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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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Running in 3 Different Directions

Some days are peaceful and orderly others are a tangle of jobs, decisions and labour. Yesterday was one of those tangle days. I had three different trades here all at the same time all needing my attention and requiring me to make decisions or find supplies. The day disappeared very quickly.

First on the scene was Herb's Siding and they got setup and ready to work very quickly. I jumped into the bobcat to move the supplies they needed from one side of the house to their work  area.

Soon Herb and his assistant were attaching the soffit and facia strips and our south wall was done before lunch; even had them cut out around the pot-light locations.

No sooner had Herb arrived than the Bob Cat service truck pulled in. I hadn't had an oil change since April of 2011 and also needed the hydraulic fluid changed.

Service on these machines is very easy and all the filters are within easy reach once the back door is open.

Here Steve empties the old oil into his barrel for disposal later.

He showed me how to add antifreeze if I need to this winter. My plan is to use the Bob Cat to plow the driveway this winter so may need to add some antifreeze later.

Last but not least was Joe our well driller who was here to install the well pump and pressure tank.

I wanted a large pressure tank in the hopes that we wouldn't need to run the well pump as often, thus saving the energy in our batteries. Joe thinks I should have gone with just a 20 gallon pressure tank as the pump is a slow start pump and draws very little energy when used.  Always a decision to be made and sometimes you just need to go with what you want in place. Time will tell if I made the right decision but can't dwell on it and there will be more decisions tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by and keeping an eye on us; today won't be quite so hectic. 

Monday, 30 July 2012

You are a Treasure

Mary is away in Ottawa and it was too hot to work yesterday but my thinking never stops. We love our life style and freedom to choose what we do. Our home is coming together in an ordered fashion, maybe not as quickly as I would like, but as quickly as we can muster. We have our health and freedom and if we decide to head south, east or west we can. Our rig is old but dependable and allows us to boondock where we like and be independent of campgrounds if we choose.

I am a blessed man. I have 3 wonderful children, a great son-in-law and a wife that loves me and shares this journey with joy and excitement sometimes with more enthusiasm than I have. Often we will be having the same unspoken thoughts. We will want the same end but may have different ways to get there. If it takes 2 weeks or two years Mary doesn't complain, just as long as she can see some progress. 

The house construction has been accelerated because Owen arrived, when we weren't sure there would ever be an Owen or a Jane in our little extended family circle. But we were surprised, delighted, euphoric and anxious to meet our first grandchild and now that he is here we want to stay closer and have the joy of watching him grow. To be close enough to visit and to have family and friends visit. 

Friends are dying off and we miss them. Family members die and we grieve our loss. Whatever happened to those I went to school with, those I worked with, travelled with played sports with? We had our good times, but now just memories.  I wonder where you are and what you are doing. How is life treating you? The days slip by and another year has gone, taking with it voices we will never hear again.

So we are staying home this winter. But staying home won't change the speed at which we age, it only allows us to spend more time with those closest to our hearts. Those who have walked life's path with us and shared the highs and lows we all face. 

Our place is our home but it's also our safe haven, a place where family and friends will always be welcome and campfires will always be shared.

For friends we haven't heard from in a while I hope to hear from you soon. For family who want to come but need a ride, then come by bus. It comes as far as Bancroft or Peterborough and we can meet you anywhere that is best for you. Up here the air is pure, the water clear and the campfires special when we can sit around together.

We celebrate the past, are excited about the future but live for today. It might be raining, snowing, hot or dry but the weather doesn't dictate how we feel or what we can do. WE make the choices and enjoy the day regardless. 

When I'm alone I miss everyone. If you are reading this and are able to travel then get your calendar out, make your travel plans and let us know what works best for you. 

If you can't travel send us a note. Lets book a date for next year if this year is not suitable. Let's reflect on our past endeavors and contemplate what the future possibilities are. Let's dream big and embrace the future together willing to share each other's successes and support each other when the wall seems too big to crawl over. 

We are blessed to have such a family and such a network of friends. We look forward to sharing a campfire together.

