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.
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Wednesday, 28 May 2014


Earlier this spring we had mergansers, mallards and Canadian geese checking out our pond. They hung around for a few days then left, obviously looking for better accommodations. Picky birds we have up here.

But yesterday I was surprised to see mom and dad and the kids waddling down the path heading straight for the pond. I have no idea where the nest was, no idea they were still here, but the babies can't fly yet so their nest was close and they could probably see us without revealing their presence.

If you double click on the photo you should see at least three goslings busy eating greens under the watchful eye of the parents.

Next lesson was their first swim in the pond. No problem and all seemed to be following in order, mom in the lead, dad bringing up the rear.

It was just a magical moment that I happened to catch on film.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Did I mention we are in the middle of black fly season? Bug spray or bug shirt are necessary when one ventures out in the bush this week. The flies will swarm you unless you are in a breezy spot.

This is an evening grosbeak. We have several pairs enjoying our feeders. I hope they like black flies because they would have a feast. Many folks around here are installing bat houses. Do they like black flies?

If you are coming up bring your bug shirt and forget the shorts.

Safe travels everyone.

Monday, 26 May 2014


We spotted this cow moose standing in the middle of highway 28 north of Apsley. She moved off into the brush as we approached but that doesn't always happen.

This time of year they are trying to escape the flies and also find salt deposits along the side of the highway.

If you are heading north please be on the watch for these animals. A sudden encounter with one of them can send you to the hospital for sure.

Sunday, 25 May 2014


This month has been a busy month for birthdays. Today is Connie's birthday and we had a chance to stop by and wish her happy birthday yesterday. 

Yesterday was also a day to celebrate Annie's birthday with a surprise party arranged by her son and daughter-in-law. We were honoured to be invited and enjoyed good food and company.

So here is the birthday girls blowing out her candles. Annie was a nurse in Peterborough years ago and the ladies sitting around her were from her days working the shifts in Peterborough Civic Hospital (now closed) She was so happy to see them.

Annie asked her granddaughter to help blow out the candles. Not sure why she gave Annie that special look.

Marvin and Annie enjoy the speeches before dinner.

It was a lovely celebration for a lovely lady and we were glad to be a part of it. 

Saturday, 24 May 2014


 This bog entry was to be posted Friday but I had computer problems and couldn't connect to the internet. Today my computer guy called, fixed my computer and now I'm back in business.

We are utilizing solar energy to provide some of our hot water. We installed two small electric water heaters back in March and I was curious as to how much of a difference they made to the water temperature.

Glenn came yesterday and installed two temperature gauges so we can easily see the difference.

This is the temperature water coming out of our pressure tank. It was registering just over 10*C. It was then sent to the electric hot water tank.

The water coming out of our 15 gallon electric water heater was 31*C a difference of 21*. This we are happy with. Instead of using propane to bring the temperature from 10* to 31* we can use the solar energy stored in our batteries.

When we do this during a sunny afternoon the energy used comes directly from our panels and doesn't even drain our batteries.

Now I'll keep on eye on our propane consumption over the next 8 weeks and see what difference we experience.

If you are considering solar power do your research and see if it is a wise investment for your situation.  Ever application is different and your choice needs to address your needs.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Birthday Annie.

Happy Birthday Connie.

It's a busy birthday month.

Thursday, 22 May 2014


Once I had all the needed parts from the hardware store there was no more procrastination.  Time to start measuring, cutting, fitting and building.

My first plan was to cut holes in the sink cabinet
to accommodate the drain lines but after some thought I managed to install the drain lines without damage to the cabinet. Yea! In this picture everything is just friction fit, no glue until I see how the water lines will go.

Here you can see the water lines running under the cabinet. I still need to clip them to the wall but they do deliver hot water to the correct side of the faucet.

There's the proof, we have water in the back bathroom.

I even ran a line for an outside faucet complete with a valve and bleeder so I can drain the line in the fall before everything freezes.

Pex water lines are so easy to work with and perfect for the DIY crowd. Unlike the old copper pipes I grew up on the Pex joints don't need solder, rarely leak, and are so simple to connect.  Don't fear new technology, it is usually easier to use than first imagined.

Next job will be two porcelain shelves in the shower. 

