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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Friday, 31 January 2014


We have enough firewood, stacked and drying to last another three years. 

Most of it is under a deep blanket of snow. This summer I plan to build covers for each wood pile and keep the rain and snow off.

Up at the house we stack enough firewood for a season. It is convenient and under shelter although some snow does drift in.

We started the season with the wood piled above the windowsill. As you can see we've gone through a little more than half the load but with heating season half over I think we will be fine.

We love our wood stove and have access to as much free firewood as we need so this is a good heating option for us.

Thanks for stopping by. Save travels Bob.

Thursday, 30 January 2014


The view out my back door just a few minutes ago. It's a great way to  start the day, so many new promises and possibilities.

Enjoy your day and safe travels everyone.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Yesterday was sunny and cold, a good day for using some of our excess solar power.

When the sun is out our batteries are often full by lunchtime which means the power collected the rest of the day is just wasted.

I set my chop-saw on the back porch and plugged it in. Although it was -15*C I wasn't out for any long stretches.

Boards were measured and cut.

By two o'clock the job was done. The iron shelves are on wheels and we can easily move them out to get items on the shelves behind. Most of those are seasonal things or extras, so won't need to move it much. Next job will be doors for the closet.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


Good morning. Mary here. Art wanted me to update you on what has been happening in my  quilt room. I recently finished a fun baby quilt using a strip method I admired on Pinterest. 

 I like to try something new with every project I work on. 

Here I added an elephant with a small bird perched on top. I saw this method of adding detail on a quilt I loved from the African Quilt Show I visited a few years back in Alsia Craig. Simple application. Fun to try.

The back has my signature strip piecing.

I have taken on a new challenge this year. In this challenge the fabric is supplied, as seen in the photo above. The theme is predetermined ..... Modern. The rest is up to the quilter..Yikes. This has been a real stretch of my skills. 

I have been at this quilt off and on for over a month.....and it is only 19" X 19". Each step of the process of taking my ideas further than the drawing has resulted in hours of problem solving. As my Artist sister Connie says.....this will be a growing time for me, even if the final result is not a show piece. Couldn't have expressed it better. Sometimes I have had to put the project aside for a few days so that I can process and begin to figure out the next "how to". Hey what else is there to do when the wind is blowing and the temps are well below -20 C. 

I'm warm and comfortable sitting by the window in our passive solar home.

Safe travels and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 27 January 2014


Sunny and windy this morning. Off to the dump and into town for supplies. Later I'll go to the mill to get some boards for shelving. 

Our morning view.

Powdered coated from the blowing snow. 

The wood stove is keeping us warm and we are seeing enough sun most days to keep our batteries in the healthy range. This morning they are at 86% and we haven't had to run the generator since January 20th.

We are thinking Maple Syrup these days as we need to get supplies and a fire pit built for boiling the sap. Production probably won't start until the middle of March but as newbies to this experience it is a major learning curve for us. 

We will keep you posted as we get closer to the production date.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


The big news yesterday was the arrival of Rebecca's little boy around 8 pm. Mother and baby are doing well. Congratulations Rebecca and Jason. We are looking forward to hearing all the details.

Lots of light fluffy snow fell while the baby was being born and now our cottage road needs to be plowed. As we have no plans for today there is no rush to see this job done. 

The wind worked her magic sculpturing the snow on the roof and around the house as the storm blew through.

Our bobcat continues to sit idle on the hill and we rely on Paul and Steve to clear the driveway when needed. 

We are warm, comfortable and enjoying the peace and quiet of the forest. 

I'll post pictures after we get back from our walk.

Safe travels everyone.

Friday, 24 January 2014


Another cold morning here in Bancroft, -33*C. For our snowbird friends enjoying the warm sunshine on a beach somewhere, don't rush home. 

With the bobcat stuck Paul has been looking after clearing our driveway.

Since I'm stuck sideways on a hill and I don't want to risk the bobcat rolling over I've decided to wait until the snow melts then use the truck to pull it out. By then I can see what the ground is like and know which way to pull it safely.

We are expecting another 10 cm of snow later today so hopefully Paul will drop by some time Saturday morning. It's great to have someone to clear the driveway and look after the place.

We have started thinking ..... Maple Syrup. This will be our first year making our own and right now we are gather supplies: bottles, jugs, line, wood. Our plan is to tap 15 - 20 trees and learn from that experience. If all goes well and we are happy with the results we will expand the production a little each year. 

