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

If you have any questions send us a comment; we love to hear from our readers.
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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Spring Brood

This is a great time to be in Bancroft exploring. There is so much new life and evidence of wild animals close by. Mary saw fresh deer and bear scat when she was walking on our property today.

While in town I saw these guys down by the river.

Wow, twelve little ones to look after and they all know how to behave. Mom in front, dad behind and the goslings safely in-between.

Checking out the shore line for something to eat.

This must have been an older cousin flying overhead.

Took this shot through the trailer window, as this girl wandered by looking for a suitable warm, sandy spot to lay her eggs. We watched her for an hour as she meandered around and then selected our driveway as a possible site. She dug three test holes but we didn't see any evidence of eggs.

Lots to do up here Valery, you would love it. The chickens arrive June 27th so there will be fresh eggs when you come up.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Chalk Lines on the Floor

Today Jim and Pirouette came over to help me lay out the wall locations in our off grid home. We measured off from the west Durisol wall and snapped a line to show the finished surface of the hall walls. Jim knew exactly what he was doing so we got everything correct. We had to juggle one wall in the bathroom to make sure we included the drain pipe and vent pipe within the enclosed wall.

Here we are snapping the guest bedroom wall. The bedrooms have large east windows, so the morning sun will come pouring in and get you up early. No sleeping in until 12 o'clock here.

Jim double checks to make sure the drain and vent pipes fit inside the wall. All the drain locations have been boxed out so the shower stall will be easy to install.

After Jim and Pirouette left the skies darkened and the rain came down.

The water cascading off our roof reminds me of a mountain waterfall. It is wonderful to be able to sit on our covered porch and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature here in our forest. We love our house design, thanks to Tom and Christine at Solares Architecture in Toronto. (click "Clearwater Lodge" on sidebar)

Thanks, Jim and Pirouette for all your help today; greatly appreciated.

And thanks to our readers for stopping by; enjoy your day.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Evening Paddle

When it's 34*C (93.2*F) outside and you have had a busy day working the land, there is no better way to end the day than a paddle on a quiet calm lake. Thanks to Paul and Lee we can leave our canoe down at their dock and go canoeing without the hassle of hauling the canoe down to the water and back each time we feel like going for an evening paddle.

We decided to explore the north east end of the lake tonight and we were the only ones around.

This blue heron wasn't happy that we were invading his fishing hole so he moved on and we continued our paddle.

Now this is the way to get to your cottage without fighting traffic on the 401. Just jump in your float plane and soar above the rush hour traffic.

We, on the other hand, don't have to go back to the city, so we can dip our paddle all summer long. Are you coming up this summer?

Thanks for checking in on us.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Garden Fence

This weekend, our focus was getting a garden fence up that would save the vegetables already showing life above ground. The green pea shoots have already been eaten off so the pressure was on to get a substantial fence up before all the wild critters showed up for a free buffet meal.

Our garden fence is 24 ft x 12 ft and 5 ft high. We buried the chicken wire into the ground and hope the fence is tall enough to discourage deer from jumping in and helping themselves.

Here I am topping the fence with barbed wire. We ran two strands along the top thinking that those masked marauders that show up at night might not be so anxious to crawl over the top of the fence once their little paws touch a sharp barb.

Believe me, those barbs are sharp. If I was a raccoon, I'd look elsewhere for supper.

Mary buries the chicken wire while I take pictures. Ok, I helped, but I did take the picture.

We still have the door to build and install and if the rain holds off we plan to get that done this week.

Thanks for stopping by and have a safe day.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Village Playhouse

After a very busy day of building fences, we had supper, cleaned up and went into town to the Village Playhouse.

The building was built in 1921 and formerly used as the Bancroft Community Hall, the local jail, court house and library. Since 1990 it has been hosting sold out plays, musicals and concerts.

Last night's production was put on by the North Hastings Community Choir and was billed as a "Selections of Broadway Musicals"

The last number was from "Hair" so many members took a moment to adjust their usual hair style, much to the delight of the audience.

