Our 2022 garden: fixing kitten damage, and finding strange things

Don’t let this ball of adorableness fool you!

This is a ferocious and destructive little beast!

Yesterday, I fixed up the mesh covered beds with the fall spinach, making sure to peg down the sides of the netting so the kittens couldn’t get under.

This morning…

Well… they didn’t get under it.


When I came out, there were kittens sitting on the mesh, looking at me.

I took this photo after I’d taken out all the pegs. The mesh needed more support, but I don’t have any more of the metal stakes I used to slide the hoops over.

What I did still have were some pieces from the canopy tent a piece of tree had fallen on last year. Most of the pieces from the dismantled frame are being used around various garden beds, but there were two longer pieces that had snapped near their middles that were still around, leaving me with four lengths with one rough end.

So I stuck them in the spaces between the hoops, broken ends into the soil, thinking maybe I could lash or zip tie hoops to them. Which wouldn’t be very stable, but as I pushed the pieces into the soil, I remembered that they all have screw holes at the ends. I’ve been using those holes to threat twine through.

So that’s what I did. After lashing the bamboo poles back across the hoops, I began stringing twine through and across the metal pieces, the hoops and the poles.

With kittens rolling around, playing in the netting, rolling across the bed, and generally getting underfoot.

I could see that some spinach from the first sowing had started to germinate, and the seedlings are all flattened.


Well, at least the netting has enough support to keep it from collapsing.

For now.

As I was cleaning up and about to put things away, something odd in the path caught my eye.

This was just sitting in the dirt in the path.

It wasn’t there yesterday.

It is not ours. The girls and I don’t have anything like this. Which means it is probably something that was left among my parents’ stuff, though I don’t recall ever seeing it before. Where it came from and how it got into the path of the old kitchen garden is a mystery!

The Re-Farmer

Weather warnings and why is that there?

Today has not been as hot as yesterday, which is greatly appreciated. We are, however…

… still under a severe weather watch.

Looking at the weather radar, it looks like the storm systems will pass to the north and south of us. Mostly to the south. Right over where my brother lives. 😦 As much as we are having issues with the wet, it’s merely an inconvenience, compared to how much the southern areas of our province have been walloped. If the radar is anything to go by (ha!), we might not even get rain tonight.

One can hope!

With the ground so saturated, I’ve been trying to regularly go into the old basement to sweep the water into the floor drain, or into the sump pump reservoir. Today, I decided I may as well take advantage of the situation and do some clean up. We now keep a broken hose (it’s missing the male coupling) down there on the regular, since it comes in so handy when clearing the pipe to the septic tank. I decided to use it to wash away any accumulated dust (muddy dust) and dirt in some areas. In particular, I wanted to try and get the space under the stairs. There is a shelf built under there, with less than a foot of clearance to the floor. I knew there was an old pump of some kind on the floor under there. Whenever I tried to sweep the water into the trough in the floor that leads to the sump pump, the water would be black.

While poking around under there, thinking I would push the old pump – possibly an old well pump, or a septic ejector pump – out from the other side, I discovered there was something stuck under the bottom step.

Also, I knocked over a class jar. Which turned out to be an old canning jar. The kind with the glass lids. It had its metal ring on it, but no glass lid. It was under there for so long, the metal ring is practically fused to the glass.

Then I found a couple more jars and bits of garbage. I got the old pump out, which turned out to be heavy enough I think at least parts of it are made of cast iron. I set it up so it wouldn’t be in water anymore, then found some sort of cast iron plate – a square with evenly spaced holes in it – that was under it.

The very old, very rusted paint can I found was unexpected. It was pretty full, too. Whether it’s paint or stain or something else that comes in that sort of can, I couldn’t tell.

After clearing the space and using the hose to wash things out a bit, it was time to figure out what was stuck under the bottom step.

It was a log.

