Tag Archives: winter

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 😀

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.

2017 Melting season is upon us

It has been quite some time since my last post. There hasn’t been anything interesting going on as far as building projects go. We’ve mainly been idling away the winter. We must say that this winter (our third in the trailer) has by far been the most pleasant. We’re well insulated now, we have working appliances and plenty of dry firewood. It’s a grand improvement over previous years.

We are one day away from the official start of spring and it is a fantabulous day here: bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Yes, we still have plenty of snow on the ground, but it was warm enough today that we could go out with only a sweater or perhaps light jacket on.

Yes, we even have pictures.

As with every spring, our driveway gets all mucky. Hopefully this year it won’t be quite as bad as previously after we dropped that load of gravel on the driveway in the fall.

The squirrels are out in full force after discovering the huge pile of seeds under our bird feeder.

Generic forest picture.

And we have a shot of our humble abode, complete with overflowing compost pile in the foreground.

If you’d like a bit of perspective, here is what things looked like back in January.

Yeah, a bit snowy.

I took this picture standing on top of the smurf house (composting toilet room).

What was I doing on top of the smurf house, you ask? Well, that is where I stand to clean off the solar panels. I have a squeegee taped to the end of one of those extendo-painter’s poles.

It snowed quite a bit this winter, so that was a very regular task. It’s best done in the morning so you can get the most out of the daylight shining on your solar panels.

We had quite the winter for a while, up until about mid February. One person I talked to described it as living in a snow globe that someone kept shaking. It never snowed really hard, it was a constant gentle drift of falling snow all the time. There weren’t too many days that went by where we didn’t get any snow. I have heard it from others that this was a record year for snow fall.

Fortunately, come mid February, the weather broke and we had a warm spell. Here is another picture of the trailer on Feb 20th.

That was a really nice weekend up here. Kat and I took a walk through our property. The snow had melted and refrozen a few times so the top was hard enough we could just walk on it without using snow shoes.

That’s Kat sitting on top of the back rest of the bench that sits in front of the pond at the top of our hill. We had been up there earlier in snowy-er days and you couldn’t even see the top of the bench.

After all that snow, the top of the smurf house had quite the massive pile on it so Kat decided to get up there and clear it off. I managed to snap this shot of her looking quite gleeful in her snow removing activities.

That’s all of our winter weather related news.

There was one other interesting event that happened back at Valentine’s day. Our local cafe, The SunRun had a special event.

The SunRun usually only does breakfast and lunch, but they put on special dinner for Valentine’s day. As soon as we found out about it, we reserved a spot. Natalie, the woman who owns it and is the main chef, does amazing things with food and this is not an opportunity you want to miss.

So, Kat and I got dressed up for it.

I have to mention that this is the very first time Kat and I have ever done anything special for Valentine’s Day, seeing as both of us are not very into that mainly commercial event. The dinner, I have say was absolutely superb. I had jalapenos with mango wrapped in prosciutto for an appetizer, one of the most amazing pieces of beef I have ever eaten for the main course and chocolate brûlée for dessert. That was the first time I had ever had a brûlée, chocolate or otherwise. It was so good, we went back the next day and asked them if they had any left-overs.

They did. We ate them. We were very happy 😀

If you are ever in the Maynooth area, I cannot recommend The SunRun enough. The meals are simple, but everything is made fresh, mostly from local ingredients and it all tastes amazing. Unfortunately, they will be closed for the next eight weeks due to some renovations they are having done.

Sigh. We will miss you, SunRun, but we will also look forward to your re-opening in May with a great new and fresh look 😀

Full moon on the snow experiment

Back in January, we had a lovely full moon. Actually, the one in February was really nice as well, but this post is about the one in January.

You see, I had this clever idea to try and take some moonlight snow pictures. Kat has her fancy DSLR camera and I figured I should be able to adjust the settings to take some longer exposures. That was the theory, anyway.

