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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Saturday, 31 January 2015


We finally got enough snow to plow.  Our snow levels are just a small fraction of what we had this time last year but those who enjoy snowmobiling, and being outside were glad to see the snow this week.

I waited until the storm had passed then with the help of the skid-steer quickly plowed our laneway.  This is the road in front of our place with our lane off to the right. 

Roads here are well maintained and we've never had any issues about being stranded. Most folks have sufficient supplies that they don't need to go to the grocery store every day and if the road takes a while to get plowed, we just relax and find something else to do until it's opened. Not everyone is dashing off to work; most are still in their PJs at lunchtime. Life is just a tad more relaxed and uncluttered up here.

Time to go down to the lake and see if the fish are biting today.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015


We've had a few sunny days this week, perfect for ice fishing.

Mary, heading down to the lake to try her luck. She is able to pack all her gear in the pail and strap her fishing pole to the side, very easy to transport.

First job is to clear the hole of any ice that might have accumulated over the night. Paul looks after this as he knows where the holes are.

Once the bait is on the hook it's a simple matter of waiting for the fish to bite ....... and waiting ....... and waiting.

Although no bites it was still good to be outside enjoying the sun and all the vitamin D it provides.

Maybe next week we will have fresh fish.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


All is well at the Kelly Homestead. We are enjoying the sunny but cold days of January. 

Spent yesterday giving Paul from Warkworth, a tour of the house. We spent the afternoon chatting over soup and sandwiches. It was a delightful time with someone who found our blog and is living a similar kind of lifestyle in their beautiful self-built ICF home. 

Our batteries are back to 100% charge. Yesterday, Mary did three loads of laundry, baked brownies in the electric oven, turned on the electric water heaters and we still had full batteries by 3 pm. We are not suffering because we live off the electric grid and if you are considering it, go for it; we did and were surprised at our surplus of energy on a sunny day.  Solar energy greatly reduces our dependence on fossil fuels.

Always good to hear from our readers. To Ad and Gertie who are holidaying in Spain; (oops made a mistake, they are now in Morocco), thanks for the pictures and report. I'll write soon. Pat, have a wonderful time in Florida and to Jimmy out in Arizona, keep the campfires burning. Finally to Bob and Tony behind the wheel, heading out across the land, drive safely and watch out for the those crazy drivers. We love you guys and are thinking of you. 

Safe travels everyone

Friday, 23 January 2015


Mary has enjoyed having her sister Connie visit for the week. Most nights they've chatted way past my bedtime getting caught up on the news and sharing recipes for healthy living.

We've had a rather pleasant sunny week and yesterday I came home to find the ladies enjoying the sunshine from our back deck.

It wasn't Daytona but they were still happy to be outside getting some sun. With a hot mug of tea and a little imagination they could close their eyes and almost hear the waves roll in.

We always enjoy company and the days seem to pass too quickly.

Enjoy your day and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 22 January 2015


Just a few more "Owen" pictures to share with you. Hope you don't mind.

Every grandfather deserves a grandson like Owen. How can you resist his every request. He just melts our heart.

Owen loves to be outside, even in winter. That's good because we have a lot of "outside" when he comes up to visit. When he gets old enough to want an ATV will grandpa be able to say "no" I don't think so.

Whatever he does he is always focused. Look at those eyes, they are watching every move.

It was a great time with Sherri, Rob and Owen. We are already looking forward to seeing them in February.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


The past few days we've had a chance to visit with Sherri, Rob and Owen. Matter of fact we had a chance to visit with all our children on our way down to see Owen.

He was so happy and excited to see us and gave Oma a huge hug when we arrived. He is just full of love.

Sherri showed us his "art" wall where all is creations from daycare are proudly displayed for all to admire. 

New skates were purchased this year but the actual skating may still be a year away. Learning to skate is a major challenge when you are only two. Rob wisely bought skates that Owen can grow in to. 

Owen and Oma figure out how to make the train go and stop. Every boy needs a train set and Owen loves to watch the engine go around and around on the track.

Owen's aunt Leanne sent over a "Playdough" road construction kit which Owen was delighted with. If it has wheels and looks like a truck he is happy.

It was a wonderful day playing together and having nothing to do but focus on our favourite grandson. He brings such joy into our lives.

See you in a few weeks Owen.

Monday, 19 January 2015


Last week we had a few sunny days and that brought our batteries up to 100%, the first time in months.

Sunny days are also good days for vitamin D so outside we went  snowshoeing back into the bush. 

Mary cutting back the brush, making it easier to snowshoe through our bush.

After an hour or two outside it's good to go inside for warm tea and sweets.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are someplace warm where you can enjoy the outdoors.

Thursday, 15 January 2015


Cold sunny days are perfect for a snowshoe hike.

We headed out past our bunkie and down towards the pond.

Those red ribbons identify the maple trees we will be tapping in a few months.

Looking back across the pond you can see our place up on the hill.

I was surprised to find soft spots under the snow where the ice was thin and the water seeped up onto my snowshoes. We would like to build a trail around the pond and use it to explore pond life as the seasons change. 

Just last week we watched from our windows as a fox tracked mice below the snow and marveled as he would leap and pounce catching dinner as he tracked the scents along the edge of the pond.

Our days are full of new learning experiences as we sit back and enjoy nature just outside our windows.

Hope you are well and enjoying life wherever you are.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


We are into another cold snap here in Ontario. Last night the temperature dipped to -29*C (-20*F). Our wood stove and super insulation have kept our house very comfortable this winter without turning on the in-floor heating.

