Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Much Wood...

It turns out the answer to that is 17 1/2 cords. Probably enough to see four fires through the winter.  Some of them don't take much wood.

 Loading it and delivering it to the house is fast.

It's the stacking that takes time.
All the wood isn't going to fit under cover so some will just get stacked and covered with a tarp.

 Next years Project list includes extending a shed roof under the veranda so it's all under cover.
 A few brisk days with overnight temps approaching freezing  have added some impetus to the effort.  We have had snow on the mountains across the valley by this time.  It is not far away.

 There is a certain sense of ease and comfort in knowing this winter's wood project is coming to an end.  Just in time because the electric furnace has been running, on and off, for quite some weeks now to take the morning chill off or warm up the evenings watch infront of the idiot box.

Here's the result of trying to stack too much wood into the trailer and not paying attention to the big bad stump.  Jo-Ann say's she was glad it was me driving.  What ever does she mean by that?

She didn't yell at me or anything! Well that will teach me to hurry!

This culprit is going to be the first to get burnt up in the downstairs furnace!

The Chickens have almost reached laying stage so today's project is to make some laying nests.  A day off from stacking wood.

And now to invent the WhizBang firewood picker upper bucket.  It uses tines so that sod doesn't get mixed in with the firewood rounds.  Ah, wait some ones already invented a rock bucket that looks like it would work for firewood.  Now to win the lottery..

Friday, September 09, 2011

At Logger Heads

The sunshine holds, barring several hours lost for trips to Burns Lake for chain saw parts, the Winter Wood project continues. After a new bar and a couple of back up chains we were back up at the pond.

Using the skidsteer to drag the logs out to a flat spot for limbing and then "chomping" the logs, moving them to a cutting area where they are held up at an easy cutting height has certainly increased the productivity of the process.

One problem we didn't realize we would have is the cows, and their insatiable curiosity. We have to be extremely cautious when falling.  Some of the younger calves follow the logs as they are skidded out.  Jo-Ann is not only in charge of the skidding operation but shooing the cows away.

Another couple of days or so and Winter warmth is ours.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Grandfathers Have Fallen

Yesterday we started the Winter Wood Project.  Gathering the 14 or 15 cords of wood we will need to get us through the winter.  Last winter like others around here we ended up logging in the snow.  Not the most efficient way to get fire wood.  We have about 30 acres or more of dry, bug killed pine at the North end of the property.  Perfect firewood.  This year we have mechanized the process.  I whack down a pile of trees and Jo-Ann skids them and me out to a landing where she uses the skid-steer's 4 in 1 bucket to grab the trees and lift them up to a comfortable height for a guy with a recovering back to whack them up into blocks.  Way easier than bending over to cut.  The chain lasts a lot longer as it is less likely to touch the ground.  Then she pushes the blocks up into a pile awaiting loading, again via skid-steer, into a dumping trailer for the trip back to the house.

The weather is very cool. Nice for working and and the added bonus of no bugs.  If only the rain will hold off for a week or so.

The cows like to hang around the pond where we are working so
we have to be very careful not to whack a cow on the head while we are falling or skidding the trees out.  They are tremendously curious.

The dogs say hello to the cows.  Get chased by a couple of the yearlings and then retreat to the house.  I am sure their just protecting the place while were up on the hill.  Not bored or anything.

After the days wood cutting, well O.K,  maybe a couple of hours I took the rest of the day off to go for a Sweat with some friends of mine.

 The grandfathers are the rocks that are brought into the sweat lodge to heat it.  To fire them to red hot they t are placed on a ledge of pine and a "tee pee" type fire built around.  When hot enough, after an hour or so the rocks burn through the ledge and "drop"  indicating they are soon ready to be brought into the sweat in groups between rounds.  They are blessed with prayers and sprinkles of sage and  occasionally other herbs and medicines.  The Sweat ceremony is a relaxing spiritual experience.  A time of reflection with friends and fellow spiritual travelers.
The ceremony consists of five rounds.  A pipe round: when the purpose of the sweat is explained and a pipe passed around that our bodies and minds can be purified with the smoke.  Everything in the lodge is passed in a clockwise direction.

The second round is dedicated to ourselves, where we pray for guidance and  ask the Creator and grandfathers to heal our ills.

The third Round we pray for the Males of the world and in our circle.

The fourth round is dedicated to the Females and Mother Earth.

The Fifth round is a summation, giving thanks, singing and often passing around a bowl of food.  I am growing very fond of my Friend's Mathew and Colleen's fruit salad!

The lodge can get very hot when water is dashed on the bright red rocks.  In between rounds the door to the lodge is closed and it is dark and comforting.  We are in the bosom of Mother Earth.  The hot steam heat is very intense and then rapidly cooling. I sometimes  remind myself that not once has my hair caught on fire!  When the door blankets are lifted between rounds, cooling air rushes in as the steam goes out- wonderfully refreshing.  We are reminded of the finiteness of our existence and the sweetness of the air that will one day be our last.

