Sunday, December 7, 2008


With freezing rain soaking the foot of snow on the ground we are .....“slushed in”.
Trees are falling over from the weight of ice.

I was 36 and Aki was 32. Until then life had been easy. Both coming from middle class families. I had a career in film, Aki as an artist. We knew we could do anything we wanted, how lucky we had been to be born on the planet in the situations we were in.

We both had the same yearning to live the way we live now.

We loaded up the school bus and moved into the bush in the spring of 1997. When the money ran out that fall the camping trip was over. That is when our survival started.

We had our first roast rabbit feast at about this time 12 years ago by candle light and accompanied by our rosehip-bearberry-rice wine.
We had 7 snares, a squirrel pole and 2 bird traps set.
Two chickens, one laying. We kept them at night in an apple box on the porch of our cabin.
Iraq was refusing U.S. weapons inspectors.

Moose everywhere. Wolves were close.
Lots of clear nights. The moon was so bright it was hard to sleep. Aurora Borealis.
The sauna was one of our first projects . We took lots of saunas that winter. Saunas and homemade wine got us through a few winters.

Rabbits - we ate rabbits, rabbit stew, rabbit curry, teriyaki rabbit, hare soup, roast hare.
By the end of the winter we could snare rabbits very effectively. For some reason rabbits seem to want to be caught, we just have to help them a bit.

We skied on the lake, snowshoed, read, painted and wrote. Drank lots of home made wine, hauled water from the lake, hauled and melted snow, cut and split wood, hunted for our food and thought about what we had got ourselves away from. No idea, at the time, where we were heading except that we were tasting freedom…. Just ahead of us. We would run into its dulcet smell, stop to savor its taste and it would disappear.

Sounds like a good time but there were some rough spots.
We both got “fall down couldn’t get back up sick”. It was between -30 and -40 for two weeks. Truck wouldn’t start. Everything was freezing.

One day it went to zero degrees, sun came out. El Nino had kicked in. Within a week or two we were outside in our t-shirts.

Determined we were.

I = E x R and P = E x I

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Autumn Bush

The nights are still and quiet. Three owls talk over the boreal forest in the crisp autumn air. The tremendous sky of stars sets a relative perception clear... We're looking forward to the winter. Clearing our minds, closer to each other, reaping meaning and understanding from the information of the past year.

I'm thinning our woods of the dead. Letting in light for new growth, bringing in firewood. For what it's worth it's our twelfth winter and we have not cut a living tree to build with or for firewood. The trees are dying so fast here that we haven't had to.

6 cords of firewood a year, fencing and a couple of buildings.

Except for the fuel for the chainsaw, burning firewood is basically carbon neutral.

Our gardens are almost tucked in for the winter. We grow rye grass for cover and mix in rotted wood, compost, reeds, cardboard, ash and egg shell from our chickens. We also mix in sand because our soil is clay based.

Aki planted 109 garlic bulbs worth of garlic for next year, saving 20 or so to plant in the spring between other crops. After the potatoes were harvested at the beginning of September we dug in the potato plants, planted rye and let it grow 6". We then covered the bed with 4" of sand mixed with rotted wood, turned the bed with a fork, planted the garlic toes, watered with manure tea, then covered the bed with reeds. In the spring Aki will pull the cover back and as the garlic comes she'll give it another shot of green manure tea.

We will do the same with some parsnip seed.

This year we were able to save more seed: garlic, parsnip, peas, fava bean, squash, zucchini, spinach, chinese greens, potatoes. Almost had some broccoli year.

Out there in the world the environment is once again on the back burner, the rich are richer and we are a little poorer.

We've been duped again.

It is hard to see that anybody gives a hoot about children.

Adults are bizarre. To leave the kids our problems because we're too selfish to give up a bit of decadence.

Our food is canned, dried and in the root cellar. Warmth is taken care of.

We have 16 chickens this year, the most we've ever had. All laying - we've discovered pickled eggs... Reinsulating the coop - the mice love it in there.

This year has been a good solar power year. Every day that's sunny we appreciate the power of the sun, and every day that it's not we appreciate it even more.

It will be a good winter.
Our business,

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Our gardens have done well this season. Root vegetables, the brassica family, peas and most greens have thrived here.

Getting ready for the frost in the
middle of August. By August 25 we had a frost every night for 1- 1/2 weeks, a break of 2 or 3 nights and then the frost was back. By October there's a hard frost every night.
It was a cool and short growing season this year with a couple of frosts overnight in July. Natural. It lets every plant know ...

