Our one acre of privacy is surrounded by larger acreages. Some have horses, many are hobby farms. Personally I don’t want any other animals to take care of as our dog is the hardest one to look after lately. He’s getting old and it makes me sad. But I want to talk about our neighborhood instead of our puppers.
Wandering around our neighborhood there are a few little stands set up. One is from a couple little kids. They are selling a variety of zucchini and squash. It’s really cute that they are trying to be entrepreneurs. Pretty sure they got “backing” from mom and dad. As in harvesting their vegetables.
The other type of stands that are around are for “Free Range Eggs”. We have a couple of these in our neighborhood. I have not purchased from them. My wife has in the past and was not thrilled with the color of the yolks. I won’t go into detail, but store bought eggs are more reliable in her opinion.
There is also an herb stand around the corner as well as a few small businesses. Such as a Christmas tree farm, a turkey farm, and a few vegetable greenhouses. Having these nearby is unique and pleasing. I do enjoy the freshness of the vegetables as well as the luxury of having these places nearby.
Are you more city or country? Perhaps you love the suburbs.
I cannot get enough of living in the country. Being on the outskirts of the suburbs, we own an acre of land. Filled with trees and plenty of space to relax. We are only a few minutes away from accessing major routes to get into cities and local shopping. Our privacy and peace make all the difference to my mental well being.
Visiting a friend over the weekend, I also appreciate that we don’t have a farm to maintain. Not that they do, they just rent a house on that land. But their privacy and views are also amazing.
My wife and I discuss on a regular basis the idea of moving in the future once the kids are all done high school. But we both want something different it seems. I still want some privacy and space. She wants connivence to walk to shopping and have less land to maintain. Both of us want bigger and better bathrooms and a kitchen. Newer would also be nicer.
Until our son reaches his final year of school in three years, it’s tough to discuss plans. I honestly think we will remain where we are for at least another decade, if not longer. So I feel we should do some work around the house to update it so that we can enjoy it before someone else does.
Having inner peace is important to me. I’m not sure I’m ready to trade it for convenience.
Last night I stepped over a fence into my neighbor’s yard. Only on occasion have I gone over to talk with him. We wave at one another and have brief conversations. But yesterday I saw him sitting alone and decided to go over for a talk.
Last weekend he lay some concrete, put up a gazebo to the side of his yard and set up a standing swing inside. Turns out my building of the Front Porch a few weeks back inspired his wife to want a swing and a place to relax as well. Sorry Bob.
So I sat down and we shared stories. He told me about his career as a pilot. How he flew in a plane that broke the sound barrier, not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions. He’d worked on movies and even landed on icebergs to do measurements. But he was more interested in my job working with trains.
As the night went on, he told me of buying the land and building his home in 1972. The same time my father-in-law was building his house- the one we now live in. And he told me about my wife growing up. My wife was two years old when the house was first built.
I’ve mentioned Bob and how extremely neighbourly he is: Donating Wood and how he can be regimented in his routines: Determination. What I like about Bob is that he is genuine. For an 87 year old, he is also very active and busy.
Our middle child has the right idea. Since we came home from camping last week she decided to set up the tent in our backyard.
Having a yard with a park like setting is my favorite part about not living in the suburbs or city. I sit out on one of our four decks on a regular basis to just enjoy the country life. Almost every one of our meals is had on our covered deck. Since installing the Porch Swing in our front yard, I have spent more time out there after a day at work.
Our tree deck is still my favorite of all the decks we have. The family is utilizing it more frequently as well since I added the deck chairs and lights. It also happens to be where the tent got set up for the past week. Our daughter has been the only one sleeping out there. Except yesterday when I disappeared into the tent for a nap.
The peace and quiet was thoroughly enjoyable. As it always is in our park like setting.
We have so much fresh fruit in our yard! I love it.
In the very back of our yard, there is salmonberries. Which just so happen to be ready for consumption! We also have a bunch of huckleberry bushes throughout the yard. Once they are ready, the kids load up on them.
