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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Sunday, 30 December 2012


This winter has been great for outdoor activities. We have lots of snow and when the sun is shining it is perfect for being outside.

Today's snowshoes are so easy to put on and 

with trails right outside our door it's a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise at the same time.

Our trees are heavy with snow almost breaking under the weight.

Mary can spend hours hiking the trails and seeing something new over each new hill.

Thanks to Charlotte and Kim we have enough trails to keep us exploring for most of the afternoon. The sun goes down early so we are home well before we might get lost in the dark.

So if you need a little cardio workout this winter, strap on some skis or snowshoes and explore the trails throughout this great province.

You'll discover muscles you haven't used in years. They may talk to you all night.

Saturday, 29 December 2012


When we see the sun we are happy. Sunny days are like putting money in the bank.

This is our view looking west early on a sunny morning. We have a five foot overhang on these south windows to keep the sun out during our hot summers.

In the winter the sun is lower in the sky and can reach into our great room and warm the floor all day long. No need for the wood stove on sunny days.

Our solar panels are clean and ready to receive the power when the sun shines. I have a long pole with a rag end I use for keeping them clean. It does make a considerable difference in the output of the panels.  Before cleaning the panels yesterday we were getting 9 amps/hr.

After cleaning the solar panels we were banking 42 amps/hr even though Mary was doing laundry, computers were charging and the vacuum cleaner was running. Our batteries went from 71% to 90 % full.

Even the birds seem more active on a sunny day. We have a full silo of finches and believe we had a redpoll visiting us yesterday. 

Always happy when the sun is shining even when it's -21*C

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 28 December 2012


It is very seldom we get to spend two days with Owen but yesterday it happened. We enjoyed a wonderful day with Sherri, Rob and Leanne which also meant another day with Owen. We missed Sean and Casey but when you are not feeling well and the roads are lousy it's best to stay at home.

Time for a little food prep in the kitchen. Yes, we love our food and all our kids are great cooks thanks to their mother.

Fresh from a nap and still a little groggy

What are all these people doing here?

Time for the gifts.

Not the way we open gifts but it is Owen's preferred method.

He's happy just having some paper to play with. Gifts don't mean much when you are 8 months old. Can you see two teeth?

OK, now that I'm up on all fours how do I crawl? It won't be long now. Look out here I come.

Another great day spent with family in Toronto.

Thursday, 27 December 2012


Spent yesterday with family. Had a wonderful time at Andrew's and Margaret's and took a lot of pictures of Owen.

He is 8 months old and just about ready to walk.

Mom, Owen, Oma.

He spent a lot of time in Oma's arms.

Thanks everyone for the delicious food, especially the desserts. 

Drive safely, see you soon.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


We've been enjoying the birds ever since we started tossing sunflower seeds out our sliding door.  Our feathered visitors have been limited to blue-jays, sparrows and chickadees, all ground feeders.

But now we have finches that love our dome feeder that keeps the big birds out. 

Yesterday we did an hour snowshoe hike into the back beaver ponds. Very easy to hike in snowshoes and if you go off trail you still stay on top of the snow.

After lunch Mary went ice-fishing. The only thing she caught was cold feet.

-21*C this morning, but we are toasty and warm beside our wood stove.

Today we are off to Burlington for a family gathering. See you shortly.

Safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas.  May you spend time with your loved ones and cherish the joy and excitement in little voices. 

Thank you for visiting our blog and keeping an eye on us this year. We've especially appreciated all your feedback and comments.

Drive safely for those who are travelling; we want you home safely.

Monday, 24 December 2012


Many people wonder how we heat this place. Presently we are relying on our wood stove to keep us warm and we haven't been disappointed.

Our wood stove sits at the east end of the great room, next to the sliding door off our deck. This makes it easy to bring wood in as needed and keeps most of the mess outside.

With just a few small logs we can get a roaring fire going in minutes and the heat is quickly felt throughout the house. Since our walls are concrete they absorb most of the heat and give it back during the night. This keeps our house at a comfortable constant temperature ..............

even when it's doing this outside. I read recently where the Ukraine is having a severe cold snap with many folks unable to keep their homes or apartments heated. With today's technologies no one should be freezing when they go to bed.

Staying warm on a few logs a day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks for the call yesterday Annie; good to hear from you.

Safe travels.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


We are slowly going through boxes we packed two years ago and discovering items we have totally forgotten about or have been looking for and couldn't find.

When Mary found her sewing machine it naturally sparked a desire to get out some fabric and make something, anything, just sew. 

But before one can use a machine that hasn't been used in over two years the machine needs to be serviced. A few inquires in town and we soon learned that the gentleman who did such service and repairs has just retired and there is no one taking his place. Now what?

Too far to lug it down to Toronto for servicing so the next best approach ....................... internet.

A quick google search and Mary had the machine apart, oiled, cleaned and back running like it just came off the assembly line.

We may be living in the bush but we are still connected and as resourceful as ever. 

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels Marvin and Annie.

Saturday, 22 December 2012


Finally we have snow. Not enough to snowshoe on but enough to get the bobcat out and clear the driveway ................. twice in one day.

We missed our dump run last week for a variety of reason so when Friday arrived (dump here is only open Friday to Monday) we needed to go regardless of the weather.

It actually looks better and feels better than the photos show but that doesn't mean you can disregard caution and fly down our roads. Do that and your vehicle will park itself in places you don't want to be.

