Tag Archives: ice

December 2017 Wrap Up

Well, here we are in December already. Things are moving pretty quickly, as we try to get ready for our trip and the holidays at the same time. I thought I would take a few moments to wrap up things here at the trailer and let all of you good folk see how things are doing here.

This post will also serve as a test. As we are heading to Indonesia in January, Kat and I will be updating our blogs from there as well. However, we are not taking our laptops as they are rather expensive and we would hate to have anything happen to them. So what we did instead is we bought a keyboard for our tablet computer, which I am trying to use right now to type this out. The keyboard is quite a bit smaller than your standard one, so is taking some getting used to.

In any event, things up here have progressed pretty much as one might expect at this time of year. It gets colder, things start to freeze and eventually you get snow.

Going back to November 10th, we had a particularly frosty night and woke up to rather stiff looking pond.

It wasn’t perfectly smooth, but it look pretty neat, none the less.

The driveway received a light dusting of snow as well.

By this point we had already put up the plastic shield on the front of the trailer. It can be a bit of a pain to put up, but it is entirely worth it as it gives us a nice clear walk way over to the smurf house.

Speaking of the smurf house (composting toilet room), unlike the plastic shield in front of the trailer which we take down in the spring every year, the shield on the smurf house has never been taken down or replaced since we put it up. This will be it’s third winter and the 6mil plastic still looks to be in great shape. All we did this year was detach the one side and tighten it up a bit. People have told us that 6mil would deteriorate quickly, but so far that has not been the case.

Of course, it wasn’t much longer after that we received our first real snow. This picture was taken on the morning of Nov 20th.

A day early, in my books, as usually it is the 21st (my birthday) when we wake up to the first snow. Of course, if you’re going to mention the first-snow, there better be a picture of some trees with snow on them.

Fast forward to Dec 11th and things are looking even more winter-like.

Interestingly enough, that evening it began snowing again and didn’t stop until early morning on Dec 13th.

We have our bird feeder up now as well and the bluejays and chikadees are regular visitors, especially if you put peanuts out. They can clear out the whole feeder in one day if you do that.

Random picture of snowy evergreen.

Here you can see the trailer, with smoke coming out of the chimney and the solar panels cleared of all white stuff. That is a regular chore in the morning as you want to grab as much sun as you can, what with the days being so short and cloudy most of the time.

To help with the cloudy days, we bought a new generator as our old one died last February. The new one isn’t quite as nice as the old one, and it is definitely louder (unfortunately), but it is a bit more powerful and it gets the job done nicely and quickly, so we can’t really complain.

Lastly we have a shot down the snowy driveway after it was ploughed.

We’ll be heading out on Jan 2nd, but we will be having a friend of ours (and brave soul) come to stay at the trailer to take care of the kittens while we are away. The only small snag we have is that he can’t start until the 4th so we still need to find someone to take care of the cats those first two nights. If you or anyone you know wants to experience winter life in a trailer for two nights in January, please let us know.

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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 πŸ˜€

Trailer rebuilding: the never ending story

Yeah, this trailer rebuild is taking way too long. Especially when we also have other things that need to get done as well.

Saturday morning was pretty frosty. Most nights now it drops below freezing and on some evenings it sprinkles some of that white stuff on us.

It rained a lot on Thursday and Friday, so all that dirt we had piled in front of the trailer had quite a bit of water in it. As a result, when it froze over night, it made this really funky looking ice garden, so to speak.

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This past weekend was reserved for processing firewood. What good is having a wood stove if you don’t have anything to burn? Luckily, we had some help. Our friend Gerry made the trek up here from Ottawa to spend the weekend helping us with that.

Saturday was spent doing the tree harvesting. I had previously put marking tape around a number of dead trees on our property. This makes it easy to identify them when all of the trees have lost their leaves. I cut down six trees that day, with Gerry arriving in the afternoon. Gerry was loading the pieces into the back of the truck while I finished sawing up the downed trees.

At the end of the day, we had this pile down by the trailer.

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The next day was spent splitting and stacking, though I did do a bit of sawing in the morning to process some older stuff we had right by the trailer. This, of course made our stack bigger.

