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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Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Anniversaries are a time to celebrate with friends and family. We were delighted to be able to spend time with friends we hadn't seen for a while at Mary and Gerry's 60th wedding anniversary

I think they were surprised!

A small but happy gathering.  (Click on pictures to get a larger view)

Ivan and Jan help Mary get seated.

Time to cut the cake.

Thanks Ivan and Jan for giving us more wonderful memories.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


We had a wonderful time at Mary and Gerry's 60th wedding anniversary today. I'll post more pictures in the morning.


Later this morning we are off to Peterborough and points south. We have a number of appointments and will be away for a few days. Not sure about posting blogs as it will depend on time and connections. We will definitely be back posting by Friday at the latest.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 29 July 2013


There are many ways to split wood but if you do it by hand you want to do it safely and avoid having the wood fly all over the yard.

Marvin places the logs inside an old tire. This keeps the wood from flying all over the place as he splits it, saves him work, and if he misses the tire absorbs the axe blow.

See all the wood behind Marvin, all split inside the tire, easy, safe, convenient.

If you are splitting wood by hand give the old tire a new job and save yourself some work. 

Thanks Marvin, that's a great idea.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


We love company even those who just show up. Last week Tina was here and then Leanne called to give us a "heads up" that she and Sarah would be stopping by for a quick visit.

Company always arrives hungry and we enjoy pizza on the BBQ so that's what we served, home-made delicious pizza. 

Leanne's visit was short but I did manage to get her picture just before she left. 

Sarah took a few quick pictures of the place and then they were gone.

After the dust settled we loaded Tina and her gear into the truck and dropped her off on highway 28. 

She is doing a cycling tour of Ontario and her next destination is Pembroke. 

Happy cycling Tina.

If you are thinking of coming up be sure to check with us. The beds may already be booked or we might be down south visiting family and friends and we don't want to miss you.

Just send us an e-mail so we can co-ordinate dates.

We love summertime. It's the best!!!!! 

(Happy Birthday Rebecca)


We have neglected our canoe and kayak during construction. We enjoy getting out on the lake, especially on a warm evening, but our boats have sat neglected down at the docks. So, with Tina here, we decided to get out on the power washer and do some serious cleaning.

First job was to bring the boats up from the lake.

Mary worked the power washer ....

.... while I scrubbed the hull.

Next, Tina got to work on the Kayak. She scrubbed the hull.

Mary cleaned the spiders out of the inside.

She even had energy to clean her car. Now that everything has been cleaned up it's time for a paddle on the lake.

If you drop by and we aren't home, check the water. We enjoy going for an evening paddle when the water is like glass.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels.

Friday, 26 July 2013


Wednesday night during the summer we enjoy "music in the park" sponsored by local businesses and highlighting local talent.

The dovetailed log stage, built by local craftsmen in 2001, gives a northern Ontario flavour to the park. All the white pine logs were hand hewn by local woodsman John Foreman.

This week   "Amelia and the Mayor" gave us a great performance of original folk music written by John Saxby who you see playing the guitar.

The free concerts start at 7 and last until the sun is going down. Food is offered by local charities and there is a 50/50 draw giving you a chance to take home some extra cash.

Bring your lawn chair, find some friends, some shade and enjoy the show in the Millennium Park by the York River in Bancroft.

By the way, we didn't go out for east Indian food last night. Leanne surprised us with an unexpected visit, so we will try again next month for the buffet.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


This is our second week with our new birds.

They're at that ugly stage, part feathers, part bare skin, but they are definitely bigger.

We keep the food trays and water bucket suspended which forces them to stand while eating and drinking. They are still very active, still running to chase bugs or each other.

In the evening we make sure they have water but no food. They can use the coop or stay in the run, it's their choice. So far they like to huddle together around the bale of straw in the corner of the run.

Tonight we are going out for "East Indian Food" at the Best Western. It's suppose to be a delicious buffet, and Mary likes east Indian food so we will send you a report later.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


We were so busy moving brush and clearing land I didn't take any pictures yesterday. These pictures were taken this morning after we got the bobcat out. (still having problems changing the header)

There she sits, all alone in the bush, but at least she is free. You can see the deep ruts in front of her and once I had buried her up to her pan there was no way she was getting out on her own. 

Mary brought the truck down, hooked the chain on and we slowly pulled the bobcat free of the muck. I'm working down along the creek so the ground is soft and it is easy to get bogged down.

Can you see all that brush pilled high behind the tree? We still have to move it. With the cooler temperatures we had last night it feels like the ground will soon be frozen. Yes it got down to 10*C last night but that won't last and we still have lots of summer ahead of us.

Guess we will wait until the fall to get the rest of the brush.

Have a great day and stay out of the mud.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Finally found time last night to go canoeing.

 First job was to clean the canoe and dump the spiders out before the ladies would even consider getting in.

As you can see it was a perfect night, warm, calm no one else on the water.

The lake was a mirror as we silently glided over the rocks below.

This was the perfect way to end the day.

Problems this morning; I can't get my new header to upload. It gets to 6% then just spins. Any suggestions??????

I can update and change my blog entries, but not my header, strange.

