The aftermath

My older daughter has a birthday this month. We don’t typically celebrate birthdays on the day, but kinda spread things out for at least a week. One of the things we like to do is have the birthday person choose where to order food from as a treat, and my daughter chose Pizza Hut. The closest one is in the smaller city, and of course, there is no such thing as delivery out here. The plan was to do that yesterday. With the high winds, we discussed postponing it, but in the end, I decided the drive would be okay. We did take our van instead of my mother’s car, though; for all its problems, my mother’s car is a fair weather vehicle, and while it has new all season tires, the van has good winter tires. When I got to the garage, though, I found that the winds had managed to blow open one of the doors to where my mother’s car is parked! That door had a tire on a rim leaning against it to hold it closed, and the tired had been knocked a couple of feet away!

My younger daughter came along with a birthday shopping list, so we left early for our scheduled pick up time. I figured we could stop at a grocery store along the way, making for less time for the food to get cold after picking it up. The drive is normally about 45 minutes, and we left about half an hour earlier than necessary.

Which turned out to be a wise decision.

The winds were coming from almost directly the south, so for the first leg of the trip, it was like driving into a wall, but except for one section on a curve, where the highway was running more east/west, the highway was clear. Then we reached the town my mother lives in, where we turn east on another highway.

My daughter tried to get a picture for me.

Don’t let this picture fool you. The camera on my phone cleans things up quite a lot. In reality, we could barely see the road. It was all white. Every now and then, we’d pass a shelterbelt around a farm house and the road would suddenly be clear for a short while, then back to blowing snow. It was actually quite mild out – just a few degrees below freezing – which meant the dark road surface on these clear spots got warm enough for the edges of snow to be melting. The van was being buffeted the whole way, and it was a fight for the entire stretch of road, until we reached another highway and were travelling south again. That highway was mostly clear, though some places were starting to have buildups of snow. The plows were out, at least.

After a while, we had to turn east again, and that section of road was even worse. In places, there was enough snow kicked up by the winds that it looked like a distant fog, half engulfing any stands of trees.

The last leg of the trip was a stretch of highway weaving south and east, so it was a mix of clear and covered. Once inside the city, the winds were blocked and there was no blowing snow at all! It was such slow going the entire way, we didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store first, and headed straight for our scheduled pick up. We made it just in time, too!

Once the hot food was picked up, my daughter and I stopped at the grocery store on the way out, and then it was time for the drive home.

Since emptying out the van, with the expectation of trading it in, we took out all our music CDs and still haven’t returned them, so we had the radio on a classical music station, instead. Normally, we don’t listen to radio, but this time, I’m glad we did. When the news and weather was on, there was a lot of talk about road conditions and road closures. Things were certainly a lot more severe, the further south things got, and the big city was being hit hard.

Considering what we drove into on the way home, that must have been really crazy! The winds had picked up, and were blowing even more snow, but it was the ice under it that really made things iffy. We were driving much, much slower and, at one point, the wind started blowing the van around, and we were fishtailing on the ice. Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic, and I got the van under control again without being blown into the ditch. It was very touch and go for a while! This happened a couple more times along the way, but not as bad as that first one. If I had known it would be this bad on the east/west roads, we would have done this another day!

It took us quite a bit longer to get home than the drive out, as we had to drive so much slower. Once we were travelling north, conditions were much better and I was even able to drive highway speeds, while the wind was at our back. The only east/west road we drove that was good, was the last two miles of gravel road to our place!

Yes, the food was mostly cold by the time we got home, but that’s okay!

As the evening wore on, the road conditions worsened. Parts of the Trans Canada Highway were closed, as was the entire ring road around the bigger city, as well as the major east/west highways leading into the city, while many other roads and highways had travel advisories. People were told to stay home, and there were many reports of vehicles in ditches and other issues.

I’d seen forecasts showing that the winds would continue for several days, but this morning, there was no wind at all! While doing my rounds, there were a few things that had been blown around to pick up, and once the snow is going, there’s going to be a lot of fallen branches to clean up! The tarp covering the shed with a hole in its roof was flapping around a lot in the wind, and there are now friction tears, but it did hold. It’s unfortunate that we had not been able to secure the sides of the tarp, even if it was just in a few places, but it still handled the conditions far better than I feared, based on how much I saw the wind tearing at it.