We took our time, pulling a trailer full of drywall cutoffs, plastic, cardboard and regular, rich ------ garbage. I thought we would be alone, but there were others, some pulling trailers unloading as we pulled in to wait our turn.

After stopping for groceries we headed back home, still snowing but as pretty as ever.

No this isn't home, we've graduated and moved from living in 175 square feet to a non-movable 2,100 square feet off grid passive solar home. This summer thanks to family and friends we finished the interior and moved in just a few weeks ago.

We lived in our airstream for two years and will use it for summer vacations once we know all systems in the house are working properly.

Our bunkie looks like a little doll-house tucked back in the woods.

Hope everyone is healthy and looking forward to getting together.

Safe travels.

Friday, 21 December 2012


Went back to the Mill to get our trim that had been left to dry.

Our road is treacherous, icy with blind corners, one needs to be extra cautious this time of year. We've already been in the ditch once.

Trailer loaded, ready to head home after I pay the bill. Being able to let the trim dry overnight was greatly appreciated.

A closer look and you can see how knot free this wood is.

Also picked up a bundle of kindling. We are expecting  4 to 6 inches of snow today so our wood stove will be busy keeping us warm.

(OK, senior's confession time. After taking the above picture I put my camera in the truck and tried to get started but my engine wouldn't fire up. After several tries it caught and away we went down the road to home. On the way I flipped on my back-up camera to check that the wood in the trailer was all OK. Guess what I saw? The bundle of kindling still sitting on the tailgate. In the distraction of getting the motor started I had forgotten the bundle and pulled out leaving it sitting exposed on the tailgate. A senior's moment for sure.)

So far not much of a storm although the weather watch is still in effect for Bancroft.

Sitting by the fire, hoping for more snow. 

Up-date 8:40 am

Our world has turned white.

Time to get out the Bobcat and start plowing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


Yesterday we spent the day at the Mill with Peter sanding and staining the poplar we will use as trim in the house. I was surprised at how clean and knot free the boards were and wonder why this wood isn't used more extensively in house construction.

We were very grateful to be able to work inside where the floor was heated and we had the space and tools to get the job done quickly.

All the poplar had been kiln dried and planed smooth last month so our first job was to run it through the sander to get the pores opened ready for the stain.

The Mill had a little machine that made the sanding job go so easily. The sandpaper was attached to a drum by Velcro and 4  little soft rubber wheels kept the board face pushed down tightly as it crossed the spinning drum. Voila! Job done.

The staining was a much slower job, no little machine to make it a Volia! experience. Using a cloth we rubbed the stain onto the board then stood the board upright to dry. By 5 o'clock we had given each board two coats and we were exhausted. 

Today I will take the trailer over and bring home over 600 board feet of trim. I know that's not enough but it will get us started and we will get the rest in the new year when Don and Carol are up.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Now that winter has settled in and we know we have another 5 months of cold days ahead of us we are taking stock of changes. One major change has been in the absence of wildlife around our home.

We are down to enjoying the antics of the small creatures as the big ones have either gone underground (literally) or don't need the food we have set out for them.

We have two red squirrels that enjoy the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds. The squirrels chase away the birds if they get too close, the jays chase away the chick-a-dees and our chickens chase everyone away. The bigger you are the more you demand, even in the animal kingdom.

Whenever this little guy feels threatened he runs to our deck, sits up on the railing and scolds whoever chased him away.

So far our variety of birds has been limited to blue jays, chick-a-dees and sparrows. Hopefully this will change as we get more feeders set up.

On a totally different matter this is the wagon we got for Owen. When he visits we can pull him around the property and when he gets older he can use it as a mobile toy box. 

It even came with skis so we can replace the tires and take him out for a sleigh ride. How neat is that?

Lots of cool stuff out there for kids. Glad we are grandparents and can enjoy some of it.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Feeling better this morning. It is cold, rainy and foggy here, not very pleasant. Thought I would post pictures from one year ago when we were in Grenada with Bonnie and Winston. Oh, that beach looks so inviting. 

Monday, 17 December 2012


I seem to be fighting a bug of some sort. I have a headache and every muscle aches. Stayed in bed yesterday and will do the same today.

Weather is crummy as well, rain, freezing rain. A good day to pull the covers over ones head and stay warm.

Not sure when I'll update the blog.

Sunday, 16 December 2012


We had our first overnight guests this weekend. Sean and Casey came up Friday night and we had a great time enjoying their company and getting caught up on their latest news.

First stop was the chicken coop where they collected eggs for breakfast. Even in this cold weather we are getting 4-6 eggs a day from our 6 hens. Their coop is rather spartan  but they continue to produce their daily quota.

After breakfast it was time for a hike back to the beaver ponds. The walking was easy as we don't have much snow yet. Once we get a big dump we will be doing this on snowshoes. If you are coming up in the new year be sure to bring warm clothing and something for your feet while inside. (crocs, slippers, heavy socks, etc)

It was a perfect day for a hike, not windy and we easily made it to the ponds.

I was surprised that the ice was thick enough to support our weight. We ran and slid all over the pond, just like school kids. 

This is a series of ponds separated by the beaver dam you can see here.

Time to head home so we walked the road and stopped by to see our neighbours Lee and Paul.

Great to have family and friends visit. You are welcome any time just call to be sure we are home.

Safe travels everyone.