Saturday, October 31, 2009

Garden Update

We've been working in between snow storms. The last one had me deciding to raise the priority on getting the studded snow tires on the Toyota, and the chains in the trunk. Also time to get the chains on the skidsteer. I went to town after about a foot of it had come down, prior to the snow plows making it down Savory road and it was touch and go with the all seasons on. Even tho they were relativly new, lots of tread, and I was in four by four mode.

We managed to dig out the last of the carrots which are now safely ensconced in sand filled rubber made containers in the cold storage fridge. We also dug out the parsnips, nothing to write home about there, but enough to sweeten up some winter time stews. Sweet potatoes were a bust - we simply planted them too late and left them in the ground too long. They like heat, and they weren't getting enough. We had some small ones but the cold had turned them to mush. Back to Rutabagas next year.

The tires are ready for next spring, or even the hint of it. We left some doubled lids on some of the tires as an experiment and put the rest away in the storage barn.

The chicken house and run got all buttoned down and insulated for the winter. Just in case I don't get the time to turn the blue shed into an expanded chicken factory. The box to the right is an old metal lined feed box that has been re-purposed to hold bedding straw.

Grandma's roof got a much needed hole patch where the wind had ripped out an old metal chimney. It isn't pretty but it won't leak. Next year I will fix the decking and put some new roofing on the flat parts and it's pretty much ready for your visit.

We've had heavy rains yesterday which has melted most of the snow except for some drifts here and there. I don't think we are going to get any more " snow and melts" before spring.

I just can't seem to get back to the garden shed project. Priorities have a way of switching, and there's only one of me. To day we plan on getting one more load of wood from the upper wood lot and putting chains on the equipment.

Hopefully sometime soon after the Garden Shed gets done I will be able to cut a hole in the end of the large shed closest to the house to use it as an equipment storage shed. This is a picture of the inside of the North side of the shed. Some re-structuring required.

Hope your good to go.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When One Door Closes..

Nice to have a heated dry place to do some painting. This time of year painting outside is impossible. Well except for some very specialized paints that go for big bucks. The kind you can paint an ice cube with..

This is the four foot door and frame going into the shop for refurbishing. Some sanding, wood fill, glue, primer and paint and it will be a thing of beauty. And weather tight too.
Warning - Geek Speak ahead..

Spent yesterday working on computers. Getting Fedora 11 to run on Jo's lap top, as we were having trouble with a Beta version of Ubuntu 9.10 and integrated Intel drivers. We also tried out Mepis 8.0 - very impressive, but we aren't used to the KDE interface. Will try Ubi again after it's released to the wild this Thursday. It's speed is very impressive. Also spent an hour killing off a Smitfraud variant on a paniced friends computer. For the third time. There must be a special place in hell for virus creators. Really it boggles the mind. Parasitic criminals. That is the main reason that we have switched all our machines standard operating systems to Linux or Mac. Not that you can't get virus's on either system but the chances of coming across one is for all intents and purposes negligible. And it's hard to beat the price of a Linux distribution. If I was spending most of my time surfing the net, using online apps and some instant messaging I sure wouldn't use Windows with its susceptibility to the Russian Mafia . Version 7 or whatever. But of course when Mom and Pop go to the Future Shop they run into the Redmond Cabal and are only presented with Windows computers - with about six feet of shelf space dedicated to Macs. ( Which basically are Linux computers, with the interface done right on their hardware). Actually it isn't impossible to get Macintosh software running on Intel machines. Lots of Hackintosh how too's are out there. Most of them are a little above my current comfort zone and area of expertise.

End of Geek Speak.

Just had to get it out of my system. Enough computers. Seriously thinking of going back to birch bark and charcoal for drawing and word processing and pebbles for counting..

The last snow dump has melted so today's projects include getting in the carrots, making the Chickens warm and hopefully back to progress on the Garden Storage shed project.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm On Drugs

I've spent about four days sitting and writhing in pain with an infection. The first two days I was trying my first form of defense which is denial. The next two days I was trying all the homeopathic remedies I came across Aspirin and Robax to no avail. I couldn't get to a Dr. readily because there isn't one available on the weekends. Finally got to the Dr. on Monday. Full of trepidation of course: hadn't been to one here since I arrived four years ago, probably have to wait for days for an appointment. My Brain is decidedly not my friend. Twenty minutes of waiting I was introduced to a Dr. that came highly recommended by my friends. He was very interested in my health program and plans for the winter. He's a runner and cross country skiing enthusiast. He recommended it as part of a winter cardio program as running outdoors gets rather difficult and the treadmill is just an approximation. I asked about training and he said he didn't know of any but that he would be glad to give me lessons. How's that for service above and beyond. Oh yes, a couple of hours later with some anti-biotic the pain starts to subside.. Some tests the next day and back in a couple of weeks for a full physical - which is long overdue.

