Snow Deer

These two young deer came by today to check out the birdseed. They are looking very healthy in their Winter fur. Despite the cold they must appreciate the reprieve from the deer fly that torment them leaving them looking ragged and unhealthy.

When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

Not quite that expression, more like – When life gives you rain storms, collect rain water.

It is hard to believe that just three months ago we were just coming through one of our hottest and driest Summers. Though our well held up we did ration our water and the garden suffered for it. One thing that helped is this water collection system at the back of my shop. Each barrel is 50 gallons so the 300 gallons can be stretched quite a way. I have a 12 volt solar powered pump so I can sprinkle the surrounding garden. Throughout the property we have collection for another 1500 gallons. Still not enough but it’s a start.

The Flora and Fauna Project

Back in the mid 1970’s when we bought our acreage it was covered in second growth forest. We built our house and then started clearing small areas for gardens. I was working as a gardener at the time, mostly for seniors, and my clients would give me plants that I had divided or removed. Our family would also give us plants to help us establish the garden. It became a habit with my wife Sharron to make an index card record of each plant. She would document what the plant was, where it came from, where we planted it, what care it needed and what beneficial uses it might have. With the advent of more affordable digital photography I started taking photos of the plants. As time went on we started compiling the information together and printing it.

At some point we started looking farther afield and started documenting ALL the plants on the property and that stretched into all the wildlife, birds and bugs.

We have managed to put together a good collection of entries but we are aware of how much it still out there! Haven’t even started on the lichens, fungi and mushrooms yet though I have hundreds of photos still on my computer. Fortunately Sharron has taken up photography in the past few years so we have been able to speed up the process somewhat though admittedly we can’t foresee it being done in our lifetime.

When We Get Older

In September we passed the landmark of forty-five years since we started building our house. An amazing feat considering it is still standing despite our lack of building experience and the materials used – mostly scrounged. (For those interested you can see our story here – https://hardtocomebylifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/beginnings-2/)

The original part of the house was built on posts on un-level ground. One side of the house was almost ground level while the other was three feet off the ground. The house was a hexagonal and the framed foundation looked like a spiders web made from saplings.

Eventually we started to expand, first adding a bedroom, then a bathroom (a big upgrade from the outhouse) and then a living room. In order to accommodate these extensions, the easiest way to add on was to build the extensions below the existing roof line. This meant each new room was about two feet lower than the original floor – two steps down to the bedroom, two steps down to the bathroom, two steps down to the living room. So far, so good.

Forty years or so later I would lie in bed and think about what happens when we get older and can’t manage the steps. We could put ramps everywhere but they would take up the most of the floorspace in our small house. We could also drop the floor in the main house two feet which seemed like a fun and interesting project but wasn’t whole heartedly accepted by others in the house. That is when I thought of our guesthouse. With a bit of alteration and addition it could be turned into the perfect one level retirement home for when we get old (we’re only in our early 70’s right now).

The guesthouse was originally built as a workshop (https://hardtocomebylifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/hard-to-come-by-b-b/) and evolved into our bed and breakfast cabin which we ran for twelve years. It was two rooms – the bedroom/sitting area and the bathroom. Covid 19 came along and I wasn’t going very far afield and so I decided to tackle the project. The largest part of the venture was adding a bedroom and the remainder was a renovation of the bathroom.

Building the bedroom door
Handmade cabinet with live edge cedar
Shower with galvanized metal roofing
Live edge cedar counter and floating shelves
Handmade cedar French doors. A Cubic Grizzly mini wood stove to the left of the door
The extended ‘kitchen’
Milled board and batten siding from the property

So there it is. The perfect project for these times and a good solution for future times.

Table Project

I thought I would practice my mortise and tenon skills by building a small cedar table. I milled the wood from our property and it is a pleasure to see it go from a storm damaged tree to a quite nice piece of furniture. Mortise, tenons and pegs hold it together. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it when I finished but it became our kitchen table. Mocha the cat is indifferent.

Bug Wars

Green Burgundy Stink Bug

I had noticed these bugs on my red currants for a number of years but didn’t give them much thought. A couple of days ago I decided to look them up and see what their story was. I already knew they were stink bugs and I thought that was their claim to fame. Unfortunately, I found out they also like to chew on tender shoots. I had noticed quite a bit of fruit drop on my red currants and had always suspected it may have been bird damage. I’m now convinced it was caused by the Green Burgundy Stink Bug (Banasa dimidiata).

Stripped Currants

We don’t use pesticides in our garden so I resorted to the old tried and true method of hand picking the bugs off. The first day I got about 50 bugs, the second day 20 and today about 10. I’ll continue picking each day until I see the last of them. I also use this method for slugs and sawfly larva and while a little tedious, it is effective. When picking I’m always coming across beneficial insects that would be killed by spraying so the time taken far outweighs the convenience of a quick, easy and deadly spray.

Firewood Bonus

Well, the firewood is all stacked and my final tally was 2.55 cords. That is a stack that measures 8.5 feet wide x 7 feet high x 5.5 feet deep. Since we made two stacks this size it is an impressive collection of wood.  Some of the alder is damp and oyster mushrooms are popping out daily – very good eating!

Firewood Finale

We split the last of our next winter’s firewood today! Here I am surveying one of the piles. Our middle daughter and husband are living on our property and also heat with wood so there is another pile the same size at their house. I haven’t figured out how many cords yet – I’ll know after it is stacked but it looks like a lot of wood. I cut down nine dead or dying trees – alder, dogwood, hemlock, fir, maple and alder so a good variety. Now we can look forward to a cold, snowy winter.