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May 2020 and Where Have We Been

It’s been so long since my last post most people must imagine I have abandoned my blog. My last post was back in February so this is a long time coming.

Aside from the world-wide craziness of COVID-19, not much has changed here. Living in a trailer in a forest makes it easy to stay separated, not to mention the forest air is great for your health.

There are a few things that have happened in the last three months worth mentioning so why don’t we get started.

Here is something completely random. It’s a slice of bread that totally looks like a bunny.

That bread became known as the Easter bread.

Moving on, here we have a picture of the metal storage cabinet I built over at the metal shop.

It didn’t turn out perfect, but it does serve its purpose. Actually I haven’t been out to the metal shop in several weeks. We don’t exactly have a plethora of clients lined up with tasks for us to complete at the moment so I am concentrating my work efforts in other areas, which I will get to in a moment.

Back in April we had a number of wind storms blow through and there are always casualties of the tree kind. This was a big maple tree that got blown over. I think it may have been hit by another big tree that was blown over a few years ago and that may have weakened the roots.

As you can see, it didn’t snap. The whole root ball came undone. This was a fully live tree as well, so cutting it up and hauling out the pieces was quite the job. The base of the tree was around 46cm (18″).

Another casualty was this balsam fir. Unfortunately, it fell right on top of our vehicle tent. It didn’t crush the structure, but one of the cross poles was severely bent.

I don’t recommend working with a chainsaw at 11pm at night in high winds. It’s not a very pleasurable experience. We still have the metal skeleton from our previous vehicle tent so we can easily replace the bent pole, but we will need to order a new skin for it as it now sports several holes in it.

I am currently working on a programming job. In payment for this job, I got a new laptop, because without that I would have had a really difficult time working on my old one that only runs on its battery. I got this sexy new one from MSI.

If you ever wanted to see what the inside looks like, here you go.

If you’re wondering why I opened the case it’s because I upgraded the memory in the computer. It shipped with 16GB but I bought 32GB and replace what was in there. Yes, you do need to break the factory seal to do that, but so would any technician doing the same job.

Here is a picture of it all up and running for the first time.

I will say I am not a fan of Windows 10, to put it mildly. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is the worst OS Microsoft has released yet, and that saying a lot. Unfortunately, I need it for my job, so I spent the entire first weekend after receiving the laptop, turning off and disabling as many apps and bogus features as possible.

Another bonus to getting the new laptop is that the packaging provides an ideal cat bed.

The other job I have is working at the blueberry farm down the road from us. I started back there around the end of April. It’s pretty easy to stay separated from others when there are only three of us on the property and 81 hectares (200 acres) to lose yourself in.

Here is a picture from my “office”.

It’s a big office, so I took another one from another perspective.

There is quite a bit to do so I’m kept busy there on the farm. Then I come home in the evening and work on my programming job. My days are pretty full and it makes it difficult to find the time to do things like post on your blog 😛

Spring is in full swing here. The leaves are starting to come out, the birds are all singing, the spring peepers are loud and clear during the evening, the black flies have arrived and the mosquitoes will be joining them soon, I’m sure. Kat’s flower garden is ripe with colours as well.

Here are some daffodils.

And we have these little purple guys too. They’re grape hyacinths.

Soon the irises and tulips will be opening as well.

Here are some poplar trees along our road leafing out in glorious sunshine.

We’re also working on our firewood stash for next winter. We have quite the pile of wood in our driveway now that needs to be processed.

Fortunately, once we get it all ready to split, my blueberry farm employer said he would bring the tractor over with the splitter on it. This will save quite a bit of work splitting it by hand, especially that fresh maple.

Well, I think that is all for now. Hopefully it won’t be another three months before I post again. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

What’s going on in 2020

It’s now passed mid February, 2020 and I haven’t posted anything. Better get on that.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot going on. Well, there is one big thing. Together with some friends, we built a shop and I’m now working in metal fabrication as a new business venture. It’s quite the shift in careers, I’ll tell you that. Learning to weld isn’t something you pick up in a week. I will say that it’s all very new and exciting.

So instead of sitting around at home waiting for spring to arrive, I spend much of my time over here.

It’s not a big shop, only 600 sq ft (~56 sq meters) so we’ve had to spend a lot of our time building things to stay organized. Just about everything is on wheels so we can move things around the shop to make the best use of the space. A few of the tools we bought new, but we also have numerous things that were used/donated to us.

It’s a good thing, for me anyway, that we do have a number of shop projects to complete as it gives me a chance to learn on things that aren’t going out to a customer. For instance, in that first picture above, on top of the work table you see a big metal green contraption. For those not initiated, it’s called a metal break and you use it to bend sheet metal into the shapes you need. That one didn’t come with a stand, so I built one and we put wheels on it so now we can move it around the shop like everything else. Next, I’ll be working on some cabinets for our tools.

We’ve only had one minor job so far, but our advertising is just getting underway so hopefully we’ll be making a bit of money soon. My farming job won’t start up again until the spring so any income we can manage is welcomed at this point. We just opened the shop last month so with any luck, the business will pick up as the word spreads.

Don’t worry that all of the stuff from the shop will be produced by a newbie. The friends we are in this venture with have several years of experience so they’re the ones showing me the ropes, as it were. Maybe that should be ‘rods’ not ‘ropes’ in this case.

In any event, you can check out our website over at Hastings Highlands Worker Co-op and if you need some metal work done, feel free to give us a ring.

End of 2019

It’s been too long, I know. Somehow I missed the entirety of November without posting and we’re getting close to the end of December with the same situation. Time to rectify that.

I know there are a lot of places around Ontario that seem to be lacking in snow. Every time we went down to visit family in the city they didn’t have any snow. Well, if you’re feeling blue from having a green holiday, here are some snowy pictures from our property to ease your mind.

It was Sunday, November 3rd and I woke up and said to myself, “Today would be a great day to put up the snow shield.” So, I did… and at 4pm this happened.

That was great timing on my part. I should also mention that after this, we never really got back to total bare ground. We came close one day after a warm spell and some rain, but it cooled off and snowed again right after that. We even had a night where it reached -25C (-13F), and that was in mid November. Fortunately, we had already finished all of our winter preparations.

Here is a picture of the morning of Dec 7th.

A nice bit of sunshine coming through the snowy trees. Not bad, but we can do better than that. A week later we had a warm spell. The kind that brings those snow flakes that are really huge and stick to everything. Then night came, it all froze and you wake up to something like this.

Since then, we have had a few sunny days which allowed the trees to shed the snow and recover, somewhat. Snows like that always kill a lot of the smaller trees. Tonight, joy of joys, we’re expecting freezing rain. Won’t that be fun, getting out of our driveway, which has a down-slope down to the road and a 3m (10′) ditch on the far side with no guard rail.

Oh, we love challenges around here 🙂

Stay warm and healthy everyone and we’ll see you in the new year. Unless, of course, I get really ambitions and post again before Wednesday next week.

Autumn Update 2019

It has been a while since I’ve done an update on what is going on here. Getting time to blog has been a bit challenging with the fact that my laptop only runs on battery now. However I decided that today I would do it, no matter how tired I was, so here goes.

First thing I should mention is that I’m working now. It’s only part-time, but I’m helping out at our neighbour’s blueberry farm. Sure, blueberry season has come and gone, but there are a lot of things that need to be done. Building repairs, field maintenance, firewood processing are but a few of the things I have been up to over there. It’s been a whole slew of new things since I started, seeing as my previous work was in software engineering.

Speaking of blueberries, this particular farm cultivates low bush blueberries. Here is a picture of part of the field during the height of the season.

A little interesting fact: did you know that the leaves on blueberry bushes turn red during autumn? I didn’t, but I do now. Here is some proof.

I’m learning lots about blueberries and various pieces of equipment at the farm. It’s quite exciting.

Next we’ll move on to some trailer enhancements that we got around to this year.

It wasn’t done until September, but we now have an eaves trough system for catching water off our roof. Previously we just put some buckets under the eaves to catch the drips when it rains, but that is highly inefficient, the buckets get all dirty after a short time and, of course, you have to empty all of the buckets into your storage container as they fill up.

Well, not any more. Here is our new system under construction.

I built some U shaped pieces of wood that are bolted to the roof rafters. They hold the eaves trough itself, which is a long piece of 3″ (7.6cm) diameter ABS pipe that we had lying around. I cut it in half and glued the pieces together. It’s a bit wobbly when you’re putting it in place, but it seems to work well.

Where the pipe ends at that ring you see in the picture, I attached an elbow to direct the water down at a 45° angle.

When it gets to the bottom of that, it empties into our 1000l (280gal) container. We built a cover for the container so the sun won’t shine on it and make algae grow in the tank. Kat painted it purple.

Here is a shot further back so you can see it all coming together.

We got this up and going just at the right time, as well. Our water tank was getting really low and we really needed to clean it. We emptied it out one weekend and Kat took it to a local coin car wash and used the high pressure hose to clean out all of the sediment that had accumulated in it over the last couple of years.

We put it back together all nice and clean and shortly after that we got some rain. And then we got a little more rain. Our tank was back up to about 1/4 full. Then we had one serious storm over night and when I got up in the morning the tank was full. Good thing I put in that overflow pipe.

We’ve been living off that water since we filled it. We also have disassembled the eaves trough for winter as well. All we did was remove the pipe, unbolt the U-shaped pieces of wood, flip them over and then bolt them back in place so the end that would normally be holding the pipe is now under the roof. We need to do that so we can drop our plastic shield for winter.

In other news, we replaced our old wood stove. Here is a picture of the old one just after we had installed it.

That stove was loaned to us, so we knew we would eventually need to return it, but it also doesn’t burn super efficiently and the newer ones out there do. So we splurged and got a new one.

This one is slightly smaller, but way more efficient and it burns really nicely. Here is the first fire in the new one.

The height and position of the chimney pipe portal was different in the new one so we had to redo the interior pipe. After all that was accomplished, we have been really toasty on the nights where it has dropped below freezing (there have been several). Hopefully, we won’t need to clean the chimney nearly as often with this new stove.

With it being autumn and harvesting season, it’s time to make some pies. Here is an apple one I made.

I made several other kinds (blueberry, pumpkin and pecan) for our Thanksgiving potluck we had with some friends, but unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of those ones. We just ate them 😛

Time to be off and do other things.