A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Made me laugh...

Generally, we're not a bath-a-day kind of family...I like to think it's because we have to conserve how much waste goes into our lagoon, but really it's because the girls can usually find other things they want to do and I like to pick my battles. So the other day, I was trying to convince V. to have a bath...the conversation went something like this...

Me: Come on V. it's been a few days, how about you go have a bath.
V: I don't want to...I'm busy.
Me: Well, you really need to have a wash and wash your hair, it's getting a little grimy, why don't you go start the water.
V. reluctantly goes into the bathroom...as usual I get distracted in some task and come back to her a few minutes later...still playing.
Me: V. I told you to go and run the bath, do I have to send you to your room for a while?
V: (with a bit of a sob to her voice) I don't want to have a bath...
Me: (interrupting her) Come on...I don't want to have this argument everytime...blah blah blah
V: (more sobbing) I don't want to have a bath...the bathtub is dirty...
Me: What do you mean...come on...you just don't want to have a bath...
V: (big sobbing voice) It is too dirty...there... is... hay... in it!!!

**Guess I should fill the sheep's water bucket somewhere else, if I want to get them in the bath ;)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yummy Brussel Sprouts...really!

Happy Holidays to everyone! Guess who got new pajamas for Christmas!!

We have had a great holiday so far. Nana flew in for a quick visit the week-end before Christmas...Grandmaman arrived a few days later and will be with us for a few more weeks :)

We celebrated Winter Solstice, with a few of our new Horsefly friends. We had a big bonfire and heard about celebrating the solstice in Germany and some folklore from Iceland, while the kids ran around building snow houses, etc...it was a lovely evening.

But getting to those brussel sprouts...I don't normally enjoy brussel sprouts...in fact I have always given them a pass. But this past Thanksgiving, we spent with Erich's Uncle Norm and Auntie Candace and she made the most delicious brussel sprout dish! Auntie Candace is a long-time vegetarian and an exceptional cook. The first meal she made for us was when we came out to BC on our honeymoon, we were vegan at the time and she made a great tempeh (or maybe tofu?) pasta dish. Another memorable meal was done completely over an open-fire without the benefit of running water or electricity...a scrumptious salmon, with beautiful roasted potatoes and a huge fresh salad (which she grew herself, of course). Anyways...I digress...but based on my history of positive culinary experiences with Candace, you can see why I was willing to take a risk with her brussel sprouts! In a word...delicious...and here is the recipe...my little gift to you...enjoy!

6 cups of brussel sprouts (cut in half)
2 tbspn of olive oil
onion (cut into eighths)
red pepper (optional)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp of cider vinegar

Roast hazelnuts at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Toss brussel sprouts, onions and peppers in olive oil. Roast in oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. Mix maple syrup and cider vinegar, pour over vegetables, add hazelnuts, roast for about 5 more minutes.

Sorry the picture is kind of blurry...I wanted to snap one before they were all gone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mixing the New and the Old

This week-end we finally got into the swing of things, in preparing for the holidays. We're a little behind...usually we get our tree the first of December and decorate the house around that time too. But the past few week-ends have been jam packed with preparations for sheep, picking up sheep, surviving during power outages and extreme cold temperatures and building a sheep shelter in -30 degree temperatures (you can kind of see it in the background covered in a blue tarp as we didn't the roof quite finished yet).

As this is our first Christmas in our new home, we decided not to travel to Vancouver, as we did last year, to see my family, but to celebrate in our own home. As we were getting our tree today, I was reflecting on how different each of our Christmas' have been over the last few years and how pulling out our Christmas decorations, is the thread that ties everything together...no matter where we are. The kids excitedly take out each one, squealing with delight as they recognize one that they made at preschool, one that has their name engraved on it, one that they received as a gift etc etc.

Last week-end we attended the Old Fashioned Christmas party put on by the Horsefly Community Club. I see this as being a new 'tradition' in our family, because it was so much fun. The event starts with a huge potluck dinner...I have never seen such a large buffet with such a variety of dishes. The kids loaded up their plates and in a rare twist of events...ate almost everything! After dinner there were some performances by local musicians and music students and a rousing version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, Horsefly style...my favourites were the 5 Share Shed Shoppers, 6 Fire Levies, 4 Dry Wells and a Closed sign at the Cafe. The entertainment wrapped up with a visit from jolly old St. Nick.

