Tag Archives: cold

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.

Trailer rebuilding, starting the tiles

As the title says, I started working on the tiles today, and as you will soon find out, I didn’t get as far as I would have liked.

First of all, it was cold today. They said we were supposed to have a high of 8C (46F) but I don’t know if we made it that far. It was about 3.5C in the trailer when we got there this morning and it being cloudy all day, it didn’t get much over 5C (40F).

This makes working with tiles really chilly. Definitely a time to wear your gloves.

Anyway, I started with cleaning up and trimming the spray foam I put in yesterday. I also sanded the patches I put down to fill in the gaps. This is what it looked like after I swept the area.

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After that, I had the fun job of cutting out the holes for the vents. I did this from below, inside our “basement”, which is really just a storage compartment. It does vent directly outside and this is how we get fresh air into the trailer both for us and for the wood stove.

The positioning in there is really cramped and I broke two new utility knife blades cutting the insulation out of the holes. There was some harsh language involved on that too. Luckily, cutting the cement board was easy by comparison.

I just drilled a hole in each of the four corners for each vent using a masonry bit. Then I went up top and cut out the hole using a fine toothed metal blade on my jigsaw. This works really well, but you will destroy the blade doing this. I didn’t much care as I paid something like $4.50 for two blades so trashing one didn’t much matter. It had already seen better days anyway.

In the end, two holes cut for the vents.

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With that accomplished it was time to lay out the tiles. So I found my little baggie of tile spacers and went to work. Each box of tiles had 17, so this is just after putting in the first tile from the second box.

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Here is the layout after filling in all full tiles. As you can see, I need to cut some to fit in the spaces on the right side.

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As it turned out, I do not have adequate tools to cut tiles. I was using my reciprocating Dremel with a grinder bit and it worked okay, but it takes forever to make one cut. I cut a grove on both sides of the tile and then snapped off the remainder. This worked great for the first one I cut, but the two after it broke the tile.

I consulted with my step-father Cliff, who used to be a flooring installer, about the best options and he recommended just taking the few tiles I need to have cut to a hardware store and having them cut it. Considering that I don’t have many to cut, and the cuts for the vent holes are more complicated, I may just do that. I am considering all options.

In the end, I managed to get two worthy pieces cut and then I gave up so we could go into town and check out options at the hardware store. I did see online that there is this fancy carbide cutting bit you can get for your Dremel, but of course, they didn’t have it in Bancroft. That’s one of the things about living in the sticks: finding the right tool can sometimes be challenging.

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While I was doing all of this, Kat was working on putting in the paneling in the kitchen slide-out. Here she is attaching the first panel.

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Here we have the second panel up, complete with electrical outlets and all. As Kat has discovered, measuring and cutting the panels is quite time consuming.

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By the end of the day, she had finished installing four panels. The only part I helped with was feeding the electrical outlets through the holes as Kat held the panel. The rest she did herself.

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Soon she’ll be wanting to build something so she can use the nailgun 😉

Surviving the winter in a fifth wheel trailer

It’s March now, the days are longer, the sun has been shining and the temperatures are much more moderate. As a result, we aren’t burning nearly as much wood as we were in February.

February was cold. How cold, you may ask? Well, there were many news reports saying it was the coldest February on record in the last 102 years. We constantly had temperatures at night that were down close to -30C (-22F). The trailer being what it is (not insulated, not skirted, no extra roof over the top and crappy single pane windows) was not the most ideal place to be during this weather. We did manage to make it through though. After a while, it just kinda becomes routine.

I will say though that the power of passive solar gain was greatly impressed upon us. During the days when it was sunny, and there were numerous days when it was, it would greatly help in heating up the interior of the trailer. This is especially good when neither Kat nor I are particularly motivated to get up early (especially when I spend all night getting up to feed the fire).

There was one day in particular during February that was an awesome day: Feb 10th. On that day, the sun came out and it was “warm” for lack of a better term. It wasn’t above freezing, but you could really feel the power of the sun when you were standing outside in it. It was such a nice day that Kat and I chose to make use of our snow shoes and go on a walk about the property.

Here is me, basking in the lovelyness of being out in the wilderness, listening to the birdies and enjoying the scenery. Or something to that effect.

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When we reached the open area at the top of the big hill on our property, I took some scenery pictures. Mmmm, pristine snow fields.

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I love how this next picture turned out, considering I couldn’t really see what I was taking as the sun was in my eyes. There is a lovely sunburst at the top of the picture shining on to all of that beautiful snow covered landscape. Couldn’t have taken a better picture if I tried.

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The sun wasn’t the only thing that was shining. Just look at the beaming smile on this odd form of wildlife that kept following me around.

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I don’t know if y’all remember, but there is a lake on the neighbouring property to the south. Want to see what it looks like during the winter? Here ya go:

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Pretty snazzy, actually. I love those rolling vistas of undisturbed snow fields. It looks so clean, like a fresh, white table cloth. Ah well, things are warming up, the snow is melting, we’ve had some rain so we’re quickly moving into spring.

Now all we have to do is survive the next set of challenges: all that freakin’ water making our firewood wet.

Welcome to Winter

Wow, another post already? I know, unbelievable isn’t it. I had a few more pictures to share and found myself with a few moments so I thought I would share.

We had an awesomely beautiful winter day so I decided to take some pictures outside. Here we have a generic winter forest photo.

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Pointing the camera 180 degrees from there, you can see all of the bracing for the roof over our trailer and all of the other notables we have with us on the property: truck, truck shelter, wood shelter, bird feeder, shipping container and a few benches that are accumulating snow.

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We are extremely grateful for Mr. Doug Olmstead who is the guy we hired to plow our driveway. He’s also the same guy who did our driveway modifications back in the summer, as well as dragged our shipping container onto the property and has provided us with a number of loads of gravel. Handy guy to know in our area, for sure. Here is a picture of our lovely plowed driveway.

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I mentioned last time I didn’t have any further construction pictures. Well, here is a picture of where things stand right now. You can see we have all of the posts up and the beams across the front and back. Next we need to cut the center posts to proper length then put the beam across it. A few other straightening and locking down operations on all the posts and beams then we can start to put the rafters up. Once that starts it should go quicker as all of the finicky parts were making sure the posts were square and level, along with the beams and so on. Lots of measuring, leveling, putting up string lines, measuring again, you get the idea.

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I do have to mention this one neat thing we used when figuring out the proper level of the posts. They don’t make 12m levels, so generally you would use something like a site level (also known as a builder’s level or transit) to take shots to determine the level. Well, we didn’t have one and they aren’t the cheapest things to go out and buy. So we used something called a water level.

We bought about 15m (50′) of clear plastic hose and filled it with anti-freeze. Normally you would just use water, but when working in sub-freezing temperatures, you don’t want the liquid to solidify. Plus I had a jug of trailer anti-freeze I had bought earlier anyway. You can then use the ends of the hose as a level. Where the water line is at either end is where your level point is. Isn’t gravity a fun thing?

Anyway, if we ever get a break from the snow and cold, I’m sure there will be more construction going on. I still need to get back to building the room for our composting toilet, which is currently covered in snow. Oh well, it will happen when it happens.

Until then, we’ll just keep ourselves warm by the fire and drink more hot chocolate 😀

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