Sunday, December 2, 2007

Winding down

We've finished our shows, the gardening tools are stored, the roof of the new shop is up. An arctic outflow has ensured the lake is well-frozen, tonight they say it is going down to minus 29 Celsius.

The woodstove is always going now, with a pot of soup simmering, and a kettle or two of hot water on top, something roasting in the oven, a pan of yogurt forming on the shelf behind, boots drying beside, mitts and hats hanging nearby. There is an abundance of fuel now, thanks to the pine beetle, but every log is still precious, as we are aware of the costs of even this "free fuel".

We still need gas for the chainsaw and gas for the truck to pull the trees out. And there are other costs - the damage to other plant life when we fall and skid trees, the smoke from the burning...

We, it seems, cannot exist without adversely affecting our environment.

We chop wood, shovel snow, gaze out at the frozen lake, and ponder this predicament
while politicians discuss the future of the planet in Bali over wine and cheese.

We are thinking, always thinking.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Solar Power in the Winter.

We have lived by solar power and wood for 11 years About 90% of our needs are met. When the sun comes up, it determines what we do for the day.

With 290 watts of panel and six golf cart batteries, and a little propane powered generation we run a knife and tool business and live comfortably.
We did rid ourselves of some stuff.

The first item we stopped using was a refrigerator. It did take some adjustment but after 5 years without one we're convinced a fridge is a totally decadent piece of equipment for many people. Of course not everyone can stop using one because of their circumstance. A root cellar, pantry and freezer are all one needs. A simple camp cooler goes a long way.
Added insulation on the freezer and a timer reduced the power consumption of this appliance by 1/2. Now we only use the freezer in the winter and keep it outside under cover which cuts its consumption by another 70%.
We eat fresh mostly, from our garden and what we forage, and whatever we are able to dry and can.
We are always expanding our vegetable gerdens. Our meat comes from trade and hunting.

We heat and cook by wood and our hot water is heated through a water jacket in the cook stove which feeds a tank we installed. With the lining off the tank it is like having another heater. A small propane cook stove for back-up uses about $25 in fuel a year.

In Chilcotin territory in B.C. (there is no the, like Yukon territory) there is lots of sun but we do have spells of up to a couple of months without much sun. I installed a big alternator (200 amps) in a propane powered vehicle, machined a drive pulley to increase the rpm so that idling gives what the batteries demand, and it plugs into our small house to the batteries. About twice as efficient as a new Honda generator, quieter and as mentioned, on propane.
If you have the luxury of working at home the

trick to solarpower is to use it when the sun is

out and work around it

when it is not.

In our business we recover all our steel, wood and antler. The highest quality is there but you have to look for it. We do as much by hand as we can (it is a trade off towards surviving in an unfriendly world) and sell through the internet, locally and a few shows.

We used to travel across the countryside to sell. With a connection to the internet by satellite we drive much less and spend maybe $60 a month on gas.

We try to buy only what we need - I suppose the method is to figure out what one truly needs. For us it is a never ending process to be self sufficient and sustainable.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


The month of August has been a busy one this year. It all started with a hard frost August 8th. First time this has happened and it was devastating to parts of our garden.

We survive the winter with the food we harvest and forage now.

The main point to surviving here off the land is being able to sustain the blows that come. Between hail that set the garden back in June and the frost in early August, all in all it was a good harvest.

We picked up the pullets at the end of July.

Their combs are beginning to turn red now, Sept 22. We'll have a fresh supply of eggs all winter while the older hens take a winter break.

Aki dried about 16 kg of broccoli. Broccoli dries well and reconstitutes itself in stir fries, soups and egg dishes beautifully. She also dried cauliflower, beet greens, lovage, basil, mint, tarragon, she sun dried tomatoes and she dried a winter's worth of boletus mushrooms.

Fresh mushrooms

Dried Boletes

We're big garlic eaters. This harvest will last till June.

With a small freezer of venison we're almost ready.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Life in the bush during this time of year. I think there is no other place we'd like to be.

