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, 27 February 2015


Snowshoes are essential if you want to hike through the bush these days. Without them you are up to your waist in snow and movement is a struggle.

This is a beautiful time of the year up here. The days are getting longer, sun stronger, no bugs and a hike in the woods is very peaceful. The above picture was taken at 5 pm today and you can just see the sun beginning to set on the western horizon.

Our house is cozy and on a sunny day heated entirely by the sun. Those huge windows face south and we don't even need to use the wood stove even though the temperature outside might be -30*C

A few more weeks and we will be into our maple syrup production. Some folks even tap birch trees once the maple season is finished. We haven't tried that, as we are usually exhausted by the time the maple sap stops flowing. By then I've had enough of tending a fire for 10 hours a day and then going inside to finish the process and bottle the syrup. 

Maybe some day when we are more mechanized we may try and produce some birch sap which is usually used as a glaze on meat.

I'm not posting as frequently, usually waiting for something new to happen. Right now we are enjoying the longer, warmer days and trying to get out for a walk or hike each afternoon; not events worth posting.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 19 February 2015


Mary's garden needs more sunlight and removing trees in the winter is the best solution. With a few more trees down we expect the garden to be bathed in sunlight all afternoon. Maybe this summer we will get zucchinis big enough to eat.

I was able to get all the trees cut without any falling across the fence which protects her vegetables from the deer in the area. As you can see, everything is covered in snow, but in a few more weeks we will start seeds indoors and get them ready to plant in the garden once the snow is gone.

Our chickens continue to produce 4-5 eggs a day. The only winter preparation we did to the coop was to wrap it in plastic. This seems to be adequate and on a sunny day their run becomes quite warm.

Walks on the road help to keep us in shape. We turn around once we reach this trailer which is about 1.5 km from home. A 3 km walk on a cold winter's day is quite sufficient for me especially as we have to climb several hills on the walk.

Today the sun is shining, it's -21*C and we are busy mudding the spare bedroom. Company is coming during March break and we need the room ready.

Must get back to work.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Looks like  it could snow all day. 

Time to feed the chickens and fill the bird feeders. Later today we will snowshoe through the bush.

For the rest of the day we are staying close to our wood stove.

Safe travels everyone and don't rush home.

Monday, 16 February 2015


Ice on the doors frames this morning; it's -31*C (-23.8*F) No heat in the house all night but we held at 15.3 *C (59.6*F) 

Not sure about walking in these temperatures. Yesterday was sunny but just as cold and we opted to stay inside and enjoy the fire. Might do the same today.

Getting the firewood is enough  challenge at these temperatures, right Marvin.

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Some people think since we are not connected to the electrical grid our electricity is free. Not true.

There is the considerable up front cost of purchasing all the equipment and then having it professionally installed according to code.

Then there is the replacement cost as batteries fail, chargers no longer charge or panels no longer convert the solar energy.

Finally there is maintenance service that must be done on a regular basis to maintain maximum performance.

One such service is snow removal. Even after a light dusting the snow must be removed if the panels are to function properly. If you didn't get time to do this before leaving for work then you have lost a day of solar charging. Not everyone is eager to leave the breakfast table and dash outside to clean the panels. 

Without proper service you wont have adequate power for very long. Before committing to "SOLAR" consider all that is required from you as the owner. No service truck is going to arrive to do your work unless you are ready to pay. SOLAR power isn't free but it does more than we expected and we know what our costs are without feeling shafted.

Lots to consider before choosing solar, just my thoughts.

Thanks Don for the use of your excellent photo; much appreciated.

Saturday, 14 February 2015


My sister Carol and brother-in-law Don were up for a few days this week. We had a great time catching up on the news and shopping the local stores in Bancroft. The weather was perfect, mild and sunny and the house was comfortable with the wood stove glowing softly throughout the night.

We stopped at McCaskie's to check out speaker bars as we have reached that stage in life where the volume needs to be enhanced if we are to hear what the TV characters are saying. Don is my "go to" tech guy when it comes to this stuff. He knows all the terminology and the questions to ask the salesman so we get the right product. Thanks for your help Don.

As you can see we left loaded down with all the parts and cables needed to make the viewing experience even better.

Once home, Don went to work connecting the cables and adjusting the components so everything worked as expected. The salesman at McCaskie's (Paul) was even kind enough to give us his cell phone number to call if we had problems. Love the support and service we get from our local merchants.

Now we are off to the Maynooth market and then out for lunch to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Thursday, 12 February 2015


Maple syrup production won't start for six to eight weeks but we are getting ready. This year we plan to tap more trees which means transporting the sap further. Not a fun activity when you are carrying a four gallon bucket of sap.

We bought a sled designed for ice-fishing but I think it will do just fine hauling our buckets of sap from the bush.

The sled has molded holders for two buckets and we will add a few additional containers to make everything stable.

Today we did a dry run, packing the trail and seeing how the sled performed. Seems good and we were happy with how easily it moved in the trench made by our snowshoes.

I'll update this once we actually start collecting the sap.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Monday, 9 February 2015


Visited Brampton last week and like most places in the GTA, Brampton is changing. I grew up in Brampton; lived there from 48 to 2010. Saw a lot of changes.

