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.

Meanwhile…

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

It’s a bit blustery out there!

This time of year is always so disorienting. I’m sitting here, thinking how late it must be, and that I should probably be getting ready for bed, only to look at the clock and find it’s only 6pm. We’ve been fully dark for a while, now!

And windy.

We’re not actually getting a lot of snowfall right now, but every now and then, the garage cam gets completely blinded with blowing snow!

It was several hours later than predicted, but we did eventually hit the expected high of -6C/21F, though not for long – and with that wind, it certainly didn’t feel that way. What’s interesting is seeing how the forecast has changed for next week, and we’re now being told to expect two days with highs of 0C/32F.

Looking at the 30 year records, our average temperature for today is 0C/32F for the high, and -8C/18F for the low. Our 30 year record high was set in 2009 and 10C/50F, while the record low was -16C/3F. We also had a record snowfall of 85.3mm (about 3 1/2 inches) set in 2010. So we really don’t have much to complain about.

Still, it’s a good day to stay inside and catch up on my crochet with a hot cup of tea!

That is, if the cats will let me. I opened my door and let them in. I have 5 cats sleeping on my bed, Nosencrantz is hiding in her shelf, Butterscotch is sleeping on a different shelf, up near the ceiling, and as I try to type this, Fenrir keeps rubbing her lies on my fingers and bashing my hands with her forehead! Fenrir is one of the biggest reasons we have been keeping that door closed, as she usually is the first to try and go after Nosencrantz, but she sure seems to miss stretching out on my chest while I’m on my computer, and making it difficult to type!

The Re-Farmer

I don’t think we’re gonna make it…

We’re supposed to reach a high of -6C/21F today.

According to this, we should already be at -8C/18F as I write this, but we’re -12C/9F instead, with a wind chill of -19C/-2F. That wind is BITTER out there! I strongly suspect we’re not going to reach the predicted high today! Especially not with tomorrow supposed to be even colder.

But look ahead to Wednesday! We’re looking at 0C/32F! In one of my apps that has long range forecasts into December, there’s even a 3C/37F in the forecast!

I am good with this. The furnace is already turning on and staying on way too often, even with these mild temperatures (and yes, I did turn it down a bit. We just have a very inefficient house).

No word from the roofers yet. My brother is going to reach out to them. He wants to be here when they are, which means booking time off work, so the more advance notice the better, but it’s so weather dependent! Still, if it can be done before the usual colder months of January and February, that will help on our heating bill, that’s for sure!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: pumpkins picked, and what shall we do?

When doing my rounds this morning, I brought the wagon and some pruning shears to finally pick the giant pumpkins.

Plus a few patty pan squash.

One of the pumpkins still has a bit of green, so they are sitting in a shelf by a window to cure and continue to ripen. They are big enough that the kittens shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been closely looking at the other squash that are developing. Especially some of the hulless pumpkins, which are the furthest along. The longer they stay on the vine to ripen, the better, but…

I don’t know if I should just pick them all and bring them in, along with the last of the tomatoes and onions.

Looking at the Accuweather forecast on my phone, we’ll have chilly nights, but not cold enough for frost until well into October. The low for tonight is expected to be 5C/41F, BUT… when I look at the hourly forecast, it says we will reach 0C/32F by 5am tomorrow. Which means frost by morning.

Going online to the Accuweather website, however, the coldest we’re supposed to get overnight is 8C/46F by 8am. Most of the night will be 9C/48F. Not a chance of frost there.

Looking at the forecast on my desktop’s app, it says we’ll hit a low 2C/36F tomorrow night. Cold, but not likely to have frost.

I’m also not seeing any frost warnings for our area, yet.

The problem is, there are no weather stations being used for these forecasts. The closest one is also closer to the lake, so that can change conditions dramatically. Others are to the north and south of us, and far enough away that both can have quite different conditions that we do at any given time. We just don’t get accurate forecasts for our specific area, which makes it hard to plan what to harvest, or allow to ripen more!

Do I take a chance and let things be? As I write this, we are at 16C/61F, and are expected to reach a high of 19C/66F. It’s quite lovely. But those overnight temperatures… those are the potential killers.

Just to throw a wringer into the thought process, I am not feeling well today. I had a much disturbed night, partly from having to spend way too much time in the bathroom (which I now know is a side effect of the new medication my doctor is trying me on), and partly cat disturbances. We did a dump run and a trip into town today, and I had to get my daughter to drive, mostly because I was afraid I might fall asleep at the wheel. As if that isn’t enough, the weather changes are wrecking havoc on my arthritis, and I just plain hurt. Not that it matters. What needs to be done, needs to get done. It’s just a matter of figuring out what needs to be done now, or later!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: not much going on

We got a small harvest this morning.

With the beans either done, or being left to dry – and the red noodle beans still don’t even have pods yet! – and the cucumbers and peas finished, there isn’t a lot to harvest on a regular basis. The carrots, turnips and beets are being left to get as big as they can before we pick them. Same with the potatoes. The peppers and eggplant could use quite a bit more time to mature. The sweet corn still isn’t ripe enough to pick. The Yellow Pear tomatoes have huge amounts of still green tomatoes on them, and are also ripening the fastest. The other tomatoes are ripening much more slowly. There are quite a few green patty pans growing, but not so much among the rest of the summer squash. The winter squash, of course, need to stay on the vines for as long as possible. What we have of it, anyhow!

