That can’t be good

We were planning a day out last week and while I waited for my wife to get ready I decided to sweep off the deck. The fir bud covers have been raining down from the trees for a few days now and the deck is absolutely covered in them.

It was probably a good thing I did, because I noticed some sawdust. Now I know I haven’t been doing any work, so who was?

That can’t be good…

Dang. Sure enough several small round holes in a deck post. I guess it is now my turn to do some carpentry.

Tearing off all the cedar cladding I find what I am now expecting. Something has decided to use my house as their’s. Not sure what it was, as there were no visible critters still there. Ants or beetles most likely.

Unfortunately they did manage to chew up about 20% of the base of the post. I figured the best solution was to replace the entire thing.

It’s complete now. Used pressure treated 2×6’s instead of the spruce that was there. Also added some water proofing membrane to the beam and the first foot of the post, then 18” of tin flashing, then building papered the rest of the post, Overkill probably but it shouldn’t get wet.

I suppose this it the trade off to living here. It has nicer winters than the prairies but back there no one ever tried to eat my house!

Another day in paradise

Physical distancing remains the order of the day. We’ve been spending a little time in the yard. Planted the parts of the garden I could. Seeds only, too soon for tomatoes plants. Cleaned the gutters. Washed the truck. Cleaned up the shed a bit.

The priority project at home was a ramp for the dog. She is 15 years old this week and is starting to have a lot of problems with stairs. Some days she has a hard time just standing up. The next day she’s good for a two mile walk. Regardless, it’s getting worse and she fell down the stairs the other day and was on the limp, so something needed to be done.

A little longer than originally planned. I had to pull off a set of steps to build this. The local courier delivery guy uses these steps a lot since they are closer to the road. I figured I had better build them assuming a person would use them, not just the dog. So…wider and shallower.

Next up, irrigation.

Put one on the honey done list

There is a common thread to many people’s reaction to self isolation during the pandemic. They have the greatest intention to accomplish all the things they have been putting off for so long. I am no exception. Well, as far as the intent goes anyway.

I have had a moderately productive week. Planted the garden. Pulled four truck loads of fallen trees and branches out of the forest to start a chipping pile. Wait, did I just transmogrify a task? Cleaning up from wind storms into future mulch making?

I also FINALLY managed to get back into the shop and resume the shelving project. In fact, I finished it!

Doesn’t really look like a lot of work does it? Poor things sat in that cold shop most of the winter because I didn’t want to leave the heat on overnight. Electric heat here is flipping expensive, and the doors to the shop are pretty poorly sealed. Two coats of stain and five coats of lacquer takes a long time when you only do it when the weather is warm enough overnight.

Pretty happy with the result. I have three extra shelves I can add to the stack or use in another location. Need to buy more stainless round bar first. I knew I should have bought that extra piece.

Busy Summer

For the first time since we moved here we did not have a long scorching hot dry summer. There have only been a few days above 25ºC and we actually had rain every couple of weeks. Last summer was many days above 30ºC and 12 weeks no rain.

In addition to giving the forest a stress break it also means that we have not been shut down by the fire department all summer as we have been in previous years. We had a short shutdown for about 3 days back in early July. That’s it.

The downside is that work continued all summer. No imposed vacation. No shortage of work either, as I have had all the hours I want and then some. Too many actually. We never got much of a chance to hit the beach, or paddle, of camp, or tour. I also never got much of a chance to use the workshop I am renting. Good thing rent is cheap.

I have been making a bigger effort to get to the shop more frequently over the past couple weeks. I have dragged in a few more tools, set up some shelving, and did a few small projects. Made some metal plant supports for Kelly, re-sawed some wood for a client’s facia, and finally made some progress repairing the landlady’s kayaks.

Today I started a new workbench. I am going to make it a hybrid of a Paul Sellers bench and the Moravian knockdown portable bench. This morning while waiting for the dog to be finished at the groomer I completed planing and gluing up the components for the top.

Next stop…lots of hand planing. Then I can start of legs which is lots of mortice and tenon cutting. Should be fun!

Hard Times

Another chance to try something new this week. I worked on a dry stack sandstone wall which surrounds a pond. The homeowner was a bit particular about the look so we did a lot of rock splitting to get a tighter looking wall.

Splitting rock this way involves drilling a series of holes along the line you want to split the rock in, then tapping pins into the holes. The feathers are metal shims places on either side of the pin. As the pin is driven down between the two feathers the rock eventually fails, hopefully along the line of the holes.

It reminds me of old stereotypes of convicts breaking rocks…

Honey do

With the nicer weather we are finally getting a little work done in the yard. Not that we can’t work in the rain. I just don’t want to.

First was to deal with the goofy soil available here. If you grew up in farming country it is not what you would call dirt. Very light weight with lots of compost in it. Maybe I should call it compostable material, because it has a way to go before I would compare it to the product coming out of my composter. The result is that the soil tends to disappear. Our garden beds probably sunk 8″ over that past two years. So, a couple yards of dirt to top up the beds so we can plant.

I also finally planted the apple trees we purchased a few weeks ago. These will fill up the orchard space and will likely be the last fruit trees we plant. Apples, crab apples, pears, peaches, cherries, sour cherries, haskaps, Saskatoon berry, and hazelnuts. Good list. Hopefully I get some produce this year instead of losing it to the raccoons.

Next up was to finish burying the bricks I bought to line the driveway by the lawn. I laid the first one 18 months ago. That’s embarrassing.

Of course you cannot only remove items from the list, you must also add new items. In this case we added a big one. Last month we scored several 8’x3′ double glazed glass panels and an assortment of single pane safety glass pieces for a ridiculously cheap price. They are currently stored behind the shed waiting to become a greenhouse. I hope to get onto this job in the summer. Seems like a good job to do during the summer shutdown when the fire department says no more using machinery.

Out and About

The local chat group has been talking about the sea lions hanging out at one of the local points for the past few days. There are always sea lions around but not usually at this location. As a bonus this spot is a lot more accessible than some of the usual viewing places.

We also did a quick trip to town to get supplies for planting our starter seeds for the garden. Funny I never noticed the Dr Seuss tree beside the parking lot before

Oh, the joys

Last night the septic alarm went off.  

<Doom music> Dum dum dummmm </Doom music>

All I could remember was during the buying process the inspector saying you never want to hear that.  All I could do at the time was shut off the alarm.

This morning with the help of a service tech on the phone I managed to find out the trouble.  Blocked effluent filter between the tank and the field.  Turned out to be a fairly simple fix, just had to remove the filter and hose it out.  

Mmm, nothing like working with sewage.  Oh the joys of country living.

It’s in the air

The last few days have been magnificent fall days.  Yes, I said it.  Fall.  Certainly not Hallowe’en fall but you can sense it.  The air has a different feel.  The leaves are just starting to think about turning. The garden is getting closer to done.

Speaking of the garden, the Early Girl tomatoes are ripening and I have been picking a handful every day.  They are amazing, the meatiest tomatoes I have ever grown.

The Manitoba tomatoes are slower, with just a hint of colour change on a few that catch the most sun.  The plants are HUGE!  So heavy that the wire cages have been bent right over.  

I was speaking to my neighbour the other day and their tomatoes have been done and picked for weeks already.  They grow against the south facing wall of their house, while we grow in beds in a small clearing in the woods.  The extra sun makes a big difference.  Our yard is much cooler and planting wise a few weeks slower than those with full sun.  The trade off is my house is cool even after a week of 34°C summer days without air conditioning. 

Peppers finally appeared but it is apparent that they will still be a bust this year.  Very few bells and no jalapeños.  Very odd since last year I grew the best I ever have in the same dirt.