Sunday, December 30, 2007

Frost on the Pumpkins

We had some quick changing weather yesterday that made for some neat effects. It went from 0C to -21 in less than 12 hours. This picture is the view across the South valley from our place. The light is just breaking through the hoarfrost at the valley bottom.Such a rapid change in temperature causes the water vapour to crystallize out of the air. It covers everything giving it a wonderful winter land effect. You can see the crystals in the air, like millions of diamonds. From a distance it will look like fog, which I guess, it is - an ice-fog.
It was almost a shame to destroy this crystal garden by cleaning off the windsheild of the truck. It's really an interesting phenomenon. When Jo-Ann was taking these pictures she could actually see the ice crystals growing!
It has warmed up to -10 today. I will spend the day cleaning out the garage so that I can park the skid-steer and ATV's in it so I don't have to cover the skid-steer with tarps to keep the snow off.

Hope your having a wonderful holiday.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Moon Walk

Last night we had a clear -14 with a bright three quarters moon and a stunning Mars high above Orion so we decided to go for a walk around 10 pm. We had headlights and back up flashlights but didn't really need them until we got into the forest part of the trail. This is a picture Kevin took of Sara and I under the full moon. The moon is a lot bigger in person..

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

First Winter Ascent of Mt. James

It was a beautiful boxing day today so we decided to go snow shoeing.

What a lot of fun. We have a packed trail now so it will be easier to keep it open. We're thinking of trying to do a moon lit one tonight, that should be pretty spectacular. On the way back Sara and Kevin decided to do an ascent of Mt. James via the treacherous West face. Not only did they succeed but they set a new record, doing the ascent in One minute and 17 seconds.

And then the pace picked up as we went back to the house for tea, turkey salad, cookies and pie. Perhaps an afternoon nap... It's the tryptophan.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Hope you and yours are enjoying Christmas and having a great time.

My daughter Sara and husband Kevin made it up for Christmas and the adventure begins. 10 minutes after getting on the sled Kev's going over the "Gully"

We wanted to use the sled to go and get the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, the snow was just too soft so we used snow shoes. Our friend James, gave us a hand.Sara got the ski-do bug and Christmas day she will give it a try on the road and over the fields and through the trees.We were up late last night decorating the tree after the do at the Endako Hall. Fun for all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Goose Eggs

The chucks seem to be in their prime. They are laying ten eggs a day from 10 chucks so that's pretty neat. The thing is they have been laying some gi-normous eggs. Have a look at this double yolker one. No Yolk!

Jo-Ann's theory is that the Ostriches down the road have been visiting. I guess it could happen.

Poor Xena managed to get into the compost tires ( cuz some one knocked them over with a skidsteer while path clearing ) and was muching on some old "T" bones. She got rid of a bunch on the living room carpet but she was having trouble at the other end. For four days. The poor thing. We took her to the vet in Burns who gave here some Xrays and found a 3" chunk of bone lodged vertically about three inches in. Some slightly messy work with a rubber glove out in the yard of the vets place and voila - one happy girl! Who is now taking some anti-biotics and feeling like a million bucks. The pressure is off.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The "ReTired" Garden

My friend Carol was asking about the tire garden. Amazing considering we had a couple of weeks of -20c and below. I think the cold has killed off the greens but today when I opened up a couple of them I found that it was +10c and the greens were thawed out. The chucks sure love 'em.

In our other garden near the chicken run the cabbage seems to be doing quite nicely under the snow.

Surprisingly hardy is lettuce. I think a fall planting will keep us in greens well into October.

Another option I have considered is lighting and heating the tires. In effect miniature green houses. As soon as the snow goes we will be trenching for water and power to the rest of the tires we will be putting in. Around a hundred of them.

One of my favorite places is a bench on the South side of the red shed. Nice place to sit ( on a piece of closed cell foam..) and contemplate the view towards the south and highway 16.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Before I go to bed I check the thermometer, while waiting for Xena to go have a before bed whizbang. Warm wind blowing and up to -1c. Wow, a twenty degree rise in temperature in a day. We have had more snow and fortunately, another visit by YRB. We have a beautifuly flat, driveway now.

