Category Archives: Scenery

The place where great scenery shots are posted.

June 2018

Yes, it’s June. I realize I haven’t posted in a month so I’m here now to work on that. This is going to be a mish-mash of several things.

So Dave, how is the Earthship coming? Unfortunately, the answer to that is not pleasing. The engineer we’re working with is now fully licensed and has his official engineer’s stamp now. The problem we have now is a financial one. My employer is in some dire straights, as it were, and I am owed a large amount of back pay that has yet to arrive. With this being a single income family, we don’t have a lot of extra funds for building projects and applying for building permits.

One might ask if I am doing anything about my lack of income and I can say “yes” to that. I have been in talks with the local college to possibly do some teaching for them. I now have two degrees to my name (one in Computer Science and one in Biotecture) and the range of topics I feel qualified to teach people covers some fair ground. The only bummer is it’s summer right now and there won’t be any teaching until the fall term starts.

But enough of that, let’s move on to other interesting things. As some of you know, I do quite a bit of cooking here. Our usual setup is I cook the meals and Kat does the dishes. It’s a good partnership.

I recently made my very first vegetable terrine.

The bottom layer was carrots, the middle was spinach and the top was parsnips. The sauce is parsley based. I found the recipe in one of the Canadian Living cookbooks we have. It was quite different to eat, but quite tasty. It was also more filling than I thought it would be.

Kat’s birthday was last Tuesday, and as per tradition around here, I made her a special birthday dessert.

That, my friends, is a chocolate brownie turtle cake. Here it is again from the side.

I didn’t cheap out and just buy the caramels for the gooey layer either; I made caramels. Well, it actually turned out to be more like toffee as it came out a little harder than it should have. Fortunately, if you melt it down and add a bit more cream, it softens up really nicely. It worked well for the cake too.

The main cake layer is just like it sounds: chocolate brownie. I put in some chocolate nibs and chopped pecans into it to add some excitement. Covering that is the caramel layer and then the chocolate ganache to cover it all. This is one of those cakes that you cut into 16ths because an 8th would cause you overload.

From food we move onto wood processing. Yeah, we’re still working on that. I did get my replacement chains for the chainsaw in and it’s been running smooth ever since. The wood pile at the back of the trailer is coming along really nicely. The basic process is to head up into the forest, cut down some dead elm and haul it back to the trailer. Often I just cut it into logs and do the rest of the processing down at the trailer using the saw buck.

Kat is my log loader and we can process quite a bit with one tank of gas. From there, we toss it into the to-be-split pile and then go at it with the axes. I say axes, but to be technically correct they’re splitting mauls, but I don’t like that word cause it conjures up images of large crowds of people moving from store to store expressing their blatant consumerism.

Some of the pieces of wood are easier to split than others. Take this one for instance.

I had buried two wedges in it trying to get that thing to split. It did, in the end, but it was a lot of work. I also broke the handle off one of our splitting axes today after I buried it in a similar piece and I couldn’t dislodge it. Yay, another thing to replace.

The spring time is a great time to be a bird watcher. We always have a huge amount of birdie activity at our feeder. Sometimes we get some unexpected visitors too.

That was a wild turkey that was hanging out under the feeder. She kept coming back for almost a week, but we stopped putting seed out near mid May and it didn’t take them long to clean the place out.

Which really aggravated this guy.

That is a rose breasted grosbeak. After the regular bird feeder ran out, he decided to try the hummingbird feeder. He was very determined, but just couldn’t figure out how to get his beak in those yellow plastic flowers while still holding on with his feet. He was a little big for it. Fortunately, he didn’t try that for too long.

I know I’ve posted a lot of pictures of autumn, winter and spring but I don’t know how many summer photos I have taken of our land. I do realize it’s not quite officially summer, but it sure seemed like it here today. It was bright and sunny and no clouds at all the whole day. This is what it looks like looking out from our trailer.

This one is a forest path that leads over to the neighbour’s place to the north.

Our pond is doing very well. It is full of life. You can’t see them in this picture, but there are a tonne of tadpoles swimming around. The spring peepers have quieted down so we’re on to the next stage of growing the new batch. You might say we’re working on creating our own plague of frogs.

This, of course, is the picture of the road heading up to the top of our hill. Yeah, it’s a lot grassier now.

This is a nice one showing the rest of the driveway heading down to the road and the beautiful blue sky we had today.

Green canopy shot with solid blue sky.

There are so many things we should be doing, but are put on hold due to funds. We’re also behind in our gardening, which we should get moving on. As soon as things change, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

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It’s April, Right?

We’re not really sure what month it is any more. The weather just keeps getting more erratic. In this case though, it allows me to provide a plethora of beautiful nature photos for all of you wonderful people.

Things have been falling out of the sky all weekend and when I woke up this morning, this is the view that greeted me.

Everything was covered in thick, heavy wet snow.

