Blog

Image of future BCB&B site.

4 weeks of harvesting, logging, and chipping…

…leads to a roughed-in build site! See the attached images, eh.

Revision: Ah. So THAT’S how one inserts images. Oy.

Juvenile rattlesnake said…

…hey! Back off. So we did. 4 hummingbirds found our forest feeder and are now having a turf war over the bloody thing.

A humourus 12 minute description of our feathered fiends (not friends).

And a safety PSA for Mountain Trout Camp. 🤨

Lumber update: I’m chopping straight lengths of oak & maple (~5-6’ blocks) so that I can dry them out and possibly mill them. It’s too nice to burn!

Lush, heavy rain, and cooler than our last woodlot work-session.

Today will be an indoor session at Mountain Trout Camp (MTC). I’m looking forward to finding out how MS’s wolf-pack enjoy the canine treats (test version 1 and 2). TS wanted to ensure MS received the perishable chocolate-peanut-butter-banana-upside-down cake (as it’s still in its pan). Our recently-purchased deep-cycle battery has been trickle-charging since yesterday evening (we’ll try installing the cellular booster kit tomorrow at the BCB&B build-site). With all this torrential rainfall, TS researched precipitation capture systems. Apparently, Evolve Builders has published some 2010 case-studies of their efforts (link)! One might wonder why we are concerned about water conservation here on the North Bruce Peninsula (as we are surrounded by Lake Huron & Southern Georgian Bay). We are witnessing extreme weather events here on the Bruce (due to climate change) and I want to mitigate its effects on our household. I want to change my consumption habits (and reduce my impact on our local water cycles). Based on my research of the region (here [link], here [link], and here [link]), the area’s also overdue for a major forest fire (and we need to prepare for that with wildfire-control [not avoidance] systems).

This will be our first (modest) attempt at off-grid electrical power generation at 368 Lindsay Road 40.
Here’s an image of our very first inverter for the woodlot (being tested out at the VPCI school garden).
The Fluke DMM’s measuring the V at the battery terminals (while the kit’s being tested at VPCI).

Welcome to the Black Cat Blog!

Welcome to our Black Cat Blog!

Well.

Hello there!

Welcome to the first ever blog post of the Black Cat Bed and Breakfast, a retreat up north on the Bruce Peninsula in lovely Ontario, Canada.

This blog is going to be dedicated to the musings and workings of our soon-to-be-B-and-B. At the moment, it’s just an intention with a lot of thought and work behind it. We are the proud owners of 25 acres of rocks and trees (and water) in the part of the Bruce called Miller Lake, although we’re closer to Gillies Lake. Our property boundaries are, on two sides, the Bruce Trail: one side because it’s Lindsay Road 40, which is actually part of the trail, and the second side because the Bruce Trail Conservancy has purchased the 25 acre lot next to us.

We have a driveway and a sort-of parking spot. In winter, the snow can get up to 1.5 m or more on the driveway, because we aren’t up there all the time yet. And in the summer, I’m finding I have to weed the driveway because again, we aren’t up there to run the suckers over.

We go up when we can. We work and prep and dream and think and wonder.

We rent a lovely house about 1 km from our property so we have a place to stay while we’re getting things ready for you, our soon-to-be guests.

During the summer, we sit and watch the bats come up at night while the sun sets. We listen to the whippoorwill sing, and watch the moths flit around the flowers in the garden. The stars are amazing up there. The Bruce Peninsula isn’t just a world heritage site; it’s also a dark sky preserve. And it’s beautiful.

During the winter, the sunsets are spectacular and the snow comes down, thick and strong. Last time we were up there in January, we had probably 30 cm of snow over three days. The snowmobilers love it, as does our neighbour, who runs a dog sled when the snow is deep enough. We snowshoe around the property lines and sometimes even build a snowcat.

During the fall, the leaves turn red and gold and bright, bright orange. The bears come to the orchard behind the house to gorge on wild apples. And y’know what? Bears do, actually, shit in the woods. Shocking, I know.  (And you know the expression, “slippery as shit”? Well, Paul discovered that’s true too.)

