Sunday, December 31, 2017

Frosty, Frosty Windows

We've encountered a number of -30 days in a row here on the homestead, and it's overwhelming even the windows I've added a third layer to!

Donna snapped this in the pantry one morning:


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Water Line Frozen?!?!

Don't panic, it's not a TOTAL disaster.

The water in the bathroom has stopped running.

The tap's on full, but no dice!
Funny, when I washed my hands yesterday morning it did seem a bit slow, and I even wondered if the line COULD be freezing up, but dismissed the notion immediately as ludicrous, as it had never happened before and everything else in the cabin was working fine.

Whelp, then just after lunch, Donna reported that the water wasn't running in there anymore.  Sigh.

I have the tap open wide, and am trying to direct some of the heat from the cabin into the crawlspace.  Hard to imagine how long it may take for it to make a difference, but one can only try one's best...  At least the cabin is still warm, and water is running in the kitchen, so that's still light years beyond our water issues of the past...

Oh, before anyone gives me any extra good ideas - the water line for the bathroom is embedded directly in the floor - so I can't just crawl underneath and try to thaw the pipe directly.

After almost taking a header, I've since put two buckets right in front of this hole.  Can't imagine how long it will take to thaw out the crawlspace.

Awesome Youtube Minecraft Channel - A Shameless Promotion

Kenny for the past many months has been labouring to post a new Minecraft video nearly every day, and yesterday he posted his 100th video!  I'm very proud of his determination, and would like to share it with anyone who is willing to give it a quick look at, maybe thumbs up, or maybe subscription if you or someone you know is into that sort of thing.  They are very calming (generally) and suitable for ALL ages.

Check out his channel here:

Be sure to let him know that aikihomestead sent you!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Tree Lit Up!

Here's a few pictures of our Christmas tree at night with the lights turned on...

No Flash

More light from adjacent area and slow shutter speed

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Replacing a Switch with a Switch and Receptacle Combination

Shortly after starting to use the kitchen full time, it became apparent that two outlets weren't always sufficient - especially when they were both located on one side of the counter, and we try to keep an air purifier plugged in at all times to make me feel better about dust and my lungs.

The next time I had the washing machine pulled out, I added a short, three foot, bright orange extension cord to the outlet behind the machine and then draped the end of it up over the switchbox we use for the kitchen lights.

This worked, and worked well, but the aesthetics of it were less than desireable.  For the longest time I thought that perhaps I would change out the electrical box for a double gang box, and then put in a switch and receptacle.

Then it dawned on me that there were often combo switches, and a quick internet search revealed that they were indeed at Home Depot.  I was heading there ANYWAY to get some U channel for supporting my acrylic storm panes, so I added a combo switch to my list.

The next day, I tried to accomplish a few things to get out of my recent mental funk, and installing the switch seemed to be a good thing to fit the bill.

It was very uneventful. I shut off the power, pulled the old switch, scratched my head at the wiring inside to try to understand what I had done previously, realized that it wasn't as challenging as it looked, and so hooked up the switch easily, and even better yet - it fit without having to REALLY cram the wire nuts and wiring and device itself into place.

You can still see the old extension cord present in this photo.
I put it back in place and waited for the fireworks that never came.  Donna mentioned that the switch felt funny.  I also am noticing that it will take a week or two before we are used to a side to side rocker in that location.

The outlet is handy, although it is too close to the switch for me to easily plug in our AA/AAA battery charger, which will have to continue to get plugged in behind the television or under the counter.  But I'm sure that the slow cooker and the panini press will be perfect for the new outlet - oh and the HEPA vacuum I use for cleaning out the stove!

Funny how little five minute projects like this often have huge benefits to life.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Adding a Calendar to the Aikihomestead Blog

Not long ago while discussing with Donna about how it would be nice to record important events around the homestead either online or offline, it came to me that perhaps I could somehow do it using a Google Calendar and make it available to anyone who views the blog, if they were interested.

I have investigated it slightly, and think I have ciphered out a solution, but the proof will be in a combination of seeing if I keep up entries on it, as well as if both myself and you the reader utilize it.

At first I tried to have it as a sidebar gadget, but the only sensible arrangement there would have been an agenda view, and Google automagically removed entries older than the current date, so that made it very useless.

Currently I have compressed it vertically a fair bit and have just a week view at the top of the blog.  Hopefully it's unobtrusive, while still giving a bit of recent information.

If you get a chance, let me know if you have any interest in the data there.  I'll try to add more and more as I think of it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Harvesting Our Christmas Tree

Yesterday Kenny and decided to try to walk up for the mail.  It was sixteen below, so I insisted he wear his snow pants and a scarf.