After the entertainment we headed outside into the cold, to enjoy a bonfire, some horse-drawn sleigh rides and hot chocolate, while the kids climbed all over the huge piles of snow left behind by the snowplows.

This week-end we started another new tradition, heading out to chop down our own Christmas Tree. I've been scouting out trees for the last few weeks...looking for one that is about the right size and sufficiently 'bushy' for putting ornaments and lights on. We have always purchased our tree...and always had a Fraser Fir...they seem to last the longest and don't drop as many of their needles. We don't have many (any?) fir on our property so we had to go with spruce. I spotted one that I thought would work so we all headed out to chop it down...

The snow is a little deep...good thing there is no sound ;)


I think it looks lovely!

Tonight we will be celebrating Winter Solstice...a tradition we started last year...with a bonfire, lots of candles and discussion of all the things we look forward to as the days start to get longer again.

Friday, December 19, 2008


We haven't posted in a while - this cold spell has us busy gathering more wood every day, keeping the animals warm (we'll be posting about the new sheep shed soon), and keeping the water running.

I snapped our weather meter when we got up this morning - I haven't been in this kind of cold since I was a kid (walking uphill to school both ways in -40).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow, Snow and More Snow

It started snowing late Thursday evening and continued on and off, mixed with rain, until mid-day Saturday. This resulted in a huge volume of really heavy snow! We lost power for just over 24 hours, likely due to the many trees which were down along the roads...we actually had to stop along the Beaver Valley Road to help a snow plow driver remove a tree that had landed on the cab of his grader.

This is one of the paths we have shovelled to access key parts of our property...like the chicken coop...

It has been pretty exciting seeing the snow pile up and a couple of things have made the situation that much more pleasant...

1. Rainer, our wonderful neighbour, showing up and kindly plowing our driveway, because he 'was just passing by' :)

2. The purchase of our new 4x4 truck, with new studded snow tires...goodbye mini-van.

3. Lots and lots of firewood...means no power is really no big deal.

4. Horsefly Hardware sells the best sleds!! The girls and I have been enjoying some great sledding down our driveway!

Monday, December 1, 2008


They're here!! After a truly harrowing journey...10 hour drive in wet, slippery snow and white out conditions, 12 hour return trip with fog, very tired, cranky children and a car sick dog...our sheep are in their new home!!
They are a little nervous after their long journey...but still quite curious about us. We haven't agreed on any names...I like the idea of Icelandic sounding names...but the girls like Rachel, Curly, Neigh-Neigh (M.'s favourite) and Brownie.

I'll write more later...when I've recovered from our trip :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting ready for the sheep

The last few week-ends have seen us pretty busy, preparing for the arrival of our three ewes. We decided to purchase them from Greencroft Gardens, mainly because she had three, in three different colours and was asking a very good price. They have been with the ram for some time, so we are hoping that they will be pregnant, due to lamb in the spring.

We picked an area close to the house, to fence off as a starting pasture. We wanted to be able to see them from the house, so we can monitor how things are going. We are hoping that Violet, will keep the predators at bay, but we have also been looking into getting a llama. We'll have to see. We have also been trying to get rid of all of the lupine stalks and pods as they are apparently toxic to sheep...damn that Miss Rumphius :)

Rainer from Big Bear Ranch stopped by yesterday to bring us a bale of his organic hay. We're so lucky to have them closeby...I've no idea how we would have gotten it onto our property otherwise and positioned where we need it.

Rainer is also a wealth of information. He warned us about cougars and told us about watching a cougar clear a six foot electric fence with a goat in its mouth. Wow...those cats are amazing...I hope he's right that they are usually scared off by dogs.

So we are almost ready for the arrival of our sheep...just need to work out a watering system and finish a gate.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've always thought highly of her...

but seeing her put the holiday lights up this past weekend, I think we can all see why so many look up to Joanne.

Seriously though... isn't she awesome?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chocolate Bannock

A few weeks ago our neighbours Wendy and Wally were in town, and they had us over for an excellent meal. One of the highlights the bannock they made by putting the dough into a frying pan and settling it into some coals for a while. I've not had bannock before (theirs was delicious), and some Googling found me several recipes, but theirs was the easiest - 2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 cups of water, in coals for 19 minutes. (I remember a Sesame Street segment about bannock, where they cooked the dough draped over a stick over the fire - I can't find it on YouTube though.)