A most enjoyable night out, and we will be getting tickets for more productions as we settle into Bancroft.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Seed Fluff

The west has "tumbleweed", some homes have "dust bunnies", we  have "seed fluff". Although our walls are up and the roof is on, there are still a lot of openings where the wind whistles through. Along for the ride are these "seed balls" that just roll around our floor, moving at the whim of the breezes coming through.

No harm, no threat, we don't stumble over them and they usually move out of the way as we approach; but they are an unwanted presence, so we will be glad when we are weather tight. Then the seed fluff can float wherever it wants and land in fertile soil to grow again.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Off to the lumberyard today to get some cedar for fencing. Mary wants the garden to feed us, not the deer or raccoons,  so a fence of some kind is in order. Yvan, our neighbour,  has barbed wire along the top of his fence, not sure, but we will probably do the same. 

As you can see in the photos above I got a nice load of cedar, (seconds) perfect for fencing all for a little over $200.00

 There must be 40 mills within an hours drive of Bancroft so lumber is definitely  one of the major employers in the region. Unfortunately very few mills sell directly to the public so you need to ask around and find out which ones do. 

Also some mills specialize in soft woods, other in hardwoods. You can get kiln dried wood or air dried wood, dressed or rough stock. There is really quiet a variety.

Once Mary gets home, I'll cut the 2x4x12s into 6 ft lengths and then two of us will build the fence so a raccoon can't go through it, climb over it or dig under it. (we hope)

Check back in a few days to see if our fence is standing, or if the raccoons have won.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Time to Cure

We have decided to allow the concrete slab to cure before we get serious about working on the interior. Ideally it should be three months, but I think a month rest, then we will start doing the drywall on the ceiling. Jim, our neighbour, was kind enough to loan me his drywall hoist, so sometime in June, I will order the drywall and get started. Not sure how often I will post as putting up drywall is not very exciting, but then again, we might have some funny stories to share, so who knows? I'll post as the unexpected happens and if there are no posts for a while you will know that all is well.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Fire in Faraday

Drove into town this afternoon and saw black smoke off in the distance. Smoke, means fire and I love going to fires, especially if I can be there before the firetrucks arrive.

The building was fully engulfed by the time we got there.

One truck was there when we arrived the other pulled up shortly after, sirens blaring all the way up the road. Gets your blood flowing.

This is the way we fight fires up here; all volunteer guys and they do a great job. I inquired about volunteering and was surprised they actually take guys my age, wow!

The pumper truck pulled past the fire and headed for the lake. A hose was quickly unrolled and a line fed into the lake to keep the tanks in the truck full. Everyone knew their job and got right to work as soon as they arrived.

Thanks guys, hope I never have to call you.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Algonquin Park

This is Victoria Day Weekend here in Ontario and Monday is a holiday. This is the traditional weekend that folks go north and open up their cottage after a long cold winter and some take to the woods to go camping. Algonquin Park is one of our favourite destinations and it is only an hour north of us. We have many fond memories of camping with family and friends over the years and so we try and visit at least once or twice a year.

We had a picnic lunch at Pog Lake campground a place we have spent many happy summer days with the kids when they were small.

The forest floor is carpeted with pine needles and cones and the smell of pine permeates the air.

There were lots of folks out on the lake enjoying the perfect weather and calm water. We also spotted loons swimming among the canoes and kayaks.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


We are making progress, working hard to get things done and enjoy the house this summer.

Today we are finishing up the siding hopefully. We are fine, just very busy working with our excellent crew to get things done.


4:48 p.m.

Dave working over the south east window.

Tuesday we hope to get the gable ends covered.

Enjoy the long weekend. We will update the blog on Wednesday unless something unexpected happens.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Exhausted (post was written yesterday)

It's pitiful, here it is 7:30 and my eyes are heavy, my arms tired, my back sore and I'm exhausted. We worked alongside TJ and Dave today and I'll admit it, I'm over the hill. Can't do that work every day for 10 hours. Those guys are awesome.

We were up and out of the trailer at 7 this morning to start the day with Dave and TJ. I worked with TJ and Mary worked with Dave so we had two teams cutting and installing siding today. We are delighted with the progress and wish we could do it again tomorrow but we have meetings in Peterborough.

Richard dropped by along with Jeff from Tackaberry to discuss the HRV system and the radiant floor heating.