It looks like a piece of birch. Firewood for the old furnace? My brother had bought a load of birch for my dad, as it burns slower and hotter than the wood he was using. It meant my dad didn’t have to load the furnace so often. Especially at night. That, however, was many years ago. My brother then got the electric furnace and set that up so that my father wouldn’t have to do those horrible stairs to load the furnace anymore at all, if he didn’t want to. It was set up so that, if the wood burning furnace died down, the electric would take over. Now, the wood burning furnace is unused and tied closed with wire, for insurance purposes. There hasn’t been firewood in that basement for years before we moved here.

In theory, it could have somehow ended up under there by accident, but considering the other stuff under there, plus where it is in relation to where the wood was kept, that is highly unlikely. I find myself wondering if perhaps it was shoved under there deliberately, to support the bottom step. If so, that means the step was breaking.

I left the log. Just in case!

I did get substantial areas of the basement hosed down, though, and they are looking much better. The other areas can’t be done, as things would need to be moved out of them, and that’s just not worth fighting with right now.

The water in the new part basement, however, is becoming a problem. I’m going to have to leave that job mostly for the girls, though. The end that has the most water accumulating on the floor also happened to be where most of the litter boxes are set up, and it’s becoming quite the mess. Things are starting to mold, too. Not good. Cleaning out that area is going to have to be done over several days, I think.

Hhhmmm. I’m watching the sky as I write this, and it’s getting dark out there. I used the hose outside to give all the bins we used to carry transplants in and out a wash, so I can lend them to my mother as she puts things away in preparation for her apartment to be treated for bed bugs. They’re spread out in the grass, drying. I think moving them into the sun room might be a good idea.

Just in case!

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: our “second bathroom”, part two

Part one.

Okay, so the area in front of the outhouse is now safe to walk on.

What about the inside?

The very… colourful… inside.

I’d asked my mother about all the paper in there. She told me she put them there to make it pretty.

I… just don’t know what to say about that.

Like pretty much everything else around here, the outhouse was being used for storage.

The first thing I had to do, though, was check out the floor. Much to my surprise, it’s solid. I still plan to reinforce it, but there is nothing wrong with the floor boards.

Other than being really, really disgusting.

And that toilet seat…


This outhouse has actually been used a couple of times since we’ve moved here. Once or twice by my brother, who insisted on using it rather than going inside. Once by a poor guy who came out to service our internet that suddenly needed to go to the bathroom, but my daughter had just gone into the shower. He couldn’t wait for the bathroom to be available, and was actually willing to use this outhouse.

I still feel so bad about that. The poor guy!

The first order of business was to take everything out that was leaning in the corners.

Which included a folding closet door (minus one hinge), a length of copper pipe, a fluorescent light fixture, which I think still have bulbs in it, and several pieces of wood.

I might be able to use the bigger ones to reinforce the floor.

Oh, and more of that colourful paper that is all over the walls.

Then it was time to move the toilet paper.

Yes. I’m serious. That’s the toilet paper.

Well, not the rolled up paper with the tape on it. That was with the stuff stored in the corners.

When I was a kid, before we had an indoor bathroom, we used old catalogs, fliers, phone books, etc. as toilet paper. I didn’t think it was strange, since I knew nothing else. We didn’t buy toilet paper until we got an indoor bathroom, because this stuff couldn’t be flushed down the toilet.

While clearing things out, I emptied the medicine cabinet on the wall, too.

A 30 year old calendar page isn’t quite so strange when compared to a 46 year old Eaton’s Christmas catalog.

After moving the catalogs and whatnot away, I found this in the corner.

A pile of pine cones!

Also, my mother even covered the top of the toilet seat box with colourful paper!

When I saw the pine cones, my first through was that squirrels had got in and were starting to make a winter stash. Which was a surprise, since this outhouse is actually pretty animal proof. I don’t know where squirrels would have got in.

There was something I missed, however.

Do you see that tiny little something in the corner, a different colour from the pine cones?

When I started sweeping the cones away, I found this.