There's always a next job.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


The day was perfect, sun shining, the air was still and off in the distance I could hear a pilated woodpecker busy making a home in one of our precious maple trees. 

Although the day was perfect I chose to work inside yesterday as we have company. Not the cherished company of family and friends but the uninvited flying company in the form of black flies. 

Our bathroom sink has been waiting patiently for me to get in the mood, grab some tools and get the job done. I work at a slow pace punctuated by trips to the hardware store, sometimes several trips to the hardware store. Yesterday the work began.

The parts were set out to be sure I had everything. Then I read the instructions. Most DIY projects come with instructions I usually ignore until something doesn't fit, but yesterday I read the instructions first.

Everything was hand tightened and positioned correctly.

Some parts needed to be cut but in the end the parts went together very easily and without frustration.

Today I plan to install the faucets but first I need to go to the hardware store. I'm using pex water lines which means special fittings to connect pieces together and prevent any leaks. I love pex as it is so easy to use, no need to solder joints and the chance of leaks is almost zero.

Little by little we are completing the jobs and shrinking the "To-Do List".

Check out Sherri's blog to see our grandson talking about driving the car .................. he's two.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


You would think at my age I would know better than trying to play baseball against kids born since I retired. But the chance to see if I still had the swing and speed to chase down the high-fly was too great and there I was out in field when I should be up in the stands.

The game was already in progress by the time we arrived.

But it was soon my turn and that's me running for home on my gimpy knees. Oh, do they hurt this morning.

After the game it was time to eat and Peter and Eva were kind enough to invite everyone back for a BBQ.

In spite of the aches and pains we had a great time and enjoyed meeting some new folks in Hermon. Here Peter looks after Chloe who as you can see is the center of attention.

It was a perfect way to end the Victoria Day long weekend.

Thanks Peter for the invitation.

Monday, 19 May 2014


They pulled up beside Mary, engine idling with a menacing rumble and said "hi".

Mary didn't have a clue who she was looking at.

It was Al and Sheila from our church out enjoying the long weekend and dropping by for a friendly unplanned visit.

They have a huge solar system on their property that feeds into the grid system and were interested in seeing our off-grid setup.

We gave them the tour and enjoyed a slice of chocolate cake on the deck. Lots of questions and information back and forth. 

Like most folks up here they've adapted to life in the north and Sheila isn't afraid to skin a deer and knows how to put the meat up for a winter.

It was a great visit, too short but they promised to come again and then away they went, home to prepare for their own company coming for supper.

Mary did the same as we were expecting Yvan and Nancy.  They are into healthy eating so Mary tried a few new recipes and supper was delicious and nutritious. 

No better way to spend the long weekend than with family and friends and we really like the unexpected visits.

Did you notice I mentioned chocolate cake? This is a flourless, sugarless chocolate cake that is divine. Matter of fact everyone who has tried it has asked for the recipe. Next time you are up, ask Mary for a taste of her chocolate cake; you won't be disappointed.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the last day of the long weekend.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


It's always a pleasure to have family and friends drop by for a few days. This weekend Barb and Wayne were returning home from vacation time in Quebec and called to see if we were home.

We had a delightful time catching up on the news and sharing stories of the past.

Wayne was a double lung recipient last year so it was extra special to have a chance to spend some time together. 

Finally Mary said enough pictures, time for lunch and off we went to the Granite. We seem to always have a meal there when special guests are in town. (Remember Ad and Gertie)

Thanks for stopping by Wayne and Barb and we look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Friday, 16 May 2014


Soon we will see lots of female turtles on the roads up here. June is the month they search out a suitable place to lay their eggs. Last year we had four different turtles lay clutches of eggs near our house.

Mary found this little guy in her garden this week. He spent the winter buried in the soil and has just emerged from the egg nest for the first time.

The eggs are laid in June and the baby painted turtles emerge from the egg shell in September. They have the ability to stay in the soil over the first winter and then head for the pond the following spring. That's what this little guy was doing when Mary found him. 

During their first winter buried in the soil their heart stops and they produce a type of antifreeze to keep themselves from freezing. Truly amazing.

For more information about painted turtles check out this site:
Click Here

Thursday, 15 May 2014


We have a number of mills in the area all producing wood products. It's great to be able to buy directly from the mill and even get your lumber custom cut or edged to your preference.

The mills have been stockpiling logs all winter.