It's "black fly" season up here so Mary hung her mosquito netting over the picnic table so lunch could be eaten without ingesting unwanted protein. Black flies don't taste like hamburgers.

Work, work, work, that's all we did today; no sitting around when you work with Dave and TJ.

This is the gadget that was giving me sleepless nights. It was set at 60 psi before the concrete floor was poured and by the time I could walk on the floor and check the gage it had dropped to 28 psi. Oh  sh ......!
Did the guys puncture our radiant floor tubing when they were pouring our floor? No way, so Richard claims and he should know; he's been in the heating business for years and says the tubing is so tuff even deliberative hitting it with a shovel wouldn't puncture it. OK, I can sleep better tonight.

Thanks for stopping by and we will chat tomorrow.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

HELP! Another Delay

Surprise, another delay, just as we were seeing the siding installed.

Yesterday we discovered that the PT (pressure treated) wood we used for strapping the outside wall creates a problem for the steel siding. Seems the wood contains copper which causes a chemical reaction on the metal siding.Why we reached this stage before someone informing us is a mystery. So the screws we have for attaching the siding need to be replaced and we need a barrier between the siding and wood strapping so the two are not touching.


Call Pat our builder and Tom our architect. HELP!

Pat quickly cut a roll of plastic into 4 inch rolls and Mary and I stapled the plastic to the wood siding.

The crew continued to install the siding and when the new screws arrive (two weeks) Mary and I will replace them all. (let us know if you are coming up to help)

If you plan to build, plan to be flexible, and create solutions on the fly. Nothing like a little stress first thing in the morning; almost as good as coffee for stimulating the heart. Now where did I put my blood pressure pills?

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Birds and Windows

Now that the floor is in, we are spending more time in the house. One sad occurrence  the first day was a dead robin which struck a window and broke its neck. We want to enjoy nature not cause more stress to the environment so we decided tape on the windows might be a solution. (Doesn't look the best, does it?)

If you click on the picture above you will see the green tape on the window. No, our window didn't crack, just our first attempt to let the birds know they are flying into a window, not the forest which is reflected in the glass. 

While working inside to put the tape across each window a humming bird struck the window. Fortunately he survived but we just knew that something more than tape was needed. We will try and find some window decals and see if they keep the birds away from the windows.
To be continued once we get some decals. If you have a better solution send us a note.


So here is our present solution. Not sure if it will help the birds; the window still looks confusing to me, but I'm not the one trying to fly through it .................... yet.

Yes, we are making progress on the siding, slow, but slow progress is better than no progress.

Have a great evening and thanks for dropping by.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Stamped Concrete

The crew working on the slab wanted to know if we wanted it stamped. Mary had her own ideas and did her own stamping as you can see in the pictures below. Very creative.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Concrete Slab

Today the slab went down. The crew arrived early and was soon at work hauling concrete from the truck to the back of the house.

The concrete was dumped in a U formation which made it easy to check for thickness as they progressed across the room.

We removed a window on the north wall so the concrete could be delivered inside, making the job a little easier.

Here, Al trowels the surface to get it smooth.

It looks finished but we're not quite done; still need to get the power trowel (whirly-bird) on it once it starts to firm up.

This is our view out the south windows, just like living in a "tree house".

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mary's Garden

This will be the first year we have put in a vegetable garden. We are looking forward to our own organic grown vegetables and we should have some by the end of June.

We have three beds. One has "dutch sets" (onions), carrots beets, peas and radishes. The other has kale, spinach, swiss chard and a variety of herbs Mary bought at Richter's when she was there last week with Leanne.

The third bed will be at the far end and have beans, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers.

Can you guess what these plants are? ........... garlic. They were planted last fall and are in the same bed as the asparagus. The garlic looks great, the asparagus is only just starting to show itself.

"Dutch sets" just poking through after one week in the soil. We plan to plant a new bed of these every few weeks so we have a continuous supply of green onions throughout the summer.

Our garden looking back at our house with the chicken coop in-between.The chickens arrive June 27th

Unfortunately after a wonderful day in the garden, Mary came back to the trailer totally stuffed up; forgot all about the moulds in the soil. From now on gardening means gloves and a mask.

Chat later.