We had yet another wonderful weekend at the estate last weekend. We got, not one, but two visitors. First, Nina’s parents, cousin, Najwa, and her boyfriend, Stu (both from England) visited just for the day. They drove 8 hours or so for a 4 hour visit! Besides eating the delicious bakery goods from Pan Chancho, we also went out to a white-cap filled lake, and had an illegal fire (more on that later). Anyway, it was great to have this visit! Hopefully they’ll come for longer soon. (Liam’s Mum is visiting this coming weekend and we’re very excited for that. We’ll be doing touristy things instead of just getting our hands dirty, for once.)
Then, Dave, Ana, baby Owen, and dog Charlie visited for the rest of the weekend. So we got to show off the property a lot more. Anyway, it was great to catch up with old friends. Ana also had a birthday the day before (and the day before Liam’s). We ate and drank extremely well. We also frustratingly weren’t able to figure out how to complete a loop in the road. We got lost and had to turn back. The deerflies were very intense and poor Ana seems to attract them more than the rest of us. Dave and Liam put a line in the water during a canoe ride. We have yet to see these 2-food bass we’ve been told about.
During the visit, we got tons of stuff done. Largely thanks to Dave pointing out all the poor choices I was about to make, I got the outdoor tap connected. (The previous owner probably left water in the pipes over winter, because we found the tap pipe cut when we bought it.) This was a shockingly painstaking task. Originally, it involved about 12 soldered joints. I got very nervous because I not only had to cut in to the main supply line but also solder joints that were a few inches from wood and plastic pipelines. In the end, I broke down (in part due to Scott’s advice) and went with Pex instead of copper pipe. Not only did this reduce my manhood, but it also required about $200 of tools (most of which is for a crimper). Anyway, I’m sold on Pex. The job was done very quickly once I made this choice and there are no leaks. A single piece of (flexible) Pex is connecting the supply line to the outdoor tap. I still had to solder some copper but the points are not as risky. At Pierre Dore’s advice, I bought a Sharkbite (highly overpriced piece of plumbing that is fool-proof) in case I totally blew it. Next will be to connect hot water to outdoors so that we can have warm showers. The well water is very cold. Pex doesn’t last in sunlight, so it’s back to copper for the outside sections…
Nina, Dave, and Liam dug out a massive pit in the middle of a natural rock formation. This will serve as our fire pit and is perfect because of the surrounding natural seating areas. However, neighbour Ernie stopped by and happened to mention that we need a fire permit to have any fires. This came as a blow, along with the discovery that our lake isn’t that deep and that ticks are serious business. It’s our land – why can’t we have a fire? Anyway, the permit issue is absurd and a fun-killer. But we took is seriously after hearing that a neighbour amassed $40k in fines. (This is believable after seeing the two-page list of fines). Anyhow, the long and short of is is that we have to call in 24 hours before having any fires and let them know. The purpose is to confirm that smoke is not a forest fire. But what a pain in the butt. I suspect that these laws are in place all over the Province. But when you’re new to an area, it’s hard to know how strictly laws are enforced.
With bad news, Ernie usually brings some brilliant insights. This time, he told us about our massive and ancient apple tree along the road. We found it and it appears to be bountiful. If only we had a 30 ft ladder to retrieve the apples that the deer won’t be able to reach. He suggested we prune it and the neighbouring trees to boost the yield. Speaking of fruit, the (concord?) grapes are completely wild and have started fruiting. The vines are invasive and are covering an area of about 100 by 100 m. Liam’s going to build some structures out of logs and sticks to encourage them to grow in a more pickable way. The raspberries are thick too. The blackberries appear to be having a bumper crop. The only catch is that the best bushes are slightly on the neighbour’s property… But surely there are other good patches on our land.
We went wood stove shopping. I’m no longer convinced that wood for heating is the cheap way to go. $1k just for installation (I refuse to pay that). And stove pipe (double-walled, stainless steel) is over $100/foot and rivals the cost of the wood stove itself! Anyway, it’s a necessary purchase before winter comes. We might also have to break down and buy wood this season. It’s getting a bit late to cut and dry for Nov.
Liam temporary destroyed one of the big Prickly Ash patches near the cabin. This stuff looks and pricks like roses, without the flowers. Just clipping them took a few hours. Liam got on his hands and knees so he could clip the stem at the ground. But often times the plant would fall onto him. The thorns go right through gloves. We pulled up some roots, just to discover that they are thick and go everywhere. So we will probably have to completely turn over the soil to get any long-term results. The internet recommends herbicide but that’s not our style. We won’t think it was caused by the Prickly Ash, but Liam has developed some nasty scratches accompanied by burn-like blisters. Hopefully it’s not Wild Parsnip. This stuff is known to cause these exact symptoms.
We ended the weekend with a long paddle around the lake. We saw 7 beavers, one of which was not at all shy and let us stay about 20-30 feet away as it dragged a branch for 5 minutes. But the highlight was an otter! It was crossing the lake and happened to be going the same direction as us.