It's burning in season in the Cariboo - when it's wet and cold enough to minimize the risk of the fire going out of control. This is why Wendy and Wally had a pile of embers in their yard, and also why we've had two opportunities to make the bannock since.

Our last version mutated into a dessert because the embers weren't ready by dinner time. Here's our recipe for Chocolate Bannock:
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Mix the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips

  2. add the water slowly, mixing it until you can knead it without it sticking (a flour-dusted countertop helps for this)
  3. flatten the dough out - it should be quite a bit larger than your smaller pan
  4. sprinkle the chips out over the centre
  5. fold the edges back toward the middle, hiding the chips - we worked it at this stae so no seams appeared - don't worry if a chip pops it's head through the dough, itll be okay
  6. dust and/or grease the smaller cast iron pan (we dusted) and lay the dough in it

  7. carry the two pans out to the fire, which at should now be a big pile of embers into which you've raked a flat bowl to fit the pan

  8. place the small pan in the embers, then lay the larger pan upside down over top to keep the embers out (note: the camera flash strips the photo of the redness of the embers)

  9. rake the embers over the pans, and start the clock - 19 minutes exactly (now how many recipes have you read that include a step using a rake?)
  10. when the time is up, use a rake to pull the pans out gently (to avoid getting embers in the pan), then carefully get the bannock out onto a dish

  11. cut up the bannock and serve (optionally, with ice cream)!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

About Coffee - the organic, fair-trade kind

We love strong, dark coffee. Our coffee makes most coffee-drinkers cringe. We ran out of our stock on the weekend, and had to buy some Starbucks French Roast - it was way too weak for us.
Sure, this may seem like a blatant product-plug, but really, we were so relieved to see that the holiday on Tuesday hadn't delayed the delivery (I ordered Monday, we got it Wednesday), and just relieved to have good coffee again, that I want to tell the world!

Sidenote 1 - As much as we'd love to be self-sufficient, our coffee-growing aspirations are unrealistic in the Cariboo.
Sidenote 2 - yes, we are addicted. In a heart-aching and heart-warming kind of way.

Last spring we discovered an excellently dark-roasted coffee at (what was then) our local organic food market. The roaster is called Max Voets, out of Vernon (that's almost local, right?), and the brand is Tribal Java. Specifically, the roast we get is Ancient Ritual.

We order about 10-12 pounds every two months or so, and with shipping this comes out to about $12/lb, which is quite reasonable, we feel, for organic and fairly-traded coffee. And it shows up at our post office down the street!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Michael Pollan interview - Mother Earth News

I just came across this great interview with Michael Pollan and thought I would post a link to it:

The Michael Pollan Prescription: How to Eat Better and Avoid the Industrial Diet

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Celebrated food writer Michael Pollan talked with Mother Earth News about easy ways to eat well and opt out of the broken food system.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

YAVIP*: About Lard

*Yet another vegan-inappropriate post

It has been another typical weekend at Wise Acres - we had a visit from Nanna, cut down trees, piled logs, burned brush, pounded fence posts and rendered lard... whoa there - rendered lard?

A theme that's making its rounds lately (at least for us), is that the healthiest food was what our grandparents ate, including only unprocessed fats: butter, olive oil and lard.

We've being slowly moving back to butter (and getting organic as much as possible - its so pricey!) but hadn't moved away from shortening for baking, etc. However, our research indicated that the store-bought lard wasn't any better than shortening (see Wikipedia references below).

Last weekend one half of our favourite hog farmers was spending a day rendering, so inevitably we asked about buying some fat for ourselves. (I saw "we", but I think Joanne considered this project exclusively mine!) Gigi, when I picked up the 10+ pounds of "kidney fat" (what I see in Wikipedia is also called "leaf lard"), gave me some straightforward instructions:
  1. cut or grind the fat to smaller chunks

  2. place them into in 1/4 inch of water, in a heavy steel or iron pot
  3. start heat high, but lower it way down once it's warm
  4. as clear liquid appears, filter it through a sieve and cheesecloth into glass containers

  5. refrigerate and freeze as necessary

This picture shows the lard at different stages of solidification, from oil-like to it's snow-white lard-as-we-know-it-ness.

