Saturday, April 22, 2017

Talk to Me Goose

After a long quiet winter, it's nice to have birds returning to Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake.

The first to arrive on the scene were the Canada Geese. A flight of five came honking their way into Hole in the Wall early in April.


Since then, the group has split up. Three have been congregating at the back of the Hole, and two have taken up residency in John's back bay across from us.


We can hear them honking back and forth early in the morning. Usually they stay out in the lake, but recently a pair has been coming up to stand on our log booms and swim in our inner pool area.


I've been keeping a eye on them because I don't want troubles out at my floating garden. In the past, geese have climbed aboard to partake of my tender crops. But so far, so good.


I had to play a little joke on the male goose. Top Gun is one of our favourite movies (after all, we're pilots). One memorable line was, "Talk to me Goose." Goose was the call sign of pilot Maverick's EWO (electronics warfare officer).


We enjoy watching all of the birds and animals that visit our float cabin home. What critters have returned to your area already?

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Off-the-Grid Living

O is for Off-the-Grid Living

Wayne and I have chosen to live where we are surrounded by nature.

We've always been outdoors kind of people. We met each other on a flying camping trip to Canada and have gone on many adventures since.

In 2000, we stopped at the Powell River airport for fuel and an overnight stay. We fell in love with the area, so we returned the following summer and discovered floating cabin. We knew immediately it was where we wanted to live.


One of the main draws was the opportunity to live a simple, off-the-grid lifestyle. Off-the-grid is typically defined as living away from public utilities, especially electricity.

Our float cabin isn't connected to electric, water or sewer grids, so we had to find other ways to handle our utilities.

The cabin came with propane as a power source for lights, refrigeration and cooking, and a woodstove for heat.

The cabin floats on the surface of a freshwater lake so our water source was located four feet below our floor.

A hand pump at the kitchen sink brings water into the cabin with just a few pumps of the handle.

Because we wanted to have some electricity for cell phones, computers, lights and a few small appliances (think shaver, spice grinder, radio), we installed a solar panel and two batteries. Over time, that has grown to three panels and two sets of 8 batteries.

To augment our solar power we added a wind generator, but we only create power during stormy weather.

During winter we periodically recharge our batteries with a 1000 watt fuel efficient generator that's fairly quiet.

When we purchased our cabin we started with an outhouse that was three flights of stairs up the cliff.

When started living here full time we upgraded to a compost toilet and added a bathroom onto the cabin.

Off the grid living isn't for everyone, but for us it's the perfect choice.

Want to know more about float cabin living? Wayne's written a book: Off the Grid the Grid: British Columbia Stories. It includes stories about how we do off-the-grid living on Powell Lake in Coastal BC. It's available in print and e-book formats at Amazon.com and other online booksellers.


Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the twentieth and final "farewell" round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and with help from Roger and Leslie. It's a tradition I will miss. -- Margy

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter from Powell River Books

from
Wayne and Margy

and
Powell River Books

Wayne and I send each of you best wishes for a very happy Easter. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dividing Rhubarb Plants

I've grown rhubarb in a medium sized container since 2010.


It started from bare-root stock and has provided me with enough stalks each year to make several pies and crisps.

I knew my plant was becoming pot bound due to visible splits in the plastic container, and the reduced production in larger stalks.

I researched online and watched YouTube videos about how to divide and replant rhubarb.

The root mass removed from the pot.
I waited for fall when the plant became dormant.

It was so pot bound it took me a long time and lots of digging to loosen it from the container.

You can see what a tight mass the roots had formed.

Using a serrated knife to cut the roots.
There was no evident division point in the plant, so I decided to cut it right down the middle.

Large roots sliced through.
The slice exposed very large roots cut right through the middle.

I worried that the "wounded" roots might die or become diseased, but that didn't happen.

I used a larger pot and placed both sections in with plenty of spreading room in between.
The two halves get a larger pot.
I made sure the plant crowns were even with the top level of the soil.

I used fresh potting mix to fill in the empty spaces between and around the the roots.

To protect my plants from the coming winter's freezing temperatures, I covered the top of the pot with crumpled newspaper, cardboard and an inch of soil.

Removing the winter covering.
Here's a post of a similar process I used with my dahlia tubers.

When spring arrived, I removed the covering to expose the budding shoots.

I'm happy to report that both sides have not only survived, but are thriving.



I can hardly wait for my first crop to make a strawberry, apple, and rhubarb crisp.

Hop on over to the Not So Modern Housewife and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

http://nancyonthehomefront.com/Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop. -- Margy

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Coastal BC Fungi: Mitrula elegans (Match-stick Fungus)

 Match-stick Fungus

I live in a float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal BC. Each year, a tiny plant appears right at the waterline on one of our cabin's cedar float logs. This year there are better specimens on a boom log.

On the cabin, it grows in the shade. On the boom log, it is in full sunlight. It has a white stalk and is topped with a yellow-orange fruiting body. It's only about 6 mm (1/4 inch) tall. It appears in April and is gone when the weather gets warm.


