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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Thursday, 28 May 2015


After some delay, on my part, we are finally able to use Xplornet. Originally we thought we would be up and running two weeks ago but I needed to install a pipe for the satellite dish mount and then we went away for a week. Delays, delays ........

Monday the installer was here getting the parts located and cable from the dish into our house. It still took me two days to get registered and connected properly. (guests, meat birds, retirement life is busy)

Yesterday someone called from Xplornet to see if everything was OK. I was having my afternoon power nap so Mary took his number and I called back later.

Once we chatted (in English from New Brunswick) and got our passwords installed we were good to go. Now time for the test and comparison.

We've been using Bell internet service for the past 3 years and it has worked well. The speed was adequate but the cost was high for the use we made of the system each month. Our bill was usually $90.40 but could go over $200.00 when company arrived who were heavy internet users. We spent approximately $1,200/year for Bell internet service.

With Xplornet we have 40 GB of capacity each month for $70.00. This is about four times the capacity we had with Bell for the price of their 10 GB service. So far the download speed with Xplornet compares favourably with Bell. That is an important comparison.

Last night we signed up with Netflix and watched our first movie, Elsa and Fred starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer. The movie downloaded without any problems and we enjoyed the movie without incident. Netflix seems to be an excellent source of movies at a very reasonable price. 

Now, there was some up front costs with Xplornet. The pole and wireless router came to $310.75. There is a one time activation fee of $99.00. Once these are paid our monthly cost will be $70.00 plus tax.

I estimate I spent approximately $3,600 with the Bell service over 3 years. With Xplornet our cost should be around $2,500 and we will be using the internet to view movies which is and additional savings. Netflix costs $7.99/month and I easily spent that on buying movies from, so that's a wash.

Conclusion: After 24 hours of use with Xplornet we are very happy. To have such speed and capacity of the internet back here in the bush is remarkable. We are connected 24/7 with great capacity and at reasonable costs; what more could one ask for.

I'll update this review in six months or sooner if there are problems that arise. 

Update: June 2/15 - I'm averaging 0.93GB of usage daily and that's with watching a movie, uploading a blog entry and the usual daily internet searches.

For those considering Xplornet I hope this review helps. If you live in this area talk to Stewart at Leons in Bird's Creek. He is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. I am not a "techie" person, but if you have any questions or comments please let us know. 

Thanks for stopping by and stay connected.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Today our meat birds arrived. Once home Mary helped them get adjusted to their new surroundings and put water out for them.

We can get wood chips from the local mill so we loaded up and gave the birds a nice comfortable layer to scratch around in.

Once out of the box, they headed straight for the water and feed bins. They seem quite happy in their new home with all the additional space.

We will keep you posted as to their progress each week.

It's also turtle time, the time of year when the turtles crawl out of the pond and come up by the house to lay their eggs in the sandy soil. Watch for turtles as you drive our gravel roads.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 22 May 2015


This has been an active holiday. We've been able to walk or bike every day with family.

Yesterday we took the bikes down to Niagara on the Lake and biked along the path by the river.

The trail is paved, with these bridges located where needed and lots of picnic areas for those who pack a lunch.

Don is properly attired in his bike helmet, gloves and jacket. No one expects an accident but being prepared is better than being injured.

We did stop to admire the views, chat and take in some cool water. Staying refreshed and nourished is important when doing any exercise and Carol made sure we had some healthy snacks along.

It was a great afternoon and if you are planning to visit the Niagara region bring your bicycle. It's an easy way to get around and there are many winneries and farms worth visiting.

Back home the bikes were safely stored ready for use next time we visit.

Today we head home after a wonderful holiday visiting my sisters.

Next week our meat birds arrive so there will be new adventures awaiting for us to report.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Thursday, 21 May 2015


We started the day shopping for warm clothes. It's been cool the past few days and I left my warm clothes at home so some type of long sleeve shirt was needed.
It didn't take us long to find a shirt and as you can see we found more than just a shirt. Outlet malls are addictive and draining; as much on your energy as on your wallet; but who can refuse the bargains?

Time for lunch and we headed to Virgil and the Silversmith Brew Pub.

We shared the "flight" which is a sampler of their four most popular beers.

The food was delicious and disappeared without any complaints.

Don suggested we head home to get the bikes, then down to Niagara on the Lake for a ride along the river.

More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015


Big trucks have always been a passion of mine. Today I had a chance to get behind the wheel and take one out for a spin.

My friend Bob was home for a few days and he was kind enough to give me a tour of his new truck. WOW! Just amazing. It's a Volvo which to me is the Cadillac of the trucking industry.

After a few instructions and under the watchful eye of Bob, I took the wheel and eased us out onto the country road. 

The view from the cab is remarkable. Bob reminded me not to touch certain gauges. We had no trouble negotiating safely around the block. This truck is high tech, automatic and so easy to drive. 

Doug took the pictures while I drove. It was just a great way to start the day and conclude our visit with my sisters.

