This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

If you have any questions send us a comment; we love to hear from our readers.
Click on pictures for larger view

Wednesday, 30 April 2014


Like most two year olds, Owen likes to be active. There is an excellent little park nearby we often visit so Owen can run and climb to his heart's content.

Playground equipment has changed considerably since I was a kid. Gone are those iron braced swings that if you weren't watching closely would leave a nasty gash on your head.

That black stuff under the ramp isn't asphalt but a compound made from shredded rubber that acts like a cushion if one should fall. 

Each piece of equipment is designed to stay cool and support the child in a safe manner. Do you remember those steep steel slides that were 120 degrees on a hot summer day and you would shoot off the end another 30 feet beyond the slide.

Now the child stops at the end and can safely step off the slide.

Back home Owen had to drive his firetruck up and down the driveway. He's discovered the fun of coasting down the driveway, his feet up and wind blowing through his hair.

The best place to fall asleep after a busy day. Thanks Oma.

Today we head for home after having a great few days with Owen and Sherri.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


When Leanne was a little girl she got a cloth book made by her Oma. She still has the book and it holds many cherished memories. Owen's Oma (Mary) decided to do the same for him on his second birthday.

First thing this morning Owen wanted Oma to read to him.

Mary crafted the book from left over fabric and each page covers an activity Owen enjoys when he visits Oma.

Oma's pond is a great place to explore and find bugs. This is the pond page in the book. Each page covers two or three letters of the alphabet. P- pond, Q -  Queen Bees, R- rock and Reeds

Owen loves to sit in the "bobcat" with Oma and make the bucket go up and down. On the "bobcat" page, Owen can make the bobcat move and lift the dirt.

Oma is so very talented and loves Owen more than this book can show. 

Hope you had an Oma like Owen's.

Monday, 28 April 2014


We are at Sherri and Rob's celebrating Owen's second birthday.

The weather was perfect and we enjoyed the afternoon on the deck.

Rob looked after the BBQ and the burgers and steaks were delicious.

Casey, Sean and Rob enjoying the snacks before supper.

Birthday cake was these delicious mocha-chocolate cups, so yummy.

Now I need to get out and exercise after a day of good food and good company.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


The volunteer fire  department in Dungannon has a fund raiser this time every year called "Got Mud" It's an all day ATV ride through the bush with a mud pit as an option.

Just a few of the 400 machines after the ride.

Lunch was served at a hunting camp way back in the bush then they rode down to the fire station at Dungannon for supper.

This is Elmer who did an excellent job of barbecuing the beef and baked potatoes. He and his twin brother Ed started the station back in 1980. They went door to door in the township asking for each owner to donate $50.00. With that they bought a used badly damaged fire truck, fixed it up and were in business. I was quite impressed with the equipment they now have. By the way, their first fire truck cost them $1,000.00 and they sold it years later for $5,000.00 

Just a few of the many volunteers who made the day such a success with one rider going home on a new ATV.

Mary and our friend John made sure everyone had coffee and water. The riders came in very thirsty and most went to the fruit punch as their drink of choice.

The guys moved the fire trucks outside and made the station into one huge banquet hall. During the meal the organizers tossed out free T-shirts. (Click on the picture for a better view)

By 8 pm we had everything cleaned up and we were on our way home.

Always something special going on up here in Hasting Highlands. 

Hope to see you at the banquet next year.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


It's the time of year when new arrivals show up at our feeders almost every day. 

This we believe is a tree sparrow and ......

this one we think is a fox sparrow. You can see the different colouring on the head and breast if you double click on the picture.

Meanwhile our own birds are venturing further afield and enjoying the warmer temperatures.

Although the two birds on the left look dead they're not. They are enjoying a dust bath in the warm soft earth of Mary's garden. The other two are busy scratching for bugs and seeds just under the leaves.

Today we are off to help serve lunch at another fund raiser. Not sure what it's about but I'll let you know tomorrow.

Friday, 25 April 2014


At the end of the day I was exhausted. Gerry was here for breakfast at 8 as he needed to sample our maple syrup since he was the one who assisted us through this first experience. He was impressed with the taste and clarity of our maple syrup so we passed with high marks.

After breakfast it was outside to clear and thin more bush. Mary wants more sunlight on her gardens which means fewer trees to create shade.

We have several piles like this waiting to be hauled to the splitter and then stacked to dry. We have enough wood cut for the next four years. With the rising costs of all utilities having a supply of wood may be a good thing.

While we worked we had an audience. The girls were kept inside for their own protection but they could see the trees coming down and chatted back and forth as we worked.

Any idea what this is? ......................... 

 frozen sap on a birch stump. It was -3*C when we started cutting trees yesterday.