About halfway there he declared that he would be unable to continue because he was way too hot!  I suggested that perhaps to make up for our reduced exercise time, we could fetch our Christmas tree instead - and he agreed!

We returned home, and while he removed his snow pants, I got out a tow rope and my pull saw.

My assistant is ready to go!
Once he was back outside, we strapped on our snowshoes and headed into the bush.

The forest was beautiful and peaceful.
We worked our way back to the spot where Mama had picked out the tree, and found that they looked remarkably different when covered in snow!

Now which one of these did Mama say looked best?!
I managed to cut it down and drag it to the trail, where I realized that it was probably a few feet too high, so I cut off a bit more from the base of the trunk, hooked it to the rope, and started dragging it home.

All yoked up.  You can sense the sincerity in my smile.
This was a good workout!  Let me assure you!  My glasses were completely fogged by the time I got it back home.  I removed a few more limbs from the base, and then ordered Kenny inside to handle the door.

It went through the door better than I expected, and immediately began to drip water everywhere.  I didn't have the tree stand ready, so Kenny steadied the tree while I assembled the bolts and tried to tighten them rapidly.

Are you SURE you have it?

We got it all set up, and then it tipped over.  I righted it, and then added a string from one rafter to another, wrapped around the crown, to ensure that it remained upright.

Well, it's a step up from a Charlie Brown tree!
Today we may try to start decorating!  Exciting times!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Burning the Brush Piles

In keeping with Grandpa's tradition, we store up the brush we cut around the cabin for a year or so to let it dry out, and then after the snow is in the forest but before it gets too deep, we burn the piles, sending those nutrients back to the soil and eliminating the untidy pile without having to drag it somewhere to rot out slowly.

We also wanted to give Grandpa the chance to supervise the activity.  Both as an excuse to invite them out for a nice meal (Donna made a roast with gravy, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic bread.  It was fantastic!), and because I didn't feel completely comfortable setting such a large fire myself, in spite of knowing that it couldn't get out of hand with all the snow around.

Mummu and Grandpa arrived shortly after nine and Grandpa set to work immediately.  The food was actually ready to eat shortly after ten due to an early prep, so it was set to keep warm until after lunch, when Grandpa took a sauna, and then we broke bread together.

Proud of his fire lighting ability.
This punky old skid went up much faster than I expected!  Skids burn no matter how wet they seem to get!

Yup, we actually had three piles going at once here.  There is another green one further back, and a huge, long one in the ravine to burn next fall.  All the brush clearing I've been doing has really created a glut of brush!

Things are almost burned out after only a couple hours.  It got warm enough that Grandpa took off his jacket most of the time, and the trees overhead rained down all the snow still in them.

That evening it actually rained!  So for the first time that I can recall, the piles weren't even smoldering the following morning.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Quick Tip: How To Remove Your Ash Pan Without Making (As Much Of) A Mess

Here's another quick tip!

In the past while removing our ash pan to empty it outside, we had a real struggle with ash flying up inside the cabin, especially while removing it, and then again while opening the front door, and then again if there was ANY breeze at all outside.

Lately, I've been taking our cleaning caddy and using the spritzer from it to spray a fine mist on top of the ashes as I slide the pan out of the stove.  Not nearly enough to soak the whole pile, but it forms a very thin layer of misted ash on top and I cannot see any fine dust arising anymore until I finally dump the whole pan outside.

Generally the stove is still warm enough that the light misting down below is inconsequential, and I likely wouldn't be phased much by a little rust on the ash pan if that ever were an issue, but again, the pan is usually warm enough that it dries immediately anyway.

It's made a real improvement to our perception of how much dust the stove is producing - and makes emptying the ashes less of a dreadful chore, and now just a chore.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Followup To Boxing In The Stovepipe

After completing the boxing in of the stovepipe in the attic, I decided to wait until we had a nice hot fire to go up and check how things were working out up there.

A few nights ago Donna had it chugging merrily away and then remarked how according to our stovetop thermometer, we were well into the "overburn" zone, and had been for some time.

Always one to turn things to an advantage, I closed the vents a bit, grabbed our non-contact thermometer and headed up to the attic.

I was pleased as punch to find that while the attic space itself was still rather cool, the boxed in area of the stovepipe was slightly below our room temperature downstairs!  That makes me feel that it's probably not in the remotest amount of danger under anything approaching normal circumstances.

I'm putting this one just over the line into "successful idea" territory.

Establishing a base temperature of the attic outside the box.

Inside the box, with a merry fire chugging away - a comfortable but not nearly worrisome temperature.

A picture of how things look.  Nothing of concern that I can see.

And another reading of the stone wool insulation down in the base.

Another reference just outside the boxed in area, but still up high.

And at the opposite end of the attic.  Remarkably consistent!