Aki has dried our winter supply and she has been canning over the last couple of weeks. I brought in our second load of fire wood. Aki dries broccoli, kale, beet greens, wild mushrooms, rose hips, herbs like basil, oregeno, sage etc.., cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, cherries and horseradish.

We've been eyeing the rose hips - they're red and ready to pick, just have to get around to it. Perhaps that'll be a job for Kai, who is helping out more and more. We dry rose hips for tea and cooking and our rose hip wine is on the go. This year we'll try rose hip/apple jelly, as we're enjoying the first real crop of apples from our little orchard.

We love this time of year. Cool enough for the cookstove, warm days, no bugs. A good harvest is an added bonus. Things are coming together as we prepare for winter.

Bugs had their way this year but were overcome with a little extra work from ourselves as well as the plants. We've found that cardboard box makes for really good mulch and the worms and toads love it.

An organic farmer told us that rather than worms being good for your soil, they are more importantly a sign, with their presence, that the soil is good.
The cardbord biodegrades over the season. By next spring it is decomposed and the soil is richer for it. We're not worried about what it looks like because of the amazing things it provides for the garden. We have researched whether it will cause any ill effects to the soil and it doesn't. The cardboard is easily biodegradable.
The inks are vegetable based and degrade as well leaving nothing behind but great compost.

This is August
Lunch is fresh.

A fresh lunch becomes challenging

by the middle of October.

Now we are seeding rye grass and peas as a cover crop for the winter. All our kitchen compost is buried directly into the garden. We dig in rotten wood, egg shells, wood ash, composted chicken manure and grass that hasn't seeded. We find that what we prepare now will have a lot to do in determining next years yield in our bushcraft /survival garden.

Please check out the body of work we've done over the summer at,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One Week Later

After 3 direct bomber hits
We woke up this morning to a pond filled with smoke. After 3 days of rain and 3 days of sunshine.
A lightning strike from a week ago smoldering. With a couple of days of hot dry weather and some wind the fire was back.

We had to Skype friends in Williams lake to phone Forestry and give them our googled coordinates. For some reason we don't have access to
1- 800 emergency numbers. After the fire spotting plane saw the small fire it swept dozens of times checking the area for more smoldering fires. A couple of times they flew over our cabin with their sirens on. About ten minutes later 3 bombers dropped their loads of red fire retardant.

I never thought of it but Aki finally remembered the camera after the bombers were gone but caught the spotting plane doing one last pass with their siren on.

A fire fighting ground crew is here now pumping water onto the remains from the lake.
Watching the bombers flying at the tops of the trees and dropping their loads was quite a sight.... Damn I wish I had my camera.

Friday, August 8, 2008


We were under lightning yesterday. Kai and Aki watched a strike on a tree just inside the forest line at the end of our small lake, start a fire then trees began igniting. I was changing a tire and heard Aki yelling "fire!" Lightning began striking all around us. Another fire started on the west side of the lake about 300 metres away. We couldn't see the flame but we watched the smoke. We watched the smoke speed up very quickly.

We got over how cool it was.
With lightning striking all around us we planned our escape. Funny, the computer was first on the list.
At that moment light rain started with a breeze. It built and within minutes it was a raging rain storm. Winds tossed the trees around, bathing ... splashing them in water. For a 1/2 hour the forest was drenched.

Within 10 minutes after that the sun came out, the sky cleared and we went back to work --- exhilarated and full of awe.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gardening with the Tide

Lots of rain, thunder, spectacular lightning and the mosquitoes are to be reckoned with and getting worse.

This is all adding up to a great mushroom season. Morels and boletes . An excellent start for the saskatoon berries. All the seedlings have lots of water.

A great aspect to all the rain is that the range cattle have enough to eat out there and will leave us alone.
Ranchers lease crown land, range, for their beef cattle. We are surrounded by crown land. Some dry years they eat all the grass, flowers and shrubs in the gov't range so they begin busting down our gerden fences.. This is not an enjoyable experience. We end up harvesting early because they won't stop until they've eaten everything. If there is enough rain in May and June the vegetation grows , gets a head start. Fingers crossed, the beef won't bother us.When it comes to beef, we have no rights.

The lodge pole pine is gone but still standing supplying us with easy firewood and building logs.