This year, I discovered our cherry trees are producing fruit. It’s been a couple of years since they did. I’m looking forward to enjoying them. Our pear tree is also producing an abundance of fruit which should be ready in a few weeks.
We had a plum tree- but it ended up being diseased and had to get cut down. Those plums were juicy! As well, we used to have an apple tree, but alas it fell over one year in a storm. I have since planted a new apple tree a couple years ago- this time with four different types of apples infused into the branches. Currently I only get an apple on each branch, but one day- variety!
Do you have fruit trees or bushes that you grow? Summer is the best for walking the garden and eating right if the limb.
Last year when I Built a set of doors, I had removed the old sliding glass door and set it aside. It was pretty massive, with each panel being four feet wide. Today I finally began to do something about them. I made a mini greenhouse.
I had my son as a helper once more as we measured out some boards for the frame. I figured we could make a TARDIS shaped greenhouse. Just the right size to get some of the plants started.
These boards came from our old deck that was in front of the old sliding glass door. We ripped that deck out in 2014. Many of these board have been used for projects such as an Axe Throwing Target. I kept the long ones just in case. Today they became the frame of the mini greenhouse. I also added an old busted sliding window for the roof. That way it can be opened to allow airflow.
All that’s left is adding a door and maybe some painting of the boards. If I can find a small can of blue paint- you know I’ll be making a TARDIS door! It’s fun being a Whovian. Pretty sure my wife will be okay with that idea.
I think she will also appreciate this Great Glass Elevator in our garden.
Yesterday morning I wrote Night Shift Is For The Birds. Not fifteen minutes after post a bird crashed into our sliding glass door. It got up and flew away. Moments later, another crash. Same bird?
I went outside to pick up the little creature. It seemed stunned and was having difficulty breathing. I held it gently in my hands. It gasped repeatedly, and finally twitched.
Welp, it passed away. Nothing I could do. With so many birds in our yard, I hope it didn’t have little ones to look after. But it was gone. Not sure if this was the same bird that hit the glass the first time or not. I’m thinking it was. It’s not the first bird to crash into our home over the years.
Unceremoniously, I tossed it into a plastic bag and dropped it in our outside waste bin. Really? Yes. I would’ve done the same if I had found it later in the day. As much as I hoped for it to be okay, like when the Hummingbird entered our home last month, this was not the case.
The only other time I held an animal as it died was our first guinea pig. That was different though. The kids gathered round as he took his last breath. He got a proper burial in a shoebox, as all small pets do. I guess animal death doesn’t affect me the same as it once did.
The other day I was curious if I could befriend some of the wildlife that lurks in our neighborhood. Particularly the squirrels. They looked like they were having such fun running and chasing one another all the time. Plus they bounce up and down all cute like. What’s not to love?
I noticed the little rascals were getting into our bird feeder and had successfully knocked it onto the ground one night. So I used some birdseed to entice them to get closer to me. It started with a small pile by a tree that they like to climb. Then after a bit I began to put some seed in a leather glove and laid it down on our deck.
Three of the squirrels began to show up closer to our home. They ran past me a few times and we’re becoming more courageous about approaching me. It’s been a couple of years since the cute furry Wildlife has come up to our house.
I even named the squirrels. Jimmy James, El Gato, and Samson. JJ is the lazy one on the fence. El Gato is the female who acts like a cat about to pounce. And Samson is the crazy one who jumps branches.
As much as my experiment is starting to work, my wife is none too impressed. It seems these little fellas are pooping on our deck and making a bigger mess of the bird feeder. I have been asked to adjust my plan to get them to wander elsewhere.
Time to get them to the other side of the backyard and maybe we can bond over some berries.
Well, we didn’t quite start on completing our new deck at 8am like my son wanted Yesterday. We began around 10am instead. I’m happy to report- we got it done! And most of the clean up is done as well.
I’m also happy that I was able to scrounge up some old cedar slats to make a porch swing to complete the look. I also dig out three pieces of cut wood that my father-in-law left behind. These were originally for a step stool/ mini bench. But the shape lead to a perfect angle for the base of the swing. I also used the other part as the armrests. Hooray for up cycling!