As it turned out, I ran into a few complications which led to some serious tech rage. Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, if you’re taking moonlight pictures, it is rather important to turn off the flash. You also need to be able to change the shutter speed. You would think this would be straightforward, but alas this was not the case.

There is a mode on the camera that lets you have direct control over the shutter, which is really handy for this sort of experiment. Unfortunately, you can’t turn off the flash in that mode. I thought that was particularly vexing. To actually disable the flash, you need to switch to a mode where it does allow you to turn off the flash, and then switch it back to shutter mode.

Okay, the flash is off, now I want to adjust the shutter/exposure timing. After finding the correct sequence of buttons, I finally was able to find that adjustment. It displays this nice number on the little LCD screen with no units, so you have no idea whether you’re making it longer or shorter. I went through a lot of test pictures before I found which end of the spectrum I needed to have the setting at.

There was one other complication: I needed to focus the camera as it doesn’t have auto-focus. It also doesn’t show you what the viewfinder is looking at on the LCD screen. That is only for showing the settings and pictures you have taken. So you have to look through the viewfinder to focus it. Have you ever tried looking through a camera’s viewfinder at night? It may have been a full moon, but you don’t see a damn thing so it makes it really difficult to focus the camera properly.

I should also point out that I wasn’t trying to take a picture of the moon itself, as that has been done a lot. No, I was trying to take a picture of the moonlight on the snow, which was pretty spectacular to the human eye.

Anyway, after several attempts, this is the best one I ended up with using the DSLR.

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As a point for comparison, here is one I took using my phone.

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Both pictures have been completely unedited, except for resizing.

I should also mention that if it is winter in Canada, with a clear night, it is going to be cold. It was around -22C (-8F). You can’t be wearing gloves because the buttons and such on the camera are quite tiny, so you definitely don’t spend too much time out there working on this or your hands freeze.

Alas, it was an interesting experiment. Perhaps with a few more experiments, things like this will become easier.

2016: The start of a new year

My what an eventful year 2015 has been. We traveled and built and volunteered and survived a really cold winter in a fifth wheel trailer. What did you do?

With all that we did last year, we are now much more comfortable in our trailer. We have also gained valuable experience in building Earthships, which we will put to good use when we get to building our own.

You may be wondering exactly how things are working out in our newly insulated trailer, now that some winter has arrived. Well, just before we left, we put up a plastic barrier wall from the edge of the roof down to the ground in front of the trailer. Here is a picture of me working on it.

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That was December 9th, if you can believe it. It was quite warm; not even below freezing. That wall now gives us a covered walk-way from the trailer to the toilet, with only a small gap to go through where you are fully exposed to the sky. It is quite a nice feature to have as our front step is pretty much always clear of snow. I say pretty much, because you will inevitably track some in on your boots.

We headed out for the holidays on December 10th and we didn’t get back until January 1, 2016. Christmas was green for a large portion of us northerners, but the snow arrived shortly afterwards. This is what we got back to at the trailer.

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Our driveway was nicely ploughed for us so we didn’t have any difficulties getting in. The wood stove didn’t have any problems and it didn’t take long to heat up the trailer. It hasn’t been super cold so it hasn’t been difficult to keep the trailer heated either, which is really nice.

I took some other pictures of our surroundings so you can all enjoy the loveliness that is winter.

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A little while later, as we were nice and cozy inside by the fire, it started to snow again. It was one of those quiet, big-flaked kinda snows. Very Christmas-y, actually. I took this picture from inside the trailer.

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So, now that we are starting a new year, we need to figure out what the plan is. The first order of business is to get our kitchen rebuilt as right now everything is just a pile of stuff. Once we get that out of the way, there probably won’t be much building going on until spring hits. That’s when we’ll be ripping out the other section of the trailer that we didn’t get to and having it spray foamed as well.

There will also be some more land clearing and working on house plans. We need to start collecting tires and cans as well. One thing is for sure, there is always something to work on so there aren’t any dull moments.