Between rounds participants are free to step outside to cool down or simply relax and chat with our fellows.

If you have the chance to participate in a Sweat Lodge ceremony I would encourage you to partake of a relaxing gift.  Meditation with steam.

Well time to tune up the saw, the skidsteer will be back and we can get some more trees ready for the Winters fires.

Hope your day is peaceful.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Spent the last couple of days, slithering in the mud, inhaling fiberglass particles, getting covered with rusty leaking water, and trying not to catch a house on fire.  Yep, you guessed it.  I'm plumbing.  Nasty job. We think Grandmas has been sitting cold for at least Six or Seven years.

Not properly drained, the occasional -30 weather split copper pipes and wrecked a lot of the plumbing. It doesn't look like it was ever done to proper standards in the first place.  Hugyballed.  Poly pipe clamped to copper.  The soldered joints all look like this:
And these are some of the better ones.  The elbows seem to split.  And of course the risers.  The 1/2 inch copper lines entering the wall ( which is actually the floor) have all split inside the walls.

Thank God for the guy who invented PEX conduit.  Replacing copper and lead solder is pretty easy.  Except for where the connections have to be made where my long handled PEX pliers can't open.

We are thinking of renting out Grandma's.  Free rent, just look after the joint, feed the animals, when, if, we take a trip.  A perfect place for a retired couple.

With Pigs, Chickens, Cats and Dogs and thinking of getting some sheep and maybe a cow,  we are getting pretty tied down to the joint.

First thing first is to get the water working.  Soon, I hope - as we change the last of the plumbing fixtures. Then I need to install a wood heater and repair some shed roofs and change the wood decking.    I am in a bit of a panic as winter is coming and I still haven't made any inroads on the 2011 wood project.  Well, I have managed to get the equipment corralled and saws sharpened.  We need to wait until Tuesday (It's its a long weekend here and the stores are closed ) to get plumbing parts in Burns lake so I have time this weekend to make some trees fall down.

We redecorated the chicken coop.  The girls seem to like the pin ups and were hoping the Roosters will be inspired.

Hope your having a fun filled long weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I'm Baack...

We just got our connection to the WWW back.  Our wireless modem had bit the dust and we just replaced it.  Nice to be able to get to the google plex via the kitchen table.  Connecting from the office via cable and radio to a mountain 17 kilometers away just seems like, well, working.  From the kitchen table it's more like the before breakfast or during lunch break.

Like most projects putting up the acre of pig pasture fence took a lot longer than I originally anticipated.

The Forman was constantly in my face:
 Some of my co-workers spent a lot of time napping on company time.
 Fortunately company showed up and was immediately pressed into service.

This fellow doesn't live very far away, but right now seems more interested in gleaning the remnants of a poor Saskatoon berry crop in preparation for the Winter nap.
A lot of wire, but so far no bears have made it in or pigs out.. Some dogs and a cat or two have had a rude surprise - but only once..
 Of course, the Porkers, always interested in the project were more than willing to help.  I put a single stinger wire in their pen to train them before we released them to pasture.  Didn't take very long.  Now they won't get within three feet of the fence.
Now the pig's get to roam all over.  They are really enjoying the Lambs Quarters and the juicy dandelion leaves.  They now have a wonderful wallow.  The barn behind will be used to expand the herd, leaving the current quarters for a sow and piglets.  Hopefully.

One of my Next projects.  Stove in, Stove out .  And in the middle somewhere a tile job for it all to sit on.

 You know your front lawn might be a tad high when a five horse power 24 inch rolling weed whacker has a hard time getting it down to a well groomed height of four inches.  Maybe time to invest in a hayer.  Or at least a couple of sheep.. But I'm getting ahead of myself..  Oh we have Plans!

We have found a new source of Organic feed for our pigs and Chickens.  At 130 bucks for an 1100 pound bag of three way:  oats, barley and wheat, it's reduced our feed costs by 400%.  A welcome stretching of the budget.
We're gearing up to get in 15 cords of wood to last our fires through out the winter and spring.  There hasn't been a single month this year we haven't had to have the heat on.  It's just been a wet, cold summer.  A great year for hay, however.  The local farmers have been having a field day - if they can get it dried out before bailing.

The problem is I managed to wang my back earlier this year and have been suffering from Sciatica.  I finally broke down and went to see a Dr. and Chiropractor who bent and twisted me, gave me some exercises to do, and I seem to be back on the mend.

This year we are going to mechanize as much of the process as we can.  Using a skidsteer to hold the logs at a comfortable cutting height and a large dumping trailor to bring the cut wood down to the house.  Should be a lot easier on the back than humping 15 cords of wood into a pick up truck, back out and loading it into the wood bays. Hope springs eternal..

The trees have started to change colour.  The underbrush was yellow a week ago.   Time to get the pre snow chores complete.