Friday, October 31, 2008

Fire on the Mountain

This picture shows the mountain across the valley from us. It's "the Mine", Endako Mines, to be exact and the fires are some slash piles that are being burnt.

The clearing is to make way for an expansion of the tailing pile. It's petty huge, probably several kilometers long. Fortunately the way the mine is laid out it isn't visible from the valley on either side. The burning looks pretty spectacular at night. This time of year is the traditional time to burn all the slash piles -- the ground is wet and there is no danger of the fires getting out of control. It does make you wonder tho - all that wood fiber just being burnt to get rid of it. Just doesn't seem very appropriate given this energy conscious age we live in. I wonder if someone a few generations from now would react when we tell them: " wood - we had so much we burned anything that we couldn't make lumber out of"?

We have the chickens all battened down for winter now. The "chicken tractor" is covered with tyvek and then I tuc taped windows so that the girls could look out.

The back side is covered with two inches of pink styrofoam and the bottom rests on 1/2 inch plywood on two inches of styrofoam. When the temperature gets to -14 or so we also cover the front at night. Even at freezing the temperature on the inside is +15C. Of course thats with a heat lamp providing some sun tan power during the night. The Chucks sure like it. They seem to be getting over a molt and back to laying eggs.

We essentially moved all the "good" soil from the old "normal" garden over to the re-tired one. What was left seems to have had a bunch of turnip seed left in it from last year because we got a pretty good crop just growing in a pile of left over soil.

Probably in the spring I will move it over to join the pile of clay I am amending with sand, cow patties, and compost. It's starting to look very promising. It's so big I have to use the excavator to turn it over.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I haven't been keeping up with the blogging lately as I have been pretty busy around the joint doing the last minute things before the real snow comes. We've had a few warnings. Both of the main vehicles, the Toyota and AWD van now have new, studded winter tires complete with rims. After a quick trip to Prince George to the local Kenworth dealer I've ordered the parts to get the skidsteer back up and running. And humming and hawing about an eight foot plow that would fit the skidsteer. In between all this I have been working on a few other projects.

My brother Tom came up a few days ago and we spent the whole day studding the shop/garage. Normally it wouldn't take so long but we had to notch just about every stud to fit a plate that was from the old pole barn construction. When we were done we had it done and even hung the side door.

Today need to do some wiring so I can put a vapour barrier on the ceiling so I can put some OSB on the ceiling so I can put OSB on the main garage door wall so I can install the main overhead door. And If I turn on the spot lights I just might get the lock set installed in the side door.

The outdoor cold storage box is all insulated and I have the duct lines running into the basement. We've been testing it for a couple of days now and it seems to be able to keep the temperature around +5C (40ish F). I have yet to add a thermostat and and bathroom fan to keep the temperature consistant even when it gets to -30c. Different idea: keeping a fridge warm. I beleive "modern" energy efficient fridges arn't. Sure they keep food cool - if their plugged in. But the insulation is so poor that's what manufacturors count on to keep them warm. I have been tempted to try this super insulation on our indoor freezers and run outside air ducts to the compressors. Anyway let's see how this one works. The proof will be carrots in February. I still want to build a proper cold storage but that might have to wait for this winter.

Oh and doing some long overdue filter maintenance. Can you guess which filter needed to be replaced? Yowzer - pretty damning indictment against a fellow who was supposed to be in the maintenance business. It's now in the scheduled tasks file.

In between these projects I have been trying to get an internet tower installed on the property. The ground is starting to freeze up and I am not sure I can get the cement poured in time without having to heat it. This week I hope to get the hole dug and we'll see how fast I can get it dug and rebared. Waiting for the operator who is busy on other jobs.
Doesn't look like a 60 foot tower does it? All packaged up waiting to be set in eight yards of cement.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Strawberries in October

Two of them anyway. What a surprise. The weather was looking a little dark in the West so we spent the day cleaning out the garden, digging up the last of the yard turnips, cabbages, and getting the tires covered for winter. The lettuce, spinach and Chard still holding up in their tire cold frames.

Last season the mice got to the parsnips before we did and devoured every one, leaving just the tops - just like that rascally wabit in the cartoons. This year we had plenty of yard patrol with the cats and dogs and that definatly put a damper on the mice's vegetable smorgasbord. We found one little turnip that had been someones lunch but that was the only damage.

The moment we brought the last of the produce into the house the skies let loose.

The warmth from the fireplace was especially nice that night.