Looking across the lake at the fringe of trees left in the riparian zone, it appears as though we live on the edge of a cliff, but the open space just beyond is a clearcut. Trees take up water, and when the trees are cut down, the water runs into the lake, and the lake rises. The tide.

The tilled garden plots that are now under water have sprouted cattails. .
Our new crop.

Each spring now we wait to see how much garden space we will have. Raised beds help enormously. We wait, but there is inevitably much mud-slinging in the turning of the soil.

We have everything in now, and the gardens are looking good.

The swallows are building, the air is full of birdsong, new life begins.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Loading Shotguns

It was -8 this morning. All the mud has frozen. Good thing in a way because we can get out and back in tonight from a visit to some neighbours.

A break from the nice post....

We have lived in this beautiful place going on twelve years. Peace, freedom and we have almost shaken off our urban ignorance and anxiety.

Almost but probably never completely.

In our very first post we were excited to write about our lives here, share it and maybe be a bit of light .
There is a huge elephant weighing on our minds.

The abuse and disrespect toward the natural world here is right in our faces. The abuse is absurd.

We are urban people transplanted into the forest, or what's left of it. It is mind-blowing to witness the extent of human greed. It seems we are loading our shotguns, taking aim and blowing off our own feet.

Supplying the world with the pillages of rape.

They are talking "bio-fuel" now, with the "bio" making it sound friendlier somehow. The pine beetle killed off the Pine forests, we suppose because of the warm winters, now we want to cut them all down for bio fuel and plant "marketable stock". They are saying, the money suckers who survive from bending our rubber minds, that the threat of dead decaying pine forests will produce enough carbon emissions to threaten the planet ? We are crazy. What does all the wildlife do while we are clearing the forests. Have you ever walked through a clear cut? There is no place to go. There is nothing left. We are proposing clear cuts of the like never seen before. Meanwhile lumber mills are cutting, killing, the last 500 -600 year old fir trees. Our neighbours found a 1000 year old lying in a cut block left because it had some rot in the middle. The point is why was it cut down and left in the first place! Maybe the last one. It won't even get a chance to rot and become fertilizer for the next generation - the "unmarketable timber" is pushed into piles and burned.

We humans, whether you like it or not, are ripping off the dead, eating them and then complaining about the aftertaste and the heartburn.
We'll go in with feller bunchers and cut the trees, skid them out with skidders, load them on trucks and truck them to plants that aren't built yet, process them into ethanol, put the ethanol into our vehicles and burn it.... Sounds like a green plan to me.

But everyone knows this. That's what makes it so absurd and difficult to even talk about.

Nice post cotinued....

Next morning: An enjoyable evening, a small gathering of neighbours (anyone living west of the Fraser River is a neighbour) who tend to stick to ourselves but venture out occasionally to share views, good food, homemade wine and also to offer a bit of support. Sometimes it is easy to feel completely alone in our quest to live simply with minimal damage.

We left their candlelit yurt with the nearly full moon rising in the sky, driving carefully past shadows of countless deer, bumping down the logging roads, finally into our yard to be greeted by our two dogs, tails wagging - good to be home.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Muddy Boots

The melt down, break-up has started. With the sun higher and rising, the days warming up and revealing the earth, the famous Cariboo/Chilcotin clay mud is just beginning to form. In about a week the mud will be deep enough to keep us mudded in for two weeks. It begins to dry out in about a month and turn into a cement hardness. Any attempts to get out will leave ruts until the rains in the fall. Nothing quite like getting stuck in the mud. Over the last 11 years we've spend days digging out until we figured r and r was a better way to go. Now we don't even attempt to get out - if there is one concept we've learned here it's how to relax.

Now we thoroughly enjoy being able to stay in. A sense of freedom really.

We are almost through our dried food and the winter meat supply. At the same time our chickens are now laying a dozen eggs a day, our small green house attached to the cabin is producing a small amount of greens. In a couple of weeks dandelion greens, wild onions and fireweed shoots will become welcome additions to our diets.

It all happens eventually...with no worries.

Anticipation and a great sense of our lives is the fruit produced after a winter of work and thought. We used to think that everyone should attend an art school for awhile just to learn about themselves in relation to everyone else. Now we think that maybe living in the bush with nothing could be the way to go a longer distance.

We are setting a date now for some time off our knife and tool making.
A new charcoal burning forge and a new charcoal making kiln are the goals for our time off. A busy gardening month as well. The cycle continues.