Things have been rather hectic the past couple of days, to the point that I even missed yesterday’s critter of the day photo – I ended up driving my mother to the emergency and staying with her until she got the all clear to go home. She is fine, but she was scared about some chest pains. They never found what caused the pains, but once again, her heart is checking out just fine. They couldn’t identify what was causing the pains, so she had to go a regular doctor to start that process. :-/

In the middle of this, the girls took down a branch from the Chinese Elm in front of the kitchen window. The outside cats are going to miss their last easy access to the roof!

Getting it down took some doing. While one person used the extended pruning saw, the other pulled on a rope that was slung around the branch. This way, when the branch finally fell, it wouldn’t land on the roof, but get pulled away.

It worked. It landed right on my mother’s fancy lilac bush, but when I checked it later, there wasn’t a single broken branch on it! Very flexible branches!

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First ones

Yesterday, the girls needed to pick up stuff not available locally, so we made a trip into the city.

While we were out, a wonderful, long rain came through our region.

We could actually see the difference in the trees between when we drove into the city, and when we drove back!

The only down side is that we had also been getting strong winds. Enough to blow over the bird feeder stand in its summer location. The hanging feeder fell apart, but thankfully, it just pops back together easily. I was needing to refill it, anyhow.

I also finally saw birds using the bird bath, in its now location. So I’m happy. 🙂

I had nothing I needed to get in the city myself, but of course I was checking things out. Especially the garden centres. One of our goals is to plant food trees, so I’ve been checking out the varieties of apples – I’d like something other than crab apples! – that can grow in our region, as well as anything else that produces fruit, nut or berry.

I ended up buying our first food trees.


Also known as haskap, these berries were on my list. I’ve never actually had one before, but they can be used like blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Part of why I included them on my list was due to their extreme hardiness. These babies can withstand -45C temperatures! They are also an early producer, with ripe berries (after the second year) by mid-June.

This is a variety that needs male and female plants to pollinate, and when I saw there was only one of each left, I grabbed them. We won’t expect berries in their first year, but we should have plenty, next year.

What we now have to do is figure out where to plant them. They require sun and shade, can grow 5-10 ft high, and should be planted about 4 feet apart. We thought of taking out more of that spirea by the storage house, and planting them near the grapes, but with the size and spacing needed, I’m moving away from that idea. They could be planted in one of my newly mulched beds in the south yard. They will also be easy to water, there.

Something to figure out over the next couple of days. 🙂

I’m really looking forward to seeing how these grow!

The Re-Farmer

Critter(s) of the Day: video compilation

Not a photo of the day, today, but a video.

Yesterday, after moving Butterscotch’s babies out of her most recent hiding place and putting them with Beep Beep’s babies, I check on them several times throughout the day.

I also got some adorable videos.

The babies were clearly quite content with the set up. Beep Beep was also quite good with all the babies.

Butterscotch, on the other hand, was not happy.

She and Beep Beep don’t get along at times, but I hoped her own kittens would be enough for her to make the effort. There’s lots of room in that cat cave.

At my last visit with them, however, I changed my mind. I was able to pick Butterscotch up briefly, but she was very nervous and jumped down. Not before I could feel that her teats were engorged. The kittens were fine, which means Beep Beep must have been nursing them, too, because Butterscotch sure hadn’t been.

The last thing I want is for her to end up with mastitis, or lose her milk. So I put her babies back into the box nest, so she could nurse them in peace.

Ah, well. The kittens are getting more active as they get bigger, and will be able to cuddle and play together soon enough.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: it’s for the birds, and planning ahead

Today, I continued my spring clean up around the yard. Now that we have yard equipment in the side of the garage we’d stored the foam insulation from around the house last summer, this year I’ve put them into the barn for storage.

I’d love to empty that barn so we can actually use it.

All in good time!

For now, I went back to the jasmine bed, mulched it with straw and began saturating the mulch with water. Though we did get rain recently, it wasn’t enough and everything is still bone dry.

While the hose was running there, I decided to move the unused bird bath from beside the storage house to the flower bed by the bird feeder. I found a block to use as a foundation and used a hoe to dig down and level a spot for it, first. Once the bird bath was in place, I moved the bird feeder stand to its summer location. Over the next month or so, the flowers should hide at least part of the bases.

