Category Archives: Nature

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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.

The Beauty Of Winter

Well, here we are in January 2017. A new year has come and there is much to do. Unfortunately, we don’t generally get a whole lot done on our building projects during this time. The weather greatly reduces your willingness to work outside.

That being said, the weather has been rather interesting this year so far. It’s only January 5th, and we’ve seen quite the gamut of weather activities. I have pictures for your viewing pleasure too.

Let’s start off with January 2nd, which was a rather spectacular day. It was bright and sunny, not too cold. Kat and I decided we should take advantage of this and go for a walk through our forest. We strapped on our trusty snow shoes and ventured forth.

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The picture above I have shown numerous times in different seasons and weather. This is the road that will eventually become our real driveway up to the top of the hill where we plan to build the Earthship.

We headed up the hill and we were quickly reminded what it is like to break fresh trail in powder with snow shoes… up hill. We made our way to the top, stopping every so often to enjoy the view of the sun on the snow and examine several sets of animal tracks that we came across.

We reached the top of the hill, where we have a little meadow with a pond and I suddenly realized that my phone was no longer in my pocket. After a moment’s panic, I retraced my steps and found it sticking out of the snow.

With phone recovered, I snapped this next picture of the pond with some rabbit tracks crossing it.

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The fields of snow in the meadow in the sunshine were quite lovely.

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Here is a lone spruce tree looking very Christmas-y.

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On our way back down, I took this picture of the sunshine in the forest.

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All in all, a very good time. The sky was pure blue that day, which is rare this time of year.

It did not last either. That evening, the clouds rolled in, the temperature actually rose and we received a dumping of ice rain that night, so when we woke up the next day, everything was coated. I don’t know if you have ever experienced ice rain, but it does things like this.

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The ever green trees get it even worse.

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This is what it does to your vehicle.

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And your bird feeder.

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It does make everything glisten like crystalline glass.

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It would look even more awesome if the sun had been out, but alas, that was not the case.

Oh, we’re not done either. It rained more that day as well, then the temperature dropped that evening and it snowed. So, imagine what wet iced tree branches do when they get snowed on. Actually, you don’t need to imagine, I can show you.

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Those are the same branches shown above, but with snow added on top of the ice. Here also is a picture of that same spruce tree from above, but now also covered in ice and snow.

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Needless to say, it was mighty beautiful. I walked all around taking several pictures, trying to take it all in.

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Beautiful though it may look, it is really hard on the trees.

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There were a lot of trees that were bent over or broken, or large branches having fallen off. I’m sure there will be a lot of trees killed by this. It is both beautiful and deadly to behold.

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The big white birch behind the trailer looks mighty awesome, I must say.

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Same road as before, but frosted white now.

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So that was yesterday, but the fun doesn’t stop there. It snowed some more last night. But as luck would have it, for a while this morning the sun was out and I ran outside with my phone to capture some yet even more amazing shots.

Sunshine through the trees.

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Sunshine on the snow drifts.

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It all lights up so wonderfully in the sun.

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I really like this last one. Lower branches not in the sun with ones that are above them.

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The weather here has not stopped. The temperature just keeps going up and down like a sine wave. Here is a shot of our weather forecast for tonight and the following days.

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It’s almost like a Katy Perry song.

December 2016

Time keeps moving on and it has been a while since my last post. There is a variety of things to cover, so stay tuned.

First, I’ll give you a solar update.

Solar power during winter has its challenges. Optimally, it would be nice to have the batteries in a semi-heated/temperature stable location, but alas, we don’t have such a place so where they are is what we have. That being said, the solar system has been behaving very well. Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been all that sunny. After that snow we had on my birthday, it warmed up a bit, rained enough to get rid of all of the snow and then it snowed again.