We are the most prepared for winter that we have ever been. Garden hoses all brought in. Yard tidied up. Snow dump paths cleared. Chicken runs and tractor all insulated. Even the winter tires ordered. None the less a few more things to do. The missing garage door one of the obvious ones. Might happen this weekend. We are also hoping to carve a door in the large shed so that we can use it to house the equipment. Everyone around us here seems to be in the same slightly frantic state: getting the stuff done before winter that needs to be done. I was just helping my brother and a friend put some roofs on sheds so they can put their boats away for winter. I have to say, and you will get to remind me of this later, I am almost looking forward to about a week of can't go anywhere snow. Although we are even a lot more prepared for that eventuality with the cat now running. I don't know why every year it seems a surprise when we get the first snow. last year it even happened on the same date as this year. Planner entry for August of 2009: " Get the stuff done that you don't want to do when it's cold".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


We spent a couple of days with our friends RT & Rhoda, Tommy and Molly in Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert ( called Rupert by the Ruperites) is a seven hour drive along highway 16 to the Pacific ocean to the West. We went from +2500 feet and -7c late fall conditions to sea level where the trees were hardly changing colour. And no bug kill. The coniferous forests are all Spruce, Hemlock, and Ceder and delightfully vibrantly green. We had a clear sunny day until we passed through Terrace when we made a change to grey overcast and rainy coastal weather.

'Rupert is a very funky town. Smaller houses from the War years and earlier. When a family of four lived in under a thousand square feet. Many of them lovingly restored. Some melting away in moss covered disrepair. We want to spend some time doing a photo shoot of the place.

RT, Molly and the indifatigable Tommy showed us all the great trails. Some spectacular runs through West Coast rain forest, Ghosts of the old giant ceder and hemlock by the wayside. One so large RT could stand up in its hollow core. Good dark mud to roll in and salt water to wash it all off with. Doggie heaven. They just ignored the skin soaking rain, which pointed out the not-so-waterproof, failings of a shell jacket I had brought with us.

RT is a gourmet cook and treated us to some amazing repasts, one of them a Thanksgiving dinner of brine marinated turkey - melt in the mouth tender. He even loaded us up with sandwiches for the trip home and enough left-over Turk that we had an after Thanksgiving dinner, dinner, last night.

A whole lot to be thankful for. I hope your Thanksgiving filled your heart as well.

Friday, October 10, 2008


When we got up this morning it was -7c. Time to start scraping the windsheilds.

I also decided it was time to "winterize" the chicken "A" frame and run. This year I just covered the A frame with Tyvek. It's tougher than plastic but not as transparent. I may tuc tape some clear windows in. The north side has canvas on it and I will add a couple of inches of insulation before the temperatures drop too far.

One more "before it snows" job.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Super Septic Sucking Service Success

Late last evening, just as we were lugging in the bounty from the re-tired garden, we heard the septic sucker truck crawling up the driveway. Excellent timing as: (a) The tank was full to over flowing and (b) Today it's raining cats and dogs. A couple of phrases you don't want to hear from your friendly sucking service: (1) "This is the worst one I have ever seen." and (2) " We'll see if I can get it out- I just don't know.."Fortunatly, with the help of our rather high water pressure, and a couple of dozen flushes, to say nothing of a giant vacuum on a Kenworth truck--it all came out. Right down to bare fiberglass tank. Whew! what a releif. I didn't fancy digging up a full septic tank. Just a shitty situation. One more "before snow" job complete.

Earlier, well practically all day, we spent in the garden. Harvesting Spuds, Beets, Kohlrabi, 'Nips and some carrots. We put some lids on tires of Spinach and Chard, which are still growing. We also have a tire of lettuce that is still prolific. Amazing when you think it's been hovering around freezing for the last couple of days.

Here I am striking an picturesque pose waiting for the photographer to join me. Which didn't happen. It could have been a classic farm picture.

The cows in the back ground came running over when they saw us in the garden. About an hour after this the owners came up on horseback and sent them home via the pipeline trail.
We were amazed to see these strawberries trying to make a go of it. Nothing like strawberries in October.

We also decided to dig up the horseradish. What to do with it? I tried one idea but it didn't seem like a good long term storage solution.

Then we took a couple of the roots into the kitchen, shredded them and added a little vinegar. The trick being not to let the grated horseradish sit more than a minute or so before adding the vinegar or it can get quite hot. Delicious on some local cold beef slices. We won't be buying any Horseradish for a while.