Thanks for stopping by so often and encouraging us as we enjoy this journey. You are a treasure.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


Summer and barbecuing go together like a hand and glove here in North America. Barbecues or BBQs use either propane, natural gas or charcoal as their fuel source. BBQs can be as cheap as $29.00 or as expensive as $800.00 or more. 

When we travel we don't have room for a BBQ so we adopted Connie's and Mike's method of BBQing. They use a large disposable aluminium roasting pan and fill it with charcoal. It's simple, cheap and takes up very little space in our trailer.

So here's the set-up, cheap disposable aluminium pan, grate, aluminium foil and burgers. We are ready to BBQ.

Last night we felt like having a burger so tried out Mike's BBQ idea.  Here we are outside our trailer.

Done to perfection. Would the "Big Green Egg" do it any better?

Add some tomato, lettuce, mushroom and cheese, delicious!

Don't forget the salad with home-made dressing; a perfect meal on a perfect summer night.

Today Mary and her sister Connie are off to Ottawa to look at kitchen cupboards from Ikea. Connie will be a great help and I can stay here and work on the house. Tomorrow the well pump goes in, aluminium soffit goes on and the bobcat gets an oil change.

Thanks for dropping by and let us know how you do your burgers.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Water Pump

While Mary was busy shopping for sinks, faucets and shower stalls I drove over to the Honda dealer to see if they had one of these ......................

This is the Honda X10 a small water pump perfect size for Mary. She can carry it and actually yank the cord to get it started. It will pump 140 litres per minute and is a great help for looking after her gardens.

It's lightweight, powerful, and noisy. I thought all Honda products were quiet, but this little beast sure makes a racket for such a little guy; .........  ............... sort of like Owen. (grandson)

We take these 40 gallon white tanks down to the lake, put the inlet hose, from the pump, under water and in a few minutes the tanks are full. Life is getting better. Too bad they don't have a solar version of this pump. Maybe someday.

Back at the garden there is plenty of pressure to water whatever is thirsty and lately everything is thirsty.

Mary has started a tree nursery and we don't want them to die from lack of water. This little pump makes the task so much easier.

The whole set-up, water tank, pump and hose working together to keep our clover alive and healthy.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out our little pump. I'll write a more detailed review after we have been using it for a couple of months.

Time Off

Now that Ben is off on holidays we have decided that this would be a good time to get kitchen cupboards, faucets, shower heads, etc.

We spent yesterday looking in Peterborough and stayed overnight with our friends Marvin and Annie. This morning we will do some more searching then head home.

Before we left Bancroft we saw these beauties by the side of the road; worth a stop and a few pictures.

This fawn was staying close to mom and dad. We saw a family of 4, mom and dad and two babies. They were enjoying the grass at the side of the road but soon scattered into the forest when we stopped.

Dad was the last to leave, after all others were safely out of sight.

We also visited the lumberyard to see how the bunkie construction was progressing.

The quality of construction is top notch and the guys are very willing to make changes to suite your needs.

Very cute and inviting

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hall Walls

Today we worked until 5:30 as we won't see Ben now for two weeks. The goal today was to get the walls up in the hall so I can build the bedroom walls while Ben is away .................................... and we succeeded.

The first job was to mark all the stud locations on the base and top plate of the walls. This little gadget makes the job easier as I don't need to fumble with a tape as I locate each stud position.

Ben marks and cuts around each pipe ..........

then nails each "king" stud into place. The door openings were also framed out before we lifted the wall into place.

While we were building walls the drywall was delivered so we took a break to unload the truck.............. some break!

Here Ben is nailing in the "cripple" studs that go above each door opening. 

Once  the walls were complete on the floor we called Jim in to help us lift them into place. At this stage we could use all the muscle we could find. Thanks Jim.

A few persuasive taps and the wall snugged over to the red line.

 Second wall, same process, same results, success.

Today's work completed and I'm delighted with our progress. Time to take Mary out for supper and celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by.

Two More

Two more walls went up yesterday. All the 2x6 walls are now in place. Today we will build the walls for the hall and take delivery of 50 sheets of drywall.

