Monday, September 28, 2009

Bio Fuel

That's the latest buzz word around here. Seems some forward thinkers have been pondering what to do with the Bug Killed Pine which covers 80% of the provinces mature pine forests. Why not grind it all up and turn it into BioFuel. I am not sure how I feel about that. I think it just lets us prop up the Auto industry which needs to be put out of its misery. In this day and age we can only use so many buggy whips. On the other hand that just may be a poor analogy. Maybe we need more.

I love the techno-babble and politics that go with the crisis. Government propaganda at selected road side sites proclaim how the bug kill is a "natural occurring phenomenon", that couldn't have been prevented. Of course planting huge tracts of the same species, because that's what industry wanted, and not burning the outbreak when it first occurred in Tweedsmuir park - because we didn't want to upset the tree huggers. Let's not talk about that.

We don't even burn wood these days. We convert bio mass. Well, here's the latest load of bio-mass getting loaded into the cavernous bio mass storage facility under our veranda where it's close to our bio mass converter.

We use an acronym for Bio Mass: W.O.O.D. ( Woodlot Originated Organic Deadfall) instead of processing Bio Mass we just B.U.R.N. it ( Burns Up Really Nice ) Another four or five loads and we ought to be set for the winter. It's pouring rain today so not much inclination to be out hauling wood. Time to Sharpen the Saw ( with apologies to Stephen Covey )

I was hand filing my saws before trying this jig. Hand filing works O.K. for a quick touch up but for the best results I use this jig. Straight and effortless.

Despite the tongue in cheek reference I do believe that one of the most important things I need to do on a daily basis is sharpen the saw. Not the Husqvarna so much, as my Spiritual saw. The tools I need to use on a daily basis. Whacking at the Forest with a dull blade is a lot more tiring than it needs to be. Yet my ego will have me swinging a dull blade all day like a madman insisting that I don't have the time to sharpen the saw. But that's only because it thinks it can get along just fine without me.

It's in for a big surprise.

Hope you get to cut through it all with ease today..

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ego Food

A comment popped out of my brain this morning and bounced around the kitchen table. One of those things that after they are said my brain goes: "DOH..did that come out of my mouth." What I said was: " You know it dawned on me that advertising is only talking to my ego." Well duh. Jo-Ann pointed out that's why it doesn't have to be real or even make any logical sense. It can be blatantly false, totally unrealistic but wholly effective. If that's the kind of food my ego eats I think I had better get on a different diet.

We've put off the wood gathering venture for today as its pouring rain. This mornings walk down to Savory road will be using 'brollies.

And then a cat door in the shop, and the installation of two six volt, deep cycle, gel cells in the Boler.

Yesterday we paused the wood gathering to take a refreshing "Barb".

Sounds vaguely Australian. But it isn't. We named the practice after a friend of ours who enjoyed listening to loud country western from the shop stereo while knitting and training the dogs. It has nothing to do with a "Barbie", although, come to think of it, that wouldn't be a bad idea. To avoid confusion for our Australian friends we are thinking of renaming the practice to "Taking a Bubba". I believe that is Vince Gill in the background, loud enough to be heard a kilometer away. We didn't get any phone calls as the only neighbor that close is Mabel the Moose. She prefers Tchaikovsky and Beethoven but will fill her baser musical instincts with Country Western and CCR. Just trying to squeeze the most out of the last days of summer. Well technically I guess it's early fall. The air is filled with the sweet, earthy smell of poplar leaves starting to form a winter bed.

The dogs have been going nuts lately chasing a packrat around the place. I don't know who is crazier, the dogs or the packrat, who definatly didn't get the message. After the dogs trampled the stuff tucked by the Red Shed in their quest to capture the beast, Jo-Ann presented me with the only fire-arm she trusts me with and the beast has now gone to the great pack rat midden in the sky.

Peace has returned to the homestead.

Well except for those two pesky Red Angus Bulls that have shown up that cross the doggies imaginary line in the sand, and get too near the fence. The dogs loudly, clearly and sharply - citing past precedence in doggie law- explain to the Bulls the ramifications of crossing said line and it doesn't sound very pleasant at all.

The Bulls do the only sensible thing and ignore them and carry on munching the pastures early fall greening.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keeping an Eye on Things

Ah, I just couldn't resist. My Auntie gave me four Gem Squash and we just had to try them. We had some winter squash with yesterday's supper. Sweet and flavorful. It got me to thinking about pumpkins. Why is it that we always serve pumpkins with sugar and allspice? It's a squash isn't it. Haven't done any research on the topic but if you have a favorite, vegetable rendering recipe that doesn't include sugar or allspice, for pumpkin I would like to hear it. I was thinking of the thousands of pumpkins that lay rotting in the fields in the lush lower mainland right after Halloween.

Today we are continuing with getting in the winter's wood. I have a new chain saw filing jig I want to try out before I start falling more of the Beetle killed pine. I want to get the rest of the fir piled near the basement split up so the dogs can rest easy knowing the resident Pack Rat has one less place to hide. You would think it would get the hint..

