Sunday, September 23, 2018

...And First Snowfall of the Season!

Yesterday we attended the NOHE to help us have a better background in the ins and outs of being a small landlord.  Afterwards we dropped by on one of our tenants to put up some blinds for them and have a bbq (as well as to enjoy their shower!)

They mentioned once or twice that there was supposedly a chance of snow overnight.  I saw the same thing on the local news broadcast just before pastry time as well, but it was really hard to imagine it.

At two a.m. this morning I woke up to a tingly bladder, and noted that the scene outside the patio doors was unusually bright - likely due to the nearly full moon (no, not mine - the real one - I do wear at least underpants at night!)

As you can imagine, without my glasses, I couldn't see accurately, but upon sober second look, things weren't the same...  shape...  outside.  I put on my spectacles to be treated to, well, a spectacle!  Everything was covered in a thick layer of snow.

I lay down, not sure if the proper reaction was excitement or dread - my body didn't really care, it feels both of those emotions the same way.  I decided that it wasn't anything I couldn't handle.  I still would like to have more wood put up for NEXT winter, but at least this winter should be covered for the most part.

An Aiki tradition - the annual marking of the first snow in Donna's windscreen.

I didn't realize how much we seem to have a used car lot here!
Now I have to go through my mental checklist of things to ensure I'm prepared for.  Bring in things that shouldn't be left out for the season...  Find the ladder and set it up to sweep off the solar panels.  Find the broom for the solar panels.  Dig out the oldest pile of humanure to make sure there is lots of room for this season's contributions.  Maybe take a trip or two down the bush trail and bring in some logs that have fallen across the trail.

At least the pond didn't freeze - today.  I think it was frozen yesterday though.
It's likely best for me to make this list elsewhere, as it is sure to grow throughout the day.

A close up.  Is that a patio chair there?!  Another thing to put away!
Where are my winter boots?
Sauna looks very wintery!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

First Fire of the '18-'19 Season!

Whelp, I was hoping it would never come, but here it is.

This morning it was 17.7 in the cabin, and I can see that at this moment it is 0.0 outside.

In an effort to promote and maintain familial happiness, I finally put a match to paper and wood and lit the first fire of our season.  It has currently warmed the cabin to over 18, but it's not roaring for some reason.  I put in some large chunks of well seasoned birch, so at least it should go for awhile.

Not bad for a 5am picture!  Note the electric heater which supplements in late afternoon when the sun is still strong and the batteries are almost floating.
The main woodshed is full, which is nice.  The sauna woodshed is three quarter's full, which is honestly, more full than it's been at the start of any given season, so there's that.

Slightly worryingly is that the wood pile for the '19-'20 season has only just begun - hopefully in the remainder of the month and up to Christmas, I can take advantage of the Brrr Months to get some wood put up for next year.

At least I can warm up large quantities of water now without using butane or watching the power levels 😀!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Brief Update on Aiki Finances

One of our guiding principles when we first took on this particular endeavour was to try to trim down our lifestyle such that it allowed us to spend more time together.  For a family of introverts, we sincerely enjoy one another's company!

The first three years we were able to bask in the ability to spend the entire time together most days.  It didn't mean we were attached to one another, but moreso that if one of us needed to work on a large project, the other was free to keep an eye on Kenny.

While Kenny has grown and doesn't need constant (or really any) supervision, we still want to be sure that he is involved in the goings on in our household and connected to us.

Unfortunately, fiscal realities set in and my part time income(s) certainly weren't enough to keep us afloat.

Donna's skill set is much more employable and as such, she has gone back to work.  First at three days a week, then moving up to four, and for nearly a year now at five.  This is definitely the opposite direction from where we intended that particular needle to move.

Rather than get bogged down in how annoying this has been, I'm going to write only about the positive spin it has put on our finances for now.  If it weren't for that, I don't believe it is something we would want to continue for any longer than required.

It has allowed us to pay off the roof of the cabin when we realized that was a project that couldn't be tackled by one person.

It allowed us to purchase a more reliable vehicle to make the pilgrimage back to southern Ontario to visit family once (or twice?) a year.

It reduced a fair amount of stress from watching the bank balance that once seemed so high in the black, to keep tracking into the red.

We like the bank balance needle moving higher again, but we also are mindful that Kenny is at a great age to start having more adventures together.  Whether here on the homestead, or perhaps showing him a bit more of the world.  We also now believe that providing him with some of his own tangible assets may be a good plan for his future; something that seems increasingly hard to prepare for or predict using traditional means.

Almost two years ago we suffered from reduced access to one of our greatest resources out here on the homestead - one that I've often admitted was the difference between total failure and the successes we've had.

Mummu and Grandpa decided to move from the property adjacent to us back to the city.  It's nice that they are still more than close enough to visit often, but it's nowhere near what it was like when we could walk back and forth between us.

One of their choices in moving to the city was that they no longer wanted to be home owners.  They were happy to rent and have fewer worries about how to maintain a household.  Not to mention no longer having to cut wood and blow out a huge driveway.

An idea floated while they began their search for an appropriate place to move to - for Donna and I to purchase a tidy little home of their choosing, and then turn around and rent it to them for enough to cover the expenses.  This would give everyone the best of the situation.  We still had a mid-sized HELOC [home equity line of credit] on our house in Kitchener, and the local RBC was willing to provide a mortgage for the remainder based on Donna's income and our credit rating.

Together we found a cozy bungalow that seemed to check off all the required boxes.

This situation worked so well for the first year that it began to show us a way to perhaps get Donna home sooner.

With that in mind, we tapped even more of the equity in our Kitchener home to purchase a triplex in Thunder Bay, and placed three very lovely tenants there.  It required more renovations than we expected (isn't that always the case?), but we believe we have done most of the heavy lifting so that it shouldn't require many more inputs going forward.

Mummu and Grandpa have been at their place a bit over a year now, and recently we began looking for something else for them as there were a few things that they would prefer to have differently.  Luckily we found another home in the city that they like even more, and it sports a small suite in the basement which should help to off-set the increased price.

So here we are, about to close on that house, and lining up renters for the house they are now leaving, as well as this new basement suite.

Truth be told, this year we probably will make very little or even nothing from all of these "doors" - as renovations took a bit of a toll on the balance.  We also had windstorms in southern Ontario that damaged the roof in Kitchener, which needed to be repaired to the tune of many thousands of dollars.

We're optimistic that with these large capital expenses finished, rental properties may provide a less time-intensive stream of income for the family budget and may soon free up Donna significantly.

I'll try to add in a bit more writing about how we are managing our time and money going forward, as I think that's an important part of the picture.  Things like financial independence and early retirement have played a large part of our thoughts of late, and so it's only fair to include them on the blog.

Bonus picture of "hawky" - a hawk that has been hanging around the cabin quite a bit the past week, and appears nearly tame!