After a bit of searching I found the UBC (University of British Columbia) Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research website. If you like plants in nature or the garden, this is the place for YOU! There's also a forum with a wealth of information.

I discovered my mystery plant is Mitrula elegans, match-stick fungus. Here is a link I found for a picture and detailed description. I just love learning new things about this wonderful place I live in. -- Margy

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Living on Powell Lake

We live on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia.


The lake has many moods.


In the winter it is often cloudy and rainy.


In the spring, we get more sun and take advantage of it for outdoor activities like sailing on the lake.


You can read more about Powell Lake by clicking here.

You can read more about float cabin living by clicking here. -- Margy

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Transplanting Blueberry Bushes

New blueberry bushes planted last year.
Last spring I bought two blueberry bushes, a Northsky and a Chandler. I planted them in medium sized pots so they could grow right on my cabin deck. That way I could provide them with consistent watering during the summer months.


Cutting mill felt for better drainage.
My experiment was a huge success. By the end of the summer, the plants had more than doubled in size. They would probably last in their pots for one more year, but I decided to transplant them while they were small enough to handle easily.

Rocks to support the mill felt.
Fall is a good time for transplanting blueberries. The plants and their root systems are dormant. They will have the winter to rest and in spring the new growth with start enjoying it’s new larger surroundings.

To make inexpensive larger pots, I asked Wayne to cut two 45-gallon plastic barrels in half. I used the top halves with the fluted edge because that part was more decorative. I then painted the pots dark green on the outside to match our cabin’s trim. Click here to see how I did it.


Mill felt is porous to allow for better drainage.
Wayne drilled holes in the bottom of the barrel for drainage. Blueberries like moist, but well drained soil.

They also like acidic soil with a pH of 5.0, a topping of organic matter, and lots of sunshine.


Soil and peat came next.
To ensure that drainage worked well, I placed several rocks in the bottom to support a round of mill felt (a stiff fiberglass cloth) above the bottom of the barrel. Water will drain through the soil, through the mill felt, through the air space at the bottom, and then out through the holes.

The blueberry bushes went into their new pots.
I filled the bottom with soil and peat moss so to raise the root ball level with the surface. I then carefully removed the blueberry plants from their old pots and placed them on the soil of their new pots. That sounds easy, but even after one year the root balls were quite large and impacted.

A lot of the smaller root hairs fell away with some of the soil. They will get replaced in the spring when the new growth begins.

The blueberry bushes in their new larger pots.

Finally I filled in the edges of the pots with more soil and peat moss.

Spring buds on the Northsky plant.
I pruned my blueberry bushes before spring arrived to remove old dead branches.

Check back later to see how this season progresses. Hopefully with all this attention, I’ll get a good crop of berries this coming summer.

Do you grow blueberries? What has been your experience? -- Margy

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Winter Turns to Spring

This winter we had more snow than in previous years. Streams that normally run were frozen in place.


Now that it's spring, the snowmelt and rain runoff have unlocked the water to flow down the cliffs of Goat Island to Powell Lake.


Below is a short video so you can enjoy the sights and sounds.


Has spring weather arrived where you live? -- Margy

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cabin Cooking: Scalloped Potatoes

I grow potatoes in barrels on my cabin deck.

My potato of choice is Yukon Gold because they grow easily, store well, make excellent seed potatoes for the following season’s crop, and cook up soft and creamy.

Using Mom's old mandolin slicer.
Wayne asked for Scalloped Potatoes. I remember from growing up, but it's been decades since I've made them.

I found a recipe in my Illustrated Library of Cooking (Family Circle, 1972: Volume 1, page 55) that sounded like Mom’s.

Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

4 cups thinly sliced raw potatoes (about 6 medium)
¼ cup thinly sliced onion (optional)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups milk, scalded
½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Layer potatoes, onions, and flour.
Layer one third of the potatoes in a buttered (I used vegetable spray) 8-cup baking dish. Add half of the optional onion slices (that’s the way I remember Mom's).

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a cup. Sprinkle half over the potatoes.

Dot layers with butter or margarine.
Dot with half of the butter or margarine.

Add another layer of one third of the potatoes (and onions if desired). Sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture and dot with the remaining butter.

Add a final layer with the remaining potato slices.
Pour scaled milk over final layer.

Scald the milk (heat to near boiling) and pour over the potatoes. It should be just visible between the slices of the top layer.

Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes.

Remove and sprinkle with grated
Sprinkle cheese on top.
cheese. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes until the cheese is melted, and the potatoes are soft and bubbly. I added 10 minutes for mine to be ready to serve.

Wayne fixed steak for us on the BBQ, so it was a meat and potatoes night. While the potatoes were baking, I used a pint of the spiced apples I put up last fall to make a small apple crisp in the oven at the same time.

Scalloped potatoes and apple crisp for dinner.

Who says living off the grid has to be tough. Not me! -- Margy