That bird bath needs a thorough scrubbing and re-painting. We shall see if that becomes a job for this year, or next. Or maybe we’ll get a new one.

I’m hoping the water is far enough away from the platform feeder that falling seeds will not become a problem. When the lilac beside it is in full leaf, it should provide some shade. This should slowly become a nice little bird garden, I hope. 🙂

The birds were quick to come back to the feeding station, but I haven’t seen them checking out the water, yet.

I also cleared out the bricks that I took out when rebuilding the jasmine bed. I have decided what I will be using them for.

This is the window to the old part basement, where we used to throw logs in for the wood burning furnace. The roof that keeps precipitation from leaking into the basement is on a hinge, but I haven’t decided on how I will get it to stay all the way up while I work. If I really need to, I can also remove it until the job is done. The cat kibble is under there to keep it out of the weather. There are chunks of brick and blown in leaves, but otherwise I think it’s just dirt. The “retaining walls” built up on the sides are slowly getting unstable.

The plan is to clear all that out and redo it with a brick “floor” under the window. Which will also be a good time to get the foam insulation out of the opening and put the metal mesh window over it for the summer. The wood frame for that is rotting, though, so I hope to scrounge up the materials to redo that as well.

For now, I’ve just brought over the bricks and filled the wheel barrow with water. Partly to get rid of any dirt and whatnot stuck to them, but also to wash away any ants or other leggy critters that might get transferred over with the bricks. I’d seen some tiny red ants when I dug the bricks out, and some were still there when I moved them to the wheel barrow, so I want to make sure to get rid of those or any eggs that might be attached. I might not get back to this until tomorrow, though. It’s already gotten very hot out there – we are at 23C right now – and this area is in full sun.

That reminds me. Time to check on the kitties in the sun room again!

The Re-Farmer

Shingle damage

We noticed some damaged shingles yesterday, so I made a point of checking it out and looking for any other damage while doing my rounds this morning.

This is what we saw when we came home yesterday.


You can see the patch job above, where some shingles had flipped up. One of my brothers had fixed it, and now I wonder if these shingles came loose due to unseen damage done by feet while the patch was being worked on. The roof is old enough that it wouldn’t take much.

I also found this.


It looks like a shingle got flipped up.

I could not find any other damage like this elsewhere, though I cannot see parts of the roof from the ground. I’ll need to ask my daughters to check, from the second floor.

The North side of the old kitchen roof, however, is looking pretty black, getting darker closer to the eaves.

We can patch things up as needed, but the reality is, we need a new roof.

Plus new flooring.

Plus all the walls need to be redone.

Plus the wiring needs to be updated in places, and simply increased throughout the house.

What this house really needs is a total renovation.

Which would basically happen if we win the lottery or something.

Until then, patch jobs it is.

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: wood chip pile and jasmine bed

I was able to tackle two areas in the East yard today. The first was planned; I decided to leave the remains of the wood chip pile where it was, and spread it out along Northwest corner of the spruce grove.


Some of the pile got moved to the cross, as the pile at the other end didn’t have enough chips to extend that far. This will make mowing around this corner easier. Eventually, I will be clearing further into this area, but that will have its own natural mulch of leaves and spruce needles.


This side is where they chipped the branches from the 2 big maples directly onto the ground. There is more cleanup needed here, plus that dead tree will need to come down at some point, so I wasn’t too particular about how much this area was spread out.

I have some thoughts about that dead spruce tree. I could have it cut flush with the ground. I could have the stump leveled at about a foot and a half high and use it as a seat, or put boards across it to turn it into a bench. I could have it cut a bit higher and put a table top on it, then add benches or seats around it. Or I could have it cut to a couple of feet, hollow it out and turn it into a planter.

Feel free to let me know what you think about these ideas in the comments. 🙂

Once that was done, I finally got around to removing the foam insulation we put around the house in the fall. That got me eyeballing this odd little flower bed my mother made where she had transplanted a jasmine.


This is what it looked like after removing the foam insulation; I had tossed the little plastic fence things in there, just to get them out of the way.

It’s falling apart and, when I try to water the jasmine by the steps, the water just runs downhill, past that piece of pressure treated wood and the miscellaneous pieces of brick. I had a couple of other pieces of pressure treated wood, as well as other bricks. I figured I could use both to build up a little retaining wall, bricks as a foundation for the wood, then more bricks on the wood to create a higher wall.