Glad to hear Bob is back on the road.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 23 January 2014


Too much happening to stay off the internet for a month.  First off my bobcat is stuck, I mean really stuck. Every time I try to wiggle it out it slides further down the hill so I think I'll just leave it until spring when I can just drive it out.

Today we are making fire-starters. This idea came from Jamie who makes much nicer more elaborate ones. Ours are basic, Bancroft bush construction.

First you need strips of cardboard. Since I just bought new Sorels and they are wonderful, keeping my feet toasty warm when we walk on the lake, I had lots of cardboard.

Next step was to melt old candles in a tin pot on the wood stove.

Dip the strips into the paraffin and let it dry. Fires starters. Just place on a crumpled bile of paper, stack in some some wood strips and light the fire-starter. You get a fire every time. 

Make sure you use a Bancroft match!

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 13 January 2014


I think this is a good time to take a break from our daily blog post. There isn't much "new" happening on a daily bases and we need to focus on getting some indoor projects finished before the nice weather returns and we are back outside. 

Check back in March when we try making maple syrup for the first time. That should be worth a blog or two.

Until then safe travels everyone.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Yesterday was a truly miserable day weather wise; cloudy, rainy, sloppy, foggy. Not the best day to be outside. Even Nathan who loves the outdoors called to say it was just too unsafe to be cutting trees.

Our driveway became a pond with the incline a water slide. By lunch time I was ready to get out and head north to the market at Maynooth but Mary wasn't sure we would make it. She was almost right.

House January 12th

Our driveway and cottage road presented the most challenge, slippery and rutted. Going out I could feel the car wanting to go its own direction on the hills. Fortunately the new snow tires could get just enough grip to keep us out of the ditch. Getting back up the hill might prove impossible.

For those of you who have been here you may remember that we have a bake oven right at the top of our driveway. Getting to the top on ice means taking a run at it and hoping the car behaves. Closer to the top, more gas was need. The tires spun and we started to move sideways. Would it be the ditch or the bake oven? Fortunately our tires found some gravel, took hold and straightened out. Up over the top and now we could coast the rest of the way.

This morning the driveway is snow covered and soft. Maybe we can get enough traction to get out safely, maybe not. We will see.

If we end up in the ditch I wont tell.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


We are into a January thaw which is typical of our winters here. A week ago we were dealing with -30*C (-22*F) temperatures today we expect the temperature to climb to +5*C (41*F). That is a considerable temperature swing and brings with it some unique situations and concerns.

One condition we experience is fog. As the warm air from the south  rolls across the frozen ground the air begins to cloud up and reduce ones viewing distance. It's like a cloud descends on your town. You can watch it first appear on the hill tops then slowly move down the slope into the valley. The moisture content will determine  how restrictive the fog is to your view. When it's thick it's like walking inside a cloud and your view is extremely limited.

Another challenge with the mild temperatures is rain. Our roof already has 2-3 feet of heavy snow and ice on it. Add another 15-20mm of rain and it might be too much for some roofs up here. I saw a man shovelling his roof yesterday just like you shovel your sidewalk. Obviously he was concerned about the snow load too.

Nathan may come later this morning to cut trees, it will all depend on the weather. 

Right now it's just sloppy and slippery underfoot.

This is the best medicine for sloppy days. Fresh batches of chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven,

I'll post some pictures if Nathan shows up..

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


A mild morning here, only down to -20*C when we got up. 

The sun is to appear later which will be good for our batteries as they are down to 71% this morning. A good sunny day and they will be back to 100% by 3 pm.

We haven't had the finches around this winter but on Tuesday 6 showed up and yesterday there must have been 30. Not sure what they do for winter or where they go but it's good to see them at the feeders again.

Mary is busy with her quilts. She came home from yesterday's meeting with new ideas and excitement about future possibilities. Hopefully this means she will find some exciting quilt shows in places like Calgary, or St. John's and I'll have an excuse to hook up the trailer and hit the road.

Off to the mill this morning to get wood for our windowsills. Always something to do on the place.

Safe travels friends and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


Even the birds are feeling the effects of this Arctic blast. When it is bitterly cold out we stay indoors, enjoy the fire and some good homemade cooking. The critters who live on the other side of the glass don't have that option. 

This guy looks to be doing OK, cold but OK. He's fluffed up his feathers and tucked in his claws in an attempt to keep everything warm. He eats copious amounts of the seeds we put out and conserves his energy by sitting for long periods of time.