… and again… and again… In fact, there haven’t been too many days in December where it hasn’t snowed at least a few flakes. This means I need to get out and clean off the solar panels each time. I have a system where I don’t need to get on the roof, but it still has its own risks being up on a ladder. I fell from it once and I don’t recommend the experience. Nothing major was broken, fortunately.

The other thing I discovered is it is not sufficient to simply clean off the solar panels. The more you do that, the more the snow builds up at the bottom and then starts covering the bottom panel. Once that happens, your incoming voltage will drop so much that you can’t get enough power out of it to recharge the batteries. So I spent an extended amount of time cleaning off the roof below the panels yesterday.

If the panels are clear of the thick snow, any ice or minor coverage will quickly melt even on a cloudy day. Last Thursday (Dec 15th) was one of the first days where we had any sunshine at all, but it was bitterly cold. I think the windchill that night was down to -32C (-27F). Fortunately, we went back to getting snow and it wasn’t quite so chilly. Today, was a brilliantly awesome sunny day and we were able to get some good power out of it. If it is constantly cloudy, we can go three days or so from 100% battery down to 80% at which point I run the generator to top them up.

I’m sure you’re all wondering where the pictures are so here are some nice scenery shots of the snowy landscape that we now live in.

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In that last picture, on the far right you can see a black barrel beside the smurf house. The snow cap on it is probably 40-50cm (16-20″). As I said above, it’s been snowing a lot. We’ve certainly enjoyed having our driveway ploughing done by someone else, that is for sure.

Kat also managed to sneak a picture of me as I was cleaning snow off the roof yesterday.

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In case you’re wondering, I have a squeegee attached to the end of one of those telescoping poles you usually use for painting. It works great for the panels, but is less efficient at clearing the roof itself.

While I was outside taking pictures, our bird feeder has been quite the area of activity. Chickadees, bluejays, wood peckers and nuthatches all like to feast on what we have to offer. I managed to snag a picture at just the right time to get a shot of a nuthatch. They are pretty flighty and don’t stay for very long, even less so than a chickadee.

You can see this one on the side of the feeder on the right.

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Next, we’ll move inside.

As you may know from previous posts, we have a new bed frame that is working very well. Soon after that was put in, I hooked up this.

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That’s an LED light strip on a dimmer switch. It’s very snazzy and makes reading in bed very enjoyable.

Once that was in it was time to work on paneling the walls.

This is the area around the closet, before any paint was applied.

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This is the first section on the opposite side of the closet, by the window, after the primer was applied.

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Here you can see both sides after the primer.

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Progressing along, all of the window side is now paneled. Some has been painted, some are waiting to be painted.

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That last picture is a little out of date, as those unpainted panels now are.

Recently, we were back at my parents for our annual cookie day event. Friends of ours from the Ottawa area, Ian and his wife, Heather, who were attending said event, kindly donated a small set of cupboards to us that they no longer needed. As it turns out, the cupboards fit nicely over the counter where the sink will be going (yes, another project yet to be completed).

Unfortunately, this did mean some adjustments needed to be made to the spice rack we had made to go over the stove, but nothing that we couldn’t handle. But before we could install it, Kat wanted to paint the wall to match the rest of the area. So, she did.

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Isn’t that a lovely blue? Anyway, I did need to make a few modifications to the cupboards before I could install them. We don’t have standard wood studs behind our walls, so you can’t just hang it any which way you like. Here is a picture of me on the floor praying to the cupboards.

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It wasn’t a whole lot of work, and we now have a nice new storage location for more things. Actually, all of the spices ended up in the cupboards until I finish making the modifications to the previously mentioned spice rack.

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This was right before it got really cold last week, so we haven’t done much since then. I still need to go outside into the truck shelter to do things like make cuts in the pieces of wood we want to use. If it’s -20C (-4F), I’m not really inclined to go out and do that.

Things are winding down now and we’re getting ready for the holidays. We won’t be doing any major traveling this year, just visiting our family and friends within easy driving distance.

Make your holidays great ๐Ÿ™‚