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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Tuesday, 30 August 2016


Tomatoes are plentiful and we want some for soup this winter so decided to dry and store some yesterday.

We have a dehydrator we bought 40 years ago but it still works fine and to replace it would cost over $225. Prices have sure shot up since we bought.

As you can see it is simply a plastic box, with a heating element, fan and 5 shelves. It works efficiently and is easy to load and unload. The trick is to have all your slices the same thickness; easier said than done.

I think we may get a bushel of Roma tomatoes this weekend. I hear they're good in soups.

Have you dried tomatoes? Any suggestions?

Monday, 29 August 2016


Mary has been busy fermenting carrots. It's an easy process without having to boil and sterilize jars.

The trick is to keep the contents submerged at all times.

This is the egg holder Mary uses to push the carrots below the surface of the brine. Seems to work just fine.

In a few days we will be enjoying fermented carrots with our meals.

Safe travels and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

25th Garden Day

We planted our raised garden bed 25 days ago and couldn't be happier.

All our plants are doing well and we've had very few weeds.

We should be able to start picking spinach this week and hope to do so right through to the end of November.

Half the garden is in carrots and we will protect them with leaves and a cover once the cold weather arrives.

The white tank holds rainwater we use to water the garden. Next year we will replace it with a 250 gallon tank which should easily take us through any summer dry spells.

The deer netting which covers the garden has kept out the squirrels, deer and birds. We also lined the box with landscape fabric hoping this might slow down any rotting of the box over the years.

I'll post again in 25 days to update the garden progress and highlight the produce we are enjoying.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 26 August 2016


Yesterday was a busy day getting our birds into the freezer.

We set up three work stations early in the morning and got started when Annie and Marvin arrived.

Mary worked under the shade of the canopy, cleaning the birds and putting them on ice. She had an excellent work station thanks to the double sink and plastic counter top. She disinfected the counter after each bird was done and I kept her knives sharpened throughout the day.

Marvin looked after the plucking. He brought his propane burner so we had lots of hot water and the feathers were relatively easy to remove. If you are thinking of doing your own chickens it is critical that the water be kept at the right temperature so the feathers are easily removed but not so hot that the meat starts to cook. We found success if we kept the temperature between 155*F and 160*F and simply dunked the bird for 3 seconds until the wing feathers were easy to pull out. (Best to experiment and see what works best for you.)

It took us 6 hours to do 20 birds this way. We were all glad to see the last bird go into the freezer and get everything cleaned up and put away. We will do this again on Monday when Durl and Linda come over to help us with the last 20 birds.

Next year we plan to keep the birds for 10 - 11 weeks. We were surprised that our birds yesterday averaged 3 lbs. and think another couple of week would give us birds in the 4-5 lbs range. The feed we used produced clean healthy birds free of disease or other health issues. We will do the same in the future but have a bag of ready mix feed available for those days when we are away from home for more than 24 hours.

In conclusion, meat birds are an easy backyard animal to keep, giving you excellent food  with minimum work.  With an automatic water system, several food bins and a secure coop, they can look after themselves for 2 or 3 days. Our birds had plenty of room for movement, dry wood chips to sleep on and sunshine to sit in if they so desired. They were well cared for and ate an excellent diet of fermented soy, wheat, rye, milo and corn along with greens from our garden and any bugs they could catch.

In a few weeks our layers will arrive giving us fresh eggs throughout the winter. I will do a post on them once they are settled and delivering eggs every day.

Thanks for stopping by and have a safe trip.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016


Still no baby. We are hoping this little girl or boy will wait until the 30th or later before making the grand entrance. Until then we have been busy organizing. Not for the baby but for the chickens.

Today I built this outdoor cleaning table for Mary. Thanks to Marvin and Annie we now have a double sink which will make the process so much easier.

It's complete with running water which is easily controlled with one hand.

Maybe next year we will have a foot controlled faucet but for now this will work just fine. The double sinks are connected to a drain so all the water will be sent far from the work area.

Here is a better view of the drain line which will take the water to the side of our hill. Chicken parts will go in plastic bags for disposal and this time next week all the chickens will be in the freezer.

If I don't write for a while it's because I'm patiently waiting for that new grandchild to arrive.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


Life here by the pond as slipped into a comfortable routine. We are taking a little hiatus and will return once our newest grandchild has arrived; ....... sometime in September.  Is it a boy or is it a girl? ..............  Sherri won't say.

Until then drive safely.

Sunday, 14 August 2016


We've enjoyed watching the hummingbirds coming to our feeder this summer.

