First weekend (!)

I can’t resist all of these exclamation marks…! We got the place on Murphy Rd. after a bunch of ups and downs. But we have it now. Ours. Water pipes are fixed and water is flowing into the cabin (and out, somewhere), walls are up, roof doesn’t seem to be leaking… Good. All good. Great, really.

Overview of part of the estate, including the most important part: the cabin.
The cabin (420 SF in all – only two-thirds of which is insulated). The dormer is part of a sleeping loft.

Liam and I just went up for our first weekend up at the “estate”, as we’re now calling it (cabin doesn’t do justice to the property, cottage is what the O’Briens already have in THE Muskoka, “property” sounds like just hunting grounds… “estate” is hilariously pretentious, but also pretty accurate). We did a Friday to Sunday trip with a rented pick-up truck to carry our many various items we’ve (I’ve) been collecting: shelves, tables, tiles, cleaning supplies, miscellaneous items… I thought we’d be pretty well set given all that I’d brought, but once we got there we exploded everything on the cabin floor and realized how much we still needed to do just about anything we (felt we) needed done first.

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My priorities were patching up holes inside the cabin – screens, door jambs, window frames, random floor holes, etc. Nothing is well done, finishing-wise, in the cabin. They used rough wood everywhere and didn’t sand it so it snags a lot, there are gaps in boards, nothing is level or square. Most of that I don’t mind –  I don’t mind crookedness or drafts or bugs or mice or crawling things (except caterpillars and my new nightmare, silverfish), but I’d much rather not have them on my face while I sleep. So, patching holes it is. I also wanted to scope out garden spots. Liam’s priority was the shed door, which was missing, and stocking up on tools for his new workroom, which will be in the front room of the cabin. He also wanted to get a handle on where an outdoor shower and kitchen could go. Those were the priorities. What we did was a bit of that, and a lot of other stuff.

I’m more of an interiors person, but not a pictures person. The inside of the cabin is pretty bare (imagine it – sorry no pictures on my phone), so I was all about hauling in things like the table and footstool below. And a mysterious metal rolling thing that might be for baskets, maybe for shelves. And an over-the-bed hutch thing that I’ll refinish somehow and put somewhere. And a giant metal gardening tub, most likely to be used for the garden. Not necessary things, by any means, but things that will slowly bulk up the inside and make it more comfortable and functional.

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Not really an estate project, since I found it and painted it at home, but it’s there now, waiting to be given a chopping board top and some silver-dipped feet.
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My first-ish sewing project using my Christmas Husqvarna sewing machine, a free kijiji cube footstool, and upholstery fabric samples I picked up from the dump store in Cape Cod last year (or 2 years ago?). It’ll go to the estate soon. Or maybe its green brother will, who knows.

We got two visits from two friendly neighbours: Ernie and Peter. Both live in the area and were not shy about giving us tips and history – and politics – of the neighbours. All very interesting stuff. And we learned some interesting country slang.

Liam is super excited (I am too) about the crazy amount of outdoor space we have. His genius plan is to set us up with piles of mushrooms grown in logs. Why? Because we love mushrooms, and because we have logs. He’s been practicing at home with a bagged set (below). So cool. And delicious.

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Liam’s amazing oyster mushrooms
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Yum yum, cooking up them oyster mushrooms

And extra exciting was finding the morel mushroom in the woods on Sunday. Just one. They’re cool-looking and we inhaled with the oyster mushrooms when we got home.

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Morel mushroom from the woods
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Oyster and one morel mushroom, fried up in butter mmm

For our next trip up, I’ll be finishing mouse-proofing. I plan to learn how to use spray foam for the worst of the gap-y windows. Then, when it’s all sealed up, I’ll be assembling farmhouse window frames using our fun circular saw and my genius math skills. Pictures of my completed interior window frame to be posted shortly. I’ll also clean and sand the loft under-boards, prime them, and re-mount them to be painted with the rest of the room. What else… Fix screen holes. Prime walls and maybe kitchen drawer things. Plan bathroom. But that can happen later. And when we get some friends up we’ll get moving on garden beds. I want to do something like a secret English garden by using our many many piles of field stones (our estate was once a farm) to build up an existing stone barn foundation. Then some kind of gate or fence to deer-proof it.

Liam’s next steps are…outdoor shower; outdoor kitchen with pizza oven, bbq, and sink; buy canoel plant more vegetables; and, build picnic tables. I don’t really remember the rest, likely because we didn’t see each other a whole lot this trip. I was mostly working indoors and Liam outdoors. But between mealtimes around a campfire (currently our only heat source option for food and ourselves), shopping in Perth, walks around Westport, and nighttime vegetating on the sofa, it wasn’t too bad. He also walked me through using the circular saw, which I’ve never been a huge fan of (sorry, Daddy, I’m not your power tool daughter!).

This morning waking up in Ottawa all I wanted to do was go back and do all the fun things. Instead I biked to Vanier to pick up baby food jars I’m going to use for herbs/spices. We have this great idea for a rack in between the studs… Ah. So much fun ahead.

That’s all from me. Liam has oodles of pictures of the really fun weekend. See below with commentary in captions.

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This photo gives some perspective. The cabin is off to the right about 500 meters and about 200 meters from the shore of this lake. The furthest point in the distance that approaches from the left is our big island (about 700 meters straight ahead in the centre of the photo). That point approximately marks the other end of the property.
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Property outline. The cabin is where the little yellow icon is. The property is roughly 800 by 800 meters (143 acres in all). The weird “keyhole” property is where an old fire tower was. I guess the township sold off the driveway and lot. So we oddly have a neighbour there (with a big house). The nearly-orphaned piece of our property is prime sugar maple bush and hopefully we can tap enough trees to supply family with syrup.
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Beaver dam from below – this 6 ft high by 100 ft wide dam is what’s holding our lake up. The dam exactly coincides with our property line to the east. Note waterline, which is nearly at the top of the dam.
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Garder snake – we found this in our big old rowboat (came with the property) when we are in the middle of the lake on the way to visit our islands for the first time
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Relentless beavers – this is one of thousands of trees that the 10 or so beaver families on the property have downed. A lot of the trees end up getting caught in other trees and never actually fall down. Note my pristine leg.
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Reheated burgers and wine out of the bottle  for lunch.
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Sole fruit of foraging expedition – a Morel mushroom
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Nina’s first glimpse of one of our ponds. This pond has two beaver lodges on it and borders a neighbour.
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Tomorrow’s a “pants day” at work. After discovering Prickly Ash and ticks, pants became a must all weekend.
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Sunning turtle – probably a Midland Painted Turtle.
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Our first visit to the biggest island. Need sunglasses.

As an aside, we think this ( is the John Nelson who developed the paths and several dozen scattered birdhouses across the property. Eerily, he was born and died on May 8th, Nina’s birthday.

From John’s obituary: “Early retirement gave John the opportunity to pursue his love of nature and the outdoors.  He owned and developed a wetland property near Westport that became a wonderful site for nature trails, canoeing and John’s active bee yard.”


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