If you've been feeding the birds don't stop now,  many depend on you for survival.

As for me, I'm glad to be inside by the wood stove enjoying Mary's homemade soup.

Stay warm and safe everyone ............. a warmer weekend is coming.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


We are trying to eat more fruit and vegetables and avoid breads and baked goods. Mary has found that if she avoids wheat her allergies are considerably reduced. We will continue to monitor our progress and chart our reactions in the hopes of pinpointing the cause or causes of her allergies. 

This morning it is -23*C (-9.4*F) here in Bancroft. I think we will be working inside this morning. 

The house is very comfortable with just the wood stove quietly putting out its heat. Thanks to Matthew we have a huge supply of firewood just outside our back door. 

We have at least two feet of snow stacked on our roof. The snow load must be tremendous but so far no issues. Maybe I should go up and shovel the roof off.

To our snowbird friends: 

Hope you find a warm place to land. I see by the weather network that most of the USA is now covered in an arctic blanket.  That's not what you went south for.

Travel safely and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 6 January 2014


Winter started early and continues to dump on us every week. I think we have at least three feet of snow on the forest floor and we are only half way through winter. It has been a great year for those with snowmobiles.

I keep busy clearing snow and stacking it wherever I can find some room. The mounds are at least 8 feet high. The bobcat has been superb and makes the job so much easier than doing it by hand. 

Mary is busy working on quilts and we will post some pictures later.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us.

Sunday, 5 January 2014


Although it has been extremely cold this past week we do try and get out when the sun is shining. Getting some physical exercise especially a little cardio workout is important. 

Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get a little exercise.

Mary likes to put out a few apples for the deer whenever we go for a hike.

Peaceful and quiet back here.

Sun is going down and time for us to get inside.

Today we are expecting 15 - 20 cm of snow but the temperatures will be much warmer climbing to -3*C later this afternoon. This evening we could see freezing rain. 

I guess that means getting the bobcat out and clearing the driveway before the real nasty weather arrives.

Be careful out there, it could be a treacherous day on the roads.

Saturday, 4 January 2014


I'm typing this report at 1 pm Friday January 3, 2014. Outside it is -16*C here in Bancroft, Ontario, Canada. We have no heat. We are not using the wood stove and the in-floor heating has been turned off. The temperature in the house is + 22*C. 

Sometime after four, when the sun starts to set I will relight the wood stove and we will be warm throughout the night.

As you can see we have lots of sunlight bathing the room throughout the day. This keeps us warm and also warms up the concrete floor which acts as a thermal sink holding some heat only to release it later when the sun goes down.

This was our temperature outside at 1 pm yesterday. The day actually started off at -31*C.

Our view from the comforts of our livingroom.

If you have to be out shoveling snow this is the way to do it.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day.

Friday, 3 January 2014


We finished 2013 in the company of friends. Glenn and family came for lunch last Tuesday and it was so good to have some time together. Their oldest son Ryan was home from medical school so we felt honoured that they would take some time to visit. 

They are an active family of five boys and Alisha who will soon be three years old. The boys love their little sister and take such good care of her. 

All of the boys are talented with Charles building his own airplane, Ben working in construction and Eric and Alex wishing they were older and able to drive the car. Alisha, she just likes to play and help her mom.

Speaking of talent,  this is a singing family and they gave us a beautiful rendition of "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" acappella.  Such harmony, such beautiful voices and we were blessed to have them share with us.

While we have been spending most of our time inside where it's warm and we can enjoy company we do venture out now and then.

Yesterday, Mary layered up and went out on the snowshoes to hike the trails with Charlotte.

I took her picture as she was heading out .....

..... then grabbed a log and dashed back inside. When it's -28*C out I prefer my chair by the wood stove.

This morning at 6:30 it was -31*C outside and it feels like -39*C

We are expecting 10-15 cm of snow on Sunday, with another 10 cm on Tuesday. 

Life in the north, cold, clean and breathtaking.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


It's -30*C outside this morning. Do you think I'm going out in that? Not a chance. 

We have enough wood stacked beside the front door we can just grab and run, no lingering over which is best.

That white stuff you see around Mary's face isn't white fur, it's frost. Yesterday when we walked the lake it was cold, but not as cold as today.

The only thing left outside are our footprints. Today we are staying close to the fire.

It's a good day for homemade chilli and sourdough bread.

Enjoy the beach our snowbird friends. No need to send pictures.