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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Friday, 29 June 2012

Fishing June 29th

Paul invited us to go fishing after supper, a perfect way to end the day. It was hot here in Bancroft today 31*C and this is the Canada Day holiday so there are lots of people up at their cottage. Getting out on the lake for a little fishing was a great way to escape the heat.

Mary prepares her line as we head out for the fishing hole.

This lake is known for it's splake and small mouth bass. Mary pulled in the largest this night, looks about 4lbs. Paul confirmed it.

Does she look happy? Mary loves it up here and it shows on her face, always smiling. We should have moved up here 30 years ago.

More good news. Our chickens have learned to put themselves to bed. Last night Mary had to corral them and lift each one into the coop. Tonight when we got home from fishing all but one were inside, ready for bed. We even got 4 eggs today, the second day we've had them. The summer looks promising.

Enjoy the long weekend and check back tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Mud Art and Chicken Coops

Life in Bancroft is relaxed and quiet. It reminds me of growing up in Brampton back in the 60s when Brampton had only one traffic light and kids played ball hockey on the road.

Sitting in Shoppers Drugmart parking lot this afternoon this was what we saw.

Three young boys making mud and decorating the side of the garage. No one was telling them what to do or how to do it; they were just being creative in their own unsupervised way. Wow, you mean kids today still enjoy being outside doing their own thing. Yes, and what a great way to spend their first day of summer holidays.

Ok, this has to be the cutest chicken coop in Canada. Yes, a chicken coop; the best, right here in Bancroft. If you look closely you can see this is a mobile chicken coop, built on a trailer ready for transportation.

Mary loves it. I think it's adorable and the chickens are happy to be living here. (No it isn't ours it belongs to our very talented neighbour Jim who built it from leftover scraps.)

We have some very creative people living in Bancroft. Why not come and meet some of them? 

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chickens and Fish

Today the chickens arrived. The phone rang at 7 am.  "Bird's Creek calling. Your chickens are ready."

A quick breakfast and we were on our way. The arrival of new birds is a big occasion up here and we didn't want to be late.

So here are our "girls" all huddled under the coop. So far they are very timid and not very adventuresome. They prefer to stay close together and under the shelter. Maybe tomorrow they will be more relaxed. We did get our first egg today.

Mary's garden is in full production. All the plants seem happy but we think they need more sunshine. Another project for next winter ................ cut more trees.

While I was taking Ben home, Mary went down to the lake to fish and this little small mouth bass will be supper tonight. As I type he is cooking over the fire along with some sweet potatoes, yummy!

Thanks for stopping by and we will chat tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The "Girls" are Coming

Today we put a new steel roof on the chicken coop. Tomorrow the birds or as Mary calls them, the "Girls" arrive.

We used scraps of steel siding left over from the house and just pieced it together to give the girls a dry place to roost the night away. I'm sure they will be happy not to have the drip, drip of water when it rains. Now, do you think we will get more eggs?

Tomorrow we get the birds and return to the house construction, so drop by to see what is happening..

Monday, 25 June 2012

Busy Weekend

It was a busy weekend for us. Toronto on Saturday, Orangeville and Peterborough on Sunday then home to Bancroft today. It was wonderful to see family and friends and take a break from our construction project.

Our trailer was full coming home. New propane stove in the front, wooden pallets in the middle and two toilets and two shower bases in the back.

Of course with all the running around we were hungry so stopped here for lunch. It was cholesterol overload but we don't eat this way very often.

I love sweet potato fries and these were delicious. Hopefully a small portion shared wasn't too damaging.

One thing that did surprise me was how tired I felt after eating lunch. Thanks to Marvin and Annie and Leanne and Jamie we had great sleeps at both Toronto and Peterborough, so I think the body just wanted sleep because of the heavy digestion needed after lunch. I couldn't even finish driving home.

Tomorrow it's back to work on the house and Wednesday the chickens arrive. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


Saturday afternoon we gathered in Toronto to celebrate Owen's safe arrival and Connie's ___ birthday. She tells me her age is the new 40s so I will go with that. 

It was great to see brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, girlfriends, old friends, new friends as we celebrated new life and long life.

Owen snuggling his mom and enjoying his little fist.

Sisters, daughters and grandson make a beautiful picture.

Valery, and her award winning dessert. Delicious. Thanks Valery, you making awesome treats.