Rather than store the lard in mason jars as many appear to do, I chose to use larger pans, and I plan to cut the blocks into 1-lb blocks (or close) and freeze what we don't immediately need.

Nanna made her world-famous Chicken Plait tonight, and fried the chicken and mushrooms in the fresh lard. Yummy.

Some interesting snippets from Wikipedia about lard:
  • Cooking fat obtained from cattle or sheep is known as suet or tallow.
  • Toward the late 20th century, lard began to be regarded as less healthy than vegetable oilsolive and sunflower oil) because of its high saturated fatty acid and cholesterol content. However, despite its reputation, lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight.[2] Unlike many margarines and vegetable shortenings, unhydrogenated lard contains no trans fat. Despite its similar chemical constituency and lower saturated fat content than butter, lard typically incites much consternation and disapproval from many people in the English-speaking world.
  • Lard can be obtained from any part of the pig as long as there is a high concentration of fatty tissue. The highest grade of lard, known as leaf lard, is obtained from the "flare" fat deposit surrounding the kidneys and inside the loin.
  • Lard may be rendered by either of two processes, wet rendering or dry rendering. In wet rendering, pig fat is boiled in water or steamed at a high temperature and the lard, which is insoluble in water, is skimmed off of the surface of the mixture, or it is separated in an industrial centrifuge. In dry rendering, the fat is exposed to high heat in a pan or oven without the presence of water (a process similar to frying bacon). The two processes yield somewhat differing products. Wet-rendered lard has a more neutral flavor, a lighter color, and a high smoke point. Dry-rendered lard is somewhat more browned in color and flavor and has relatively lower smoke point.[6][7]
  • Industrially-produced lard, including much of the lard sold in supermarkets, is rendered from a mixture of high and low quality fat sources from throughout the pig.[8] It is typically hydrogenated (which produces trans fats as a by-product), and often treated with bleaching and deodorizing agents, emulsifiers, and antioxidants, such as BHT.[4][9] Such treatment makes lard shelf stable. (Untreated lard must be refrigerated or frozen to prevent rancidity.)[10][11]
Other interesting related items:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

First snow fall

Wow, two posts in one day...maybe I do have too much time on my hands ;)

We had our first snowfall of the season last night and it looks so beautiful. The girls were out playing in it before school this morning at 7am and managed to scrape together a snowman last night with the first few flakes.

Thought I would share some photos...

Waiting for the school bus this morning...

Guest Post from JHY

This morning, we received a comment on the blog, from a close family friend that I thought was worth sharing as a 'guest post'. Bobby, or JHY as I call him, is really part of our adopted North American family...because most of our 'real' family was still in the UK, my parents adopted a few families that throughout my childhood, we celebrated holidays with and became 'family' through so many shared experiences and I would include Bobby in that group. Originally a co-worker of my Dad's, Bob is from the US, New Jersey to be exact. When I was a wee little girl, I must have watched a lot of episodes of the Jeffersons, because one day when Bobby was visiting I walked up to him and said "Hello there, you Jive Honky Yankee" and since that day he has been known as JHY. Anyways... he introduced us to beautiful New Jersey tomatoes and cantaloupe, the Jersey shore, was a great friend to my Dad and never forgets my birthday... so here is what he had to say...

"First time that I have ever taken a look at a "blog". You must have too much time on your hands! Interesting observations from an ex-city person. But, I gotta tell ya. Yep, Ray was one hell of a guy, not only from his hands on mechanical abilities, but I believe more importantly his ability to provoke conversation about the vast amount of subjects in which he was interested -- that's one reason I had to get him to China! If "you" recall the days of the Kennedy Clan and how each Sunday they gathered round the dinner table and each week one was chosen to discuss a subject -- well Ray gathered his extended family around whatever table that was present and discussed all sorts of things. And, his family was provoked to think -- about all sorts of varied subjects - past, present and future. Not many families do that today, or ever did!

He is also the person with whom I learned to water ski -- on Lake Simcoe, while at that time California was one of my sites to visit.

He still provides lots of fun, stories, and wonderful memories for many of us that were lucky enough to know him.

These interesting observations of the family in Horse-what come to me via a computer, and take me back almost a century in my life.