The first thing to do, of course, is take out the bricks that were already there.


From where I was pulling things out, I get the impression that a bed was built up around the jasmine by the stairs when it was transplanted, and then it was extended when the second plant (I am not sure if it’s another jasmine; I don’t think so) was added.

I wanted a rectangular bed, since I was using the pieces of wood for walls, so I started digging it out to create level trenches to put them in.


I kept finding more bricks!


Using one of the pieces of wood as a guide, I began putting bricks into the trench as a foundation, leveling them off by eye. This is not intended to be permanent, so I’m not too worried about getting anything exact, but it will be there a few years, I’m sure, so I still want to get it solid.

After reaching the steps, I discovered a bit of a problem. Even using a block of concrete that was already there, the length of the bed was greater than the combined length of the wood I was using. I did have another piece that turned out to be just wide enough to fit, but…




I mean, I could cut it to size with a chainsaw (now that I have one that works), but it’s quite rotten and…. nah. Not happy with it.


So I moved the end in a few inches, instead.

Once the brick foundation and wood pieces were in place, I used the soil I’d taken out to fill in the gaps.


Once that was done and stamped down, I realized I didn’t need to make it any higher.

I will likely need to bring in more soil for the outside of the bed, to tamp down and make sure the pieces of wood don’t just fall off their brick foundation. That can be done little by little, as needed, over the summer. I will also be mulching it with straw, when I start working on the bale.

So I now have to figure out what to do with the bricks. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Critter(s) of the Day: sleepy kitties

I still haven’t had a chance to process a new batch of critter pictures from the living room camera, so here is a kitty picture for you to enjoy! 🙂

When I went into the sun room this morning, Beep Beep actually came out from her nesting box to say hello. This made for an opportunity to get a picture of her kittens without them being half hidden by mama.

Such adorable snoozies!!!

Butterscotch, on the other hand, came out from under the plastic couch against the wall.

Her nesting box was empty.

She had moved her kittens to a corner by the window. Long ago, I’d put an old seat pad on the dresser I use for tools for the cats to sit on, but they kept knocking it off. Eventually, it got knocked into that corner, where I couldn’t reach it without moving furniture. There is a homemade plant stand there as a shelf, and the pad was on top of its base.

That’s what the kittens were on.

Unfortunately, there is also broken glass from something the cats had knocked off a shelf back there that I can’t clean up until we’re able to empty the room for a total cleaning.

I ended up shifting some things around, got to the corner, managed to get the plant stand out, scooped the kittens into a little sling I made out of my shirt to carry them all at once, and moved them back to the box nest.

Butterscotch was not impressed.

Tough beans, mama. Your babies are going to be socialized this time!

As I was putting things back, and moving the homemade plant stand into the corner, I got what felt like a sliver. Checking it, however, I pulled out a little shard of glass. !!! It was a small wound, though, so I continued on.

Next thing I realized, I was leaving drops of blood all over the place. :-/

I am going to have to find some way to clean up that glass before a cat gets hurt. 😦 They don’t normally go under there, but if Butterscotch is going to be trying to move her kittens, this could be a problem.

This isn’t the first time she tried to move them in the last day.

Yesterday, it was getting very warm in the sun room, but the old kitchen stays nice and cool. I was going to open the window in the storm door between the two rooms for some air circulation, but it wouldn’t budge. So I just left the doors into the old kitchen open and got the ceiling fan going in the sun room. I shut things down at the end of the day, but when my daughter went in later to do the cat litter, Butterscotch was at the door to the old kitchen and even sort of growled at her.

Then she heard the mewling coming from the wrong direction.

One kitten had been moved into the old kitchen, into an area by the old wood cook stove that is hard to get at. She found the kitten and had to move a bunch of things to get at it, then put it back into the box nest with its siblings.

After that, she did a head count of both litters, to make sure no others were missing!

Kitties, kitties, everywhere

Time for kitten pictures! 😀


I just love that little skunk stripe on the tuxedo’s nose!

Later, I was able to handle and cuddle each one of them.


I got quite a laugh at the timing of this photo, while Beep Beep was stretching her paw out.

