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 June 2015


Our chickens are now 7 weeks old and approaching the inevitable trip to the freezer. They have enjoyed safe and healthy surroundings, treats of clover and chickweed every day and soothing music at night.

Thanks to Marvin and Annie we were able to get some steel which we added to the sides of the coop at the end where the birds sit in the shade of the tarp. The steel was added, not to keep any bears out but to keep out the chipmunks who also love to eat the chicken food.

Our coops and gardens are down the hill from the house. Mary has developed a regular little farm setup which keeps us fed with healthy foods all summer long.

I must set up the trail camera Marvin loaned me to see what night visitors are down by the chickens. If I get any good pictures I'll post them.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Sunday, 28 June 2015


Just as we were about to sit down for supper Mary spotted him down by the pond; our black bear was back.

When I opened the screen door and stepped onto the porch he turned and looked. For a few seconds we locked into each other and then he turned and continued meandering along the stream.

Seeing a bear so close twice in the same month is exciting for us. I've been told there are lots in the area but for years we hadn't seen any on our property. We will definitely be making noise any time we venture into the bush. 

No reason to be alarmed or curtail our activities as this is to be expected when you live back in the bush. The bears we've seen are just passing through, walking their territory looking for food. So far they've done no damage and have left our chickens alone. I think I'll set up Marvin's trail camera and see who visits at night; I know the deer do.

Thanks for stopping by and I'll keep you posted if he returns.

Saturday, 27 June 2015


Just out of the oven, wild strawberry tarts. Not sure if I should post this as I'm trying to lose weight and stay away from desserts, but when these came out, I couldn't resist.

We try and walk our road each day and Mary is always collecting seeds or plants on our walk. Today she picked wild strawberries and decided to make strawberry/rhubarb tarts. They look delicious and are small enough to do minimum damage to my daily calorie count.

We've had a busy week and that's why I haven't been blogging as much. Now that summer is here we are outside working and the days just disappear. 

I'm also trying to get my office finished and that needs to happen over the next week as we have company coming soon after. 

Time for a snack and then back to work, .......... a healthy snack. We will enjoy the tarts after supper.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Often when I walk in town I take the path along the York River through the Millennium Park. Recently these huge boxes appeared in different locations along the path.

There is no signage but it looks like the boxes have been planted with vegetables and someone will be harvesting the produce once everything matures.

Looks like rain today so I won't be walking the path this morning. This evening we will be in town for a lecture on growing garlic. Maybe we will go early and walk the path then.

Time to get back to mudding my office.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Monday, 22 June 2015


In winter we burn a lot of wood. In summer we have a lot of charcoal barbecues. We light a lot of fires.

We've been using the Green Egg brand of starters for our BBQ and have been happy with the efficiency of the product. Unfortunately they are not available in Bancroft.

I bought these "Zip" starters at Canadian Tire but was disappointed with the fumes they emitted. They did fine lighting the charcoal but the house and deck were filled with this heavy chemical smell.

So we decided to make our own and have been quite pleased with how they work. We started off cutting old egg cartons into two slot containers.

Next we filled them with wood shavings from the mill.

Once filled we poured candle wax over the shavings.

When we want a barbecue we place the fire-starters  into the bed of charcoal and .......

ignite them using our propane torch. 

At first we have a lot of smoke until the charcoal ignites but the smoke does not have the heavy chemical smell of the "Zip" starters.

Soon we have reached the correct temperature and the barbecue is ready to cook whatever food we desire. Since the "Egg" holds the heat long after the fire goes out we often put vegetables for tomorrow's supper on to slow cook while the barbecue slowly cools. This way we save energy and only have to reheat the food the next day.

If you do a lot of charcoal barbecuing it's easy to make your own fire-starters.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


Mary collects and uses a lot of herbs in her kitchen. The challenge is drying them as we live on solar power and watch our consumption.

She found the solution at "Lee Valley" This hanging air dryer is perfect, dries the herbs without consuming any electricity.

It's made of an open weave material that has numerous shelves for drying herbs and folds up into a bag for storage. Perfect.

Looks like we are having barbecued chicken for Father's Day this evening.

Enjoy the day and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 19 June 2015


Mary was up early this morning putting together some ideas Leanne had created. I think it will be a full day at the sewing machine.

Fabric and supplies are scattered everywhere. The ladies are using every available space for their design work.

Leanne is at the dinning room table with her sketch pad.

Mary is at the sewing machine with no time to admire the outside view. 

I'm in my office digging out shims from around the window and deciding with Leanne where to place the shelves and display boards. Decisions, decisions .......

