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Winter, already?

So here we are at December 3rd. Usually at this point we’re starting to get some snow that will actually stay and everyone starts thinking holiday thoughts. Well, we’re ahead of schedule on the snow part, that is for certain.

If you recall from my November Snow post we got dumped on several times in November. That didn’t stop. The week of my birthday it also got really cold. For those of you who aren’t familiar with “really cold” let me put some numbers on that. It dropped to -28C (-18F) one night and temperatures below -20C were common that week.

The following week (last week actually) it got really warm; back up to freezing and it hovered around there for quite a while. We’ve had the gamut of precipitation, but the vast majority of it has been wet heavy snow. I went out snow shoeing again and I have some lovely pictures for you after a particularly sticky snow fall.

Here we have a picture of the homestead.

Clearing those solar panels has become a daily chore. Probably nine days out of ten I get up in the morning and have to scrape the snow off so we can get a measly few percentages added back into the batteries. With it snowing so much, obviously it’s been cloudy, which means you don’t get much solar power on those days. We’ve been running the generator regularly to keep the batteries topped up.

As we head up the hill, you can see lots of trees bent over with all of the weight of the snow on them.

For a brief second we had a small patch of blue sky. If I didn’t have a picture, no one would believe it.

The ongoing snow tunnel.

Everyone loves the picture with the spruce trees covered in gobs of wet snow.

For contrast, here’s a really big one. It’s not suffering as much.

Big white pine.

More snow tunnels.

This picture will give you some idea of how much snow has fallen here, based on the depth of the pile on the bench.

Some of the snow has melted with the warmer week, but we just seem to get more so I think it’s pretty much equalized. These next two pictures are from the area at the top of the hill where I did all the tree cutting this summer. We were supposed to do a big bonfire in November to clean it up, but with the rain and snow and other obligations we didn’t get to it. Hopefully we can do it before the end of March because after that daytime fire restrictions will apply.

Pour trees. I got a lot of snow down my neck shaking snow off trees like this.

Looking up at the sky.

Finally, the sun was trying to peak through the clouds. It never quite made it, but it was making an effort.

In case you think we must be sad and depressed about this, here is a picture of a happy Kat (Fizgig included as well).

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Dave’s now forty-five

Time for a parody. This one goes to the tune “Bras Size 45 by Ivor Biggun“.

Dave is forty-five, Dave is forty-five,
Dave is forty-five, Dave is forty-five

Well today is a real beauty, partying with my cutie
We are here to celebrate the year that’s just gone by
It’s the twenty-first of November, a date you should remember
I’m going to eat some cake with a gemini

And now that I am forty-five, and I can jump and jive
And when I stop moving, bits of hair keep wobbling about
Kat said I drive her crazy, but I’m no Patrick Swazye
It’s time we had some fun now, get on up and head out

Hug me my sweet little chick, hug me, hug me
Here we go, she loves this schtick, hug me, hug me, hug me
Hug me and get some kicks, I’m six feet tall and we just click
Hug me, hug me, hug me…

Dave is forty-five, Dave is forty-five

November Snow

It’s November. It’s been over a month since my last post. Time to update everyone where we are at.

The biggest change is the amount of white stuff we have lying on the ground. It all started on Oct 17th.

That was just a brief preview and it didn’t stick around, but eleven days later we had a significant amount of snow drop.

Need to make sure we include the picture of the spruce trees all covered with snow. People love that stuff 😛

Yes, our pond looks a bit different too. During a dry spell earlier I went in at the beckoning of my feline named partner and cut down the vast majority of the dead trees. It makes it look much more open now. If we cleaned up all of the dead wood lying around and kept the snow off the pond, we could probably skate on it during the winter. That would probably involve acquiring ice skates too.

Some of that October snow melted, but it never disappeared. We’ve had several snowings since then and it just seems to keep coming. This was what it looked like on Nov 11th.

We experienced a rather interesting snow overhang coming off our roof as well that day.

It didn’t stay like that, but long enough for me to get the picture.