These cucumber leaves show one of the reasons we want to focus on barrier hedges as we plant trees and bushes. This is all dust from the gravel road. Thank goodness my mother’s lilac hedge is there, or it would be so much worse!

The green zucchini is still having issues with the male and female flowers not blooming in sync, so pollination isn’t happening. The developing squash soon turn yellow and die off. This one has been chewed on by a mouse or some other small rodent. I suppose it’s good that the squash still feeds something!

We had a super light rain this morning, which is supposed to continue off and on throughout the day. Then we’re supposed to warm up again over the next few days. It should be interesting to see how much more things manage to ripen during our mild grace period!

The Re-Farmer

Tree planting, and a different kind of apple

For a while now, my mother had been telling me she had a tree for me to take home and transplant. She’d grown it from seed collected from trees in her town, and it was in her little garden plot.

When I was at her place a couple of days ago, she had it dug up and in a bucket, waiting for me to take home.

I asked her about the tree to try and get a sense of how big it would get, or even where she got the seeds from, so I could see for myself. She wasn’t able to tell me much, but did think that, in English, it was called an Ash tree.

So I looked it up and confirmed it was Ash, but couldn’t narrow it down to a specific variety. This is not something that normally grows in our area. Using the ID function on my phone’s camera, it listed European Ash first, but there was no way that was right. Those can’t grow in our climate zone.

From what I could find, Ash trees can grow anywhere from 30 to 100 feet tall – I even saw one listed as growing up to 115 feet! Given that the trees she got the seeds from were planted to line streets somewhere in her town, I figured this one wouldn’t get that tall, but probably more than 30 feet.

Which that in mind, I decided to plant the tree in the outer yard, replacing one of the Korean pine that died.

Since I have both, it got a double mulch. The grass clippings will break down faster, and both will keep the grass and weeds down, while the roots establish themselves. Wind is a problem, though; even as I was planting it, the wind was pushing it over. The Korean Pine that had been here had a tomato cage to protect it, secure in place with a branch, so I made use of the branch to support the Ash tree. It can stay there through the winter. In the spring, we can see what it would still need for support.

We still have some chicken wire left over. I will cut some to size to put around the tree to protect it from deer, too, making sure to spray it with the high visibility paint, like the ones protecting the surviving Korean pine. I hope it does well.

Earlier on, while checking the garden during my morning rounds, I found a surprise. I don’t know how I missed this!

I’ve been admiring all the little gourds forming on the Apple gourd plants, but never saw this big one until this morning! It had been hidden behind some leaves. There is another one that’s about 3/4 the size of this one. The little ones may not have time to fully mature before the growing season ends, but this big one has a chance!

We continue to have forecasts for mild temperatures over the next couple of weeks. Early next week, we may reach as high as 24C/75F.

Or… maybe higher?

My husband found this article a couple of days ago.

Canada, a perfect storm is about to change your September
Tyler Hamilton
Meteorologist

Tuesday, September 13th 2022, 9:10 pm – On paper, Typhoon Merbok appears unremarkable. An intensifying typhoon in the Pacific is hardly noteworthy, but its location where it’s intensifying is a little perplexing.

The part that caught my attention was this…

The perturbation continues eastward. As the trough digs across the West, there will be a region of adverse weather, including the prospect of a classic fall low developing across the eastern Prairies. The temperature extremes across the Prairies will be extraordinary, with wet snow across higher terrain in Alberta and southern Manitoba pushing towards 30°C.

Across Ontario and Quebec, there’s increasing confidence in temperatures surpassing 30°C, so some daily temperature records will likely fall next week. It’s a relatively rare feat to record 30°C across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) after mid-September, with Pearson International Airport reaching it this late in the season more than 15 times since 1938.

Where we are, we’re not likely to get such extremes, but perhaps that 24C/75F day we’re supposed to be getting is a result of this. We’re supposed to have and overnight low of 14C/57F that night, yet just three nights later, we’re supposed to reach lows of 1C/34F, which would likely mean frost. This would be a week from now. The app on my phone, however, says we’re supposed to have a low of 5C/41F that night, so no frost.

I’m just obsessing over the temperatures forecast right now. I want the garden to be able to squeeze in every bit of mild weather. However, if things start dipping too low overnight, I’ll have to at least harvest the winter squash and pumpkins that I can, and might be able to cover a few beds.

I would really, really love it if the frost held off until well into November, like it did last year! That might be too much to hope for, though. We shall see!

The Re-Farmer

A couple days break?

We had quite a lot of rain yesterday, with temperatures much cooler than forecast for the first day of summer. The cool was much appreciated! It was nice being able to open up more windows again.

The problem is how wet everything is. Even the new part basement now has water pooling in places. Unlike the old basement, we can’t sweep this into a drain or a sump pump cistern. All we can do is keep a fan on it, really.