I was able to cuddle the tabby (tortie?) in front for a bit. As I was putting it back, I was just in time to catch the orange tabby he was on top of, as it suddenly rolled off the blanket!


This morning, I had what has increasingly become a rare sighting of Doom Guy. I was able to pet him briefly, but he was much more interested in the food. Bob is around more, but very antsy of late, and not willing to stay still enough for much pets. I also saw Rosencrantz getting some food. She almost ran away when she saw me, but I didn’t try to come any closer, so she went back to the food. I hope her kittens are doing well.

It seems really strange to be outside and not have cats all over the place, all the time! Once the babies are big enough, that’ll change, of course, big time! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Clean up: south yard, mulching first bed

Today we were able to head out and do some more aggressive yard work, and I am happy as a clam!

I decided to start on an area in the South yard that we had already started to mulch with leaves in the fall.

Here are the before pictures.


This is the bed that runs between the people gate and the vehicle gate.


I even considered mulching all the way to the fence, as it’s difficult to mow in there, but decided against it for now.

My mother planted some bright yellow flowers in here that self-seed. They did rather well last year, but I was pulling a lot of Virginia creeper out of it, near the Chinese elm. Also, being self seeding, the flowers are sort of spreading in an uncontrolled way.

Here is what it looks like now.


On this end, my mother’s yellow flowers did rather poorly. The Korean lilac shaded it too much, blocking both sun and what little rain we had. It was being taken over by crab grass.

I’m pretty sure that maple is self seeded.


I could see the flowers were already starting to come up, and I think they will find their way through the mulch. If they can do that, however, the Virginia creeper will do so, just as enthusiastically. With the mulch in place, they should be easier to pull up.

We put a big dent in the pile of wood chips in the process! This was before…


This is what it looks like now.


The next area I plan to use these on is on the other side of the sidewalk, between another Chinese elm and the willow that got trimmed. There are white lilacs there that I’d cleaned up around and pruned last year; while there is some kind of greenery growing near the base of the Chinese elm, there were no other flowers or anything. We should be able to finish off the pile of chips in that area. Anything left on the ground where the pile is now will be raked out as mulch, right where it is.

I also got an after picture of the maples removed from overhanging the roof. This is the before photo I had posted previously…

This is what it looks like, now.

That one tree in there that’s leaning waaayyyy over is just funny!

I’m hoping to get that junk around that old shed hauled out of the yard this summer. First, though, we need to get the straw bale used up. It’s rather in the way, where it is now.

I’m so happy to be able to get out and start on all this again! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Critter(s) of the Day: here, there and… not there anymore

I’ve got wormy baby pictures for you!

Butterscotch’s babies have been easier to get pictures of; they are old enough that Butterscotch will come out more often.


This is the first picture I’ve been able to get of Beep Beep’s babies, without having to try and get around Mom.

I admit, I did quite a double take when I uploaded the photo and saw that one kitten’s nose.

No. It is not blood or a wound. It is just skin and fur colouration.


This next picture was actually taken the evening we had the trees taken down.


I saw Rosencrantz looking very agitated, so I had to check on them.

Note that there is only three in the picture.

I took this next photo, the next morning, while putting the cat kibble out.


Alas. They are gone. 😦

I admit to being part of the problem; while I tried to keep my distance, she was not happy with anyone coming near the dog house. All the noise and activity while the trees were being cleared – especially when they moved the equipment into the south yard – was just too much for her.

I think they are now under the storage house. I’m hoping she found something to serve as a cat cave, because it’s mostly open under there.

It may be weeks before we see this litter again. 😦

Ah, well. Such is life.

Speaking of which…

Our other outside cats have all but disappeared, too! I saw Bob last night, but have seen Doom Guy only in passing (as I write this, I can see him way up on a tree branch). I haven’t seen Big Jim or Rolando Moon in days. In fact, we’ve been seeing the visiting toms more than our own resident cats of late.

I get that, now that the weather is better, the young males in particular will be wanting to explore. It’s just that a lot of the cats we were feeding last winter did the same, and most have not returned.

So while we now have 12 new kittens, we have less adult cats outside. Next year, we can expect much the same to happen again; some will stay, some will disappear.

I’ll just have to keep taking lots of pictures. 🙂

The Re-Farmer