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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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Chicken Coop

Monday was another perfect day; the sun was shining, the bugs were few and far between and we needed to get started on the coop. Our birds arrive on Wednesday and so far they will be like us, houseless. A houseless chicken up here in the bush will soon become some four legged creatures free lunch.

We had lots of 2x4s and some plywood lying around so this project also helped clean up the place.

Mary did the painting, I took the pictures.

Well I did some painting and cutting. See those white boards? I did some of them., and I used some of Mary's paint to do the floor of the trailer.

Here we have the base and corner posts up.  Mary is raking the sand and gravel so everything is level.

The skid-steer makes the job so much easier. This is a great machine and I'm very happy with it.

Almost time for lunch and then we are off to town. Drop by in a few days and hopefully I will be able to post pictures of the completed project.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Road Work Continues

For the next few weeks the crews will be working on widening and taking out the blind curves on Coe Island Lake Road.

Everyone is very friendly and will answer any questions we have about the project.

The "skidder" is massive and can move twelve trees at a time.

Here the trees are being used to fill in a gully.

Trees that can be harvested are placed in this bed and cut into 12 foot lengths.

The last tree is down, now it's time for the clean-up and road improvements.

Check back next week for pictures of the completed project.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Hot Showers in the Woods

For those of you who travel the back roads and camp far from the comforts of home, you can still have a hot shower. Here in Bancroft we built a "watershed" some years ago. We installed a shower stall and composting toilet and both have served us well. We always had to carry water and fill the bucket if we wanted a shower. Now we are able to collect the rain water, store it, and use gravity to fill the bucket if we want a shower. I'll explain:

Our water shed is very basic, just 8x10 with a solar light, toilet, and shower.

This week we installed eavestroughs along one side .........................................................

and a rain barrel to collect and store the water. It has an overflow spout at the top, a screen cover to keep out leaves and a tap at the bottom for a hose that runs into the shed and fills another container there.

Inside the shed you can see our set-up. The green hose brings rain water into the plastic garbage can, while the grey machine on the table pumps and heats the water to the shower head.
 We can control the temperature of the water by the dial on the front of the machine.

This is the pump that we place in the bucker of rain water, turn on the machine and hot water comes out the shower head. Oh, one other feature is the ability to charge the battery, which runs the pump from your car's cigarette lighter.

Under the table you can see the propane tank, our source of fuel to heat the water.

That's our set-up, simple, functional and it feels so good to get cleaned up after cutting trees all day. We bought ours at Canadian Tire, but I'm sure other retailers carry them as well.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Is wider better?

Talked to the road superintendent the other day. He had a crew working on Coe Is. Lake Road, putting down red markers and tape on trees. Nice fellow, very friendly, great personality for the job. Turns out the township decided to widen the road, take out some of the curves and blind spots so people can drive faster and get to town sooner. Of course they will miss all the sights I have shared here this spring, the fox, turtles, loons and deer all looking after their young and giving us a chance to glimpse their struggles for survival.

The forest has been pushed back.

One huge tree, still standing, but not for long.

Progress .................................... faster, straighter, smoother.

I prefer -------------------------------- slower, relaxed, scenic.  ...............................  must be getting old.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Had a busy day yesterday. Mary and I worked until 7 p.m. setting up our rain water collection system. The forecast is rain for the next 4 days so we should see if our ideas work; more about that in another blog.

Safety, is always on my mind when we are working in the bush or building our house. The other day I noticed this safety set-up. Please excuse the pictures, by the time I got turned around he was just about done.

If you click on the picture you will see a cable running down to the truck with a ball attached to the cable. This ball contains a spring system that will arrest or stop the cable from unrolling further if it is jerked suddenly, such as when someone falls. The driver before climbing up on top of the trailer to adjust the tarp or strap down the load will put on his safety harness and attach it to this cable.

Look closely at the base of the pole. The driver has just finished adjusting the tarp on top of his trailer and is ready to leave the yard.

The safety cable is kept attached to the pole so that the next driver can use it. This is just one of the many safety laws that Canadian workers must obey. Employers are required by law to provide the equipment and to ensure it is used as designed.
I'm sure Rob will know all about this.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Sean and Casey

Sean and Casey called and said they were coming up for the day. Great! The weather was perfect and we always enjoy the time when the kids drop by.

