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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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Chickens in July

Our chickens have adopted us full time. They follow us like our shadows, never leaving our sight. If we go inside here's what happens.

"When are you coming out to play, Mary?"

No, we didn't kill the ladies, they are taking an afternoon siesta, right outside our trailer door.

This could be a problem. Lady Di has her feet inside the trailer. Not the feet on the right, silly, those are mine. Do they look like "chicken" feet? ? ? ? ? ?

Time for a bath; for the ladies, that means a "dust" bath. This is the way they clean themselves. Yes, I know, how can covering oneself in dust be cleaning?

Off site, this is Bancroft looking north up Hasting Street (highway 28) If you are looking for "Tim Hortons" they are at the north end of town, but soon to have a second location on highway 28 coming in to Bancroft from Peterborough.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Markets and Shows

This is the weekend for shows in Bancroft.

Up at the arena and curling club is the annual "Rockhound Gemboree" with vendors from all over North America. Bancroft is the gem capital of Canada and hosts the largest gem show every Civic Holiday..

They wouldn't let me take pictures indoors but they did have a climbing wall outside for the kids. This little guy had no problem reaching the top.

Farmers' Markets are very popular during our summer and fall seasons. We enjoy taking in the Maynooth Farmers' Market if we are home.

Lots of fresh produce available from the local farmers.

Then is was back to Bancroft for the annual "Arts and Crafts" show in Millennium Park. This was the 30th year for the show and the weather was perfect.

Lots of vendors from the area displaying and selling their creations.

Next week is the "Old Home Week" celebrating Bancroft's 150th birthday and then the Jazz Festival, August 17th. We are impressed that so much is happening in a town that has a population of just 3,500.

Looking forward to seeing you up here this summer.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Many of us used AAA maps whenever we travelled out of state or province years ago. Today the GPS has replaced the old paper maps we all relied on at one time. Some even have a "Maps and Streets" program in their computer, allowing them to get a route and print out directions for any destination in North America.

Thats what Don did when we left the cottage last weekend. Since we didn't have a GPS or paper map, Don used his computer to print out directions for the shortest route home. Now, some of the roads had us scratching our heads and wondering if we were lost but we obediently continued to follow the directions and did indeed arrive home sooner than expected.

I wasn't sure if this was a road or a farmer's lane, but off we went and didn't get stuck. Not sure if I would have been so brave if we were pulling our trailer. These programs do make mistakes.

Our route took us through rural Quebec ..................................

over bridges ........................................

across dams ..............................

down more country roads .........................................

...................... until we were finally back in Bancroft.

 Reminded me of the trip we took last February with Mike and Sheri and Mike (the navigator) had no idea where we were.

Travel safely and keep your maps handy.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Cottage Life

Summer and cottages go together like a hand in a glove. There is nothing better than escaping to "The Lake" and getting out of the city for the weekend. Millions of Canadians do it and the traffic jams every Sunday night attest to the popularity of this summer ritual.

Don and Gillian invited us to get out of our trailer and relax at their cottage for a few days last week. What a fabulous place they have in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec.

The "deck" was our place of meeting where we read, relaxed, ate good food and enjoyed the sunsets across the lake.

The view out the front window was from a postcard; who couldn't drift off to dreamland admiring such a view?

Did I mention sunsets?

Old boathouses and cottages hugging the shoreline spoke of an earlier time in the history of the lake.

Thanks Don and Gillian for a fabulous time. We felt spoiled and pampered.

Thanks also to Ted and Sharon for looking after our "girls" (chickens) and allowing us to get away.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Man Stands Tall

Ever purchase something only to discover the service department didn't meet your expectations? I think it's happened to most of us.

Last winter we had our solar system installed in Texas. Paul went out of his way to do an excellent job both on the roof and inside our trailer. Wiring, location, equipment was all installed to maximize usage. We were delighted. No longer did we need our generator to have coffee or toast in the morning, watch a movie at night and keep the furnace running so we could be warm when it snowed in April.

But on June 23rd it stopped working. No longer were our batteries being re-filled each sunny day. What could have gone wrong? I sent an e-mail off to Paul explaining our problem and within an hour had a reply and what to do. I checked everything Paul listed including the fuses but they looked fine, no black spots on the glass and the metal strip look complete. What next? Off with more e-mails and more things to check. Paul even shipped a replacement solar charger just to make sure ours wasn't at fault.

Up on the roof I opened each panel box and tested for current.

Each box and connection was solid and each panel was putting out about 19.3 volts.

Back inside I checked the fuse again and this time discovered that it was the problem. No fuse, no current, no batteries being charged.

It was the first thing Paul had asked me to check and I had missed the right diagnosis. Paul was patient, understanding and persistent, knowing that the problem could be corrected and with his help I was able to do so.

If you are thinking of solar for your Airstream, Paul is the guy to call.

Thanks Paul. You Stand Tall in my books.

Safe travels

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Summer Fun

One great thing about the summer are the number of special events, cities, towns and villages put on. From coast to coast in Canada there are events highlighting the history, culture, food, sports, talent and natural settings all summer long.

Bancroft has a full slate of activities. Next weekend July 30th is the annual Gemboree. It is popular and the place will be full of "rockhounds" from across North America. At the same time the "Arts and Crafts" show is held at Millennium Park and local artisans display and sell their goods. Most are very creative and there is much talent on display.