A mermaid!

I now think that perhaps my late brother’s kids may have played in here and left the pile of cones and mermaid behind, forgotten. If true, then this may have been here for more than 10 years. Probably quite a bit more! However it got here, when we are done with cleaning up and setting up the outhouse, this is going to get a place of honour for display! 😀 More “found object” art… 😉

Once everything was cleared out, it was time to take all the paper off the walls.

At that point, I was starting to really wish I could wear a mask. I tried to be careful not to kick up much dust, but there was no way to completely avoid it.

The outhouse might have been critter proof, but it was not moth proof! As I pulled sheets of paper off, I kept finding moths hiding behind them. Dozens of them.

They did not appreciate being woken up!

Moths were not the only surprise I found behind the paper.

I suspect this was the first attempt at “beautifying” the outhouse. This was right in the middle of the back wall, and would have been the first thing a person saw on opening the door. Then it got covered over with the colourful paper.

I … don’t know what to say. 😀

Yay!! It’s all done! All the paper is gone!

I was going to say, it already looks a lot better, but… no. It still looks disgusting.

Time to break out the big guns.

It’s power washing time!

I hosed down the entire inside, trying to get into every crevice. Which is not easy to do when trying to get the front, on either side of the doorway, while standing outside.

I sure as heck wasn’t going to be hosing it down while standing inside!!

That part took a while.

Okay, NOW I can say, it looks a lot better!

Also, that toilet seat is actually white. It’s been painted brown.

I… don’t know what to say.

Now that it’s have it’s initial cleaning done, I’m actually impressed with how sound this is. Ideally, we would jack it up higher and put it on blocks, rather than leave it on the beams that it’s on, but this is not meant to stay.

The next thing that needs to be done is to scrub the inside. That will be the time to get rid of all the bits of paper and packing tape stuck to the tacks and staples used to tack them to the walls. I forgot to hose down the inside of the medicine cabinet, but that’s okay. We will likely take that down for a while.

While the whole thing needs a paint job, the plan is to use a highly durable paint on the inside, that can handle scrubbing.

In a LIGHT colour! My daughter was suggesting a robin’s egg blue, but I’d be happy with anything that makes it brighter in there. Also, a new toilet seat. There’s nothing “wrong” with this one, except… ew.

I checked the pit, of course. It does need to be emptied. It’s also completely composted and level – being flooded out with melted snow for years did have a plus side. The cat litter compost is behind the outhouse, so it can be added to that. There are those that recommend using human waste as garden compost, but that is something we will never do. Who knows what medications a person might have been on when they left their “deposits”. While it is not urgent to empty the pit, it is definitely something I want to do before anyone actually uses it again.

Oh, we also have to do a bit of work on the door. It needs new hingles, as the current ones are sagging. It would probably be a good idea to calk around some areas, so no more moths will get in. Particularly around the screen covered opening at the top. I actually saw a moth squeezing through the wood around there!

The biggest job that needs to be done is the roof. The shingles have moss growing on them. Given the small size of the roof, however, I think we have options to modify. There are some scrap pieces of plywood in the barn that should be big enough. After removing the old shingles, I am thinking of adding some plywood that is longer than the current roof size, to make an overhang above the door. We also have lots of leftover pieces of metal roofing material that can be cut to size and used instead of using shingles.

The final touch I’d like to add is a solar powered light. I’ve been eyeballing some solar powered hanging light fixtures, thinking of the cordwood building we plan to make, and that can be used here just as well. That would be a huge improvement over using candles or flashlights, like we did when I was a child! 😀

If we do this right, this outhouse should not only last for years, but actually be pleasant to use.

The Re-Farmer

Someone lost a shoe…

My daughter and I made a dump run today, and as we were unloading the back of the van, she noticed one of the access panels in the side of the van had fallen off. This is where the jack is stored. She popped the panel back on, and off we went.