During the spring, the asparagus comes up in our rental house’s garden and the sandhill cranes come back to lay their eggs. The hummingbirds come back from their winter homes, and we put up a feeder to watch them through the windows. Dandelions cover everything and the ostrich ferns put out fiddleheads.

So that’s our land. We are working to build our home, which will also be your home when you come and stay with us, and we hope to have it ready for you in the fall of 2024.

In the meantime, come and spend some time with us here. I will write about the things I know, like food and cooking, knitting and sewing, thinking and books and sometimes gardening too.

Paul will write about what he knows, like bushcraft and knives, woodcraft and science, diving and astronomy and sometimes gardening too.

And we will always write about black cats, because we have three lovely black beasts who are sweet and furry. Like all cat parents, we can’t help but talk about them.

So come and join us. Hang around for a bit, and see what you think. And hopefully, when our story is ready, you’ll come on up and become a part of it, too.

October 2022 360-degree image

You are looking at my 2nd attempt at making a full-sphere image of our driveway at the build-site. My iDevice did its very best at knitting together images into an image bubble. Yes, PN is wearing red wooly socks in his Birkenstocks. TS is accepting of my fashion crimes.

PN & TS also cut away that risky blind-spot on the West side of the enterance (so that we can avoid the locals who bomb along that gravel road).

To my students & colleagues: don’t speed like a maniac down such roads. These speeders cannot stop in time. If they fish-tail and Tokyo-drift off the side of the road… there’s no way in hell they are getting their vehicle out. Trust me… several winters ago, I got my hoity-toity SNOWKAT (Toyota Tacoma) into the median. And it slowly slid off the embankment. Despite my 4WD, I had to get towed out by a neighbour who happened to drive by (and then THEY got stuck).

Oh, and if one were to injure oneself in a self-imposed MVA (motor vehicle accident), it will take the ambulance 1/2h to reach that victim… and another 1/2h to return to the nearest ICU (tiny hospital at Lions Head, somewhat bigger trauma centre at Wiarton, helicopter EVAC might be possible from that site [with the victim possibly footing the bill]).

Now, we have to deal with the blind-spot on the other side of the driveway!

First FULL Week At Werk…

I’m enjoying working with my junior technicians.

I’d like to share a random tale. This one showcases 6 different urban myths. I’d rate it as PG-13.
About 30 (thirty) years ago, TS and I went to an psychic faire back in British Columbia. We had a vaguely similar experience. Nope. Nope. Nope!
Re: The Uncanny Valley. TS & I have mused about putting weird gardens gnomes at the 4 corners of the property. Ensure they are covered with bioluminescent fungi. I think visiting our place should be an unforgettable experience! Especially at night. TS reserves the right to veto my action.

Another year of stand-up philosophy!

I’m looking forward to this contract year (as a high school science teacher). Would I rather be on the property clearing the build site? Would I rather be pulling out deadfall and Widowmakers on our 10Ha woodlot? Would I rather be maintaining the tractor/ATV trails with my Sthil saws & cutters? Would I rather be chipping branches for our soil operation? Would I rather be bucking & splitting logs for storage (for eventual sale or for fueling an outdoor oven or soaker tub)?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes.

…I’m still learning how to embed RSS feeds onto our site. I visit HOW TO GEEK and its daughter sites (essentially) daily. This week, there was an opinion article about how unpleasant it is to watch movies at stand-alone theatres (link). TS also enjoyed the article.

And now. And now, we clean up…

…after 2 weeks in the bush, it’s time to clean up our kit. Important culinary safety note = (Dairy Queen [Chicken Strips + Fries + medium-sized Blizzard with Skor bits]) + (Brunswick Smoked Sardines) + (Brunswick Tomato-Basil Sardines) + (PBJ-on-unsalted-crackers) = gastric woe until 01:00 EST. PN should really know better, eh.

Hardwood is…

…well, hard. A grove of slow-growing oak, maple, and ironwood (yes, that’s a real Ontario tree [I’m using this tree atlas to identify my plants])… are challenging me. I thought I would be able to sharpen my saw’s chain every 3 days. Nope. The chain skates on the media! Daily sharpening. Daily!

