LIVING OFF GRID

This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Saturday, 25 March 2017

BACK ON THE LAKE


It was a beautiful afternoon for ice-fishing so after lunch today the ladies headed down to the lake to try their luck.


First job was to use Durl's auger and that took more effort than expected.


Eventually with everyone taking turns we did manage to drill a hole down to open water.


Mary and Trudy happily enjoying the afternoon out on the lake. Will they bring supper home or will we go out to eat?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A VISIT TO THE BUSH


Yesterday we visited several sugar bush operations in the area so Trudy could see how diversified the maple syrup production is.


Gerry's operation is very traditional using a wood fired evaporator to produce delicious maple syrup with just a hint of smoke flavour. It's the best.


This was his first boil off for 2017 and when we visited in the morning he had both fires burning brightly.


Constant attention is need to prevent the sap from overheating and burning, Here Gerry adds more sap to the first pan. Trudy was amazed at how sweet the smell was inside the sugar shack. A candy store couldn't smell any better.


In the afternoon the girls went ice-fishing and came home with this splake. Trudy had it for supper and wants to try again on Friday. Thanks to Durl's ice-auger it will be so much easier for us to go fishing whenever we want. If you can't drill a hole you can't go fishing.

We are expecting company before noon and with the temperatures back below freezing (-14*C) I think we will enjoy the visit around the wood stove.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Monday, 20 March 2017

MAPLE SYRUP TIME


Today we did our first maple syrup boil-off for the 2017 season. It is a long process for us as our system is not very energy efficient but the finished product is so delicious.


The journey starts in the small pan closest to the chimney. As it is warmed and starts to show bubbles we ladle it into the middle pan where it sits until it boils then finally into the larger pan for the final few hours of boiling. We boiled for ten hours and finished with two litres of delicious lip smacking homemade maple syrup.


Trudy and Mary pour the sap into a bucket for the final stage of boiling, up at the house.


We use a propane cooker so we can control the temperature and easily monitor the progression of sap conversion.


Suddenly your sap can boil over and ruin the whole batch so a constant eye is kept on the sap at this stage.


Last year my sister Carol gave us this coffee urn which makes filling the jars so much easier.


Our first bottle of maple syrup and we are delighted. Time for buckwheat pancakes, sausages and homemade maple syrup.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us and hope you get to enjoy your own maple syrup.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

SAP IS FLOWING


The days are getting longer, the temperatures are climbing and we have been anxious to tap trees before Trudy heads back to BC.


Yesterday we did it; got out the equipment and tapped twenty three maple trees. We also did two birch trees but they won't produce sap until the ground reaches 50*F.


Even Trudy got a chance to drive the tap in tight.


We used our sled to haul the buckets and lines as we moved from tree to tree.


Time for a tea break.


It was a perfect morning for tapping trees.


We use four litre jugs and drill a hole in the cap through which we slide the line. This sits in the snow on the shady side of the tree.


We were done before noon and enjoyed another lemon, maple syrup drink as we soaked up the sunshine.

Not all of our sap will become maple syrup; some we will simple enjoy as a drink right from the tree. It is full of nutrients and a healthy substitute for our usual tea drink.

Today we will collect and store the sap for our first boil-off sometime next week.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

ICE-FISHING


Heading out for an afternoon of ice-fishing.


The boys took turns pulling the sleigh and Durl directed us to his favourite spot.


Best way to travel swiftly across the ice ..... on your back. Oh the joys of youth.


Grandpa showing the younger generation how it's done. Although it was a hand auger Durl soon had six holes drilled and everyone was fishing.

Trudy was determined to get a fish for supper.



We had a perfect spot and a perfect day; sunny, warm, just a little breeze and lots of fun.


We were dressed for the cold but it was much milder than expected.


That's Rachel the youngest; fishing while the dog sat on her lap and kept her warm.

Two bites ........ No fish.

Guess we are having peanut-butter sandwiches for supper.

What better memories can a child have than fishing with Grandma and Grandpa.

Thanks Linda and Durl for a wonderful day.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

FROM OUR WINDOW


Took Trudy for a hike through the back of our property yesterday. Of course everything is still frozen and slippery.


Crossing the creeks was a special challenge, but no one fell so all was good.



Looks like our friendly Pileated woodpecker has been busy this winter.

Inspected our garlic beds but nothing showing yet. Can you tell we are anxious to see signs of spring?


Spotted this guy from our window after our walk. He looks extremely healthy and well fed for this time of year. We will be sure to keep our chickens safely locked in their coop from now on.

Hope to do some ice-fishing later in the week. I'll post pictures even if we just get a nibble.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Monday, 13 March 2017

PARTY TIME


When cousins visit from the west coast everyone wants time together. Here Trudy chats with her cousin Paul.


It's easy and convenient for everyone to gather at Connie's so that's what we did.


Lionel was more interested in toys than cousins. He had a great time putting train tracks together and getting everyone to chase him.



The kitchen was a popular spot, giving us a chance to sample the food before it was brought out and an opportunity to get caught up on everyone's latest news.


Thanks Connie and Andrew for a great afternoon.