Grandpa lived on the farm down the road from our farm, which my Dad bought from him; and my other Grandfather -- the UK/Hull and Orono, Canada guy, also bought from him. There he had horses, cows, pigs, a BIG garden, and Grandma cooked on a wood stove. She is the one who killed the chickens -- Ma is the one who taught my boys how to kill chickens with an axe.......... Hay was brought in on a horsedrawn wagon -- yep I got to ride in it. Dad would cultivate corn with the horses, and sometimes go to the house and leave me on the cultivator -- the horses knew to go the 1,000 ft or so across the field, turn and come back, that little pre-scool kid had nothing to do with what they did!

All of the local farmers used to get together to help each other gather wheat sheeves and thresh (at each different farm) -- which resulted in BIG pile of straw on which to play. I got to start driving the 1943 Ford tractor at age 10, brother Garrie at age 8, he was taller and could reach the pedals.

We would go about a mile and half down the road to Wilson's dairy farm and get our milk in a can -- it wasn't until I went into Princeton to school that I got to taste that - ugh - pasturized milk.

I walked a mile to and from the bus stop, and rode 7 miles into Princeton to school. (It wasn't until high school that the bus picked me up at the bottom of the farm lane. (Ma had taought there before getting pregnant with me.) Ma had her own Nursery/Kindergarten -- The Farm School with 30 - 50 children and a Summer Day Camp (RoGaPeKi -- the boys/brothers names, coined by me) with about 150 children and 30 on the staff.

I also got the "opportunity" to mow our cemetary with a reel mower and then !! Grandpa bought a reel type mower with a motor on it -- wow! .50 cents an hour and he would bring over a glass gallon jug of water to "refresh" me.

Today I still have a 1/3 Acre garden over there, and I still "jar"/can my own tomato sauce and Red Tomato Chili (from a recipe written in one of our maid's handwriting -- yes we had maid/s. Ann, was the only black person at my wedding.) By the way, I was in the first class of the "Princeton Plan" in about 1948 when the schools were intergrated and we white kids were sent down to the black school.

Over the years, although the main crop was apples (I, of all the pickers, was the only one who could pick 100 bushels a day off the tree - at .10 cents per or 200 per day up from the ground at .05 cents a pop - $10 bucks for 10 hours.), we also had at times, chickens, pigs, sheep, ponies, horses, cows, sheep, goats, turkeys, rabbits, pigeons, and Lord knows what else. We, as did Grandpa and the neighbors, killed most all for food and or sale. (Just recently got my first deer with a crossbow in Ohio.) Lots of deer around here, in fact NJ is so overpoplulated that the kill limit is -- unlimited. (Destructive to farm crops and vehicles.)

Last year, while deer hunting over at the farm, I heard the scream of Fisher Cat for the first time -- they are evidently being crowded out of the Northern areas and into our area. (Blood curdling)

What was the question?

Love from,
JHY/Uncle Bob/Bobby "

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Arts on the Fly"

For those of you involved with non-profit organizations, you will know that the Fall season usually means Annual General Meeting time. Even in our little town, this is the case. To give you a bit of a rundown on the various clubs/groups/activities in town, I thought I would write out a little list...
  • The Community Club - recently had their AGM, they are responsible for monthly Bingo, a children's Halloween party with fireworks!, the Old Fashioned Christmas potluck dinner, the New Years dance and the May Day parade.
  • The Historical Society - run the museum in town (yes we have a museum!)
  • PAC - Parent Advisory Council- Horsefly School
  • Exercise classes - a local massage therapist runs gentle movement classes and muscle sculpting and cardio classes out of her clinic
  • Dancing - dance instruction is provided at the community hall for children including ballet, jazz and a boys hiphop and for adults there is jazz.
  • Fencing - offered at the school, once a week throughout the fall/winter
  • Fall Fair Committee - committee that coordinates the annual fall fair in August
  • Quilt Club - quilters meet once per month through fall/winter
  • Arts on the Fly committee - annual music, arts and dance festival in Horsefly...more on this to follow...
And the surprising thing is I may have missed some. It is pretty incredible what this little community has to offer. With all of these activities I decided I had to prioritize what I would become involved in. This year I decided that PAC would be a good idea, since the girls are just starting out in the school. Next, I decided it was high time I got myself into some form of exercise and I know it will be difficult over the winter, so I decided to try the exercise classes...so that is two times per week. Then finally, I thought just for fun, I would get involved with the Arts on the Fly Festival. So a little bit about that...

