Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Getting ready

I had to put my sewing machine away and put the sewing on hold for now. My sciatica is flared up something awful!
We are going to take the finished masks in to my daughter tomorrow. She can keep what she wants and sell the rest.
I asked my great grandsons Mommy about masks for him. The bylaw says every child over two has to wear one! Kait said the little guy is TERRIFIED of anyone in a mask. She said he goes into a panic if she puts one on herself so there isn't a hope in hell the little guy will wear one. She can't even get him to wear sunglasses. He seems to be very paranoid about anything on his face.
There were some spotty storms blow through the area this afternoon. Some towns along the Ottawa River saw some damage. The little town of Deep River has a lot of damage. We didn't get a single drop.
The extreme heat continues. Five more sleeps and we will be heading north to the water!

Monday, July 6, 2020

July 6 and Getting ready to roll

I can't believe it is going to get even hotter this week. They are saying 35 and 36 for Thursday and Friday!
You might have gathered I'm a fall and winter person.

We were out the door early this morning before it got to hot. I had to do banking at two different places, then a bit of a shop. I was in and out of Giant Tiger in about ten minutes. By the time I came out there was a line up waiting to enter. Next stop was TSC for kitty litter. We go through a lot of that with two cats. Finally we hit NoFrills for a few supplies like Cat Food and some things to take to the cabin.
We are sure looking forward to hitting the road on the weekend for our week away. M. was talking to the owner this morning when we got in from shopping. She offered to bring their pontoon boat upriver for us to use one day. We are pretty excited about that.

Our county is making masks mandatory in public buildings sometime in the next week or so. I have forty masks in my basket ready for sale when we return. Most of them are smaller size for ladies, teens and children. I found my Elvis print at the bottom of one of the bins! I also popped into Fabricland while we were in town. Fortunately I didn't have to wander all over the store to find cording and thread, which was also on sale. Thread is crazy expensive when you consider how much of it is in something like a bedsheet!

Friday, June 19, 2020

The ongoing story of building our barn in the bush

By the spring of Year Two we were in full construction mode.
The foundations had been laid the previous fall. We had hired a mason and ordered blocks and bricks. As quickly as Ken, our mason, could lay the blocks, I came behind and stuffed the cavities with insulation. As he laid the next row of mortar, our block cavities would be sealed with an insulation material that would not deteriorate.  Once the blocks were done, he started on the massive double chimney that would soar three stories.
It sure was a long hot summer. We had an RV in the yard beside the house. We built a deck on the side and did a little landscaping. Hydro came in and laid our lines underground. Our meter and a plug box were on a post beside the RV. We had a nice old fashioned outhouse across the yard, with morning glories growing up the side. Most of the comforts of home!
A neighbour with a big digger came in and dug our well. My mother in law had never heard of well witching before so she was anxious to give it a try. It was so much fun! We marked several spots where several "switchers" determined the water would be found. When the neighbour with the digger walked around, he determined that there were several underground springs. He marked a spot where he figured they all converged. He was right on the money! The water came bubbling up out of the sand at fifteen feet, like there was a hose running full bore under the ground! We had our water tested and it came back pure and sweet. More than thirty years later it continues to give us fresh clean water.
We spent a couple of weeks putting in the first floor joists and laying a subfloor. 
Now that the well and the hydro was in place, we got another contractor in to put in our septic system. The last order of the summer was pouring the cement in the basement floor and covering  the basement for the winter.  
The next year would be a real challenge as we raised the walls and put a roof over it all.

Did I mention that we did the work ourselves? Just him and her, no contractors....

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The next chapter: Year one

We hit the ground running, as the saying goes. We wanted a property with a good acreage. We wanted a good sized log cabin with space for our largish family.

It only took about a month! It was a 100 acre parcel, well forested, backing on to crown land. There would be neighbours, but not on the doorstep. The north east corner of the parcel had a lane already laid into about an acre and a half of open meadow. (We later learned that this had once been a boy scout camp called Porcupine Hill.)

The husband had forestry experience from his previous profession, and a log construction course under his belt. He had helped a fellow in the community build his log home, which was to be a model for our own. He set about measuring, marking and cutting trees and stacking them up in the front field. He then called in a local log builder named Lee LaFont (hi Lee!) to come appraise the situation and see when he would be able to start. That's when the disappointment started to set in. First off, Lee didn't think our chosen site was the best place. He thought we should be building on the edge of that front meadow. It was a long steep climb up the hill. He cited issues with the lane in winter, where to put a well, where to lay the septic bed. All very valid issues that we honestly hadn't put a lot of thought into. The second problem was the logs. We were coming up short for the project we had planned. We went away to have a think.