My first memories are of shopping at the A&P on Main street Saturday morning. It was a small store and the bread would be stacked on the sidewalk outside, left there the night before by the delivery guy. Across the street was the Dominion store and down the street was Loblaw's. Three grocery stores for a population of 3,000.

Main street was the place to shop, the place with all the stores and the Chinese restaurant. No malls, no McDonalds, no Tim Hortons, no TV. As kids you might think we were deprived but we didn't think so. We played outside until it got dark and the street lights came on. Did what we wanted; made our own fun. No parents to perform for or rules to follow. Freedom and trust, that's what we had.

There was one traffic light and a light on a pole at the four corners that could be turned on to notify the cop on the beat to come back to the police station and take the ambulance out for an emergency. Guess how slow that was? If you were bleeding you were in serious trouble.

Today, Brampton has a population of 600,000 and the four corners is seeing a resurgence of building. City hall has expanded across the street into a new building still under construction. Looks totally out of place and very sterile from the outside; just my first impression.

New condominiums dominate the skyline and the old Legion in Gage Park (went to Kindergarten there) has been restored to its magnificent past. Looks so much better. That's the back view from Elizabeth street. Maybe I'll take a better shot when the weather is warmer.

Friends are getting older, many with serious health issues. Kids walk around with red hair, nails stuck through their skin and pants down to their knees. Not sure why, as exposing one's bare skin in this climate has never been a fun experience for me.

Changes; can't stop them, I just need learn to live with them. Maybe that's my problem; my learning curve has never been very steep.

Enjoy your day and the changes wherever you are. Safe travels Bob.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


Yesterday Mary, Leanne and Sherri spent the afternoon at a spa in Toronto. They had such a good time they want to make it an annual event.

For supper we all gathered at Allegro's in Bolton a favourite pizza diner on Queen street,

While we ate, Owen entertained himself on his computer. He isn't 3 yet but like most kids of his generation knows how to push buttons to make things work.

We hadn't see Darrell and Cindy for a few months so it was good to chat and get caught up on their news.

It was a special evening, delicious food, thoughtful service and great company. Fortunately Rob had made a reservation as the place was full by the time we ate.

Now back to the diet today.

Friday, 6 February 2015


This has certainly been the birthday week (Kari, Rob, Sherri) and today we celebrate three more birthdays. Our friend Pat who is in Florida, Casey (Sean's girlfriend) and that very special person in my life, Mary. They were all born on the same day, just a few years apart; well maybe more than a few.

To celebrate we went out to the Blue Roof Bistro in Bancroft. From the outside the place doesn't impress, but the food is delicious and the service is excellent.

The happy birthday girl celebrating her ......... ??? You didn't think I would tell did you?

Happy Birthday Mary, Casey and Pat.  Love you and wish you many many more.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


Today we went ice fishing. So far no bites, not even a nibble, but Matthew caught a 6 lb splake this week so we are motivated.

Forty year ago we went to the hospital to have our first child. Sherri arrived a few hours after we did, making us very proud parents.

Happy Birthday Sherri, Mom and Dad love you and look forward to getting together on the weekend.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


We have five chickens. Every morning when either of us go down to feed them they greet us with happy clucks. Is that because we always have treats for them? (kale is their favourite) 

Usually when I lift the lid on the nesting box; one curious chicken will pop her head out looking for a snack.

This morning it was -32*C and by the time I got down to collect the eggs they were cold, not frozen, just very cold. We have five red sexlink layers. They are good producers, even in winter when production usually falls considerably. We are averaging four eggs a day.

Just learned that free range eggs in California are selling for $10.00/dozen. Maybe I should move our chicken-coop. Up here you could buy free-range eggs for $2.50/dozen last year. 

As many of you know Mary has struggled with allergies for many years. She often spent days sneezing and dealing with a runny nose and congested sinus condition.

Lately she has been reading from Dr. Janice Vickerstaff Joneja's books on allergies. If you suffer from allergies do a google search and read Dr. Joneja's posts; I'm sure it will help.

We've adopted a new food eating regime as outlined by Dr. Joneja and have been following the recipes in Heal Your Gut cookbook by Hilary Boynton. Pictured here is yesterday's lunch (fish cakes and sweet potato chunks) another delicious recipe from her cookbook.

So, fingers crossed, we hope that we've turned a corner on this allergy thing and can now maintain optimal health through carefully following this diet. 

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Monday, 2 February 2015


With a storm raging outside it was time to get back to work inside.

Mary mudding the back bathroom. We have a few imperfections to mud over, corners to tape and mud and then we can paint and have another project finished.

Cutting trim to fit around the window. My workshop is our front porch, but it is sheltered and I'm only out there for a few minutes to cut the trim then quickly back inside to stay warm and get the trim installed.

Our front porch has become more of a utility room, storing our wood and acting as my work area when needed. 

Love these productive days as we are wanting these jobs completed before maple sugar season arrives.  I know it is still six to eight weeks away but where did January disappear to and February will do the same if we're not careful.

February is birthday month for us. Happy Birthday Rob!

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.