As we were turning into our driveway, however, we heard a noise in the back that was rather alarming. At least for us, after having so many things go wrong on the van. So while my daughter unlocked the gate, I took a quick look in the back, thinking maybe something got knocked loose behind that access panel.

Once in the garage, I just had to get a picture of what I found.

The jack had been visible before, and we had seen part of the back with the pieces to use the jack. I think one of the plastic pieces I found was originally a bracket to hold the jack in place, so it wouldn’t get knocked about, but I have no real idea what it’s for. Then there was the pliers. And odd find, but I can go with that.

The child’s shoe, on the other hand, is a bit harder to explain! 😀 I know the previous owners had kids – when I test drove it before buying it, and before it was detailed, there was still ample evidence to be found! 😀 I do find myself curious how the shoe ended up tucked under the jack and the tools! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Situational blindness?

My older daughter just finished a whole bunch of quick commissions, and after sitting at the computer for so many hours, she really needed to get out and walk!

So we headed out together, and wandered around beyond the outer yard, cutting through the old hay yard.

I just had to share this photo of a floating tree.

This tree is a bit of a mystery. It is one of several trees that had not fallen on their own, but were cut down and just left in the hay yard. Perhaps the intent was to clean them up, but it just never happened. Who knows?

This tree, however, has a piece missing.

Unlike the others that were lying near their stumps, there is what I estimate to be about 8 feet of trunk missing. The nearby stump is much wider than the cut end of this tree’s floating remains. There is no sign of the missing piece, anywhere! I find myself curious as to why someone would remove a section completely like that, and what it was used for!

While we were walking around, my daughter asked her if I’d seen the old outhouse.

Which old outhouse? I had to ask, since several came to mind.

Apparently, there was an old outhouse my daughters found in the bushes.

So of course, I had to see it!

You know how you can walk past something time after time, yet not “see” it, until something calls your attention to it? And then you wonder, when did that get there? Or, is this new?

I had to have had this sort of situational blindness, because I’ve gone through this area several times, and yet I can’t remember seeing this. It’s in the bushes, between the car graveyard and old gravel pit, and most definitely has been there a long time!

Truly an odd place for an outhouse. It’s not like this was a place people spent so much time, they’d need an outhouse!

The use of wood shingles for siding like that is another curious thing. Very unusual.

It’s possible I missed seeing it because I’d gone through here at a time of year when the bushes were in full leaf.

At this angle, you can see the hinged door at the bottom, for access to emptying the… contents.

There does not seem to be a pit under it.

I wonder if it was brought in from somewhere else, and just dumped here, like so many other things were, over the years?

The roof is gone and it’s collapsing into itself to the point the door cannot be opened, though it is somewhat ajar.

I was able to stick my phone into a gap and get a photo of the inside.

I’m guessing that little blue shelf was hanging on the nails under the coat hook.

What a curious thing to have somehow not seen while going through here! Or perhaps I did see it, but just dismissed it. There have been so many odd finds since we’ve moved here, they aren’t really odd anymore! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Another mystery

My older daughter and I went for a walk, and decided to head through the pasture, towards the plowed field.

This was the route I took to check how much I could see of the fire from the night before, and I’m surprised I missed this. I may have been distracted by seeing a bald eagle fly off. It was the first time I’ve seen one this close to the house and outbuildings!

Yeah. That’ll be my excuse for not seeing this.

This, lying in open pasture.

It looks like an oil drum converted into a furnace.

Like so many things we find, we are left with questions.

Converting oil drums into various things isn’t all that unusual. The unusual thing, as so often is the case, is the location.

Why is this here?

I can’t even say it has something to do with the junk pile that’s out this way. This pile, I know my late brother had dumped there, because I recognize the concrete filled oil drum. This was stuff he’d cleared away from the property my parents used to own. That was where we’d lived the last time we lived in this province. The building he’d converted to a workshop and is now being used for storage had been brought from there.

