and Nostrildamus. She was also able to confirm that Nostrildamus is male, and Braveheart is female.

In the interest of reducing the number of future litters, Braveheart was brought inside.

We now have 15 cats in the house.

Braveheart is semi-feral – and still more feral than semi – so she’s been spending most of the time hiding somewhere. While in the basement, my other daughter would slowly introduce other cats downstairs. Braveheart had been meowing plaintively when Two Face first came down. They instantly got along, and meows became purrs as they ate together. Over the next while, she met the other cats and seemed to get along much better with the dudes than the dudettes! Fenrir does not like her, but she isn’t particularly friendly with any of the cats, so that’s not unusual. Beep Beep batted at her, but Beep Beep is in heat and has been randomly batting at all of the cats.

I’ve been putting the word out on local Facebook groups to try and adopt cats out, but have had zero responses. No one wants cats right now, apparently. Our next step is to print out posters and drive around to different towns in the area and put them up.

Today I hope to finally get my day of rest. I did start soaking down the garlic beds last night; I plan to do that again today, and will continue wetting them down over the next while until the garlic comes in. I want them to be soaked through the compost layer before planting. I’m leaning towards not doing a third bed and, if the two beds we have now are not enough, we can plant garlic in the retaining wall blocks in the old kitchen garden. Of course, that assumes our back order comes in in time!

I have also been keeping an eye on the various materials I’ve been finding lying about, and I think I have what I need to make a quick little shelter for the outside food and water bowls. I want to keep those by the cat house, but don’t want them to be buried in snow. We’ll have the heated water bowl plugged into the second outlet in the cat house. The cord should be just long enough to reach outside the entry, so I’ll want to set something up there to keep it from getting snowed under, too. Last year, it was set up inside the sun room, so that wasn’t an issue. I will be working on plans for that, today, and hopefully will start building something tomorrow, when it’s expected to be warmer, and not raining.

We’ve been very fortunate this fall, so far. Last year, we already had a snowfall by this time, and a blizzard on Thanksgiving weekend. The long range forecasts have us warmer, with rain every now and then. I’ve heard predictions for both another bitterly long and cold winter, and for a long, mild fall followed by a milder winter. So far, the longer, mild fall seems to be the one that’s coming true.

I’ll take all that I can get!

The Re-Farmer