My office stuff is piled in the hall and we are squeezing by stacks to get around but we are making progress and that keeps us going; that and the fact we have visitors coming from Germany means we can't stop now.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


We enjoy walking our road early each morning.

Often one of the kids will call so we chat as we walk and they drive to work.

Mary wears a bug shirt, I carry a flyswatter.  

This morning we will be a little more cautious. This big boy was outside our windows this morning, even walked up on our deck.

No damage and he soon meandered off into the forest. He was a good size and healthy looking but I wouldn't want to meet him face to face with just a flyswatter in my hands.

Always something new happening up here. That's the first bear we've seen on our property in 7 years; sure got Mary excited.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


It has been a relaxing week so far. Work projects have been set aside as we enjoy time with Sean and later today Leanne.

 We continue to eat raw, especially enjoying a variety of salads from the garden. Each morning we walk the road and then a loop in town when we go for groceries. I've noticed considerable improvement in my blood pressure scores and regularly see numbers around 120/77. Hopefully when I see my cardiologist in November he will be happy.

 Our meat birds are now five weeks old and looking very healthy.

We have 20 birds and they are happy in their coop, protected from the rain and any predators snooping about.

We have five feeding stations which we keep full and there are always a few girls eating whenever we stop by. Mary also gives them fresh cut greens twice a day which they love and come running for.

We spread wood chips on the floor to give them a soft dry place to sit and we have two water stations as they always seem to be thirsty in the hot weather.

If you are coming up there is road construction on Bay Lake Rd. but the delays are short and the crew tries their best to keep the traffic flowing.

Just recently had word of a possible quarry being developed on Bay Lake Rd. so we will be attending information meetings on that topic later this month.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Saturday, 13 June 2015


We're back to juicing. I have an appointment with my cardiologist in November and I need to lose some weight. Juicing, smoothies and salads are making that possible.

With the "Fitbit" I can monitor my calorie intake and energy output to accurately know what I can eat. This takes the guess work out of the process and allows me to tailor my food consumption so the weight is coming off but my body is still being properly nourished.

Two excellent documentaries that helped kick start us back to juicing are:

1) Forks over Knives

2) Fat, Sick and Almost Dead

If you are struggling with a health issue I encourage you to watch those documentaries and be inspired by the stories and information they share.

Safe travels and healthy eating everyone.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 12 June 2015


When it's wet outside then it's time to work inside. This is one job I've wanted done for some time but held off until now.

My office is small so this shouldn't take too long.

Focus and a steady hand are critical. I don't want to do a lot of sanding once the mud has dried.

Today I want to tape the ceiling joints and mud them before lunch.

Hopefully in another week I'll get the first coat of paint on.

Must get back to work. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


Bancroft is a small town in northern Ontario with fewer than 4,000 residents. Once a month they show a movie in the local theater. 

When it was announced that our own beloved Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent would be in attendance, tickets sold out quickly.
Here you see Peter Kelrghan , Leah Pinsent and her father Gordon Pinsent sitting on stage.

They raffled off a poster signed by all three and the money ($500) went to the local hospice house.

We then sat back and enjoyed the movie Big News in Grand Rock.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Wet weather seems to bring the turtles up to our house. 

This girl struggled up to the sandy soil just outside our windows.

She spent several hours digging and laying her eggs under the watchful eye of this chipmunk.

Here he gets up close and actually has his paw on the turtle's shell.

Sometimes it gets a little crowded with everyone trying to get the best spot to dig.

You can see how far they have to crawl in the picture above.

Not everyone is happy to see the turtles. I'm sure for some creatures this is their first encounter face to face and they aren't sure ......

 what these big creatures in armor are all about.

Another rainy day here. Drive safely and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 8 June 2015


We've had our meat birds for two weeks which makes them a month old. They have adjusted to their  new home without a problem and so far everything is secure; no evidence of predators gaining access to the coop.

The coop is very basic and very open, just 2x4s covered in chicken wire with plaster mesh around the bottom two feet. We also extended the mesh 12 - 18 inches below ground to discourage predators from digging under the coop.

We have a radio playing our local station 24/7 and this also helps to keep those looking for an easy lunch away. We suspended it from the ceiling to keep the birds from walking over it and turning the radio off. As you can see we have a tarp that covers half the coop and keeps that area dry for the birds. 

Mary cuts clover each morning and spreads it inside the coop. The birds know this and come running towards the door when they see her approaching; how quickly they learn.

This week we are going to design a new feeding system. We have been using plastic flower boxes to hold their food but they toss so much around it gets very messy. Watch for new pictures next week.

If you've ever raised meat birds let us know how it went. We are always open to suggestions and advice from those who have gone before us.

Thanks for stopping by.