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.)

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!