But this was not from there. It’s also quite far from the junk pile, so it’s not like a cow had somehow managed to drag it out (like so many other things we find, scattered about), even if a cow could somehow roll this around.

Yet another mystery!

After checking this out, we went to the junk pile, which my daughter had not yet seen. While poking around she found a few more things for our “found object art display”, where the crushed teapot now rests. Three mugs and two worn Old Spice bottles. 😀 There’s also a toilet, which I intend to salvage and use with the others we’ve found, as a planter or something. The weird thing is, the toilet looks to be in excellent shape. No idea why it’s there, either, but at least with that, I hadn’t walked past it several times since we’ve moved here, and somehow not seen it.

Like the oil drum furnace that’s been sitting there long enough to have lichen growing on it! 😀

The Re-Farmer

I have questions about this.

Yesterday evening, the girls decided to go out for a walk and headed out past the barn.

They found this, among the trees.

A squashed kettle.

Among the trees.

I have questions.

How did it get squished like this?

And why was it out there to get squished, in the first place?

When I was a kid, we had a large pig pen beyond the barn and, after that, there was a large manure pile. Past that was trees. Just trees. Nothing where someone might set up a kettle, then mysteriously leave it there to be crushed.

The girls have set it with my “art display” of other found objects. 😀

Ah, the things we find! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Clean Up and Winterizing: fixing the pump shack window

Today, my goal was to board up at least one of the broken windows in our old pump shack.

Which was not an easy job. (Photo heavy post ahead!)

You see, in order to fix the window, I needed to be able to reach the window.

In order to reach the window, I had to cut back some self-sown maples growing in the way.

To be able to reach the trees, I had to clean up this.

You can see part of an old freezer, over on the left. Next to the old furnace is a partially dismantled modern washing machine, next to part of an old wringer washer, and beyond that, a second fuel tank.

It’s hard to see in the above photo, but there is a black electrical cord coming out of a hole under the eaves, about in the middle.

This cord is eventually buried, and extends to the storage shed, which used to be my late brother’s workshop. Though the cord is plugged in inside the pump shack, it was actually easier to plug my extension cord into the other end of this cord, in the storage shed!

I… don’t know what this is.

I’d moved it aside, only to realize I needed to clean out the stuff I’d just put it on top of. It’s quite heavy, so I just moved it by the old freezer for now.

While following the cord until it was buried, I found all sorts of things. Including this old wiring, which I just put on top of the old furnace for now.

I went to move one of the tanks, and found another mystery item was propped against it. No clue what it is, but it says “Ohio” on it. 😀

I also discovered the electrical cable was not actually buried where I thought, and was still on the surface, under the tank!

The tanks were quite light, so I rolled them completely away, near the storage shed.

Under the big white tank labeled “purple gas”, I found this.

It was on top of those two tires flat on the ground, and propped up by the other stuff.

While cleaning up around the tires, I found the window pane! It had simply fallen out and didn’t break!

Once I moved the big tractor tire, I found a collection of seats from old farm equipment under it.

I ended up having to cut away that tree to get them out, because it had grown around some of the metal pieces.

I decided they could be salvaged and wanted to put them somewhere out of the elements. I decided the old chicken coop was the best bet for now.

I am not looking forward to cleaning this thing out! But, if we have any chance of salvaging the building, it has to be done. The beam across the doorway is sinking, and a board that used to be above the door is now over the door. There’s room enough I can move the door to one side, but it can no longer be closed fully.

Also, there is another maple at the corner that needs to be cleared away.

To get to the old coop door, I had to first clear away a forest of burrs with the loppers.

They attacked me.

Actually, just one of them. Once it caught on my sleeve, that was it. Before I knew it, I had burrs all over the front of my jacket, both sleeves, my pant legs, my butt, and even my hair!

I had to ask my daughters to help get the burrs out of my hair! The burrs did NOT want to let go!

That tractor in the background is another thing I need to clear. It has trees growing through it. 😦

As I was getting the old seats out, I found…

… a cast iron frying pan!