Now our home really feels like we are country living. Got the front porch and porch swing all completed in a couple of days. Now to add some planters and relax as the world passes by.
The other day my wife mentioned how she wanted to change the look of the front of our home. We’ve always had stones lining the front of our house from our driveway to the wall. Nothing fancy really- take a look:
When we first moved in, there was a couple of rotting flower boxes. We quickly removed those along with a half dead “Prickly Pete” bush that hid our gas meter by the carport. We’ve tried livening it up by putting a bench and an old wagon in front. But it just didn’t look good. So my wife asked if I would make a new deck. I jumped at the chance. This will be my third deck build. I enjoy them.
I wanted to get an early start on this project, but didn’t leave the house until after 10am. The Home Depot stung me for about $600 in pressure treated lumber. Even though the deck area is five feet wide- it is 36’ long. I also opted to give it a bit of height to add a step and level it off. I returned home with 72 deck boards- which irritated one customer because I took all the good ones- I got to work on my next project around lunchtime.
I was hoping to be posting about a “One Day Build” but starting at noon makes for a tough challenge. Instead I opted to have our fourteen year old son help me. That way I could teach him how to use power tools, as well as the tricks to making a good sturdy deck. Safety was the first thing I taught him. Safety glasses, taking your time and common sense were expressed. As much as he groaned at first, he got into the workload pretty quick. A few errors were made, but nothing tragic.
We’ve gotten about half way through this project before calling it a day. Building the frame and leveling it off was the toughest part and took quite a while. My son wanted to keep going after dinner, but I explained to him that it was disrespectful to the neighbors to be noisy as dusk fell. He has decided that we will be waking up at 7am and be back at it by 8am. He wants to be done by lunch. I’m happy about his enthusiasm. He’s also proud of his workmanship.
Little does he know that I also have a Porch Swing project in mind for us… That would finish the new deck off quite nicely.
For the first time since we bought our home almost 13 years ago, our backyard flooded. There’s a lot of water in the far back of our acre, so at least it’s not near our house.
In and around our neighborhood I noticed the ditches were overflowing from the last couple of rainfalls. It’s rare for the ditches to get like that, but the heavy rain will help replenish the aquifer that we use for our well.
Living in the outskirts of Vancouver- I am fully aware that we technically live in a rain forest. It’s still unsettling though when there is such a large accumulation of pooling water. Hopefully the rain eases up for a few days and balance will come to our natural surroundings once more.
I love our wood burning fireplace. It gives off a great ambiance to the home. Recently I tried to figure out– How do you build a good fire in a fireplace?
With winter in full force for the first time in years, we have been using our fireplace to heat up our home more often. Here is what I was taught to do when building a fire:
Crumplesome newspaper and place under the grate and on the grate.
Place wood kindling lengthwise with the grate. Put on two pieces of wood on top.
Put two more pieces of wood perpendicular to the first two.
Ensure the damper is open.
Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
Light the paper under the grate.
Enjoy the fire.
I have been lightning fires like this for decades. I found that I kept adding wood and burning faster thinking Ineeded flames to create heat. The other day I discovered a new technique and it really made the house much warmer.
Essentially you build the fire upside down compared to what I had been doing for years.
Start with two or three large pieces of wood and lay them lengthwise and tight together.Lay three more pieces perpendicular on top of the first layer. Again making sure it is tight.Now add the kindling on top along with crumpled newspapers.
Ensure the damper is open.
Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
Light the paper and kindling that was stacked on the top.
Enjoy the fire as it burns from the top down making more of a hot ember base.
The six or so pieces of wood burn slower and last much long than the old way. Going for ambiance- I’ll still light a fire my old way. But with negative temperatures- heat is the priority.
Here is a video that I found that explains the new way: Perfect Fire. I’m in no way connected with the YouTube video- I just found it very helpful and wanted to share.
I love living in the country and the lifestyle that comes with it. But one day we will move and I’ll have to enjoy a gas fireplace instead.
Are you keeping warm the winter with a wood burningfireplace or do you prefer gas?