When I got to the sun room to start my morning rounds by feeding the outside cats, I discovered the insulation covering the cracked window about the counter shelf had been pulled down, along with the boards and even a 5 gallon bucket that had been helping to hold it in place. Things are mild enough now that I just set the sheets aside. Other things were knocked about, and I soon realized why.

The outer door into the sun room had been blown closed!

So we had a bunch of cats trapped in the sun room over night, while others were trapped outside! There was still some food and water in the sun room but, outside, all the kibble trays were empty, and even the outside heated water bowl had somehow been knocked right out of the water bowl shelter, and was dangling upside down by its cord. We built that shelter with a board across the front specifically to prevent the bowls from being easily pushed out. It’s possible the bowl was knocked out by a deer, not the cats, considering the fresh tracks I could see in the snow!

The cats were very excited about my getting that door open again!

We’re supposed to have a nice warm day today, so hopefully the ice on the highways will melt away and dry off. Tomorrow, my daughter has her eye exam. It’s supposed to get a little bit chillier, and the winds are supposed to be back. Hopefully, not as bad as it was yesterday, but at least we’ll only have one short stretch of east/wet highway to be concerned about.

Spring may be on the way, but winter’s not done with us, yet!

The Re-Farmer

After a tease, winter is trying to come back!

As I type this, we are currently at -20C/-4F, with the wind chill at either -32C/-26F or -29C/020F, depending on which app I look at. Our high of the day is still supposed to reach -14C/7F, with a wind chill around -25C/-13F

Yesterday, we were supposed to reach a high of -1C/30F. I have no idea if we ever did, but what we did get was incredible winds. Whiteout conditions on many highways, with some of them closed due to the blowing snow. Today is a significant improvement!

The long range forecast has changed, of course. We went from expecting much milder temperatures for the rest of February, with the coldest days having highs just a little colder than -10C/14F, to now getting forecasts with highs colder than -20C/-4F, all with significant wind chills.

Winter just doesn’t want to let go quite yet!

Thankfully, with the current wind direction, our front yard is quite sheltered, and the cats and cattens are making good use of the cat house and the sun room to keep warm.

This morning, this little guy was absolutely determined to get stepped on.

When I first go out in the morning, there’s usually several cats right under the threshold of the old kitchen door. I have to carefully push the outer door open (while holding the kibble container) with one hand, pull the inner door closed behind me, while trying not to step on any cattens trying to get into the old kitchen at the same time. They make if VERY hard not to step on them, as they keep dashing right under my boot every time I try to move around them.

There are now three white and greys, all male, that come for attention, but this one here was making life quite difficult for me in the process! Absolutely suicidal around my feet! I do wish we didn’t have to keep the kibble bin in the old kitchen. At least there, they don’t start milling about my feet until I’ve got it open and am scooping out the kibble, and I can get in and out of the old kitchen doors with less risk of stepping on a cat!

I was able to count 24 cats this morning, but then I saw Sprout by herself next to the cat house, and I wouldn’t be sure if she was among the others I’d counted or now. So there might have been 25. No Distinguished Guest this morning. I haven’t seen Sad Face (aka: Shop Towel) for a while, either. The toms are probably visiting other farms in their range. Hopefully, The Distinguished Guest is doing better. That cat needs a vet visit. 😥

We have some progress among the inside cats.

Marlee and Ginger, sharing prime nap space! These two are hilarious. They hiss and snarl at each other, all the time. Then Marlee will flop down next to Ginger, often dropping right on top of him, and they settle down for naps together.

Nosencrantz is figuring out that the new shelf at the window is available for her, and I woke this morning to find her sitting on it. Unfortunately, what woke me was the sound of her batting something off the window ledge.

No, I don’t have anything on the window ledge the shelf is against. She went after stuff on the other half of the window!

My craft shelf next to her spot is where I store envelopes in a variety of larger sizes. She decided those were something to chew on, so I had to find a way to protect those but, otherwise, it’s been working out as hoped. I may not even have to shorten the legs, after all. No other cat has shown any interest in the shelf at all.