Things were going well until Gerry launched the head off my splitting axe into the forest. The squirrels managed to survive. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration. The squirrel actually threw it back at him πŸ˜›

I had actually just bought a second splitting axe, but I wasn’t paying as close attention when I got it as it proved to be mostly useless. Too light and the handle was too short. On the other hand, it worked better for Kat, though the size of the logs you can actually split with it are limited.

With the good axe now out of commission, this meant an extra trip to town for Kat to get us a replacement. Gerry and I moved and stacked a lot of the pieces that were too small to be split while she was out.

Here is a picture of Gerry frantically trying to dodge squirrels while picking up the split pieces of wood.

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We did have to stop for lunch at some point. With the wood stove going in side, it is now a trivial matter to reheat the pot of chili we had made previously. Cutting the bread was whole other matter though.

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After lunch we got back into the swing of things (HAHAHAHAA…. okay, maybe not that funny). Here I am contemplating my next victim.

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Yeah, that was a piece of elm. They are the most stubborn pieces of wood to split. There are many that I ended up having to use the sledge & wedge technique as the axe just couldn’t do it.

Here we have Kat showing off her lumberjack skills.

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As a result of all this effort, we greatly increased our pile of wood. Here is a shot of the first section.

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This is the next section over. Each section is roughly 10′ (3m) long. We have two sections setup so far and I plan to add a third when we can move some of the stuff we put back there from ripping it out of the trailer. With those three sections, I did a rough calculation that we should be able to store about 10 full cords of wood.

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What is a cord of wood, you may ask? Well, let me tell you as there is a lot of confusion.

A cord, is 4’x4’x8′ of stacked wood, or 128 cubic feet (roughly 3.63 cubic meters). People use other terms like face cord, bush cord, short cord and umbilical cord, but those are all just made up (well, not the last one). A face cord is generally 1/3 of a real cord, though that depends on the length of the pieces. It gets really confusing and it’s also a pain because what someone is referring to when they say “cord of wood” can be different from person to person and region to region.

So, just to be clear, if I have 30’x10’x4′, that gives me around 1200 cubic feet of stacked wood (almost 34 cubic meters). 10 cord of wood would be 1280 cubic feet, so I’m pretty close.

What it basically means is we have plenty of room to store wood to keep us going during the winter. This is a good thing.

Speaking of splitting wood, do you know what happens to your chopping block when you have it sitting on the trench you just filled with dirt a few days ago? After a while, it has sunken quite a bit. Take note of the large crater next to the block in this picture.

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It had probably sunk a good 3″ (7.6cm). I kept wondering why the logs kept getting shorter πŸ˜›

Anyway, we managed to get through about 2/3rds of the pile of wood, which was really good. We are eternally grateful to Gerry for helping us out.

In amongst all of this, at some point, Kat managed to get our bird feeder back up and functioning. It had been knocked over by a bear back in September and we were without it during most of the migration season, unfortunately.

However, shortly after we had it up and reloaded, the chickadees reappeared and were happily flittering to and from the feeders again. It was great to have them back. Kat managed to take some awesome pictures using that snazzy new camera of hers.

For instance, exhibit A:

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Exhibit B:

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These guys are relentless. Give them seed, and they are happy as can be. Doesn’t matter if it’s -20 out either; they are non-stop seed eating machines.

That was our weekend.

Today I finished putting in the corner pieces on the back wall behind the wood stove. I also cut all of the pieces of plywood for the kitchen slide-out. I even managed to take some pictures of that.

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I would say that we should be able to screw those down tomorrow (they’re just lying their right now), but we have quite a number of other appointments tomorrow. We are taking the truck in to get some new shocks and exhaust hanger straps. The truck also needs a drive-clean test and Kat and I both have chiropractor appointments as well. Not looking good for working on the trailer. Especially with the days being so short now.

Never fear, we will keep you updated as to our progress.

Well, it’s forty below and…

Yup, it’s January and this is the Great White North. It’s cold and snowy. Not the best time to be living in a fifth wheel trailer, but hey that’s what we’re doing.

I realize looking at my last post (like a month ago, sheesh where does the time go) that I don’t really have many pictures up showing what we’re experiencing here, though some of the later construction pics you can see the snow we have been accumulating. Luckily, during December, it wasn’t all that cold, relatively speaking. Most days were above -10C (14F) so not too bad.