This is Brian, our unofficial second son, who spends as much time in Europe as he does in Canada. Hope to see him in Bancroft this fall.

Owen's proud daddy with a few surprise gifts; mainly snack foods for those long nights when Owen decides to stay up when his parents just want some sleep.

Hi everyone, I'm Owen. Thanks for coming to the party. Hope to see you again soon.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Finally Done

Sean and I worked non stop Friday and Saturday morning to get the drywall on the ceiling. I think we were both surprised that we accomplished the task. It was exhausting work, measuring, marking, cutting, lifting, attaching; repeat all over again. But it's done and we are happy and now able to move on to the next task.
I find it best to have two tasks going at once; one indoors, one outdoors. That way I can accommodate the weather, either rain or high temperatures and still continue to work in some comfort.
Next week I will continue the gable build-outs, and start the interior walls. If it rains I can work inside, stay dry and get the walls up. If it is sunny I can work outside (on the shady side of the house) and get the steel up. Either way we are working to get moved in by the end of July.
Here are a few pictures of the completed ceiling. Let me know what you think of our "amateur" job.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

Friday morning, looking south from the north west corner of the house.

This was the area we needed to get done before noon on Saturday.

Guess what? We did it. Here we have Sean putting the last sheet in place.

Saturday, and Sean is cutting out the pot-light locations. Thanks to Marvin, his "roto-zip" made the job very easy to do.

DONE! YEA! We are delighted that we met our deadline and now we are ready to "mud and tape" the ceiling. I think I might wait until we have the walls up and covered with drywall.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Drywall Our Ceiling

Another successful day. Sean and I with Mary's help were able to reach the halfway point with the drywall installation.

Here are a few pictures from today.

We have the drywall stored on the front porch. This makes it very easy to mark and cut the sheets as well as bring them in through the double doors.

If you are planning to do drywall, do yourself a favour and rent a "drywall hoist".  It will save your back and make the job almost enjoyable.

This is how easy it works. One person can crank the drywall up and move it into place while a second person simply sits on a ladder and guides the corners into alignment.

Another day and a half and we should be done. 

Any questions?

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


It's 9 pm and I'm exhausted. Had a great day. Unloaded the drywall and actually got a few sheets up; but I'm too tired to write so will simply post a few pictures. (OK, a few comments)

Big Jim brought the boom truck right to our front door; much appreciated.

We had 50 sheets of 4x12 to unload on one of the hottest days of the year. Exhausting!

Here Sean and Mark stack the drywall on our front porch. Don't forget we are handling two sheets at a time.

The  first sheet and I'm so glad to have Jim's drywall hoist to use; sure saves the back.

Sean double checks to make sure we've lined the sheet up parallel to the wall.

OK, time to crash. I'm ready to call it a day.

Thanks for stopping by.

Solar Powered Drill

We get our electrical power from the sun. When we inquired about getting hooked up to the "grid" we had estimates between $45,000 - $75,000 and we are not that far from our grid tied neighbours. Naturally those prices influenced our decision to go with solar at half the cost.

As part of the learning experience we converted our trailer to solar so we could travel and stay anywhere, but also learn if "solar" was feasible for us. With a few adjustments I think we will be just fine living "off grid"

One benefit is the ability to use the sun to charge all our battery operated tools we use as we are building our passive solar home here in Bancroft.

That's the charger plugged into our trailer outlet that is connected to our batteries, which get filled from the sun. I know what you are thinking, "What if the sun doesn't shine?" 

Good question and that is where those little "adjustments" come in. Either we have other batteries fully charged, so one must be prepared, or we switch tasks and work on something that doesn't require power tools, like pulling wire or installing outlets and switches. I think that is the secrete to living with solar. You must be prepared and you must be flexible.

Yea! The red light is on, we have a fully charged battery.

Some day we may do the same with our cars.

Any questions?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

At the End of the Day

The next two months are booked solid with work projects. The offers to help have been greatly appreciated and we look forward to seeing some of you up here this summer. We need to be in and ready for winter by the end of September, so every day is important. 

Yesterday we completed the wiring and strapping in the ceiling. Wednesday, Sean will be here and together we will tackle the installation of the ceiling drywall.

Thanks to our neighbour Jim, we were able to borrow his drywall hoist which will make the task much more pleasant. I remember struggling to do this job by hand years ago. You had to be an acrobat to keep everything balanced and in place. The hoist will be such a great help.