And here's the "Huh" part. On the way home I stopped at my brothers place and parked next to two sets of cross country skies and poles. The looked like they were in excellent shape. "You want 'em" he said. A friend had given them to him a day before. So now I have a set of cross country skies - with absolutely no idea how to use them. Won't be long before I get a chance to learn however.

I haven't been exactly knocking off the late fall's "Get ready for Winter project list", either.

  • Get the Yard ready for winter
  • Garden Equipment shed
  • Equipment shed ( for the skid steer)
  • Winterize windows ( Plastic inserts for all the windows)
  • Blue Shed conversion to Chicken House
  • Winterize Chicken Tractor
  • Anti skid front stairs
  • Emergency Power System. Auto Generator.
  • Wood Elevator
  • Replace Living room Metal Stanchions with a Burl.
Red are " Gotta Get 'er Done" A's. Blues are " Would be nice", B's and Green is " If'n I Gets the time", C's. With some slack for the inevitable clash with reality.

Hard to do that from my easy chair. But I started yesterday with some small stuff from the 2do list ones and today I am almost back to 100%. Thank God for anti-biotics - among other things.

Were in the fall fog season, and have had continual day long fog for five days now. Today it seems to be lifting and there is a strange bright orb in the Southern sky. Fortuitously it's the start of yard clean up day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sometimes Life Seems Like a Treadmill

As were now looking at the next half year of winter conditions we decided to get a treadmill to help when we don't feel like putting snow shoes on to get some cardio. We did a bunch of research, but stumbled on this one at Crappy Tire for a 1000$ off.

Once again we found that it is impossible to follow directions - because they don't match the reality of what's in the box. Fortunately it wasn't brain surgery and we had help from Xena and the Katz.

What wasn't in the instructions was how to change the display from Miles to Kilometres, which was strange when you think that Canada is a metric country. A call to customer support who provided some decidedly non-intuitive instructions, something like: Stand on one leg, turn the speed button up while simultaneously pressing the mode button, while whistling "whisky disky doo", change to engineering mode ( thank God I used to work for an engineering department!) and change to mode 93, and voila, it now speaks metric.

A great way to watch T.V. and feel a little less guilty about the process..

The Katz prefer to use it in nap mode, i.e. not moving. Now don't try this at home folks. The slippers are just for show - we do use real running shoes when were running on it.

Our cold snap is over and today it is way above zero and raining. A great day for working in the shop.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Heeeere.

This morning we woke up to -14℃(6.8℉) and a dusting of snow.

Time to get a few more loads of wood for the sweat lodge and get the yard in shape for the serious snows to follow. And the chickens bedded down. And the equipment storage shed started. It must be getting to that time, Jo-Ann fired up the big furnace downstairs yesterday, and this morning both the upstairs heater and furnace are going. I guess were just not used to it yet.

No panic. No pressure. Still right now I could use about three of me around here.

What to wear on today's walk? Time to drag out the snow boots.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shedding some Pounds

This is the finish of the Endako 5K run. Right at the 550 kilometre mark on Highway 16. I couldn't get a victory picture because I was first to cross the finish line and had to get the camera out of the car to capture the other contestants victory lunge. It turns out that the race was so rigorous there was only two contestants, Jo-Ann and myself. So it is a small victory that I placed first in the 59 year old overweight male category with a time of 31:39:11. I have done 5k's faster but they were on a track. I trimmed down 37 pounds for this race and plan on losing another 40 lbs for the 10k event. Who wants to run with an extra 80 lbs on their butt. Not me. Just too lazy. I am really proud of Jo-Ann who placed first in the ladies event, even tho this was her first 5k run this decade.

Speaking of Shedding, work progresses on the garden shed. I have O.S.B. up on all the walls and the front is roughed in for the four foot door from the salvage pile. That's not a typo - the door is a four foot wide solid core door I salvaged from the local arena. No trouble getting the weed whacker or wheel barrows through it.

But I won't get to siding the front until I get back from a thanksgiving sweat my friend Ken is having at Stellaquo.

It got to -16℃(℉) last night so I have some urgency to get it complete. The chicken and dog waterers are all plugged in to keep them from freezing.

Hope your plugged in to a Higher Power today!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shedding some Light.

Yard clean up progresses. We need a place to store all our garden tools, hoses, pots and bags of peat. We were using the "storage shed" but its on the other side of the yard. Last year we lugged an odd shaped eight by eight foot barn roof shed up and it languished in a field. I really was at a loss about what to do with it. The winds had torn the sheet metal on the roof, the Luan siding was being shredded by the wind, everything was put on with one inch shingle nails. Not very pretty.

And then it struck me during our morning walk up the driveway. I wonder if the skidsteer could inch it over to an eight by eight foot pad I had built for a tire composter. It would be a great foundation.