We missed the festival last year as it was scheduled on the same week-end as the Zirnhelt Family Reunion ( which we definitely didn't want to miss!). But we did see the stage and the preparations for the festival and it looks like a first class affair. This is the third year of the festival, which is run completely by volunteers and was created by a handful of Horseflinnians who had a vision of an event which would both promote tourism in the area and fulfill their zeal for All Things Creative. As I think we have mentioned before, the Cariboo is an interesting mix of cowboys, farmers and artists and Horsefly is certainly not short on talent. Many of the performers and exhibitors are local but the festival also features other musicians and artists from BC, across Canada and internationally like last year from Argentina.

So mark your calendars...this year's festival is set for the week-end of July 3rd and 4th. Hope to see you there!

PS Speaking of local artists...I came across this site in my travels Inspired by Imagination which is Florian Krumsiek's site, his photography is gorgeous...my favourite is the bales of hay in the mist...check it out!

Monday, October 20, 2008

About a claw-foot tub

I'm sorry we don't have 'before' pictures... it never occurs to us until halfway through a project, and 'during/after' is so much less satisfying than a decent 'before/after' pair - it's the directly opposite sentiment of getting the very first 'how much longer?' as we are slowing to turn into the destination's driveway.

Joanne asked for a tub for her birthday. It seemed like a reasonable request - we had two showers, and no tub. The older girls were unhappy about showering, and M had to wait for the dishes to be done before getting bathed (or 'sinked').

Step 1 - find a tub. We wanted something that fit the feel of the house, and a claw-foot tub seemed most right. After scouring buy'n-sells and Kijiji, we ended up finding a new acrylic model from the Sears catalogue (delivered right to 150 Mile House!) and sold ourselves on the benefits of acrylic over the classic porcelain-on-cast-iron: way lighter to move, won't stain, won't scratch as easily, doesn't retain the cold. (Conversely, it doesn't retain the heat the same way iron does., and we'll never be able to build a fire under it.) It was delivered within a few weeks, and I was able to carry the box (with tub and hardware) without help - only ~70lbs. The lightness made it very easy to install.

Step 2 - remove the shower. Sounds easy. Wasn't. Actually had to use my circular saw a few times.

Step 3 - move the toilet. Sounds hard. Wasn't. There were, admittedly, some unpleasant moments in the crawlspace.

Step 4 - sand and varnish the floor. This was necessary because the shower walls left visible footprints, and the holes for old plumbing had been filled. Then, a lesson was learned. Our floors had been coated with a satin clearcoat. I bought a satin clearcoat, gave it a stir (as indicated) and applied. It came out glossy, but only in some spots. I applied another coat - less patchy, but still glossy. Then the third coat went down, and when it dried, it was nice and flat -
by the door. It now graduates to a glossier sheen as it approaches the wall. Apparently (I went to the 'net of course - afterwards, of course) varnishes are naturally glossy, and the flatness is provided by a silica particulate. When they say stir, they mean stir. Not a once through like sugar in coffee, but truly stirred so the particulate is evenly distributed. (FYI - Not shaken either - puts bubbles in it). Only the most observant, nit-picky folks would even notice the gradual-glossiness effect, and I'll attribute it to floor-wear due to tooth brushing.

Step 5 - plumb in the tub. This was pretty straightforward, but I have some details worth sharing, if you ever plan on doing this yourself. There are several types of fittings for tubs like these: some mounted outside the tub, some on top of the rim, and some inside the wall at the foot (typical). Our tub came with pre-drilled holes in the wall of the foot, so we had to find a matching faucet set. (Joanne scored a huge find on eBay, and we payed maybe 25% of what it would go for in the stores.) The critical characteristic: the mountings were adjustable, allowing the faucet to be mounted on holes drilled with spacings from 3 3/8-inches to 8 inches. I had to improvise a bit - the faucet came with some hardware, and the tub with hardware, but neither included anything to support the back-end of the faucet so it could be held fast against the tub. I found some large washers to do the trick.

We now have a tub. We are absolutely buoyant!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Inspirations and Thanksgiving

I've been adding a bathtub to our main bathroom (which entailed moving a toilet and removing a shower stall) and will post some details about that soon.