Today Matthew will be here at 9 to haul more wood out of the bush. It's a job he will be doing for several weeks.

I think I'll find a comfortable chair and enjoy his work from our porch.

Enjoying life in the bush even if it is exhausting.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Yesterday morning started off in the kitchen ..... making sauerkraut and ginger carrots, lacto-fermentation style. Art helped pound the vegetables while I chopped and measured. 

We have been reading up on the benefits of fermented food since receiving a wonderful gift from Carol, a book called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. 

We've been learning that the organic acids present in fermented food play an important role in the health of our digestive system. 

After pounding the prepared veggies and whey for ten minutes it was then squished into a jar to be sealed up and set on the counter for 3 to 4 days before setting into a cold storage room. (The cold storage room is on our list of things yet to do, so the fridge is where it will keep)

Everything went so smoothly I decided to make a jar of ginger carrot as well. It consists of raw carrots and ginger grated, a little sea salt and whey........that's it, except for some pounding and setting out on the counter for a few days. 

Here is the finished sauerkraut. Looks yummy. I'll let you know in a week or so how it tastes.

Can't wait to try them.

Today we are cutting more trees and working in the garden. We will let the chickens out to run free and help us till the soil. It's a treat for them to scratch and find the little treasures underground.

We are now getting five eggs a day from our six ladies so we are happy with their production and they seem happy living here.

Just spotted (7:30 am) a pair of common mergansers swimming around the pond. I do need to get some nesting boxes built for next year.

Time for breakfast then outside to work. 

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels Annie and Marvin.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


Maple syrup is over, the days are getting longer and the sun tracks higher in the sky these days.

We added a freezer and two small electric water heaters to our system this year and these are placing a greater demand on our off grid system.

Fortunately we can easily adjust the tilt of our panels thus gaining about 20% improvement in our solar gain for the day. On the left is the winter position of our panels to track the sun much lower on the horizon; on the right the summer position.

Sean made the adjustments when he was here last weekend. It is a simple task of removing one bolt, pulling the panels into their new position and replacing the bolt into the new hole.

Our panels in the summer position as seen from the chicken coop.

Thanks for your help Sean. Hope you can be here when we go back to the winter position in November.

So that's it folks, repositioned and ready for summer. 

This morning the sun is shining so it will be an outdoor work day up here.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the sunshine.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Monday was our last sap boiling day. We had about 80 litres to boil down and since the forecast called for rain decided to use the propane cooker to get the job done quickly. (It still took all day)

We set the cooker up on the deck overlooking the pond so we could enjoy the activity on the water while we kept an eye on the sap.

Mary cleaned the lines and spiles and our equipment will go into storage later this week. Next year we plan to tap a few more trees and find a larger boil pan to use. 

This morning we will do the final boil and bottle our last maple syrup for this season. It has been a great experience thanks to the help and guidance of Gerry and assurance that it is doable even in your own backyard, just time consuming. 

Our last batch.

Tomorrow we make adjustments to handle the increased demands on our solar system.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Monday, 21 April 2014


We are privileged to be able to enjoy a variety of wildlife living just beyond our windows. This is mating season and every species seems to be heeding the natural instinct to get together, find shelter and build a nest. 

The ice isn't off the pond yet but the ducks have arrived and are busy inspecting the shoreline for suitable habitat.

Yesterday we had a pair of Canada geese, three pairs of hooded mergansers and a pair of mallards all searching for a spot to call home. This was coupled with much preening, ducking, rolling, tipping, following and flapping of wings.

Unfortunately we observe all this through binoculars and my camera lens just isn't strong enough to give you a close-up view.

It would be a real treat to see a line of goslings swimming across our pond later this summer. We will be watching.

Spring has finally arrived.

Sunday, 20 April 2014


The weather has been perfect and we are enjoying time with Sean and Casey.

Yesterday we boiled 140 litres of sap. As I type, we have the sap boiling on our propane cooker. In another few hours we should be bottling 3 litres of maple syrup.

Sap boiling at 8 am this morning.

Jody and Deb joined us yesterday and we spent most of the time sitting around the firepit watching the sap boil down.

Sean did find some time to split wood for me which was greatly appreciated. This morning the sun is shining and we hope to collect more sap this afternoon.

Happy Easter everyone and safe travels friends.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


Mary has been busy mudding and taping this week and now the windowsills are done.

We had water damage on some of the sills so that meant taking out the drywall and redoing it. Here Mary tapes and muds one patch.

The windowsills have been cut to fit, varathaned and are now in place. Once we are sure we have no more water issues then we will nail them down securely.

Just a few of Mary's orchids on the new windowsill.  Any opinions?

Happy Easter everyone and safe travels.