I went out the other day to get the Case Skidsteer running so I could clear out the yard. The ignition ring on the machine was loose, and when I reached down to tighten it up the key came out and fell through a slot on the right hand lever. No spare. A couple of hours later I have the skidsteer ripped apart so I can see the belly pan and hopefully, an errant key. No such luck. Plan "B", order a new ignition switch. That takes a day or so, and yesterday I get the thing back together and up and running. I whip out and start plowing what I can. I am getting faster with the machine and don't really have to think about what I am doing. Not the "which lever do I pull to make it ..." Well the down side is - I get motion sickness and after a couple of hours I am sitting in the house drinking ginger tea. What a woose.

One of the problems we have with our upper driveway is snow drifting. As the snow that is removed from the sides of the road build up it creates a low pressure area right over the road. That's where the snow drifts up. Today I am going to put the chains on the skidsteer and start making some snow berms a hundred feet on either side of the road to act as a snow fence.

While I was waiting for parts I insulated the windows on the south side. The windows in the house are pretty old. I have managed to seal the cracks around the side and the ones we look out of I put clear shrink plastic over the inside. It makes a huge difference in drafting.

The West side windows I cover with mylar insulating wrap and then two inches of pink styrofoam insulation. Then I duct tape all around the edges to keep any draft down.

If you notice in the picture you can see a round bulge on the top of the left hand side piece. Last year I didn't use the reflective mylar first and the sun shining through the window heated up the wire screen enough to melt the pink insulation. An amazing demonstration of solar heating. Hence the reflective mylar this year. We don't use these windows in the winter as not a lot of winter sun comes from that side so covering them makes a huge difference. We have heavy curtains that go over the windows so you don't see the insulation. Even when I replace the windows with some more thermally efficient ones I will still be covering them up. Windows, even high priced "efficient" ones just are not. But don't get me going...

Mean while Xena and her buddy Ewe (uass, in Carrier - which means snow) snuggle up and enjoy the draft free window ledge.

Ah, life is good

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Support Group..

If it looks like that big 'ol fir tree is growing through the shed, it is. There are actually two trees supporting the shed one at the front and back. The farmer built the shed around the trees so that he could use them for structural support. I will be taking the shed down and liberating the living fir. The dead one will end up as firewood this summer.

Xena was checking out something that was moving at the far end of the road. this is the top end of our 1km long driveway. We had about three inches of snow last night, about 8 cm for you metric folk. If I get enthusiastic, and get the skidsteer working I will give it a quick scrape.

The chickens winter chalet. Well actually the chickens summer and winter chalet. They are snug as a bug in a rug. There is an infrared lamp in the run, or the "tractor" part and a light and a ceramic heater in the "A" frame coop. They had stopped egg production when winter started but seem to be back in the saddle, er..nests.

Today I am doing some window insulating. More about that in a later blog.

Friday, December 07, 2007

In Memorium

December 7th, 1941.

May the service men killed on that day "that will live in infamy" rest in peace.

May we never forget the futility and cost to our world of attempting to placate tyrants.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Oh Tannenbaum ...

One thing this familly needs is a heated garage. Just spent about four hours at -20c putting in a block heater. And getting the air locks out so that the heater would work. Just no fun doing auto mechanicing in sub zero temperatures.

When the kids were up a while back we went to the Christmas tree field and picked out the tree and a couple of candidates for next year, and the year after.

Today Xena and I went for a trudge and snapped a photo of the tree.

Noticed that the moose are moving back in. We ran across tracks in the Christmas tree field and looking out the kitchen window we can see them criss crossing just below the Eastern tree line. Glad to have them back.

YRB to the rescue

Jollied me right up to see the big YRB grader coming up the driveway yesterday. You could land a 747 on the driveway now. No chains required to get in or out. I managed to get the skidsteer going yesterday and cleaned out the yard. Makes walking around and doing chores a lot easier. I finished just as it was getting dark and my feet, even in my -60C boots were starting to get a little chilly.

The temperature has fallen again today. -22c here. All the trees are frosted over and it's overcast. Pretty in a cold looking sort of way.

I am off to my Brother Tom's to install a block heater in the Toyota. I had been plugging the truck in and it was still hard to start. Then I traced the plug wiring back and noticed that the last time they changed the engine they didn't put the block heater back in. If it gets much colder it can make it really hard to start. Some of the locals tell me about putting tarps over the vehicle and a pipe with a tiger torch under it to get things warmed up.