This is followed by the "Old Home Week", Jazz Festival, and the Maynooth Fair September 2 and 3rd.

Last week we took in the "Classic Car and Legendary Star" weekend in Brampton. This is always a blast and we were not disappointed. Thousands came to enjoy the free entertainment in Gage Park. If you've never been plan to go next year.

Of course when we are in town we have to visit friends and stopped by to see Bonnie and Winston. They were such helpful and friendly neighbours when we lived next door. Always great to spend time together.

You can tell it's summer by the road closures and Bancroft has it's share. Here we wait while they install a culvert on our road. It's amazing how they can maneuver those excavators; you would think he was stuck.

Hope you are enjoying this warm weather. Find a festival near you and take it in. You will be amazed at the talent that is close to home.
No complaints about the heat, I know what is coming.
Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, 18 July 2011

More Chickens

Last night we were inundated with mosquitoes. It seems the bat population here was killed off this winter and so we have a lot more mosquitoes to endure.

But that isn't all that arrived last night. After supper Yvan brought over two more chickens. Why? Seems these two were having trouble adjusting; so we get them to try to make things better.

They arrived with names and I have decided to keep Big Rosa's name. What's not to love about that name. Suites her well. She is a darker version of Sarah and Queenie. Big Rosa fits right in with the rest of the girls and is always right in the middle of the pack. You'd think she was always here.

This is Charlie. She is one hen pecked lady! Charlie has low self esteem and spent the morning on the run............ away from the others. They would see her across the yard and just pick up and run after her.

Well things calmed down by the afternoon and I noticed that the others were beginning to tolerate Charlie being in amongst them. This scenario so reminds me of the playground at school, where the pecking order is very clear, and some kids are the victim, while others fit in from day one.

Here you can see Big Rosa feeding on the alfalfa along with the other girls. She is the darkest of the three brown hens, at the top of the hill. 
Tomorrow we will see if the improvement continues and how Charlie reacts to being outside all day with the others. Hopefully I will get a picture of 6 happy ladies all together, sunbathing in the dirt. That is one of their favourite activities.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Family Visit

The weather here in Bancroft has been perfect the past few days, high's of 28-29*C, blue skies and cool evenings for sleeping. We were delighted that my sister Annabelle and her husband Jack could visit and enjoy all Bancroft has to offer.

First order of business was to check out our place. Now it isn't everyone who is happy to sit in your driveway, under the shade of the canopy for a visit, but it was better than sitting in our hot trailer; we even ate supper in the driveway. Only a sister would be so gracious with such accommodations.

Time for a stroll and a walk beside the lake to cool off. No, we didn't go for a swim, but we did enjoy the view.

Back at our site the chickens kept us company wherever we went. I believe they are part dog as they follow us around and have to be at our side all the time. No, they don't bark but they sure do like to eat.

They even let Jack pick them up and pet them. Now how many chickens allow a stranger to do that? By the way, I need to check Jack's car, we are short one bird.

Time for supper and Mary had prepared one of her one pot specialties. It was fabulous! Oh, did I mention it was chicken?

Here's the pot and no we didn't raise the chickens you see in the pot. Not sure if we could do that.

Thanks for a great meal Mary ........................
and for a fabulous visit Annabelle and Jack. Next time you come we will do eggs for breakfast; although breakfast at the B&B was lovely. Thanks.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Chicken Update

Chicken update: The girls have been running free around the property. We let them out in the morning when we know we are going to be staying around. What has surprised us is the fact that they stay very close to wherever we are. Here you can see Lady Di enjoying a dirt bath right beside the trailer door. She is the one that preens and fusses about her looks more than the rest. The dirt bath is meant to clear away mites. Perhaps she has more than the rest because of her being white. Mites are attracted to white.

Last year I planted alfalfa and it came back again this year. The girls get in and enjoy a half hour of eating a day. It is very high in minerals and nutritional vitamins. Bring on those healthy eggs girls! Speaking of eggs, we are getting 2 a day. I can live with that. They are sooo delicious. Yesterday I made a Sage Frittata with Charred Tomatoes and Goat Cheese over mixed greens. I don't think I have ever had eggs that good.

Here you can see adventuresome Kate scratching and checking for bugs in amongst the alfalfa. She is very quick, often taking juicy slugs and bugs right out of the mouths of the others. It is really fun to watch the chickens run and flutter over to anything they think they  might be missing out on. We have come to really enjoy the royal ladies. Can't imagine life without them any more.

Make sure to give advance notice when you plan to come. We'll cook you up a mean pan of eggs!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Flight Over Bancroft

Today was pancake breakfast at the Bancroft airport and for the brave a flight out over the area. Ted and Mary decided to keep their feet on the ground while Sharon and I headed for the clouds.

Once our pilot made sure we had enough gas we got underway.

Lots of vintage and home-made planes attended the fly-in.

Out over Bancroft, then south to try and find our place.

Looking down at Coe Island Lake.

Our place is that little stream, meandering through the centre of the picture. Ted and Sharon's place is the pond in the lower right of the picture.

We had a great flight,  with very competent pilot and we were safely home in about twenty minutes.

I took over 100 pictures but just don't have the room to post them here.

Enjoy your summer and drop by soon.