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.

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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.

Salvage Lumber

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 ->

Count’em up.  One carbide tooth left and it’s burnt.  I actually broke two driver bits as well.

Three Trees

This is actually only two trees.  A single maple with two trunks off a common root have almost completely encased the bottom twenty feet of a cedar.  Very cool.

Canning Starts

Even though the garden is quite a ways from being ready for salsa the island is continuing to be harvestable.  We picked up a couple cases of peaches on Friday and on Saturday while Kelly was preparing these for jam I went out to one of the many wild blackberry patches we have here.  After a few minutes I acquired a couple pails of berries and left behind the prerequisite amount of blood.  Blackberries bramble extract a fee!!

Jams done we still have a lot of peaches left.  As a trial I made my first ever cobbler.  First time I made it, first time I ate it.  YUM!  Definitely a winner.  We will be packaging up prepared peaches for the freezer so we can have cobbler through the winter.  Delicious.  

There, that’s better

I’m not sure why the happened. Cedar siding on an old building. The building is actually pretty sound. Solidly built, no water damage and very little rot. I only had to replace the stairs and the deck rail top caps that had a bit of dry rot.

The only other time I’ve seen cedar siding buckle out like this was because of ivy growing under the siding. This almost looks like a tree branch was growing in it. After I took down the warped ones I noticed that they nested together very suspiciously. What’s that chance they actually put up warped boards?

Visitors

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!

Forestry Day 2

Although we didn’t expect to cut down any more trees until September the boys had some sudden spare time and stopped by today.  We had them remove a few additional trees to allow more light into the garden.

Turns out that we were lucky we did.  Take a look at how rotten this one was.

I was originally going to drop these trees myself.  I’m glad I choose not to, that trunk would have made for a sketchy hinge.  Besides, just look at the precision these guys have.

That’s six trees dropped parallel to each other.  Nice work!

Hot

It has been smokin’ hot the last two days…finally.  The locals have been calling this month Junuary as it has been much cooler than normal.

Yesterday working in the yard I was amazed to see how dry it is already, even after cloudy and drizzly days all last week.  The forest floor is VERY crunchy.  I expect the fire chief will be putting us into morning shift any day now, where no power equipment can be used after 12PM.   I still have two fallen trees to buck up for firewood, so I better get to them in the next day or two or they will sit there until October.

The weather is not the only hot thing.  The ongoing gong show we call the USA has been getting hotter too.  Watching MSNBC the other day Kelly and I both had the exact same thought.  Do you?

Forestry day

We’ve been looking suspiciously at a tree beside the driveway for a couple years now, wondering about the wisdom of leaving it there. It is weeping sap all the way up the trunk and has a worrisome lean toward the house.

We decided to remove it and at the same times take down six others to made more room for a couple of fruit trees we are planting. The fallers came today and made fairly quick work of the task.