With how well this is working out, I should actually be able to clear and reorganize the rest of my craft table and even *gasp* use it to do crafting again!

What a novel concept.

With the temperatures dropping again over the next while, it’s a good time to catch up.

The Re-Farmer

That’s life with cats, I guess!

As I was heading out to do my morning rounds, I was greeted by this adorableness.

I took this photo through the screen window of the old kitchen door, so it looks out of focus. This is the tortie the girls have named Phantom, because she has half her face covered with a black “mask”. Alas, I was unable to sneak a pet before she woke up, saw me setting out the kibble, and ran outside.

As I write this, we are at a wonderful -5C/23F, and are expected to go above freezing. Too warm for my down filled parka, so I was going to wear my hoodie.

Or not.

I’d left it hanging on the back of a spare dining room chair.

A chair the cats use as a bed.

I even made sure the hood wasn’t on the seat, so they couldn’t lie on it. This is just from them leaning against it!

Life with cats. Cat hair, everywhere!

I did have another light jacket I could use. I just don’t like it as much. I still had to take the lint brush to it, since I’ll be wearing it when I head to the city today. Hopefully, I won’t be trigging too many cat allergies when I’m around people, because there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

As lovely as the temperature is, though, walking out the sun room door was like hitting a wall. We’ve got 30 kmh/19mph winds right now, coming in from the south. It did make doing the rounds much less pleasant than it would have been, but the wind chill was still only -13C/9F, so it’s still not much to complain about! The only down side it that I’m going to be driving head on into it, the whole way to the city with the van, which is going to do a number on my mileage. At least it should make the trip home better!

I’m just loving what I’m seeing in the forecast over the next few days. We’re actually supposed to go above freezing for several days!

We’ll see what we actually get, of course.

The Re-Farmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I added string lights near my door.

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

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

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

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

Too many out of place noises.

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

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

The problem is usually the toilet.

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

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

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

The bathroom sink.

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

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

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

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

The real problem was the green piece.

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

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

Well, no wonder we were having problems!

Note that this is AFTER multiple soaks in CLR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The furnace has started making noises.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Re-Farmer

Snow perspective

The freezing rain we got yesterday didn’t last long – at least not here. I was expecting the heaviest part of the system to be pushed to the south of us, but instead it was to the north of us, and they got quite a bit more rain and ice pellets.

We were clear for a while, then it started snowing during the night. All night, apparently. It was a lot deeper than I expected, when I came out this morning!

This handsome fella gives it a bit of perspective. I had mostly cleared the cat house roof of snow previously. You can see the warm spot over the ceramic heat bulb! There’s kibble buried under there, and it looks like cats were digging for it. Considering that there was still kibble in most of the food trays, I think maybe they wanted not-frozen kibble? When I shoveled most of the snow off again, I uncovered some of the kibble, and one of the cats was immediately up there, eating kibble out of the snow/slush by the warm spot.

Another perspective shot. This is accumulated snow on the kibble house roof, not just one night. It’s deeper than the height of my kibble container.

Those popcorn containers are the handiest things. The plastic is food safe and super strong.

I had to dig out around the cat shelters before I could finish putting out the kibble and topping up the heated water bowls. The snow seemed to drift right in space in the middle, and even in front of the entry to the cat house, which is probably the most sheltered space, with two overhanging roofs to protect it.

After that, I had to dig my way out of the yard, and a path to the garage. I am so thankful for our neighbour clearing our driveway yesterday! It’s still quite passable, even with the new snow. Of course, snow blown off the garage roof drifted right in front of all the doors, so I cleared a path in front of those. We can now access the side where little Spewie is stored.

We were supposed to reach a high of -6C/21F today, but apparently we’ve already passed it. We’re supposed to cool down slowly through the night, then get a high of -14C/7F tomorrow. After that, we’ll be warming up again. Very mild and pleasant for this time of year. Previous predictions of snow over several days have changed, and now there is no new snow expected for some time. Looks like we got what was expected to fall over several days, all in one night, instead.