There's lots of work to be done and there is lots of living to do.

Skidding out pine beetle killed trees with the
old 1955 Massey - Harris.

After a day of falling and skidding out dead trees.

Our winter supply of cariboo potatoes . We water the potatoes and the wild flowers take off.

The mosquito eaters are more than welcome to tag onto our eaves.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fried Fungi

Lots of rain in the boreal forest brings out mushrooms. With the right balance of temperature, sun and rain mushrooms come out. In past years there has been so many mushrooms and of different varieties it is almost too much for my small mind to handle because of its quality of magical beauty.

We harvest edible mushrooms.
We take about 1/3 of the mushrooms we find leaving the rest to continue their life cycle.

Rosy larch and king bolete have pushed their way through the earth everywhere in the past couple of days.

Aki dries them. By the time winter arrives we have a mushroom cache; Oyster, field, horse and bolete.

We discovered an incredible delicacy yesterday. A large grouping of oyster mushrooms that had dried in the last week in perfect condition. We brought them home, marinated and reconstituted them in wine. Fried in butter, a touch of lemon, salt and pepper. It was one of the best meals I've had.

Rose hip wine is coming.

In the 10 years we've lived here surrounded by "crown land" we've lost 90% of our mushrooming grounds. Five years ago lumber mills got a blank cheque with the excuse of the pine beetle. They've taken everything around us. Fir, spruce aspen along with the pine. After they've taken what they wanted everything is bulldozed into a slash pile and burned. The trees go, the mushrooms go.
On a late fall evening, we drove up to the edge of the Chilcotin. It was dark. A red glow on the horizon grew larger as the climb home gave way to the plateau. The fires had been lit. There appeared dozens of red glowing halos dotting the ravaged forest along the roads. Massive fires fueled by gasoline and diesel, which would for weeks burn limbs, roots and unworthy trees, erase them as if they had never existed.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Dandelions are high in vitamins A, B and C and minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous and magnesium.. The flowers are rich with vitamin D. The roots are said to be good for your liver and blood.

Aki, Kai and I eat dandelion as a main source of vegetable and green for the months of April, May and into June.

As we get our garden turned in the spring the dandelions we let alone the season before have small carrot sized roots. We stir fry them. They're excellent. The young greens are excellent salad material. The flowers we mix into omlettes, stir frys, salads and soups. Aki rolls the flowers in flour and seasoning and fries them in butter. They taste like a mushroom. We eat bags of them. We stop eating the greens as they mature because they become quite bitter but we continue feeding our chickens loads till the fall. We'll continue to eat the flowers and roots.

One dish Aki likes to make using the roots is based on one she grew up eating (her mother used burdock instead of dandelion root).

Slice roots and a carrot into thin strips.

Stir fry in a bit of sesame oil. Add soy sauce and a dash of chili pepper to taste.


When bears come out from the high winter hibernation grounds one of their first foods is the dandelion. They get fat eating just dandelion flowers.
We've all heard about dandelion wine.

Monday, May 28, 2007

May 27th. They're here.

While I sit, I'm attacked.
I've got to keep moving and my typing isn't fast enough.
They're swarming around me and biting .

They're coming in somewhere. All we can figure is that they're coming in with us, on us, everytime we come back in after being outside.

There are so many mosquitos.
Oh man I can't write this post. They're biting my fingers.

With clear hot days like these it will dry up and they'll have no place to breed. They will be gone for another year.

Monday, May 21, 2007

We live in the bush. On the edge of the Chilcotin plateau in British Columbia. We are isolated, no neighbours, off the grid.

Our power comes from the sun through photo electric panels. We are connected by satellite to the internet.

Right now we're putting our garden in. We grow most of our food, trade for some, forage a fair bit for mushrooms ,shoots, dandelion roots and flowers, wild onions hunt and fish some and the rest we buy.

11 yrs ago we said goodbye and moved from the city into the bush. Leaving, looking for freedom to create, paradise to be free and get what we thought was crazy with society out of our faces.

It is nothing like we thought it was going to be.