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!
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
Someone I know asked if I could build them a firewood shelter using a big stack of old wood that was piled up beside their workshop. This was wood left behind by a previous owner, most of it milled on site from cedar and douglas fir trees. Old Douglas fir trees.
The other request was to make it visually similar to another one they already had to avoid having the “shiny new” upstaging the “weathered old”.
I am not quite finished but I have managed to find enough wood to build everything except the rafters. I had to buy new 2×6’s for those. I even found a few lengths of fir 6×6 so I could mirror the beam in the old shelter. Did I mention how heavy 6×6 douglas fir beams are? No? Ok, how does 220 pounds sound. And no helpers 😦
I also got to try my hand at a scarf joint. Now before you start I know it should by at least eight times longer than the width of the wood, and preferably 12 times. Problem is I didn’t have enough 6×6 to sacrifice eight feet for scarf joints. Most of the beam parts were supported by two posts, and only a small piece in the centre would be suspended. Since this small piece is only 5ish feet long and will at most have to carry two rafters I decided to go with a very small scarf with dowel pins. I made sure the angle of the joint would aid in supporting the piece.
Sure makes a guy wish for a 10″ saw and some better chisels. One last note: did I mention how hard old douglas fir can get? No? Check this out ->
Cass and Dave and the kids were in town for a few days this week. We had a wonderful visit including a run up to Coombs and a couple of beach days.
Coombs has changed a LOT since I was there last. Granted it has been about 14 years since my last stop there but I have to say I’m not a fan. The old market was a folksy place with local artisans selling their wares. Despite keeping the goats it now it looks like a flea market. New buildings of glass and stucco with zero aesthetic value full of products which are just more made in SE Asia wares. It actually reminded Kelly and I both of the last time we were in Los Algodones, everyone selling stuff out of containers from Malaysia and Indonesia. I suspect it was either sold or has had some capital injection from overseas investors. I doubt I will go back.
We also ran up to Cathedral Grove the same day. I’ve been there several time in the last few years. A nice place to spend a couple hours and if you have never been there it is a must stop. You have to see what a 1000 year old cedar can look like.
This was the first time we walked though the newer trails on the north side of the highway. It is actually the better side. Far less storm damage from the big wind of 1997, has some fantastic root features and some very cool hollows.
Back on our little island we finished up with a nice beach day and a visit to the alpaca farm. I hope the kids had a great time, they looked like they did!