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, 20 August 2019


This summer we installed two water storage tanks on the west side of the house. This water is used for the gardens only and relies on gravity to fill them as well as emptying them.

Today I finally finished installing the diverter valve for both tanks.

It's a simple guillotine or gate valve that you slide in or out depending where you want the water to go.

Once the tank is full you slide the handle out so the water continues down the down spout and away from the house. You can see this tank is a little more than half full. Tomorrow we are to get half an inch of rain. I'll post a picture so you can see how many gallons of water are added. Each tank holds 250 gallons so right now I would think we have about 150 gallons in the tank.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 18 August 2019


Saturday dawned cool and damp; not a heavy rain but enough to need an umbrella. We headed north to Maynooth to check out the  "Garlic Festival". By the time we arrived the parking lot was full and cars were lining both sides of the road.

The market was bulging to overflowing with vendors forcing organizers to

close off the back street and park more vendors there. You can do that in small towns up here.

We wandered the grounds checking out the variety of garlic and chatting with many of the vendors.

We always meet someone we know at these events.

As you can see it was well attended and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in spite of the weather. Lots of food to eat and .............

free entertainment put on by .........

Do you remember "The New Christy Minstrels" of the 60s?  This wasn't them but they played well and were full of fun.

Needless to say we were delighted to have attended the Maynooth Garlic Festival and will be back again next year.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for keeping an eye on us.

Saturday, 17 August 2019


Yesterday was a perfect day to visit the market in Barry's Bay. The weather was warm, sky was blue with huge fluffy cumulonimbus clouds floating across the tree tops; a good day to be outside.

The market surrounds the old train station which is now used as an information center.

 Every square inch of real-estate around the station is used for the market. It's a busy place.

Local artists perform each week adding to the atmosphere of the market. The sights, sounds and smells can transport you back to the old fall fairs once so popular in every small community throughout Ontario.

It's a market that shows the pride of the people; well worth a drive to Barry's Bay on Friday.

Off to the Garlic Festival this morning.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 16 August 2019


The grass along the edge of our pond is taller than me. I've been busy weed wacking it down to allow the smaller plants to survive.

Three years ago we transplanted elderberries but thought the deer had eaten all the plants. Surprise! Several survived and this year are producing berries.

If the birds stay away, looks like we might be picking berries in another month. They make a delicious, healthy drink and Mary adds the juice to the gummy bears she makes for Owen and Kate. Makes those treats healthy and high in vitamin C a perfect treat for the winter cold season.

Lovely day for a drive so I think we will head north to Barry's Bay and check out the market there.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 15 August 2019


We have this huge billboard in town that proclaims in large bold florescent letters FREE DENTAL Program.

This is located on the main street adjacent to the park; you can't miss it.

Canada is renowned for its free medical care so I thought great, kids under 17 will have their teeth looked after. Dental fillings here cost $700/filling, not a cheap expense for families on a tight budget.

Our children are long past the age of 17 but I was curious so inquired. Turns out very few children qualify.

Only families with an income of less that $26,000 if you have two children need apply. If you have ten children then the limit goes up to $39, 812 Who has ten children and can survive on less than $40,000? The poverty line in Canada is $40,000 so in order to qualify for the "Free" dental coverage you would have to be living well below the poverty line or have more than 10 kids.

Seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors to me. The government pretends to be helping families but when you scratch the surface very few receive help and at $700/filling families well above the poverty line could do with some help.

Just my thoughts.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019


This is the time of year we do maintenance on our equipment. Over the next two months I will change the oil in our log splitter, generators, skid-steer and drain the gas in our chainsaws. Regular maintenance means the equipment starts when you need it. Often these may sit idle for months, so proper storage is critical.

Today I changed the oil in our propane generator. After seven years it only has 1,054 hours of use, so changing the oil once a year is all that's required.

They've made these units very easy for regular maintenance and even the home owner can do a simple oil change as well as change the oil filter and air filter. Everything is within reach and sight so no searching or standing on one's head to get the job done.

Our generator runs off our propane tank and will start automatically if we are away and our batteries get too low. Even when it's -40*C outside we've had no issues with it starting. I certainly appreciate the features that lets me start it from inside on a cold winter morning.

I did have a heating cable installed (note plug on far wall). This certainly helps the machine on those super cold mornings.

One job done another few to get done today so I must get back to work.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


Last week we were motivated to clean, organize and pitch everything we hadn't touch in two years. Mat and Danielle were coming to do a short doc on our "Life Off Grid" and our mechanical room needed a complete overhaul.

These are our 16 batteries that store the solar energy we are able to obtain when the sun is shining. It costs about $8,000 to replace these and they last anywhere from 6-10 years. So solar isn't free but so far it has been cheaper than the grid and it has exceeded our expectations.

Our in-floor heating is divided into three zones and each zone has its own motor and thermostat.

Each zone has one or two manifolds with each room having its own control valve. This means we can have the bedroom cool but the bathroom floor hot, which we prefer in the winter.

You can click on this photo to better see these three tanks. The blue tank is our pressure tank and it holds the water pumped in from our well. From there it goes out into the house as cold water or over to the far small tank. This is a 15 gallon electric water heater which on a sunny day we use to heat the water. From there it flows into the middle propane tank for further heating if necessary. This saves us a considerable amount of propane throughout the year.

This is the heat exchanger for our in-floor heating system, a box smaller than a Kleenex box. The hot water from the tank and the cold water from the floor do not mix but simple exchange heat through a rad system inside the box.

Our mechanical room not only holds our electrical and propane systems but my tools as well. Now that it is clean and organized it is so much easier to find something. Searches have been eliminated since everything has its place.

If you have any questions about our systems please feel free to contact us.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.