Indeed it would. The move went wonderfully easy as the shed had six by six inch skids on it. I screwed the roofing tin down with a couple of hundred proper rubber washered roofing screws. It isn't pretty but it is sure secure. The Winter winds won't move it.

I had a skid of O.S.B. board left over from the shop project so we are ripping off the shredded luan and putting on the far stronger 1/2 inch material. Then some heavy roofing tar paper and finally covering the whole thing with white roofing shingle sheeting. I have a bunch of salvaged aluminum windows courtesy of my Nephew Conrad, a contractor in Prince Rupert, and have studded the West wall for a couple of 16 X 46 inch double paned ones. I might even put a couple in the front. A six by six foot platform complete with shed roof, ramp, new three foot door and we will have a great little storage building. Hopefully before I have to dig stuff out of the snow!

Besides filling the obvious need for garden equipment storage space it's a big thrill to re-purpose something that was cast off and unwanted into a skookum, useful addition to the place. One less item that gets discarded. Some of the re-purposed items on the top of my favorites list include: tires, plastic buckets, glass and pallets.

It's been getting down to around -12℃( 10.4℉) at night and below freezing, in the shade, during the day so imagine my surprise when I noticed these:

They are growing in tires that are along side the Shop basking in the late fall sun. I just never thought of strawberries as a cold weather crop.

Later today we are going on the Endako 5K. That's a route we've measured along highway 16. We were registered in a race in Kelowna this weekend but were not able to make it there so this will be in lieu of. I'll let you know how we place.

Looking forward to Turkey Day.

Hope you find some strawberries in your life today.

Monday, October 05, 2009


The winter wood is in. Always a fall milestone. There is a certain sense of ease and comfort that come with knowing the woodlot is full.

Our freezers, too, are jammed with local beef and the bounty from the garden is filling my external stand up cold storage unit.

It's a salvaged commercial stand-up cooler that sits just outside our basement, that I super insulated with foam and use a thermostatically controlled bathroom fan to pump warm air from our basement into the unit when it gets below freezing. Right now it is -3℃(26.6℉).
Were putting the garden to bed. All the vegies are in except for Carrots, Parsnips, and Sweet Potatoes. We've added double plastic covers to them to squeeze the last out of the growing season. We're still getting 21 degrees in those tires.
We got a pretty good load of Roma Tomatoes. We've been eating fried green tomatoes and I will attempt my first canning adventure to try and put away some Green Tomato Relish.

This week we are getting the place in shape for the first snows. Making sure all the hoses are in, tools put away, equipment moved to it's winter storage. Out of the way of the snow plow and the piles of snow it will make. If I have time, later in the week, I will be cutting an opening in one of our larger sheds to house the skidsteer and A.T.V's. Right now it is being used to store lumber and insulation, a bunch of junk— and a whole lot of Barn Swallow poop. It's a building I am considering siding in and fixing up. The main problem is that it doesn't have a foundation and I am not sure If I am technically up to pouring one around the building which would involve raising it up temporarily to get the footings in.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Snow Sighting

We've been waiting for our first snow warning. It came this morning, across the valley and a few hundred meters higher. Probably a week or so before we get it.

Adds a bit of urgency to the W.O.O.D. gathering and B.U.R.N. cycle. It's a sunny day and a logger friend dropped by yesterday and gave me a lesson or two. Valuable stuff. He felled one tree that was leaning at least twenty degrees over the pond right back 180 degrees the other way. We have enough felled wood now for the winter and quite a few loads for my friend, Chief Joseph's, sweats. Just have to cut it up and pack it out. Maybe all done today. We've been burning wood in the small living room heater as its been getting to zero℃(32℉) at night and sometimes only 5℃(32℉) during the day.

I have been feeling a bit of a twinge in the back. Mostly because I was falling trees the hard way. But I have seen the light: use the back of the blade for the undercuts, as the weight of the chain saw is down. There is a sweat this afternoon so that will surely help any back pains. I learned most of my chainsawing techniques from a book and practice. It is interesting as to how that stacks up with an hour spent hands on with a pro. It just doesn't.

I remember a time I was learning Excel. Back in the 1.0 days I suppose. Lot's of books on it, plenty of practice. Then I needed to learn some advanced stuff and hired a pro to tutor me for half a day. He came to my house and in half a day I was miles ahead of where I had been. Sure it was expensive, but adding up the time it would have taken me to learn it on my own, it was a clear bargain.

I don't want to fall under the illusion that because something hasn't killed me so far I must be doing it right. I see a lot of drivers on the roads that apparently subscribe to that theory. They have learned their driving skills from playing grand theft auto. Usually have the new driver "N" turned sideways to a "Z". But the psychology behind driving is enough for a whole new post. Don't get me started..

As much as my Ego abhors four letter words ( like "help") it is astonishing what the payoff is when I don't follow its advice.