We never heard back about the financing for the replacement vehicle yesterday. I will wait until about noon before I try calling the garage to see of they got the answer. I suspect not getting a call means we got turned down for financing. That would be disappointing, but not surprising. The shift to long term disability and losing 40% of my husband’s income ended up messing with his credit score quite a bit – and since neither of us have credit cards, nor any debt other than dipping into my overdraft now and then, we’re not building our credit scores back up again, either.

Well, we shall see.

It sure would be nice to have a reliable vehicle again!

The Re-Farmer

Socialization progress

Things have been warming up nicely here, now that the cold snap has passed. Yesterday, we exceeded our predicted high and reached -13C/9F, though the wind chill was -23C/-9F. Today, we’ve already reached -13C/9F and are expected to warm up to -10C/14F

Seeing what’s been going on with severe weather in the US and Canada right now, I am extremely thankful to be in a bubble of milder temperatures. It’s heartbreaking to hear that so many have died, while ten’s of thousands are without power. The amount of snow some places are getting is mind boggling. My husband grew up in New Brunswick. He is much more familiar with those levels of snow than what we typically get here in the less humid prairies!

Depending on what the winds are like today, I’m hoping to get back outside and start clearing the paths that have drifted over, and opening up more of them. I plan to “cheat” and break out little Spewie. I’ll put up with dragging around extremely long extension cords for the amount that needs to be cleared. I want to get it done before we get more snow, later in the week. If all goes well, I’ll head out for a small shopping trip. Mostly for cat food – the one thing we haven’t been able to stock up on. We simply need too much of it. We did get a lot for December, but with the cold we’ve had, the outside cats have been needing extra food, so we’ve gone through it faster. We’re not out, but I’d like to get more before we start getting too low. I’d really prefer not to go anywhere near a store until after New Year’s, but it is what it is!

Meanwhile, we’ve been focusing on socializing the littles.

These two have been easy.

That’s my arm Bobby and Walnut are sleeping on.

Yes, the bitty has a name, now! My daughters had shared a picture with some of their friends, and one of them commented that he looked like a bobcat that fell into some bleach. So now he is Bobby – short for Itty Bitty Bobby!

One of my daughters had bee supervising the cats while I was doing other things; Marlee was in a mood and doing a lot of snarling at them! She started watching The Victorian Farm, Christmas Special on my computer, so when I came back, I moved the monitor so I could lay down on my bed to watch it with her.

I fell asleep, and woke up to find Walnut on my arm. Then I moved, and her head rolled aside, which is when I found myself staring into the giant eyes of Bobby!

Since I was trapped, anyways, I stayed for a nap. 😁 I was able to get this photo before I managed to slither my arm out from under them to get up.

I’m happy to say that Butterscotch is increasing tolerant of the littles.

For Butterscotch and Bobby to be so close together, without Butterscotch hissing and leaving, is huge on its own, but for them to even be touching paws? Major progress, there! Not only that, but I’ve even seen Butterscotch come up to Bobby to sniff him, and even groom him a bit! I don’t blame Butterscotch for not wanting to be around kittens, now that we know her last few litters must have been incredibly painful for her. I’m so glad we were able to get her fixed! I doubt she’d still be alive right now, if we hadn’t, she was so damaged inside. That she is now willing to tolerate the littles means she is healing in other ways, too.

Nosencrantz has started to get used to them, too, but Marlee… well, she just doesn’t seem to like the other cats in general, and especially doesn’t like the kittens. She’ll start growling as soon as she sees them, even if they are nowhere near her. The kittens aren’t at all intimidated by her, and generally ignore the hissing, until they get close enough that she swats at them.

As for Bobby’s sibling, whom I’m now calling Sprite (short for Soot Sprite), there has been some progress. He (or she) still leaves if a human approaches, but in a calmer way, rather than in a panic. He’s even gone under my desk and office chair while I’m there. Wheel checks before moving my chair is a necessity, as both Sprite and Bobby like to hang out there! My daughters and I took turns playing with them with a cat toy on a string. Walnut and Bobby were right into it, and Sprite even joined them for a bit. One of my daughters was even able to pet Sprite when he paused beside her, though he did run off once he realized he was being touched by a human. Still, progress is progress!