It's overcast, raining and zero today. But we don't see any snow on the mountains across the way. The electric furnace has been running fairly constantly, burning up money. Time to switch to wood but I want to clean the chimney first.

I am off to help a friend wire up an addition. Which usually means spending the day on my back in a crawl space. Catch you later..

Monday, October 06, 2008

Instant Root Cellar

Yesterday (Saturday Oct, 4) I was in a meeting from 8:AM until about 1PM. A friend of mine and his strapping sons gave me a hand, well actually lots of them, to move a huge commercial type fridge from the Endako hall to our place. It doesn’t work very well as a fridge. The compressor is probably shot but I don’t care about that. I am going to mount it on some pallets outside downstairs under the balcony, and put a light bulb attached to a thermostat in it to keep the temperature around 10C. Then we can use it as a stand up cold storage. It’s about six feet high and a couple of feet deep.

I may glue some styrofoam to the sides and top and doors to increase the thermal efficiency, and a pan of water inside should keep the humidity fairly high. I do have warning bells going off about the door seals freezing shut if it gets to -30C but we’ll see.

It is a heavy beast, far more than me and Jo-Ann could of handled. I want to get the garden cleared out except for some test patches that I am waiting to see how long they will continue to grow. Time to harvest the spuds. The lettuce is doing well. Spinach ditto. Turnips seem to be growing. Swiss Chard is still green. We let some radishes go to seed and found the pods to be delicious.

Today we are taking advantage of a break in the weather and trying to get the rest of the winters wood in. Notice that stack inching towards done-- about to the fridge.

Just taking a break between loads for “ a cuppa”. The internet is down so will have to post this a bit later. ( Back up on the Sixth)

This is a picture of the logging crew about to bring in the last load.
Today ( the Sixth) is going to be harvest day. Bringing in the spuds & Carrots. We woke to a -2c frost so it's time.

Friday, October 03, 2008

How Much Wood Can a Woodchuck..

I have the pipe and conduit installed for the green house and we took a break from that project to get some of the winter wood in.

That's what we did yesterday. And a special place in Hell is awarded to people who put nails in trees.

This necessitates a lot of this.

By the end of the day there was some groaning, and when I got back from a meeting in town it sounded like some one had started a chain saw in the living room. It might have been Jo-Ann flaked out on the couch. Xena doesn't snore that loud. I did manage to catch her in a very restful pose: " When I slick my ears back does it make my butt look skinnier?"

It has been unbelievably warm weather here. It got up to 20C (68F) yesterday with a warm wind blowing. Threatening rain, but so far it hasn't come. The wind picked up last night and knocked a bunch of poplar leaves down on the road, and today the temperature plumeted to 5c(41F) with a forecast of rain for the next couple of days. A 15 degree drop in temperature overnight.

We'll try some more logging today, in between waiting for the Septic Tank Guy, back filling the trench, a meeting with 0ur ISP representative ( were putting up an internet tower near Grandma's). We'll see if anyone is awake here tonight to watch a DVD.

The leaves are almost at their peak of colour (color) saturation, bright yellows with some red thrown in. The Big Guy has a pretty deft palette.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dig We Must

Yesterday we started to underground the electrcal and water lines out to the garden close to where the green house is going. Tiny's excavator made short work of that. And then I had to scramble to town to get some more pipe so that I can extend the run.

Seeing we were digging the day we day lighted the septic tank. It's true, the grass is always greener over the septic tank. I have been nervous about the tank since we replaced the one at Grandma's as it was newer than the main house. As it turns out tho the tank at the house was fiberglass and looks to be in good shape. However it was full to the brim with grim. We have a call into the local septic sucking service ( you gotta love how that sounds..) That last thing I want in January, when it's -30C, is a plugged up septic system.

Of course it took Xena but a few minutes to find the wonderfully odoriferous contents of the septic access clean out and roll all over in it. Gotta love that perfume. " And look how it enhances my eye shadow." she seemed to say when we called her to get in the truck for a trip to town. "You guys should help yourself, there's lots left.." For the next little while her name is going to be Xena, stinky princess.

It has been very warm the last couple of days. Yesterday it hit +20c. A strong East wind was blowing in the morning and I thought it would pluck all the yellow leaves from the poplars but it didn't. There is very little green left on the deciduous trees. Some of them getting a gorgeous red. Were trying to drink it in before it all gets shed.

OK I am off to try and connect polyethylene pipe to ABS. That will involve duct tape, as I have never found a glue that works.