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July 31, 2008

Things that go "bump" in the night.

Just a quick post today so I don't fall out of practice.

I just had to share a photo of the beetle that my husband found wandering in our crawlspace the other night (I don't even want to think about how it got in there). He felt something brush his hand and was quite surprised to see this thing looking back at him when he pointed the flashlight at it. Once he regained consciousness, he called me to come take a look (oh joy), and after we managed to calm ourselves down, we caught it in a jar and put it in our insect cage (count on homeschoolers to have such a thing) for safekeeping until morning so the kids could enjoy its beauty before we let him go.

I was quite concerned that we were infested with some rare species of tropical cockroach, but it turns out that this guy is a Pine Sawyer beetle, which is native to BC. I have to say, I've spent a lot of time in the BC wilderness, and I've never laid eyes on this particular insect before (thank goodness for small miracles), but than again, neither had my father-in-law, who's a retired forester.

I guess we were lucky to catch a glimpse of such a rare creature, but for now, I'll be steering clear of the crawlspace.



July 22, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

First off, thank you for all of your kind words of support and encouragement! I loved hearing about others who have lived or are currently living a similar kind of live/work arrangement.

So, as promised, here are a few photos to show you what we've been up to (none of them are very new, but I thought I'd start at the beginning).

I mentioned in previous posts that one of the things we love about this place is the abundance of wildlife. Vancouver is pretty "wild" as far as cities go, but never have I had so many of them coming into the house! We arrived to find this little guy stuck in our house one day while the drywalling was still happening.

We think he must have been trapped inside for days, desperately trying to get out to the seasonal creek that flows just outside the kitchen window, completely ignoring the fact that there were several open spaces where windows and doors had yet to be installed. By the time we arrived, he was pretty out of it and just sat quietly in my hand for several minutes before flying down to the creek to have a good long drink and a bite to eat.

Last week we had a hummingbird fly in through the french doors, and my daughter and I spent a good 20 minutes trying to get the poor thing out (those things are fast!). We finally managed to free it only after it had completely worn itself out and we were able to catch it in a large glass and transport it outside.

My daughter got this adorable duckling photo one day when its mother brought her and her siblings through our yard. They all scattered when the neighbor's dog discovered they were here, and their frantic mother nearly took my son's head off trying to defend them before he knew what was going on! It wasn't long before she had them all rounded up and back on their way.

Here's my poor husband trying to dig a hole for the cherry tree in our very rocky soil. A shovel just doesn't cut it (you get it in about 1/2 an inch before you hit rock and are stuck), so we've been using a pick-axe to dig all of our garden beds. On the right you see Princess and her buddy Taiga wrestling, which quickly inspired a "No Dogs in the Garden" rule.

Above are the tomato beds, looking very space-agey with my favorite supports, Lee Valley's tomato spirals (which, sadly, they're no longer selling). In the distance there are peppers and eggplants. As you can see, we have a never-ending supply of rocks.
The deer fence that we installed (which runs right behind the white fence) is nearly invisible, and so far (touch wood) seems to be working.
This was taken the day that we successfully got water to travel the 160 feet from our well to the house. Now if only we could drink it!

Here's my very brave husband teetering on a ladder on our not-so-scary lower roof while installing our chimney pipe up through the very steep (and scary) upper roof.

My son's room was the first one in the house to be painted - I was a little worried about the colour, but it's actually a very cheery blue, and it goes nicely with his fish light fixture.

This is what the kitchen looked like the day we moved in. Thankfully, Chuck quickly wired the stove plug so we could have a warm meal.

It wasn't fancy, but we were happy to finally be moved in!

And lastly, a peek at my high tech dish washing setup (note the rust stains in my nice enamelled cast iron pot from cooking with the well water). Thankfully, I am doing dishes inside the house these days.
More to come...

July 17, 2008

Rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated...

I thought that, on the off chance anyone's even bothering to check in here anymore, I'd better get with it and post some kind of update so you don't all think I've fallen off the face of the earth!

The big news is, we're officially living here!! We moved in on Canada Day (July 1, for you non-Canucks), and I think that's as good an anniversary as one could ask for. We arrived to one functioning toilet and drywall, and not much else. We spent the first day or so setting up beds and trying to get a sink plumbed, but I still ended up washing dishes in a washtub outside for at least the first week (but like my mom said, I wanted a homestead, so I should have to live like a true homesteader for at least a little while!). Now we've got kitchen and bathroom sinks, a bathtub, a dishwasher (hallelujah!), and most of our kitchen cabinets installed (complete with lovely plywood countertops). The main rooms have their outlets and light fixtures wired and turned on, but we're still using flashlights in a few rooms (our bathroom and bedroom) at night, because the rooms haven't been painted yet and it's much easier to paint when there's nothing on the walls!

Our well water is as hard as (rusty) nails, and while we were hoping it would clear up with use (which it has - it's gone from brick red to slightly greenish), it seems that we're definitely going to need a softener or something (still waiting to get the results of the water test). Our brand new toilet seems to have a permanent rust ring, and my hair is like straw from bathing in it. The good news is, my newly vegetarian children should have no problem keeping their iron levels up!

For now my days are filled with wiring outlets, painting, building kitchen cabinets, playing baseball with the kids, and unpacking. Our plywood floors take the pressure off as far as cleaning is concerned, and we can't use the washing machine until the water is resolved (although we all look good in orange), so I don't have to worry about household chores too much yet.

The garden is doing okay, but I don't think the soil's as great as it could be (that will be next year's project). We've had broccoli and a few strawberries, and I've noticed a few little tomatoes out there, but we had such a cold spring that the heat loving plants are a bit stunted.

All in all, things are going very well. I have yet to find my camera charger, so I don't have anything visual for you. We're still on dial-up for the time being anyway (I don't mind roughing it, but come on...), so it's probably best if I don't try uploading a bunch of photos. ;D

What's everyone else up to this summer?

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