With company coming next week we decided to activate the in-floor heating, but only for the bathrooms. This is easy to do as the house is divided into three heating zones and each room has its own control valve.

It takes about 12 hours for the concrete floor to warm up and make a noticeable difference.  Now the room is cozy, the floor warm under our bare feet and a hot shower is that much more luxurious.

What about the electrical draw on our batteries when the system is running? Fare question and here are the numbers.

With the in-floor turned off the draw on the batteries is 3.4 amps/hr

When I turn the system on the draw jumps to 5.8 amps/hr

Presently only one zone is calling for heat. This requires two pumps to be working so each pump is drawing about 1.2 amps/hr. The pumps are Grundfos and look like this:

Our pumps have worked flawlessly for three years and are excellent for an off grid application. Their draw is small and they allow us to leave the house vacant for weeks if we decide to go away during the winter months. It also means we can live here long after I've stopped cutting firewood.

If my Grandmother could see us now, she wouldn't believe it. I wonder what changes the next 50 years will bring?

If you have any questions send them along and I will answer them as best I can from our own experience.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 11 January 2015


For many of us living in the north it has been a disappointing winter. Very little snow and our ability to ride the trails has been limited.

The above pictures were taken January third the last time we had a decent snowfall. But the temperatures have remained cold and with each additional cm of snow the guys and gals are finally out enjoying the trails and back country riding.

Paul and Steve dropped by this afternoon. It was good to see them and we plan to do some ice-fishing next week. That should produce some more pictures as Mary always enjoys an afternoon of fishing.

If she brings any home I'll post their pictures.

Hope you are warm and dry and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 8 January 2015


It's cold up here, -26*C as we roll out of bed to start another day. Our wood stove is working just fine, keeping us warm and happy.

Late yesterday about 4:30 Mary spotted a beautiful, healthy fox tracking the snow just outside our window. He was on the move, nose close to the ground, he crossed in front of the house then down to the pond.

We sat silently marveling at how he zigzagged back and forth, stopping, then pouncing into the snow. He was too far away to observe his success, but judging from his healthy appearance he must be a good hunter.

Living in the bush has it's own rewards and we love our front row seat to nature.

No he didn't get our chickens. Their coop is as secure as Fort Knox.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us and stay warm everyone.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Our friend George passed away this week, he was 83. Now you might think 83 is a good age to pass on but George was an active 83 still working in the bush each day. It was a logging accident that claimed his life.

Somehow George was struck on the side of his head and knocked unconscious. He was working alone so what actually happened no one knows. He was rushed to the hospital but never recovered. 

He was the kind of guy who made you feel valued, always had a handshake and was glad to see you, time to chat and share a story. He will be missed.

I'm not blogging as frequently as in the past. We are in the grips of winter, enjoying a quiet life back in the bush, keeping warm by the fire and reading some enjoyable books we don't find the time to open during our busy summers.

We don't have much snow but our temperatures have plummeted to -20*C or colder at night with highs during the day of -13*C

We've both been fighting colds and sinus congestion for a month. That kept us from family gatherings during Christmas and at home during New Year's celebrations. Today we are both much better, not 100% but better. Mary has been reading about histamine intolerance and we will do more experimenting and research to see if that has been the cause of her allergic reactions over the years. 

The birds and squirrels continue to visit our feeders. The deer seem to have gone deeper into the bush. We haven't seen any for some time now.  Soon, the days will be warmer and longer, the sap will begin to flow again and we will be into maple syrup season.

Stay warm and healthy. To our friends down south, enjoy a walk on the beach for us and we look forward to seeing you when you get back in the spring.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us and safe travels Bob.

Friday, 2 January 2015


Don't you love it when you buy something and then discover it for half the price a week later? That really ticks me off. What's with prices anyway?

Case in point:

We've both been fighting colds the past month and we've been trying different natural approaches to get rid of them; netti pot, steam, epsom salt bath, teas, eating more oranges, taking vitamins, etc. Still have our colds.

Went to town last week and while we were in the Health Food store Mary noticed this product.

Price was $20.00 for a box of 30 packets, a little steep but hay, if it makes you better why not try it. Before putting it our shopping cart I said "lets check the drug store and compare before buying".

We live in a small town. The shopping area is 3 blocks long and choices are limited, but we do have 2 drug stores and two grocery stores so there is some competition.

Surprise, the same product at the drug store sells for $16.50. Great that saves $3.50 but today it's on sale for $12.99, wow, a $7.00 saving.  Every time I can save a dollar it makes me smile, saving $7.00 is a big smile. 

But along with the sale price there was a manufacture's coupon for another $5.00 off, so now the price is down to $7.99 a grand saving of $12.00 or 60% off. Almost did a dance in the isle. 

Always happy to find a bargain but you've got to be careful out there. Stores are a minefield, full of a few bargains, but also a few that will hurt your wallet. 

The best advice, know the price before you toss it into your cart. 

Do you have a shopping story to share?

Thursday, 1 January 2015


This is the tree house Mary made for Owen's Christmas present. It is her own creation, holding nine little animals.

Hidden behind the door, leaves or stones, Owen can find a finger puppet, a miniature of the animals and birds he sees when he visits.

There's even a bat hidden under the base of the stump. 

Such a creative gift that Owen will play with for hours at a time.

Happy New Year everyone. All the best in 2015.