Bobby, unfortunately, has been getting really stuffy. Both he and Walnut are sneezing. I’ve started to add lysine into their wet cat food – something we have not been doing with the inside cats. The 300gr tubs come with tiny little scoops buried in them – I at first thought they didn’t have any, they are buried so deep! – and one scoop is the equivalent of a pressed caplet. I mix one of those into a can of wet cat food. We split it up among all the bowls, so that means all the cats in the room will be getting some, but it’s the only way we can be sure the kittens will get some. Hopefully, we’ll see some improvement before the Cat Lady comes to get the littles.

I am hoping to hear about our financing application soon. Today would be awesome, but we shall see. If we are approved, that means we should be able to trade in the van and have the replacement vehicle before New Years – and I’ll be able to meet the cat lady with the littles (and Tissue) part way, rather than have her driving all the way to our place.

Oh, my goodness!!!! I am so excited! I just noticed that Sprite and Bobby were cuddled together in baby jail. Not only did I (hopefully) get pictures, but I was able to pet Sprite!!!! He didn’t run away!


Yeah. I know. I’m a suck for the kitties.


The Re-Farmer

It could be worse!

The temperatures are pretty brutal out there right now, but we are very fortunate where we are. We aren’t getting any weather warnings, for starters. Western Canada is being absolutely blasted with extreme cold right now. Eastern Canada has their own weather warnings, though not as cold. Here, in the middle, we’re in a gap of almost mild temperatures.

Speaking of which…

Can you believe this?

I took this screen cap of the weather app that came with my computer, just a little while ago. We’re at -22C/-8F, with a wind chill of -30C/-22F I was definitely feeling that wind chill while doing my rounds, and actually skipped switching out the memory card on the sign came. Because my parents planted tall trees close to the house, rather than along the fence line, there is far less protection from the wind once I start crossing the old garden area. The lilac hedge and few trees that are there do help, but not that much.

I made sure to start the van and let it run for a while, while doing the rest of my rounds, though.

What’s unbelievable, though, is the forecast for around New Year’s. According to this app, not only are we going to warm up, but actually reach highs of 1C/34F!

I actually don’t believe it. My phone’s AccuWeather app says we’re going to reach -7C/19F around New Year’s. I think that will be more likely!

Still, that’s really incredible and, according to the AccuWeather website, which has extremely long range forecasts, what we’re getting now is almost the coldest we’ll get for the rest of the winter. There’s a few days they’re predicting will hit -22C/8F again, but not cold snaps that last days, like we’re in right now.

When I was looking at the Farmer’s Almanac forecast for this winter, they were predicting some areas getting brutal cold, while others having a mild winter. From their map, we were in a sort of in between area that could go either way. It’s starting to look like the Farmer’s Almanac was pretty spot on, and that we lucked out by getting the milder temperatures this year.

After the last couple of winters, I consider that a huge blessing!

It’s still pretty fekkin’ cold, though.

The large heated water bowl gets a thick ring of frost around the top edge, but the smaller one actually gets a sheet of ice that hangs like a shelf above the warmer water!

I’ve completely stopped trying to knock the ice out of the metal bowls and refilling them. The cats are mostly using the sun room for shelter now, so I’m putting more food out in there, and topping up the broken heated water bowl. It freezes over night, but from the level the ice is at when I pour in the warm water, they are getting plenty to drink before they have to go outside.

Both bitties have moved into the sun room, for the most part. I sometimes see the tuxedo outside. There’s no litter box in there (it’s in the cat house), and they seem to be going outside to do their business. At least, so far, I’m not seeing any messes in the sun room.

After breakfast, they all go back to their favourite spots!

I just had to get a picture of these two.

Pointy Baby (in front) and his older cousin are such a matched set! The older one is so fluffy! They both seem to have that mix if white and black fur on their sides that make them look like they’re going grey!

Pointy Baby is extremely friendly and can’t get enough attention, but we’ve had no success in socializing his cousin.

In other things, today we bring the van to the garage. I am really, really hoping it’s just some minor thing that he can fix right away. If it’s major… well, we’ll have to make some decisions.

If all goes well, after the van is done, I’ll finally pick up those eggs I was supposed to pick up earlier, then do at bit of grocery shopping to last us until after New Year’s. There is no way I’m going into the city for the big shop I was hoping to do, this close to Christmas, and I figure it won’t be much better after Christmas, either.

