Tag Archives: rain

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.

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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.

Land Clearing Event

Yesterday, we hosted a land clearing event in the hopes of having some of our vast number of trees reduced so we can figure out where the house is going. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us and it was a rather wet day.

Jay, from the Mallorytown Earthship and Patty, another member of the Earthship Ottawa Meetup group made the long trek up here in the rain to help us remove trees.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any action shots of the work being done. When it’s pouring rain, you don’t really feel like pulling out your camera and taking pictures.

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Jay brought his chainsaw and Patty brought her bow saw and snips. I used the brush saw and between the three of us, we cleared another section up where we had started last year. I have to say the new blade I put on the brush saw worked really well, once you get it attached properly.

Jay’s chainsaw though, was a bit under powered for serious tree felling. It’s a Poulan he bought from Canadian Tire. If you didn’t have it fully revved when you turned it on its side to do the cuts to take down a tree, it would shut itself off. Either there is something wrong with it, or it just isn’t designed to do that.

In any event, after a very soggy afternoon, we came back down to the trailer where Kat had been preparing our evening meal. Here we are enjoying it thoroughly.

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What did we have, you may be asking? Well, we happen to know a really good baker and we had put in a request for some fresh ground, whole wheat, sourdough pizza dough. Say that fast a few times. Fresh ground means she ground the wheat herself.

Kat took that and made our favourite pizza recipe, which uses a Thai peanut and hoisin sauce as it’s base, with chicken, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, peanuts, cheese and fresh cilantro. Here is a close up.

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The fresh dough made it awesome, I must say. We all ate our fill and then Patty and Jay had to start their long treks home. It’s unfortunate that all us Earthshippers are so far apart, but really nice that we’re willing to take some time to drive out and lend a hand when we can. We have a pretty good community going.

Today, after all that rain yesterday, the sun was beaming through the leaves of the trees and all the mist. Kat managed to capture a decent photo of it.

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A little more progress has been made.

Tree problems

Through most of July we didn’t get much rain and things were really dry. There was a full fire ban on it was really hot for a few weeks.

Well, that all changed on August 12th, as we got our first big rain storm that day. It came down hard and fast and left big trenches in our driveway.

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Alas, that was just the beginning. On the following Tuesday we had a day long down pour. That rain didn’t fall as hard, but it fell *all* day.

As a result of this, our pond by the driveway is full again. Here you can see the drain pipe we put in doing its thing.

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Unfortunately, some of the trees growing in the pond couldn’t handle the sudden change and decided to fall over… right over our driveway.

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Here is a better picture as the panoramic gets a bit bright on the right side.

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This would normally only be a minor inconvenience. However, my chainsaw is kaput as I burnt out the motor in it during the spring cutting dead elm for firewood. I had to walk down to the neighbour’s place and borrow theirs to do the cleanup. You can see it there in the picture above.

Or, if you’d like to see the reverse perspective, try this one.

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It was only a poplar tree, so it wasn’t difficult to deal with. Interestingly though, when I finished cutting the trunk at the edge of the pond, the weight of the root ball was enough at that point to move the tree trunk back in to a semi-upright position. There was added humour to this as there were three frogs who had been sitting on that log, who were launched into the back of the pond. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of that.

In the end, the driveway was cleared and we were able to once again leave our property via vehicular means.

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All is well that ends well.