Xena seems impervious to the cold. She likes going after "mouseicles". She runs around out in the yard looking for and finding, field mice. Actually I think they are called Voles.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tip O' the Hat

Made it back from town. Just. Even with the chains on it was slip sliddin away coming up the hill.

Jo-Ann got some video of the run, er slide, but she is in the fingers poking in my eyes, coughing, sneezing, can't talk part of the cold/flu experience. And languishing on the couch with a Neo and a jug of Benylin. Her cat, Blackie, acting as a neck warmer.

Today I will try and get the skidsteer running and bash a trail down to Savory road so I don't have to put chains on. I visited the YRB office and they said they will try and plow the road if they don't have to put chains on. It just takes too long for them to do. Their primary job is to keep the roads open, and this time of year that keeps them pretty busy. They do the best job I have seen in that regard. The driveway job is a public service they do when and if they have the time. Even if they get to do it once it will be a big help as it will give me a nice flat wide base to work from.

I thought I would give an update with our office conversion to linux. Our main working machines use Fedora RedHat. The really cool thing was I managed to get an old 233 mhz system with 96 mbits of ram running as a print server. I tried some very cool distros, Puppy Linux, DSL ( damn small Linux) and setteled on a Canadian distro: Vector Linux. It is based on the venerable Slackware linux and we're thinking of making Vector Linux the main distro that we will use on our working machines. It really brought that old beater 233 mhz machine to a usefull life. An extremely robust and simple installation program.

We have to ( reluctantly ) purchase copies of Vista to use to test our software. We are in the process of updating our software so that it can be used with remote users and to clean up some of the bugs introduced by Vista. So far we only have one customer that uses Vista, and their IT support person is trying to talk them into going back to XP. But of course that would mean purchasing a half dozen copies of XP. Of course it is only a matter of time that other customers "switch" to Vista. The will go and get a new computer or two - and of course, it comes with Vista already pre-installed. What a deal! What a headache. Our code is ripped apart now getting it ready for Vista. Of course the deal with code is once you change one part your into a lot of different parts. Coding is kinda like sex: one mistake and your supporting it for the rest of your life.

I really am starting to enjoy the Mac vs. Windows commercials. I would even consider purchasing a Mac but I really enjoy the cost of open source software.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snowed In

Its been coming down all night and this morning it is really coming down. Reminds me of last year when we had about four feet in two days.
Don't know if you can see from the pictures but it is practically a white out.

Fortunatly no wind so far. I am going to try and make it out in a bit just to help keep the road open. I will have to put the truck chains on.

We have 40 pounds of pepperoni and farmer sausage at the butchers to pick up also. Tonight I have a meeting in Fort Fraser, but if this keeps up it will be iffy.

The chickens are all snug a bug and so are we.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

-21 and Falling

"Now Kids, don't be jealous - the chickens need a heat lamp you have each other."

" Ah, I guess Dad was right...zzzzzzz"

Weird weather. It's -21c and falling. In town, Fraser Lake, it's only -18. Usually we're about six degrees warmer but some kind of weird temperature inversion is happening. It's snowing also which is really weird at this temperature. Small crystals- like its freezing out of the overcast. And thats weird too - having an overcast at this temperature. It's really time to put the ear flaps on my hat down when I go outside.

I was doing some work with the chicken tractor, adding a heat lamp, and I had to nip into the shop from time to time to thaw out the fingers. Hard to splice wiring with the gloves on.

I usually just run a couple of small heaters in the shop and it keeps it above freezing. This morning I decided to fire up the air tight and I think I will keep that going all day. I have to go down to the Endako Hall and make sure the pellet furnace is keeping the place warm.

Now Sara, if your reading this, don't panic. It's a dry cold. Anyway it doesn't count as cold until it's at least -30. Jo-Ann is still bringing the wood in with her blue crocs, shorts and a "T" shirt. For some reason, she has taken control of the furnace and doesn't want me to play with it...

The chickens are having a great time now. The "A" frame coop has a light and a heater in it, but I added an infrared lamp in the tractor at the end of the run.

You can just hear the chicken conversations: " OOOh Myrtyl, your getting some colour." "Yes, indeed Marge, do you think we might hit the green headed guy up for some sunblock?" " Oh Yes, and maybe a bucket of Pina Coladas.."