God I am so grateful to look out over this valley on such a beautiful day, as the morning fog lifts.

I am going in a 5K race in Kelowna in a few weeks. All nervous about that. Trying to talk Jo-Ann into bringing the wheel barrow. My gazelle of a daughter, Sara, is running a half marathon. Really, if I listened to my own advice instead of my head I would be a lot better off. Take my advice—I don't use it!

Keep an eye on the important things today..

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home Alone

Well not quite. Still have my Sweetie Pie, six cats, two dogs, eight chickens and a stray pack rat which is driving the dogs to distraction. Yet it feels wonderfully alone. I just spent 5000 kilometers on a road trip with a couple of 80 year olds. A very interesting experience. Got to learn a little more about my family's history. I find it fascinating to listen to people who have lived through the depression and dirty thirty's. An Economic down turn wasn't not being able to afford a big screen T.V. but not being able to afford food. Downsizing wasn't moving to a condo but a granary. Not that I wish that experience on anybody-- but I think it placed them in good stead for today's "economic down turn". They grow veggies and flowers, make nourishing soups and live a self sufficient life that they share with others. I think they should put a college course on. My generation, and our thirty-somethings who are back living at Mom and Dad's could learn a thing or two. Or is it un-learn?

We dropped by the old homestead in Melville Saskatchewan. I am always amazed at how the sky touches the ground in all directions. Disconcerting for someone who is used to bumps in the earth. This was an an old barn probably a 100 years old. There is another built similarly, still standing and in use, just down the road.
I spent some time having a wonderful conversation with a spry 90 year old, now retired. He was explaining how the farms have got huge by necessity. Combines don't come cheap, and the margins are small. He was even mentioning a tractor that doesn't have a driver. Well a human driver.

Progress goes on. While I was away, Jo-Ann discovered the local post office has ceased operation on the weekend. It used to be open a half day on Saturday - but now. Doesn't happen. The thing is you can pay next day delivery prices on Friday and a parcel or letter won't actually get to where you want it to go for three or even four days. Don't get me started, but I suspect the post office is in the well documented throws of a death spiral. Service gets poorer because revenues are down which makes service poorer which...I notice a local restaurant going through the throws. Crappier food, less customers...

I see some of the financial genius's who missed the train wreck of this "economic downturn" are now predicting that it's bouncing back. I don't believe it for a second. I am investing in potatoes.

Before I left on the trip I was mentioning that some good friends of ours dropped by. They were a lot of fun and a great help. We knocked off a bunch of projects that would have taken a lot longer by myself.

One project was getting the chimney weather tight. I installed it last winter from the inside as I couldn't find my crampons to get up on the roof. When we got that job done I was feeling "on top of the world". Right after this we've had some heavy rains and no need for cans around the stoves to keep the drips contained.

We also worked on cutting a running trail around the place. So far I have about 3 kilometers of it done.

Another big project that was great to get done was getting the leaky drafty kitchen window replaced. We had bought a window last fall, but winter came before we got it installed. I didn't feel like having a four by four foot hole in the kitchen. The window was stacked along side the shop wall and survived the winter but fell over during a windstorm in the spring breaking an inside pane. This was the most energy efficient, and thus costly, window we could buy. Needless to say it was a bit disappointing when I saw the broken pane. Even more disappointing was contacting the manufacturer and being told they couldn't change the pane. Even went to a local glass shop and was told the only thing they could do was sell us a new window, and generously offered to let us leave the un-fixable hulk behind. I bought a piece of Lexan, some window sealant strips, we removed the broken pane, replaced it with the lexan and voila. Repaired. No drafts. Lot's of nose prints. Un- repairable my butt. I just think it's a sign of the times. We don't actually repair anything- we replace it. Our lives, well the stuff in it anyway, has become disposable. If you want to see the roots of the financial boon doggle we're in have a look there.
The outside view of the completed window. Kind of retro, but it's weather tight.

Of course it's firewood season. They helped us get that project underway. Hopefully I will get that completed this week.

This is a remnant of an old root cellar. It won't be the last one this property sees.

Ah, it's great to be home.

Friday, September 04, 2009

How Much Wood?...

Well in our case, about six cords. My friend Barb (Bubba) Started to stack the outside wall that will keep the snow off of the pile that will go inside. We're starting to get the winters wood in before the snow flies. Which usually is the end of October. With the help of the skid steer loader and all the dried standing bug killed pine it should only take us a couple of days.

We have been building running/snowshoeing trails around the perimeter fence lines. This run is on the West fence line. We've chainsawed all the bigger saplings, followed up with several runs with pruners, and the next job will be to take a swing saw down and clear all the brambles and saskatoon bushes for a couple of feet on either side of the trail. This part of the trail is called "Butt Cruncher Hill", a name coined by R.T. in Prince Rupert for a great hill just in front of his ocean view. What looks like the top isn't. It's still about a half a click away.

The Aspen is starting to change to yellow. A week behind the underbrush. Here's a "Bev Doolittle" type of pic taken by Rockey, our visiting Ansel Adams.

Hope you are having a day that is full of wonder, and a sound sleep tonight.