I ended up putting it in the pump shack. Where the wood burning stove used to be, there is a tiny electric stove (I doubt it works) that has only 2 elements on it. I just had to put the pan on it! 😀

There was one last seat I was struggling with. It was still attached to something, which was buried, and part of it was stuck in the tree I had to cut away, and other parts stretched out further.

I was eventually able to drag it all out.

I… have no idea what this is. Or was, I should say.

There was no way that was fitting through the old coop door, so it got set aside elsewhere.

Once it was cleared enough, I took a look at the old kitchen sink, leaning against the corner of the pump shack.

I love this thing!!! I have got to find some way to use it somewhere. 😀

For now, I just tucked it closer to the building. I don’t dare move it until I have someone to help. I don’t want to chance breaking it.

After clearing more stuff away, I found this bar sticking out of the ground.

I don’t know what it’s attached to underground, but it was not moving. It could turn a bit, and I could wobble it a bit, but that’s it. I could not pull it out,

No clue why it’s there.

I made my way to the old furnace, moved another tire and found and an old kettle! LOL Then I went to move the old steel… container of some sort, and found more stuff in it. It doesn’t show in the photo, but at the very bottom, there was a roaster lid.

Just the lid. 😀

As I pulled more stuff out from under the dirt and leaves behind the old furnace, I found some other odds and sots.

Score!!!!! Oh, I was so excited! That bar with a point at one end is solid steel and very heavy for its size. I could have used something like that in the past few years! There used to be a bar like this, except more like 4 or 5 feet long, but it is among the things that disappeared. This is a bit short, but it’ll still be very handy.

The other stuff joined the hub caps and other weird scraps on the junk pile.

This is as far as I could go, though. That metal is under the old furnace. I’ll have to, at the very least, tip the furnace to be able to get it out.

Not today.

This is as far as I got today!

Under the window, coming through the concrete, you can just see a pipe. That is a drain pipe. Back when we were still using the well under this shack, and had no running water in the house, we had a claw footed bath tub in here. We would heat water on the wood stove for our baths, and this is where the bath water would drain out. I have no memory if there was more pipe, so it wouldn’t drain right at the foundation.

There’s a bit of stump in the middle that I am leaving for now. My poor little reciprocating saw was really starting to struggle by this point!

I could finally fix the window!

The glass pane fit perfectly in a recess in the frame. It looks like it was held in place by a single nail at the top! The metal side, where a stove pipe used to go through, has about a dozen nails holding it!

As the cats go through that hole, I screwed scrap boards across both halves to hold them in place.

Also, I’m short. I found the cinder block by the storage shed to stand on, so I could reach the top of the window. When cleaning up later, it joined the 5 or 6 glazed bricks that I’d also uncovered by the old furnace.

I keep finding those, absolutely everywhere! I would not be the least surprised if I move the old furnace, and find more of them under it.

One of these days, I need to remember to ask my brother if he knows where they all came from, and why my parents got them! Or maybe my mother might remember.

Now, what am I to do with all the tires I dragged out?

Why, drag them back again, of course. 😀

The stack on the left is covering that bar that’s sticking out of the ground, so no one will accidentally hurt themselves on it. Those tires all have rims. The others are by the window so the cats can still get in through the opening. The ones lying flat have no rims, so they can potentially provide critter shelter.

Yeah. I’m a suck.

I am keeping a fair bit of the maple I cut. I’m sure I will be able to find something I can make with them! 🙂

There is still a small window at the end of the shack that needs to be fixed. It’s made up of 4 squares of glass, framed by a + of wood in the middle. One of the three squares is gone, but I have yet to find it on the ground, so I don’t know if it has broken or not. I’m just assuming it’s broken, since I saw the cat that jumped through it.

Tomorrow is going to be our last warmish day for quite some time, so I’m hoping to be able to get that done. I might end up just boarding that one up completely. We’ll see.