Yesterday the kids had a snow day from school. I also had a rough time trying to get out of our neighborhood to go into work, so I ended up having a snow day as well. The downside to that is I’ll be making up my work day but my kids won’t have to. So what did I do to my kids? I made them work in the snow!
Our driveway and back deck needed shoveling. A couple of times. I also had the kids gather up firewood in order to keep the house warm. Understandably there was a fair bit of grumbling to be had. But I made them some pizza bites and hot chocolate for lunch.
By the afternoon it had cleared up somewhat. It was now just very windy and much colder than before. Our little cul-de-sac and nearby side streets were still being ignored by the plows and salt truck. The kids don’t have a sled or any nearby hills to enjoy but they wanted to go outside.
So they pulled out our old inflatable boat and bombed up and down our empty street in it. They got the idea from me when I was talking about a bad snow storm from back when I was about 19-20 years old. I talked about my sister’s boyfriend at the time who had a 4×4 truck and he dragged me in a sled up the street doing about 60km/h.
Our kids did something similar, but not at the same speed. Much, much slower. Their fun only last about 30 minutes because of how cold it was. But their ingenuity and joy made me happy for them. I opted to remain warm.
How do you spend your snow days? Do you stay warm inside or get out and have fun?
Yesterday afternoon the power went out for about five hours. It was most likely due to the wind storm. Besides the wind, it was a nice enough day that allowed me to try out our back up generator for the first time.
In all honesty the generator we picked up is pretty heavy duty considering what we ended up running on it: A couple lamps and the Internet. Yup, we needed online access. Not the most practical use. I suppose I should look into connecting our well’s pump so we could have running water next time. Or maybe the stove top for cooking…
Anyhow, the generator works. Which is a good sign. It gave us a sense of normalcy for the few hours that our power was out.
The daylight is getting shorter. The leaves on the trees are starting to change colour. It’s foggy in the mornings. We must be on the cusp of autumn.
So I decorated our front stoop accordingly!
We had an old wooden chair in our barn that I set up out front. I had bought a couple of metal buckets from the dollar store last year and filled them with firewood. I gathered some leaves that had fallen and placed them around. Finally, our crone gargoyle sits patiently waiting for Halloween.
On the other side of the door I put an unfinished “living edge” table (also from our barn). I set up our collection of British Columbia Beer Growlers from our road trips over the past few years. I surrounded everything with some leaves, dried seeds and bark.
I’m happy with the results and have a few other decorative ideas to add to our home before Halloween takes over. I finally found my glue gun at 11pm last night, but won’t be starting a project until later in the day.
I finally bought us some classic style wooden chairs for our yard. The kind that suits our country living lifestyle. My wife always Adirondack chairs. However, I convinced her that we should by Muskoka chairs instead.
What’s the difference between the two styles you may ask. (If you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway.) Adirondack chairs are both 2 inches higher from the ground and 2 inches wider between the arm rests. Also, the Adirondack chair is built with a flat back for the seat. The Muskoka chair is built with curved back.
That’s it. The two styles are very similar in every other aspect. When we were purchasing the chairs we wanted natural wood, not plastic. Oh, and the Muskoka chair was cheaper by $20 And came with a foot rest.
I took the chairs home and needed to assemble them. Before I did that, I lay out every piece and gave a light cherry stain to seal the wood. I figure if they’re going to weather outside in our rain forest of a yard, it’d be best to try and get a few years out of them. After a couple of hours of preparing the wood and staining it, I had to leave the first chair over night to dry before assembling it.
This morning I woke up and put the first Muskoka chair and ottoman together. I’m really happy with how it looks. Just a hint of red on the wood from the stain. I’m also happy with the comfort level of the chair. The curve of the yoke feels more inviting than the flat back of an Adirondack chair. Chances are we’ll be spending hours relaxing in our yard on these chairs.
When we first moved into our home, I hated the ferns we had growing everywhere. In fact during the first year or so, my lawnmower found them attractive. I chopped them right down to the roots. You know what happened next? They grew back.