Heavy machinery moves the logs to the sawmill where the milling process starts.

The logs go in one end ......

boards come out the other end.

It's a noisy place but I love the smell of fresh cut wood and enjoy the atmosphere and sights whenever I visit. 

Lumber is big business here in the north.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Most days after school   Matthew comes over for a few hours of work. We really appreciate his muscles and forestry skills to help us get things cleaned up and organized here.

 It's hard to believe but we have started stacking firewood for next winter. Once our porch is loaded we will have a winter supply of wood just outside our front door; very convenient.

Yesterday we started building a stone wall parallel to the porch wall. Once finished I can place the pallets full of firewood on the wall close to the house, ensuring we have a full supply for the winter.

If the rain holds off we will finish the wall today. Still lots of wood to split and dry so I need to have breakfast and get back to work.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


Yesterday we had a lovely visit from Lori and Doug. They are considering building an energy efficient house and wanted to see our place. They came about 11 and left about 3 and we showed them everything including the gardens and chickens. Unfortunately we were so busy talking I didn't get a chance to take pictures.

Mary's sprouts are looking healthy.

They are now on a rack, on the porch getting exposed to the outdoor conditions a little at a time.

Off to split more wood.

Have a great day.

Monday, 12 May 2014


With Leanne here we decided to use her muscles to help move the small storage shed down to Mary's garden.

Mary was on one side, Leanne on the other and I worked the bobcat. 

While we worked moving the shed the chickens enjoyed the kale hanging in their coop. They love the greens from our table.

It was great having Leanne up for a few days. The weather was perfect for walking the property and her help getting a few jobs done was greatly appreciated.

Looks like we are in for a week of rain which is the perfect weather after all the planting Mary did.

Today Lori and Doug from Belleville are coming to tour the house. They are thinking of building off grid and asked if they could take a tour.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Leanne was up for the weekend and yesterday we drove over to the Honey House. That's not the official name just our name for the farm which sells their own honey.

Every farm has a dog and this one has three, all energetic and ready to run and chase whatever moves, including me.

The hives are protected by an electric fence somewhat essential when you are located in bear country.

The bees seemed quite active this early in the season but I guess there are enough young plants around for them to visit and get the nectar.

Their honey is delicious and we always get a jar whenever we visit. My sister sent me an article by David Suzukie in which they discussed the concern of pesticides and toxins been found in honey samples taken from hives located near farm crops which were heavily sprayed. That is something I hadn't considered.

To learn more about the Honey House click   HERE

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms who read our blog. Hope the kids make lunch for you.

Saturday, 10 May 2014


Every woman loves a new set of wheels and what better time for a gift than Mother's Day. Mary has mentioned for some time that her old machine was too heavy, too awkward for her
to maneuver easily.

So that sent me to the internet looking for a two wheel solution.

It arrived this week and Mary couldn't wait to get it assembled.

We had the parts scattered all over the porch.

Mary read the instruction while I assembled the frame. Nice and light, very easy to maneuver I'm sure.

Now that's a wheelbarrow any serious woman gardener would admire and appreciate. Light, durable, easy to maneuver and guaranteed for a lifetime. 

Gardening chores take on a whole new meaning when one has the Cadillac of wheelbarrows. 

Friday, 9 May 2014


As the days grow warmer and longer our thoughts and efforts start to focus on the gardens for this year. Seeds were ordered back in February and Mary started many seeds indoors as early as March.

This week felt right for starting some seeds in the garden. Rather than plant in rows she sectioned the garden and used a method called "Square Foot Gardening". We will see if we have improved yields this year.

As you can see the garden is well protected and this year will get plenty of sunshine thanks to all the trees that were removed back in February. Our new chicken coop for the meat birds will be behind the garden off to the top right in the picture above.

Mary planted about 1/3 the garden and over the next few weeks as the days and evenings get warmer she will slowly add more vegetables to her beds she is preparing here.

Now that new seeds are in the ground we must remember to close the gate and keep the chickens out. They quickly take advantage of the open gate to get inside and scratch for seeds.

The next few days call for rain, perfect for the newly planted beds.

Next month we hope to be eating lettuce, swiss chard, kale, and radishes from our own garden. 

Thanks  for stopping by and we will let you know how the garden grows later this summer.