That’s assuming my body is up to it. I’m feeling pretty sore right now! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Fall clean up: surprises in the junk pile

Little by little, I had been working my way towards the junk pile. With a litter of kittens living in it, it was not as high on the priority list. Still, I’d been clearing access to it, and had even gone digging into it to find scrap pieces of wood.

The junk pile is actually a wood pile, with lots of junk around it, too. The wood had been neatly stacked and covered with tarps, which have long since torn up and degraded, which means the wood at the top has a lot of rot happening, but the further down it goes, the better the shape of the wood.

Unfortunately, in sorting through the pieces to find the least rotten ones, I also discovered that many were also full of nails, screws or staples. I’d set those aside to deal with another time. With having to go through it so much more today, and having to set aside so many pieces, “another time” was today!

While trying to get at the wood to find better pieces, I ended up having to move the remains of old tarps to access it, and finally had to move the grey tarp that was draped across the end of the pile.

That was my first surprise.

It turned out to be huge!

I then had to remove the even more torn up orange tarp, though I found another, smaller orange one (it actually looks more like the remains of a larger tarp). There are also the remains of a blue tarp on the pile of wood, but it’s so disintegrated, I didn’t even try to dig it out, yet.

I also finally dug out the yellow tarp I was seeing just bits and pieces of. This one was so brittle, I could hear it cracking as I moved it.

When it came time to do something with the wood I’d set aside, I was a bit at a loss. I didn’t want to just make a pile on the ground. I also wanted to stack it in suck a way that no critters would hurt themselves on all the nails and such.

After thinking about it for a bit, I went over to the garden shed and hunted through the stuff we’d piled around it while cleaning out the maple grove.

I ended up bringing over an old metal bed frame – one of three I found in the maple grove. It has metal slats held in place with springs, so I put the longest boards I placed the first few boards in such a way that none of the weight was on the slats. After that, I layered the pieces in such a way that all the pointy bits were facing down or tucked away somehow. Critters can still get under it, without the risk of scratching themselves on rusty nails.

Once the rotted and dangerous pieces were stacked, I started to pull up the disintegrating orange tarp that was mostly on the side, tangled in the things that had been leaned against it to keep it from blowing away in the wind.

That’s when I started to see wheels.

By the time I was done, I’d pulled out all of these.

That’s a metal dump truck in there! Too bad it is so rusted out. The paint is coming off in chunks, too.

I think these might have belonged to one of my nephews.

All of my nephews are adults now.

I ended up tucking them part way under the pile of rotted wood, to partially cover them. I’ll figure out what to do with them, another time.

As I was pulling those out, I also found this…

A rather large white tail deer antler! The discolouring shows the parts that were in contact with debris that would have gotten wet, regularly.

While I was working, I was eventually able to get closer to a tree stump than before. Which is when I noticed something odd.

There were nails in the stump!

Looking closer, I could see the board on the ground. Assuming that was what the nails had been holding in the past, I’m wondering if maybe this had been a platform bird feeder at some point? It’s too high to be a seat, and too small to be much use as a table.

Once I’d done as much clearing as I was going to today, I put the partial tarp that was still useful over the wood pile, having thrown out the torn up one. Then I spread out the big grey tarp.

I’m not sure it’s actually a tarp. It might be a canopy cover of some sort. Whatever it was made for, it’s really big! It’s unfortunate it was left out the way it was, and got all torn up by the elements.

I ended up folding it up and setting it aside. It’s not much use at full size, but it’s big enough that, folded in quarters, I might actually find a use for it for one more winter, before tossing it.

At some point, I want to finish cleaning up the junk around the wood, then go through the wood itself to sort out the rotten pieces from the ones that are still useful.

Somewhere in there is a space big enough for Butterscotch to have a nest for her and her babies. I’m curious to see it!