I gave in and accepted that ferns are pretty dang hearty plants. I’ve even dug them up and transplanted them and they’ve thrived happily. Over a decade later, I’m satisfied with the ease at which these plants are to maintain.
Ferns have this amazing ability to just keep living. What I do now is wait until mid spring and cut off the old or dead leaves. It’s easy to figure out because the new one stems have sprouted and are a vibrant healthy green color.
After a quick trim- these plants look good as new. If I forget to water them, no big deal- they could live through a drought of a few weeks. Ferns grow exponentially without being trimmed as well. For us, ferns add the splash of greenery to our garden that we get to enjoy during the beautiful weather.
I love animals. Always have. I think I could’ve been a veterinarian if it wasn’t for my allergies. Living in the countryside means more woodland creatures all around.
Yesterday when we returned from camping, there was a squirrel hanging out on our back deck. The fact that we were able to walk outside and it didn’t move, meant something was wrong.
After about thirty minutes of us eating lunch outside next to the little dude, we decided to catch it and take it into a place called Critter Care Wildlife. A local organization that specializes in mammal rehabilitation.
We put a box over the little critter and put a towel on top. We dropped it off and the staff was really happy to take it in. They gave us a case number so I followed up today to see how Mr. Squirrel is doing. He’s been integrated into a new group of squirrels and is bouncing back. The organization is unsure as to what was the original issue, but they will be keeping an eye on the little guy.
This afternoon another woodland creature entered our home. We had left the sliding glass door open and the bird flew right in. It bumped the window and perched itself on our cds. My oldest and I grabbed a towel and tossed it over top and I gently carried the bird outside to set it free.
Mr. Birdie took a moment after I uncovered its head before taking off. (Our son names every animal and stuffed animal MR.) We have had numerous animals visit us for brief moments. My favorite moment was when we rescued a hummingbird.
I think that when I retire, I might get into bird watching.
You know, like old people do- ’cause I’ll be old. And I’ll need a reason to look up from my smartphone once in a while.
After having the kids dig in our garden for the past few weeks in search of buried treasure, they found it. We just needed an extrusion afterwards to get it out.
This was not like the adventures that The Goonies had. My kids were digging to find our septic tank opening.
They did. In fact they found both lids. What to do next…
Today was the day to pump it out. This is the first time in 11 years since we moved in. And at nearly 20 years since it was last done. The tank is apparently twice to three times the size needed for our home.
That’s a lot of poop.
We needed a big truck.
Bright and early this morning it arrived. The fellow vacuuming out the waste was super awesome and we talked about shit. Apparently we should be pumping out every couple of years.
The smell was bad. Butt not as bad as I thought it would be. A bit less than steaming manure on a hot day. Not quite campsite outhouse.
Now that it’s empty, I’m happy that this is done. Onto the rest of my day.
My son caught a frog the other day. We named it Froggy Frog. It’s not the first time we’ve caught a frog in our yard. We’ve even caught a salamander and a couple of garter snakes (or garden snake if you prefer).
We tend to just look at them for a day or so, then set them free again. There’s no reason to keep them in captivity or kill them. The little ecosystem in our backyard is as if living in a Disney movie. I even described the sounds we hear daily in The Early Bird as well as the time I had to set a hummingbird free. I’ve even discussed my dislike of Rats a few times. But country living is accepting that all of these critters live here as well.
Mr. Froggy Frog has been set free already. Maybe his journey will be an incredible challenge with a set of crazy memories of us. Or maybe he’ll just go about his business eating bugs and staying cool.
That’s about it for my frog blog post. Time to hop along.
A few years back, I was addicted to Pinterest. So much so that I’d kill the battery on my iPhone regularly. Then one day it stopped. I think it was because I had saved all these wonderful ideas, but never did any.
It has been ages since I’ve logged into my Pinterest account. However, I do remember certain things I kept looking for. Mostly to do with our garden and doing it on the cheap.
We have an acre to work with. Lots of old growth as well as large trees. I have taken the time to move things around in the yard and have cut back some of the overgrown parts. It’s a labour of love.