Yesterday for some reason it was very busy.

The one on the feeder keeps a close watch on the one flying. They are very territorial and aggressively protect their area.

Can you see 3 hummingbirds in the picture to the right? Remember they are moving at incredible speeds and agility for their size. The one bottom left looks to be flying upside down.

Click on this picture to enlarge it. This guy is actually dive bombing the one sitting on the feeder and pushing him away with his claws.

They are extremely aggressive towards each other.

Friday, 12 August 2016


Our girls are always waiting patiently for breakfast. They start to squawk as soon as the see us coming down the hill. It's quite a sight.

Mary likes to hose out their feeding trays before starting a new day. We use eavestroughs to hold their food. Works fine although some still climb inside.

We keep the dry food in containers so the mice and chipmunks can't get at it. The day before we use it Mary mixes the different varieties in the orange bucket and covers it with water. This helps the mix to start to ferment which aids the digestion and increases the nutrient content of the mix. Today we added sunflower seeds for the first time.

Forty birds happily enjoying breakfast.

Of course there's always one who can't find a place at the trough.

Another scorcher of a day here. Yesterday we saw 35*C and today will be the same although rain is in the forecast.

Time to feed the chickens and get our day started.

Thursday, 11 August 2016


When it's 30*C outside it's tough to be thinking cold, but we know it's coming. Country folks have to be thinking one season ahead, otherwise they may freeze.

With that in mind I decided to tackle the cold-frame project this week. Sean suggested assembling it on the deck which was easy for me to do keeping all the corners square.

Not having a reciprocating saw I chose to use the chainsaw to trim the posts. Not the safest applications but got the job done and no blood was shed.

Now that the box is complete I need to make the cover and move it to the south side of the house.

That job may wait until Sean gets back up here.

Until then I need to start splitting  wood and loading the firewood crates for the fall start to our heating season.

I told you, we are always thinking one season ahead.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016


As you can see we have new growth in our raised garden bed. The sprouts are looking healthy and we hope to harvest right into November maybe even January.

Our bed is 10 feet long and half is planted in carrots. These we will cover with leaves once the cold weather arrives.

We will also use this row cover and then plastic on the hoops to keep the ground from freezing.

If we succeed then we should be able to harvest fresh, sweet carrots all winter long from our garden. It all depends on the ground and how warm it stays. Always fun to experiment.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


Owen had a fun time at Uncle Sean's pool last Sunday.

Walking the deck holding hands for Owen's safety.

At first Owen didn't want to get wet, but once the equipment came out he was content to play and when you play by the water, you get wet.

Playing catch was great fun, especially when he got splashed.

While Owen played, dad made lunch on the barbecue. Can you see Rob on the deck?

Once wet might as well get right in and go for a ride.

It was a fun time all day long.

Thanks everyone.

Monday, 8 August 2016


Birthdays and baby showers are a good reason to get together. We celebrated both yesterday.

We started with a swim at Sean's place, then drove across town to the party.

So good to see Olga there, she looked fabulous and enjoyed the time chatting with her nieces and nephew.

Margaret and Mary enjoy a laugh.

The gang.

Lionel enjoyed his bike while Owen played with the bubble wand his aunt Leanne brought.

Mother and daughters reunion.

The guys enjoying the shade.

Sherri admiring the baby blanket Mary made.

More baby gifts.

Owen checking out the pictures.

Jamie and Andrew inspecting Lionel's bike.

Too soon it was time to say goodbye.

Thanks Connie and Andrew for a day we all enjoyed.

Sunday, 7 August 2016


Mary took this picture this morning at feeding time. They love to eat.

One more month and they will be in the freezer.

They should be delicious and nicely flavoured from all the healthy food and herbs Mary has been feeding them.

Friday, 5 August 2016


We love company and yesterday Pat and Lisa from Haliburton stopped by for a visit and a tour of the gardens.

Pat and Mary taught at Huttonville and we've been good friends since.

Lisa (daughter) brought her two boys and it was a delight to watch them explore our place.

Neal did a close inspection of the chicken coop but it was empty. This is the coop for the layers and they don't arrive until  September. (You'll have to come back then Neal)

Trying to count all our meat birds but there are too many so he just enjoyed watching them run and eat.
His younger brother Mason had a great time teasing Mary with the Teddy bears he found in the house. He has a great laugh and gave Mary a big hug when it was time to leave.

Of course you can't leave until you've had a chance to drive the "bobcat" and Neal had fun making the arms go up and down. (Mary drove)

It was a wonderful day together and we hope to see them back here in the fall.

Safe travels everyone.