Here is a picture I took in early January.

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We went away for the holidays to visit some family and we got back on Dec 29th. It was a bit of a shock coming back because we had totally gotten out of the groove you get when you live in a trailer. Thawing it out when you get back takes a while. We managed to do that, but we were soon to encounter some serious winter weather. The first week of January it dropped to -27C (-17F) one night and was pretty cold for a few nights in a row.

We have a number of drafty parts in the trailer and the colder it gets, the worse they are. I was standing by the door on the day before the one where it got really cold and could feel the icy breeze rushing in. That was a bit more than we could take. We ripped off the molding around the door and low and behold, there was around a 1.5cm (1/2″) gap between the doorframe and the wall with nothing in it. What the smeg!

Luckily, I had some left over spray foam insulation. I brought it into the trailer to warm up and then proceeded to fill that space. That helped quite a bit with the draft, but unfortunately, when it gets decently cold, it doesn’t stop it from coming through the wall. As evidence, I present exhibit A:

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Above you can see the orange bit where I put in the foam insulation. Unfortunately, the walls of your typical trailer are not exactly thick or well insulated. I was wondering why the ice was coming through the wall at that particular point and I discovered why on the outside wall: there is a hand rail for the steps screwed into the wall there and the cold comes right through that spot. The walls have only minimal insulation and the inside paneling is a really thin high density particle board. So, given the nice gateway through, the ice will come right through the wall.

On those really cold nights, you can see ice creeping in around the corners of the trailer as well, where the floor meets the wall, especially in the slide-outs. Does that sound rough, difficult to cope with? We have a secret weapon though: fire πŸ™‚

Provided you have nice dry wood to burn, we can get the trailer pretty toasty, even on really cold nights. It does take some effort, and you do have to constantly feed that fire during the night (kinda like having a new born baby around), but it works. The biggest trick is the dry wood part.

We moved up here at the beginning of October and spent most of our time trying to get set for winter. Unfortunately, once winter does arrive and you realized you will need a tonne more wood than you have harvested, things get interesting. Especially when you also discover that most of the places around your area are all sold out of wood, should you choose to buy it.

Luckily, we have family in the Ottawa area who had access to wood so they bought us some as a Christmas gift. That was one of the best gifts ever πŸ˜› Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as pristinely dry as we would have liked. Unless your days are ideal, wood will generally pick things up during transit, or, if it’s been sitting outside unsheltered. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess. The wood did burn, but all of the logs sizzled, which means you waste some heat of the fire just boiling out the water.

Ironically, I have also been out cutting some more fire wood. There are numerous dead hardwood trees around our property and the ones I have harvested have burnt really well. You do have to have a good day for it though. Too cold and you just freeze before you can get anything done. Too warm and when the tree drops, all that snow will stick to it, making it really wet. That will make it really difficult to burn. A sunny day around -5C to -10C is good.

How well does the wood stove work? Well, like most heating devices in rooms, it kinda works from the top down. Your feet are the last thing to be warm; we always wear shoes in the trailer. As a result, you may have a thermometer up near the ceiling that says 20C (68F)…

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… but your feet will feel quite different.

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Yes, that says 8C (46F). So, in cases like this, crank up the stove and add some more heat. Ahhh, this looks better.

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26C (79F) makes things much more comfy.

There is constant work in keeping ourselves warm and fed, but it hasn’t been overwhelming. Of course then you have the unexpected things happen that you have to deal with as well. Like when your fridge dies. Ours died about ten days ago, but luckily, it’s cold outside. Anything we had in the freezer, we put in a cooler and put it outside. The room in the trailer where the built-in toilet was (I ripped it out) is always really cold, we we took everything that was in the fridge and put it in a cooler in that room. I have a fridge/freezer thermometer that I keep in there and it generally around 4C (38F). Pretty decent refrigerator temperature, but we will still need to find someone to come fix the fridge before spring.

As far as the roof construction goes, my friend Gerald and I have made some progress, but I don’t have any new pictures. They wouldn’t be very exciting anyway, as we only put up the center posts and the beam across the back. Once we get the beam across the center and start putting up rafters then things will start to look more exciting. I promise to take some pictures and I will post them, I just can’t guarantee that it will coincide time-wise with the actual construction πŸ˜›