Now, should I come out of retirement and follow Bob down the highway? Something to think about. (Not says Mary)

Thanks Bob; you made my day.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


We are having a relaxing time visiting family in Carlislie. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015


Lots of folks out enjoying the warm temperatures and classic car show in Barry's Bay today.

Cars back in the 50s didn't have such big engines or so much stuff attached to them.

Always wanted one of these when I saw Mike Flanagan driving one. Never even sat in one.

Fins, I remember, and they were advertised as improving your driving, go figure.

There are plenty of shows scheduled for the next few months, the best being in Bancroft July 10-12. Free entertainment, great food and the main street is lined with classic cars. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


We are about to give "Explornet" a try. We have been using Bell and the connection has been fine but we continually go over 10 GB a month which tends to get expensive with Bell. 

Explornet is a satellite internet service providing connections to homes and business in remote locations, we qualify.

Our data limit will move from 10GB to 40 GB for the same costs and that should be more than sufficient for us.

First job was to install the pole for the satellite dish. It was a simple job; did a hole 3 feet deep, set the pole in, pour in two bags of Kwick Set along with enough water, make sure the pole is straight and the job was done. 

We had to go with a pole mount as our roof is steel and they wont mount the dish on a steel roof.

It took a little negotiation to get Mary to agree to the final pole location. Sight line for the satellite connection was important as was Mary's gardens and the aesthetics of such a contraption next to her gardens. 

Now we just need to book the installation and then I'll report back on our experience with "Explornet".

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Mother's Day

Yesterday we headed south early to visit Leanne and Sherri. We picked up Leanne at 10:30 then headed up to see Sherri, Rob and Owen.

Everyone was out digging and redesigning the front flowerbeds when we arrived.

Rob did a great job of lifting the old sod out.

Owen wanted Oma to play Lego with him.

The best mother's day gift was spending time with the kids and getting BIG hugs from Owen. Sherri prepared a fabulous lunch and Leanne made a delicious chocolate birthday cake which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Friday, 8 May 2015


I thought my eyes were playing tricks; ducks in trees. I had Mary check and sure enough, ducks in trees.

Yes, they were quite a distance away and wouldn't allow me to get any closer. (click photo for better view)

The best I could do was enlarge a shot which makes them fuzzy but easy to identify. These are wood ducks and they do nest in trees.

As I moved closer they flew further away. I either need a bigger lens or a bird blind. Living here certainly affords lots of wonderful bird shots.

How do web feet grip a tree branch? How do they build a nest? More research needed.

The weather has been summer like this week and the bugs are just starting to appear. The humming birds have returned and are busy at our feeders. I'll try and get some photos but they move so fast and are camera shy.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


Today we secured the chicken coop. 

Last year we lost 40 meat birds to a weasel and don't want that to happen again.

Marvin came up to help us secure any opening we obviously missed last year. Another pair of eyes and more muscles were greatly appreciated. 
Here Marvin secures galvanized mesh to the side to keep any critters from climbing up onto the roof.
Mary is working in the background securing the spots where our chicken wire overlaps.

We dug a trench around the base of the coop, secured wire mesh just to keep any critter from go underground to surprise our chickens.
Once we back-filled the trench I thought everything looked quite secure.

I need one of those night cameras to see who comes snooping around at night.

Thanks Marvin I think everyone will be safe this year.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Have you ever eaten watercress? I remember my Mom collecting it and adding it to our salads whenever we visited the farm.

This morning we took a hike through our bush looking for edible wild vegetables.

We found watercress growing in our small slow moving stream.
An ancient green said to have been a staple in Roman soldiers diets, watercress is actually a part of the cruciferous (also known as brassica) family of vegetables along with kale, broccoli, arugula and Brussels sprouts.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used watercress to treat his patients. Watercress was widely available until the 19th century and watercress sandwiches were a staple of the working class diet in England.
As more varieties of salad leaves were cultivated over the next 100 years, watercress became known as a poor man's food and was eventually shoved off our plates. Its newfound popularity is partly due to its high ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index). The ANDI score measures vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content in relation to caloric content.
To earn high rank, a food must provide a high amount of nutrients for a small amount of calories. Watercress received the highest rank possible. 
If you live near a slow moving stream why not investigate; you may have this top ranked green growing and no one knows it's there.
If you collect it in the wild be sure to wash it properly to remove any pathogens before adding watercress to your salad.
Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the fresh vegetables that are starting to appear at our local farmers' markets.

Saturday, 2 May 2015


This morning we had a special treat at breakfast. From our kitchen table we could watch these guys meander around down by our pond.

Their hearing is acute and whenever we moved they seemed to know and turned their attention in our direction.

This stump was a favourite. I suspect they were enjoying the sap or maybe there were bugs that attracted their attention, not sure.

If you click on this picture to enlarge it you should see four deer scattered enjoying the new growth.

Time to get ourselves outside and down to the garden. Mary wants to plant kale and lettuce today. It is still too early for most plants but we do have our seedlings on the deck. These need to be transplanted into larger pots.

Thanks for stopping by; must run, time to feed the chickens.