The Re-Farmer

Clean Up: spruce grove perimeter, by the Saskatoons

One of the clean up goals that got shifted back a year, due to my husband’s hospitalization and other issues last year, was to clear the spruce grove. Not all of it; parts of it will be left overgrown to shelter critters. I do want to get most of it cleared. This will be a multi-year project, but at the very least, I want to get the perimeter done.

That was supposed to include clearing around and into the junk pile, but now that we know Butterscotch’s kittens are in there, that will wait.

We never did get a chance to clear things out to reach the Saskatoon bushes near the junk pile, but I still wanted to get that done so we can reach them, and the chokecherry trees beside them.

Here is how it looked when I started.

The spruce tree in the foreground is still alive, while the tree on the left of the photo is dead, as is the one by the junk pile on the right of the photo.

(Also, I set up containers for kibble and water for the babies, and yes, they’ve already discovered them!)

There had been quite a few bushes and spirea at the base of the live spruce tree, and crowding the horseradish, that I cleared away a couple of nights ago (it was too dark for photos at the time), so a start has already been made in this area.

The first thing to do was cut away the elms that have been growing in the old wine barrel planter that used to be such a favorite place for the kittens to nap and play in. Then I began working a bit towards the junk pile. Not too far, though, as the spirea in there creates places for them to hide in.

I’d forgotten about that tire rim that was buried in there… 😀

After moving the tire rim into the old wine barrel planter, I discovered something else.

Those are concrete blocks, buried in the soil!

When we first moved here, the wine barrel on its side in the bushes was intact enough that the cats would sit on it. It was another favorite spot for them, until it rotted out enough that the staves collapsed! 😀

It looks like the tire rim was placed on top of the blocks, then the barrel on top of the tire rim until it eventually got knocked over. Unlike the planter, this was a whole barrel, not one cut in half to be a planter. I don’t know what it was set up for.

I’ve left the blocks for now, and did not clear further around the remains of the barrel. I figure this makes a nice spot for kittens to play in!

I didn’t want to go any closer to the junk pile – I don’t want Butterscotch to move her babies! – so I started working around the other side. Some of this area, I’d cleared before, but it doesn’t take long for spirea to spread out again!

Here is how it looked when I stopped for the day.

I would have liked to continue, but even working in the shade, it was just getting too hot.

The Saskatoon bushes are still loaded with – now dried – berries. I’m sure the birds will enjoy what we could not harvest. The chokecherry trees in there should be ready for picking fairly soon. It is likely too late in the season to make a difference this year, but clearing up around them will likely result in better growing and fruiting conditions, too.

Here is another view.

For this photo, I’m standing near the horseradish and facing right into the Saskatoon bushes, with a few chokecherry branches hanging over from the side.

This is how it looks from further in.

All those skinny little trunks you see on the right half of the photo are chokecherries and Saskatoon bushes.

When I worked in here previously, I’d cleared away the spirea up to a spruce tree with an extension cord hanging down from it. So most of this area had already been done. I only worked closest to the Saskatoon bushes and chokecherry trees for now. Eventually, I want to clear all the spirea out of here. There are wild roses growing not far from here, and I would like to encourage those to spread, instead.

As for this area near the edge of the spruce grove, I want to keep it clear of undergrowth. It’s one of the areas I want to eventually set up a bench and create a little haven, near the stone cross my late brother set up at the very edge of the grove. If possible, this would be an area I’d like to encourage moss to grow as a ground cover.

It was a fairly small area that got cleared, but there was a lot in it! I was able to pull most of the spirea out by the roots. With some of them, there was a LOT of root coming up with them! The topsoil here is decades of decomposed spruce needles, so it’s quite loose, making it much easier to get those roots out.

Eventually, we will have the tree company that cleared our roof and power lines come back and take out the two dead spruce trees here. We were supposed to get that done this spring, or at least get the chipping done, but we ended up spending all our money fixing vehicles and replacing appliances. We probably won’t be able to get it done this year at all.

Which gives me more time to clean up the area, which will make it easier for them to get at the dead trees.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer