Category Archives: General Update

Soggy spring

I would love to say that we have accomplished a whole lot in the last month since I posted, but unfortunately we haven’t. This is largely due to the weather. I think this past May has been the soggiest one on record. Rain is pretty common in May, but it has been rather severe this year.

Our area was pretty lucky in that the worst we had were a few basements where the sub-pump broke and they wet basement floors. Other parts of Ontario and Quebec had full blown evacuations and states of emergency. When you come back to your house after it all resides and find that the water was up to the level of your counter-top in your kitchen, you could say that we had a lot of rain.

My last post was on May 2nd and it wasn’t long after that when things started to get crazy. We had two days of severe rain, then this happened on the 7th.

Yeah, that’s right. It started snowing. This has been known to happen in May, so it wasn’t so much of a big deal, except for the fact that it didn’t stop. I bet you can guess when I took the following picture?

That wasn’t the end of it either. It just kept snowing, right through until the 9th.

You can see that there wasn’t a whole lot of accumulation, but still, three days of snow in May?

Someone needs to turn up the outdoor thermostat.

That wasn’t the end of it either. I think we had a day or two break and then we had two more solid days of rain. When I say solid, I mean around 60mm (2.5 inches) of rain. That number may seem small, but if I put that in equivalent snow terms that would be 60cm (2 feet) of snow. It rained A LOT!

Those were the two heaviest days, but we’ve had quite a few days where it rained since then. Not nearly as bad. On May 14th we had a severe thunder storm which included hail. I had just done my weekly trip to the dump and it started on my way back. I was pulling into the driveway when the hail started so I sat in the truck for a bit and snapped this picture of the hail building up on the windshield wipers.

Not only has it been wet, it hasn’t been particularly warm either. We’ve had a few days above 20C (68F) but not many. And on those days when it isn’t cold and raining, the bugs are bad enough to pick you up and carry you off if you aren’t careful. The black flies especially are having a bumper year. We’re hoping the dragon flies will show up soon and we have seen one or two, but the big swarms of them have yet to arrive. They help a lot with reducing the biting insects.

All of this wetness has put a big damper on our firewood harvest this year. Going out in the pouring rain to cut down a tree isn’t a great thing to do. It’s even more inadvisable if there is high wind. Don’t try cutting down a tree in high wind and expect it to drop where you want it. I avoid that at all costs.

In addition to this, because of all of the rain, there were times we couldn’t even get the truck up the hill for fear of burying it out of sight just because the ground was so saturated with water. We still can’t drive to the top of our hill because a lot of water is draining down the road and it’s very squishy.

Of course there is the bug factor as well. Once you do get a decent day to go cut wood, you have to deal with the bugs. So, needless to say, we are behind in our firewood harvesting.

Fortunately, we haven’t been completely idle. We did get started on installing a new sink and finishing the counter-top around it. Here you can see the cutting of the hole where the sink is going to go.

Slightly closer so you can see the sink outline in pencil.

There we have it, a hole for a sink.

We even have a sink to put in that hole too! We bought it at the Re-store which I have to say, is kind of a hit or miss in terms of whether it’s really worth it or not. The sink we bought didn’t have holes for faucets, nor did it have a strainer basket. We weren’t too concerned about the faucet holes as we aren’t likely to have any faucet for a while. A new strainer basket cost $20 for the cheap one. The sink cost us $45. I could have bought a brand new sink for $100 that included holes for the faucet and strainer basket. Add some tax in there and you start to wonder if it was really worth the savings. Things to think about if you ever go to the Re-store for building materials.

Now for the counter-top we decided to use a 19mm (3/4 inch) piece of plywood with red oak veneer. One sheet of that will set you back $85 so you don’t want to mess it up. I cut out the piece to size for the counter first.

I scribed the hole for the sink from underneath and then cut out the hole for the sink as well.

Voila! New counter-top. Well, almost. The counter then went out to the staining and finishing department. I can say that it has been stained and had two coats of varnish put on it. The next step is to put a thick coat of epoxy on it to make it durable and waterproof. We have the epoxy, but it is sensitive to temperature and humidity so that part has been put on hold until things dry up and warm up a bit.

So it’s been a slow start to the year. We haven’t planted anything in the garden yet either because it’s been so cold. Last night we had a low of 2C (36F). Yes, we had a fire. They say we should be safe for planting after the full moon in June, which is this Friday. We can only wait and see at this point.

Getting back outside

It’s the start of May now and things have warmed up considerably since my last post. April was all over the place in terms of the weather. The last you heard from us we had just had a big snow storm. I took those pictures on a Friday morning as we were clearing the fallen trees from our driveway.

The next day we woke up to full sunshine and it was quite warm. Everything started to melt. This is what it looked like in the morning.

By 16:00 that day, there wasn’t a tree left that had any snow on it. Sunday was nice a sunny too and by the end of that day, the driveway was clear of snow, though still mushy. The following day, on Monday, we hit 24C (75F) and it was really humid. We had a huge thunderstorm in the afternoon too, with some really loud thunder and close lightning strikes. So in the space of five days, we went from heavy snow fall to serious thunderstorm.

With all of that snow and rain, things have not been dry around here. In fact, all sources of water in the area have exceeded their banks and there is a lot of flooding. Fortunately, most of it is flooding the forest. There are a few cases of people who are near the York river who are having difficulties.

This reminds us of spring 2014 when we first came to look at the property. The other pond we have at the top of the hill was over flowing. Don’t remember the picture? Well, here is what it looked like back then.

As a way of comparison, here is what it looked like on April 26th.

That’s really close to the 2014 level. I should add that we just had a huge rain storm that lasted two days straight. We haven’t been back up to the top of the hill, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the upper pond has now exceeded the 2014 level. I say this because, despite having a drain pipe under the driveway for the pond we have beside it, we had enough rain to wash out part of our driveway.

The drain pipe couldn’t keep up fast enough and the water just rushed over the driveway. I’m sure there will be another load of gravel in our near future.

Going back a bit to April 18th, it had dropped below freezing the previous night and the pond beside the driveway had a thin layer of ice on it. It looked pretty spectacular so, of course, we had to take some pictures.

Needless to say, we have had some really nice weather, and some really wet weather in April. We have been trying to get out as much as we can to work on important projects outside before the bugs arrive. The project with the highest priority right now is firewood processing for next winter.

Last week we had a good run of clear weather so we were able to get out many days in a row. Unfortunately, a bunch of our time was spent clearing fallen saplings from the roadway up to the top of the hill. We did get some trees cut for firewood though.

We started off with that small pile. Anything big I buck up on site and the smaller branches we just haul back and use the saw buck I made last year to make it easier to cut. It sure saves the back using the saw buck.

Another day, and more wood. I split some of it by hand. The cherry is pretty easy, but I leave most of the elm as it is painful to split by hand. All of it is dead already, which makes splitting it much easier than if we were trying to split live wood by hand.

We cleared out the middle section of our wood storage at the back of the trailer and this is where we are piling the newly harvested wood.

It’s not a lot yet, but it’s better than nothing. We’re hoping that things will dry up this week so we can get back out and do some more.

When we aren’t processing firewood or working on other projects, Kat and I like to take walks down our road. Kat uses this opportunity to pick up all of the dang garbage that people throw out their vehicle windows. We live on a very quiet road, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from polluting it. We’ve gathered several large garbage bags worth of things people have tossed away, most of it is beer cans.

There are some nice things to see while we’re out walking too. Like some pussy willows we found growing beside the road.

You have to take advantage of pussy willows pretty quickly as they turn into fuzzy tree buds soon after they appear. Yes the buds are all out on the trees now and some are even starting to sprout a few tiny leaves.

Soon everything will be exploding with colours. The leaves will be out in full force and the flowers will be in bloom. Heck, even Kat is looking really awesome in her spring colours.

She doesn’t tweet as nicely as some of the birds we have hanging around our place, but she sure is nice to look at.

It’s always good to end with a smile 😀

Not so spring 2017

So the spring equinox was back on March 20th. By now I bet you figure we should be out planting our garden and enjoying some warmer weather.

Well, in many ways we have. The temperatures have warmed up. Most days are above freezing now. A lot of snow has melted and we were starting to get into the swing of spring, as it were.

That is until yesterday. Mother nature decided she wasn’t done with the snow and sent us a doozy.

This is what it looked like outside this morning.

Yesterday, it started as some rain which turned into wet snow. Wet snow turned into freezing snow when nightfall arrived. If you are unfamiliar with freezing snow, it is wet snow that sticks and freezes immediately on contact. It does make for a pretty picture, but the trees certainly don’t do well.

Point in case.

If you look closely at that picture you can see two trees have snapped off. Actually, the broken part that you see is really the top of the trees that has fallen over and inverted themselves with the tops pointing at the ground.

Let’s take a look down the driveway.

Very white, with a lot of small trees (and a few big ones) all bent over.

Now we’ll move further down the driveway.

We had several instances of trees that had completely broken off and fallen onto the driveway.

Near the driveway entrance we came across quite a few trees that were overhanging it.

There was about 10cm (4″) of snow, but it was that really heavy wet snow that is awesome for building snowmen and snow forts. It’s also really good for doing maple taffy.

Alas, our maple syrup supply is carefully guarded and rationed out so no home-made maple taffy for us.

We’ll just sit cozy by the fire place in our very humble abode.

I should also mention that there were several communities that were without power today. Some friends of ours didn’t get their power back until 6pm, it having gone off at some point the previous evening. Fortunately for us, we’re not connected to the grid, so we really don’t care when the power goes out 😀

We were happy to find that the drain pipe that we had put in two springs ago is working well, even with all of this snow and the fact that the pond is still mostly frozen.

The part around the pipe is flowing so fast that it would take quite the drop in temperature, at this point, to freeze it. It now happily travels under the driveway and comes out to form a little stream on the other side.

Another sign of spring are the interesting tracks that have appeared around the trailer. We came home from March break to these little cute guys.

For those not familiar, that is a raccoon track. They really look like tiny human hands.

In other news, we finally finished redoing our spice rack. We had to shorten it a bit when we put in the cabinet over the counter last fall. Cutting it was easy, but we also planned to add another shelf to it, which involved more work. That got put to the wayside as winter came upon us.

Now that things have warmed up, I had the chance to steal some time in the workshop to add the new shelf. It then went to the staining department and sat there for a while, lost in the bureaucracy. Eventually, it was finished and now we can present it to you.

There it is installed, sans spices.

Once you add spices, it looks much better. As it turns out, not all of the spice jars will fit on the new bottom shelf. Some are just a few millimeters taller and the space is pretty tight. We seem to have managed though.

So after we get over this last batch of snow and things start to clear up outside (again), hopefully I’ll be able to get back to our other trailer building projects. We’re really looking forward to that new kitchen sink. Not having one is big pain the rump.

2017 Melting season is upon us

It has been quite some time since my last post. There hasn’t been anything interesting going on as far as building projects go. We’ve mainly been idling away the winter. We must say that this winter (our third in the trailer) has by far been the most pleasant. We’re well insulated now, we have working appliances and plenty of dry firewood. It’s a grand improvement over previous years.

We are one day away from the official start of spring and it is a fantabulous day here: bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Yes, we still have plenty of snow on the ground, but it was warm enough today that we could go out with only a sweater or perhaps light jacket on.

Yes, we even have pictures.

As with every spring, our driveway gets all mucky. Hopefully this year it won’t be quite as bad as previously after we dropped that load of gravel on the driveway in the fall.

The squirrels are out in full force after discovering the huge pile of seeds under our bird feeder.

Generic forest picture.

And we have a shot of our humble abode, complete with overflowing compost pile in the foreground.

If you’d like a bit of perspective, here is what things looked like back in January.

Yeah, a bit snowy.

I took this picture standing on top of the smurf house (composting toilet room).

What was I doing on top of the smurf house, you ask? Well, that is where I stand to clean off the solar panels. I have a squeegee taped to the end of one of those extendo-painter’s poles.

It snowed quite a bit this winter, so that was a very regular task. It’s best done in the morning so you can get the most out of the daylight shining on your solar panels.

We had quite the winter for a while, up until about mid February. One person I talked to described it as living in a snow globe that someone kept shaking. It never snowed really hard, it was a constant gentle drift of falling snow all the time. There weren’t too many days that went by where we didn’t get any snow. I have heard it from others that this was a record year for snow fall.

Fortunately, come mid February, the weather broke and we had a warm spell. Here is another picture of the trailer on Feb 20th.

That was a really nice weekend up here. Kat and I took a walk through our property. The snow had melted and refrozen a few times so the top was hard enough we could just walk on it without using snow shoes.

That’s Kat sitting on top of the back rest of the bench that sits in front of the pond at the top of our hill. We had been up there earlier in snowy-er days and you couldn’t even see the top of the bench.

After all that snow, the top of the smurf house had quite the massive pile on it so Kat decided to get up there and clear it off. I managed to snap this shot of her looking quite gleeful in her snow removing activities.

That’s all of our winter weather related news.

There was one other interesting event that happened back at Valentine’s day. Our local cafe, The SunRun had a special event.

The SunRun usually only does breakfast and lunch, but they put on special dinner for Valentine’s day. As soon as we found out about it, we reserved a spot. Natalie, the woman who owns it and is the main chef, does amazing things with food and this is not an opportunity you want to miss.

So, Kat and I got dressed up for it.

I have to mention that this is the very first time Kat and I have ever done anything special for Valentine’s Day, seeing as both of us are not very into that mainly commercial event. The dinner, I have say was absolutely superb. I had jalapenos with mango wrapped in prosciutto for an appetizer, one of the most amazing pieces of beef I have ever eaten for the main course and chocolate brûlée for dessert. That was the first time I had ever had a brûlée, chocolate or otherwise. It was so good, we went back the next day and asked them if they had any left-overs.

They did. We ate them. We were very happy 😀

If you are ever in the Maynooth area, I cannot recommend The SunRun enough. The meals are simple, but everything is made fresh, mostly from local ingredients and it all tastes amazing. Unfortunately, they will be closed for the next eight weeks due to some renovations they are having done.

Sigh. We will miss you, SunRun, but we will also look forward to your re-opening in May with a great new and fresh look 😀