As you can imagine, many smaller trees suffer when this happens.

It does, however, provide some really awesome scenery and the chance to go out and spend time in the quiet of the forest.

We live in a fairly isolated spot to begin with. Once you cover everything with a large blanket of snow, it gets really quiet.

I think all of these trees have frosting on them 😛

With all of the noises muffled by the snow, your footsteps end up sounding extra loud. You have to stop often just to let the forest’s atmosphere sink in.

The snow didn’t seem to bother these two massive white pines.

Tunnel of snow silence.

It was overcast, but the pictures make it look ominous. It really wasn’t, it was fairly bright actually, not that we ever saw the sun today.

Back up at the pond at the top of the hill. There isn’t much of a difference in height to indicate where the pond actually starts. (It’s just in front of the bench).

Surrounded by balsam fir trees, the sounds of the outside world just disappear.

There was hardly a breath of wind, so you can imagine how quiet it was out in the forest. You’d think you’d hear more birds and there were some, but the vast majority of all of the tweetering going on was back at the trailer.

This next picture was taken just outside and you can see all of those little feathered forest denizens up in the tree.

Yeah, the ones in the tree were just waiting for their opportunity to head down and raid the bird feeder.

I caught a number of them in that picture, but a video would be better as they move in and out so fast and in so many numbers. In case you were wondering, we have golden finches, chickadees, dark-eyed junkos, purple finches, nut hatches, blue jays and a few variety of sparrows.

Unfortunately, the forest wasn’t the only thing to suffer damage from all of the heavy snow.

That is our truck shelter tent thing. The heavy snow made the canvas split. I put in an impromptu patch by working a tarp in under the metal rails. It’s not perfect, by far, but hopefully it will get us passed all of this snow.

In the mean time, when I’m not out trekking around the forest, I melt snow on the wood stove.

It comes in handy for washing hands and dishes.

Anyway, I need to run and rescue my socks as they are being attacked by a kitten right now.

April Activities

So with Kat away for this month doing the Earthship Academy in Taos, NM, I’m left here at the trailer to maintain the fort, as it were. There is all of the regular things to do: cook, clean, feed the cats, melt snow for wash water, bring in fire wood, those sorts of things. However, with Kat away, I have also been tasked with feeding the horses.

We have our two Arabians currently boarded at a nearby facility, and they do get hay, but one of them especially needs a bit extra as he seems to lose weight otherwise. I have been out with Kat to do this numerous times, but this is the first time I had to do it by myself. Fortunately, the boys didn’t seem to mind.

They paused a bit when I showed up, probably wondering where Kat was. But as soon as I showed them the buckets, they wandered over and proceeded to eat their portions. Nothing too difficult to handle, they are very well behaved.

As you probably noticed in the above picture, the ground is looking mighty white. We did have quite a bit of bare ground, but that all changed Tuesday evening. First we had wet snow, then we had ice rain which switched to regular rain and then back to snow. After it was all done, we ended up with this inverted Oreo cookie type situation. That would be where you have two layers of frosting with the hard cookie part in between. Why someone hasn’t come out with cookies like that yet, I will never know.

In any event, it has made everything very white again, and quite crunchy too. Fortunately, it’s not all that cold and with the sun shining, it clears the roof pretty quick. Here you can see all the snow piled up in front of the trailer’s plastic shield that fell off the roof earlier.

These are also excellent conditions for spotting animal tracks.

That’s just a picture of our garden bed and most of it is squirrel tracks, though there is what seems to be cat tracks going through the middle of it.

With it being such a nice day today, I decided to take a wander through our forest. This is a great way to spot trees that we will be harvesting for firewood, the time for which is rapidly approaching. I did come across this interesting specimen.

I can’t say for 100% certainty, but it looks to me like a porcupine had a major noms festival on that tree. They are notorious for stripping trees down to their underwear, as it were.

Here is exhibit number 2.

This tree didn’t have as much of it’s bark stripped, but it was also a much smaller tree.

I wandered for a while and eventually came up to the pond at the top of our hill.

You can see by the far shoreline just how full the pond is. We’ve been fairly fortunate that we haven’t had a tonne of precipitation or otherwise we’d be facing a lot of flooding like last year.

Finally, here is a picture of some snowy spruce trees.

Things are pretty quiet here otherwise. Most days it’s above freezing so there is a fair amount of melting going on. Hopefully as that progresses I’ll be able to start the firewood harvesting.

Australian Wrap Up

Technically, we’re back in Canada now, getting over some major jet lag, but I kinda lagged a bit at the end there in making posts. It got a bit complicated with all of the traveling. So, I’m going to use this post to go over some of the stuff we did in our last few days down under.

On our last full day in Cairns, we decided to go check out the Cairns Aquarium. It included some terrarium stuff too, so not everything was wet. Let’s start with a doozy of a spider.