I won’t be burning the straight, unblemished logs. They’re piled on a flat deck… single layer. I’ll be picking up a jig that I can attached to (a second?) saw so that I can try my hand at making lumber. To give away? To make tchotchkes? To turn on a lathe? Give TS and me your ideas, eh.

Additional information about trees? Visit this site: https://www.ontario.ca/page/tree-atlas

TS – 1 … Black Bear – 0

TS had her first black bear encounter this afternoon (at about 3 p.m.). I was splitting firewood up at the parking lot. TS was shredding branches (~150-200m away from me). While I was banging logs apart, I heard someone swear(?) and started blasting on our canned-air horn. A lot. I hopped on the ATV and tore on over. The stupid thing was watching TS on a nearby rock outcrop, staring down at TS. The bear took off. It was close to TS… perhaps 10-20m away.

She later said that she had this feeling that she was being watched. That there was something nearby snapping twigs. TS did EVERYTHING RIGHT and I am VERY PROUD OF HER. We both know people who would never set foot in the forest again after a close encounter with a black bear.

I had to be reminded…

…that green branches and fresh leaves play holy hell with small chippers & shredders. I blocked up the mechanism 3 times before I walked away from it in disgust (TS is more savvy than me about the unit… I end up jamming branches and stuff into the hopper… and look like Wile E. Coyote on top of one of his spinning-blade ACME contraptions [sorry TS… do as I say, not as I do]). After de-energizing the system and pulling the hopper apart 3 times… I gave up.

I try not to pile branches like this. I was getting tired.

We crawled back to MTC and are recovering from the grind. This is fun. Right? RIGHT?! Ow, sore.

I ended up fishtailing up and down the driveway, as a way to avoid chipping. Those logs will be processed in the Fall.

Reminder – if you need accommodations RIGHT NOW…

…consider giving Mountain Trout Camp your business. Here’s a review link to help you decide whether MTC is a good fit for you or not.

In other current events, we’re collecting a lot of logs (for what…? Meh, no idea).

Check out this review of Mountain Trout Camp on Tripadvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g2242172-d2091211-r848239082-Mountain_Trout_Camp-Miller_Lake_Bruce_County_Ontario.html

Tomorrow… we chip!

TS & I were able to get back into the zone while clearing the build-site. Yesterday, TS was able to rough-out the new ATV trail from the build-site to her soil-operation. Me? I just smashed and crashed my way hither-and-dither using our Polaris! I strung a trail-line from our starting point to the soil-operation.

This morning, I was far more confident with my chainsaw and was able to safely bring down more trees (without huffing & puffing & tripping-stumbling). My Stihl’s MS261’s chain didn’t skip off the bar (as I’m properly tensioning it). Safe, sane, and productive work with a high-performance saw? Nailed it.

TS, the super-ant (AKA ‘The Mad Lopper’), has piled up a stack of branches that will be processed tomorrow. She’s also filling in the rock fissures (exposed after removing the juniper) with punky logs. Now that we are spending more time in the future back yard/garden, we can chip and shred deadfall and material in situ. I’m just not butch enough to haul the bush buggy over rocks & crevices to the soil-operation (despite using an ATV to haul it).

Preparing to return…

…to the bush. I’m optimistic we learned a few lessons from our last session. We’ll have to DIY our own bush-buggy-platform for the wood chipper. King City Trailers gave us good advice, had SOME stock, but couldn’t sell us a ready-made option. Still, I’d recommend them to you.

Meh… we’re planning on pushing another ATV trail around the buildsite so that we can easily move green-matter to the soil operation. SR told TS that we can grab our wheelbarrow from the school shipping container.

Test Kitchen. PN’s observations!

During our time (back in the city), TS practices with different formulas.
When we get our act together, we’ll have to arrange bulk purchases from the vendor in PEC. Heavy syrup is an acquired taste that producers only make small batches of. Its production is also time-consuming & energy-intensive.
TS was given a challenge by THE WOLFMAN (you’re a fanastic neighbour, MS).
Will THE WOLFMAN’s pack like these rusk-like canine treats? Will they have a stable shelf life? Are YOU interested in trying out TS’s creations? Stay tuned to the blog, eh (or post a comment [PN monitors the thread]).