The ground isn’t very frozen where the snow is lying on top of it, which usually helps to melt the snow, but we have so much of it now it would take quite a few days of warm sun to melt it. That’s not likely to happen as we are heading into the colder months.

Today I was out snow shoeing and took these pictures.

You may have noticed a common theme in all of those previous pictures: not a whole lot of sunshine. Yes, we have been using the generator quite a bit due to all of the cloudy days. We also put up our big plastic shield across the outside of the front of the trailer. Additionally, we put plastic over the windows on the inside. Here you can see Kat hard at work with that task.

In more food related news, we have started brewing our own kombucha now.

Some family members gave us the brewing vat a while back and we finally have it up and running after we acquired a kombucha SCOBY. We’ve done five or six batches now and it is working really nicely. Saves quite a bit of money buying kombucha from the store too.

I also made a couple of apple pies back in October, it being apple season and all.

Last year I made dutch apple pies which have no topping. This year I went for the crumble top. You can’t go wrong with crumble top and from the sighs of ecstasy being emitted from Kat I’d say it turned out pretty good.

Stay tuned for more exciting action adventures in Maynooth, Ontario.

Earthship work at Dash & Y.P.’s

Last year we helped out a number of times at another local Earthship owned by our friends Dash and YP.

Here is a picture of the front.

Now this Earthship is made using domes. It’s modeled more off the simple survival model, rather than the global model. The roof for this is quite a bit different.

We filled in between the domes with dirt, then we covered that with a vapour barrier. The next layer was 10″ (25cm) of rigid insulation which was then covered by a waterproof membrane made of EPDM rubber. The last layer is a concrete slab to cover it all. The slab is used to provide a nice surface on which you can catch water to fill your cisterns.

Well, last Thursday (Oct 11), Dash & YP got a crew together and we poured the slab on top of the roof. Everything was prepared, the forms were made and the metal reinforcement put in place. Here are some pictures of that.

Now when they said they were getting a concrete pump truck, I was imagining the kind with the huge boom attached to it that would hang over what you were pouring, so I was surprised when this showed up.

It’s a similar idea to the boom truck, but small scale and no big crane. You dump the concreted into the hopper at the back of the pump and it pushes it through the attached hose to where you need it to go. A little lower tech, but entirely sufficient for what was needed. Probably cost less too.

Here you can see the hose reaching to the far corner where we started. The truck had seemingly a mile of hose and we only used about four lengths of it so I would imagine that the pump can push the concrete through quite the distance of hose, if you need it to.

Once we got started, it seemed to me a lot like frosting a cake. You squirt out a bunch of concrete frosting and then spread it around into a nice arrangement.

The rate of flow through the pipe is pretty quick so you need to be on the ball as each section fills up quickly.

It didn’t take us very long to fill the whole thing. As we got closer to the end, we would remove sections of the pipe to make things easier. It’s really heavy duty hose, I’d guess around 6″ (15cm) in diameter and you don’t want it piling up or getting kinked.

Voila, finished roof slab.

I do have to mention that the concrete guys were very dubious about this. Questions like, “you want to do what?” and “do you realize you’ll be adding around 40,000 lbs (18,000kg) of weight to the roof?” came up.

I should also mention that of all of the concrete that was used to build this structure, this roof slab is probably one of the few exceptions where using hemp-crete is acceptable. I talked about hemp-crete and the dangers of using it in my Thermal/Solar Heating and Cooling post. In this case, however, the roof slab is not adding any thermal mass to the structure. In fact it is insulated away from the main mass of the building, so using hemp-crete, if you so desired, would only add more insulation. What I don’t know is how porous it is, so you would probably need to add a sealer to it the same way you do regular concrete.

In addition to the roof, there were some interior footings that we poured as well.

Dash and YP hadn’t originally planned to build the interior glass wall that separates the living areas from the green house. They still might not, but they decided to pour footings for those walls in case they change their mind.

We had some left over concrete at the end and we used it to do pack-out between the tires in the interior. That’s where you fill in the cavities between the tires to build the wall out so it is smooth.

All in all, a very successful day.