Since Joanne and I have been together, she has inspired me to:
  • add a wall into our first house's basement
  • finish the basement in our second house (5th home)
  • renovate the kitchen in that same house
  • add a wall to convert a loft into a bedroom in that same house
  • enlarge the kitchen in our 3rd house
  • remove a granite floor and brick wall in that same house

Here we are in our 4th house (7th home), and the inspirations keep coming!

Joanne has this incredible faith in what I am able to do, and somehow (not without frustrations, mistakes and changes of plans) I've been able to keep up. Both of these traits, Joanne's belief that anything is possible, and my ability to rise to the occasion, I directly attribute to her father, Ray Meyrick.

This is the time of year where I remember him most. He passed away shortly after Thanksgiving (the Canadian one) three years ago, and I think it was fitting that I was working on yet another of Joanne's inspirations, the aforementioned new bedroom (for M, due a few months later) in the second house.

Joanne grew up with a mother (aka June, aka Nanna) who was an equally (if not greater) source of inspirations. Ray was always working on them, able to keep up with an attention to detail and a skill level I'd only previously read about. (Dad, if you're reading this, please forgive my candour, but you must already know that, as intelligent and capable as your are, "handy" is not one of your characteristics.) So naturally, Joanne now expects this.

What I'm most grateful for is that Ray didn't leave me to my own devices, to learn from my own mistakes. Though he enjoyed the odd mistake I did make, and used them as vehicles for his lessons, he was a ready and willing instructor. He taught me how to keep up to a Meyrick woman's inspirations.

So, as I was wrestling the plumbing underneath our house in the crawlspace, I could hear him chuckling at some of my goofs. I told him, that weekend three years ago, when he apologized for not being able to help with the new wall, that he was already helping me, and that every step I took was under his guidance, and always would be. He laughed and said "don't choke the hammer."

I thanked you then, Ray, as I do now. I think you'd enjoy Joanne's latest list of inspirations.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Additions to the 'Farm'

This is Mittens...I love this picture. I am really surprised how much I like this cat...I've always been a 'dog person' but I find her quite entertaining and I just love the image of the cat in the window.

Anyways...we haven't posted in a while, so I thought I would get you all up to date on what we're planning. Since we moved here, we have been considering what livestock we would have, we picked up our chickens early on and we've been quite happy with them. They are still steadily producing a couple of eggs almost daily, although we did lose Henriella, likely to a fox. We're not sure, but one day she just didn't come home (which chickens usually do, when it gets close to dusk), so we have to assume something got her. R.I.P. Henriella...

We've learned a few lessons, like chickens can easily clear a 6 foot fence, that they will lay their eggs wherever they please if they are free ranging, that they will eat dog food and that they will quickly lose their fear of dogs and poop on our porch if we let them. Now that we have put a roof on their run...things seem to be going nicely.

So what's next? We've been thinking about sheep or goats for a while. While we would like the goat's for their milk, we have come to the conclusion that fencing would be costly, since goats are quite skilled at escaping and are prone to all kinds of shenanigans, that are probably beyond our beginning farming skills.

A friend of mine from the Okanagan, recently got some Icelandic Sheep.

This image was originally posted to Flickr by biologyfishman at http://flickr.com/photos/43021596@N00/234876383

I have been doing a bit of research and they seem like a great choice for us...they are very cold weather hardy, being from Iceland and all; they are great foragers and will eat a lot of the brush and small plants we want to clear out of our place; they are a little more hardy against predators due to their horns; and they are great for fibre, meat and milk. They are also less mischievous then goats. Their fibre can be spun to create Lopi wool, which is a nice wool to work with. Erich's mom has a spinning wheel that she is willing to ship out to me.

We've been making inquiries around a have come across two breeders who may have some sheep for us...Flanelberry Farms and Greencroft Gardens. More details to come...

We have mapped out an area for fencing...opting to use the many poplars we have around for posts, we are able to fence for quite a reasonable price. We just have to purchase a dozen metal posts to supplement the tree posts and of course the wire farm fencing itself.

We have also been talking to one of our neighbours, who is hoping to thin out her flock of alpacas. She has offered us two, one of them happens to be part llama and makes a great guard animal. Their fleeces are also lovely and can be spun to make yarn. They also seem to be a relatively low maintenance choice, as they are not aggressive escape artists, have soft feet, so don't make a total mess of your property and eat a fraction of what a cow or horse would eat.

This week-end Erich is just finishing up the plumbing on the new tub and next week-end will be dedicated to getting that fencing done!