I am so nervous about what the van’s diagnosis will be!

The Re-Farmer

When I look up…

… while sitting at my computer, this is what I often see.

She loves that spot!

The problem is, other cats like that spot. Especially Leyendecker. Every now and then, he’ll go up there and, even if he’s just lying on the lower spot beside her, she starts stressing out and backing off – and has fallen right off the shelf, several times!

Silly Anxiety Bear.

Ginger has gotten very difficult to get pictures of! If his head is anywhere near my hands, he will grab my hand and pull it to his head, so I can scratch his ears for him, and he doesn’t care if there’s a phone in my hand, as I try to get his picture! 😄

The snow has continued, off and on, all night. There’s about 6 inches/15cm in most places. Very light and fluffy snow, but deep enough that it’ll be worth breaking out little Spewie to clear the paths and driveway. By tomorrow morning, we’re supposed to get another 5-10 cm/2-4 inches of snow.

We’re at -7C/19F right now, and are expected to get only a degree warmer, with one more relatively mild day before the temperatures start to drop. We’re at the edge of a large system that’s slowly spinning counter-clockwise, and most of the severe weather is at the south end of our province, and in the US.

At times like this, I really appreciate that our “job” is to take care of this place, and we don’t have to commute anywhere.

The Re-Farmer

I started, then I couldn’t stop!

With today already being so much warmer, my morning rounds ended with extra outside activities, like doing a burn, and then some shovelling.

I was going to do the vehicle turn around space and leave the paths to the girls, but since I was going through the paths while doing my rounds, I just grabbed a shovel and started clearing a path to the garage, while on my way to the gate camera.

Then I cleared a path to the burn barrel and the electricity meter.

Then I started to clear the path around the house before going to the sign trail cam way out in the corner across the old garden area, and ended up clearing a path to the sign cam.

Then I finished making a path around the house, and since I was on that side anyhow, I went ahead and did the the fire pit area.

I was going to leave the turn around space for the girls, but it was a balmy -7C/19F, with no wind, and lovely sunshine.

Yeah. I cleared that, too.

What can I say? I like shovelling.

The kittens were very excited when I was done. Well… these ones, anyhow.

From left to right, we have Princess, Judgement, Plushy trying to climb my legs, and Gooby.

Who isn’t gooby anymore. That lysine really worked! There’s a few kittens with eyes that look a bit leaky, but that could just as easily be from the cold winds. I didn’t notice any leaky eyes today.

I did notice a little, bitty ball of fluff, though.

The bitty baby was out and about, running around, stalking its bigger cousins, and generally having a blast in the snow. When I came close, he ran off and I was only able to pet him while we was under a step to the storage house, where I could just barely reach. He most definitely did not want me around, though.

He’s doing great, which makes me happy. We’ll still keep an eye on him (along with the others, of course) but with the warmer temperatures we’re supposed to be getting, he should be just fine out there.

Oh, my goodness! I just went looking at the AccuWeather website for our area. The app that came with my desktop is now saying that we will hit 3C/37F on Friday, instead of Saturday, but AccuWeather is saying we should reach a high of 5C/41F on Friday! That’ll feel downright tropical!

We’ll see how things work out, but if the long range forecasts I’m looking at are in any way accurate, we’re going to have that mild winter I’m hoping for. Here’s hoping!

The Re-Farmer

Cold, but the kitties are okay, and meandering thoughts

We did eventually warm up to our predicted high of -12C/10F, though it came with wind chills colder than -20C/-4F at times.

When I fed the yard cats in the morning, I counted “only” 24 or 25, including the bitty baby – who never came outside!

You can just make him out through the frost, near the bottom of the window.

Thankfully, the south yard is pretty sheltered from the winds coming mostly from the north. Though we had blowing snow all night, there wasn’t anywhere near as much on the ground as it had looked like there should be. I started shovelling the more sheltered walkways, then got a bit carried away.

I used the tire tracks from when I lasted back up to the house as a guide for where to clear away the snow. You can even see the packed down snow under the tire tracks. I didn’t feel like bringing out the ice chipper to break those up, and the shovel I was using already has a crack in it, so I wasn’t going to bash around with it any more than I had to.