Time for lunch. Mary cooked chicken along with sweet potatoes. Delicious!

Then it was down to the lake for some afternoon sun.

Sean is guarding the watermelon so it doesn't float away.

Today we have appointments in Bancroft and supplies to get so we can build the chicken coop. Can't spend every day down by the lake.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Who's in the Garden

These beautiful, warm, sunny days we've been enjoying this weekend brought Mary into her garden ............................... other creatures have also shown up.

This old man enjoys a shady spot.

The sun has been smiling lately.

As always we continue to chip away at the forest. Truthfully, this area was cleared by friends who were glad to get the firewood.

I decided we needed to mark a few trees so they don't all get cut down.

I'll keep you posted as we get closer to our build date.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Everybody Helped

Yesterday was a very productive day. The weather was perfect and thanks to our friends and neighbours we got a lot done. Marvin and Annie called to say they were stopping by for a brief visit and would bring lunch.That was a real treat and it was so good to see them again after our travels together this past winter.Thanks Annie and Marvin.

Ted, Paul and Sharon came over in the morning to pull out some long logs that we had left on the forest floor, just because they were too big for us to handle.

First we moved our trailer to a safe location.

Then Ted pulled out the logs and cut them to length.

With the right equipment, the job was so much easier.

Our picnic lunch, in the trailer with Marvin and Annie.

In the afternoon, Paul and Steve came over to clear trees and haul away the logs. With all the help we are getting I'm sure our site will be ready when the builder arrives the end of July.

If you are coming up this summer be sure to bring your chainsaw.

Happy Father's Day

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Some Visitors We Don't Want

This little guy showed up the other day.

We love visitors, especially the two legged kind, but this guy can stay away. They're cute as babies and our kids had one for a few weeks, but they soon realized it was better off in the wilds. As long as we keep the place clean and free of garbage, they just pass on through.

As  promised yesterday, here are a few up-dated pictures of the loon and train station.  I even found more turtles busy by the side of the road.You may have to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

This snapper was just about finished laying her eggs.

An hour later and she was on the other side laying more eggs. Please drive carefully when in "turtle territory".

Can you see the loon on her nest? We have a great view from the road.

The nest is on this small island and seems well protected from predators. It's wonderful to have a front row seat as they get ready for the eggs to hatch.

In town the old train station has been stripped bare. Next step, I believe, will be to jack her up and build a proper foundation under her.

From time to time I change the header bar at the top of the page. Hope you don't mind.
Time for me to go and cut wood. Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Too Busy to Post

Well folks, time flies when you are trying to get everyone organized. Spent Monday in Toronto, meeting with our suppliers and trying to get delivery dates nailed down. Not easy when you are not sure when your builder will be here to start building.

Back home it's more of the same.

Remember the loon pictures from a few weeks ago; well they are now nesting in full view of the road. It is very easy to see them up close with binoculars and we don't have to get so close we will disturb them.

Their nest is right in the middle of the green patch on the island.

In town I noticed they are making progress on the restoration project. The white stucco has been removed from the train station as that was not part of the original building.  I'll post those pictures tomorrow.

Today will be another day of cutting logs and stacking firewood. I'm sure by the end of the summer we will have enough wood for several winters.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Bancroft is working hard to maintain its downtown core and restore some of its historical sites. New park benches can be found along Hastings street giving folks a place to rest and visit. One project presently underway is the restoration of the old railway station that was closed in 1975.

The white stucco will be removed and the building restored and made safe for occupation. Then the Bancroft Chamber of Commerce, the Mineral Club, and a few other local organizations will move in. It is wonderful to see the efforts of many local clubs, organizations and individuals making this project possible

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bancroft Home & Cottage Show

There is lots to see and do in Bancroft this weekend.

Up at the curling club, you can take in the Home and Cottage show. Lots of venders and neat things to see.

Down at Mellennium Park, you can participate in the "Relay for Life" It looks to be very well organized.

These are booths set up to assist with all those who participate in the relay; so come on down and lend your support.

Remember, this is also the season for turtles. Please drive carefully and watch out for these little guys.

They are everywhere, busy laying their eggs; often right beside our highways.

Whatever you are doing, have a great weekend.

Thanks for dropping by.