This spider was so big, that if you laid her on top of a cantaloupe, her legs would cover a full half of it. The one beside her wasn’t all that much smaller either.

These next ones are giant armored cock roaches. I’m sure you’re very happy to see them.

Of course, no trip to Australia would be complete without some pictures of crocodiles. It would have been nicer to get some pictures of them in the wild when we were on our rain forest tour, but that wasn’t to be.

Moving on to the more aquatic life, this is a picture of a crayfish.

Yes, he’s about the same size as a spiny lobster from down in Florida. I don’t know what the distinction is between a crayfish and a lobster, maybe it’s colour, cause these guys were pale blue.

Next we have a general bunch of fish.

Honeycomb moray eel, conveniently sticking his head out so we can see him.

The reef stone fish. Also known as the most venomous fish in the world.

Moon jelly fish. These were the things we swam through out on the Great Barrier Reef.

Another pleasant aquatic scene.

Big sea anemone with fish in front of it.

I don’t know what this next thing is, but it looks like a bright purple hamburger patty with bright neon-green hairs. How could you not take a picture of that.

Shark!

More sharks!

Sting rays too.

That’s it for the aquarium and that was it for Cairns. The next morning we flew down to Sydney to spend two nights there. We arrived in the late morning so Kat and I decided to go on walkabout.

We didn’t have to go very far before we ran into more greenery, which is good because Sydney is a typical big city with all of the traffic and hustle and bustle. It turns out the Royal Botanical Gardens weren’t all that far from our hotel and it being a rather lovely sunny day, we indulged.

Here is the entrance.

We encountered a lot of these birds, and not just in the gardens, but all over Sydney. I don’t know what they are called, but they kinda remind me of Gonzo from the muppets.

Huge leaning tree.

Of course, if you’re going to wander around some botanical gardens, you should stop and smell the flowers while you’re there. Like this rose.

Or maybe this one.

I caught Kat just after she had been on a sniff-a-thon.

Here is me being overwhelmed by the size of these aloe plants. That is what we assumed they were, but someone suggested that they might also be agave.

Picture from above looking down in to the parkway.

This little fellow is a kookaburra. He was quite used to strangers too. Kat was able to get close enough to tickle his tail feathers, but he drew the line at that and flew away to another perch.

They have some ginormous trees down there.

Here is Kat beside one for perspective.

Here is another example of one of those trees that are made up of lots of little trunks.

Coming out the other end of the gardens, we came upon a rather famous Sydney icon: the opera house.

It was fascinating to see it up close as you really don’t get the feel for the scale when you see it in pictures. It’s rather huge.

After that, we wandered back to our hotel. I have to take this moment to point out an interesting difference between the light switches down there and here in Canada.

They are tiny, and they work backwards compared to ours. When the top part is pressed in, they are off. I think that may simple be that they are on the underside of the planet and everything there is upside-down.

We had one more full day in Sydney before we needed to fly home, so we used that opportunity to go visit the zoo. This gave us a good chance to see all sorts of really lazy and tired animals because it was the middle of the day and it was too hot to be moving about.

We can start with a Komodo dragon, which technically speaking, isn’t native to Australia at all.

Lizard in a tree.

Really big python.

Iguana just hanging out.

A pile of gila monsters. Pink and black are great colours for these guys.

Another iguana, up in a tree.

Taipan, a really, really poisonous snake. He was up and moving around too.

Not sure which snake this one was, but he totally looks like a worn out bicycle tire inner tube.

Did someone say giraffes?

Not to worry, it’s just a mere-cat.

They also had two Sumatra tigers, which are on the severely endangered list as there are only about 400-500 still in the wild.

Big horny herbivore.

This is an otter that has the tail of another otter stuck in his mouth. All three of the otters were playing around.

This is a fishing cat.

The infamous kangaroo who just seem to be chillin’ in the afternoon heat.

Emu alert!

The third largest bird in the world is a cassowary. The tour guide for our rain forest hike was really hoping we would see one in the wild, but they are pretty rare. Fortunately, they had one at the zoo.

Wooohooo!! Lemurs! Who doesn’t like lemurs.

If you go into the gift shop, they have all manner of stuffed animals of all sizes that you can buy. Including this rather huge stuffed octopus that was putting the moves on Kat.

This is a red panda. Apparently the word “panda” literally means bamboo eater.

We took a selfie of ourselves as well, just to show that we were there.

That pretty much wraps up the whole trip. We caught our ride to the airport at 8am the next day and then hopped a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong. That took close to nine hours. We had a short wait in HK then a 14 hour flight from there to Toronto.

Get off in Toronto, do all of going through customs stuff, get your luggage, recheck your luggage, change terminals, and then hop another flight to Ottawa. Easy as cake.

Except for the fact that we have some hardcore jet lag going on right now. Waking up at 3am and crashing at 3pm has happened several times.

Oh well, it was all worth it.