As we warm up over the next week, things should actually start melting a bit, and I want these high traffic areas to clear away completely. I think tomorrow, I’ll keep working to clear the space we use to drive into the yard and turn the vehicle around. I’ll leave the paths around the house, and the fire pit, for the girls to do. They’re planning on getting the fire pit going, just because they can, in the near future.


Not too long ago, I was outside again and did the evening feeding.

I counted 30 this time, including the bitty baby. He was in the larger window by himself, and even tried to play with me through it, before going to the entry where the food tray is. He never came out, but he’ll have to if he wants the water. If he had come out, I probably would have snagged him and brought him inside. To be honest, though, the next youngest litter of kittens, being all short haired, are probably colder than he is! It isn’t stopping them from playing in the snow, so their undercoats must be well developed for the winter already.

As I write this, it’s -13C/9F, and that’s as cold as we’re supposed to get, including overnight lows, for at least the next 10 days. In fact, the forecast has changed to predict even milder temperatures than before!

Not only are they now predicting three days with highs of 0C/32F, but we’re looking at 3C/37F a week from now! The last time I saw temperatures that high was in the long range forecast, in December.

Of course, it depends on which app I look at. Another app I have shows the first two of those 0C days as reaching 1C/34F, while another shows two days at 0C, then lower temperatures than in the image, though the Saturday is still supposed to be above freezing. All of them are predicting conditions well within average, though.

There is a saying, that a man with two watches, never knows the time. It’s much the same having multiple weather apps! Each company is linked to different data sources, so while one of them might be linked to data from the weather station at the nearest town to the west of us (one that is much closer to the lake, where conditions can be very different from where we are) another might be linked with a station to the north of us (which would probably be the one with conditions closest to what we get here, even though that station would be further away than the others), and yet another might be linked to a station to the south of us.

Well, at least between them all, it gives us a general idea of what to expect. I had been hoping that we might have the roofers coming out during that warm spell we’re supposed to get, but now I’m not so sure. My brother wanted to be here while they are here, and he’s the one that has Power of Attorney for our mother, to make sure they get paid – something my mother would have difficulty understanding how to do anymore. However, he and his wife are currently out of province due to a medical emergency. I got a call from them while they were still on the road, but they should have arrived by now. Hopefully, all will go well, and they will be coming home soon, but I know that they will want to stay there as long as possible, to be able to help. There is going to be a long road to recovery involved. My SIL might be able to stay longer, at least, as she is now officially retired, but not my brother. We are definitely keeping them all in our prayers right now! At least the roads should be good and they should have safe driving.

With my husband’s health, we are well aware of how suddenly everything can be turned upside down. All it takes is a moment. A car accident. A trip and fall. A heart attack or stroke. A bad reaction to medication. One moment, you’re able bodied and doing fine. The next… you’re not. A friend of mine in the disabled community has a term she uses for those who aren’t disabled: TABs. Temporarily Able Bodied. She says it tongue in cheek, but really, she’s right. At some point, we’re all going to start having issues, even if is just from getting old and the body wearing out. Not something we tend to think about while in our prime. For us, after all we’ve been through, we now work on the assumption at, at some point, we’re going to be dealing with stuff like this even more than we are now. So when we plan things like garden beds, or chicken coops, or repairing/replacing sidewalks and doorways, accessibility and mobility needs are part of the plan. I mean, yeah, I can slap together a perfectly functional chicken coop rather quickly, but what good is that, if we don’t have the mobility to get in and clean it? It takes longer to get things done, but at least when they do get done, it’ll be with “age in place” and future mobility needs in mind.

This house will never be fully accessible, though, which is why our long term plans include the possibility of building a smaller, fully accessible, house for my husband and I, while also acknowledging that at some point, we might simply not be able to live here anymore. We may have to move into a place like where my mother lives – but even her building is not fully accessible! They dropped the ball when designing that place, that’s for sure.

I’m digressing, to be sure, and yet this is all very much a part of things we have to think about. What we do with this place now is setting up for the future, for when our daughters will take over and, eventually, my nephew’s sons inherit the property. But even that isn’t written in stone.

Nothing ever is, is it?

The Re-Farmer