Even animals love to hang out on our property. Our dog Lex is super lazy and never chases the squirrels away. We have numerous bird nests hidden in places like the wood shed and throughout trees. So we have a bird feeder that is always filled to keep them happy. And the squirrels love to run along our fence and up the trees.
Like a regular Disney Princess film- we just need more singing in the yard.
Pinterest was always something that kept me creating visions for our property. “Up Cycling” is still a hot trend. We have a collection of junk that is turning into Instagram hashtags. All with stuff we had already in our possession. This year’s spring cleaning and yard setup hasn’t cost me a penny. Thanks to some old ideas from Pinterest. I did toss a couple of our old toilets. I wasn’t really wanting the white trash planters in my yard. I’m glad I don’t go on Pinterest anymore.
But I still think about making stuff from old pallets I have…
I don’t know if I could ever give up this lifestyle. I’m not talking lavish luxuries- we are halfway between being well off and dirt poor on the best of days- I’m talking about location, location, location.
We live on the outskirts of a suburb in a little corner of the countryside, yet close enough to enjoy the local shops. Today was a prime example of everything country that makes life wonderful. Except country music. That’s not our thing.
The day began with me doing maintenance on the bikes that we own. Just a bit of tightening brakes, oiling chains and straightening handles bars. As I did this, an older lady in a diesel truck pulled up into our driveway where I was working. I traded with her a bunch of empty egg cartons and she gave me some farm fresh eggs that she had gotten in the morning from one of her hens. Nothing beats farm fresh eggs- perfect for a ham and egg breakfast.
I finished the work on the bicycles, packed up my tools, then began smoking a brisket for our dinner. Our oldest has been keeping an eye on the temperature to make sure is does a slow smoke. She has taken up wood burning as a hobby. While she stayed home to practice her new found art, we had her watch after our dinner. My wife and I took our two youngest on a bike ride up the road to the local berry farm. A few years back, the Krause Berry Farm did a major overhaul and added a bakery, a dessert shoppe and a winery. My wife and I enjoyed a couple of cold Wine-a-Ritas before cycling back home with the kids.
It was under fifteen minutes to ride home as a family. On our way, we passed some other families on bikes enjoying the afternoon, some horses grazing in a field, and a guy on a tractor heading down the road. With the exception of the horses, everyone waved and smiled. It’s very surreal to have such friendliness shared amongst strangers. But that’s the country lifestyle. A lifestyle I’m not ready to give up on. A lifestyle I never knew I wanted.
Living in the country means lots of wild critters hanging about. Some I don’t mind, others deserve to be eliminated.
Rats for instance. Hate them with a passion. Gross and destructive. At one point we had an onslaught of the vermin infesting our property when we first moved in. This was because up the road from us- about ten acres of green houses were torn down. All of the rats dispersed and the neighborhood had new unwanted tenants move in to each of our homes. Their move wasn’t magical like the rats from “The Secret Of Nimh”.
It was gross. I mean really, really gross. The rats became nonchalant in their entry into my home. I’d be watching tv and a rat would go across my kitchen floor and scurry up the cabinets. Or they’d run from our kitchen and hide under a couch. On more than one occasion I’d be staring eye to eye with one of them. The worst experience happened to me one morning. We had left a sink full of water and dishes to soak overnight. I reached in to drain the dirty water from the sink and instead of grabbing the drain plug, I had a bloated dead rat in my grip.
It took many traps and unfortunately some poison to finally rid our home of these pesky shits. We have the occasional rat still show up inside. But that doesn’t last long. I usually get them dead and gone within moments of them showing up. Once my oldest daughter watched through the glass window of our sauna as I killed a rat with a 2×6. I have no remorse for these critters. When we got our roof replaced three years ago, a rat had died in our attic from the heat of the blow torch. I found it because of the smell of death that filled that part of the house. Going into the attic to retrieve its corpse had me nearly throwing up in my mouth over and over.
Hot attic+dead rodent=sickly stench.
This winter we were lucky inside our home. I did however find some rat shit in our storage sheds and on the engine of my car. I just want them to stay out of my home and my life- is that too much to ask?