We’re supposed to have a couple of days that are warmer and without rain. Hopefully, that will be enough to let the grass dry out enough that I can finish mowing the lawn tomorrow. No chance of being able to get it done today, even if I wasn’t going to be at my mother’s for her home care assessment appointment. After that, however, we’re looking at possible thunderstorms and more rain for several more days.

While doing my morning rounds, I saw a couple of the kittens under the cat’s house again. I’m glad to see them, after they got so frightened by the lawn mower. I caught a brief glimpse of the little calico’s face. Her one eye still seems gooby, but otherwise all right.

The garden plots seem to be holding out all right, though I noticed a lot of pole beans at the trellises seem to have lost their leaves. I can’t tell if it’s because they were eaten by something, or because they wilted and fell off from excess moisture. There are still lots of plants, though, so we should still be good.

I’m pretty sure one of the lilacs at the corner of the storage house has been totally drowned. The few leaves it managed to grow are gone. If it survives, I’ll be amazed. There are others that aren’t quite as bad, and I think they’ll make it.

The Kulli corn seems to finally be recovering from transplant shock, looking more green and actually growing. The bush beans growing with them are progressing nicely. The first planting of spinach and one type of lettuce are getting big enough we should be able to start harvesting leaves and thinning them out.

As much of a problem the excess rain is, after last year’s drought and having to water every day, twice a day, throughout the summer, I’m really happy with how things are growing right now.

Still, it’ll be nice to have a couple of days break from the rain!

The Re-Farmer

Too wet, and a nice surprise

This morning, it looked like I’d be getting more of a day of rest than I wanted. I hoped to at least do some weed trimming. It rained last night again, however, and… well…

There’s just too much water. The vehicle gate into the yard is usually the first place to have water, but there’s enough that it’s backing up into the path along this garden bed. For the water to be high enough to do that, it means all behind the garage and in front of the outhouse is water. It’s also pooling in front of the low raised beds where the old wood pile used to be, though the newly transplanted ground cherries seem to be okay; the mulch seems to be absorbing the moisture and keeping them from being in a pool of water. The grass is getting so tall, most of the water is hidden, but we’ve got open water all over the inner yard. Mowing is just not going to be an option. The weed trimming I intended to do around the squash transplants isn’t going to happen. That lilac by the storage house has a pool of water under it again. Even the spirea on the opposite corner has water under them. The grapes are above the water level, at least. Checking the trellises and the trees, it looks like we lost at least 1 luffa to the wet. Interestingly, the sliver buffalo berry is handling it just fine. Even the saplings that are in pools of water are have leaf buds opening.

The mosquitoes weren’t too bad, thanks to the wind, so I was able to check the Korean Pine without being eaten alive.

I found a surprise next to one of them.

All the white flowers in this photo?

Strawberries. We’ve got a whole big patch of strawberries growing here!

In previous years, when I was able to keep a lane to the back gate mowed, this area had Black Eyed Susan, a local wildflower, growing here. I’d even see patched of daisies. But never strawberries! To suddenly see so many makes me quite happy.

Once back inside, I hoped to be able to take things a big easy, since working outside wasn’t much of an option, but of course, that didn’t happen.

My mother phoned. She’d gotten the call about the sleep test the doctor wrote her up for, but she’d forgotten about it. Thankfully, she told them she’d talked to me about whether she should do it at all first, rather than just telling them she didn’t need the test. She gave me the number and I called them back. It turns out they can send the test machine directly to my mother, and that was looing good – until it came to how it’s paid for. They take payment by credit card, and don’t send the machine out until the payment is made. My mother doesn’t have a credit card. Neither do I. There is still the option of picking it up and paying for it in person, but they need 2 days notice, so that the machine will be ready and waiting for pick up. Which I could do, but I emailed my brother first, just in case. He has a credit card and might be able to get that done and my mother can pay him back later. Whatever we work out, we’ll call them back about it.

Then I read another email from my he’s sent earlier. It was about the beg bug treatment schedule, including a date. I had no idea there was a date – and it’s the same day someone is supposed to be coming out to see my mother for a home care assessment.

So I called my mother back, updated her on the sleep test thing, then talked to her about the bed bug date. She needed to call my sister to make arrangements to stay there for a couple of nights, so that she won’t be exposed to the spray. She said others in her building just stay in the lobby, but I reminded her, she can’t do that, because of her health issues. She finally understood. So while she called my sister to make the arrangements, I had to find a number to call about changing the home care assessment appointment. The problem is, there is no public number directly to the home care department. Even with the guy that called me, the call display showed “private caller”, so there’s no number there. I tried calling the clinic to do it through them, but they must be really busy, because no one was answering the phone. Finally, I found a central number for our health region and left a message – the call went straight to voice mail – and left a message.

So now I’m basically keeping a handset handy and waiting to hear back.

I really dislike talking on the phone. 😀 Ah, well.

So I guess things being too wet to get work done outside is a bonus for today.

I’d really rather be outside, fighting mosquitoes while mowing the lawn, than waiting for more phone calls, to be honest!

The Re-Farmer