That was when we found a wonderful structural engineer in New Hampshire, named Alex Wade.  He had designs for a saltbox post and beam house which we immediately fell in love with.  We got the plans and sent the logs to the conveniently located sawmill to be sawed to Alex's specifications.
With the help of the children, we set about clearing the site for the house.  We had it mostly cleared, save the cutting of a couple of large trees, when a NEW problem came to light.  The house plot next to the road was incredibly noisy!
I've mentioned time and again that we live at the end of the road. At this end, the road widens to a turn around. There is a bush road running off that which eventually connects to a popular snowmobile and ATV trail system. (We didn't know about the trail system until later.) At weekends, the turn around would be jammed with vehicles and trailers as adventure riders off loaded their quads and dirt bikes to ride the trails.  It was noisy and the garbage was horrible.
So, we then moved the house plot back into the trees about 100 feet, and back into the forest another 100 feet. 
By then the year was moving along and building season would be drawing to a close.  We spend an October week laying foundations and having cement poured so we could start building in the spring.
We were moving out of our weekend RV home and back to the town for the winter.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

In the begining, why East of Algonquin?

So how DID a city girl from near Toronto end up here in the bush country east of Algonquin?
My (first) husband started working for the Ministry of Natural Resources shortly before the birth of our second child. We were posted to a small city on the north side of Algonquin. He worked in the bush about 9 months of the year.
After a year we moved out of the city to a rough little house adjacent to Mattawa River Provincial Park. It was a very isolated and challenging place for the children and I to live, but we really liked it more than we hated it.
After some of the politics of the province made his job security look a little too tenuous for a young family to be happy and comfortable, he moved on. He followed countless generations of ancestral men and started what was to become a long and distinguished military career.
We hauled from pillar to post until 1979, when one move would change our lives forever. As we drove north, the changing landscape really seemed to stir something in my soul. I remember driving through the little village of Eganville and feeling like we were almost home. This profound feeling in a totally new place just stayed with me.
We lived on the army base with a few more children. The opportunities to be out and about in this glorious natural landscape were endless. The children loved it. We loved it! But the military life is not about being static. They had us on the move again to the nations capital.
The Dad had an okay job there, Mum had a GREAT job there, but we HATED it....
Dad did some wheeling and dealing to take a post that was hard to fill for 6+ months with a promise that we could go back to East of Algonquin in another year. We started talking about long term plans and retirement.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Warm up will ya!

It was supposed to be sunny and much warmer today but it's really taking it's time. Where is the sunshine might i ask?

I have memories of some pretty darn cold miserable springs down here on the farm. Just for reference, we are no longer farmers, we only have the house and seven acres to roam now.

My first early memory of a cold spring was the year we decided to get into feeder calves. These are males calves the dairy farmers take off the mothers at about two or three days. We had little huts, like oversized dog houses, for each calf. Each hut was in a small fenced compound. The huts were insulated and there was lots of fresh hay for bedding. We used hay rather than straw because the calves little stomachs were too delicate to withstand him trying to munch straw, which is a discarded stalk from grain crops. Hay is dried grass, full of protein and much easier on the digestion.  (Much like goats, calves will eat pretty much anything!) We bottle fed the calves a formula which we had to buy and mix, much like baby formula. The children were just the right age to be fully invested in helping look after the calves. I remember that first spring being so cold and wet. We have a photo of my youngest daughter in the hut with her favorite calf, who she had named Barney. She was worried that Barney was going to be cold and she wanted to snuggle up with him. I'll admit to being pretty worried about the little fellows myself that year.

We had some fun adventures with the calves. This Barney one in particular really bonded with the people and our labrador retriever. My husband would go for a jog with the dog, and if Barney happened to see them head out, would break out of the fence and go trotting off with them. The neighbours still talk about R trotting down the road with a dog and half grown calf at his side!

When the calves were about three months old, they were moved to my friends place just up the road. They had gotten too aggressive for our setup and needed sturdier fences that we didn't have built yet. It was a simple matter to open the gate and walk up the road and the silly beggers would follow along, happy to be included in the adventure! Now and again one would break out of J's pasture and she'd phone and tell us one or all were wallowing in another neighbours pond or eating goodies in the ditch.
At that point we had to reluctantly sell them to another farmer who would keep them until they were old enough to be used for.......well, you know. The children were happy we had put a lot of distance between us and them before that happened.

Gosh, I have some crazy stories about our farming days....I'll save some for another days post.