8 pm Up-date

Tina worked on my computer and was able to restore the "header" Thanks Tina, it looks so much better now.

Monday, 22 July 2013


Good morning friends. We've been enjoying the weekend with Christine (Tina) Fischer. Just discovered she attended Huttonville P.S. from grade 3 to grade 8 and then taught there years ago and knows Pat and Rod. So it's a small world.

Tina rode her bike up from Woodbridge and is doing a bike tour of eastern Ontario. You can follow her by clicking: here

Our chickens are getting bigger and we keep them in the run but no longer force them into the coop at night. We installed barbed-wire around the chicken run in the hopes of keeping the foxes out.

May remove more brush today, may take a drive, may go into town. Too many options and we have no definitive plans.

Enjoy your day and we will enjoy ours now that the temperatures are cooler.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


There is lots of work to get done here but with the heat-wave this week it's been tough getting motivated. Even working in the air-conditioned bobcat has been a challenge.

I've been using the bobcat to clean up the debris left from all the trees Nathan cut down in May. The fingers on the bucket make it easy to grab and hold a bundle of brush and move it out of sight.

With all the bouncing across the rough terrain this bracket broke.

I don't think it's a big issue as it just keeps this shield in place.

This is my view from the driver's seat. Those metal forks move by hydraulics to clamp down on anything I pickup. Very Cool!

Slowly we are getting the place cleaned up and looking more presentable.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Friday, 19 July 2013


When it's 34*C (93*F) outside I don't feel like turning the stove on to make a meal. I don't even feel like looking after the BBQ. It's just way too HOT!

So what's the solution? We could eat sandwiches and salads but I like a hot meal at least once a day.

Our solution is a slow cooker. We plug it in outside, no additional heat inside, and we don't have to be lifting the lid every 10 minutes.

The power for the cooker comes from these .........

..... our solar panels. 

We even added a .......................

...... rice cooker, so everything was done outside with very little contact from us.

Solar cooking, well the power came from the sun, that was converted by our panels and stored in our batteries. When you do this for lunch you can still go to bed with full batteries and a full stomach.

It is amazing. I just wish my grandmother could see how comfortable we live back in the bush off grid in Bancroft.

My grandparents homesteaded in Saskatchewan and although they were given 100 acres, life was very tough with the few tools they had available. There were no roads, just fabric tied to the bushes so you didn't lose your way. There were no power tools, no chain saws, no generators. 

They had a horse, a few hand tools and they were expected to clear the land, put up a house and raise the food needed to feed themselves and their animals. 

Life is different. Here I sit able to communicate with anyone anywhere as long as they an have internet connection. My grandmother didn't even have a party line (that's the old fashioned telephone system), it wasn't a dating service.

Have a great day and if you can read this, thank a teacher.

Thursday, 18 July 2013


Our house has never gone above 25.4*C during this heat wave that has covered Ontario for the last 4 days. Without A/C how did we stay cool inside when outside it was 33*C and felt like 39*C? 

The secret is in the construction: Glass, Mass and Insulation. 


Our large windows face south and do not get direct sunlight because of the 5ft. overhang. This gives us plenty of natural light without the heat from the sun's rays entering the building. On the east and west windows we have curtains and yesterday I added bubble wrap to give us an extra layer of insulation in those windows.


Our walls are ICF blocks filled with concrete. This gives us a huge thermal mass which stabilizes the indoor temperature, taking a much longer time to warm up or cool down. Unlike most ICF blocks our blocks keep all the insulation on the outside portion of the block. This allows the concrete to absorb the cool night air when we open the windows after the sun goes down. During the day we close everything up so the heat stays outside and the cool concrete can help cool the house.


Our home is wrapped in insulation giving us R40 in the walls, R60 in the ceiling, R30 under the slab. Since we are off grid we wanted to avoid the use of A/C and so far everything has worked as predicted. We are comfortable, not freezing but much cooler than the outside temperature.

If you are thinking of building, consider a passive solar designed home and don't be afraid to go with solar power if it is too costly to tie into the grid.

It's working for us. If you have any questions just let us know and we will try and answer them.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Here is the chicken report after one week. I think they have gained some weight. Their feathers are certainly coming in. Routines are being set. Art and I put the chickens in the coop every evening. I used to have to take them out again in the morning. You can see here, as soon as the door is opened the chickens pile out!

They run up and down the ramp throughout the day, but I still have to carry them into the coop come evening.  

They are very playful, running and jumping and challenging each other. Eating and sleeping are their favourite activities. 

My garden continues to present its bounty. We eat from it every day, even if it is only greens. Zucchini and peas this week. 

I will report again next week on the chickens. Hope you find a place to keep cool today; it's supposed to be a scorcher.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


Throughout the summer different churches do a Sunday evening service in the park. Last Sunday the local Mennonite congregation did the service.

The choir sang  acapella and their beautiful voices carried across the park on the warm summer air. We could have listened for hours.

There was a good turn out and as you can see some folks drove their cars right up on the lawn.

We sat in the shade but the choir cooked under the setting sun.

Peter's girls  Megan and ...................

Hailey came and sat with us while their parents sang.

Thanks everyone for a most enjoyable evening.