One discovery yesterday was the difference in height at different locations on the floor. Our first wall was a very tight fit, so tight it required some serious whacks with the sledgehammer to move into place. The second wall a few light taps and the third wall slid into place with just a few taps from Ben's regular hammer. Yes, a 1/4 to 1/2 inch makes considerable difference when trying to fit a wall under an existing drywall ceiling. 

Let's see what today's construction efforts bring.

Thanks for stopping by. Tomorrow I will post pictures.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

1st Wall is Up

Today we worked on the attic stairs, supports for the top plate on the interior closets and actually built our first wall. YEA!!!!

Ordered the studs and wall plates this morning only to be told the 2x4 studs for our 9ft. ceilings weren't available. "If they come in today we will deliver them today but they might not be here until tomorrow". No problem, they did have the correct size 2x6s so I took what I needed for the bathroom walls and after lunch got to work.

The bathroom walls take 2x6s to accommodate the large water pipes hidden inside the wall. 

We built the wall on the floor then lifted it into place. Looks like we are wearing some type of horse collar.

Ben is happy. He has been waiting for this day since he started helping me. Every day he asks, "Are we doing the walls today?" 

It was a snug fit so out came the hammers to get it into place. Note the cutouts on the top plate. These are for the vent pipes that go up through the roof from the bathroom.

Well  the little hammers didn't work so out came the "persuader". It was either move over or get smashed to bits; it moved over and snugged up to the red line Jim snapped on the ceiling. 

Our first wall in place.  Maybe by the time our family visits we will have the bathroom fully operational. Keep an eye on us to see how quickly we get this job done.

Love Ben's expression. He is cutting a notch for the handrail I want in the shower.

Thanks so much for stopping by and we really enjoy reading your comments. You keep us motivated.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Laser Level

There are so many new gadgets on the market today which make home construction and repair so much easier.

Can you see the red line coming from the yellow and black box?This is a laser level and it sends out a red laser beam that we use for marking the exact location of interior walls. The red beam goes across the floor, up the wall and across the ceiling. Just mark the location and snap a line. You are good to go and your walls are accurately placed.

Our neighbour Jim brought his laser level over and set all the wall locations for me. Thanks Jim, that was a job I really wasn't looking forward to tackling.

Now that all the lines have been snapped and we know where our walls need to be placed we hope to get them up this week. Another big step forward.

While we have been busy building, Ted and Sharon our neighbours have been busy installing tile in their log cabin. Ted and Paul did a professional job of installing it. Wow. it looks great.

Thanks for stopping by and we look forward to seeing you up here shortly. Remember to bring your tools.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Bunkie Under Construction

Stopped by to check on our bunkie construction yesterday and it looks like it will be delayed too.

I don't think it will be delivered next week ............................... ?

This is the detail of the roof extension over the front of the bunkie. We wanted some protection for the front door and windows from the summer sun and winter snow.  Maybe it should have been just a little wider????

The bunkie is built on cedar skids to keep it off the ground and prevent the bottom from rotting away as we enjoy the space over the years.

Our bunkie is in behind but this shot gives you some idea of the exterior covering used on the walls.

We have spent the last few afternoons in the shade of the forest preparing the site for the bunkie. Mary and Ben are using trees we've cut to help stabilize the bank of pit-run we are using for the base.

No shortage of logs here so we've put them to good use.

In the morning, when it's cool, we work on the gable ends or steel siding.

After lunch Mary and Ben discuss fishing and the best lakes and spots to find the best fish. Sorry, we can't share that information.

Today (Saturday) Ben was here until 11:30. We worked on getting the pad for the bunkie level and stabilized. I expect the bunkie to be delivered the week of the 30th. just in time for the Bancroft "Craft and Gem" show.

Thanks for stopping by and bring your fishing pole when you come.

Update 8:30 pm

Ben just stopped by to show us the fish he caught.

A proud fisherman ..................................

and a proud brother. Ben with his sister. She was right at home here walking all around checking our property. 

It was great to have a visit and see everyone.