Regardless of how busy we are, we only do what is on the agenda for the day and usually try to relax in the evening. Our favourite escape is a paddle on the lake; very quiet, peaceful and soothing.

OK, time to get back to work. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to send an e-mail if you are coming over.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Total Strangers

You never know who you might meet when you talk to total strangers. Whenever we go into town we take along a couple of jugs so we can get water at the municipal tap in the park. The water is treated and made available for cottagers in the area.

So today we were filling our containers and a gentleman came over wondering if the water was safe to drink. We explained what we use it for and that we hadn't suffered any ill effects after 4 years of drinking the water.

Our conversations continued and small bits of information were exchanged; Where are you from? Toronto. And you? Brampton.

Brampton, I (stranger) live in Brampton, on Mill St., Mill St South. No kidding! What number 105.  Unbelievable, that's just a few doors down from where I grew up. 105 - George (Mush)  Thompson's house. Great lacrosse players that family.

So for the next 30 minutes I filled him in on the history of Mill St. between Fraser and Harold St., reliving all the good times back in the 60's

Now how often does that happen? Talking to strangers, you never know what you will learn.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Turtle Rescue

This is the time of year we see lots of turtles crawling across our roads seeking a warm sandy spot to place their eggs. Unfortunately, many don't reach the other side, and our turtle population suffers as the result. This month we've seen three large turtles wandering around our property checking out the soil conditions for laying eggs. For some species the eggs stay in the soil all summer being incubated by the sun, until the eggs hatch in the fall. The new baby turtles stay underground all winter where they have a better chance of survival; then emerge in the spring and head for the nearest body of water. Amazing!

Today, Mary rescued 3 turtles as we drove along Coe Island Lake road. Here we see one that needs a little help.

One quick lift, and dash and he was back in the water.

Almost there.

Please drive slowly if you are in "turtle land" and stop and help if you are able.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


We haven't finished our house yet and we are looking at  bunkies.  There is a lumberyard near Bancroft that manufactures them and will deliver them to your site. These are a few pictures taken today but they will build any style you have in mind. 

This is the double door wood shed; great for storage or workshop.

I like the 3 ft. overhang on this unit; gives it a finished house look.

Interior of the shed building. The bunkie comes with two windows, finished insulated ceiling and a standard door.

They are presently building a guest cabin 14x20 with a loft and it was impressive. Let us know what you think of them Chris. Next time you are up we will take you out so you can see them for yourself.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Having grandchildren is  wonderful. You can spoil them, then hand them back to mom and dad to deal with. You can have them over for tea, sleep over, ice-cream, cake, and making cookies. Grandchildren let you break all the rules and you have the best excuse yet. Love. I'm just loving him to pieces.

So Owen (our first grandchild, 8 weeks old) and I spent some time together today. He has grown so much since I last saw him and he just loved it when I walked with him and cuddled him close. We discussed ATVs, chainsaws, crowbars, ice-fishing and photography. We didn't discuss girls, he's too young.

Anyway, here are a few bragging pictures. We love him, intend to spoil him and looking forward to our next visit.

Grandma and mother discuss babies while I held Owen.

Owen, enjoying Mary's little finger. He sure likes to suck.

Time to strap him in and go for a walk. This is just a long piece of fabric Sherri uses as a sling to carry Owen. Wasn't that long ago we did the same with Sherri. Would you like to see that picture?

Thanks for stopping by. 

Monday, 11 June 2012


Off to Toronto in a few minutes. We have appointments  on Monday and Tuesday then home on Wednesday. Unless something spectacular happens we won't be updating the blog until Wednesday.

Have a safe few days and we will see you soon.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Run for the Cure

Friday night was the "Run for the Cure" event here in Bancroft. It was an emotional evening as speeches were given and the whole community came out for support. The message so often shared was early detection and be aware of changes in your body. 

The park was packed and looked more like a country fair than a fund raising event. Young and old there to participate and share their stories. Tents were set up around the edge for those needing to catch a quick nap as the teams would run/walk the course throughout the night.

Paper lanterns lined the course, all dedicated to a friend or family member who had battled cancer.

The survivors and caregivers lead the first walk around the course and got an ovation from the crowd as they passed.

Team members discuss their plans for the run. Each team had to have at least one member on the course for the 12 hours of the run.

It was an evening to remind all of us how important our health is and to take the necessary steps to keep ourselves healthy.